Thursday, June 19, 2014

Is Capitalism Part of Human Nature?

All human beings have basic needs and complex needs. Doing what it takes to meet and satisfy those needs encompasses the spirit of capitalism. Whether through hard work and utilizing the "proper channels", whatever they may be according to the societal norms at that particular time in history, or through cunning and guile and even crime, humans practice capitalism.

The socialist experiment of the USSR failed because humans are human. It failed because the Soviet Socialist Republic practiced avid capitalism on the world markets, and in the black and gray markets that operated within its society.

Those that argue against welfare and entitlement programs, programs that strip humans of their incentives, have some merit to their arguments. However, holding those positions, they necessarily must be in favor of anti-trust legislation, labor laws, and higher wages, the lack of which also strips humans of their incentives. For, such a state doesn't resemble the free market capitalism they profess to hold in such high esteem anymore than the socialist state they profess to oppose.

Many, many years ago I attended a lecture by William Kunstler at Wesleyan. The one thing I remember from that lecture is Mr. Kunstler's emphatic statement that all healthy people desire to work and achieve.

One thing that is lost in the current politics of the day, is that because of wage stagnation coupled with drastically increased productivity which has led to a drastic increase in the concentration of wealth in the hands of fewer and fewer humans, some of the many working people must use "entitlement" programs, to "subsidize" their income, to satisfy their basic needs. And those that work and cannot satisfy their basic needs are stripped of their incentive.

Florida, a decidedly Red state under Republican Governor Scott, according to the numbers, has hardly recovered from the Great Recession. Florida's real unemployment rate is 11%. The number of people without health insurance is at 25.8%. And the foreclosure rate is among the highest in the nation. The few pockets of economic health in the state have Democratic leadership.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

This does not appear to be the case when it comes to the Republican members of the COTUS. Driven by, and most often in alignment with the right-wing media, characterized by Fox News and Rush Limbaugh, they have morphed Congress into an antithetical "Ivory Tower". Only their tower is built from strip-mining tailings, the muck from oil spills, and fracking sludge.

They have passed very few meaningful bills. They point the finger at virtually everything, and are defined by unbridled obstinacy and opposition. When they do act it is almost always as a "lobbyist" for Big Business and specifically the fossil fuel industry.

Secretly, and out of media scrutiny, most, save the most delusional members of the Republican Party, acknowledge that global warming is real and that the economic impact to America in the future is beyond the comprehension of most people. They also acknowledge that income inequality represents a grave threat to our country, our economy, and, in time, will impact our national security. But they refuse to publicly acknowledge the gravity for fear of loosing the favor of their real employers.

So they "parrot" the empty angry words of the right-ring media. Driven by the words, they use their position to stymie the efforts of those American leaders that seek to make a positive difference, that seek to solve problems; leaders that deal with reality and science, not platitudes and arcane notions. They impede those leaders who are truly working to make America great for all its citizens.

And the "icons" of the right-wing media excuse themselves by stating that they are only speaking words, and the words are meant to entertain. And they have accrued great wealth speaking those empty angry words.

There is a new succession movement in a very poor rural part of California. Though the amount of taxes paid by this region is miniscule when compared with the rest of the state, they claim that they want more representation and freedom. Like the Tea Party candidate from Idaho, Greg Colletti, whose ten children were on Medicaid while he was denouncing the federal government and crying out loudly for freedom, what the secessionists really want is a bigger piece of the government pie. Like most Republicans, they want greater representation, greater access to power and government monies, with little or no taxation and no responsibility.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Did America's Founding Fathers Believe the World is Flat?

Of course they did not. Otherwise they would not have ventured forward, and our country would not exist.

The Tea Party is a minority in our country. Their very being is sustained and nurtured by hatred and fear, and characterized by selfish, self-centeredness. They use religion to deny science and reality. By using very selective interpretations of the Bible and US Constitution to serve their needs and ends, they claim faith and righteousness. And this state of self-delusion, they equate to freedom.

Yes, America is exceptional. And the Tea Party has every right to exist in this manner. But there is a line.

President Obama is a black man. As an old white guy, I cannot and will not pretend to imagine what it is like to be a black man in America. Yet with all the hatred and fear directed at him, he has remained "cool" and done an exceptional job given the resistance from the party that symbolizes itself with a coiled serpent. Kind of makes me believe that, in the universe, there is a power greater than man, and that power must be behind him.

