Posts Tagged ‘lobbyists’

(A New Sub Genus of Human Beings)

Prevarication means that the subject under scrutiny is a lie. A prevaricator is the person or persons extolling the lie. In this case I am using it to describe a whole new species of Homo Sapiens Sapiens. Yes look it up, Homo Sapiens Sapiens is the correct nomenclature for modern humans, to differentiate us from our direct descendants, Homo Sapiens Idalta. We are mistakenly called carnivores. We are of course carnivores, but since we also each veggies, we are more accurately described as omnivores, basically we eat everything!

So my premise is this. Since we can be classified by what we put in our mouths, we should also be classified by what comes out! Now all mammals, which includes humanity, also expel air, mostly carbon dioxide, in some cases spittle, and in extreme cases vomit when we have either contracted an illness or omnivored ourselves on just a little too much too fast!

However this premise will be based on the vocal content of what comes out of the mouths of modern Homo Sapiens Sapiens either vocally or in certain cases in writing to be vocalized later! Since the dawn of time, or since men and women learned to speak, and then later to write, prevarications have been told. Now sometimes this is just a storyteller’s way of making the story more enjoyable for his audience, the audience is generally aware, so we call this fiction or artistic license! It is generally accepted, even encouraged in writers of novels of fiction. Even plays and literary works based on actual historical events will have fictional sub plots to make them more interesting or exciting! All of this is expected and accepted.

But there is now a more sinister Homo Sapien out there. It is a Homo Sapien belonging to the family Homo Sapiens Sapiens, but does not know what the truth is anymore, or even if they did know they where lying the first time they told the prevarication, after they repeated it two or three times, their brain flips a switch and accepts that what they are saying is the truth! Unbelievable you say! Well there is more! There are receptors to this kind of vocal prevarication within the same classification. Although they did not invent the lie, just like the originator, after they have heard it two or three times they also believe it! Even when evidence to the contrary is given, if it does not align with what they prefer to believe, they still cling to the prevarication. The truth has no weight with either the originator of the prevarication, or the receptor of such information!

So these individuals need a new classification, because there are millions, maybe even a billion or so of the 7.8 billion on the planet who fall into this new classification! This new classification would be Homo Sapiens Prevaricator! Now this classification can be variable! Just like some choose to be vegetarians and give up being carnivores, education can protect you from this affliction. Education in world history is of particular importance, in geology, the study of early man and how we eventually evolved into what we are today can effect whether or not we will become a member of this new classification. And please forget monkeys when considering evolution, we did not evolve from monkeys, and no real scientist ever said we did! We can get into that some other time! Other sciences such as biology, physics, chemistry, aerospace, all are important! All education in general, so you will know that Columbus did not discover America, for example! Never even laid eyes on it or set foot upon its shores! The educated in the time of Columbus did not even think the world was flat; it had been common knowledge that it was round a long time before Columbus set sail. He was actually looking for a faster way to the East Indies by heading west rather than all the way around Africa! They just did not know there was a whole continent in their way, or the vastness of the planet earth! So if all of these things are understood by having an education system that is not rated near the bottom of the pile compared to other industrialized nations as ours is, it will help you understand the world around you! Most importantly it will help to better recognize the prevarication as it is uttered!

I will give an example of why just history, the real history of the world is so important. It can shed light on why our enemies are our enemies and point to ways to alleviate at least some of the animosity! Ancient Persia was a center of science, math, and language, education was alive and flourishing in what is now Iran! Our modern plumbing and irrigation, road building, almost all science, was influenced by Persians, or some of the greatest scientists of the time who lived and worked in Persia. You see, when it was one of the greatest and largest regions on the planet; they welcomed all religions and all nationalities of people, including the Jews, into their schools, universities, and halls of science. Then as time passed they had what we are now experiencing, their versions of Limbaugh, Hannity, Fox News, and yes their Trumps. Science and education was placing religion on the back seat and power was not concentrated as it once was. So in order for a small percent of the population to gain control of the empire, this smaller influential group taught them to fear their neighbors, to ignore science and education, put all their energy into their religion! Education of all types was frowned on because they did not want thinkers, they wanted a large force of people they could control and prosper from. Then they concluded that it could only be one specific type of religion, this so that even a smaller percentile could concentrate their power over the rest of population! Everyone in the empire, even the known world for that matter, had to accept their particular brand of religion or face holy war! So now you have what is now called Iran instead of the largest most powerful forward thinking empire on earth. Sound familiar? You bet it does! We have our 1%, the methods of control are more subtle, more in tune with mass media outlets and politicians who can be bought to maintain their control!

