Category Archives: Economy

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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Filed under ACA, Conservatives, Debt, economics, Economy, Education, Elections, GOP, government, governor, jobs, minimum wage, Neoconservative, neoconservatives, Politics, Radicals, Republicans, Taxes, tea party, unions, workers

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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Filed under Bernie Sanders, CAFTA, candidate, economics, Economy, Free Trade, minimum wage, NAFTA, PNTR, socialism, socialist, unions

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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Filed under Christie, Debt, economics, Economy, Education, GOP, government, neoconservatives, Republicans, Taxes, tea party

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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Filed under Congress, Conservatives, economics, Economy, GOP, government, jobs, Neoconservative, Politics, Republicans, Senate, Society, Taxes, US

Thank you Mr Yoder

Congress recently passed a giganormous spending bill. It was for over 1.1 trillion US dollars. That’s a lot of paper. In numbers it looks like this 1,100,000,000,000. That is more M and M’s than you can shake a stick at.
A lot of that loot goes to luxuries like food stamps, housing for the poor, homeland security, etc. But thanks to Congressman Yoder of Kansas, a fiscal conservative, some of that loot may be coming my way. Kansas, as you may or may not know, is now facing millions of dollars in debt as a result of the “Tax Cuts for Billionaires” program instituted by GOP governor Brownback. Have no fear, like Christie of New Jersey, Brownback intends to raid the public employees pension plans to make up the difference. It worked for Christie. Fiscal conservatism at its best.
But, back to Yoder.
Congressman Yoder was able to slip the Citibank bailout provision into the new budget. Written by Citibank and debated by …well…by no one. No time to debate. It was slipped in at the last minute. (Where are the howlers who were screaming at Obamacare because they only had 6 months to read it before the vote?) This provision allows Citibank (and others) to make those risky bets on certain derivatives and have those bets covered by the US taxpayer if they go bad. The same risky bets that helped lead to the financial meltdown and bailouts of..oh..many, many years ago. I can’t remember. Was it 1929 or something like that. Ancient history. Couldn’t happen again.
At any rate, I assume that because corporations are people that means people are corporations. Makes sense to me. Right?
So, as a corporate entity I plan to fly to Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.
I will take my life savings (too embarrassed to give you the amount) and place is all on number 43 . One spin of the roulette wheel. Win and I am a millionaire. (Well, maybe if I win 8 times in a row). All my money. One risky bet. What could be better? This….
And the best part is this. If I win, I get to keep my winnings. Hurrah!. If I lose I will claim I am a bank. I will claim I made a risky bet. The taxpayers will cover my losses. Then, guess what ? I can simply bet again.
So, thank you, Mr Yoder of the bankrupt state of Kansas. Thank you for looking out for the little guy.
Las Vegas, here I come.

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Filed under Christie, Conservatives, Debt, Economy, Neoconservative, neoconservatives, obama, Politics, Republicans

Santa and the Elves Restructured

Scene: North Pole, or thereabouts.

Relf the Elf strolls into Santa’s Workshop.

Relf: Hi guys, where’s Santa? I haven’t seen him in days. I need to order some more yo-yos.

Delf the Elf: Haven’t you heard? Big meeting today. Santa has an announcement. Here he comes now.

Santa approaches and walks to the podium. He is wearing a Brooks Brothers suit and alligator shoes.

Santa: Good morning elves. After 346 years Mrs. Claus and I have decided to retire. We will be leaving tomorrow for Santa Lucia. I have sold Santa’s workshop to Bayne enterprises. They have assured me that they will continue the high quality of service that has become a hallmark of this organization. While I will miss you all I am confident you will continue to enjoy prosperity and serve the children of the world. In short, they made me an offer I could not refuse. Thank you for your service and stop by if you are ever vacationing in the Caribbean. All questions will be handled by your new employer, Bayne Enterprises.

With that, Santa left the podium and a thick-haired, square-jawed  Dudley Do-Right look alike took the microphone.

Mr Mitt: Good morning. I am Mr Mitt, your new boss. As Santa said, Bayne has acquired Santa’s Workshop and we remain committed to providing he finest quality to our customers at the lowest price. Any question?

Velf the Elf: I heard from a few retired elves that their pension payments have stopped. What is going on?

