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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Poverty: Edwards v. Obama

Thanks to David for challenging me to do a more careful review of these guys. My opinion has not changed. I like Obama a little more on this issue. I would be thrilled if either one of them were President.

First, star to Edwards for a concrete goal to eliminate poverty, to end it, by 2036.
Second, Edwards and Obama generally plan to attack poverty the same way:
* Both Edwards and Obama want to make work pay for all Americans by expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit and raising the minimum wage.
* Both Edwards and Obama want to increase jobs available to entry level workers.
* Both Edwards and Obama want to support responsible families, including encouraging and rewarding responsibility from fathers.
* Both Edwards and Obama want to improve our schools.
* Both Edwards and Obama want to improve access to affordable housing.

Third, the distinctions are at the edges, indicating what sorts of pet projects they would have. Now, pet projects of a president have impact. It is clear that Edwards is the class warrior and Obama is the community builder.

Only Edwards has the following class warrior language:
- strengthen unions.
- “create a new Labor taskforce to target the industries with the worst abuses of minimum wage and overtime laws.”
- fight abusive lenders, including banning payday loans.

Only Obama has the following cooperative language:
- tackle concentrated poverty by establishing 20 promise neighborhoods: urban areas with a coordinated focus on eliminating crime and encouraging development.
- ensure community based investment is present in every urban community.
- expanding infrastructure to rural areas.

Finally, in their own words:

"Restoring our moral authority means leading by example and making clear that the hard challenges don't frighten us. There is no better opportunity than the challenge of poverty – the great moral issue of our time."
John Edwards

“I'm in this race for the same reason that I fought for jobs for the jobless and hope for the hopeless on the streets of Chicago; for the same reason I fought for justice and equality as a civil rights lawyer; for the same reason that I fought for Illinois families for over a decade… That's why I'm running, Democrats — to keep the American Dream alive for those who still hunger for opportunity, who still thirst for equality.”
Barack Obama, Speech in Des Moines, IA, November 10, 2007

All of this is a summary of their webpages, for Edwards here, and Obama here.

Sunday, January 13, 2008


I thought I'd toss a little religion and politics into the blog. Combating poverty is something I want out of government. I think that disparity is acceptable as long as the floor in a society is not too low. In the United States we are solidly in the center of this measure. We do way better than developing countries and not nearly as well as EU, Japan, etc.

Also, combating poverty is an absolute mandate from the Old and New Testaments and 2000 years of Christian tradition. (Although, using your government to do it is not necessarily required.) So here is how I rank the candidates on this score, including links to what they have to say.

Barack Obama is my favorite. He talks about helping the working poor. He specifically focuses on making sure that those who work can get by. He also talks about addressing poverty by addressing the crisis caused when fathers are not responsible for their children. I love Obama.

John Edwards is a close second. He seems a little more about class warfare. But in truth, we don't elect kings. So the difference between him and Obama is completely eclipsed by the difference between what they'll want and what they can get.

Hillary Clinton doesn't list poverty as an issue for her. She did lead off with a bit about the middle class. Which is cool. I think the middle class is being squeezed by rising gas prices, rising healthcare costs, and the mortgage crisis. So, okay. But nothing about poverty.

Next would be Mike Huckabee, who I think is against poverty. He, like Hillary, doesn’t have poverty as an issue. He does say this in his anti-abortion rights section:
To me, life doesn't begin at conception and end at birth. Every child deserves a quality education, first-rate health care, decent housing in a safe neighborhood, and clean air and drinking water. Every child deserves the opportunity to discover and use his God-given gifts and talents.
That’s nice. It is clearly not a center piece of his campaign.

None of the other Republicans even give lip service to poverty. Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, Mitt Romney. Actually, I suppose it is possible they could have a paragraph buried somewhere like Huckabee. But their websites are pretty scary now. Full of anti-science, anti-choice, pro-war noise. Mitt Romney's top three issues: (1) Keeping America Safe (2) Confronting Radical Jihad (3) Combating Nuclear Terrorism. Seriously. I think his fourth issue should be Samuel Jackson screaming at you, "What does Marcellus Wallace look like!"

A third Nativity Story

It turns out there is another nativity in the Bible. It goes a little something like this.
A great and wondrous sign appeared in heaven . . .The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it was born. She gave birth to a son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter. . . . The woman fled into the desert to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days. . . . When the dragon saw that he had been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. . . . But the earth helped the woman by opening its mouth and swallowing the river that the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring—those who obey God's commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus.
Read the whole story in Revelation 12. I guess the grown ups talked about this story in Sunday School. Someone suggested, "What if we do THAT for a Christmas pageant!" Most of the parents agreed it would be supported by the children.

Can you image in like 150 years people are surprised to realize that the shepherds, the magi, and the dragon are all found in different parts of the Bible?