Friday, November 9, 2007

Support a Post Iraq G.I. Bill

I'm writing this post to call attention to an Op-Ed in today's New York Times. Written by Senators Chuck Hagel (R) and Jim Webb (D), it's calling for a "Post Iraq G.I. Bill".

It is a very brief essay and if you are interested, you can read it here.

I'll quote the core of the argument directly:

Veterans today have only the Montgomery G.I. Bill, which requires a service
member to pay $100 a month for the first year of his or her enlistment in order
to receive a flat payment for college that averages $800 a month. This was a
reasonable enlistment incentive for peacetime service, but it is an insufficient
reward for wartime service today. It is hardly enough to allow a veteran to
attend many community colleges.

It would cover only about 13 percent of the cost of attending Columbia,
42 percent at the University of Hawaii, 14 percent at Washington and Lee, 26
percent at U.C.L.A. and 11 percent at Harvard Law School.

Even with the soaring costs of college, money spent to ensure that our best young people (those with a demonstrated willingness and ability to serve society) reach their full potential is an intelligent investment. I'm sure many of you would agree that it is also our moral obligation as a nation.

Although this issue seems like a no-brainer to me, we can't seem to take any progressive measure for granted in our government today. So, if you have time, take 5 minutes to email your Representative and Senators to express support for this measure - just a single line asking for their support of the Hagel-Webb Post Iraq G.I. Bill.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Leadership Under the Radar

Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of New York City, gave a speech last week that I wanted to promote.

It is a bit of a long read, so unless you are a political junkie, an environmentalist, and/or a policy wonk like me, you may find it painful or impossible to read. If you are up for reading it though, you can find it here.

The public is understandably unhappy with both of our political parties today. I know numerous Americans that care tremendously about the future of this country, but they have no confidence in the ability of any politician to make a difference. As a result, they have tuned out. Some no longer vote, most no longer really investigate politicians' records or actively listen to their rhetoric.

In short, many Americans are no longer even looking for leadership.

This is tragic because I think it is still there. Bloomberg's speech is a good example of leadership, but I had to work a bit to find it in the New York Times (i.e. it wasn't near the front page).

There is no doubt that the media is partially to blame. In today's New York Times, one of their regularly featured opinion writers wrote about "...the failure of the [presidential] candidate[s] to galvanize supporters with a vision so compelling as to be almost irresistible."

This is simply not true.

Having researched this myself over the last few months, I know that several candidates have produced very specific plans for energy, immigration and Iraq (beyond simply deciding to withdraw or stay). Of course, these plans may not be "so compelling as to be almost irresistible", but that does not mean that they are neither serious nor detailed - and realistically that is all we can ask.

For democracy to work well, we need an engaged electorate. If we continue to be apathetic - both in our research and our personal advocacy, we will get what we deserve - more of the same.