So register to vote, all of you! There is no such thing as two bad choices when it comes to this presidential election. No matter how much you dislike Hillary, she is at the very least qualified for the job! We must reverse the trend I have been talking about in this article or this nation is headed for a downward spiral we will not be able to recover from. And you also need to pay attention to your senate and house seats. We cannot have a do nothing congress again! We need to get moving and Trump is not the man to it. He will run this country into the ground. He is a con man, an egotistical narcissistic one at that, and cannot be given the reins of power! As my story points out, he wants to rule with intimidation and fear. He wants to narrow the power in this country to a very specific group by fomenting hate of anyone not like himself! We have to learn to fact check, not just think someone is what lobbyists or talk show host says a person is. Ask for actual proof, if all you get is, well I feel this must be true, or I heard this, I heard this a lot, that means that what you just heard is made up! It is a prevarication by that new portion of humanity I call Homo Sapien Prevaricator. Just keep in mind that none of our living Presidents, both Democratic and Republican, will endorse Trump. That every major country in the world does not understand why Trump is even being considered for President! That he changes policy every week or so as his old ones get him into trouble, that he knows nothing about world politics, or the history that goes along with understanding it. He knows no science, he is not well read, well he does own a copy of Hitler’s speeches, if that is any indication! Almost all of Trumps bad actions can be verified with facts. Almost all of Hillary’s supposed bad actions have no basis in fact. Email is one, I give you that, but not as bad it is being made to seem. Benghazi, well even the House Intelligence Committee, controlled by Republicans by the way, exonerated Hillary completely. She actually had been trying to get congress to increase the monies for the security at Embassies and missions for months on end, but was always stopped by the GOP. So who is responsible again? Actually that report, over two years in the making torched all the conspiracy theories put forth by the GOP members. You go down the list of supposed Hillary crimes there is no evidence of any kind! Just the innuendo and prevarications told by her enemies and her political opponents. A crime in itself!

Even if we were in different grades and classes back in school in small town Idaho, we knew each other. Maybe we did not run in the same circles, actually, since I was not related to half the town or had family who had lived there for generations it was different for me in some respects. Luckily I made school and sports work for me, and living with the town Doctor and a state legislator’s family did not hurt either. I loved being editor of the school paper for two years, and this after not going to school for more than a month or so a year until I was thirteen! My point is, when I lived there, and even in my early years in California after my stint in the Marine Corp, I was a Republican! This was before the advent of Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, and others. They changed the landscape of the party from a conservative viewpoint to fear mongering troglodytes and isolationists who blame the poor, the immigrant, and people of pretty much any color,  big government, and of course hippie dippy liberals, as the reason all bad things happen!

Christians, especially evangelicals, went on the warpath because of course we had been told by talk radio that we are turning into a godless nation and christianity was under attack. So I had to get the hell out. If I show someone how to access the facts, show them the entire script from where some sound bite or sentence is being made to sound or mean something totally different than what was originally intended, well they will not even read, view, or take two minutes to find the truth! They just throw some hate label at me and dismiss it. They do not want to know the truth, plain and simple! They vote against their own interests, believe what thirty-second sound bites tell them is the news produced by lobbyists, not any gleaned from actual facts! And polls asking Republicans basic facts about the condition of the country show they do not know the actual facts! They don’t know about unemployment being as low as it was before the crash, or that the stock markets are way up, not down!, The fact that the deficit is dropping, not climbing! They do not know that the their Republican representatives want to curtail or get rid of social security and medicare entirely. They think the opposite is true in overwhelming numbers because they believe the sound bites and never check the facts! Our current President does not want their guns, he has said so plainly! But because the NRA tells them different, that is what they believe. The pundits like Rush, Glenn, and Sean have learned that if you want to control the conservative vote tell them someone is after their guns, the poor and immigrants are the reason the middle class is disappearing, religion is under attack, and scientists are all just members of an evil cabal! They will gather like lemmings and run off any cliff you tell them to! Not politically correct some say, but it is the truth, and it is time for us to start telling it like it is!

Now some will say that there are millions who have timed out of unemployment but still are unemployed so the figures are inaccurate. That is true, but what is also true is that has always been the case, in both Democratic and Republican presidential terms, it is not endemic to the current administration. Keep in mind, figures do not lie, but liars can figure! You also need to keep in mind that Republicans met on the day of President Obama’s inauguration and agreed to block anything he tried to do, regardless of whether or not we the people wanted it, even if it was actually an idea they themselves were in favor of before he was elected. The Affordable Care Act is a perfect example! Republicans are on a renewed kick to try to repeal, or at least delay (in the hopes of killing), the “individual mandate” that’s included in the President’s health care reform law, aka the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare. The irony, of course, is that it was Republicans, via their premiere think tank, the Heritage Foundation, who came up with the idea in the first place! Now this is truth not fiction.

As you know, the “individual mandate” requires that every American buy health insurance, if they don’t have it through their work, or pay a penalty. The reason for the mandate is so that insurance companies can cover people with pre-existing conditions and to keep premiums lower. Insurance companies need large amounts of younger insured customers that need less medical care to balance it all out and keep costs down to the consumer. It also keeps that same segment from using the emergency rooms across the country as their healthcare provider, while you and I pay for it! And as I said, a Republican idea, an idea that they even published, but now they seem to have selective memory malfunction! They also forget to tell you the poorest among us are excluded from this mandate.

No matter who you are, you will make mistakes. Has President Obama made mistakes, yes he has. Are they more egregious than his Republican predecessor, I think not! If you want to strip it down, President Obama is one of our most intelligent Presidents. His IQ has been maligned, but here are some facts. The average IQ for a college graduate with a bachelor’s degree in the U.S. is 115. Barack Obama graduated from Columbia University, so the assumption is he must have had at least an IQ of 115. Barack Obama graduated Magna Cum Laude from Harvard Law School; such academic honors are only awarded to students in the top 10% of their class. Obama’s IQ has been estimated as high as 165, but again that is a guess based on his education. He is a graduate of Columbia University and Harvard Law School, where he served as editor, and later as president of the Harvard Law Review; which is an extremely prestigious position. Obama also taught at the University of Chicago for 12 years, a top-ranked university in the United States. So no matter how you try to rate his intelligence, it is high! If you look at his predecessor, the junior President Bush, he will not fare well when compared to President Obama. If you come to a different conclusion based on facts, then there is another reason you disparage the President, but we won’t go there today!

