Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Tuesday December 31, 2013...Last day of this year

For those of you who have lost their jobs or lost their homes or lost their food stamps or lost their unemployment you will be glad to know:

Fueled by the Fed's easy money policies and an improving economy, U.S. stocks are poised to close their best year since 1995. Prior to the final day of trading for 2013, the Dow was up 29% when dividends are included and the S&P 500 32%.
Private-equity firms are set to return over $120B to their investors for this year, surpassing the 2012 record of $115B, Cambridge Associates estimates. The P-E sector has been assisted by low interest rates, which have helped P-E backed companies sell $66.2B worth of debt in 2013 to fund dividends to their owners, up from $64.2B a year earlier.

The rich DO get richer while the poor get poorer. The inequality of our system is showing quite well.

Now all you have to do is survive until it trickles down. But, don't hold your breath!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Sunday December 15, 2013...The "benefits" of Austerity


Greece is the latest example.

This was written by Representative Alan Grayson

From a recent 188-page report by the World Health Organization come these ghastly and appalling factoids:
  • Suicide rates rose 40% in the first six months of 2011 alone.
  • Murder has doubled.
  • 9,100 doctors in Greece, roughly one out of every seven, have been laid off.

Joining those doctors in joblessness are 27.6% of the entire Greek labor force. By comparison, in the depths of the Great Depression, unemployment in the United States peaked at a lower percentage than that. Among Greek young adults under 25 years old, unemployment reached an abominable 64.9% in May. (Yet the unemployment rate in Greece was as low as 7% as recently as 2008.) 

I'm sure that my Tea Party friends will blame universal healthcare, paid sick leave and "generous" unemployment benefits for this catastrophe. "If we simply stopped helping people, then they wouldn't need our help," they would say. You can see where that "logic" leads. The dead need no help whatsoever, except possibly burial. Sort of like this: "The Republican healthcare plan: Don't Get Sick. And if you do get sick, Die Quickly."]

Maybe you think that I'm kidding about what my Tea Party friends would do. I'm not. A few years ago here in Florida, we had a children's health insurance program called KidCare, with a waiting list of over 100,000. The Tea Party Republicans didn't like that. So they eliminated the waiting list.

But back to Greece. A lot of people blame Greek government debt for the current suffering. According to the Central Intelligence Agency, that most authoritative of all conceivable sources, Greek government debt stands at 160% of GDP, which seems like a lot. But Japanese government debt stands at 215% of GDP, and the unemployment rate in Japan is only 4%.

Moreover, Spain's unemployment rate is virtually as high as Greece's, but Spain's government debt stands at only 85% of GDP. That's less debt than Singapore's, and Singapore's unemployment rate is 1.8%.

So we cannot properly attribute the catastrophe in Greece to labor protection, nor can we attribute it to government borrowing. What is the cause, then? The World Health Organization has the answer: austerity. "Austerity" is a bloodless term for gross economic mismanagement, animated by heartlessness. That robotic cut-cut-cut mentality that deprives us of jobs, of public services, of safety, of health, of infrastructure, of help for the needy, and -- ultimately -- of our economic equilibrium and the ability to survive. The mentality that ushers in, and welcomes, a vicious war of all against all. Austerity is destroying an entire country, right before our eyes.

Or, as the World Health Organization put it: "These adverse trends in Greece pose a warning to other countries undergoing significant fiscal austerity, including Spain, Ireland and Italy. It also suggests that ways need to be found for cash-strapped governments to consolidate finances without undermining much-needed investments in health."

In America, we have a rich and powerful lobby that has the same prescription for every economic malady: austerity. Cut-cut-cut. Cut Social Security and Medicare. Cut teacher and police and firefighter jobs. Cut health care. Cut pay and cut pensions. It all boils down to that one ugly word: austerity. And austerity always brings disarray, disaster, decay and death.

People often ask me my position on various issues. Well, I'm for certain things, and I'm against others. But on one issue, I'm very consistent. I'm against pain and suffering. Especially avoidable pain and suffering. And therefore, I'm against austerity. It begins with seemingly innocuous budget cuts. It then leads inexorably to the destruction of countless lives.

Why am I telling you about Greece? In 1935, Sinclair Lewis wrote a book called "It Can't Happen Here." But it can. And it's up to us to prevent it.


Rep. Alan Grayson

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Saturday December 14, 2013...GROWN-DOWNS

All those younger years I looked forward to the day when I would be "grown up".  We were all small when we were young and we always looked up to the older folks.  We anticipated the future when we would be "grown-up"and be able to do the things we wanted to do without anybody else's approval.  We went to school and studied and eventually got jobs where we learned more duties, all part of "growing up".

I did my part, I studied, I worked, I tried to fit the part of a grown up.  The years flew by and here I sit in front of my computer looking back.  I grew up.  But somewhere along the line, things changed and I started growing down.  For some inexplicable reason, my stature has diminished – my spine has compressed, and I'm shorter than I was.  I have grown down instead of up.  I don't know how to act as a grown-down.  All my life I wanted to be a grown-up and worked hard to become one.  Now that I'm a grown-down, I'm not sure how to act or what to do.

I'm pretty sure that a grown-down walks a little slower, and keeps his eye on the ground in front of him.  He walks a little more stoop-shouldered but has a pretty good idea of where he's going.  A grown-down doesn't have to put on airs.  He's satisfied with who he is and what he has done.  He has thought through his philosophy of life and knows what he knows and you can't change his mind.  Clothes hang a little different on his grown-down body, but he's not as worried about his appearance as he was when he was younger.  He doesn't have to impress people any longer.

I tried to find some books and reference materials about grown-downs, but there isn't much out there.  I think the grown-downs have figured it out and don't want to share the answers.  They just want to be left alone to live comfortably now that they've reached this point in their lives.  I know I'm more content with what I've got, and I'm quite comfortable looking back over the memories I've created during my lifetime.  I think most grown downs have a tendency to look back about as much as they look forward.  Pleasant memories that reside in your brain are like a good book that you can come back to and reread any time you wish – complete with sounds and picture.

