What are the top three things you're worried about these days? James's blog Comments my panic buttons The war - on so many fronts, it is ruinous to us and seems to me to be the realization of all of Bin Laden's dreams: as the Mujahadeen pulled off in Afghanistan, this fiasco is draining us financially, leading us to destroy our moral core as a nation through acts that bring shame to our best instincts, and leaves us with the mess of damaged, returning soldiers(remember the Soviets had scores of heroin-addicted vets after their debacle.) It is a proven gameplan for our enemies, and GWB bit the hook, bigtime. Second, the global warming for which we are unprepared. I would put it first, but I figure our bankruptcy needed addressing first. People know, more and more, that it is serious, but feel paralyzed to take much action(in my opinion.) We have already started on the path of solar energy, but we took a long time to plan and took on a debt to do it, but many people are now in lean times and making an investment is painful. Third, I worry about the education of my son. I want him to have the intellectual tools for a future that may be pretty gloomy - and he is a very bright and creative kid, one with a natural sense to improve upon things. It is hard to think that we could put a lot of resources into his education now, but still be strained to afford the education he needs in the future.(My husband went to Brown and it is a fairy tale to think we could afford that in the future.) Went long, but those are the things keeping me up at night. Not that you asked, but my husband the demographer talks a lot about a massive epidemic, so that would be my number four. I'm not going to panic...not yet Top three concerns are economy, water supply, healthcare. I know water supply is really limited and local, but I'm worried that the bulldozer mentality is going to win and we're all going to suffer. Economy - we have a safety net, but when you're in your mid 40s, you're just old enough to not want to dip into college funds and retirement funds to supplement. We are cutting back - not because we are at risk immediately, but b/c it's the smart thing to do with what we could be facing. Healthcare - we have excellent insurance - but one catastrophic illness or accident and we could lose everything. I'm going to have a huge garden this year so I can share with my neighbors and put away a canned supply for winter. I really am worried - not just for our little family - but for our community. *************************** Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own. My list 1. Renewable energy / energy independence / climate change 2. Women's rights, including abortion rights 3. Separation of church and state On deck: 1. Health care for all 2. Transparency in government 3. The rise of free-market extremism My three... OK four 1. Rule of Law/Constitution/Civil Society - The lack of reverence for our processes and traditions in favor of hyper-partisan power grabs. 2. Money and politics - the extreme influence of moneyed special interests rather than the needs of the people and our community as whole. 3. Environment/Sustainability - our grandchildren cannot live the way we do today - and the more we use up resources now, the worse our children and grand children's quality of life will be. 4. Intolerance - the promise of equal treatment and opportunity is often overcome by racism, bigotry, and simple intolerance of our many differences. --- Ed Ridpathwww.EdRidpath.com --- Ed Ridpathwww.EdRidpath.com Hey, I had six But I might have to add these, too. An even 10! My favorite headline so far this month From Ms. Cloud. My top three 1. abortion rights 2. degradation in intellect and education of people running for local government offices 3. apathy of the voter All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing -Edmund Burke I like number 2 It won't be turned around quickly. Sometimes I think the best answer is simply to pay more for public service, a lot more. That's how you get the best people. If US Marines and soldiers got the same pay as mercenaries, our military would be even more awesome than it is, and we wouldn't need Blackwaters. If school teachers were paid like mercenaries, our public schools would totally rock. We have to be able to fire screw-ups more easily, though. That's a problem in some public sector organizations - as it is in some companies. I don't have an answer on how to do it. And civic education We'll get better candidates/policy when people have a better understanding of government generally, and the issues in particular. The Rs like to paint government as the enemy, and too many people have bought into that idea. The lack of education on the idea of government as the collective will of the people has fed into that view. All of the specific issues are bogged down in that fundamental disconnect. choosing 3 was harder to do than I imagined 1. Environmental issues 2. Corporate controlled media 3. General public's apathy/lack of interest/knowledge/participation in civic affairs It is hard to choose three. And it's even harder to rank them. So here are my concerns, in no particular order. The war. It seems to be slipping off the radar, and I don't get that. I don't see it ending any time soon, and that scares the bejeebus out of me, because it affects so many other things, like our relationship with other countries in the world, our economy, and potentially, my son's future. Teachers are not paid enough. Police