Category Archives: economics

Words, Part 2

“There’s an old saying in Tennessee — I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.” George W Bush

“You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time. ” (attributed to A Lincoln)

You can fool some of the people all of the time. And you can get fooled again.

Words.

Small miscommunications or lies set the table for bigger ones. A small lie about the size of your inaugural crowd.  A strange lie. Photos and records of subway usage in Washington DC clearly demonstrate that the crowd at the Obama inauguration was much larger than the one at the Trump inauguration. So why lie? Why send out your press secretary on his first day and force him to lose all credibility immediately?

Miscommunication or lies. While campaigning for president, the public record now shows that Mr Trump was trying to sign a deal for a Trump Tower Moscow. A real estate deal that does not get done without the approval of Mr Putin. We know know that members of the Trump campaign met with a number of Russians (18 that we know of) during the campaign. And more meetings were held during the transition. Yet Mr Trump has and continues to maintain that there was no contact between any Russians and his campaign. Miscommunication or lie?

Miscommunication. President Obama warned Mr Trump not to hire Mike Flynn. Obama had fired Flynn. Flynn was known to be involved in some shady dealings with Russia and Turkey. Flynn’s lawyer told the Trump transition team that Flynn had worked for a foreign nation, Turkey. Flynn was hired by Trump as NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER and had access to every piece of secret information available. The acting attorney general, Sally Yates, warned the Trump administration that Flynn might be open to blackmail. So, Sally Yates was fired and Flynn was kept on. Until the Washigton Post ran a story about Flynn’s activities. Only then was Flynn let go. Supposedly because he “lied” to Mike Pence. But the adminstration knew of Flynn’s problems long before he was fired. Why lie? Miscommunication.

Congresswoman Frederica Wilson criticized the president. In response, John Kelly, Trump’s chief of staff, told the story of how the Congresswoman lied and took credit for a new FBI Building. How he was “shocked” that all she did was talk about herself and failed to honor the fallen agents for whom the building was named. He saw it with his own eyes. He was there. She was a liar. Except, nothing he said was true. And when a video of the event surfaced it proved he blatantly lied about this black Democratic member of Congress. What was the White House response?  To stand by his story even when the visual evidence clearly contradicted him. Showed him to be a liar. Miscommunication. Lies.

And the list goes on and on and on. In a meeting to discuss the compromise on the DACA problem and border security, a compromise that Mr Trump said he would sign, something else happened. It was reported that Mr Trump went off the rails and called some countries, inhabited by black folks, “shithole countries”. Senator Durbin , when asked , said it was so. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham concurred. But no one else at the meeting could remember. Republicans Tom Cotton and Perdue, both senators who were NOT part of the compromise, said they could not recall. Then, later, they did recall he said “shithouse”, not “shithole”. So, Durbin is a liar. He said “shithouse”, not “shithole” And the Secretary of Homeland Security could not recall either. But she did hear some “tough language”, whatever that means. She could not recall exact words. Of the president. She also was not aware that Norway is a country with a majority white population. The woman whose job is to keep us safe. Did not know that Norway was white. Really? Does anyone believe that? Miscommunication. Lies.

What is the overall effect of this daily and consistent miscommunication from the White House? Why lie about small matters? Why not say , “Yes. The president said that. He misspoke. He did not mean it”. Or. “We don’t care about crowd size, we just want to govern”. Why lie about small things?

What is the plan behind this barrage of lies we see every day? The effect is to destroy the very idea that evidence or facts have a place in politics. To make everything suspect. to make all words meaningless.

What if Mr Trump tells us that we need to go to war ? Who would believe him? Who would believe any statements or evidence? Who would believe anything the Secretary of Homeland Security says when she pretends not to know that Norway is full of white people? Who would believe Mr Kelly when he has lied so blatantly about a Congresswoman?

The abuse of words by this adminstration is beyond anyhting we have ever seen outside of the old Soviet Union or Hitler’s Germany. The Orwellian prediction is coming true before our eyes. The well planned constant, daily miscommuniction is taking its toll on the truth.

“But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.”
― George Orwell1984

Or, as Abe Lincoln said: You can fool some of the people all of the time.

 

https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/6436-there-s-an-old-saying-in-tennessee-i-know-it-s

http://www.quotationspage.com/quote/27074.html

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jan/22/trump-inauguration-crowd-sean-spicers-claims-versus-the-evidence

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trumps-business-sought-deal-on-a-trump-tower-in-moscow-while-he-ran-for-president/2017/08/27/d6e95114-8b65-11e7-91d5-ab4e4bb76a3a_story.html?utm_term=.c878d69b4afd

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/sally-yates-warning-set-flynn-resignation-motion-article-1.2971933

https://www.npr.org/2018/01/16/578415397/homeland-security-secretary-says-she-did-not-hear-trump-use-that-vulgar-word

 

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Time to Do Nothing

In 1949 Mao Zedong and the communists took over China. They instituted communist policies . In response the US cut off all relations with the People’s Republic of China for many years. Mao was a dictator. Harsh. Ruthless. The US would have nothing to do with him. He was an enemy.

Then, in 1972 , Richard Nixon did what was necessary. Mao did what his subordinates did not want him to do. Nixon visited China, met with Mao and started the opening up of trade and cultural relationships. The rightwing in China and the US were outraged by this betrayal of ideals. They wanted conflict, not reproachment.

The world did not end. The US was not defeated. In fact, over time, China has become a major world player and dominant economic force. A major trading partner with the US.

In 1986 the Russian leader, Gorbachev, met with the US leader, Ronald Reagan. Gorbachev had opened up Russia and the Russian people to the possibilities of democracy. Perestroika and glasnost . Reagan, a fervent anti-communists, saw an opportunity to cooperate on arms control. Both men signed the arms reduction deal which helped defuse the 40 years of hostility and tension between the two superpowers. Both men were criticized as “weak” by hardliners at home.

While Russia has fallen back into a dictatorship, the arms deals have held. Billions that could have been wasted by both nations on military spending has been saved. Not to say that both countries still spend way too much on the military. More than either needs for its defense. It was a bold, unpopular move for Reagan and Gorbachev to make.

But Reagan took a step toward an enemy and helped change the world.

Vietnam was a communist nation. The US fought a long war before ultimately admitting defeat. The hatred of many toward the North Vietnamese (and to some extent the South Vietnamese) was overwhelming. They were ruthless. They were despicable. The hatred of Americans by the millions of Vietnamese who had family killed by the “invaders” was also overwhelming.

In 1994, almost 20 years after the US left Vietnam, Bill Clinton lifted the trade embargo. Once again US companies could do business in Vietnam. Vietnam could be brought fully into the world trading system. Trade between the two nations now has reached billions of dollars a year. Former enemies have become trading partners.

Which brings us to Kim Jung -Un. The dictator of North Korea. Yesterday Mr Kim called for talks with his neighbor, South Korea. And South Korea responded positively. Both sides see no reason for increased hostility and increased fear. The president of South Korea, Moon Jae-in, has asked the US to postpone joint military operations as a gesture of good will. He wants to open up talks with his enemy to the north.

Would it not be nice if North and South Korea opened up more and more trade relations? Would it not be nice if these two nations could tone down the rhetoric and begin more cultural and economic interactions? Hasn’t history taught us that even the most hated  enemies can, over time, become trading partners? And once nations forge strong trade partnerships they both have a stake in keeping the peace and developing economically.

Nixon taught us that. Reagan taught us that. Clinton taught us that. Have we learned?