My daughter tells me that I'm really not a grown-down.  I'm more of a worn-down.  Perhaps she's right.  I've had a lot of my rough edges smoothed over, and I'm not as frisky as I used to be.  I don't take as many chances as I did once, and I don't recover quite as quickly as I did when I was younger.  My mind still seems to be pretty sharp, but parts of my body have retired before some of the others.  My mind tells me to do something, but my body says "no way".  So I suppose I'm more of a worn-down-grown-down, which is still perhaps a bit better than being an up-and-coming grown-up.  So all of you grown downs out there, just sit back and relax and go with the flow.  There is no hurry and there is nowhere you have to go – just be.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Friday November 22, 2013...Fifty years today

Friday, November 22, 1963

I remember that day. Friday afternoon the head of my department came into the room and announced that the President had been shot. He sent everyone home for the rest of the day. Nobody knew exactly what was happening. We were all is a state of shock that something like this could happen in the United States to our young and vibrant President. I spent that whole weekend glued to the old black and white television that continuously reported on the events taking place in Dallas and later in Washington. The whole country watched the memorial and the burial and the killing of Oswald. The whole country stopped for that week after the assassination and watched. We watched as the Vice President Lyndon Johnson, who we really didn't even know, took over the reins of the federal bureaucracy. We watched John John as he saluted his father's casket. We watched as the Kennedys gathered sadly and stone faced. We waited to see who had been up on the grassy knoll behind the fence. We wondered how one man could have been so accurate so quickly to hit the moving cars. I think most everyone assumed it was a hit squad covering the route from several points. It had us all watching and waiting and sadly missing President Jack Kennedy.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Saturday November 9, 2013...THINGS CHANGE


I'm now in the elder state of life. I, and my fellow elders, can now remember a world that is no more. My father used to tell me of a world before I came of open prairies and clean, clear streams. He missed the fenceless open pasture of central Kansas and the unpolluted streams that you could drink from. I never knew that world, so I didn't miss it. I remember a world of small farms and small towns with local and state highways connecting them. I remember drives into the country through town squares and country cafes and burma-shave adds and telephone poles along each road. I remember one car families with empty streets during the day. I remember stay at home mothers caring for their kids after school. Before television, we would play outside a lot and in the evening we would listen to radio programs. Neighbors all looked out for each other and their kids. There were neighborhood markets and dime stores and drug stores and movie theaters all withing walking distance. Milk was delivered by the milk man and bread was delivered by the Manor man. When it snowed, some of the hilly streets were closed off from traffic and the children went sledding in the streets. There were no shopping centers, no Kmarts, no Walmarts, no chain drug stores, no super markets, no Home Depots. There were no visa or mastercard credit cards. You had to establish credit with each store you shopped in or with money loaned to you by the bank or cash on hand. You had a local gas station where they also worked on cars. All the local stores hired young kids to help on a part time basis which gave a young person their first taste of employment and cash management. Music was only available over AM stations and there was no stereo. It wasn't until the development of transistors that there were portable radios available. Television, when it came, was only in black and white and only on in the evenings to start with. Air conditioning was only available in movie theaters and ice cream parlors. There were no fast food restaurants, only cafes and a few drive-ins. Any after school activities had to be within walking distance because dad had the family car to go to work and mom was at home doing the laundry, without a dryer, or preparing dinner, without a microwave or prepackaged food, or doing dishes, without a dishwasher. Clothes were not wrinkle free and had to be ironed by hand. Houses were left open during the warm season to help cool and they needed to be dusted quite often. Before oil burners and gas burning furnaces coal had to be stored in the coal bin and shoveled into the furnace daily. The coal deposited a fine black dust on clothes that had to be washed off. Before calculators and computers there were comptometers to add up figures for offices and many people were employed at comptometer operators. Engineers used sliderules and books of logarithmic tables to help calculate. There were no copy machines, so people used carbon paper to make copies of what they were writing or typing. Typewriters were all manual (no electric) and any mistakes had to be dealt with on the original as well as the carbon copies. Records were only available on 78 rpm hard plastic disks before 45 rpm and eventually 33 1/3 rpm vinyl disks were invented. There were reel-to-reel recorders available, but very expensive. 8 track and cassette player/recorders came along later. Later yet, CDs and DVDs and digital recording became available. Before jet planes, the constellation was the largest airliner used to fly between cities. Planes and trains were the fastest way to travel across the country because there were no interstate highways.

These are some of my memories of a world that no longer exists and that younger folks would not recognize. Their memories will be of a different world. Whose world is better? Who really knows? Things change, some for the good – some for the bad. I like my memories, I liked my world. Some things have gotten easier and the world has become more instant and seems smaller. But that's my viewpoint, from one of the elders.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Monday November 4, 2013...Help the poor or Support the military-industrial-complex

We're cutting back on food stamps and head start and education and medicaid, but not on our Miltary-Industrial-Complex.

During World War II, this nation converted its civilian manufacturing base into the creation of weapons and military equipment. However, the arms industry did not revert back to its original functions upon the war’s end; instead, it continued to grow and expand. The Cold War did much to precipitate the amount of money our government was spending on the arms race and to counter the Soviet threat. Today, the U.S. spends fifty cents out of every discretionary tax dollar on war and militarism. We spend almost as much on the military as the rest of the world combined, and we are by far the largest arms exporter in the world, accounting for 78% of such sales. Russia is in second place with 5.6%.

The term “Military Industrial Complex” was first coined by President Eisenhower in 1961 during his farewell address to the nation to describe the unprecedented American arms industry coupled with an immense military establishment. He warned us to “...guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

The military aid that the U.S. “gives” to other countries comes in the way of credits which can only be used to purchase U.S. weapons systems, equipment and training. The cost of those aid credits comes directly out of the pockets of the American taxpayer and right into the bank accounts of the defense industry. The U.S. provides around $50 billion dollars in aid annually to over 150 nations, with at least $17 billion of that being military aid. Our foreign military aid programs keep the Military Industrial Complex (MIC) machine well oiled and running smoothly; with big profits for the likes of Lockheed Martin and Boeing, all courtesy of American taxpayers.