Mr Mitt: Excellent question. As you know, Santa was quite generous in his pension plan, which has lead to a less than maximum profit for the company. We have found it necessary to restructure the pension system. In fact, no pensions will be paid to the retired elves. And the pension plan has been eliminated for the curent employees. This has been necessary under the current economic conditions.

Velf: But we paid into those plans. I have been working here for over 134 years, making monthly contributions. You can’t just eliminate my pension.

Mr Mitt: Since you have been working without a union contract we are well within our rights to do so. At times like this we all need to make sacrifices for the good of the company. Next question?

Kelf the Elf: This morning I saw a number of trucks loading equipment out of the toy shop. What is going on?

Mr Mitt: Excellent question. I am so glad you asked that. As part of our restructuring to make Santa’s Workshop more efficient we are in the process of outsourcing many of our operations. Actually, all of our operations. To stay competitive we will be making toys in China and the Philippines from now on. We will maintain a North Pole address, of course, but our actual manufacturing operations will take place in Asia. These reduced labor costs will allow us to stay competitive while creating a positive work environment for child workers. Our new slogan is “Santa’s Workshop: Made for children by children.”

Yelf the Elf: What about our jobs?  You can’t just fire us.

Mr Mitt: I am glad you asked that question. Excellent question. We at Bayne Enterprises believe that the elf workers are the future of our company. We seek to maintain the high standards that the elves have achieved over the last 300 plus years. The quality and dedication of the elf labor force is second to none. Rest assured, not a single elf will lose his job. All elves will be relocated to China to train and instruct the new work force. Of course, to stay competitive, all pay will be halved and there will be no benefits packages available. All costs of transporting you , and if you desire your families, to China will be deducted from your new half-salary. And, of course, there will be regular work reviews which may lead to immediate termination if your work is found to be sub-par. Any other questions?

Pelf the Elf:   Sounds like a total screw job to me. We train new employees.  Half pay.  No benefits.  You can fire us at any time.  No pension. What’s in it for us?

Mr Mitt: Excellent question. I am glad you asked that question.  Bayne Enterprises takes great pride in providing investors with the best opportunities for growth and financial security. I would hope you would take great satisfaction is being part of a corporation that seeks to maximize investor profit while providing the best possible service.  Which reminds me. No more free toys to poor kids. That was an awful business model. All Christmas toy deliveries will be by subscription or prepayment only in the future.  Any other questions?

The Elves looked at each other and slowly trudged out of the workshop.

In the distance a semi pulled up to the fenced in reindeer yard. Donder and Blitzen glanced over and read the lettering on the side of the truck (yes, reindeer, unlike Fox news watchers, CAN read).  On it’s side was this lettering: Sideshow Sarah’s Reindeer Meat Company and Travelling Circus.

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Filed under Conservatives, Economy, neoconservatives, Politics, Taxes

The Worst Communist Ever

Karl Marx had been caught in a time warp. You know, the ones we see on old Star Trek episodes. He was “beamed” into the 21st century.  I heard he was recuperating at a local hospital . I managed to get in and find his room. As I walked in I noticed he was grinning with delight and nodding his head in agreement to some TV show.

Me: Hello,  Karl. What do you think of the 21st century?

Marx: Excellent (laughing). Finally. Finally the worker’s paradise has arrived ! The capitalist behemoth of the USA has a real communist leader. At last.

Me: Karl, why do you say that ?

Marx: Look. Look. At this Fox News . I have been watching for two days. This President Barack Obama is a communist. Thank god…oops..there is no god…thank the proletariat for electing this communist ! Workers of the world unite!

Me: Well,  Karl, I wouldn’t get too excited.

Marx: Capitalist stooge! Look at this Obama and what he has done for communism. No  more wars of imperial domination ! He is afraid to use military force. No more using the proletariat for capitalist wars!

Me: Well. He did bring most of the troops back  from Iraq. But,  he also sent even more to Afghanistan. And the US does have military bases in about 100 countries around the world.

Marx: Oh…well..but now all the “means of the production” are in the hands of the people. The workers control the banks. The bankers no longer gouge the proletariat.

Me: Uh…well,  Karl. Not exactly. There was a depression caused by the financial  sector. True.  So, Obama and Congress did give billions of tax dollars to save the economy.

Marx: Yes.  A classic “redistribution of wealth ” from the bankers to the workers! Communism triumphs. As I predicted.