Let us hope that the US encourages this new interaction between the 2 Koreas. Or at least does not do anything to undermine the possibility of peace. Then, 20 years from now the people of North and South Korea may be able to freely visit each other and take advantage of increased trade and wealth.

If the US just lets it happen. Sometmes just doing nothing is enough.

 

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New Year Predictions 2018

This is the time of year when we think about the new year and what it will bring.  My new year predictions for 2018. While a couple might be a little off, I remain confident that my overall predictions will hold true.

The Cleveland Browns football team will be allowed to leave the NFL and play against selected college teams. While they do not fair well against Southeastern Virginia Disability Institute and the Outer Waco Texas Girls Ballet School the season is not a total loss. They will end up with a 1-11 record, having eked out a 3-0 victory over the Northern Idaho School for the Blind.

Robert Mueller’s third cousin on his mother’s side, 12 year old Cynthia Woggles,  will be investigated by a Congressional Committee headed by Trent Gowdy. The investigation, which will cost $ 7,000,000 and the calling of 98 witnesses, all of whom are commentators on Fox and Friends, will discover that Woggles  voted for Hillary Clinton in her 6th grade mock election in 2016.  (Not to be confused with the national mock election held the same year) Mr Trump will use this evidence of bias to fire the Republican Mueller. In  his place Mr Trump will appoint Roy Moore to take over the investigation. Moore immediatley calls Woggles for a play date.

Major League baseball will announce that after a study of fan injuries at 6 ballparks they have discovers 14 fans who had died during the game. At first the cause of the deaths was a mystery, since none of these fans were hit by foul balls or bats. Medical examiners confirm that these deaths can be attributed to a cerebral shutdown of the inner brain, caused by intense boredom.

The US will recognize the following new capitals. Scotland. Former capital: Edinburgh. New capital: Trump International Golf Links.  China. Former capital: Beijing, Forbidden City. New capital: Shanghai, Ivanka Shoe Factory.  Iran. Former capital: Tehran. New capital: Jersusalem.  USA. Former capital: Washington, DC. New capital: Mar-A-Lago, Florida. Congress passes a law concuring.

FEMA will announce, sometime in June, that they have devised a plan to bring power back to Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico has not had full electric power resumed since Hurricane Maria in September, 2017. Despite the fact that the FEMA response was the “best response ever” to a catastrophe (a close second being the FEMA response to Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans) . The new plan calls for running an extension cord from Merida, Mexico to the island to bring power back on line to the millions of foreigners living in Puerto Rico.  As long as Mexico agrees to pay for the cord.

The 1st Annual Scott Pruitt “Global Warming is a Hoax” seminar takes place in a yacht named “The Golden Dollar” off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina in July. Guest speakers include climate experts Sean Hannity, Clint Eastwood’s empty chair and the entire Duck Dynasty family. The conference is cut short when a family of polar bears swims past searching for ice.

In the Vatican, Pope Francis is caught on mike saying that he thinks “this god stuff is a bunch of BS”. Nevertheless,  he speaks out against war, violence, disease, global warming and hatred. He calls on all government leaders of the world to join in peace and harmony. No one calls back.When asked what common people should do to solve these problems he answers: “I tell you, I’m all outta ideas. Reality sucks so you might as well pray to a fantasy. Gets ME through the day.”

The New England Patriots win the Super Bowl, 17-14, on February 4 in a thriller over the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles have 7 TDs called back by the replay officials in NY, who are nowhere near the actual location of the game in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Days later it is discovered that the league officials in NY had mistakenly been watching the replays of the Bournemouth vs. Stoke City English Premier League soccer match of February 3, in which no one scored. As usual.

Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke announces the closing of all National Parks, except for Mount Rushmore. All parks will be sold to the Koch Brothers at a deep discount and the proceeds, which are tax deductible, will be spent renovating Mount Rushmore. The faces of Teddy Roosevelt, George Washington , Thomas Jefferson and Abe Lincoln will be sandblasted away to make room for giant head of Donald Trump, surrounded by his three wives. The monument will be renamed: Best Monument Ever. Congress concurs.

On a strict liberal vs. conservative vote the Supreme Court approves Executive Order 5,678 on the topic of voting rights. Since the court had previously ruled , under Citizens United, that money equals speech, they extend that ruling to include voting. Under the new ruling “money equals voting”, as well. Based on the principle of “one dollar equals one vote” the 2018 election will be determined by a new voting method. Every citizen must bring in their tax returns to show their gross income from wages and investments. Each dollar will count as one vote.

North Korean leader, professional golfer and all around bozo Kim Jung Un  announces a new building plan. He has signed an agreement with Trump University to open up a “Kim-Donald School For Learning Stuff” in Pyongyang. The school will focus on business related seminars including: How to Get Stuff  For Free; 12 Ways to Evict “Those People”; Tax Evasion 101: Avoiding Those Nasty Import Fees; and, Bankruptcy, The Real Estate Developers Best Friend. Eric Trump attends the ribbon cutting ceremony which is a disaster as none of the Korean made scissors are sharp enough to cut the paper ribbon. Eric calls the “Kim-Donald “school  the “best university ever” and announces at the same time that the US will begin selling nuclear technology to Kim as a gesture of good will.

Finally. Congress votes itself a 50% pay raise for a “job well done”. The legislative branch passed a total of three bills. They were: 1. “The Amazing Trump is the Best President Ever” bill awarding the Trump Medal of MAGA to the best person in America. This year’s recipient? Donald Trump. 2. “The FBI Traitor” law. Which labels all members of the FBI, former and current, official “enemies of the people” and subject to immediate permanent detention and prosecution for doing “bad stuff”. Mueller is the first to be perp walked. 3. “Congressional Vacation Act” which allows Congress to take a vacation for a period including January 2 through December 30, with pay and expenses for fact finding travel.  Mr Trump signed all three bills and praised Congress for their services… which will no longer be necessary.

 

 

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Mr Reed on the Backs of our Children

My Congressman is Tom Reed of NY-29. A staunch Trump supporter and one of the key members of the Ways and Means Committee responsible for the GOP tax bill. I called his office at 10:30 this morning and spoke with one of his staff members for 15 minutes. Here are the questions I asked and the answers I received.

Q. How many expert Congressional hearings has Mr Reed attended?

A. Don’t know exactly. There have been a few. Also he is on Ways and Means which had some hearings.

Q. Has Mr Reed read the entire bill, all 1000 pages ?

A. Yes. He has read the entire bill.

Q. Does Mr Reed gain financially from this bill, in the sense of the “Corker Kickback”? Any specific provisions which help him?

A. Do not know. Thinks not, however.

Q. According to some analyses, over the next 10 years 83% of the tax benefits go to the top 5% of people and corporations. Why does Mr Reed think the top earners need a break more than the bottom 95%?

A. Not familair with that analysis so can’t speak to it. The idea is to be pro-growth which will create jobs.

My follow up: Isn’t that what George Bush tried and it did not create jobs, called supply side?

A. Would not characterize it. Not familiar enough with the Bush plan to respond.

Q. The tax law keeps in place giving tax credits for taxes paid abroad. Doesn’t this discourage companies from creating jobs in the US if they can continue to take an overseas tax credit?

A. Is not familar with this provision. Can’t answer.

My follow up: If you want job creation at home wouldn’t it be better to tie any tax breaks to spending on jobs in the USA? Make job creation in the US a requirement for getting the tax break?

A. Will pass on my idea to the Congressman.

Q. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities calculated that 10,000,000 lower income  families would get an increase in the child tax care credit of $75 a year. That amounts to an increase of 50 cents a day. Is this a good increase for poor people raising children?