The primary reason that the Tea Party has had the impact that it has had, is solely because it is conditionally supported by the plutocracy. With the rise of the global economy and the Information Age, characterized by rapid technological change, which, incidentally causes this old guy's head to spin, we are witnessing "domestic" imperialism. Because America cannot return to times prior to globalization and the Information Age, when most of the world was truly America's oyster, the middle class/working class has become the new third world.

I believe in the fates, furies, and God. We may be approaching the beginning of the oilman's last hoorah. With the undeniable existence of global warming and the noble movement towards alternative energy sources, the oilman's obsession with insane wealth and power is not beyond comprehension. Egging on flat-earthers, to achieve that end makes perfect sense. With the revelations about Rancher Bundy's huge federal welfare subsidies, akin to those of Big Oil, more and more common folk are going to realize that the world is not flat.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Heisenberg

Heisenberg, in addition to being the name of Walter White's alter ego in the television show Breaking Bad, was an actual 20th century scientist that formulated the uncertainty principle. Put simply, and using the uncertainty principle in the social sciences, the principle postulates that when a human being measures or evaluates something, the cognitive experiences of that human being will be reflected in the measurement or evaluation. The measurement or evaluation will be distorted due to that person's life experiences, ethics, values, and cognitive makeup.

In the political arena, when Rick Scott of Florida states that his parents had it rough, and he wants everyone to have the same opportunity he had, he is not lying. So to in the 2012 presidential election, when Mitt Romney stated that his grandparents had it rough, and he stated that he wanted everyone to have the same opportunity that he and his father had, in his mind, he was not lying. For both Scott and Romney, and most on the far right, everyone is the set of white Anglo-Saxon Christian males and their children. The set also includes- and they view this as proof of their newly acquired open-mindedness- the super rich and the race of people known as corporations. Anyone outside this set is irrelevant and expendable, and subject to subjugation by everyone inside the set to create opportunity.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Is Democracy Too Expensive and Ultimately Unaffordable?

The members of the Republican Tea Party Congress are doing any and everything that they possibly can to inhibit and dismantle the Federal government. They spin reality and the truth, and they utilize every possible procedural and legal loophole to stall and defund the Federal government. They rationalize and justify what they are doing by stating that the deficit must be resolved immediately, and that America can no longer afford to make investments in it's citizens at the current level. They believe that the quality of life, freedoms and economic opportunities that Americans have known for almost a century cannot be sustained.

Republican Tea Party controlled states feature the suppression of voting rights, extreme religious intolerance, suppression of a woman's constitutional right to an abortion, and extreme economic and social injustice. These almost feudal plutocracies make Putin's Russia look like a progressive wonderland. These freedom lands, ironically, partially are funded by the efforts, human energy, and taxes of the progressive states.

The real makers in America are the educators and educational institutions, the innovators and the inventors, the tradesmen, soldiers, and the American workers. The real takers are the New Derivative Thinkers on Wall Street, the raiders like Mitt Romney, who break-up and sell companies, move jobs overseas, destroy the lives of hard working Americans, and make the American taxpayers partially fund their obscene profits. The real takers are also the Private Sector Vampires epitomized by Rick Scott whose company committed Medicare and Medicaid fraud, while making him a multimillionaire. The real takers are also men like Rick Perry who conspired with UBS, to use the Texas teachers' pension fund in an attempt to profit from a gamble on how long teachers would live. The real takers are the leaders in the Red states that cause and enable all this to go on.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

America: A Tale of Two Cities

President Obama and the Progressives have stated that their number one goal for the remainder of Obama's term is to address the issue of wage disparity and income inequality. The presence of income inequality during the last three decades is indisputable and is not being challenged by anyone. Those on the far right, including Rand Paul and Eric Cantor, acknowledge that income inequality exists.

The real problem for our country is that those on the far right do not view this as a bad thing. However, they do view government measures designed to intercede, mediate, and reverse this, as a bad thing. When the government "spies" on people to thwart terrorism, protect intellectual property, or prosecute fraud and theft, it is evil. When Google does it, it is good business.