The “rise of misplaced power” that Eisenhower warned of is easily seen by the influence the Military Industrial Complex has on Congress and the decisions it makes about war, budgeting, and foreign policy. Defense firms spend millions lobbying Congress to protect their weapons programs from spending cuts and to promote military actions. Senators who voted in favor of a military strike against Syria received an average of 83 percent more money from the defense industry than senators who voted against the resolution.

When chemical weapons were used to kill civilians in Syria recently, the U.S. was quick to say that President Assad had violated international law. But instead of referring the case to the International Criminal Court for adjudication, the Obama administration came very close to waging war.
The United Nations charter prohibits the threat or use of force against any other country except in the event of self defense, yet in just the last 12 years the U.S. has launched two full-blown wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and we have attacked Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia with hellfire missiles launched from drones. We have used the two most recent wars to justify the use of torture, external rendition and indefinite detention, as well as multiple violations of the Geneva Conventions.
In addition to refusal to become a party to the International Criminal Court, a permanent tribunal to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes , the U.S. has also refused to sign on to the Landmine Treaty, the Cluster Munitions Treaty, the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, the Convention against Torture, and the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. Even though the Chemical Weapons Convention was ratified, the U.S. set extensive limitations on how it could be applied in the U.S., essentially gutting its provisions.

Since 1961 we have built a foreign policy through fear, intimidation, and coercion. We have ignored opportunities to join the international community and have instead shown arrogance and disregard for other nations and their peoples. We espouse support for human rights, but ignore them in the interest of corporate profits.

Monday, October 28, 2013

What is happening to our Democracy?

Excerpt from Chris Hedges: “Our Invisible Revolution”

“Corporations, freed from all laws, government regulations and internal constraints, are stealing as much as they can, as fast as they can, on the way down. The managers of corporations no longer care about the effects of their pillage. Many expect the systems they are looting to fall apart. They are blinded by personal greed and hubris. They believe their obscene wealth can buy them security and protection. They should have spent a little less time studying management in business school and a little more time studying human nature and human history. They are digging their own graves.

Our shift to corporate totalitarianism, like the shift to all forms of totalitarianism, is incremental. Totalitarian systems ebb and flow, sometimes taking one step back before taking two steps forward, as they erode democratic liberalism. This process is now complete. The “consent of the governed” is a cruel joke. Barack Obama cannot defy corporate power any more than George W. Bush or Bill Clinton could. Unlike his two immediate predecessors, Bush, who is intellectually and probably emotionally impaired, did not understand the totalitarian process abetted by the presidency. Because Clinton and Obama, and their Democratic Party, understand the destructive roles they played and are playing, they must be seen as far more cynical and far more complicit in the ruination of the country. Democratic politicians speak in the familiar “I-feel-your-pain” language of the liberal class while allowing corporations to strip us of personal wealth and power. They are effective masks for corporate power.

The corporate state seeks to maintain the fiction of our personal agency in the political and economic process. As long as we believe we are participants, a lie sustained through massive propaganda campaigns, endless and absurd election cycles and the pageantry of empty political theater, our corporate oligarchs rest easy in their private jets, boardrooms, penthouses and mansions. As the bankruptcy of corporate capitalism and globalization is exposed, the ruling elite are increasingly nervous. They know that if the ideas that justify their power die, they are finished. This is why voices of dissent—as well as spontaneous uprisings such as the Occupy movement—are ruthlessly crushed by the corporate state.“


Just for reference, Under Bill Clinton, NAFTA came into being resulting in a major shift of manufacturing from the United States to Asian countries and the dismantling of banking controls under the Glass–Steagall act. Under Barack Obama the TPP is being pushed through and stronger security controls are being foisted upon the population while the wealth of the nation is being siphoned into the pockets of the super-rich. Dissent and whistle-blowing is being crushed and our privacy is being shredded. Can this all be happenstance and ignorantly ignored as coincidence?

And all this happening under Democratic presidency. Think how much worse it would probably have been under Republican. We, the working poor, have been led down this path unknowingly by our leaders under the supervision of the super-rich. They have accomplished much during our lifetime. We can only start to slowly divest them of their controls with a united front.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Tuesday September 24, 2013...The case for medicare for all


What we have now, prior to Obamacare, is medical care for only those who can afford it and the rest can die. Obamacare is a start, albeit a flawed one. The drug companies and medical equipment suppliers and insurance companies all end up as winners under Obamacare. They will be able to secure even greater profits from their government-provided patent monopolies since the ACA does little to rein in costs. As a result, we will still be paying close to twice as much for drugs and medical devices as people in other wealthy countries that have national healthcare overseen by their governments. The agenda now has to be to squeeze the parasites out of the health care system and bring down the costs.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Saturday September 14, 2013...Words from Bernie Sanders

Words from Bernie Sanders:
Millions of Americans have absolutely no confidence that the U.S. House or Senate is even remotely concerned about their needs or views.
Here’s the truth. The middle class in this country is collapsing. The number of Americans living in poverty is nearly the highest on record and the gap between the very rich and everyone else is growing wider and wider. And very few people in Washington give a damn.

Year after year the American people have begged the Congress and the president to move aggressively to protect the middle class from total collapse. And, so far, their leaders have failed to act. Today, the American people are demanding action to create jobs for their kids and retirement security for their parents.

