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.