A. The child credit remains and has been increased so poor families get a $2,000 tax credit, which in an increase. And they can get $1,400 in taxes returned.  

Q. On April 15, 2011 when Mr Obama was president, Mr Reed released this statement: “We are borrowing $58,000 per second on the backs of our children and grandchildren… Reducing spending and getting the national debt under control in the single most important issue…. Trillions of private dollars sit on the sidelines waiting to see if we are serious about reducing the deficit and paying down our debt….” Has Mr Reed changed his mind abut the deficit?

A. We are concerned about the deficit and debt. We are pro-growth and Mr Reed is concerned about spending.

Follow up: What specific spending does he want to cut?

A. Can’t answer.

The staff member, who was very polite and patient with me said he would try to contact others who could answer my questions.

Mr Reed used to be concerned about expanding deficits. Evidently he has concluded that our children have strong backs. They are going to need them.

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Turkey Tax Theory

For over 30 years I have insisted on cooking the Thanksgiving turkey. I say “insisted”. It is my right as the head of the family. As a man. I decide these things. I know better than anyone else how to cook a turkey, so I take control. End of discussion. (Right, dear?)

I have a very sound theory of turkey cooking. First, you buy a turkey.  Then you cook it. Simple. Common sense.

Of course some folks might look to socalled “experts” when it comes to cooking turkey, but not me. They look in cook books and on line videos and some even ask grandma. But not me. I have a theory and I am sticking to it.

Now, the cookbook “experts” will tell you to cook a turkey at 325 degrees for a certain length of time, depending on the size of the bird. So much for experts. I have been using my own theory for 30 years. Ignoring the experts.

Here’s my theory.  I get a 15 pound turkey. Now, the “experts” say that you should cook a 15 pound turkey at 325 degrees for 3-3 1/2 hours. Balderdash. My common sense theory says  this is a waste of time. I don’t want to wait 3 1/2 hours for a turkey.  So, using common sense and math (Well, a calculator) my theory says this.

Cooking a turkey at 650 degrees will shorten the cooking time by exactly one-half. So, my turkey will be ready at 1 1/2 hours or so. No reason to wait for 3 hours. Simple. To the point. Common sense. A theory any idiot can understand.

I have been cooking Thanksgiving birds like this for 30 years and EVERY year, I mean EVERY year, the turkey ends up charred on the outside, partially cooked on the inside and a smoking mess. There is always a problem with the smoke filling the kitchen and the smoke alarm going off. I solve that easily by opening windows and disabling the smoke alarm ahead of time. Clever. The volunteer fire department is on retainer.

Why does the turkey always burn? For the first 20 years I figured it was a bad batch of turkeys. Not my fault. So I tried every turkey under the sun. I cooked each of the following , in order:

Honeysuckle, Butterball, Jennie-O, Norbest, Shay Brook, Riverside, Foster Farms, Boar’s Head, Plainville Farms, Trader Joe’s , Nature’s Promise, Perdue, Smithfield, Organic Prairie, Carolina, Pilgrim’s Pride, Applegate, Private Selection, O Organics, Cooper Farms.

As fate would have it, every one of these turkeys ended up being defective. They all burned.  They all filled my kitchen with smoke. Sad. Very sad. I thought maybe you just can’t get a decent turkey nowadays.

But then I thought. Wait. Maybe it’s the oven. So, I bought a new oven. Nope. Same problem. No matter what turkey I tried or oven I tried the end product was the same. I know that if only I had the right turkey and right oven my theory would be proven. It is just a matter of time. No amount of evidence can dissuade me from my theory.

Which brings us to the latest Tax Plan.

In 1980 Ronald Reagan had a great theory. A SPLENDID theory. Increase spending on the military. Give money to the rich by lowering taxes and they will create jobs. The economy will BOOM and unemployment will disapper. So, he put the theory into practice.  George H W Bush called it “voodoo economics” and said it would not work. By 1982 the US economy had experienced a recession and unemployment had RISEN to 10.8%. The GDP declined 2.7%. Opposite of the growth expected. Still, despite the evidence, it was a good theory.

In 1990 there was another smaller recession. This time George HW Bush was president. He had run on the slogan of “No New Taxes”. A great theory. Unfortunately circumstances beyond his control led him to abandon that theory and call for “revenue increases” to stabilize spending.  But he still had a good theory.

In 2001 George Bush had a theory. If we cut taxes on the wealthy they will invest in US jobs. GREAT! Wonderful theory. So, Congress cut corporate and individual taxes to stimulate the economy.  And he theorized that we needed to de-regulate big business. Too many restrictions were just strangling these major corporate and financial institutions. So, de-regulate we did. Excellent theory. Of course, it would take a few years for the effects to be felt. But the theory was sound.

And the effects were the biggest recession since 1945. Growth tanked to a negative 5.1%. Unemployment rose to 10%. Big money investors with all that extra capital did not create jobs in the US. Deregulated financial institutions simply made bad loans with investors money and went bust. (Well, they didn’t go bust, they got bailed out. Another theory. Too big to fail… even when they do).

When President  Obama left office unemployment was about 4%. A relatively stable rate. And there were no Obama-era recessions.So, the economy is back on track and continues to chug along. No reason to tamper with it.

BUT, we need to follow theories, not evidence. So, Congress is proposing the biggest tax breaks ever while proposing a massive increase in military spending . In 2015 the USA spent more on the military ($ 597,000,000,000 that’s billion) than the next 10 nations combined. The US spent more than the total spent by China, Saudi Arabia, Russia, UK, India, France, Germany, Japan, S Korea and Brazil…COMBINED). This is not to suggest the US does not need a strong military, but this seems a bit excessive. Spend more, take in less. Voodoo economics, anyone?

So, once again we are following a theory that has been shown to have no evidence supporting it, IF the goal is a stable , fair economic system. But the theory sounds pretty good.

For my part, I continued to use my theory to cook my Thanksgiving turkey. Despite the naysayers. OK, so it got burned again this year. No turkey for Thanksgiving. On the positive side, my wife has made a standing reservation for Thanksgiving at Hop Sing’s Chinese Restaurant.  She is  no theoretician. And I am developing a taste for Mu Shu Pork.

http://www.butterball.com/how-tos/roast-a-turkey

https://www.ranker.com/list/best-turkey-brands/ranker-shopping

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_recessions_in_the_United_States

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Read_my_lips:_no_new_taxes

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_military_expenditures

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Booze and Women

Regarding the new GOP tax plan which shuffles billions of dollars from working Americans to the top one-half of one per cent.

“I think not having the estate tax recognizes the people that are investing,” Grassley told the Register. “As opposed to those that are just spending every darn penny they have, whether it’s on booze or women or movies.”

I am not sure if this is true so I interviewed 2 people. One is a billionaire heiress to a real estate fortune who shall remain anonymous. I shall call her Ivania. The other is a shmuck who worked in factories, sweat shops and as a teacher for over 30 years. I will call him Joe the Shmuck.

Me: Hello, Ivania. Congratulations on receiving a massive inheritance allowance and other tax breaks in the new tax bill.

Ivania: Thank you. No one deserves it more than me.

Me: So, how many jobs do you intend to create with this new found wealth ? Do you feel that you that have earned this windfall?

Ivania: Oh, yes. I have had to work very hard being born into just the right family. It is not easy being wealthy. For example, do we cater in Lobster Newberg or Filet Mignon tonight? Do we open the bottle of “Moet and Chandon Dom Perignon” or the “Boerl and Kroff Brut Rose” ? Would you have any idea which to serve? Commoners just don’t understand the intense pressure I am under.