Me:  Actually,  Karl. It was a “redistribution of wealth”, but it went the other way. The tax dollars from the workers went to bail out the bankers who then took that money and loaned it back to the workers at a profit. Banking profits at an all time high. Wages very low.

Marx:  OK.  But now the people  own the factories,  not the bourgeoisie. I saw on Fox News that the government bought the auto industry. For the people !

Me: Yeah…about that one Karl. The US taxpayers DID bail out the auto industry. But then Obama gave it back to the private sector. Another “redistribution of wealth” thing. From the proletariat to the capitalists.

Marx (getting a little glum): At least in the area of health care the people are now in power. Since this communist Obamacare, like they call it on Fox News,  is now the law. Everyone gets free health care. And the proletariat  government controls hospitals, doctors and all medical facilities. All are equal at least in that regard. All paid for with higher taxes on the wealthy.

Me:  Sorry, Karl. But while  the ACA did bring more of the …uh…proletariat into  the health care system, millions are still not covered. And the government does not control health care. Another “redistribution of wealth”…from the working taxpayer to the health  insurance companies.

Marx: …So…there has been no people’s revolution? No equality ? This Obama has not taken money from the wealthy and given it to the worker? “To each according to his needs” ? But Fox News says that Obama is taxing the rich out of existence. Power to the people !

Me:  Actually Karl,  the income disparity between the workers and the elites is greater than ever.  About one-third of the major corporations pay no tax at all. But the workers still have taxes deducted automatically from their checks. And the part about “according to their needs” ?  Well,  you know, maybe the Koch Brothers just NEED more than a single mother working at Wendy’s ? Maybe?

Marx: So, this Fox News tells me Obama is a communist. Yet he redistributes wealth the wrong way. Are there other TV channels I can watch to get a more accurate picture?

Me: If you want a more accurate picture of politics than offered on Fox News,  I suggest you start with the Cartoon Channel.

Marx:  Hmmm…The wealthy are wealthier than ever. Obama bails out bankers. Gives the car factories to the capitalists. Sends billions of tax dollars to health insurance companies.  Continue wars of imperialistic aggression ….One last thing. Can you get me back into the time warp.  I want out of here.  This President Obama…The Worst Communist Ever !

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Filed under ACA, Economy, Foreign policy, healthcare, Obamacare, Politics, Society, Taxes

It’s Not Funny Anymore

Barack Obama was born in Kenya. His birth certificate says Hawaii. Two newspapers in Hawaii announced his birth at the time. But, according to the birther movement, he was born in Kenya. Thereby making him an illegal president. A few conspiracy nuts at work ? Pretty funny stuff. We laughed.

Barack Obama is a radical Muslim who went to a madrassa as a child. A school where he learned to hate America and worship the Koran. Fox News carried the story. Over and over. And he did go to school. And the school had a lot of kids from Muslim families. But it was a public school. And in a Muslim country, believe it or not, most students come from Muslim families. Laughable. Silly. Debunked. Pretty funny stuff. We laughed.

Barack Obama is a radical black Christian who hates the white race. Wants to kill whitey. Plays the hate game. He did, after all, attend a church run by the firebrand black preacher, the Reverend Wright. And the good reverend is known for his hyperbole and angry  sermons. So, if Obama sat in a church and listened to sermons by this guy, he must be a white-hating racist. Except Obama left that church. He denounced the ideas of Reverend Wright. Publicly. And since Obama’s  mother and grandparents who raised him were white it is pretty hard to imagine that he hates “white people”. Silly. Right wing conspirators at work. Funny stuff. Silly. We laughed.

John McCain, in a frenzy of panic and disregard for all reason, manages to choose as his running mate one of the most unqualified people on the planet. Not just the US. The entire planet. And Sarah Palin becomes the darling of the emerging far, far, far right. When she can’t name a newspaper or magazine she reads her defenders blame it on Katie Couric. Couric “set her up” with a surprise “gotcha” question. Who could be expected to know the answer? It was a clever trap. And this same VP candidate then pronounces that her foreign policy credentials include the fact that Alaska is adjacent to Russia. (To be fair to Sarah she never said she could see Russia from her porch).She declares that  global warming was a fraud. 99% of the scientists are wrong! Drill, Baby, Drill.  She thought she had the intelligence, thoughtfulness and gravitas to be the most powerful person on Earth. She was to be a heartbeat away from the Oval Office. Absurd.  Unqualified. Ridiculous. What was McCain thinking? Pretty funny. We laughed.