officers are not paid enough. CEO's are, in general, paid too much. And the President and Congress are talking about throwing $250 at us as an incentive to stimulate the economy. Idiots. OK - and as I ramble on - It seems almost a cliche to say this, but I'm very worried about the blinders that people wear - the idea that we've seen expressed that there is no "real" poverty in the United States. I guarantee you that tonight in NC, in your town, in my town, there are children going to bed hungry and cold, who have not had the proper immunizations, and who will not get a good education because of all of the above. I cannot believe that people buy into the idea that people are poor because they somehow want to be or somehow deserve it. Sure, to some extent, we make our own destiny, but there's not a parent alive who wants their child to be hungry or cold. So, um, get a f*cking clue (I guess I found my hot button.) I could write for days on this, but I'm not going to, because it's nearly 2 am, and I'm tired. But I think you get my drift. Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi My top three 1. The resegregation of our schools. I'm afraid we're due to see the ghettoization of an unconscionably large portion of North Carolina's school children once again unless we do something double-quick. Here's a statement that will tick everybody off for one reason or another: I think we should cancel school choice and we need to take a serious look at what ESL schools do to our newest students in the long run. We need to put our schools back together by first putting our KIDS back together. It's going to take radical measures. 2. Money and its influence in our government and elections. 3. The Idiocracy that runs our media. (Robert P. quoted my favorite movie this week. When was the last time you watched "Network"? Never has a prescient, intelligent film been more wonderful to watch.) I saw an MSNBC promo for one of the debates last week and thought the world had ended. MTV feeds greed, stupidity and abject artlessness to our children. Everything else just promotes callous, vicious competition and the pornography of humiliation. My innermost maniacal ravings are: 1. The sustainability of our nation. The vast majority of the people who represent us at both the state and national level seem incapable of or unwilling to pull their heads out of their self-serving asses long enough to actually focus on and solve our problems...and the vast majority of our citizens are "too busy" living their hampster-on-a-wheel lives to get involved and actually think before they vote (if they vote at all). Until this problem gets fixed (and maybe it will sometime shortly before or after our economy collapses, gas is $20/gal and rationed, food prices go up 25% with shortages, and there is massive unemployment) nothing nothing else is going to get quickly fixed. 2. Disregarding my encompassing concern (and pessimism) above, my greatest follow-on concern is our failing economy facilitated by a feckless Congress that has bent over and kissed George Bush's worthless ass at every opportunity...rather than reigning in the war, our massive foreign trade deficit and debt, doing something meaningful to stop the $Billions going out every day to pay for oil....and stopping the massive waste and fraud going on in our government. 3. My next greatest concern is my neighbors and community. Few seem to be considering the possibilities of some big problems. In our neighborhood of 65 homes, two own hybrid autos. When a recycling service became available ($10/month) only 10 subscribed. Even fewer will be prepared to weather a depression of any depth or term....nor are they willing to discuss what might be done to prepare for a worst case scenario. Perhaps I'm too much of an "ant and the grasshopper" thinker, but pessimists are rarely disappointed and usually prepared. All of this, of course, doesn't even consider the possibility of foreign involvement here and our involvements abroad...and what that may mean or bring to us. I'm leaving in a few minutes to continue SC phone-banking for Edwards....have a good Sunday. Stan Bozarth The emotional response I want to make clear that I don't think these are the top concerns overall, but instead the things which keep me biting my nails and fretting over. 1.) Global warming and making the transition to a sustainable economy. As a teenager, I only worried about the environmental impacts of global warming. Now that I've seen a bit more of the world, I think I have a better understanding of what the damage of economic turmoil actually looks like. We've got major environmental problems approaching, but I'm now as worried about what happens to the economic structures of the country that rely heavily on cheap petroleum to function, and what happens if we don't replace those before the oil goes away. 2.) The water supply. The constant drumbeat in Durham of "X number days until the water runs out" sort of keeps you on your toes, and having to use the shutoff valve in the shower in the morning to not feel bad about taking one keeps driving it home. But what concerns me more than anything is not the level of the reservoirs, but what happens to our local farmers and the natural areas that we have around here if the ground water levels start to really collapse for a second year. I have so much attachment to the natural landscape of North Carolina that the thought of major ecological changes here makes me cringe. 