They are deeply worried about the state of the economy, and they have every reason to worry. Here’s what’s going on:
  • Real unemployment: Counting those who have given up looking for work and those who are working part-time when they need a full time job, the real unemployment rate is 13.7 percent, not 7.3 percent.
  • Average wages: Non-supervisory workers have seen their wages go down by eight cents an hour since the beginning of the so-called recovery and are now a paltry $8.77 an hour.
  • Income and wealth inequality: From 2009-2012, the richest 1 percent of Americans captured 95 percent of all new income, while the typical middle class family has seen their income go down by more than $2,100. The Walton family, the owners of Wal-Mart, are worth more than $100 billion and own more wealth than the bottom 40 percent of Americans.
  • College unaffordability: Over the past 30 years, the cost of a college education has gone up by more than 250 percent. The average American graduating from college this year is drowning in debt of more than $35,000. Even worse, hundreds of thousands of high school graduates are unable to go to college each and every year not because they are unqualified, but because they can’t afford it.
  • Childhood poverty: We live in the richest country in the world, yet one out of five children in the U.S. is stuck in poverty. And the reality is that children living in poverty in America today are more likely to stay in poverty when they grow up than in any other advanced country on earth.
The lesson to be learned from the widespread opposition to the war is that the American people standing together can make a difference. Building on that momentum, NOW IS THE TIME to demand that Congress create millions of decent-paying jobs repairing our crumbling roads, bridges, dams, culverts, schools and housing.

We need to end our dependence on dirty fossil fuels that are threatening the planet and move toward energy efficiency and renewable energy. We must increase the minimum wage to at least $10.10 an hour and lift millions of Americans out of poverty. We must fundamentally rewrite our trade policy so that American products, not American jobs, are our No. 1 export. We must stand up to the greed on Wall Street by breaking up too-big-to-fail banks that have done so much damage to the economy. And, we must make college affordable so that every qualified American can get the education they need to reclaim the American dream.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Friday August 15, 2013...It is theirs, after all!

John Jay, the president of the Continental Congress, then first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, enunciated in the Constitutional Convention that "those who own the country ought to govern it". That has been the thinking of the Republican Party ever since they started.

In the past, the United States has sometimes, kind of sardonically, been described as a one-party state: the business party with two factions called Democrats and Republicans. That's no longer true. It's still a one-party state, the business party. But it only has one faction. The faction is moderate Republicans, who are now called Democrats. There are virtually no moderate Republicans in what's called the Republican Party and virtually no liberal Democrats in what's called the Democratic Party. It's basically a party of what would be moderate Republicans and similarly, Richard Nixon would be way at the left of the political spectrum today. Eisenhower would be in outer space.

The wealthy have reclaimed the nation and are running it the way they want it run. Of the wealthy, by the wealth and for the wealthy.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Wednesday July 24, 2013...Thought for today

I've given up on democrats and liberals. I've given up on electoral change. Public banking could be the straw that breaks the corporatist camel's back. North Dakota has had it for over 80 years. Many nations have it. There are a few states or cities that are getting close to instituting it.

Big corporations are the biggest threat to the future of the human race... period. The TPP Trans Pacific Partnership, will confer nation state status on corporations. Obama is pushing this and the congress is ready to let it happen.

Here in the US, the people must take their country back from the military/financial/medico-Pharma/Agra/prison/fossil fuel energy complex.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Sunday July 14, 2013...Zimmerman trial

I wasn't there, you weren't there - at the trial. The jury was there and heard all the evidence.

Many forget but the initial prosecutor refused to take this case because it was clear there was not the evidence to support charging Zimmerman. It turned out he was right. But political forces and people who suddenly had the bright lights turned on them were not going to care about true justice. Instead they dumped that prosecutor and found someone who would take this case.

The fact that the stand your ground law appears to have been abused in Florida may indeed be an argument that has validity and something that needs to be addressed. But it does not mean that George Zimmerman is guilty. In fact, he did not even use the stand your ground defense.
The fact that this case has revealed the gross misconduct of prosecutors across this country in over charging and over reaching could very well be a good thing; especially if something is finally done about it. But it does not mean that George Zimmerman is guilty.
The sad truth is that this was one of the most poorly handled cases we have seen in recent years.
By the time we got to the defense case, the prosecution had already conceded that it was Martin who was the aggressor, not Zimmerman.

Justice and the law dictated the verdict. That's what the trial demanded.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Sunday June 23, 2013...Different worlds

It's Sunday, June 23, 2013.

I was talking with Zachary, my grandson, this morning. I realized as we were talking that he was looking forward to the most of his life, and I was looking back on most of mine. We each had our own perspective of what was important, but it differed depending on the viewpoint. I've tried to counsel him about what was important, the things that I have learned in life that might affect him. He couldn't see the problems facing him as well as I could and will probably have to learn by trial and error like I did. I was hoping that I could share some of the things I had learned and help him to avoid some of the mistakes that I had made during my lifetime. But it seems that each of us can only learn from our own mistakes and can't effectively utilize knowledge impressed upon us by others. I will keep trying to convey solutions that I have discovered, and perhaps by repetition, and some of that knowledge will eke its way into his brain. I know the world is different now than it was when I was young and perhaps some of the things I learned won't be applicable in today's world, but I'm sure that some of those things I've learned can be used. Today's world is so instantly communicable and news is so up to the minute that everyone feels in direct contact with what's going on the world. In my youth. We learned so much of the news long after it had happened and felt a bit distant from the rest of the world. Our world was more local and the things that concerned us were within reach. Male took days to reach us and telephones were fixed to the household and we couldn't be reached when we were away from home. We had to be prepared to deal with any emergency without someone else's help. Now with the advent of cellular telephones, help is just a a few buttons away and no one feels completely isolated. In my day, and you had to carry maps to determine where you were in the world. Now most phones have GPS and you can determine where you are with the click. So now folks are more connected, but at the same time are more dependent on each other. We gave up some degree of our independence for the luxury of communication. My grandson's world's is quite different from mine when I was his age. There are advantages and disadvantages, but I hope he will develop some of the independent character that was so important in my day. The more dependent you become on society, the less able you are to deal with emergencies. And part of the planning for the future is to allow for emergencies that will develop. If our country ever has a cyber attack, and we somehow lose our generating power, we will need to be more independent, each one of us. So I try to prepare for an emergency hoping that it never occurs and try to convey my grandson, what knowledge he may need.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Wednesday June 19, 2013...When Whigs ruled

Oh, for the good old day when the Whigs were in power. Or when Lincoln was here or Teddy Roosevelt was here or Eisenhower was here. How did the Republicans come to be this bad?