It has been reported by Fox News, and others, that this president is looked down on by the rest of the world! However when you check foreign papers, speeches and interviews given by foreign dignitaries and rulers, you find the exact opposite to be true. If you poll the common men and woman of our peer industrialized countries, you find them praising our President, but castigating our congress as a do nothing body of government!

But like I said, he is not perfect, I am not in favor of our current trade agreements, some of the provisions look like they came straight off the desk of the Koch brothers, for example! But most of what you see on the Internet is either blatantly untrue, cherry picked to change the meaning, or fictional! You have to go to the source, and that takes time. If you want to know about Benghazi, for example, you have to read the entire report by the Pentagon. Which stated that they received no instructions telling them to do, or not to do, a single damn thing from the administration! They did the job as they thought it should be done based on real time information!  Then you should read the Republican controlled House Intelligence Committee report that also found no wrong doing by anyone in the administration! A FREAKING MIRACLE OF OUR TIMES! But that is not what you heard reported by those supposedly bringing us the facts! Facts are not sensational enough for todays news media who make up news as if it were a fictional show fighting for ratings so as to keep an audience tuned in! Especially since most in the Republican Party have reduced themselves to a lobby for the Oligarchs, with a few Democrats sprinkled in to make it even more spicy!

So what I am saying is do not be lazy! Check out your facts. Do not repost things on the Internet because they make you feel good, or because they back up how you wish things to be without fact checking. We are the most ill informed voting public on the planet, and that is a damn shame!

 

 

 

 

 

Forget that big business hires lobbyists to convince us there is no such thing as global warming. Forget that 97% of scientists in the field agree that there is. Forget that if there really weren’t any global warming no one would be spending untold millions to convince us otherwise because the facts would be self-evident. That circumstance alone chaps my hide! Because global warming is just that, self-evident, all you have to do is pull your head out of the sand (or any other place it might have been stuck) and look out at the world.

Water temp in the oceans is up. The earth itself is heating up all around the globe. NASA has been photographing both poles from space for quite some time now, and they show that ice sheets and glaciers are melting at an increasing rate. Now one argument is that this is a natural phenomenon and is not aggravated by what man does or does not do. I myself do not deny that there could be natural cycles that would give us at least some of our symptoms. However, these would occur because of fluctuations in the suns temperature that it is sharing with our planet. We now have the capability to measure how hot the sun is and we have been monitoring it for decades. The temp is staying constant, so it is not the problem. Plus the warming effect would take place during daylight; you know when the sun is actually shining on a portion of the planet!

But satellites show that the earth warms up more at night and winter than in daylight or summer, which supports the supposition that it is being caused by an excess of Co2, not the sun.

What is the best Co2 scrubber we have available for the planet? I think they are called plants, which uses up Co2 in photosynthesis and produces oxygen, which some of us actually need to live. (Well maybe not politicians, I think maybe they are part of an alien plot to just kill us off without a shot being fired.) So where does most photosynthesis take place, why in the ocean by plankton. As a matter of fact if we lose this resource we all die. Not an exaggeration, we all die! So lets keep dumping our sewers into it and making huge trash islands the size of Texas out in the Pacific. What is the next best resource, well any growing plant, but in enough concentration to really make a difference, well that would be a rain forest. So lets keep cutting them down at a hundred plus acres a day.

So let me see, we pump billions of metric tons of pollutants into the atmosphere regularly, then we do our best to kill off the two most important resources to combat the harm we are doing, but hey, man is not responsible. Bull, this world is our house, and we my friends, are the damn termites.

Scientists have been warning us that we could cause global warming since the early days of the industrial revolution. As a matter of fact, from what I can tell, scientist did not have differing opinions on this until science started to be funded by industry, then it started to change its mind, who would have thought! If you look closely, only scientists whose main focus is somewhere else but in the study of greenhouse and global warming have changed their minds. If you look even closer, you will notice a pattern of whom they work for, or who funds them, and that pattern is telling.

People also confuse global warming and climate change. You get a cold snap, or way more rain or snow than usual, and people immediately claim this proves there is no such thing as global warming. But it does if you spent your time with me in Mr. Pratt’s class doing something other than hitting on girls and skating by. A few college classes here and there helped, but Mr. Pratt was by far my best teacher. Only people in Council who went to school with me would know who or what I am talking about. We learned a lot of science, way beyond what other schools were doing then or now. I personally took six science classes in four years. Some invented by the same Mr. Pratt so we could continue to learn. The point being is that global warming changes weather patterns. One of the most common to us in the U.S. is the change in atmospheric winds that used to keep the cold air of the arctic in the arctic, or at least mostly contained to Canada and bordering northern states. But the increase in global warming has changed how far south these air currents are now allowed to travel. This causes a huge change in weather, which will be colder and more severe. Same thing for seasonal storms that generate over oceans, global warming makes the interaction of air and water more dramatic, increasing the ferocity of storms, hurricanes, or typhoons, depending on your location. Again, changing climate attitudes, and never for the better!

