Tuesday, September 23, 2008

On Organizers and Economics (and the Self)

Hello friends. I'm taking a brief break from reading 200 pages for my government seminar on US-Latin American Relations to update you (loved ones at home and friends I somehow don't get to talk to here) on my life. In three words, I'm doing well. I've been able to wake up on time for class every day, which is a super-huge improvement from last year. True, 10:30am is not early in the real world, but for me, it's a step forward, and hopefully proof that taking last semester off was a) a good idea, and b) successful in de-stressing and getting re-energized. I've been taking advantage of all the opportunities Harvard has to offer, a lot more than I was able to when I was so overwhelmed. A definite plus is that I actually enjoy my classes this semester. Introductory French is so much fun! Gen Ed science ("Invisible Worlds" on microscopic objects and their behavior) is interesting. My two gov classes (Politics of the European Union and Latin American Relations) cover areas that hold the greatest interest for me. Academically, this year has so much potential.

On a more personal level, I've found reconnecting with friends to be relatively easy. I was a little scared that I might have trouble getting back into the social-ness of college life, but having great friends (and a handy email list) solved that. True, being seniors, our lives are super busy, trying to get jobs, take tests, get into grad/law/med school, but I've enjoyed the year so far and I'm looking forward to many more good times.

As part of the "taking advantage of Harvard" thing, I went to Manchester, NH (affectionately termed Manch-Vegas by the Harvard Dems) to canvass for Obama. For the campaign newbies among us, canvassing is basically knocking on doors, asking people some questions, and taking down their answers to provide campaigns with all sorts of information that helps them win. Of course, I canvassed for Barack Obama, as well as for Jeanne Shaheen for Senate. It was a really fun time with friends, and I made new ones too. The best part was that with almost 150 Harvard students, we were able to cover the entire city, knocking on almost 3400 doors, well worth giving up a few (ok, 8) hours on a Sunday where I probably wouldn't be doing anything anyway. With only six more weeks until the election, every day, every volunteer, every door knocked on and every voter contacted is crucial.

As the past week on Wall Street demonstrated, this is election is crucial. While all Democrats can't be excused from creating the financial crisis we're in, this was mostly of result of the natural greed of major Wall Street players being allowed to run unchecked and unregulated by a Bush Administration and 12 years of Republican control of Congress that held deregulation as a fundamental principle of their rule. And 4 more years of Republicans in the White House would be even worse because the appearance of financial institions that are "too big to fail" can be attributed to former Texas Senator Phil Gramm, whose Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999 removed the New-Deal-era ban on combining investment banks with regular deposit banks. Now who is Phil Gramm top economic adviser to? John McCain. Now because regualr banks of every stripe were allowed to give mortgages to anyone with a heartbeat and package and resell them in way too complicated finanical instruments to investment banks, we find our government contemplating the $700 billion Mother of All Bailouts to save our entire financial system from collapsing, which currently written, will most likely allow Wall Street fatcats to turn a profit at taxpayer expense. For an excellent critique of the plan, check out the New York Times' Paul Krugman, my favorite pop economist.

So please, friends, do your part, and help take our country back from the obscenely wealthy and the Republicans who service, I mean serve, them. Elect Barack Obama president! Ciao.

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