Obstruction remains the Republicans' main political strategy. And their control of the House and the use of the filibuster in the Senate, enable them to cripple our governing process.

Helping people see that our governmental dysfunction is a deliberate choice the Republicans are making is a good starting place, building as it does on the concerns of citizens -- Republicans and Democrats alike -- over the stalemate in Congress. But that's just one piece in a very big picture that Americans need to see.

" Income and wealth inequality are wider than at any time in living memory, yet Republicans are helping to widen that gap.

" The country is still devastated by the aftereffects of a financial collapse, yet Republicans are working to prevent the restoration of the kinds of regulations that kept our financial system stable for seventy years.

" 97 % of the top scientists in the climate field agree that climate disruption may pose the greatest challenge in human history, and we're already seeing costly consequences, yet Republicans have made it party dogma that the scientists are wrong and that nothing, or little, should be done.

" Getting Americans back to work should be our top economic priority, yet Republicans block programs to add jobs while insisting on austerity policies that have thrown additional hundreds of thousands of Americans out of work.

When today's Republicans are out of power, they try to prevent anything good from being done. But when they were in power, they gave us a presidency (2001-2009) that was perhaps the most damaging in our history:

" two wars of choice, one under false pretenses;

" officially sanctioned torture;

" more assaults on the Constitution and the rule of law than by any previous presidency
" an economy in the worst shape since the Great Depression;

" the inflaming of divisions among Americans;

" hostility toward America among citizens of nations that have historically been our friends.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Freiday June 14, 2013...The powers that be


This world belongs to all of us.

But I claim this field as mine.
I'll live in the castle and you all work and live in the fields.
You bring all your produce to me and I'll give each of you a basket of vegetables for your efforts.
As I build up wealth, I will build factories and your children can work in them for me.
With the increased wealth that I will amass with your labor, I can acquire more fields and more factories.
You can be thankful to me for providing you with a livelihood, as long as you can keep producing for me. Once you can no longer be a productive member of my organization, you are no longer welcome.

My children will start off with the accumulated wealth that I leave to them and they will be able to amass even greater wealth. That will leave the rest you with less, but that's your worry, not mine.

Eventually this system will result in a completely top-heavy society with all the wealth owned by only a few super rich and powerful people and the rest of us.

In 2006, a UN report revealed that the world’s richest 1% own 40% of the world’s wealth, and the world’s richest 10% accounted for roughly 85% of the planet's total assets, while the bottom half of the population – more than 3 billion people – owned less than 1% of the world’s wealth.

It's gotten out of hand already and getting worse each year.
Something needs to change.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Monday June 10, 2013...Standstill

Robert Reich analyzed the present situation.

On the Liberal side:
Minnesota’s Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party now controls both legislative chambers and the governor’s office for the first time in more than two decades. The legislative session that ended a few weeks ago resulted in a hike in the top income tax rate to 9.85%, an increased cigarette tax, and the elimination of several corporate tax loopholes. The added revenues will be used to expand early-childhood education, freeze tuitions at state universities, fund jobs and economic development, and reduce the state budget deficit. Along the way, Minnesota also legalized same-sex marriage and expanded the power of trade unions to organize. 

On the Conservative side:
The biggest controversy in Kansas is between Governor Sam Brownback, who wants to shift taxes away from the wealthy and onto the middle class and poor by repealing the state’s income tax and substituting an increase in the sales tax, and Kansas legislators who want to cut the sales tax as well, thereby reducing the state’s already paltry spending for basic services. Kansas recently cut its budget for higher education by almost 5 percent.

The Tea Party has basically shut Congress down. Their refusal to compromise is working just as they hoped: No jobs agenda. No budget. No grand bargain on the deficit. No background checks on guns. Nothing on climate change. No tax reform. No hike in the minimum wage. Nothing so far on immigration reform. 
It’s as if an entire branch of the federal  government — the branch that’s supposed to deal directly with the nation’s problems, not just execute the law or interpret the law but make the law — has gone out of business, leaving behind only a so-called “sequester” that’s cutting deeper and deeper into education, infrastructure, programs for the nation’s poor, and national defense.

A great nation requires a great, or at least functional, national government. The Tea Partiers and other government-haters who have caused Washington to all but close because they refuse to compromise are threatening all that we aspire to be together.

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Saturday June 1, 2013...Observations

The recovery isn't happening.  I'm afraid the next downturn could be very bad.

Official unemployment hovers around 8 percent, but if you count the people who are forced to work part-time, or who have been dropped from the rolls because they’ve been looking for a job for a month or longer, the numbers jump to anywhere from 15 to 23 percent of the population.

During the downturn, 78.7 percent of the jobs lost were either mid-wage or high-wage jobs like paralegals, carpenters, nurses, and accountants. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, three out of five newly created jobs are part-time, low-wage jobs with little opportunity for advancement.
Roughly one in ten families, and one in four children, remained dependent on food stamps.

Corporate America might be recovering, but working people aren’t. For corporate America to recover, the rest of us have to take a pay cut or lose our job, our pension, our health insurance, our home, our time with our family. Recovered profits aren’t trickling down to create decent jobs or pay workers back for concessions.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Saturday May 18, 2013...Thoughts of today

Thoughts of May 18, 2013

I get tired of being against things. It leaves you in a negative mood when all you can complain about are things that upset you. I get tired of politicians who were against something all the time. I want to be for something. I want politicians who are for something. I want politicians like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders who are positive in what they want to do. They will mention some of the things that are wrong but they will also speak of the things that can be done to correct the situation. It seems so many of the Republicans are against anything but you don't hear what they are for. I know that many of the Republicans are against Obama care but I don't hear a positive replacement for that. I know that many of the Republicans are against the EPA and OSHA but they don't spell out how they would replace those entities. They complain about waste and the government and they somehow believe that private enterprise could replace that more efficiently but they offer no example of when that has happened. We've seen the privatization of much of the military, particularly in the support area. But I'm not sure that they received any money by hiring this out to private enterprise and lobbied acquaintances. When we privatize some of our services there is no incentive for that service to be more efficient or cost less in fact just the opposite occurs because the more it costs the more they make. When I was in construction you made more money from the changes to the contract then you made from the original contract. So right now the emphasis is on performing the work through private enterprise instead of public employees which presents a method to reward lackeys. And we very seldom punish our suppliers for not being cost-efficient. In fact they end up making more money correcting the errors that they themselves brought on.

