Thursday, August 26, 2010

Blog has moved

I've moved my blog to my webpage - - I'd love it if you checked that out.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

GOP Continues to Block Wall Street Reform


This still astounds me. What are these guys thinking?

So their entire approach to health care reform, (and can anyone truly argue that they LIKE paying twice as much as the rest of the western world, and recieving worst care?), was to stand like a stubborn spoiled child and just keep saying "no, no, no". Then they whine because they didn't have enough input into the process?

Folks, you have to actually engage your brain and engage in honest dialogue.

Now, can anyone really argue that we don't need to reform Wall Street? This den of thieves brought the world to the brink of economic collapse before Bush and the Republican Congress bailed them out with a trillion dollars of taxpayer bailouts in 2008. This is a big deal - should be the biggest deal on the radar for any true patriot.

And the Democrats are really vulnerable here - this is one of the few places where they appear to be as guilty as the Republicans when it comes to being in bed and beholding to corporate interests. So what on earth is wrong with the Republicans - they should be aggressively trying to push reform, not playing their whine and cry spoiled child routine again.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Corporate Personality - Chapter 2

I've ranted before about the absurdity of the Citizen's United case, and the absolutely insane ruling by this activist right-wing Supreme Court defining a corporation as a person, and defining money as equal to speech, thus applying the constitutional protection of free speech to the money that the wealthy can use to further currupt our political system.

I know that many will argue that I am missing some nuance here, and that I am oversimplifying. But really, regardless of how much "person-hood" a corporation might have enjoyed before this ruling, this ruling makes it very plain to the American people that this Supreme Court believes that a corporation is equal to a person under the constitution.

OK, regardless of how insane and absurd I think this is, it is clear that we have become so pro big-business in our judicial system, and so beholding to the fat-cats of our oligarchy, that this ruling seems to be sitting OK with most Americans. All the shouts of "WAKE UP AMERICA" are not going to reverse this ruling.

So, I think that the laws of the nation should be applied to corporations in the same way that they are applied to citizens. So, if a corporation steals from people - as in the case of Enron, or in the latest case of the big banks, then the CEO goes to jail, and the corporation has a criminal record. If the corporation is convicted of a crime, then it loses the same rights that a citizen loses. If it is convicted of 3 crimes, then the 3 strikes law applies, and it gets life in prison - in the case of a corporation, that means that it must be disbanded - it cannot exist any longer - the death penalty. Stockholders lose big value. We no longer have to find individuals guilty - if the corporation does badly - the corporation "goes to jail".

Right now, BP has a big debt to society to pay. What if an individual committed that degree of environmental terrorism? That penalty should apply to BP - right now!

Why not?

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Socialism as the Cause of Economic Problems?

I'm a little confused about the right wing machine talking about Greece as the example of why anything except unfettered capitalism is a failure.

If I get the argument correctly, they are saying that Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain are examples of socialist economies that are bleeding red ink and must be rescued by other countries in Europe. They say that it is the socialist tendencies of these countries that is bringing them down.

But wait, if I read the whole story, aren't Germany and Denmark two of the big "rescuers"? Isn't Germany the most socialist economy in Europe, where every corporation in the country is required by law to have half of their board of directors appointed by the union representing the workers of the company?

And is it true that the countries that are in trouble are really there primarily because they bought into the whole "absolute free trade" myth?

I don't know the whole set of facts on any of this, but it does seem clear to me that the reasons for countries like Greece hitting the crisis that they are hitting can't be boiled down to something as simple as "socialist practices". There are many economies that are very socialist and are quite robust over the long haul.

And here at home, aren't we headed down some of those same dangerous paths, even though we are probably one of the least socialist economies in the world? Did we forget that just 18 months ago, we were on the brink of leading the world into an economic disaster akin to the Great Depression?

I have to believe that a really big part of this relates to the fact that we quit "producing". I read recently that when Reagan took office in 1980, fully 20% of our economy was manufacturing - building things. And that now, after 3 decades of Reaganomics, only half that amount - about 10% of our GDP - is a result of manufacturing.

This all comes together in the notion of the Walmart economy - exporting our manufacturing to countries where we can employ slave labor, and importing cheap labor into this country to cover the service economy that we have become.

Bye bye middle class. Hello economic problems.

Not that I am advocating socialism as the answer to the economic problems that we face. My point is that whether an economy leans toward socialism or away from socialism is not really the thing that makes it strong or weak.

So those who promote socialism - promote it for a different reason. For those who demonize socialism - you need to face the truth that economic health or problems have little to do with socialism. Keep looking, and by the way, don't be surprised to find that many of the root causes might be some of your little pets...

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Immigration Nation

My head spins round and round and feels like it is about to pop off each time I hear more of this immigration reform dribble.

This is another one of those things that is so simple if you back away from it a bit. This is an economic issue, plain and simple.

We are a nation that is addicted to extremely cheap labor. Our economy has been transformed over the past 30 years or so into a situation similar to what we faced prior to the Civil War in this country. Then, like now, people talked in moral platitudes about what is right and wrong, but their buying habits and voting habits make it plain that they want the status quo to continue. OK, maybe I'm stretching a bit, but not as much as you might think.

I have owned small businesses at different points in my life. In the late 70's, as a small businessman, I hired lots of unskilled casual labor. Back then, I could sometimes get such labor for $8/hr, but usually the going rate was around $10/hr. Of course, in big cities, it could be more. Today, as a small businessman, I can hire the exact same unskilled casual labor for about $8 and hour - sometimes $10. In fact, in most cases, I can find a pretty good pool of folks willing to work for $6 or $7 in most places. Of course, they are not legal, but they are here because they know that people will hire them.