The far right ostensively is focused on deficit spending. However, they are not against deficit spending per say, when it benefits their constituency or serves their ends. They oppose deficit spending only when it is aimed at interceding, mediating and reversing income inequality. If it enriches the top 2%, which it has done for decades, it is a necessary evil. If it allows a minimum wage worker to feed his family, it is an unholy abomination.

Obama and the Progressives are pushing for a minimum wage hike. If accomplished, this will be a temporary fix. Initially it will provide a stimulus to the economy and provide benefits to the working poor and middle class. Inflation will follow. For a small minority of this sector, for the prudent, student loans and mortgages will be paid with "cheaper" dollars. For the majority of this segment of America it will be even harder then it is now. The cost of rents, food, and healthcare for the 99% will rise accordingly. And America will be one step closer to a Third World country.

As I have stated over and over again, the solution lies in a very progressive tax code and Keynesian economics. The presidencies of Teddy Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, and Dwight Eisenhower attest to this truth. God save the middle class. Certainly the Tea Party won't. As a man in the "winter" of his life, I am able to manager a wry smile.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Santorum on Obamacare Revisited

"I am not a witch. I am not what they say. I am you."
Rick Santorum's most recent rambling on Obamacare was dismissed by critics as an unintelligible conspiracy theory, and idiotic. A closer examination of Santorum's explanation illustrates elements of his thought process and insights into the true objectives of the Tea Party.

He states that Margret Thatcher- a conservative icon- did not take on the British national health system. He continues, postulating that health care is free, regardless of who provides it, until you get sick. "Then if you get sick, and you don't get health care, you die and you don't vote." This was the condition for millions of Americans prior to Obamacare who, incidentally, tend to vote Democratic.

I am reading between the lines here, but, as they say, when in Rome, do as the Romans do. I believe that Santorum sees the remedy for Obamacare- and I cite his reference to Thatcher- as the acquisition of political power by the Tea Party. Once they take control they can "take care of people who can vote and people who can't vote, get rid of them as quickly as possible by not giving them the care so they can't vote against you. That's how it works."

This man ran for president. Then again, so did Pat Paulsen, but he was a lot more entertaining.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Naked (nearly) and Afraid in West Palm Beach

West Palm Beach, Florida is home to two ultra right-wing media groups: Newsmax and Rush Limbaugh. Both organizations have little substance and the inability to analyze events logically. Their "messages" are conveyed with well-worn talking points and platitudes. They evoke fear and then play upon that fear to manipulate their constituents, and reinforce the like-minded.  Ultimately, they are only concerned with the accumulation of wealth and power, and nothing else. It must be noted that Newsmax offers its subscribers tips on how to maximize their Social Security and also deal with Alzheimer's.

In this right-wing utopia, political corruption abounds, the foreclosure rate is among the highest in the nation, and there is a striking lack of "wage-compensated" jobs, with many working on commission, percentages, or tips, hoping to be compensated for their labor, after the fact. Pensions and benefits are as common as green eggs and ham.

Florida Governor Rick Scott has declined the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act to add another challenging element to the lives of working people. He also stifled a federally funded trans-state rail system that would have made it easier for people to commute to jobs. And, at the same time, he instituted harsh measures to restrict and inhibit unemployment insurance.

Whether man-made or not, it is getting warmer, a lot warmer. This further adds to the stress of residents. One hospital, along the I-95 corridor, advertises its ER wait time on billboards, and touts its competency in treating strokes. And homeowners' insurance is among the highest in the nation due to the ever increasing threat of hurricanes.

I have an acquaintance who sells real estate, on commission. He continually complains that there is a lack of middleclass housing on the market. He says that it is either multi-million dollar homes, with too much competition and too few buyers, or "starter" homes with low commissions and the near impossibility of arranging bank financing. He laments that he could make a good living if he just had a lot of buyers for 300-500K homes.

I have another friend who is a firefighter. He is replete with stories of gang violence and car crashes. We joke that it is the price we pay to live free, unimpeded by laws and regulations.

All things being what they are, with a stressed workforce, and the general quality of life, it is not surprising that innovative high-wage businesses are not born here, nor do they seek to relocate here, despite the lack of a state income tax.