Me: I see. Back to my question. What do you intend to do with this multi-million dollar windfall? Will you invest it in new jobs in America?

Ivania: Of course. My investment advisor has already begun adding to my investments. I have created thousands of jobs already in my tote bag and high heel shoe factories.

Me: But aren’t those factories in China? And Vietnam?

Ivania: Well, yes. But there is a trickle down effect. Eventually, as we create jobs in China and depress wages in the US, we will be able to bring back jobs to this nation I love so dearly. American commoners must be able to compete with the wages we pay in China. We hope to someday get those wages on par with each other. Right now it is those unions that prevent us from creating more good jobs in the nation I love.

Me: OK. So, you won’t be investing in the USA, is that the bottom line.

Ivania: (chuckling)  I got mine. That is the bottom line. Did I mention how much I love America?

So, after this rather unsatisfying interview I found Joe the Shmuck, retired factory worker and teacher.

Me: Hello, Joe the Shmuck. Can I call you Joe?

Joe the Shmuck: I have spent my entire adult life working for a living and paying my taxes. You can call me Shmuck.

Me: OK, Shmuck. Senator Grassley has made the comment that people like you will just take any tax break and spend it on women and booze. What is your response?

Shmuck: DUH. Of course we will. He is correct.

Me: WOW! So you admit that you will spend any tax breaks on women and booze? Really?

Shmuck: I have in the past, why change now? What choice do I have?

Me: Explain to me then why you should get a tax break if you will just spend it on women and booze?

Shmuck: Look, I worked two jobs most of my life. At least 8 hours a day. Some days 12 hours or more. I have worked in factories, day labor, teaching and coaching and advising students. All for pretty meager wages. So, what do you think? I am not going to come home and have a beer? Of course I spend my money on booze. Wouldn’t you?

Me: Well, ok. but what about spending all your money on women?

Shmuck: I have a wonderful wife and a wonderful daughter. Unfortunately they are money pits. I mean, who needs more than 2 pair of underwear? Women, that’s who. Who needs to get their hair done? Women, that’s who. Not to mention quality food, clothes and  thousands of other items the uses of which completely escape me.

Let’s talk about dental bills and braces, shall we? And schools class trips? And second cars? And dogs and all those expenses? And Xmas gifts? And tuition and fees?

Me: I am not sure that was what Grassley was referring to…

Shmuck: Well, anyone who has a wife and daughter (or husband and son for that mattter) knows what I am talking about. So Grassley is right. All I will do with any tax break is invest in goods and services right here in the US…wait…does that make me an investor?

Me: Sorry. Investors only invest in China. You worked . You supported your family. You drink beer. You are what we call…uh… shmuck.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2017/12/04/grassley-explains-why-people-dont-invest-booze-or-women-or-

https://financesonline.com/top-10-most-expensive-champagne-bottles-in-the-world/

https://www.forbes.com/sites/stuartanderson/2015/08/17/trump-the-hypocrite-investing-overseas-fine-for-him/#4d5a62aa1dc8

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The Great Health Insurance Lie

The ongoing debate about about health care continues. Is the ACA better than Trumpcare? Is Trumpcare better because it includes more free market choices? Is Obamacare better because it covers 24,000,000 more people? What about the deficit.

And so forth.

But there is one fact, one truth, one absolute “know” that all sides of the debate seem to accept at face value. If you can disabuse yourself of this “truth” the health care issue can be solved.  There is one “given” that no one  from Sanders to Clinton to Trump to Cruz or any of their associates seems to challenge. That given is the following fallacy

Companies provide health insurance to employees. The government supplies health insurance to employees. Health insurance costs “job creators” billions of dollars a year.

False. Absolutely false.

There is not now, never has been and never will be any company or school district or government that provides health insurance to the employee.  Every employee from the highest to the lowest paid. In every industry. In every business. In every time period. Every employee has always paid and will always pay their own health insurance costs. Period.

Health insurance costs are not taken out of profits. They are not taken out of investors’ dividends. They are taken out of the employee’s salary. Every time.

Anyone who has ever been involved in negotiating contracts should understand this. As should anyone who has an understanding of basic economic theory. Every employer , whether public or private, has  an amount  of money that it sets aside for the “cost of labor”. Part of that “cost of labor” is benefits. One of those costly benefits is health insurance.

Does anyone think, really, that health insurance is some “gift” from an employer? Really? Never. The cost of health insurance is simply deducted from the employee’s salary as part of the “cost of labor”. The employee takes a lower salary and pays for his own insurance.

Does anyone really think that a business negotiates  a contract and then, out of the goodness of its heart, just adds on health insurance? Really?

Once you understand that you, as an employee pay for your own insurance you realize how vile the CEOs of companies like Hobby Lobby truly are. Hobby Lobby employees pay for their own insurance, yet the Supreme Court has decreed that the CEO of Hobby Lobby can dictate the kind of coverage the employee has paid for. Ludicrous.

So, next time someone tells you that their employer is “providing health insurance” and so the employer should be able to dictate what coverage they can have. Set them straight. Tell them they pay for their own insurance. And will continue to do so. Even though their boss may dictate what kind of coverage they get.

Your employer “gives” you health insurance. The big fat heath insurance lie. And another reason why we should have a single payer option. After all, the workers are paying for health insurance, shouldn’t they decide what option they want?

 

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Good News is No News

It seems as though the news emphasizes almost nothing but catastrophe and encourages negativity. This is not new, but it seems to be overwhelming sometimes. And it leaves the impression that we live in a constant state of terror, unhappiness, fear and anger. Things are getting worse and worse. Danger around every corner. The end is near! That is the narrative.

Good news does not sell papers or drive “clicks”. Good news is boring.

Some good news.

In 2015, a total of 322,761,000 Americans were NOT killed by the police.

.https://www.rt.com/usa/326724-police-killings-usa-report/

The murder rate in Chicago is 1/2 of what it was in 1990. The murder rate in Washington DC is 1/4 of what it was in 1990.

https://www.brennancenter.org/sites/default/files/analysis/Crime_in_2015_A_Final_Analysis.pdf

Since the ACA (Obamacare) was enacted uninsured rates fell in every state in the union.Now only about 10%-12%  of the population remains uninsured.

http://www.commonwealthfund.org/publications/blog/2015/sept/us-census-data-shows-uninsured-americans-drop

At long last all US citizens, including homosexuals, can  marry and serve openly in the military.

Gays in the U.S. Military Are Now Protected Against ‘Witch Hunts’

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/06/26/417717613/supreme-court-rules-all-states-must-allow-same-sex-marriages

The US is less dependent on foreign oil than at any time since the 1990s.

http://www.eia.gov/petroleum/weekly/archive/2011/110525/twipprint.html

Americans demonstrated their generosity by giving more money to charity than ever before. , over $358 billion dollars in 2014.

Giving USA: Americans Donated an Estimated $358.38 Billion to Charity in 2014; Highest Total in Report’s 60-year History

US teen pregnancy rates are 50% LESS than they were in 1991, and have been falling.

http://www.cnn.com/2016/06/02/health/teen-birth-rates/

In July of 2009 the rate of inflation was 5.6%. In July of 2016 the rate of inflation was 0.8%. The trend has been steady.

