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The Spirit of Woodstock (Get Involved!)

Tomorrow marks the 40th anniversary of the festival officially named An Aquarian Exposition but known more familiarly as Woodstock, and while I'll probably lay low from the many music web sites that I frequent for a few days so that I may be spared any involvement in commemorating this event that included so many poor performances by musicians that I like, perhaps the spirit of Woodstock is hitting me in some ways today as I write this.

No, this is not another shameless attempt on my part to capitalize on a topic that's hot in search engines these days like I've done before (although that certainly doesn't hurt!) but rather a reminder that your participation in the political process could go a long way toward helping yourself financially, and that's a good topic to discuss in a Budget, Save and Eliminate Debt blog.

Whether you agreed with them or not, and that probably depends on your age, the hippies of the 1960s did effectuate some changes by getting involved in the political process and being vocal.  They were directly responsible for the end of the draft, the decrease in the voting age to 18, and maybe even for a swifter end to the Vietnam War.

There's a lot of important debate going on right now regarding matters that could affect your financial well-being.  Unfortunately, what passes for legitimate debate today is anything but.  Some of it is misplaced or lacks focus.  The recent "tea bag" protests are an example.  Having grown up in the '60s and '70s, I believe in everybody's right to assemble and protest, as long as it's peaceful, of course, regardless of whether I agree with them or not.  However, a protest against tax increases aimed at a President who has yet to pass a tax increase or even submit one to Congress, and has in fact cut taxes for working people, strikes me a waste of time and energy.  And if it's the deficit they're protesting, they're eight years too late.

There is also the type of "debate" that prevents any real debate from taking place.  The health care debate has been marred by a series of town hall meetings that have been interrupted by loud, rude "angry Americans" that are obviously plants by a well-organized opposition.  I'm for some form of health care reform myself---it's a mystery to me what anybody likes about the current system---but I need to learn more about any proposals being put forth presently to have any opinion on them specifically.  Unfortunately, it's the hysterical screamers that are getting all the coverage in the media, probably because somebody who knows more about television ratings than I do thinks that somehow hysterical screaming makes for "good TV," and it gives the impression that they represent the majority, which seems unlikely to me.

I don't necessarily think that the media is "liberal" or "conservative."  Rather, I think the media is lazy.  It's so much easier to show a 30-second clip of somebody screaming his head off than to dig for the real story and tie everything together for those of us who want to know.  Nowadays finding out what's really going on takes more effort than ever.

So today's simple message is "get involved."  No, I don't mean by stomping around carrying signs or screaming at town hall meetings.  Stay informed.  No, not through those 30-second sound bites on TV.  The text of every bill being considered by the House and Senate is available on line.  Read them.  Learn how things affect you, financially and otherwise.  Let your representatives in Congress know how you feel.  All it takes is a five-minute phone call or a letter.  Most representatives have web sites from which they can be contacted without you even leaving your computer chair.  So get involved!  Be like the hippies at Woodstock!




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