Now we should talk about the tipping point. Once we get too a certain saturation of Co2 there is no turning back. A new report on permafrost slowly thawing in the Arctic creating methane and carbon dioxide emissions highlights an approaching dangerous climate tipping point. There is a huge amount of organic matter frozen in permafrost, estimated to contain 1,700 gigatonnes of carbon, twice the amount of carbon currently in the atmosphere. And it is starting to melt. With no way to stop it except indirectly through us reducing the rate of global warming by reducing our own emissions. That means drastically and now! We both know that will never happen. You need to know that most people do not care, as long as they get all they can and the payback will happen after they die, then all is good! But you’re grandkids of our next generation may be living, or dying, in a world no longer fit for humans.

In order for us to turn the tide, we have to have a healthy ocean. We need way more green plants thriving. We will have to not only stop stripping the planet of rain forests, but also encourage growth. And we will have to quit pumping Co2 into the atmosphere. Natural or not, it can kill us off. We are smart enough to change this trend; we just have to be wise enough to do it. They already have a way to make fuel out of seawater. Not in a major way yet, but if it was a priority, it would soon be a way for sea faring vessels to be totally free of harmful emissions. And it also makes oxygen as a by-product. Plus the ocean regenerates these chemicals you take out naturally, so it is an inexhaustible resource. http://www.outsideonline.com/news-from-the-field/Navy-Makes-Fuel-From-Seawater.html There are lots of links I found, so I just picked one, but easy to find.

But for any of this to be done in time, or done at all, first you have to recognize the problem. We have the technology at our fingertips. Enough energy from the sun hits the planet in an hour’s time to run all of todays industry for a year. We just need to convince ourselves to harness it. The wind is always blowing somewhere, especially over the ocean. You can find links to wind generators in the ocean and not taking up an acre of useable land. In even one of the great deserts of the world, using today’s solar tech, we could power every industry in the world. So it is all entirely possible. Problem is, the people making themselves rich on fossil fuels are not about to let that happen as long as the money keeps pouring in. So you get the myth that it is not happening, or at the very least nothing we need to do about it. They are wrong, and I am telling you they know they are wrong they just don’t care. So you and I had better start!

I wrote this while my computer was down; some animal ate my cable off the side of the house last night. But if you have the ability to watch Cosmos: A Space Time Odyssey, I think it is the second to the last one. The episode is called; The World Set Free that deals with global warming. The whole series is well worth watching. Carl Sagan originally did this Cosmos series back when I was a teenager. It was great then and great now!

I have tried a few times to put down on paper my thoughts on our economy and those of Canada, the British empire and northern European countries like Germany, for example. Robert Reich posted a recent blog, which explains it well, and all in one place, so I am going to reblog it here, and I quote; “For years Americans have assumed that our hard-charging capitalism is better than the soft-hearted version found in Canada and Europe. American capitalism might be a bit crueler but it generates faster growth and higher living standards overall. Canada’s and Europe’s “welfare-state socialism” is doomed. It was a questionable assumption to begin with, relying to some extent on our collective amnesia about the first three decades after World War II, when tax rates on top incomes in the U.S. never fell below 70 percent, a larger portion of our economy was invested in education than before or since, over a third of our private-sector workers were unionized, we came up with Medicare for the elderly and Medicaid for the poor, and built the biggest infrastructure project in history, known as the interstate highway system. But then came America’s big U-turn, when we deregulated, de-unionized, lowered taxes on the top, ended welfare, and stopped investing as much of the economy in education and infrastructure. Meanwhile, Canada and Europe continued on as before. Soviet communism went bust, and many of us assumed European and Canadian “socialism” would as well. That’s why recent data from the Luxembourg Income Study Database is so shocking. The fact is, we’re falling behind. While median per capita income in the United States has stagnated since 2000, it’s up significantly in Canada and Northern Europe. Their typical worker’s income is now higher than ours, and their disposable income – after taxes – higher still. It’s difficult to make exact comparisons of income across national borders because real purchasing power is hard to measure. But even if we assume Canadians and the citizens of several European nations have simply drawn even with the American middle class, they’re doing better in many other ways. Most of them get free health care and subsidized child care. And if they lose their jobs, they get far more generous unemployment benefits than we do. (In fact, right now 75 percent of jobless Americans lack any unemployment benefits.) If you think we make up for it by working less and getting paid more on an hourly basis, think again. There, at least three weeks paid vacation as the norm, along with paid sick leave, and paid parental leave. We’re working an average of 4.6 percent more hours more than the typical Canadian worker, 21 percent more than the typical French worker, and a whopping 28 percent more than your typical German worker, according to data compiled by New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof. But at least Americans are more satisfied, aren’t we? Not really. According to opinion surveys and interviews, Canadians and Northern Europeans are. They also live longer, their rate of infant mortality is lower, and women in these countries are far less likely to die as result of complications in pregnancy or childbirth. But at least we’re the land of more equal opportunity, right? Wrong. Their poor kids have a better chance of getting ahead. While 42 percent of American kids born into poor families remain poor through their adult lives, only 30 percent of Britain’s poor kids remain impoverished – and even smaller percentages in other rich countries. Yes, the American economy continues to grow faster than the economies of Canada and Europe. But faster growth hasn’t translated into higher living standards for most Americans. Almost all our economic gains have been going to the top – into corporate profits and the stock market (more than a third of whose value is owned by the richest 1 percent). And into executive pay (European CEOs take home far less than their American counterparts). America’s rich also pay much lower taxes than do the rich in Canada and Europe. But surely Europe can’t go on like this. You hear it all the time: They can no longer afford their welfare state. That depends on what’s meant by “welfare state.” If high-quality education is included, we’d do well to emulate them. Americans between the ages of 16 and 24 rank near the bottom among rich countries in literacy and numeracy. That spells trouble for the U.S. economy in the future. They’re also doing more workforce training, and doing it better, than we are. The result is more skilled workers. Universal health care is another part of their “welfare state” that saves them money because healthier workers are more productive. So let’s put ideology aside. The practical choice isn’t between capitalism and “welfare-state socialism.” It’s between a system that’s working for a few at the top, or one that’s working for just about everyone. Which would you prefer?” Conservatives have to be careful not to follow a lot of their constituents over a line that has not been drawn by them, but by well moneyed interests who have been telling them how to think. Liberals have to weed out the bleeding heart that wants everything regardless of the cost. There is a happy medium, one that a lot of countries have obviously found and are using to their advantage, and just as obvious that we are failing to do the same. So the message is, wise up!