Historical Inflation Rates: 1914-2016

The unemployment rate in January, 2016, is down to 4.9% from a high of 9.8 % in January of 2010.

http://www.multpl.com/unemployment/table

Since 9/11 you are 15 times more likely to be killed by a deer, than by a foreign terrorist. And your chance of being killed by a deer are less than 1 in 15,000,000.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deer%E2%80%93vehicle_collisions

http://www.vox.com/2015/11/23/9765718/domestic-terrorism-threat

And, the biggest good news surprise of all time. The Chicago Cubs, currently in 1st place, were predicted to win the World Series by the gambling establishment. (I wouldn’t bet on that one)

http://www.csnchicago.com/chicago-cubs/big-surprise-cubs-favorite-win-2016-world-series

So. Good news will not make headlines. Not as exciting as disasters. But cheer up. Things are not nearly as bad as some would like us to believe.

 

 

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Lesson of Brexit

Much to the dismay of the leadership of the UK, the citizens of the UK have voted to leave the European Union. Not by much. The vote was 51.8% in favor of leaving. A scant majority. But enough to overturn an established economic order.

Still, entire regions of the UK voted NOT to leave. Scotland was overwhelmingly in favor of staying joined (62%). London also overwhelmingly in favor (60%). Northern Ireland wanted to remain (56%). But the majority in the rest of Britain did not. And the majority ruled.

Link to map of voting:

No one knows the long term results of this separation. The pundits are having a field day. Mr Obama was sad. Fox News was joyous. As was Donald Trump. Doom and gloom and happiness and joy.

Some see this as a catastrophe for the economy of the UK. With repercussions throughout Europe and even the USA. Nothing investors fear more than instability. No one wants to put their money where it may be unsafe. Especially big investors. Will London cease to be the financial capital of Europe?

Others see this as a strike against globalization and free trade agreements. A strike for independence and freedom for the Brits. The end of the EU. A triumph of nativism and nationalism. Will the rest of the EU follow suit and secede, fragmenting Europe once again?

Of course, the Brits were never fully integrated into the EU anyway. They kept their own currency. They kept control of their borders, except for the flow of capital. And the Brits have always seen themselves as a nation apart (superior to? ) the rest of Europe.

So, what is the lesson learned?

For me the lesson is simple. Representative democracy is not a terribly effective system, but it is the best system human beings have been able to devise. Brexit is an example of what happens when elected leaders refuse to lead. They let emotions, rather than reason, prevail.

Brexit is a good  example of  “direct democracy” in action. A referendum. Letting the people decide. Absolutely idiotic. Referendums are emotional snapshots. They are not the way to make major decisions about longstanding relationships. Run a few more commercials and some people change their vote. Take the same vote next week and have a different result. Appeal to the anti-immigrant sentiment and the complexity of the issue becomes lost.

People are easily swayed by emotional and nationalistic slogans. Make the UK Great Again! Freedom from Tyranny! The EU is taxing us and we get nothing in return!

I can guarantee that most of the people who voted in this referendum know as much about the EU-UK relationship as you or I. Whether they voted for or against, how many actually understood the ties that bind the UK to the EU? How many actually understood the London financial markets and the effect on the pound and euro? How many knew the long  term effects on trading partners like the USA and China?  How many anticipated the slowing of growth over the next 10 years and how that will effect their jobs and income?

Put 10 economists in a tree and shake it. Each one that hits the ground will have a different theory of the effects of Brexit, with all kinds of “data” and predictions. And only one, perhaps none, will be correct.

So, how is the average citizen supposed to understand the complexity of this UK-EU relationship? He simply cannot.  So, he votes based on emotion.

This direct democracy is a failure. Because no matter which side of the issue you were on, the economists and politicians in Parliament and 10 Downing Street understood the issues much better. That is why they were elected. To lead. To make decisions. Not to pass the buck.

So, my lesson learned? We should never have a referendum on the law. Or other important issues. While representatives may not always represent us as we want them to, at least a good portion of them understand issues. And while they USUALLY act slowly, it is better than giving into the whims of emotion. (Think of the Patriot Act as the exception that proves the rule).

The lesson of Brexit? Stick to the awful system of “representative” government. It is still better than the alternatives.

 

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The Reagan Babies

When I was a tyke going to school in a medieval Catholic dungeon I learned about the Pagan Babies.

We would bring in our pennies on Friday and Sister Attila of the Holy Order of Terror would collect the coin. Our little coppers were going to be sent to some missionary in Africa to help convert the “pagan babies”. These little babies evidently had not gotten the word about the all-merciful god. Our job, as little Catholic babies, was to save them.

Whether the money actually went to Africa or to the Vatican I don’t know. Our second grade class did not hire a CPA to check the books. Maybe the load of coppers  went to fund  Sister Attila’s  “Bloody Mary” stash. Perhaps the pennies fed the local liquor economy. Either way, a good cause.

The thing about these Pagan Babies living in Africa was this.

They were ignorant. They were hapless and hopeless. They did not know the truth. They were condemned to a life of squalor and prejudice and stupidity. We pitied them. We felt sorry for them. They knew only what they had been taught. Narrow minded . Ignorant. In the dark. What would  happen when they reached adulthood? How would this ignorance manifest itself?

Which brings me to their American counterparts. The Reagan Babies.

The Reagan Babies were brought up in the 1980s. They were brought up on the mantra that “government is evil” and “greed is good”.  They were told that poor people are poor because they are lazy. And the rich are wealthy because they deserve to be wealthy. They were told that labor should be cheap. Black people are criminals. Most of all, that working people should not have rights.

They were brought up to worship a god that demands obedience and fear. An intolerant, political god who builds hells here on earth for the “fallen” called prisons. And builds “wealth” by buying out real businessmen who actually build real businesses. Then stripping them and selling off the parts. A god that tells us that society is bad. People should not care for each other. The god of the Old Testament.

These Reagan babies have now become politicians. Roughly in their forties . They have achieved power. They want to destroy Social Security. They want to destroy the Civil Rights Act. They want to destroy unions. They want to destroy the concept of a public education for all. Most of all, they want to destroy the very idea of a “social contract”. And they have had some degree of success. The Rubios. The Cruzes. The Ryans. The Brownbacks. The Scott Walkers. The “young studs” of the Republican Party. The Reagan Babies.

We donated out pennies to save the Pagan Babies from ignorance . The Reagan Babies cannot be saved. They have been been taught a narrow view of life. They have been taught to embrace authoritarianism of “supply side” economics and an intolerance for the non-believer. They have been taught that the very concept of “society” is bad. No one is his brother’s keeper. They have come of age and now we are reaping the rewards of Reaganism.

The irony, of course, is that the Reagan Babies are supported by many of the very people they hold in contempt. Working Americans. Older Americans. True believers who  keep sending their hard earned pennies  (and votes) to the Reagan Babies.

Even as 2nd graders we would not have fallen for that scam.

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Toto, We’re Not in Kansas Any More

(In 2012 GOP Governor Brownback of Kansas pushed through the “Great Conservative Experiment”. Bringing the architect of the “supply-side” economics theory, Laffer, he proposed and got massive tax cuts for business and the wealthy, coupled with reduced public  support for the poor along with cuts to education. A conservative’s dream state. It was the experiment that would prove, once and for all, that “supply side ” policies were destined to be a great success…. They have been a massive fiscal disaster)

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/in-kansas-gov-brownbacks-reelection-race-is-case-study-in-republican-party-shift/2014/07/30/3192d86c-1420-11e4-8936-26932bcfd6ed_story.html

http://www.kansas.com/news/politics-government/article62557137.html

Aunt Em: I think she is finally waking up ! Dorothy, get up,  dear. Time to go to work.

Dorothy: Oh, Aunt Em. I had the strangest dream.

Aunt Em: Well, dear, time to get up and go to work in  the poultry plant. Those chicken wings don’t detach themselves.