Finally, I can't help but wonder why Mitt Romney would settle on the Left Coast in California, and not settle here in West Palm Beach, among the "fruits of his labor." On a positive note, because of the weather, you don't need much  in the way of clothing in this land of green eggs and ham.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Revelation of the October 2013 US Government Shutdown

As a youth in the 1960's, I developed a rather naïve impression of my fellow human beings. Television and newspapers painted a "wholesome" image of the American middleclass, of which I was surrounded by, and a part of. This was typified by the television program, Leave it to Beaver. It went with little saying, and seemed to hold true that if one accepted and practiced American values, life would be splendid. Though I was unaware at the time, in retrospect, I realize that I was young, inexperienced, and privileged.

Upon entering college in the 1970's, my perception began to change. The sanitized media that I was raised on, was replaced by the works of people like Jerry Rubin, Sinclair Lewis, films by Robert Altman and Stanley Kubrick, and the plays of Eugene O'Neill and Edward Albee, specifically Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf. Over the course of many years I was privy to the experience of many people who had participated in and made history.  I read many books. I came to the understanding that virtually all of the American heroes, and specifically politicians that I idolized as a youth, had another side, often dark, to their makeup. At some point I concluded that it was the role of government to keep this component of human nature in check, while nurturing, and not inhibiting, the positive and creative facets of human nature. And America the country, as many have noted including Lincoln; though imperfect- like the people that comprise our country- is the best political system to serve human beings and reach this end.

In October 2013, Tea Party Republicans shut down the American government to actualize their core principle that government is the enemy, and government hurts people and takes away freedoms. Quite the contrary, prior to the shutdown, it was the experience of most Americans, that when government is running smoothly and unimpeded by a radical minority, they hardly notice that it is there. The government shutdown did create a stark realization for many on how important the government is in their lives.

It appears that most people that have a great problem with all government- have a ulterior motive such as the acquisition of political power as in the case of the Tea Party- or more generally are people driven by their dark side- and seek to "buck" or "game" the system, practice fraud or theft, and remain immune from accountability and responsibility. This truth is forever etched in American history. Without the American government, after the great financial crash of 2008, unregulated capitalism would have destroyed itself.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Selfishness, Capitalism, and States' Rights

Republican thinkers are concerned with self and self-preservation at this point in history. From top to bottom their neo-Confederate behavior is for the optimization of themselves, and their immediate constituents and financial supporters, in that order. We're talking about wealth and power. And they fail to acknowledge that this behavior is detrimental to our country as a whole; and ironically will lead to the downfall of America the country.

Red states, on the whole, are poorer and receive far more in federal funds than they pay in federal taxes when contrasted with their blue state counterparts. Their understanding of economics is right out of Alice in Wonderland. Through "private sector vampirism", they seek to divert federal monies away from the needy and working poor into the coffers of the rich and powerful under the misnomer of privatization. Further they are quite content to allow blue states to "subsidize" their states, and profit from it.

The Tea Party Republicans, with the support of billionaires and global corporations, while adopting an MBA mentality, and under the guise of states' rights and freedom, are on a course to destroy America. Again, ironically, the billionaires, Wall Street, and the global corporations appear to be the only ones that can rein them in.

Cost-Effective Foreign Policy

There are many different costs when talking about foreign policy and war. There are human costs, that is, the lives of soldiers and civilians. There are monetary costs. These costs include opportunity costs. Monies that are spent on war could be used internally in our country to stimulate job growth, for research and development, and for education. There are also auxiliary costs that can be measured tangibly. These costs include the interruption of commerce and the global economy and the distribution of natural resources.

The most cost-effective foreign policy limits the exposure of human life, both military and civilian, to harm, uses the least amount of federal dollars to achieve the objective, and minimizes the amount of disruption to the global economy and the distribution of natural resources.

America has long been a forerunner in, among many other things,  technology, the art of information manipulation, and espionage. Though lacking in self-awareness, the Tea Party is fantastic at this stuff. We have the ability, in conjunction with our academic institutions and government agencies, to execute effective foreign policy by using our brains. We can win conflicts though negotiation, the manipulation of information, and the dissemination of propaganda; with force serving as the last resort.