And then there were the “make him fail” pronouncements from elected members of the Congress.. And a Congressman screaming “you lie” at the State of the Union message. Over the top. Wanting to make the POTUS fail ? The man just elected by the majority of Americans? Rudely interrupting a constitutionally mandated speech by the POTUS. Shouting out like a heckler at a baseball game.  Childish. Vindictive. Certainly this kind of vitriol would be rejected by the voters. They had gone too far. They will self-destruct. Pretty funny? We laughed.

And here is where the “liberals” have problems. The smug liberals. The elitist liberals. The “know-it-all” liberals . The “we are superior intellect” liberals.The “I am smart and they are stupid” liberals.  Like me. We just did not believe that so many people would tolerate this nonsense. How could folks fall for these frauds. In our cocoon of certainty, sanity and logic we assumed that just about everybody else would think, consider and then  laugh at these guys. They would see these shenanigans as silly and obnoxious and anti-American. And potentially dangerous. And punish the right-wing radicals  at the ballot box. They had gone way too far. We laughed.

Boy were we wrong.

The extremists gained popularity. We could not believe it. They won key seats in Congress and took back the House of Representatives. Astounding. And the nonsense continued. Intensified. Remember the “death panels” Where are they ? Remember Obama “taking away your guns”? Mine is still in the closet. Remember the “redistribution of wealth”? Today the top 1% of Americans still possess 40 % of the wealth.  Remember the “failure of Obamacare” and how businesses were going to close and unemployment soar? Unemployment is down to almost 6 %.

And then, in a temper tantrum befitting a three-year old,  the right-wing of Ted Cruz shut down the government, costing billions. Fiscal conservatives ? Now, seeing that Obamacare has become a reality and that people actually like it, they have a new shout.  Benghazi.  Benghazi.  Benghazi.  A “do nothing” GOP with a two-pronged  plan:  Shout loudly and do nothing for the American people.

We laughed at the birthers. We laughed at Sarah Palin. We laughed at the death panels and the ACA freak out. We laughed at the gun nuts. We laughed at the global warming deniers. But now they have power and influence beyond their numbers and seem to have a stranglehold on the democratic process.

Time to stop laughing. It’s Not Funny Anymore.

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Filed under ACA, Conservatives, Economy, Elections, Environment, healthcare, jobs, Neoconservative, neoconservatives, Obamacare, Politics, Republicans

End Obamacare NOW

It is time to end Obamacare.  The people have spoken.  We have seen poll after poll tell us that.  Obamacare is not what people want.  Obamacare must go!

Poll after poll (and politician after politician) tells us what people DO want.

First. They want to be sure that they can get some type of basic health care plan for themselves and their loved ones. Something affordable. With help for low income folks. One of the provisions of the Affordable Care Act. The ACA.

End Obamacare. Support the ACA.

Second. People want to be able to keep their sons and daughters on their insurance policies . In this tough economy many young people cannot find good jobs . To be able to stay insured on their parents’ policy makes good sense. People want it. Another provision of the ACA.

End Obamacare. Support the ACA.

Third. Basic services. People want basic health services like check ups and contraceptives and preventative medical care. It is cost effective. It is very cheap when compared to the consequences of NOT having these services. Another provision of the ACA.

End Obamacare. Support the ACA.

Fourth . End of life counseling. Very popular. People want to know their options when and if they become incapable of making end of life decisions. Nothing we like to think about but it can have a great impact on families, financially and emotionally. Luckily, the ACA provides for  the end of life counselling. No more Obamacare “death panels”.

End Obamacare. Support the ACA.

Fifth. Guaranteed coverage. People want a policy that guarantees they cannot be rejected or eliminated because of pre-existing or acquired health conditions. One of the main reasons people do  not change jobs. They want  to keep health benefits. The ACA guarantees coverage. Even if you start to get expensive.

End Obamacare. Support the ACA.

Sixth and seventh and so on…Limits to insurance company profits. No longer limits to payouts if you get really sick. Increased help for the working poor by enrolling them in Medicaid. Closing the prescription donut hole. And more…..