Inequality in the United States

 

Inequality overall is usually expressed as wealth or income gap. Regions (southern states is one example) also make a difference as does race and religion. Religion is a war generator, just as much as ethnic bias is. It indirectly has an effect on world economies and poverty. Education is no longer a guarantee of higher wages or even of employment, at least here in the United States of America!

Americans are living in an unequal society, more so than practically anytime in the last century.  The income and wealth differences are greater in the good ole U.S.A. than in any democratic or developed country in the world.  As Joe Friday used to say, “the facts, nothing but the facts.” 

It is not as if we are condemned to watching all of this from the sidelines. All of these economic and demographic changes are embedded in a larger institutional and political story. In order to understand U.S. inequality and its growth over time, and in order to think about what we need to do to fix it, we need to focus on differences that matter. The simplest way to do this is to go back to our midcentury public policies that sustained both a floor for the bottom of the labor market and a ceiling for the top of it. This was done primarily with the power of unions, believe it or not, as they limited how much management could syphon off in pay and bonuses and other areas like buying back their own stock to manipulate profits for gain, but this puts money in the pockets of few, while money for increased wages and benefits is not even in the plan of a major corporation anymore. The work force was motivated because they were being treated fairly and able to transition to the middle class.  The tax base on the top tier of income and profit was also at a much higher rate in the years after WWII, so that the government was able to more easily have funds to operate without creating a huge deficit. Now top tier taxes have dropped dramatically and our politicians are asking you and I to take up all the slack.  This includes education, which in my opinion is a criminal act in itself. Some of the so-called 2% are crying that we should be glad we even have a job, and they feel like we are treating them like the Nazis treated the Jews. Actually said, I did not make that up. 

Some people blame globalization and entities like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund for this inequality. Yes, they are partly to blame, however the real result in globalization has been to bring about more equality to nations, but more inequality within them. We were the only major power after the war that did not have to rebuild an infrastructure destroyed by war. That and the fact that at the time fuel and power sources for industry were cheap and plentiful.  However our spending started to increase dramatically starting with the Vietnam War while cheap plentiful fuel was getting harder to come by and also more expensive. Money in the world economy started flowing to countries with younger more energetic economies or who were rich in natural resources. This started narrowing the advantage we had in both trade and influence. What resulted was an economy that used the vast cheap labor pool and manufacturing available at lower costs on foreign soil to blackmail the American worker into working longer for less money, giving up things like unions, healthcare and retirement, in exchange for the company not to outsource their jobs, or moving the company itself overseas or to countries to the south.                                                                                                                 

We need Unions with their power restored to act for the worker as they once did until they were finally made ineffective by a systematic attack by a small percentage of the population whose avarice has no bounds, basically large corporations.  Without unions, workers have no bargaining power at all. Over the years labor’s bargaining power collapsed as I explained previously. This all began with the passage of the Taft-Hartley Act in 1947, which outlawed secondary labor actions (such as boycotts, or the picketing by workers not involved in the dispute) and undermined union security in so-called “right to work” states—especially in the South, the rural Midwest, and the mountain west.  The Landrum-Griffith Act (1959) further constrained secondary labor actions and permitted non-members to vote in certification (or decertification) elections—essentially inviting employers to hire scabs, and then count scab votes against the fate of the unions. This is a direct result of big business buying the votes it needed to enact such legislation. An assault on unions was systematic, and the middle class and all workers, even those outside of the unions began to suffer. The net result is telling. Early in the century, the share of the American workforce which belonged to a union was meager, barely 10 percent of the labor force. At the same time, inequality was stark–the share of national income going to the richest 10 percent of Americans stood at nearly 40 percent. This gap widened in the 1920s. But in 1935 the New Deal granted workers basic collective bargaining rights; over the next decade union membership grew dramatically, followed by an equally dramatic decline in income inequality. This yielded an era of broadly shared prosperity, running from the 1940s into the 1970s. After that, however, unions came under attack—in the workplace, in the courts, and in public policy. As a result, union membership has fallen and income inequality has worsened—reaching levels not seen since the 1920s. Today’s unions are merely figureheads, they have no real power, they have been systematically stripped over the years by influence peddlers (lobbyists) that work for the elite who can afford to make policy with their wealth, to make even more wealth.  Some suggest it is less than two percent of the population that control how the rest of us are going to live. It definitely is not a government for the people and by the people any longer. Well for 98% of us anyway! So look, if you knew that you were going to have to work almost twice as hard for about half the money, would you have agreed? If you knew that a huge portion of health insurance and retirement security was available to employees of corporations but was going to disappear without the protection of a union and that this would result in our elderly being more dependent on social security, medicare, and medicaid, would you still have a bad taste in your mouth about unions? And, of course, union decline contributes to inequality beyond the bargaining table or the paystub. But because public and private sector unions have been such a potent political force across the last century; their decline also undermines support for a wide range of public policies that might sustain working families or check corporate power. 

