Thursday, March 31, 2011

Michele Bachmann - "Take our country back!"

"Take our country back!" Michele Bachmann had roared like a radical left-wing anti-war protester back in the 1960s. I had wondered what she had meant by that. Take our country "back" from what? "Back" from who? From the Socialists? From the Communists? From the OTHER major U.S. political party that represents working people? If she had meant "take back our country from the corporations and bankers" (and their political enablers), I might have agreed with her. But I have the feeling she wants to take this country back from the lazy poor people like me (one of the 15 million unemployed).

I would like to assure her that I have absolutely nothing to do with the present State of the Union, because I didn't vote for her; but I'm quite sure she wouldn't believe me. Besides, she's not sane enough to know that, because she's far too radical...even for someone such as myself.

But I've come to the conclusion that it's going to take something much more radical (and ignorant) than Michele Bachmann to change the way this country has been governed.

The wealthy corporate industrialists have been brilliant in manipulating the masses, funding intelligent people to run political organizations (i.e. the Tea Party) and "political think tanks" to convince the naive and ignorant "sheeple" to vote against their own self-interests. Fox News did an outstanding job of pushing their agenda. Kudos to them.

Who am I to say that the Bush tax cuts didn't create jobs, but only under-funded the federal and state budgets. And who am I to say that cutting those under-funded budgets won't create jobs either, but will only lay off more people.

The Republican and Tea Party's financial billionaire-corporate backers are winning, and it's going to take something very radical to open up people's eyes to the truth and to change the way this country has been governed. I say let the GOP have their own way on everything they want...EVERYTHING. Then they can take all the credit for everything (or all the blame).

Let them outlaw the Democratic Party; cut the entire annual budget to only $700 billion a year to be used JUST for military spending and nothing else; eliminate ALL social services completely...cut off Social Security checks immediately; lower the minimum wage to $1 an hour and put all those lazy bastards in a higher tax bracket too; lower corporate and capital gains taxes on the rich to $0; outlaw any and all labor unions; make "In God We Trust" an amendment to the Constitution; make abortion a capital offense punishable by death; make going to a Baptist church every Sunday morning mandatory by federal law; send all the Mexicans back to Mexico (even if they're legal U.S. citizens); allow fully automatic machine guns in high schools; outlaw the suing of corporations for deadly products, discrimination, and polluting the environment; reward corporations with tax bonuses for every job outsourced to China; ban all liberal and progressive media outlets; remove the theory of evolution from all school books; create a national holiday honoring all corporate CEOs; put Sarah Palin's face on the $100-bill; nominate Glenn Beck for President; and pay all the GOP politicians double what they earn today.

Then everything will be better, and we'll all have jobs...but we'll just have to patiently wait a couple of years until this once great country of ours can once again return to its prosperity, prominence, and exceptionalism.

Then, when all the ignorant "sheeple" finally wake up and begin to realize they've been living in Corporate La-La Land, we can try my very radical (but much saner) plan.

SIMPLY SAID: "The driver of the deficit is tax cuts."

Translated for ignorant thick-skinned sheeple: "We have budget shortfalls because the Republicans insisted that the rich get extended tax cuts." PERIOD. PLEASE READ THAT AGAIN.

The House Republican plan to cut about $61 billion from the federal budget in the next seven months [WITHOUT RAISING TAXES] could cost about 700,000 more jobs through 2012, according to a new report from Moody's Analytics chief economist Mark Zandi.

After signing tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans into law, Congress wants to cut funding to programs that assist the working poor, help the needy heat their homes, and expand access to graduate-level education.

The Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration just reported that Japan's radiation was found in milk samples in California and Washington...but Republicans want to cut the budgets for these two federal agencies too.

Not just federal budgets, but state budgets have been suffering as well...because of tax breaks for the wealthy and big corporations - all at the expense of the middle-class, teachers, factory workers, college students, small business owners, the jobless, and the local panhandler. In other words, anyone who's not wealthy, a politician, or is not on a Board of Directors.