Let me be clear. I work very hard to make sure that we hire only legal workers. And for doing this, I pay a steep penalty. That is, while I am paying $12 - $16 and hour for labor, my competitors are paying $6 - $10 for labor. Makes it pretty hard for me to compete. I used to live under the fantasy that my customers would care about this, and I made a big deal about this. At the end of the day though, nobody is ever willing to pay more to hire a contractor because he only hires legal workers.

That tells the whole story right there. These same people who are not willing to pay a contractor more because he hires legal workers are often the EXACT SAME PEOPLE who are up-in-arms about the fact that the "government won't do something" about the illegal immigrant problem.

Ya gotta wake up America. Ya don't get to have it both ways. Either we are willing to live as a culture and an economy that supports the notion of paying decent wages, or we are a culture who supports the notion of slave-like labor. If you are one of those who is whining about the illegal immigrants, you need to look around your life and see all the places where these illegal immigrants make it possible for you to receive services and goods more cheaply. You need to ask yourself if you are willing to pay higher prices to solve the problem.

If you aren't willing to pay that higher price, then shut your yap.

If you shop at Walmart, then you are supporting this "slave-like labor market" where we buy goods from companies who exploit labor markets where people will work for next to nothing. If you don't believe in this economy, then stop shopping at Walmart, and make it plain why you don't.

On the labor front here in America, INS could pick any day in any city, and could make raids that would net them a bunch of illegal workers. If they did this, then sent the immigrants home, then THREW THE CEO OF HE COMPANY WHO HIRED THEM IN JAIL, I guarantee this would get attention. If we did this day after day, and the CEO and the COO of ConAgra and other companies ended up serving real jail time, this immigration problem would go away for the most part.

I suspect that most people - having read the above - are nodding their heads in approval.

But guess what would happen if we did that - prices for the products and services that these people produce would start to go up. Are you willing to accept this outcome? If not, the shut your yap about the "problem".

Because, in the end, the "problem" isn't Mexicans who come into our country illegally. The "problem" is the citizens of our country who have voted over and over again with their wallets and the other votes that they cast that they are fully supportive of our "wink and nod" economy of importing cheap labor.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Opposing Financial Industry Reform - Really?

I know I must have this wrong. I keep seeing indications that my beloved Republican Party - after refusing to engage in any positive way in the debate and structuring of healthcare reform - is now going to actively resist and oppose reform of the financial system.

Really? Surely not. Who on earth thinks this can possibly fly?

I understand wanting to protect the Big Bank Fat Hogs who give them money, and I understand that they feel confident that they media will - as usual - find ways to try and make anything they do look good. But how on earth can anyone think this can be successful?

The Financial Services Industry brought this country to the brink of collapse over the last 30 years. Bush and the Republican congress couldn't start bailing them out fast enough, and the Obama administration continued the insanity that the Republicans began. They are soaking the taxpayer for several generations to come, while raking in insane and immoral levels of compensation to their executives. Who can argue with this?

Given the facts, I would expect the voters to put any politician who supports these bastards in chains and stocks. That would certainly be my vote.

But the Republicans are going to give it a whirl?


Hello America - will this finally wake you up?

Thursday, April 01, 2010

TJ Quote about debt

"And to preserve their independence, we must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. We must make our election between economy and liberty, or profusion and servitude."

-- Thomas Jefferson

Where Were the Tea Party'ers When There Was A Crisis

We had a real constitutional crisis in this country recently. We had a President and a Vice President who were working hard to dismantle that sacred document. They had a willing partner in a congress led by Republicans. Their actions have been and continue to be found to be illegal. They created a real security crisis in our country with their reckless international policy, and they created near financial calamity with their reckless fiscal policy.

So during those dark years, where were these Tea Party people? That was the time when we needed them marching on Washington, and trying to take this country back.

But they missed the boat. They seemed to have slept through that real need for protest and "taking the country back" from the despots.

But now they wake up. And the election happened a year and a half ago, and some of the bad guys were thrown out of office. We now have a leader in place who appears to be willing to lead from a place of honesty and integrity. We now have leadership who seems to respect the Constitution of our great country - at least a little more than the last bunch did.

And now they want to protest? What on earth do they think they are protesting? They can't possibly believe, (I mean, really believe), that we don't need healthcare reform in this country, yet that is what they seem to be mad about. We have a healthcare system that delivers a lower quality of care than the rest of the modern world, and charges us twice as much to do it. They really believe that is OK?


Now, I'm in agreement with them that the provision that requires Americans to carry health insurance makes me a little uncomfortable. I don't like that. But in the absence of a National Health Care Program - like every other western country has - this really becomes necessary if we want to control the costs. We can't have our cake and eat it too - we can't refuse to provide healthcare to all, provide ONLY private healthcare insurance, continue to provide emergency services to those without care, and continue to shoulder the financial burden of the uninsured. It just doesn't work.

We require that motorists carry auto insurance - because the financial burden on society is too great if they don't.

Now, I can also sympathize with those who say that our entire system has gone bad - that we need to start over - that we need to go back to the original constitution and find a way to fix all this really bad stuff that we have layered on it. I get that - I agree with them. I get that the IRS and the income tax is not constitutional and that we should abolish it - I agree with SOME of that logic.

But to now come out and protest over reforming one of the most broken things that we have, after ignoring the assault on the constitution that was carried out by Republicans over the previous 8 years exposes these people for what they appear to be - pawns of the extreme right wing, which has also taken over the Republican party.

Get real and attack with equal passion the Republicans who have truly assaulted out country and our constitution, then you might get some sympathy and support from real patriots like myself.