The net effect is clear. For a generation after World War II, the economy and the wages of working Americans grew together—a clear and direct reflection of the bargaining power wielded by workers and their unions. From the early 1970s on, however, union strength fell—and with it the shared prosperity that it had helped to sustain. Labor productivity has almost doubled, but the median wage has grown only 4 percent.   Let me repeat that, labor productivity has almost doubled; yet wages have only grown by 4 percent! The share of national income going to wages and salaries has slipped, while the share going to corporate profits has risen. Inequality has widened most dramatically for those who at an earlier point in our history or in any other democratic and industrialized setting would benefit the most from collective bargaining. You can boo hoo and nay say all you want but there is no denying that our country was growing as was our middle class and industry all with higher taxes on corporations and the wealthiest Americans with strong unions representing workers. Now you think that the average American should work two jobs to get out of poverty and thank the wealthiest for the fact they have jobs. Education suffers because most can’t afford to access it. The specter of poverty, jobs with no future, no advancement with a decent wage, drives people to do some pretty despicable things. This is human nature and we can fix it, we just have to wake up and pay attention to Joe Friday and not the swill being fed us by those who think of us as nothing more than a means to more profit. When we cannot service them anymore we are discarded and replaced.  Is that the legacy you keep talking about? I sure hope not.

The solutions here are straightforward. We need to disentangle health care and pensions from job-based eligibility or participation. This would involve moving towards a sort of “Medicare for All” health care system and a system of universal and portable retirement accounts.  I know how much negativity there is about the Affordable Care Act, but if you follow the money, it is the same money that does not want unions to thrive, or social programs to be funded, or a minimum wage increase. We of course need to reinvent our compensatory social programs (unemployment insurance, food stamps) so that they are a better match in terms of eligibility, coverage, and duration for the challenges faced by the current generation of working families. Remember that Social Security, among others, is a paid deduction that comes out of every paycheck you receive.  You will probably not live long enough to get back what you put in most cases. Also that the federal government borrowed amounts that are described with words like trillion! Now that the bonds have come due, these same top tier lobbyist-funding czars have renamed them entitlements. That is money and a lobbyist talking out his ass, not the true state of affairs. Is there a problem with some people who do not deserve social programs, of course there are. But those are the problems we should be solving and not getting rid of a program that does not affect the deficit. 

The concentration of wealth and incomes at the upper end of the scale is bad for our economy and bad for our democracy. Making headway on this front depends upon the redistribution of both economic and political resources, indeed any real progress on the economic side of the equation is likely to be slight or fragile unless we can sever the close relationship (made worse, but hardly invented by the Citizens United decision) between economic affluence and political influence.

Much higher taxes on the rich are the starting point here—both to sustain and to raise the revenues that make other inequality-fighting policies possible. The form of such taxes is as important as their rates: Taxes that penalize or restrain things like a financial transactions tax for instance, which could both raise money and encourage investment in more productive forms of economic activity. Changes in the tax code could be accompanied by checks on executive pay—either through more transparent and active forms of corporate governance or through public leverage. And efforts to chip away at concentration of wealth at the very top should be accompanied by efforts to build the wealth and assets of ordinary Americans. 

Now Corporate America has also trained you to respond to the above paragraph by calling it socialism. It is a way to divert your attention from the truth. Were we a socialist republic after WWII? No we were not but corporate taxes were high, unions strong, and corporations and the working men and women were both doing well and getting better off each year. This is not the case today and the United States has the worst record of inequality on the entire planet! Japan and Germany, who surpass us, and most of the rest of the world economically, also have vastly lower inequality thresholds and support more and better social programs than we do. So I can’t say it enough, we rate right at the top of the list or bottom depending on how you want to look at it in rampant inequality on the world stage. I have heard the old proverb started by the gods of industry that if they do better it trickles down to you. Well what trickles down has been shipped overseas along with your job, or is in an offshore account. Dumbest saying I have ever heard. You have heard of lemmings? You say you want to leave a legacy for your children? Well unless you can figure out how to marry them off to about five or six families of royalty in the U.S., you’re just flat out of luck if the current trend continues. 

 

 

How do you Know if a Politician is Lying

You can Hear them Talking

Obamacare’s critics are going to town on the cancellation letters millions of Americans are receiving from their health insurers, informing them that their health plans won’t conform to the new federal standards for health coverage as of Jan. 1.

We’re supposed to be scandalized by this, since President Obama himself assured everyone that if they liked their insurance they’d be able to keep it. And people just love plans that in some cases cost just $50 a month. At that price, what’s not to love?

Back in March, Consumer Reports published a study of many of these plans and placed them in a special category: “junk health insurance.” Some plans, the magazine declared, may be worse than none at all.

Consumer Reports is right. Plans with monthly premiums in the two figures marketed to customers in their 30s, 40s, or even 50s invariably impose ridiculously low coverage limits. They’ve typically been pitched to people who couldn’t find affordable insurance because of their age or preexisting conditions, or who were so financially strapped that they were lured by the cheap upfront cost.