Republicans should take note of this. Perhaps, Machiavelli should be required reading. Bombing and "boots on the ground" should be an option when we have exhausted other available options. Thinking people must be amused by knowing that Obama employed this maxim and accomplished what W. Bush- despite spending billions- failed to do: bring Bin Laden to justice.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Breaking Bad

Breaking Bad is an exceptionally good drama on television that documents the psychological transformation of an inherently good man into a man that is evil. The protagonist, Walter, is a chemistry teacher who is devoted to teaching and his family. We learn in later episodes that, out of college, he sold his shares in a business venture that would have made him a wealthy man. Early in the series, when he is diagnosed with cancer, and struggling to pay his bills, and with poor health insurance, he embarks on a mission to produce the very best crystal methedrine available on the planet, in order to provide for his family. And he does just that, manufacture the best meth, that is.

Along the process, he develops business skills and acumen. Along with his newly learned abilities, he transforms, not so gradually, from a caring competent educator, into a ruthless, selfish, self-centered being, where nothing matters save self- including friends, family, and yes even money. He goes to a much darker place than most of his clients and even his partner. And he continues "cooking" meth long after he has accumulated more money than he could spend in a lifetime. In a way, he's a little like many of the one per-centers in our country today.

One of the greatest problems with the Tea Party Republican Party, is that they really are not for anything, but they are against virtually everything. By the things they advocate against, by their policies and positions, they de facto exhibit a thirst for power, have a low opinion of the average American, and exhibit a fear of intellectual honesty. A year ago, when Tea Party leaders wanted to stop the teaching of political science in colleges, I again almost fell out of my chair. Since beginning this blog I have placed many pillows on my floors.

Donald Trump recently got into trouble over Trump University, no political science there I'm sure. It seems that a lot of promises were implied and the university had very little substance. There is a class action lawsuit. Students did get to pose with a cardboard cutout of Donald. A spokesman for the university stated, "Trump U!".

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Revolution of INsanity in America

After the financial disaster that was the Bush administration, characterized by deregulation, fraud, and crony capitalism; and as a result of the election of America's first black president, behold the immaculate conception of the Tea Party and the New Republican party.

Well funded by the Oil Patch Boys, agribusiness, a gaming mogul or two, and many of the New Derivative Thinkers (traditional Republican supporters), the movement employees the same political tactics and strategies as the American Counterculture of the 60's. Unlike the Counterculture, the Tea Party fosters "causes" that logically make strange bedfellows.

Looking back, what separates the Counterculture from the Tea Party is the fact that one was clearly a grassroots movement, and the Tea Party merely operates under that guise. Comprised of very questionable candidates who are sometimes criticized by other members of the Republican party, they continue to advocate for and foster policies that do not work together logically for a better America. Apparently the Tea Party is incapable of comprehending causal relationships (cause and effect), understanding consequences, or acknowledging the Big Picture.

One example of this is their passionate cause to make it impossible for any American woman to have an abortion. In 1966, in an attempt to stimulate the economy, Dictator Nicolae Ceausescu outlawed abortion in Romania. The result was a documentable increase in the crime rate. And, upon the passage of Roe v. Wade, America saw a documentable decrease in the crime rate. The apparent conclusion is that unwanted, unloved children have a greater tendency to become criminals than children that are planned for and properly cared for and loved.

It follows that if our religious convictions are so strong as to prohibit any and all abortions, then we should open, not just our hearts, but also our wallets, and provide a whole array of social services that include counseling, education, and living subsidies to help these kindred spirits stay on the straight and narrow. But this is not the Tea Party Way.

The Tea Party solution, based on a misconstrued interpretation of the Second Amendment, is a passionate cry to allow all these new citizens to arm themselves to the hilt and go at it with the "law abiding" citizens. And while all this is going on, the financial aristocracy is getting more powerful and continuing to take away constitutionally guaranteed rights, and reduce the standard of living, of the average American. Despite what the Tea Party says, this is not the America the Founding Fathers envisioned when they founded our country.

My father was one of the few people that I have known in my lifetime, that held himself to higher standards than he did other people. And the notion of standards illustrates one of the most glaring defects in Tea Party assertions that they are driven by principle and scruples. One could list examples of hypocrisy and bad character and conduct forever, but the U.S. Farm Bill is the most glaring recent example. Bachmann and other members of Congress receive huge Federal farm subsidies yet scorn and chastise working families who receive food assistance. Members of the Tea Party are quick to forgive themselves for moral and legal indiscretions, but hold the working poor and average Americans to much higher standards.