But here I am being negative again and that isn't what I meant to do. I think I am just like the majority of the American citizens who have been waiting now for several years for Congress to act. We want some positive steps taken to help our economy to help our jobs. Instead always gotten delaying actions in and balking against doing anything productive. They want to point fingers at each other instead of moving forward with plans for the future. Meanwhile the average citizen is losing ground. Homes are worth less than they used to be, and jobs are more scarce, education costs more, food costs have risen, health care costs have risen, payee has stagnated and all Congress can do is block each other. Congress seems to be only responding to the wealthy backers. Corporations and banks seem to be controlling our country and the wishes of the citizens are ignored. Even our Democratic president, who talks a good talk, doesn't follow through for the common man. Something will have to change.

Right now politics is controlled by the wealthy and we are offered only those candidates who can obtain monies from the wealthy in order to run their campaign. So our choice is to take their left hand or the right hand with no other option. We lose going in. Now that the wealthy also control the courts and corporations are now recognized by the courts as having personal rights and the ability to pump money into politics we can only look forward to more and more of the same. Meanwhile certain wealthy individuals or organizations control the news media and we only get the filtered news that they wish us to have. Much of the news is biased and opinionated and often controlled by the whims and decisions of the wealthy. Many people still believe that the news as presented on the various channels but they don't know that the news has been selectively chosen for certain desired effect. I'm not sure when the public will wake up discover that we've lost control of our own country.

Every once in a while you have a Bernie Sanders pop-up or an Elizabeth Warren which gives a spark of hope but their voices often get drowned out by the cacophony of the machine politics. Something will have to change and hopefully soon.

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Sunday May 5, 2013...Survivors

 Life Expectancy Age
Calendar period 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80
White males                  
1850 38.3 48 40.1 34 27.9 21.6 15.6 10.2 5.9
1890 42.5 48.45 40.66 34.05 27.37 20.72 14.73 9.35 5.4
1900–1902 48.23 50.59 42.19 34.88 27.74 20.76 14.35 9.03 5.1
1909–1911 50.23 51.32 42.71 34.87 27.43 20.39 13.98 8.83 5.09
1919–1921 56.34 54.15 45.6 37.65 29.86 22.22 15.25 9.51 5.47
1929–1931 59.12 54.96 46.02 37.54 29.22 21.51 14.72 9.2 5.26
1939–1941 62.81 57.03 47.76 38.8 30.03 21.96 15.05 9.42 5.38
1949–1951 66.31 58.98 49.52 40.29 31.17 22.83 15.76 10.07 5.88
1959–1961 67.55 59.78 50.25 40.98 31.73 23.22 16.01 10.29 5.89

So someone born in 1941 could expect to live an average of 63 years.
But if that person survived till age 40 he could expect to live till 70.
At 70 that person can expect to live till about 80.

These later survivability numbers have held fairly consistent over the last century. Once you survived childhood diseases and youth accidents, you had good life expectancy.
This was true when social Security was first established and still true.

It's nice to be a survivor and to hope for a few more good years.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Thursday May 2, 2013...DOZENS

Today was my son-in-law's 47th birthday. 
I started thinking of “dozens”.
He is approaching his 4th dozen birthday and I'm approaching my 6th dozen birthday.
A person is lucky to get 7 dozen years and some even get 8 dozen, but not too many.

The first dozen years go by slowly as we learn to speak and walk and run and sing and pass through grade school. By the end of my first dozen years I was through 7th grade and through Cub Scouts and ready for high school.

The second dozen years go by more quickly as we pass through high school and have our first love and learn to drive and to work and to share with others. Some of us go on to college while some go into military and others begin to work. Some of us get married and start our families.

The third dozen years find us buying our first home and establishing our work history, raising our kids, finding our path through life. Some of us end up changing our paths with divorce or changing jobs or changing locations. The years are passing much quicker.

The fourth dozen years find us more mature and looked upon more as leaders in our groups. Our children are growing up and finding their way into life. We are starting to look ahead towards our future retirement. Our bodies are starting to give us a little more trouble as we have worn them with little regard for the passing years. The years pass by almost before we realize them.

The fifth dozen years are the winding down years in our professions. Our families have grown and left and we find little room for change at this point in our lives. We are more accepting of the situations we find ourselves in and are contemplating retirement.

The sixth dozen years find us retired and a little less healthy. We have learned much over the years and have much more wisdom than we had earlier, but our opinion carries less weight in the community at large. The past dozen years have brought tremendous technical changes in our world, but we have memories of simpler times and find the modern times a bit bewildering. Where did the years go?
We are still the young people we once were, in our minds, with much more wisdom to share, but our bodies are not keeping up with our mental facilities. We now know that the end approaches and that we won't leave a lasting legacy for the future generations, but we will try to set an example for our children and grandchildren to follow.

The seventh dozen years are mellow years with little expectation and more enjoyment of the simpler joys. We have done our best and have made it this far and now we can enjoy the sunsets and the breezes and not worry about the future we won't see. The present is enough and the years have flown by far too quickly with many unnoticed. The memories are good and those memories that once hurt are now diffused with the glow of years gone by. We remember only the good and have no bitterness for what might have been.

It has been a good life and I enjoyed the experiences. Each dozen had its own flavor and contributed to the mix.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Friday, April 12, 2013...Who can you turn to?


Once again, the President is turning his back on the base, caving in to Congressional right-wingers and corporate special interests.

The administration’s undermining of civil liberties, scant action on climate change, huge escalation of war in Afghanistan, expansion of drone warfare, austerity policies serving Wall Street and shafting Main Street, vast deference to corporate power. . . The list is long and chilling.