People HATE Obamacare. But they LOVE the provisions of the ACA. So join in. Call your congressman (If he is like mine he will never call back). Write your senator.  Email the White House. Together we can end Obamacare and implement the ACA.  Something all Americans can agree on!

 

 

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Filed under ACA, Economy, healthcare, neoconservatives, Obamacare, Society

Women and Children First

What has happened to our cowboys?

News item summary: A “rancher” named Bundy has been grazing his cattle for free on federal land for 20 years. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has taken him to court a number of times trying to collect. The fees,  by the way are incredibly cheap. The BLM charges $1.35 per animal per month. Try to feed a cow for that. (Private businesses charge $10-28 per month for the same grazing rights) But this cheat refuses to pay. And when, after 20 years and court cases the BLM finally did come to take his cattle, he called on his cowboy friends relatives to take up arms. And the BLM backed down. For now.

I am not even going to bother with whether or not this guy is legally entitled to use land that does not belong to him. The courts are clear. He doesn’t. And his claim that he does not recognize the “authority of the US government” may give him a leg to stand on in an insanity plea. But not good for much else. I prefer to focus on another aspect of the case. Cowboys and how they have changed.

Those who support Bundy with their guns and philosophy present themselves as heroes. Tough talking hombres. A couple cowpokes I saw on camera said they were ready to “give their lives”. Give their lives so a guy who Romney would describe as “wanting something for nothing” could continue to mooch off the government. OK.  I guess that is worth dying for.

Or, well, maybe not give MY life, exactly, but somebody’s.

As the story unfolded a former Arizona sheriff, Richard Mack , talked to Fox News (sic) about the strategy he intended to use. I am NOT making this up. Mack said that if things heated up the Bundy faction intended to put women in front of the men. Unarmed women. To be used as shields. To take fire from the federal “rogue agents”. To be casualties. This would prove just how evil the federal government was.  Can’t argue with that “reasoning”.  The cowboys would hide behind a human shield. What has happened to our cowboys?

Maybe it is time to remake some of those old westerns I watched as a kid. Try this:  “Shootout at the Nevada Chicken Ranch”, starring John Wayne and Clint Eastwood.

John Wayne: Well,pardner, I see the evil Land Management Goons are coming to try to take away our grazin rights. Gonna meet em at 12 noon at the Nutcase Corral for the big shootout.”

Clint Eastwood: (spits) There’s 10 of them and only 2 of us. But I’m a willin’ to die so Uncle Buck can continue to graze his 7 herd of longhorns for free.  How about you?

JW:Hmmmm…. I know a better way out of this mess. How many womenfolk do you have?

CE: Well, there’s my wife, Lilly Sue and daughter, Rosey Sue and the baby. Aunt Gertrude and my niece Mandy Sue.  That’s it.

JW: Well, lemmee see. I have my sister Honey Sue and she has 4 little uns, Sue Sue, Gunna Sue, Wanna Sue and Lets Sue. There is my Aunt Nelly and Aunt Kate. Oh…don’t forget Granny Grumplin. If we can git her started in her walker she’ll be fine. Hardly ever falls over. We can prop her up if needs be.

CE: Well,what’s yer plan?

JW: Here it is,  pardner. We’ll git all those womenfolk down there and stand them up between us and the feds. Then, when the shootin starts we’ll have good cover. Reminds me, how about the Pork Belly twins? Seen them around?

CE: I…I…don’t know, pardner. That jest don’t seem right. To use the womenfolk like that. It ain’t manly. It ain’t the cowboy way. It’s kind of cowardly, ain’t it?

JW: Aw, go on pardner.Times are changin.  This is a deadly situation. And you know what they always say. If there’s trouble it’s always “women and children first”.

Cowboys just ain’t what they used to be.

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I LOVE the IRS

It is April 16. Tax day has come and gone. I can finally admit it. I am a Revenuephiliac. I love the IRS.

I fear this admission will rain down anger upon my being. I will be hated more than Gandhi at an NRA meeting. Vilified more than Al Sharpton at a gathering of the White Aryan Nation. Be more harshly treated than Sarah Palin at a MENSA Convention.

But I confess. I love the IRS. Very Un-American, I know. But that’s the way I am. And here’s why.