Dorothy: Work? Chicken wings? Aunt Em, I don’t remember. I had the strangest dream that I visited a new land,  the land of Oz.

Aunt Em: Now, Dorothy.  You simply overslept. Now get your butt out of bed. We need the extra income.

Dorothy: But, Aunt Em. My dream. I dreamed I found myself surrounded by little men with little minds  and squeeky voices.  They were singing about “following the supply-side road” to wealth and fortune. But I kept going in circles. The road lead to nowhere.

Aunt Em: Oh,  that was no dream. That was the Knsas State Legislature, dear. Don’t you recall? They had to close all the roads except the ones leading directly to the chicken processing plant.

Dorothy: Then I dreamed I met a man who had straw in his head instead of a brain. He was silly and stupid. He flopped around and made no sense at all.

Aunt Em: Oh, Dorothy. That was the head of the Department of Education. Don’t you remember? The schools all had to close early because the state ran out of money for silly things like books and teachers. It is all part of the “great experiment”. It will be fine.

Dorothy: But Aunt Em, he didn’t even know what evolution was! And then I met a man who looked like a lion but was scared of everything. He cowered at the mention of the Wizard of Oz. Pathetic.

Aunt Em: You must mean the old Democratic Party. Oh dear, they certainly lost their courage.

Dorothy: Well, what about the man I met without a heart. It mean, he must have been part of a dream. A heartless man. No man can live without a heart, can he?

Aunt Em: Well, Governor Brownback came to town last week to proclaim “Cowboy Day” in honor of the ranchers who avoid paying federal grazing fees. There is no evidence that he has a heart.

Dorothy.: Then, in my dream,  we  walked all the way to the capital and saw this massive building. Covered with emeralds. And I went inside and saw the Wizard of Supply Side. He told me everything would be OK. Just keep working and don’t worry about the budget deficit. Don’t worry about school. Don’t worry about health care. It was final. He had spoken.

Aunt Em: Don’t you remember, Dorothy? We were going to take you on an ocean cruise across Kansas but the Lollipop Guild had taken away our lavish food stamp allowance. So, we went to see the Wizard for help. We DID go see the wonderful Wizard.

Dorothy: Well, what did the Wizard do?

Aunt Em: He told us to drop you out of 9th grade and get you a job. He told us that if you get sick you should “suck it up”. He said never ever use dirty words like”unions” or “climate change”. The great and powerful Koch had spoken.

Dorothy: Aunt Em, I am sick. My brain hurts. I need to see a doctor.

Aunt Em: Sorry, dear. We lost our health care when your uncle got fired for supporting abortion rights. You’ll just have to hope for the best. I am sure the Great Experiment will work itself out. Now, get on your bike and head for work. Those chicken parts are waiting to be sorted.

Dorothy: Look, Aunt Em !! A twister is coming right at us. A big one!

Aunt Em: Quick, Dorothy, into the storm cellar. … Dorothy! Where are you going?!

Dorothy hops on her bike with Toto in her basket and starts peddling frantically. Directly TOWARD the massive tornado.

Dorothy: Good bye , Aunt Em. I have my future to think about. Between living a decent life in Kansas and the twister, I like my chances with the tornado.

 

 

 

 

 

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Contestant #6: The Doctor is In…Sane

The next in a series of biased reports about the men and women who want to be President of the United States.

Ben Carson. A great surgeon. Proof that a person can excel in one area and be a total incompetent in other areas.

A look at Mr Carson’s website: https://www.bencarson.com/issues/

Ben has no experience in governing. Which is fine. But he has no record of voting on issues.  So his website is especially important. It allows us to see the depth of his understanding of political issues and the practical solutions he puts forth.

His site lists 10 issues. They are: A Balanced Budget Amendment; Education; Keep Gitmo Open; Keep Faith in Our Society; Health Care; Protect Innocent Life; Russia;2nd Amendment; Israel; and, the Tax Code.

Ben wants an amendment to the Constitution to balance the budget. He makes no recommendations on what he would cut to do so. Voodoo.

Education. Schools are failing. He wants to improve schools by having more “local control” and less big government interference. He would stop common core. Evidently Ben does not know that our educational system is the ONLY area in our lives where “local control” dominates and has done so since book learnin began. . Maybe that is why schools are failing in some communities? He also evidently does not know that common core is not mandated .

Ben wants to keep prisoners at Gitmo without trial. Evidently he does not believe that evidence should be required to detain folks.  (To his credit he does not claim to support the Constitution).

He wants religions to be able to practice their faith. I am not sure who opposes this.

He wants to end the ACA and fund health care through individual “Health Savings Accounts” which will drive down health care costs. Does not explain how this keeps costs down. I guess if you tell your doctor that you are paying with a HSA he will cut you a deal? And on a minimum wage salary it should be easy to sock away a lot of loot into your family’s HSA.  Yep. That will work.

He wants to protect innocent life. Don’t we all?

He thinks Russia must be dealt with. And he supports Israel. So far, so good.

He thinks the 2nd Amendment should stay on the books. Hard to argue that.

And he wants to change the tax code and eliminate the IRS. Not sure how taxes get collected?

All in all, his “Issues” amount to vague generalities, code words and general ideas. To put it bluntly. This guy is full of crap.

One example is from his “Keep the Faith” explanation. He wrongly asserts that the US was based on the Declaration of Independence as the “bedrock” document. It wasn’t . The Declaration lead to the Articles of Confederation, which was a massive failure. The “bedrock” document of the USA is the Constitution, which fails to mention any religion.

There’s more. And I quote:

“…However, we need to reverse the recent trend of secular progressives using activist, federal judges to drive faith out of our society. Anyone who wishes to practice their faith, for example by praying privately, can and should be able to do so. Equally, the rights of someone to abstain from private prayer should also be jealously protected…”

He cites no case in which judges have DRIVEN OUT faith. (Is he not aware of Hobby Lobby?). And he says people should be able to pray privately. Who , in god’s name, is STOPPING THEM  from praying privately?

I have to stop. The shallowness of his thinking, the lack of understanding of US history, the use of code words. I can’t decide if he is the most devious, dishonest candidate to date or if he is actually dumber than Sarah Palin . (Now that WOULD be an accomplishment.)

Last note: He forgot to mention Prison Reform on his website. After all, “Dr” Ben is the guy who insisted that prisons create gays.

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Contestant #5: Sanders the Socialist

5th in a series of biased analysis of announced candidates for the office of President of the US.

From Bernie Sanders Issues website: https://berniesanders.com/issues/

The senator from Vermont, a native of Brooklyn, is a self-proclaimed socialist and independent.  Since everyone knows what a socialist is, there is almost no need to go into detail. A socialist is one who hates America, wants to eat babies and tries to destroy all that is good in the world. Someone from, let’s say, Sweden.

That said, Bernie’s website has the usual vague generalities on some topics, specifics on other topics and simply ignores other topics.

For example, he pretty much ignores social issues like gay rights, abortion, etc.

He opposes Wall Street bailouts. He wants to rebuild the crumbling infrastructure. He wants women to have equal pay as men for equal work. He wants tax reform. He thinks the middle class has been screwed. All noble concepts. But the devil is in the details, and he is short on details.

His main area of concern is for working families. He is very specific on raising the minimum wage (to $ 15.00). He wants a one payer health care system. And he wants to make it easier for workers who want unions to unionize. These are areas where he has been consistent throughout his long career.

Most telling, he has opposed all the free trade agreements, going back to NAFTA. That is one area where he differs from most other candidates. He has a record of fighting to keep jobs in the USA. Unique among the candidates. Ever.