From this spring onward, a wide range of progressive groups should be prepared to work together to effectively renounce Obama’s leadership.

This spring, there’s a lot of work beckoning for progressives who mean business about gaining electoral power for social movements; who have no intention of eliding the grim realities of the Obama presidency; who are more than fed up with false pretenses that Obama is some kind of ally of progressives; who recognize that Obama has served his last major useful purpose for progressives by blocking a Romney-Ryan regime from entering the White House; who are willing to be here now, in this historical moment, to organize against and polarize with the Obama administration in basic terms; and who, looking ahead, grasp the tragic folly of leaving the electoral field to battles between right-wing Republicans and Democrats willing to go along with the kind of destructive mess that President Obama has been serving up.

A song by Tony Bennett:

And maybe tomorrow I'll find what I'm after
I'll throw off my sorrow, beg, steal, or borrow my share of laughter
With you I could learn to, with you what a new day
But who can I turn to if you turn away?”

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Thursday, April 11, 2013...Things to come



Thoughts expressed on the internet:

What happened economically because of the collapse of the Soviet Union and the rise of the high speed internet is that it made it possible for Western corporations (corporations in the United States, Europe) to arbitrage labor across national borders.
In other words, when the Soviets collapsed, it had a big impact on thinking in Communist China and Socialist India. Their response to the failure of the Soviet Union was to open their vast, underutilized labor to Western capital. So the corporations found out that they could produce for their home market offshore in India or China, dramatically drop the labor cost, and thereby dramatically increase the profits flowing in capital gains to shareholders and in performance bonuses to executives.
So the collapse of the Soviet Union began the arbitrage of of labor, and it ended up separating Americans from the production of the goods and services that they consume. The economy has been dead in the water ever since, and the Federal Reserve under Alan Greenspan tried to substitute - for the missing growth in consumer income in employment - consumer indebtedness. So we had the rise in consumer indebtedness, the real estate bubble, the various financial frauds, and the ongoing financial crisis as well as increasing unemployment.
The manufacturing goods were produced offshore and sent in. What the high speed internet allowed the corporations to do was to offshore the production of professional services, such as software engineering, information technology; and now, of course, research, design. They could hire people in India to do this work, and they could send it in on the high speed internet, and so we have seen the employment for Americans in rapidly growing fields such as software engineering and information technology simply dry up. The work is now done offshore and sent in on the internet. So the consequence of Soviet collapse was to destroy American manufacturing jobs, and to destroy professional service jobs that had always been the ladder of upward mobility for American university graduates.

"Don't look for a job that can be outsourced by the internet." Even radiologists are being outsourced.; so if you get an x-ray, they send the results to India to have a radiologist in India do it instead of an American doctor doing it.
It's certainly the case that innovation follows manufacturing. If you're not manufacturing things, you're out of touch, and you don't know what to innovate, or how to innovate. if you're not making things, you don't know what to innovate. You get out of touch with technologies. You become a Third World Country. We now see from all the surveys that increasingly, American corporations innovate outside the country where their offshore plants are.

So if the American manufacturing worker costs $22 an hour (with all the benefits, and so forth), and the Chinese at the time this started cost 25c an hour, you have an amazing labor cost difference. And so they look at this and they say: "Well, wow! We could really drop our cost of production by producing with this Chinese labor, because instead of twenty-five bucks an hour, it's twenty five cents." That's what we mean by labor arbitrage. They just say, "OK, we're not hiring these Americans, we're going to hire the Chinese." That's labor arbitrage. The job offshoring was undermining employment opportunities in the United States, and certainly had stopped the rise in consumer income.

The main function of globalism is to de-industrialize high-wage countries that are developed.
The other main result of globalism is to turn lesser developed countries that had viable agriculture and were self-sustaining, to turn them into monocultures; supplying like one crop for global markets, and then that makes them -- first of all, that destroys the economic-social systems there, and people now are dependent on food imports. The big farms, of course, haven't room for much of the population that used to be on sustainable farms. So globalism is a wrecking force of amazing power to wreck. It doesn't do anything good except for shareholders of big corporations and their managers, or chief executives.
So there's no longer - governments don't represent the people anymore. In Europe, they represent the very powerful private banks, and they're going to be sure they don't lose any money; so that shareholders in the banks are being made whole by, in the case of Cyprus, seizing some share of the bank deposits of depositors. And what they did in Greece, they cut wages and salaries, they cut pensions, they cut social services, they sold off public assets like water companies to private companies, who then doubled the price, and then that way the suppressed the living standards of the Greek people in order to pay off bankers, so that the shareholders of the banks didn't lose any money.

"The Right is correct that government power is the problem, and the Left is correct that private power is the problem. Therefore, whether power is located within the government or private sectors cannot reduce, constrain, or minimize power. " And you talked about how the Founding Fathers had a solution, that it didn't work, and now we've got accumulation of new dictatorial powers in the Executive Branch in the name of protecting us from terrorists, and with deregulation's creation of powerful corporations to big to fail.

the two political parties. But they're not necessarily identified with Right Wing and Left Wing. What happened to the Democrats was the offshoring of the manufacturing jobs destroyed the power of the labor unions and the ability to finance the Democratic party. See, the Democrats were financed by labor, the Republicans were financed by business, and so there was countervailing power. They could contain one another. Neither side could go too far away from some sort of balance. But when the unions lost all these manufacturing jobs, and former cities which were powerhouses in manufacturing just dried up and disappeared, the Democrats then had to go to the same sources of financing as the Republicans. So now, both parties are dependent on the same financing, and this then has made it easy for the corporations to control both parties!