The IRS is under attack. And has been for many years. The money budgeted for enforcement has been declining. Since 2002 the IRS budget has actually declined by 17%. Fewer agents means that the chances of getting audited are less than 1% for most folks, about 20% for millionaires and less than 1% for businesses. Some politicians, like Ted Cruz, have publicly stated they want to do away with the IRS completely. So, as a champion of the underdog, I take up the banner of our tax police. Seriously. They have a banner.

As the financial support for the IRS has waned on the one hand, fraud and corruption have skyrocketed on the other. Who could of guessed ? Fewer cops, fewer arrests. The Center For Tax Justice estimates that for every dollar spent on funding the IRS the US brings in $10 dollars in revenue that would otherwise be lost. WHAT ? A federal agency that makes money ? Others estimate that with long term modernization the actual investment return is closer to $200 for each dollar spent today.  There are BILLIONS of tax dollars going uncollected each year. Over $280,000,000,000 in overdue taxes will never be collected according to an IRS study from just a few years ago. And it is getting worse.

It has been a longstanding tradition to hate taxes. It is as American as racism or homophobia, to be sure. The nation was founded by tax dodgers. The Boston Tea Party was not a protest against free speech…it was a tax protest. And probably justified. Why pay taxes to those guys across the ocean? The Whiskey Rebellion? Same thing. Except this time it was why pay taxes at all. So, we have a solid history of being tax avoiders and tax cheats. All the more reason for the IRS.

After all, the IRS is nothing more than the domestic equivalent of our military or police force. And who can hate the troops? Or the police? They uphold the law, go after lawbreakers and make sure everyone plays by the same rules.  They support the democratic process and the rule of law.  They help collect the funds necessary to keep the nation moving ahead. They are the cop on the beat. The Marine standing guard over the flag.

Of course some taxes are pre-collected. The tax on the McDonald’s counter worker and the non-unionized VW assembly line worker. The cop. The teacher. The engineer. Anyone who works for a living. These shmucks can’t cheat on their taxes, and probably wouldn’t anyway.

Who could be against the IRS ? Tax cheats? Crooks? Organized crime? Money launderers for drug cartels?

Who benefits from a weak police force ? The honest citizen or the criminal?

So, join me in this IRS lovefest. Write your congressman. Ask for more money and better enforcement of our tax laws. What better investment is there? A $10-200 return for every dollar spent. In the end, if ALL taxes are collected, won’t you and I pay less? Won’t the honest citizen get a break?

Revenuephiliacs Unite! You have nothing to lose but your friends! And you might save a few bucks as well.

 

 

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Filed under crime, Debt, Economy, Politics, Taxes

Neocon Papers 5:Toxic Deregulation

West Virginia. North Carolina. Texas. Deregulation.

If there is anything close to a mantra for the neoconservatives it is the idea of “deregulation”.

The argument for deregulation goes something like this. The government, most especially the federal government, over regulates our lives. Not our lives,  really. It over regulates big business. And because the government over regulates big business that does a number of things. First, it drives big business into massive debt. Second, it depresses the economy because it reduces employment. Third, it makes the cost of doing business more expensive, thereby passing on the cost of goods and services to the consumer. So, if government would stop regulating business all three of those areas would be improved. More businesses. More jobs. More profits. Sounds logical.

Except. We have tried it. It failed. The philosophy attributed to Reagan,  called Reaganomics was an attempt to limit regulations so businesses could thrive.  That philosophy has been the mainstay of Republican “thinking” and to a great extent has been embraced by many Dems as well. Since the 1980s we have seen the federal government loosen rules on lumbering, mining, oil drilling and gas drilling. We have seen the EPA gutted and reduced to a weak organization unable to enforce the laws. The same EPA created by Richard Nixon and the GOP in the knowledge that unfettered business has made a cesspool of much of America.

But big business pushed  back. And won. And as the GOP took state houses they have consistently sought to turn back or ignore reasonable environmental safeguards. Those in favor of safeguarding the air and water were labeled as “tree huggers” and “eco-terrorists” or “communists” who opposed “free enterprise”. Job killers. Of course, the near depression of 2007-2009 demonstrated that Reaganonomics was a colossal failure. Where is that booming,  deregulated economy we we promised?

