Team Work

This just in:  There seems to be a rise of Democratic Socialists which is being fought by Republicans as “Socialism!”  Note, many of these same Republicans claim they would rather be Russian than vote Democrat.  Go Figure.

Abraham Lincoln said, “The legitimate object of government, is to do for a community of people, whatever they need to have done, but can not do, at all, or can not, so well do, for themselves — in their separate, and individual capacities.”

Socialism definition: “A range of economic and social systems characterised by social ownership and workers’ self-management of the means of production as well as the political theories and movements associated with them.

Democratic socialists believe that both the economy and society should be run democratically—to meet public needs, not to make profits for a few. To achieve a more just society, many structures of our government and economy must be radically transformed through greater economic and social democracy so that ordinary Americans can participate in the many decisions that affect our lives.

Now, with that foundation, let’s ask ourselves…”Are we now a socialist country?’

You might answer “No!”  After all, refineries, airlines and local markets are not owned by “the people”.  If I owned a farm, it would be my farm, not the community’s farm.  GM, while publicly owned, it not owned by the people in general; rather it is owned by the people that bought shares.

So, there is a lot of evidence that we are not a Socialist country.  And, I might add, that I am not hearing any politician suggest that we should become a Socialist country.

However, we already are, to an extent, a Democratic Socialist country.  Our military is owned by the people.  Our roads are owned by the people.  Our fire departments and police are owned by the people.  In fact, take a look at our annual budget.  We collect from the people to spend on the people.  That’s it.

Take a look at the budget for 2015 (below).  This is all about us collecting money to do exactly what Abraham Lincoln said (above).

This is all Socialism to some extent.  We collect money and then do together what we cannot do as well ourselves.

We can quibble over the exact “word” to use to describe this but remember, it is what it is and using a word ending in “ism” does not make it bad.

This brings me to my point:  The United States needs to have universal healthcare.

Don’t tell me it can’t be done.  Done tell me that something every, other industrialized nation has accomplished is “too hard” for Americans.

I heard yesterday where the number of people over 65 declaring bankruptcy has tripled since 1990.  Most of this is attributed to healthcare related issues.

We can solve this.  Our taxes will go up but our out-of-pocket costs will actually go down.  No longer would people have to lose everything because a loved one got cancer in their later years and they spent every penny they had to spend just one more day with that loved one.

Republicans are against this because: (1) its not their idea and (2) they are corrupt and accept money to vote against it.

Democrats seem to be on the fence.  Some like it and some don’t.  Those that don’t like it fear backlash of raising taxes to pay for it.  They don’t believe the average person would understand that taxes will go up but medical expenses would go away completely.

In the end, we can take the Republican Path or that of Abraham Lincoln.  We can “Go it alone” or we can “Work together.”

I’m with Abe.

Time to save the world.

Up, up and away…

Jim

 

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My Progressive Rationale

This just in:  I want to spend some time on today’s blog talking about why I “lean left”.  But first…I’d like to tip my hat to Anthony Bourdain.  He tragically took his own life yesterday.  Those of us left behind get to miss him.   As for Anthony…he is truly off on the final trip to Parts Unknown.

So, why am I a Progressive?  Why do I use that term instead of “Liberal” or “Democrat”?

To me, “Progressive” describes someone that recognizes the world is in constant flux, always moving forward, not backward.  Success belongs to those that prepare for what is coming rather than hugging on to that which is past.

“Liberal” makes me turn away.  It sounds like a person that wants to give stuff away for free because it makes them feel good for some reason.

“Democrat” means “Not Republican” so I could live with that one.

I’d like to list a few items and tell you why I support them.