3.) The state of Durham as a community. By this I mean not just the crime levels the Raleigh news organizations love to talk about so much, but also the employment availability. I worry about jobs not just for those of us with higher ed degrees, but for folks who just want to work hard and make a decent living without having to retrain completely every 10 years. While I don't know what the answer is (despite Friday's long post on rail), I get the strong feeling that our current economic incentives structure just isn't it. In the long run, I think the war is a lot more important, but I have to say I've lost a lot of the ability to be worried about it. I simply don't know what else to do about it other than kick Republican ass as much as possible, and throw out some of our less, ah, responsive Democrats in the process. tough to limit it to three 1) I agree with Brunette - "degradation in intellect and education of people running for local government offices" - this seems to be rearing its head more and more. Decisions at the local level affect water supply, development, education, etc and more and more I am convinced the individuals in these offices have been there too long, do not have the education and intellect to make informed, rational decisions on issues that affect quality of life. 2) The effect of money on politics - The best people are not running, the best people do not always have access to the most funds. Democracy is at risk when money limits the pool of possible candidates to those who know how to bend the rules, break the rules, get the money. 3) Environment - global warming, water supply, general stewardship (development, runoff) - these are big and call for individuals to make small, but significant sacrifices. But who is inspiring us to make those changes? (see 1 and 2) Al Manning, retiree, native of eastern NC and proud of it, plenty of time to read, research and get annoyed about the lack of accountability in elected leaders these days. Married to a real southern lady and we live with two labs and two airedales who run Argh, just three? It's almost impossible. 1. Reproductive freedom/abortion rights/easy access to low-cost contraceptives/comprehensive sex education. Yes, that's a lot to cram into one issue, but it's all on a spectrum as far as I'm concerned. I think our common goal is to reduce the number of abortions performed in this country. Let's face it; it's not something that a woman does on a lark, for fun. But to have fewer abortions, we need MORE comprehensive sex ed in schools and better access to free or low-cost contraceptives and Plan B. 2. Environmental concerns. We need a solid renewable energy policy, we need intelligent people at the local level dealing with issues like growth and with water management (HELLO, DURHAM, please let's not wait until we're *out* of water before enacting tougher conservation measures...). 3. Health care for everyone, and I mean everyone, regardless of ability to pay. --------- Honorable mentions: War in Iraq, gay rights, abolishing the death penalty, ditching the cap on Social Security, China's human rights abuses (and our own, ARGH, including Guantanamo, Abu Garib, and why we used kidnapped foreign nationals to build our embassy in Iraq), religious tolerance for all. This is too fun to pass up ... 1. Electoral reform. Get the money out. Shorten the process. Fix the primary system. 2. Education. Trash NCLB. End the dark Age of bubbling in a,b,c, or d. Let teachers do their job. 3. The sanity of my county commissioners. They keep getting closer to allowing our landfill to become a mega landfill, and they have underfunded our schools for years. Lots of topics could have made (dis)honorable mention.... but I'll refrain. Person County Democrats I actively oppose gerrymandering. Do you? My top 3 1.) Ignoring the Constitution. It leads to all the problems we see above. The Founders would be amazed if they saw all that was being done in government today and how the Constitution is ignored. 2.) The economy. The dollar is going to continue its decline. Gold will continue to rise. I predict another Great Depression if we don't do something about our system of spending ourselves into debt and promising things we can't pay (not to mention borrowing $1 billion a day from China to try to keep us afloat). I picked up USA Today yesterday and they acted like interest rate cuts were a good thing. Interest rate cuts benefit Wall Street, and they actually take money away (it would be called stealing if it wasn't done by the government) from poor people and the middle class (who pay higher prices without getting the gains that Wall Street does) and all those who have saved rather than spent their money, especially senior citizens. The American public needs to be educated on this "inflation tax," and it has to end. As Alan Greenspan said about Social Security, "I can guarantee that the dollars will be there-- I can't guarantee how much they're going to be worth, though." It doesn't matter if an SS pensioner makes $100 instead of $50 if the dollar has gone down to 10% of its value. This is why so many middle class people are making negative incomes, not even keeping up with inflation. 3.) Our foreign policy. It's bigger than just one 100-year war (if McCain gets his way). We may go into Iran, we may go into Pakistan, we have bases in 130 countries around the world and our troops are being sent over for the third, fourth, or even fifth time. If we paid attention to #1, we wouldn't have problems with #2 and #3.