“People buy a plan that’s terrible,” says Nancy Metcalf, Consumer Reports senior project editor for health, “and if they get sick, they don’t even know they don’t have insurance.”

An example from CR: A plan costing $65 a month held by Judith Goss, 48, a Michigan department store employee. When Goss was diagnosed with breast cancer, she discovered the drawbacks of the policy’s coverage limits of $1,000 a year for outpatient treatment and $2,000 for hospitalization — barely enough to cover a day and half and a Tylenol in the hospital. She delayed treatment, so her cancer got much worse before she finally opted for surgery. Those sorts of coverage limits are illegal come Jan. 1.

Many of the supposedly bereft insurance customers being paraded before viewers of network and cable news — and dredged up by House Republicans during the theatrical grilling of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius — fall into this junk category. The news reporters never seem to lay out the benefits actually provided by these low-premium policies their subjects supposedly love, or their steep back-end costs if they actually get sick.

Consider the case of Diane Barrette, the 56-year-old Florida woman whose cancellation horror story was reported by a credulous CBS News and picked up by Fox News, which has been a one-stop shop for your Obamacare misinformation needs. Consumer Reports examined Barrette’s Blue Cross Blue Shield policy and made two discoveries: how junky it really is, and how badly her insurer may have misled her about her options. Barrette’s $54 monthly premium bought her almost nothing. The policy pays $50 per office visit (which can run two or three times that) and $15 per prescription (which can run to thousands of dollars a month); above that she’s on her own. Nothing for a colonoscopy. Nothing for mental health treatment. Up to $50 for hospital and ER services — and that only if her treatment is for “complications of pregnancy.” Nothing for outpatient services. Plus Barrette is not of an age where pregnancy is going to be an issue, so basically there was no coverage. This is one of the cases Fox news paraded before us as a “horror” story of lost insurance the customer loved and wanted to keep. Might have just as well cuddled up in bed with a timber rattler.

“She’s paying $650 a year to be uninsured,” said an insurance expert Consumer Reports Nancy Metcalf consulted. If she ever had a serious medical problem, “she would have lost the house she’s sitting in.”

As for the replacement plan her insurer offered, at a shocking $591 a month? Barrette has much better options via the government insurance exchange. Metcalf estimated that she’ll be eligible for “real insurance that covers all essential health benefits” for as little as $165 a month — a higher premium than she’s paying now, sure, but one that won’t cost her her home.

That raises the question of whether the insurers sending out these cancellation notices are trying to cheat their customers, expecting insurance companies to play fair with their customers is as pointless as expecting dogs not to drink from the toilet, but what’s the excuse of the reporters who retail these yarns without fully checking them out? You know how I feel  about that!

It’s time to tamp down the breathless indignation about these health plan cancellations. Many of the departing plans are being outlawed for good reason, and many of the customers losing them have no idea how much financial exposure they were saddled with in the old days. That’s the real scandal in American health insurance, and Obamacare is designed, rightly, to fix it. Look, I personally know people who have, and have had these junk insurance policies. This article and what I wrote here is the truth, they are not only junk, but they put your property and home in danger. Hospitals do go after everything you owe of value if you cannot pay. I know a nice lady, had a stroke, luckily she rehabbed nicely, no thanks to her insurance. Turned out it paid for nothing. The hospital attached her home. Luckily for her, she has three sons who were able to sell the paid for home and with the proceeds pay off the hospital and get her the rehab she needed. They then pooled their money and bought back their mothers house. So now they are all three sharing a mortgage on a house that had been paid off years ago thanks to junk insurance. The fact that our politicians are still playing politics and not doing what is right for you and me should piss you off.

Michael Hiltzik posted the original article in the Los Angeles Times; I edited and added my own thoughts and points along the way.

Here in California you can use the national website, but we set up our own called Covered California. It also had some original glitches, which have been worked out. Mostly caused by the huge mass of people who attempted to access it on opening day. However California, instead of griping and complaining, has made an effort to make it work. You can compare what you have and what is covered with what is available and compare the cost. There are numbers to call with questions. I have heard no one complaining so far, even Fox is keeping its mouth shut, I guess they couldn’t find anyone willing to prevaricate for money in this case.  At least so far as I know!

Why Government is no longer

By the People or for the People

 

 

The blog you are hopefully about to read is inspired by a man whose articles and blogs are a favorite of mine. His writings mirror my own thoughts, but he has a much more educated background to draw from, so I am going to encapsulate several articles he wrote, culling the thoughts I wish to convey. His name is Robert Reich, Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley, was Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration. Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century.

 

Before January 2009, the filibuster was used only for measures and nominations on which the minority party in the Senate had their strongest objections. Since then, Senate Republicans have filibustered almost everything, betting that voters will blame Democrats for the dysfunction in Congress as much as they blame the GOP. So far the bet is paying off because the press has failed to call out the GOP – which is now preventing votes on three D.C. Circuit Court nominees, the Labor Department and the EPA, the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, and the National Labor Relations Board. The GOP has blocked all labor board nominees. They have also violated hundreds of years of Senate precedent by filibustering the nomination of a Cabinet secretary, Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense, and using the filibuster to delay John Brennan’s nomination as CIA Director. I am not saying that all of these nominations and measures should not have been challenged, but when almost everything is held up stagnating the congress and it’s ability to perform, then I am saying we must look to the source. This congress has done less work than any in history. I am also not laying all the blame for the lack of product on the GOP, I am after all a Republican. But the entrenched GOP is not looking after my interest, or yours right now, and we need to see the truth of this, as it is as plain as the giant locust that just smashed into your windshield!