  1. I support DACA and a path forwards for citizenship.  I support this because these people are an integral part of our society.  They are doctors and farm laborers.  They pay their taxes and, as they stay in the United States, the look for ways to make things better for their families.  In short, they contribute more to our economy and society than they take away from it.
  2. I support Gun Control.  Keep in mind, this is not “taking away guns.”  People blame porn, lack of a God, energy drinks, mental illness and solar flares on the 35,000 gun deaths we experience every year.  I think that is all nonsense.  Why?  Because every other country that experiences all of those things, does not kill itself with guns at anything near the rate we do.  Guns guns the only difference.  (see tab above for ideas about Gun Control)
  3. I support higher taxes on the wealthy.  Yes, this is a redistribution of wealth…but so was the latest tax cut which redistributed billions from the poor and middle class to the wealthy.  This has nothing to do with envy or whatever the Atlas Shrugged people want to call it.  When we have income inequality, the overall economy of our country suffers.  Watch this TED talk about income inequality.  Our overall quality of life, economy and position of power internationally all improve when this inequality is less.
  4. I support universal health care.  There is only one reason for this – it works far better than our current system in 100% of the countries that use it….and all industrialized countries besides the United States use it.  We pay more and have poorer outcomes because…politics.
  5. I support efforts to combat climate change.  There is only one reason for this – 98% of all scientists and our military claim that climate change is real and is the greatest threat to our national security.
  6. I support any program that makes sure children don’t go hungry.  I do this because each child represents two potentials: (1) someone that drops out of school and becomes a burden to society and (2) someone that grows up, has a family and contributes to society.  I believe a child with a full stomach is nudged towards the more positive of these two potentialities.
  7. I support free education to whatever level you would like to attain.  There is only one reason for this: We need educated people if we are to compete with the rest of the world.  Short of making education free, we are only allowing the rich to attain it.  Who is to say that the children of the top 1% have more potential than the other 99%.
  8. I support higher taxes that give a positive return on investment.  We can spend $10 billion on tanks and get nothing in return.  Or, we can spend $10 billion on high-speed transportation which enables people to live outside the overprices housing markets in cities and still work in those cities.  Money on universal healthcare and education is money that gives us a greater value in return than that of the tax dollars we invested.
  9. I support getting out of the conflicts in the Middle East.   We started going there for oil.  We stayed there because we wanted to have influence and military bases.  Today, we can conduct a war anywhere without actually having a base nearby.  History books will have a hard time explaining why we are sending our kids to die in “over there” and why we are spending trillions of dollars to do so.
  10. I support legalized abortion.  Why?  Because making it illegal only drives abortions into the alleys.  It does nothing to reduce abortions.  I support Planned Parenthood because it is the single biggest contributor to stopping unwanted pregnancies, and thus abortions.
  11. I support government regulation.  Not all regulations but those that protect the population and the environment.  Why?  I want to be able to eat grapes that don’t kill me.  I want us to be in the game for the long run which means realizing that Earth is a finite resource that needs to be managed or lost.
  12. I support a Constitutional Amendment that overturns Citizens United.  Ever since that ruling, our government has become increasingly more corrupt.  It’s not so much the money grabbing that’s bad.  It’s the bad policy that comes from the money grabbing that it pulling us down.

Notice that none of these say, “I am a good person” or “God told me this”.  I’m just going with the facts.  When the data says universal healthcare works, I believe it.  When Hannity says it doesn’t…I know he is lying.

The crux of the matter is being informed.  If you think guns are not the problem, then you and I don’t differ on philosophy, we differ on degrees of information.

So there you have it.  Am I a liberal?  I don’t think so but you can call me that if it works for you.

I’m a progressive.  I want policies that make us stronger overall.  I want policies that use data to drive decisions.

And…I want to save the world.

Up, up and away…

Jim

 

 

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The Killing of Bear #399

This just in:  Last night I was watching 60 Minutes and they had a segment on a nature photographer.  One of his favorite subjects is grizzly bear (tagged as #399).  Recently, the bear population was healthy enough that there is now talk about allowing some people to hunt bears.  The photographer said many hunters have told him they can’t wait and that they hope to be the one to shoot the famous #399.

I don’t get this.  It is so far from what I could consider as a “good idea” that it makes me feel like there are aliens among us; or at least a branch of the human race made up of gun-toting sociopaths.

The NRA recently had a convention in Texas.  The President and V.P. were both there.  In the President’s speech, he managed to anger both the country of France and the country of England.

Here are Trump’s views on gun violence as far as I can tell…

  1. If the violence was perpetrated by a non-white, then it is terrorism.
  2. If the violence happened at a school, then blame video games and arm your gym teachers.
  3. If the violence was by a white supremacist…silence.

Also, while the NRA convention was taking place, a breakfast place in Dallas put a note on receipts that portion of the receipt would go to organizations that support “reasonable and effective gun regulations.”  How did the NRA visitors respond?  With death threats; threatening to “shoot up the place.”  This…is the NRA…our very own, homegrown terrorist organization.

We’ve become a country where we can make stuff up to suit whatever fantasy we like.

For example:

  • Universal Health care is a government takeover of healthcare.  The facts actually tell a different story.  Countries that have universal healthcare pay much less for much better outcomes.
  • Guns are not the reason we kill each other with guns.  The facts say that we have the same rate of mental illness and video game addiction as other countries and yet…we kill each other with guns at a much higher rate.
  • Tax cuts for the rich will spur economic growth and create high-paying jobs.  The facts say that this economic policy (also known as trickle-down economics) is a failure 100% of the time.
  • Unlimited campaign financing is Freedom of Speech.  Actually, you can link the Supreme Court’s decision on Citizens United to the rapid fall of the Republican Party into a corrupt organization that profits by legislating based on the whims of their billionaire donors.