In a democratic society you cannot tell other people what to do, and then argue that they don't have the right to dictate what you should do. To do so is just plain crazy and not democratic. For individual rights to be actualized, you must have a society intact that allows for the realization and expression of those rights. All citizens should have the ability to vote. People should have access to free markets with regulations and protections in place to ensure that they are free. The financial aristocracy, in conjunction with the Tea Party, is moving America further and further away from what our Founding Fathers created.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

New World Order

Recently, in the media, there has been much discussion and even joking, about the economic realities of today vs. the economic realities of times gone bye, specifically the 70's. Changes in economy, including the presence of a global economy, and the technological revolution, which has created a Culture of Media, impact job creation and the standard of living in this country. And the global economy is a direct benefactor of the Culture of Media.

Technology, specifically, is responsible for slow job creation. Slow job creation erodes disposable income and, declining disposable income hinders future job creation as well as the payment of taxes and increases government deficits. God help us all if they design robots to replace fast food workers and retail clerks, the two occupations with the largest employment in America. But, then again, we may be approaching a point where fewer and fewer Americans can afford Big Macs and Nike's.

Most importantly, there has been a erosion of values partially due to the MBA mentality of maximum immediate profits, without regard for patriotism, social costs, or anything else. This principle has been smartly marketed as patriotic and propagated through The Culture of Media with the help of the super rich, whose objectives this maxim serves; and with the support of Tea Party Republicans, whose motives can only be surmised. And it is decidedly un-American not to embrace this principle.

The omnipresent media characterized by Facebook and smartphones, creates a distance between our actions and the effect of our actions on what we value. It is not that Americans are becoming morally reprehensible. Older Americans are detached and are unable to comprehend the changing realities. Swayed by right-wing media and the Tea Party, they believe that the truths, actions, and policies of 50 years ago, will solve the problems of America. And they won't. Younger Americans, immersed in the Culture of Media, believe but are beginning to become disillusioned. They, like their older counterparts, suffer detachment and desensitization, from lack of understanding and bad information, and immersion in the Culture of Media.

Decades ago, the notion of delayed gratification was an America value. Americans got jobs, worked hard, and saved for the future. The idea of apprenticeship was built into the American job market. A journeyman, through hard work and merit, could advance. However, due to changing values and technologies, this is not the norm today.

Corporations, by definition, do not care about understanding, and only seek to maximize profits. Ironically, due to the stagnation in wage growth since the crash of 2008, more working Americans require government subsidies and food stamps, just to survive. So the job creators are having the government subsidize the wages they pay their workers and then they evoke communist innuendo and cry foul when the government attempts to tax their record profits and piles of cash on the sidelines.

Those Americans that understand these new truths, compromise or change their values; and, lacking full understanding, ally themselves with the financial aristocracy. And they do not see their folly. They only recognize that a minimum wage job, that will not enable them to pay their bills, will probably lead nowhere. And they are probably right. And the erosion of spirit and human values further erodes morality, in the same manner the erosion of disposable income in an economy further depresses that economy.

If we want to get America going in the right direction again, we must restore American values and morals again. The religious dogma of the Tea Party and the far right justifies self-interest and greed, that is, as long as the church gets its cut of the pillaging, I mean business dealings. Mean-spirited greed is bad. Selfishness is NOT a virtue. I believe that most true Christians, and most Americans, accept this notion and value this. But, because of the changing realities, many are detached and unable to express it. Perhaps, a few of the people that saw Wall Street, really didn't understand the movie.

There is a price for the freedom and opportunity that America has afforded its people since its inception. Included in the price is the principle of cooperation and compromise. Business is neither good nor bad. And, people should be rewarded for work and merit. But when corporations rig markets, break laws, evade taxation, pollute and damage communities, and exploit workers, we need government and laws and regulations. Government is not always good and should not involve itself in the reproductive rights of women as it is doing in some states. But, people should be rewarded for their work and their merit and all citizens are entitled to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

What If?

What if Mitt Romney had won the last election? In anticipation of winning the election, and well prior to the final results, Romney formulated a plan to turn the White House into a venture capital-like "holding firm". The syndicate would have been comprised of three teams: "Office of Care and Feeding" which would have included speech writing, "The Office of Packaging and Selling" which would have encompassed information and public relations, and  "The Policy Office" which would have included the National Security Council and would have attempted to dissipate any remaining regulatory, consumer protection, and social agencies.

