Right step to the left

While President Obama’s stimulus package – and his attempt to reach across the aisle – may not be what everyone is looking for, it does show a clear shift in economic and executive policy, away from the failed neoliberalism and partisanship of the Bush administration, which advocated tax cuts for the wealthy and a worrying level of corporatism and cronyism.

Obama received a mandate from the people – not as large a mandate as might have been expected, but a much larger one than Bush claimed to have in ’04. While I clearly do not advocate a continuation of any of Bush’s policies, the fact remains that the American people have had enough with neoliberal corporatism, and are looking for the government to take an active role in leading our country out of the recession. The way to do that is through spending on a multitude of projects, which will both lead to more employment and, if done correctly, could create a new, environmentally sustainable infrastructure for America, replacing our dilapidated relics from the 1930s-1950s.

According to The Nation, “If enacted, the economic recovery plan will be one of the biggest and boldest pieces of progressive legislation in the past forty years.” While such a pronouncement might send shivers down the spines of those who continue to extol the virtues of Reganomics or who desire governments so small they cannot govern, it is in line with what the American people voted for when they elected Mr. Obama. While it may not be perfect, the stimulus is certainly the “right” step in the “left” direction, which is what this country needs.

Peter Rhomberg

junior in LAS

Declining birth rates

France, Germany, Austria, and Italy average a 31 percent population decline between generations. The problem isn’t localized to Europe though; the United States is getting close to the small birth rates of Europe. This means countries will have a majority of its population beyond the age of 65.

As populations decline, there will be fewer people in the work force to take care of other people after the retirement age. Financial resources for government institutions such as Medicare and social security will shrink and possibly dry up.

And that is where the Fourth Commandment comes into play. The Fourth commandment says “honor thy Father and Mother.” For Christians, the declining birth rate will challenge their commitment to living out one of God’s Ten Commandments. What will happen when the parents of Christians need medical care and the government isn’t there to pay for it? Will Christians cut back their spending to pay for mom’s prescriptions?

As a Christian I hope that I and other Christians would be able to follow God’s commandment and answer these questions in the affirmative. However, I think it is time to stop “contracepting” ourselves into a population disaster so that we don’t have to face this problem.

The Roman Catholic Church is the only Christian denomination that still holds a stance opposing contraception. The current economic situation is a time for all people, especially Christians, to take a hard look at the role of contraception in society and why the Catholic Church stands in opposition.

Matthew Muller

UIUC FOCUS team director