What's happening though is that it's failing. It doesn't work for the industrial countries, it works for China, who gets all the offshored production, and so American GDP becomes Chinese GDP, and American jobs become Chinese jobs, and American consumer income becomes Chinese consumer income. What's happening is the balance of power in the world is shifting completely away from the West. It's washed up.
So, the more trade agreements that Obama and any President signs, they're basically accelerating the transition of power to China And India and other former third World countries, but they're the rising countries now - the BriC countries.
The Chinese manufacturing force is 112 million. The American force is Eleven million. Eleven!
Is it possible if we could find and elect a leader who said "My first step as the new President is to cancel these global trade agreements." Would that be possible, if they were able to stand up to all these different people?
It can't happen for the reason that right now it serves the interest for the power, so they're not going to overturn it. Now, when it becomes apparent that we've destroyed ourselves, you can't get the power back. You think the Chinese are going let you all of a sudden let you overcome this? No. They'll hold the upper hand. They're not going to say "OK, let's now destroy ourselves the way the Americans destroyed themselves." I think it's all over with for the West. I don't think they can come back, and so what we're going to be in is a period of transition in which the West becomes no longer the ruler of the universe. It will be slowly declining. In fact, the collapse could be sudden.

The dollar is one of the biggest bubbles in history. The Federal Reserve is creating over a trillion new dollars annually, but the demand for dollars is not rising by a trillion annually. And so, sooner or later, this has to affect the price of the dollar, that is, the exchange value. And we already see the important nations moving to decouple from the dollar.
We have the BriCs: this is China, Russia, Brazil, India, South Africa. Altogether now, that's probably about half the world's population. And it's probably half of the traded goods (laughs). And so they're setting up a system in which they settle their trade with one another in their own currencies. The dollar is no longer used as a reserve currency. They're setting up their own version of an IMF. They're just going to bypass all the Western institutions. We see in China and Asia the rise of an Asian currency bloc, which is being organized around the Chinese currency. We see deals with Japan and China to settle their trade with one another in their own currencies.
So the demand and use for the dollar is about to rapidly constrict. We'll have a situation where the Feds are not only creating a trillion new dollars more than the demand is growing, but the demand will be shrinking! And so the thing will blow up. And when the dollar bubble pops, so does the bond market bubble, the stock market bubble. We will have the biggest economic catastrophe in the history of the world, and there is no solution. The United States will go from being a so-called superpower to a nothing!
It could happen at any time. It's a perfect storm that the idiot policy makers have created because they don't serve the public interest, they serve a few rich bankers. The whole thing has been keyed toward protecting the banks that our deregulation policy allowed to get to big to fail. Not only that, but the public officials, the Secretary of the Treasury, the FED, the financial regulatory agency heads, they're all the former bankers themselves, all their proteges. You have a situation where the class that caused the crisis is running the solution, and the solution is to keep the banks from having any pain; what it does to the rest of us is not their concern.

Because the people running the policy are not individual rich people: they are the very large financial institutions. They may finance billionaires in some scheme a billionaire has, but the power is Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, Citibank, Bank of America. It's these financial institutions, they have financialized the economy. Industrial Capitalism is over and done with. We have Financial Capitalism, and what they do is, they organize a whole economy so that all the surplus is drawn off in interest paid to banks. You can see it happening in Greece, Spain, Italy, Ireland, Cypress and spreading into other countries of the world. One day, soon, it will happen in the United States.

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Saturday March 2, 2013...Sequester

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Just Dumb

Mar 1, 2013 | By ThinkProgress War Room

Sequester: “A Fancy Word for a Dumb Idea”

That’s what the President of the AFL-CIO, Richard Trumka, called the sequester — and he’s absolutely right.
Republicans have once again shown that they’ll do almost anything to protect the wealthy and special interests like Big Oil — no matter the cost to the rest of us and to the economy. This time, they have allowed devastating across-the-board spending cuts to kick in.
Just yesterday, the Senate voted on a balanced plan to replace this year’s indiscriminate cuts with a mix of targeted cuts and new revenues from ending loopholes for the very wealthiest Americans and corporate special interests. This plan got 52 votes and should have passed but Republicans blocked it by insisting on a 60-vote margin.
It’s clear that Republicans would rather impose painful spending cuts that will hurt the economy and millions of Americans than end a single tax loophole for the wealthy and special interests like Big Oil and Wall Street.
As a reminder, here’s a list of things Republicans apparently prefer to happen instead of eliminating wasteful giveaways in the tax code:
  • 70,000 kids will get kicked off of Head Start
  • 10,000 teacher jobs will be at risk
  • 7,200 special education teachers, aides, and staff could be cut
  • Nearly 140,000 fewer children will receive life-saving vaccinations
  • Up to 373,000 seriously mentally ill adults and seriously emotionally disturbed children could go untreated
  • 2,100 fewer food inspections will take place
  • Tax returns and refunds will be delayed
  • The long-term unemployed will see their benefits cut by about 10 percent
  • Nearly a billion dollars in loans to small businesses cut
  • It could take several hours to get through security at the airport
  • More than 100 airports might have to simply close down
  • Our military leaders have said it would weaken our national security
  • The Secretary of Homeland Security said the cuts will make it harder to protect the country from a terror attack and that the border will be less secure
Not all these things will happen overnight, but they will happen. And the longer the sequester goes on, the worse things will get. Worse yet, unless a permanent replacement is agreed to, these painful and damaging cuts will continue for nine years.
BOTTOM LINE: Instead of standing by and watching as our economy and millions of Americans are hurt by these irresponsible and devastating cuts, Republicans need to agree to reduce our deficit with the kind of responsible, balanced approach that three-quarters of Americans prefer. Their reckless behavior got us into this mess in 2011 and now it’s time for them to come back to the table and help get us out of it before the worst impacts of these indiscriminate cuts happen.

Evening Brief: Important Stories That You Might’ve Missed

Draft State Department report says the Keystone XL pipeline is environmentally sound.
How sequester cuts to the IRS might raise the deficit.
President Obama: marriage equality should be the law of the land.
Happy 100th Birthday, Big Oil tax breaks!
VIDEO: The GOP constantly pretends we haven’t already cut trillions in spending.
Sean Hannity launches Islamophobic attack on Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN).
Austerity fail: European unemployment hits record high, again.
Don’t worry, the next manufactured crisis is just over three weeks away!