In the Post Business and Democracy, I contrasted the goals and objectives of a corporation and a democracy. Certainly, if this this country is run like a corporation, democracy and America- as we know it- will cease to be. It is almost laughable to imagine our country broken up and sold off in pieces. The fact that there are people wearing loud America flag lapel pins that actually believe that it is their right to do this, and that it is good for our country, makes it very painful.

This clip which the National Rifle Association probably won't endorse, may put a smile on your face.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jt3aLev041E

Monday, May 27, 2013

Is There a Vast Liberal Conspiracy in America?

Recently, proponents of Conservative philosophy have argued that the media, institutions of higher learning, and many think tanks are dominated by "liberal thinking" due to a process of "indoctrination" that individuals must go through to join the ranks of these institutions.

Elements of the indoctrination include study and discipline, application of the scientific method, logic with conclusions supported by documentable facts, and the truth. I guess these guys are right and their theory has merit.

Two of the most influential people in my life taught me that a meaningful life includes a process of continually learning and teaching. As elements of life change, some truths change. Some actions that were viable prior to the technological revolution, no longer produce results. A man would be a darn fool to produce buggy whips and expect to make a living today. Due to technology, demographics, et al, some realities change.

However, some realities don't. Science and the law of physics, and yes, as Bill Clinton so succinctly pointed out, arithmetic, remain true regardless of the changes in the structure of human life. One plus one equals two and always will.

So people that gain access to the institutions through study, discipline, logic, and a quest for truth may merely be exhibiting a sane and rational approach to what they are doing.

The GOP/Tea Party through their mission of obstruction and attrition, merely exhibit very assertive incompetence, and appear to have absolutely no understanding, and appear to be incapable of fathoming the outcomes of their behaviors. Liberal conspiracy? I don't think so. How could any sane, rational person behave otherwise. 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

"Freedom's Just Another Word for Nothin' Left to Lose." Kristofferson/Foster

The latest battle cry of the Republican Party is freedom. They claim that the Obama administration is taking away freedoms from Americans. The Tea Party/GOP prescription for living in America is threefold:

(1) Amass as many arms and as much weaponry, as humanly possible, and be prepared to use it. This decree assumes that we are all headed for some wild and crazy times. And by preparing for, and in anticipation of Thunder Dome, we are in effect adding to its creation.

(2) Don't pay taxes and do everything to disable all government save the Department of Defense. This notion is looney tunes. Nobody likes to pay taxes. Nobody likes to pay their rent or utility bill, either. But we do it to keep the lights on and a roof over our heads.  Same goes for the government.

I believe that virtually everyone in America will agree that freedom is linked inextricably to economic opportunity. The American Dream is realized when preparation meets opportunity. By deconstructing government, we are actually ending the ability to prepare; by ending support for education, research and development, subsidies for small businesses and industry, and ancillary equality. At the same time, we are destroying opportunity by deconstructing laws and regulations, and programs that protect and help the middle class and working poor, the consumers that spend money, and essentially support and create existing and new markets. The hypocrisy and dishonesty of the GOP is illustrated by the "absolving" of a portion of the sequester regulating air traffic controllers, thus ceasing the disruption of the economy at a certain level.

I will not spend time on this, but imagine if an individual state, free from any pesky Federal interference, became financially strapped and/or controlled by a deranged government and decided to allow a foreign power to position nuclear weapons.

(3)So we arm ourselves, deconstruct our government, and we trust and rely on Our Lord Jesus Christ to take care of everything else. In essence, we let crackpots as well as shrewd opportunists structure our lives. We equate this to freedom. And because we accept Jesus Christ as our savior, regardless of how we act or what we do, our actions are divine, and beyond human scrutiny, judgement, and reprise.

I am a baptized Christian. As a small boy in Sunday school, I was taught a different prescription for living. My lessons included such suggestions as: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."And," Love thy neighbor." And, "Thou shall not bear false witness against thy neighbor."

Newsmax- one of the biggest proponents of the GOP doomsday philosophy likens Obama to Hitler, and the failure to overturn Roe v. Wade, the same as the holocaust. The court decision was in 1973. If Newsmax told me W. Bush was similar to Hitler, I would applaud their scholarly analysis. It must be noted that Newsmax regularly runs ads advising its readers on how to recognize dementia.

