Saturday, March 10, 2007

Century of the Common Iowan is 1 Year Old

One year ago yesterday, I started Century of the Common Iowan. I picked the name in honor of the great Iowan, Henry Wallace, who was Vice President under FDR. In my first post, I wrote...

Wallace never became President. If he had the world would surely be a different place today. That doesn't mean his message should be forgotten. We have started a new Century, so lets call for the 21st Century to be the Century of the Common Man. In a time when our nations priorities are backwards, we need a Century of the Common Man. There is no better place to start the call than in the state where Henry Wallace was born, Iowa.
I wanted the blog to be a collection of interesting stories and videos that I found and a chance for me to write about some of the important issues that affect the lives of common Iowans. It seems that a lot of our political debate is centered around the hot button wedge issues, while the issues that affect the live of the common Iowan are continually being ignored.

Over the past year I have written a lot about issues such as the rising cost of college tuition and Iowa's Brain Drain, immigration, and the need for a trade policy that protects American jobs. I have focused on the need to stand up for the core Democratic values of equality, opportunity, freedom, the rule of law, separation of powers, and security.

This has led me write about the false moderates that make up part of the Democratic Party. These so-called Centrists fail to stand up for these core Democratic beliefs. They believe they can have it both ways by voting for the interests of big business, while speaking about the interests of the common American. Then they tell the core Democrats their views are out of the mainstream. David Sirota writes...
That’s really the problem with the term - and with Washington’s definition of it. “Centrism” as defined in the political dialogue today means “being in the middle of elite opinion in Washington, D.C.” But if you plot this “center” on the continuum that is American public opinion, you will find that it is nowhere near the actual center of the country at large. The center of elite Washington opinion is ardently free trade, against national health care, opposed to market regulation, for continuing the Iraq War, and supportive of the flattest tax structure we’ve had in contemporary American history. That center is on the extreme fringe of the center of American public opinion, which is ardently skeptical of free trade, for universal health care, supportive of strong market regulations, insistent that the war end soon, and in favor of making the tax system more progressive.

I have been lucky and received some invitations to meet politicians when they have been in Iowa that I would not have gotten if I did not have a blog. These have come from Wesley Clark, Bill Richardson, John and Elizabeth Edwards, and Iowans for Sensible Priorities. I haven't been able to attend some of these events, but it is great to be invited.

Some political events in Iowa that I did get a chance to attend include John Edwards campaigning in Ames and his official announcement for President, Tom Harkin campaigning for a local state house race, Chris Dodd campaigning for Chet Culver and Dave Loebsack, and live blogged from Barack Obama's rally in Ames (Part 1 and Part 2). In the Democratic Primary for Governor, I wrote a lot about the Ed Fallon campaign, clean elections, and the Values Fund. Before the 2006 Elections, I had the chance to have meetings with Dave Loebsack, Selden Spencer, and Denise O'Brien.

Some people ask me why I take the time to do this. I am reminded of this quote by Paul Wellstone...
Politics is what we create by what we do, what we hope for, and what we dare to imagine.
It has been a great year blogging and I don't plan on stopping anytime soon. Thanks for reading and please keep coming back.


Anonymous said...


A true heir to the Lorax.

rz said...

hey, I enjoy your blog very much.

Keep up the good work!

Roland said...

Good post. FWIW, the brain drain is happening throughout the US these days, and IMHO it's for a simple reason-- the United States, along with Australia, Canada and even Britain to an extent, is extremely hostile to professionals with families. Also, with the unbelievable costs of education, social mobility is much lower now than in Europe, a reverse of the past century.

In European countries like Austria, Italy, Spain, Germany and France, new mothers are allowed many months to take care of newborn children. Even fathers get many weeks at home, and there is never, ever a stigma against a mother pumping milk, or against a father picking up a child at daycare, or taking a child to a health clinic, for example. Plus, the schools on the European continent are excellent, all the way up through the universities, and best of all, they're community-funded-- you don't have to go deep into debt to provide a college or graduate school education for your kids, as you do in North America!

The only hassle, really-- and it's a minor one-- is learning a foreign language, like German, Italian or French, and raising your kids in it. Most of my friends who've emigrated say it's not that hard to do, you'll get fluent after no more than 2 years in the country, tops, especially if you get some language tapes and practice a little in the USA beforehand. (German has a reputation for being hard, but it really isn't tough to learn.) I've even had some friends move out to East Asia (esp if they have Asian heritage) and South America, for similar reasons.

Honestly, for Iowa and anywhere else to stop this brain drain, there have to be major reforms, even cultural changes. Public education has to be improved, and US colleges and professional schools shouldn't bankrupt students-- they should be open to anyone with the ability to attend them and tuition should be subsidized, as they are in Europe. It costs well over half a million dollars over 4 years in a private high school (which is often the only alternative in many US cities, where the public schools are terrible) and 4 years in college. This is an outrage for ambitious working- and middle-class families!

Also, there has to be more respect for mothers and fathers who want to care for children in their first year. No more laying off or cutting the pay of young mothers and fathers who want to take off a little time to have kids.

And more respect for well-trained professionals who bust their tails for US companies. It's outrageous that so many of my friends with advanced degrees are not only forced to work 60-hour weeks, but are seeing diminishing pay and benefits as well as work abuse and layoffs as these days. Outsourcing has to be combatted, and the idiotic H1-B program should be cut, to allow for wages for US-trained professionals to rise as they naturally should, commensurate with their skills.

I don't expect these reforms to happen anytime soon. Which means that US states from New York to Iowa and California (as well as Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom) will continue to drain off their professionals to European countries that are friendlier to professional couples and their families.

Roland said...

A big cause of the brain drain out of the US, summarized here:

The money quote:

''The majority of the middle class can't count on paid parental leave when they need it, paid sick leave when they need it, having the ability to address the sick needs of children, elderly parents or other family members," Heymann said.'

What I found shocking is that the US is not only just about dead-last among industrialized countries, along with Australia, the UK and Canada-- we're also way behind even many developing countries such as Vietnam and El Salvador!

So we fail to allow mothers and fathers to go to the hospital to care for their sick children, yet we spend hundreds of billions of dollars on deadly weapons and Middle East imperial petroleum wars. WTF? How did our policies get so screwed-up here?

iPol said...

Hey, congrats on your one year anniversary, and best wishes for many more!

Thanks for writing such an interesting and informative blog that so many enjoy.

Sousy said...

Ahh, it seems just like yesterday.

(Congrats, and sorry for missing this post until now!)