So, today we can see just a few of the results of that GOP success. Texas. A deregulator’s dream state. Fracking goes on unregulated (except by a weak state agency). People in parts of Texas are exposed not only to water pollution but air pollution as massive quantities of methane emerge from the ground. Studies show methane contamination in Weatherford , Texas. No one knows the long term effects of this so the Texas response has been to do nothing to protect the citizens. And the EPA has had the same response. We’ll have to wait and see. But keep fracking. Deregualtion.

In West Virginia this year we saw the pollution of the largest city’s water supply (Charleston). An uninspected tank leaked toxic materials into the river. Then, in a display of incompetence that rivaled the Keystone Kops we had the governor telling folks to drink the water. Others in the department of health saying don’t drink the water. The company (Freedom Industries) admitting, after about a week, that SECOND toxic chemical had been emitted. The government of West Virginia telling folks finally. …(Well, it’s your call. Drink the water or don’t…unless your pregnant…then you shouldn’t…..) Schools closed , then reopened because tests showed the water was safe. Then closed again because these chemicals showed up  again.  Deregulation.

Another GOP state. North Carolina. This story keeps getting better and better. When Duke Energy (company with close ties to the governor) was sued by consumer groups for  dumping COAL ASH in rivers the state stepped in and took over the lawsuit. It then guaranteed that Duke Energy could not be sued by any public entity, only the state. But…but…but…What about the EPA? Evidently the EPA rules allow STATES to determine the validity of lawsuits and remove the original litigants. That’s right. The GOP “deregulators” will determine how to enforce the EPA rules. The fact that the new governor worked for Duke Energy for over 20 years and has at least $10,000 worth of stock (that is the maximum he is required to report) had nothing to do with the decision. So, Duke Energy can dump coal ash into the water supply. Pay a small fine. (But they “promised” to clean up the mess. They “promised”) And  continue to do business. Deregulation.

It is no  accident that these are GOP lead states. Business can be  good if you can dump your waste into the public water ways. Or pollute the air. And pay no meaningful fines. Good for business. Creates jobs. No downside.

Of course someone will have to pay. Pay for the massive coal sludge clean ups of North Carolina’s waterways. Pay for the clean up of the river continuing to flow into the Charleston water supply. Possibly even install new water pipes. And pay the medical costs in the future for damaged children and adults in Texas,  North Carolina and West Virginia. Because these are real disasters. Man made. Someone will be shelling out billions of dollars over the next 20 years for these and countless other disasters. It won’t be “Freedom Industries”. It won’t be” Duke Energy”. It won’t be the natural gas industry in Texas.  It won’t be the “deregulators”. Can you guess who ?

The neocon mantra continues: Deregulation. Deregulation. Deregulation. Let the next generation pay for it.

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Filed under Conservatives, Economy, Environment, healthcare, Neoconservative, neoconservatives, Politics, Republicans

Good News…for a change

The GOP today decided to vote to extend the debt ceiling for another 13 months so the US government can pay it’s bills. Well, not exactly. In reality only 28 Republicans voted for the measure. Enough to insure its passage with Dem votes.  So, what may this mean?

First and most important, the US will not be defaulting on payments. Contracts already signed and goods already delivered. Contracts underway. Interest payments. This means that for the next year, at least, American business and the rest of the world knows that the US will make good on any debts.

Second and not as important, what does this mean for the GOP? Does this mean they are finally willing to give a little and actually work with Mr Obama? Or does it simply mean that they know this is an election year and they are fearful of once again being seen as the party of “No”? Doing nothing is not much of a platform to run on.

Third, what about Boehner? While he was able to convince most of his fellow Repubs that this issue was not worth fighting, does this mean he has reasserted control of the GOP? Could he have gotten 150 votes if he had wanted to? Is this a step in leading his party to a more sane, cooperative governing style?

Fourth, what about the Tea Party? This was a very public defeat for that small group of radicals. Is this the first step in slowly ridding their negative influence on the GOP? Or will they return with a vengeance and once again try to block any progress? Or are they biding their time, hoping for big victories in the fall so they can oust Boehner from leadership and even install Cruz as Senate majority leader?

Time will tell. But for now, cooler heads have prevailed. And while some may ciaim this is a “Democratic” or “Obama” victory, that is not the case. It is a victory for common sense, stability  and fiscal responsibility. Long overdue.

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Filed under Conservatives, Debt, Economy, Neoconservative, neoconservatives, Politics