Archived: They Are Not Nice People


Watching the end of Round One of Barack Obama’s capitulation over the debt ceiling, I thought to myself “they are not nice people.” I was referring to the president and members of Congress who were falling all over themselves taking credit for preventing a financial disaster.

Aside from the hypocrisy and the obfuscation of the fact that it was all about protecting the richest 1 percent of Americans and not the poor, the vote also underscored Barack Obama’s unwillingness to fight for the other 99 percent.

It also put a nail in the coffin of Obama’s re-election campaign.

Almost everyone knew that George W. Bush was not the sharpest knife in the box, but they felt that he was strong. Michael Dukakis, much brighter than “W,” lost by a landslide to “W’s” father. The voters had perceived Dukakis as weak thus torpedoing his election in 1988.

Addressing the press on August 3, Obama resembled Bambi caught in the headlights of oncoming traffic. He vowed that he would continue to fight for the middle-class and create jobs.

The fact is that going on the third year of his presidency, he has done neither, resulting in the disaffection of labor and much of his core constituency.

For Latinos, the Obama presidency has been a disaster. He has done nothing about immigration reform; in fact, deportations have increased under his watch.

The debt ceiling capitulation seals his legacy. It insures the elimination of programs for the poor while at the same time putting Medicare at risk. The vaunted trigger will inevitably be pulled and Republicans will beat Obama.

How more blunt can Republicans get? Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) has said that working with Obama is like working with a bowl of Jell-O.

The deep cuts made on the budget without corresponding taxes on the rich insure that there won’t be funds to pay for job programs. Labor knows that Wall Street had Obama on the bailout, which resulted in more profits for Wall Street and few jobs. Labor is not stupid; it knows that the private sector will continue to sit on its money while giving its managers huge bonuses.

Labor knows that these are not nice people.

A day before the capitulation, Amanda M. Fairbanks published an article in the Huffington Post titled “Seeking Arrangement: College Students Using ‘Sugar Daddies’ To Pay Off Loan Debt.” .

The article interviews middle-class female students who resorted to websites such as in order to hook up with older men who will give them money for education costs and credit card debts in exchange for sex. Fairbanks says that about 800,000 female students are members of the sugar daddy sites.

Obama’s Jell-O approach has enabled this situation.

Most university professors and students are aware of the tremendous increase in tuition in the past decade. When I began my education at Los Angeles State College in 1955, the fees were under $10 a month. Education was affordable.

However, the commitment to higher education has waned as the baby boomers who were the recipients of low cost tuition shifted the tax burden to the middle class and the poor.

As late as 1998 the tuition at the California State University where I teach was under $2000 a year. It started to climb in 2003 and by 2005 it reached $3000. In 2009 it was just over $3000 rising to just under $5000 the next year.

In July 2011, the state budget “triggered” demands for further increases, which according to most, were inevitable.

Actually the situation is even worse at the University of California and at private universities where tuition reaches $50,000 a year. Those in search of a sugar daddy are caught in this quagmire. Like little girls were conditioned to believe that they had to have a Barbie to be happy, attending a tier one university is to some a necessity.

Students of all colors know that they will not become a Mark Elliot Zuckerberg, yet education is still essential for a better life. For minorities, there is no choice.

But even at the tier 4 colleges the ugly head of the corporate driven recession is having consequences. I have had students who work as strippers and they have told me stories of attempts to force them into escort service.

It’s one thing if a person chooses to go into this line of work, but it is different when a person does so because they are hungry or desperate. So with the rising costs of education expect the sugar daddy websites to grow.

I almost vomited when I heard a Democratic boast that the deal had saved Pell Grants. This is disingenuous. They have been cut severely under Obama and the rising tuition costs have diluted their remaining impact, helping only a small minority of students.

Comparing Obama to Dukakis probably does the former Massachusetts governor a disfavor. He served two terms as governor and was regarded as a person of principle. His principled stand against the death penalty cost him the election as Republicans distorted his record and ridiculed him for riding around in a tank.

You can bet that Republicans will pin the moniker of President Jell-O on Obama. Polls indicate that his popularity has plummeted as a result of the debt-ceiling struggle.

Obama may see himself as a Henry Clay or a Daniel Webster, but many of his former supporters look at him as an appeaser. It is one thing to capitalize on the assassination of Bin Laden, and then cringe at the antics of the keepers of the insane asylum. Conceding to bad people makes him complicit.

Dr. Rodolfo F. Acuña teaches at California State University, Northridge and the author of several books.

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