Gregory Travis


December 13, 2008

Some time ago a friend suggested that we begin referring to the Republican party as simply the “Low-Wage Party,” since the only consistent theme throughout all Republican platforms seemed to be pushing down wages for the majority of Americans -- presumably so that a minority could scoop up what was left on the table.

Of course the current appellation for the Republican party is, correctly, The Party That Wrecked America (or perhaps the even more grandiose and accurate The Party That Wrecked The World). But if things ever get back to some sense of normalcy, I wonder if, on a day-to-day basis, it wouldn’t make sense to take my friend up on his recommendation and in conversation, casual to formal, refer to the party by its ideological foundations.

Meaning refer to the party as The Low-Wage Party and party members as Low-Wage Republicans.


November 16, 2008

I can’t believe it’s happening, but it is. The administration, by which I mean the Bush administration, is failing in a colossal manner yet again.

They invaded Afghanistan, with the largest and most capable military the world has ever known, to track down and capture one man. One man. And they couldn’t pull it off. Here, seven years later, Osama Bin Laden is still at large and living large, tucked away comfortably in a Pakistani safe house, mailing us taunting home videos.

They attacked Iraq, for no understandable reason, telling us the Iraqis would shower us with flowers and, in no time at all, would be paying their own Visa bills.

Five years later, the country is a hopeless quagmire where unvetted private mercenaries have taken the role as our proxy fighters to the tune of nearly a billion dollars of borrowed money a day.


November 1, 2008

Editor's note: Gregory Travis is still down with the flu and asked that this column from Sept. 4, 2005, be rerun.

***

How do you cause something to atrophy? You just ignore it. How do you get a lot of people to ignore something? By creating a big enough distraction. What's the result if you're successful? The atrophication and death of your subject.

What's the agenda? To kill off national and local government as an instrument of social relief and progress. Why? To replace it with a government of patronage for vested corporate interests.

That's the subtext of the national Republican administration, so successful in their overseas distraction that 200,000 people, most of them of the wrong political demographic, were left stranded and dying for a week in New Orleans.


October 18, 2008

Editor's note: Gregory Travis is down with the flu this week and asked that this column from March 6, 2006, be rerun. It's more relevant than ever, he says.

***

Indiana is the trucking "Crossroads of America" where, apparently, an economy based on little more than storing-and-forwarding stuff made elsewhere can be a healthy and sustainable economy. At least if you believe Morton Marcus.

A couple of weeks ago Marcus wrote of Hendricks County, located to Indianapolis' west, as a place booming with both the second-highest population and the second-highest median income growth in the state.

How did it get that way? By being a warehousing "Mecca," hard against the Indianapolis airport and ready-made to store-and-forward goods produced in one place to consumers located in another.


October 4, 2008

Four years ago, President Bush outlined his vision for an “ownership society,” a society where, “if you own something, you have a vital stake in the future of our country. The more ownership there is in America, the more vitality there is in America, and the more people have a vital stake in the future of this country.”

This “ownership society” would be one in which the individual, not the community, increasingly took title to everything. Success, property and credit would flow to those who deserved them, and away from those who didn’t.

In doing so, Bush told us, our nation would be better. More fragmented. Less homogeneous. But more market-oriented, more dynamic, more equitable in allocating to those who won.


September 20, 2008

If you haven’t heard already, we’re in big trouble. I’m not talking accidentally let the goldfish go down the drain trouble. I’m not talking backed the car out of the garage while the door was still shut trouble. I’m not even talking you committed a hit-and-run in a School Zone, and now your face is on TV, trouble.

I’m talking big trouble. Macro trouble. Makes the Great Depression look like a bounced check to Pizza Express trouble.

Four two years now, the nation’s housing bubble has been deflating. Starting somewhat slowly at first, it’s now plummeting to earth and opening up a black hole that has spread beyond just our shores and to every country on the planet.


September 7, 2008

The essential English leadership secret does not depend on particular intelligence. Rather, it depends on a remarkably stupid thick-headedness. The English follow the principle that when one lies, one should lie big, and stick to it. They keep up their lies, even at the risk of looking ridiculous. -- Joseph Goebbels

***

Like a lot of liberals, I spent much of last week in front of the TV, transfixed by the ugly spectacle of the Republican National Convention. Anxious to learn more of their presumptive vice-presidential nomination, curious as to what issues their presumptive presidential candidate thought important, wondering how the Party that Wrecked America was going to cast itself.

Now I generally like to keep the subject matter of CIVITAS as locally relevant as I can, meaning I generally like to write about local issues. But not today, not after what I saw, and heard, last week. And not after what superficially appears to be a national issue might instead be one of the most locally relevant, ever.


August 24, 2008

It’s hard to think of a tragedy worse than that which befell Elena Veach last week. A talented teacher and wife of Bloomington’s New Tech High School principle Alan Veach, Elena, just 27, fell after giving birth to her son. A victim of genetics gone bad, Elena passed from a congenital heart defect; too soon, and too tragic.

But not without a legacy. For now Elena’s family is struggling to raise funds for which to pay her posthumous medical bills. Bills accrued during her life, due now that it’s over and because it’s over.

A bake sale of sorts, for the past health needs of a vibrant individual. Covering the obligations that she, in death, was forced to lay on the feet of her survivors. Here, in the most prosperous nation on earth.


August 10, 2008

Petitions to government are older than democracy itself. The 13th-century British Magna Carta declared: "If we, our chief justice, our officials, or any of our servants offend in any respect against any man, or transgress any of the articles of the peace or of this security, and the offence is made known to four of the said twenty-five barons, they shall come to us -- or in our absence from the kingdom to the chief justice -- to declare it and claim immediate redress."

Redress. The righting of a wrong, the tortuous equalization of one man's transgression against another. Furthered by the 17th century British Bill of Rights, which steadfastly declared: "That is the right of subjects to petition the King, and all commitments and prosecutions for such petitioning are illegal."

Petition. The sending up of a complaint, from a locality, a municipality, a community, to a government more catholic than that, in an effort to obtain relief.


July 27, 2008

It may be that my generation was the last allowed outside. Born in 1964, the final year of the baby boom, mine was the ultimate generation whose parents either didn’t care about, or were blissfully ignorant of, the real-world’s dangers.

As a 6 year old, I broke my first bone on a jungle-gym that today would violate every tenet of the Geneva conventions. Sharp, metal and covered in rust, it was a geodesic monolith, buried in the school playground, lacerating every kid who dared climb upon it.

Which was all of us.

For my seventh Christmas, my parents bought me a backyard trampoline. As far as I could tell, its purpose was no higher than that of a personal abattoir. Replete with exposed bolts and a brace of jagged springs, the trampoline daily extracted pounds of bloody flesh from both myself and every other kid in the neighborhood.

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