 

What happened to the Republican senators, such as Mark Hatfield of Oregon and Nancy Kassebaum of Kansas, who were willing to compromise, and who cared more about preserving the institutions of government than getting their way? Even Orren Hatch and John McCain in those days were more concerned about the institutional integrity of the U.S. government than about any particular policy difference they may have had with the other side.  But the new breed – Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, Sam Brownback, Jeff Sessions, David Vitter, to name a few – don’t give a rat’s ass about how or whether our government functions. In fact, they give every indication that they’d rather it didn’t. Economics, and much of public policy and political strategy, assume that people are motivated by self-interest, that the definition of acting rationally is to maximize what you want for yourself, and that other values – service, duty, allegiance to others, morality, and shared ideals – are either irrelevant or negligible

Ayn Rand, the philosophical guru of the modern Republican Party, popularized this view of human nature. In her world, selfishness is the only honest and justifiable motive. By looking out for Number One, we accomplish everything that’s necessary. Economist Milton Friedman extended the logic: The magic of the marketplace can be relied on to allocate resources to their highest and best uses. Anything “public” is suspect.

The titans of Wall Street and the CEOs of our major corporations have put this narrow principle into everyday practice. In their view, the aggregation of great wealth and maximization of profit is the only justifiable motive. Greed is good. Eight-figure compensation packages are their due. People are paid according to their economic worth.  This crimped perspective misses what’s most important. Shared values are the essence of a society. They fuel not only acts of valor, but they also motivate people to become teachers and social workers, police officers and soldiers, librarians and city councilors.

So why do our politician act as they do, because big banking, and entities of big business like the Koch brothers –have long been intent on blocking any legislation that does not benefit their deep pockets, at the expense of you and me. All politicians, but it is epidemic in Washington, pander to the people who have the influence and the cheddar to get them reelected and offer them high paying employment for doing next to nothing when their political careers have run their course.

One last example of to illustrate me point. Earlier this year the Republican-led House passed a bill pegging student-loan interest rates to the yield on the 10-year Treasury note, plus 2.5 percentage points. Republicans estimate this will bring in around $3.7 billion of extra revenue, which will help pay down the federal debt.
In other words, it’s a tax — and one that hits lower-income students and their families.

Meanwhile, a growing number of Republicans have signed a pledge – sponsored by the multi-billionaire Koch brothers — to oppose any climate-change legislation that might raise government revenues by taxing polluters. It is called the No Climate Tax Pledge.

Why are Republicans willing to impose a tax on students and not on polluters? Don’t look for high principle. Big private banks stand to make a bundle on student loans if rates on government loans are raised. They have thrown their money at both parties but been particularly generous to the GOP. Meanwhile, the Koch brothers, again – whose companies are among America’s 20 worst air-polluters –have long been intent on blocking a carbon tax or a cap-and-trade system. And they, too, have been donating generously to Republicans to do their bidding.

We should be taxing polluters and not taxing students. The GOP has it backwards because its patrons want it that way. Remember this is being said by a long time Republican, but we need to see that our party needs to change, along with the Democrats, to return to a government by the people and for the people. I mean all of the people, not 1% of the people, who just maybe will share to a lesser degree with a lucky 10% of the people.

The following paragraph is the most important statement I will be making, so pay attention. The modern GOP is based on an unlikely coalition of wealthy business executives, small business owners, and struggling whites. Its durability depends on the latter two categories believing that the economic stresses they’ve experienced for decades have a lot to do with the government taking their money and giving it to the poor, who are disproportionately black and Latino. The real reason why small business owners and struggling whites haven’t done better is the same reason most of the rest of America hasn’t done better: Although the output of Americans has continued to rise, almost all the gains have gone to the very top. If we were still doing things the way we did four decades ago a typical household’s income rose in tandem with output. But since the late 1970s, as we allowed big business, wall street, and banking to slowly weaken unions and lower taxes on corporate America, allowed out-sourcing of our wealth so they would not have to pay taxes in America, which slowly caused most Americans’ incomes to flatten. Had the real median household income continued to keep pace with economic growth it would now average $92,000 instead of $50,000.

I know my views do not make me popular with some of my dearest friends, but I will always keep you close to my heart, while still trying to convince you to see what I think is so obvious. If I did not, I feel that not only would I be letting myself down, but you as well. So I have to keep on trying. We need to get rid of the political parties as they are now. They do not work, just look at the mess we are in for evidence. I have written about that subject before so will not grind on you about that today. I hope, if nothing else, I have gotten at least one person thinking with a little more of an open mind. No one is trying to become the King of America or any other such claptrap. If we want things to be better, we have to not be lazy, and we have to be able to look at both sides of a problem, not make up slogans full of half truths and outright lies to convince ourselves that we are right, but debate with one outcome in mind, to make America work, for everyone, not just those you happen to agree with. Also, in closing, the people who can afford to influence you the most, or almost without exception your enemy, not your friend. So it all boils down to on simple fact, our politicians no longer represent you and me, but the 1%, or maybe the 10%, but that still leaves 90% of us hanging in the proverbial breeze! We now work harder, longer, for less money than most of our European neighbors, a far cry from just 40 years ago, and getting increasingly worse year by year.