He does not seem to have used his political office for personal gain and has no outstanding scandals. But I am sure Fox News is working to create something as we speak.

All in all, a tried and true socialist. Can he win a major election with those credentials? Is it possible ? Does  a socialist have a chance of winning the highest office in the land?

About as likely as a socialist being elected to the US Senate. Or a black guy winning the presidency. Twice. We shall see.

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May Day 2040

May 1st. May Day. A celebration of the working people of the world. A celebration of worker’s rights. Passing largely unnoticed. A peek into  the future…Here is May Day, 2040.

Little Bobby and Little Suzie: Tell us a story Grandpa. A story.

Grandpa: Well. Today is May Day. So let me tell you about it. Once there was a time when unions and….

Bobby: (interrupting)..what’s a union?

Grandpa: A  union was an organization of working people. They got together to try to get good wages and working conditions and things like that.

Suzie: But isn’t that illegal, Grandpa?

Grand: NOW it is. But then it wasn’t. You see in the Bill of Rights every person had the right to “free association”. That meant that he could form unions. So workers did just that. Back then it wasn’t illegal.

Bobby:  But workers aren’t persons, Grandpa. I learned that in my “America is For Christians” History class.

Grandpa: That is true. But, once upon a time workers WERE considered to be persons. Then the Supreme Court said that corporations were persons. Then another Supreme Court said that ONLY corporations were persons. So that’s why workers are no longer persons.

Suzie: Grandpa. were YOU ever a person?

Grandpa: Oh yes. I was a person for a long time. And I worked as a union member until they were made illegal by President Rand Cruz.  And I paid Social Security…

Bobby: Social what, Grandpa?

Grandpa: Social Security. It was a little bit of money you paid every paycheck and then when you retired you would get some money to live on. But that is all gone now. Many corpora..er..persons…had religious objections to paying any tax. So that ended.

Suzie: What’s “retired”?

Grandpa: Retirement? It used to be that when you were 55 or 60 or 65 you could quit working and just live on pensions and social security. back when people were persons.

Bobby: But grandpa you are almost 90 and you are still working. When will you retire?

Grandpa: No one retires any more, Bobby. It is bad for corporate investment. When they eliminated the minimum wage they eliminated retirement. BUT, in the good old days, people could relax a little as they got older. Those days are gone.

Bobby: But Grandpa, our history teacher told us that only lazy people retire and want money for working. Anyway, she said that only persons have rights, not people.

Grandpa: Well, Bobby, she is right that people are no longer persons under the law. The  Supreme Court has ruled that there are only 3 categories of legal “persons”. No one else has any rights.

Suzie: What are the three categories, Grandpa?

Grandpa: Let me see if I remember. Who now has rights…Corporations, of course…and Born Again Christians…and the third…I remember now…fetuses and embryos. No one else has rights.

(Dad, Bobby and Suzie’s father enters.)

Dad: Okay kids, time to let Grandpa go to bed. He has a 10 hour shift tomorrow.

(Grandpa trudges off to his cot in the basement.)

Suzie: I like Grandpa’s stories.

Dad: Well, honey, remember Grandpa doesn’t always remember things correctly. He was what they used to call a “socialist”. He still thinks that people should be persons. He thinks that ppeople are more important than corporations. But he is old, so, we can humor him.

Bobby: Can we stay up late and watch the hologram?

Dad: Nope, You both need to study. I looked at your test schedule and there is a very important Science test tomorrow. You know what that means, don’t you?

Bobby and Suzie in unison: Memorize Leviticus.

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Contestant #2: Dr. Rand Paul’s Prescription: Take A Vague and See Me in the Morning

(This is the second in a series of biased reports about the potential candidates for the presidency. As these giants among men proclaim their desires to be the most powerful human being on the planet I will attempt to file a short report on each).

Rand Paul, son of former Texas congressman Ron Paul, announced today that he was willing to serve as president of the US. A major surprise to all Buddhist monks still alive in Tibet. To anyone else, not so much.

As with all candidates the best thing to do is to start with their own websites. On his website Dr. Paul stresses the fact that he is a doctor. A doctor of ophthalmology and that he does good works. That is very noble. And humbling. But for some reason in his bio he fails to mention his board certification. Dr Paul was certified once to practice his “doctoring” by the ABO (American Board of Ophthalmology). But something happened. And he let that certification lapse. So, he was then certified by the NBO (National Board of Ophthalmology), a group NOT recognized by the (ABMS) American Board of Medical Specialties, the national group that certifies the legitimacy of boards. Why not? It was just a board made up by some doctors. UH. Actually, Rand Paul was the president of the group that certified Rand Paul, with Kelly Ashby Paul (Rand’s wife) as vice-president of the group and Rand Paul’s father-in-law as secretary. But, he WAS certified to practice, at least by his kinfolk. (For some reason that NBO was dissolved in 2011).

So, what would a Rand Paul Presidency look like?

Rand Paul’s’ website (www.randpaul.com) has about 16 issues. I will focus on only 4. You can read the rest. Good luck.

Sanctity of Life. Rand believes in the sanctity of life. Well. That is good news! He defines “life” as existing at conception. He says that American women have murdered over 50,000,000 CHILDREN since Roe v Wade. (Did I forget to mention that he is doctor, yet he thinks an embryo is a child?). He opposes all abortions. Period. He thinks states should be able to make any laws they want in this regard . So, I guess you might say that Rand is not a real fan of the US Constitution. A Dr. Rand Paul presidency would not enforce Roe v Wade. I think. He is vague on that point.

Health Care. Dr. Paul wants to repeal Obamcare. And replace it with…. what we had before Obamacare…only better. A market driven system. He knows that a market driven system works because…uh…it left 40,000,000 Americans (real people this time, not embryos) without health insurance. He is rather vague on details. But a Dr. Rand Paul presidency would put the patient first, by eliminating the ACA.

Taxes. President Dr Paul hates taxes. He will institute a 17% tax rate for all businesses and people. His plan is called the EZ Plan. It is EZ to understand because he has no other details. It is EZ Vague. Would current tax breaks for corporations remain? Would breaks for agribusiness remain? Personal deductions? Long on vague, short on details. But, the plan does call for the elimination of Social Security taxes for the middle and lower classes (Not sure where the income levels fall on middle class. That part is…uh…vague). So, no more payments would be going into Social Security from younger workers. So, depending on his exemption plan, a Dr Rand Paul presidency would see a significant decrease in taxes for the super rich. Not so much for the poor.

Which leads us to….
Social Security.
Dr President Leader Rand Paul has a plan for Social Security.

He wants to fix Social Security by increasing the retirement age and means testing. OK. I’ll bite the means testing. I agree that millionaires like John McCain should not be dipping into the pot. Postponing retirement? Doesn’t that just prevent younger workers from getting started? This would apply only to younger workers, so us old fogeys would still get our benefits. …But…wait…In Dr President Excellency Paul’s TAXES plan (see above) he called for eliminating billions of dollars in payments to Social Security. How does that work? Billions less coming in but more going out? Does Mr Dr His Holiness Paul know how Social Security even works? Does he know that payments made today go to today’s retirees? By what magic will SS take in billions less and pay out more? THIS is how he “fixes” Social Security? With magic?

Dr Paul’s lack of real solutions comes through loud and clear. He attacks the “Washington Insiders”, of which he is a part, but offers no real alternatives. Lots of “plans” and ideas and slogans.