I'll leave you with a very sobering quote.

"It's hard to get people to understand something when their salary depends on not understanding it."

Upton Sinclair


Sunday, March 24, 2013

Life-Changing Government Inventions

According to an article in The Fiscal Times, a conservative publication, most of the inventions that deeply impact, structure, and shape our lives are a result of government funding. The Global Positioning System or GPS was originally developed by the Defense Department in the 70's. Again, you all can thank the Defense Department, and not Al Gore, for developing the prototype for the internet in the 60's. Infants formula was developed by NASA in the 1980's. The founders of Google were supported by graduate school fellowships from the National Science Foundation. The NSF was also instrumental in the development of  bar codes. The Defense Department provided funding to private sector companies during WW II that ultimately led to the developed of microchips. The NSF and CIA provided funding that led to the development of touch screens on tablets and smartphones. As Rick Perry can attest to, the National Institutes of Health are responsible for many life-saving vaccines, including flu shots. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency developed the turbine engines used in the production of wind energy. America gets 6% of its electricity from wind power!

If this is socialism, as the Tea Party states, let's make the most of it. I just hope that while I am still walking the Earth, the stupification that has occurred in American politics ceases. I hope that people value and use reason and logic, in conjunction with their faith and stop electing mentally defective people to positions of power. Anti-intellectualism and falsehoods are dangerous for individuals as well as our country as a whole.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Story of John Henry

In American folklore there is the story of John Henry. As legend has it, John Henry was a railroad worker who wielded a  sledge hammer. To increase efficiency and production, the owner of the railroad introduced a steam driven machine to replace John and his co-workers. To protect the jobs of his co-workers, John Henry challenged the steam powered hammer to a race. Ironically he beat the machine, but died at the end of the race with sledge hammer in hand.

The story of John Henry parallels what is happening in America and the world today. Whether it is a result of software technology, robotics, or simple mechanical innovation, traditional options for many American workers no longer exist. This is just a fact of human existence. From the advent of the wheel in prehistoric times, technology has shaped the nature of human life and specifically employment and how we make a living.

Outsourcing, the employment of illegal aliens at sub-poverty level wages, union busting, and child labor all are situations that represent an entirely different matter. These actions are subject to the moral compass of our democracy and society as whole, and are conditions that can be remedied by government and law.

The real crime in what's happening today, is that those politicians and pundits on the far far right, often blur these two separate situations. They not only fail to acknowledge these truths, but advocate and profess to believe that the problems of the middle and working classes stem from people not taking responsibility for themselves and not working hard enough.

Friday, February 15, 2013

The Virtue of Selfishness

You can never really know what's going on in the mind of a person. You can only observe behavior. Simply, you can only observe what a person is doing. And every behavior fulfills a human need. Since the need will always be there, people can only replace one behavior with another behavior to fulfill that need.

Republicans believe that the wealthy and powerful should be allowed to behave any way they want to suit their self-interests without regard for the common good and without regard for the preservation of our democracy. Ironically, they call upon the Constitution and our government to protect, unequivocally, their right to behave this way. They rationalize this behavior with a "take what you want and leave the rest" interpretation of both the US Constitution and the Bible.

They behave like a reckless driver on the highway. They speed. They text. They drive erratically and without regard for the health, well being, and safety of other drivers. And they are unable to comprehend that the efforts and taxes of the other drivers also paid for and maintain the highway they are acting upon. Imagine if everyone behaved this way. Political philosopher Thomas Hobbes speculates what life would be like without law (regulations) and government:

"In such condition, there is no place for industry; because the fruit thereof is uncertain: and consequently no culture of the earth; no navigation, nor use of the commodities that may be imported by sea; no commodious building; no instruments of moving, and removing, such things as require much force; no knowledge of the face of the earth; no account of time; no arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short."
Chapter 8, Of the Natural Condition of Mankind, Leviathan.

Implicit in the founding of America is the notion of a Social Contract. Right-wing Republicans are breaking the contract. Ironically the contract enabled  many of them to prosper. To behave to break the contract is undeniably un-American. Democracy and the laws and regulations that result from the union of the people, created by the people acting as a body, are not limitations on individual freedom, but are actually the expression of  individual freedom.