It’s getting to the point where nothing makes sense anymore.

However, there is hope.  Here is a…something created by the young daughter of a artist friend.

This is so cute I can’t help but have a positive outlook on our future.

Time to save the world.

Up, up and away…

Jim

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How would you spend your taxes?

This just in:  On 60 minutes a couple of weeks ago, there was a segment about a program at MIT where students invented stuff.  Combine this with stories we often hear about soldiers that come back from the Middle East, traumatized, and with no idea of why they were sent there in the first place.

This made me think, “If I were King, how would I spend my tax dollars.”

I thought I would offer up a few choices.

Let’s start with…

  1. Which would you rather do: (1) Pay no taxes and have only toll roads and private schools  or (2) Pay taxes to finance things that promote the public good?
  2. Which would you rather spend tax money on: (1) sending soldiers to Syria or (2) doubling the budget for NASA?
  3. Which would you rather spend tax money on: (1) sending soldiers to Afghanistan or (2) high speed transportation between cities and population hubs?
  4. Which would you rather spend tax money on: (1) Subsidizing the oil industry or (2) financing research into finding cures for things like Alzheimer’s or cancer?
  5. Which would you rather spend tax money on: (1) A military that is larger than the next 10 militaries put together (many of whom are allies) or (2) State of the art education that is available to all Americans, not just the wealthy?
  6. Which would you rather spend your tax money on: (1) Building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico that can be defeated by a $20 ladder or (2) Universal healthcare that makes sure no one ever goes without healthcare and no one ever declares bankruptcy because of their medical bills?
  7. Which would you rather do: (1) Spend money on tanks and foot soldiers suitable for warfare as it existed 50 years ago but has no relevance to today or (2) Revitalize inner cities with the goal of every American being able to live free of fear with equal opportunity to the benefits of being an American (healthcare, education, freedom etc.)

And now one final one for my Republican readers (if there are any)…

Which would you prefer:  (1) a food program that makes sure no child in our country ever goes hungry of (2) allowing millions of children to go hungry because less than 1% of those on such a program are lazy?

There you have it.

Now…I have to run off and save the world.

Up, up and away…

Jim

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Choices

This just in:  I was in Miami Beach last weekend.  As I walked along a harbor, I was able to marvel at the super yachts lining the piers.  These are boats that can easily cost tens of millions of dollars.

The thought crossed my mind, “I wonder how many of these yacht owners took their multi-million dollar tax cut and turned it into jobs?”

The answer is zero, of course.

People and companies don’t hire people unless they need to.  They also don’t give pay raises unless they need to.

In other words, the tax break for the rich did nothing to increase wages or create jobs.  This is Economics 101.  If you don’t agree with this, then you lack education.  This is not “a matter of opinion.”  It’s a simple fact.

So, where did that tax break money go to?  Well, individuals bought yachts or nicer houses or new dresses.  Corporations bought back stock which served to enrich shareholders.  If you don’t own stock, then you missed out on this as well.

The latest Congressional Budget Office analysis of the Republican Tax Bill is that it is going to bankrupt our country.  It is increasing our national debt by $1-$2 trillion a year…forever going forward.

Meanwhile…90% of American see no benefit.  None….

Eventually we will have to make some choices.  Let me list a few here…

  1. We can spend money on education. We can pay teachers living wages.  We can buy textbooks and computers. OR…we can let the very rich continue to buy yachts.
  2. We can maintain our roads and bridges.  We can invest in high speed transportation that brings labor into cities that are too crowded and too expensive to live in.  OR…we can continue to elect Republicans which are funded by groups like the Koch Brothers who are now making an additional $1 billion a year thanks to the tax break.
  3. We can create a healthcare system that is the envy of the world.  Or…we can allow income inequality to continue to grow so that for every $1 our country earns, $.99 go to the top 50 richest Americans…so they can buy more yachts.
  4. We can provide for Social Security so that our elderly don’t spend the last few years of their lives in poverty or as burdens to their children OR we can continue to believe the line that “Big Government is Bad” and thus continue to elect people that will govern to the needs of the rich.

These are the kinds of choices we face.  They are not new choices. They have always been there.

The right choice seems clear in every case.  The only roadblock is the Populist Agenda.  This is where someone with no educational background to support their assertion will tell you, “Vote for me and I’ll give you the best healthcare in the world and it will cost you nothing,” or “Vote for me and I’ll give you the biggest tax break in history and our economy will blossom with high paying jobs.”

Populism is basically promising people whatever they want to hear knowing that a large percentage will vote for you “just in case you really do know how to turn lead into gold.”

Populists are gullible and therein lies the problem.

Time for me to save the world.

Up, up and away…

Jim

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