All in all, Dr Mr Rand seems to have the same “prescription” for America as other GOPers. Not all that different. Gives homage to the religious right. Wants freedom from paying taxes but not freedom for women to control their own bodies. Has magical thinking when it comes to Social Security financing. A man who will keep it vague in hopes of not exposing the shallowness of his thought processes. Or, who has a real agenda he refuses to share.

Once, in order to be “certified” to practice medicine Rand Paul simply created his own certification board. I suspect the only way the doctor will ever be POTUS is if he “creates” his own country. Then his wife could be vice president again.

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I’m Entitled…A Deal’s A Deal

Some states, New Jersey and Michigan come to mind, have decided that pensions for teachers and other public employees are too costly. So, they have cut back. Changed the rules. Old people have become too expensive. People retired, thinking they had a deal. Then the rules were changed. After the game was over.

First, a true story. A guy who delivers my firewood also takes down trees. I’ll call him Luke. I asked Luke to look at a massive cherry tree in my yard and he said he could take it down for 50 bucks. That was a good deal. A 30 minute job. Luke came back in his coveralls with his chain saw and well, it wasn’t as easy as we thought. The tree got caught up. He had to take down another maple next to it. Then he cut up the trunk into usable pieces for me. Took about 2 hours.

Now, it comes time to pay Luke. I give him the $50 and try to give him more. No. He won’t take it. I said, look, you took down two trees, cut them up, the job was much bigger than we thought. Take some more money. No. Luke would have none of it. His exact words. “A deal’s a deal”. End of discussion.

I taught in NY schools for over 30 years. Put money into the retirement system. Every check. My wages were so low that, as a professional teacher there were years when my family was eligible for welfare. WIC. A college degree, graduate school, a teaching certificate all lead to welfare subsidy. Which is okay. I knew what I wanted. Worked every summer to make ends meet. But I paid into the retirement system. Every check. Social security. Every check. Medicare. Every check. Just like public employees in Michigan and New Jersey and Wisconsin and Kansas and every other state in the union.

Am I ENTITLED to my retirement check? You bethcha. I paid in and took lower wages for a reason. A deal’s a deal.

I started working at 16. Paid Social Security. Paid Medicare. Paid federal taxes. Paid state taxes.
Now I am retired and I get free money from Uncle Sam. Social security every month. Now I am on Medicare. Am I one of Mitt Romney’s 47% ? ENTITLED? You betcha. I deserve it. A deal’s a deal.

I get more than a little irritated at the “young gun” GOP governors who are trying to balance their budgets by stripping pensions and retirement plans. Cutting taxes on the better off citizens and taking dollars out of the pockets of retirees. They have no clue. They have no understanding of what people in the past gave up to get those guaranteed pensions. They have no shame. They have no integrity.

They are deaf to the basic contract. They do not believe that “A deal’s a deal”.

Maybe I should order them some firewood. And have Luke deliver it. Maybe, just maybe, a little bit of Luke would rub off . But I doubt it.

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No, Rand, You Don’t

Much has been made of Rand Paul’s silly statements about vaccines. They are so ludicrous that they do not bear repeating. Just file them under: Paul, Rand, Typical.

But one part of his statement does bear scrutiny. Why ? Because it reflects, in a few words, the entire misguided libertarian “philosophy”. He stated that the government does not “own ” children. Which, of course, is true. But then he added that “parents own” their children.

It is this simplistic libertarian attitude that is the very weak foundation of the Paul “philosophy”. I own it. It is mine. I have no responsibility to anyone or anything. I can use and dispose of it anyway I want, without regard for others.

If ,as Paul claims, a libertarian parent “owns” his child, then all protections for children disappear. Can a parent abuse a child? Can a parent deny the theory of gravity and throw a child from a window on the 10th floor? Can a parent sell a child into prostitution?

Of course these are extreme examples. But if one accepts the basic premise of child “ownership” then a parent can do whatever he wants, can’t he?

This is where the libertarian “philosophy” falls apart. The denial of rights for anyone except ME. It is the ultimate ME philosophy. No matter how one wants to sell it , the main idea comes back to “MY rights are more important than anyone else’s rights.” Even more important than the rights of my own child.

I don’t have to vaccinate my kids. Other people’s kids have no right to be safe from the measles. I don’t have to wash my hands if I am serving food. The restaurant patron has no rights to a safe eating environment. I don’t have to serve certain “types” of people in my restaurant. Other people do not have a right to equal pubic accommodations.

In the end, the Rand Paul philosophy of ME cannot stand up to the sensible and simple idea that we live in a society. He cannot seem to grasp that he is not the only ME in the world. Kind of like a three year old.

No, Rand, you don’t own your children. You are their caretaker and guardian. Protector. They do not belong to you to dispose of as you wish.

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The Job Creators Strike Again

The 114th Congress, controlled by the GOP , has now voted to approve the XL Pipeline. The Senate will probably follow suit. It is not clear if this vote actually means anything, since the State Department has not yet completed it’s required study of the pipeline. And the POTUS cannot act to approve it until the State Department makes it’s recommendations. And it is quite possible that President Obama would approve the pipeline anyway, if the State Department so recommends.

But facts and the law will not stand in the way of the Job Creators. The GOP Job Creators. Their dedication to creating jobs has no bounds. The policies of Reagan’s Supply-Side Economics (called “VooDoo Economic”s by former POTUS GHW Bush) have created millions of jobs since the 1980s. That is the good news.

The bad news is that those jobs were created overseas. China. Vietnam. Mexico. Or in states well below poverty level wages. Alabama. Georgia. Tennessee. Good for CEOs and the upper 1 %. Not such a great deal for the middle class or workers. Not such a great deal for taxpayers since so many full-time employees are also on Food Stamps. We may pause at this point to recall that these Job Creators fought very hard to prevent the US from helping the auto industry keep the jobs already created. Tens of thousands of jobs. Good paying jobs with no one on Food Stamps. Saved by the bail outs and TARP. Job Creators hated them. Predicted the end of freedom in America if we saved these jobs. (That catastrophe was somehow averted.)

So the XL Pipeline is not a new triumph for the Job Creators. They have created short term low wage jobs before. For the honor of piping the filthiest oil on the planet across the water tables of the plains states the US will be rewarded with thousands of jobs. Over 1,000 miles of 36 inch pipe. Carrying unprocessed, unrefined thick crude oil . Across water resources. Across farmland and grazing land. What could go wrong?

The pipeline will create 3,000 to 5,000 jobs. Good jobs. Unless they are given to non-unionized, low wage immigrant labor. And these jobs will last a long time. Well. Two years. Then they end. Then the housing built for the temporary workers lies vacant. The boom in the small towns goes bust. But there are more jobs. Permanent ones. Jobs that are here to stay.

The best estimate of the long term permanent jobs servicing the pipeline is 35. And 15 more part time jobs, as well. 50 jobs. The economic impact of these 50 jobs is hard to gauge. The GOP Job Creators have been beating their chests and thumping their …well…their whatevers, for 50 permanent jobs. For 6 years they have battled to get these 50 jobs.

While infrastructure rots and schools crumble, the Job Creators are narrowly focused on 50 jobs for their oil company donors. Not thousands of police officers to make cities safer. Not thousands of teachers to help our students. Not firefighters. Not computer technicians or scientists. Not increased training for new doctors and nurses. Nope.

The Job Creators have spent 6 years whining about 50 jobs. That’s about 9 jobs per year. Fewer than one per month.

A great start. At this rate the Job Creators will have the US economy booming along with full employment by the time the sun burns the Earth to a crisp in 1.1 billion years. But, hey. You gotta start somewhere.

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