The rising cost of government every year is only natural with a rising population base. If the population grows by 5% a year, then the cost of government should also be expected to rise at the same rate (providing the cost-of-living index remains the same and the U.S. dollar retains its value).

If a proportionate amount of people were being hired for newly created jobs every year, and corporate profits rose by a proportionate amount (year after year), then theoretically the ratio of government spending (and government budgets), along with consumer spending, should remain approximately the same as well.

According to this article, to stabilize the debt, deficits need to be reduced to no more than about 3 percent of GDP. A combination of reasonable savings in discretionary programs, some tax loophole closures, and various entitlement reforms that can be enacted now (for example, in farm subsidies and some other programs, along with some relatively modest additional savings in Medicare that can be taken now) — in conjunction with letting the Bush tax cuts expire after 2012 — would succeed in stabilizing the debt and achieving primary budget balance in the decade ahead.

My Radical (but Much Saner) Plan for Taking Our Country Back

Today from the Huff Po: "If we don't come to understand the underlying reasons for the current crisis and enact real reform of Wall Street and the banks and get big corporate money out of our elections we face a future that is truly frightening."

What I propose:

1) - Lower the corporate tax rate to that of China's (25%), but have the federal treasury take the full 25% of all corporate gross earnings, both on domestic and foreign sales. This would eliminate outsourcing jobs because corporations would not want to pay corporate taxes in both China and the U.S. - and there would be NO deductions, depreciations, subsidies, write-offs, or other tax loopholes.... A FLAT 25% corporate tax on ALL GROSS EARNINGS (the way real people are taxed). Of the 25%, 5% should go to the state budget where the corporation primarily operates (not necessarily where the corporate office is located). No other state, city, or local taxes can be imposed on the business, eliminating the "tax bargains" that corporations always trade for when threatening to relocate from state to state to avoid paying taxes and having local officials beholden to corporate officers. End this blackmail.

2) - Tax all capital gains taxes at 20% (at the rate it used to be before Bush, during Clinton's time in office). Corporate officers usually receive a large bulk of their company-paid salaries as stock-options in employee compensation packages, paying less in taxes than regular payroll taxes. Of the 20%, 2.5% should go to Social Security and 2.5% should go to Medicare. Presently, no part of capital gains taxes goes to these funds.

3) - Employees should be free to join a union for collective bargaining, allowing employees to sign authorization cards stating they want a union. The cards are then submitted to the NLRB and if more than 50% of the employees submit cards, the NLRB requires the employer to recognize the union. The NLRA election process is an additional step with the NLRB conducting a secret ballot election after authorization cards are submitted. In both cases the employer never sees the authorization cards or any information that would disclose how individual employees voted. The union status for each company can be voted on and renewed every 4 years.

4) - Outlaw all corporate (and union) donations to political campaigns* so that elected officials aren't beholden to corporate (or union) interests, but vote in the interests of the people who actually voted them into office. A $1,000 individual limit should be imposed for every registered voter. Political campaign promises should be verbal contracts and should be legally binding, unless undue or unforeseen forces prevents them for keeping said promises to the people. Campaign smears (if knowingly untrue) should be outlawed and banned as well.

     * I would propose an equal allowance for all candidates and equal air time on TV and radio for political ads.

5) - All congressional and local legislation should be voted on UP and amendments, riders, or earmarks can be added. All bills should be written in plain English and be made available to the general public on their official websites and in the Sunday editions of their local newspapers at least two weeks before a vote is taken - except if it's "emergency" legislation.

6) - Nationalize all the banks in the U.S. into THE PEOPLE'S BANK of AMERICA giving low interest loans to the people and businesses - with revenues being paid to the U.S. Treasury, instead of into the pockets of Wall Street bankers.

7) - Nationalize the gas, coal, nuclear, and oil industry. Energy and the country's natural resources should belong to the people, not profited upon by a few individuals. This would keep costs down for the people and business. Revenues over cost would be reinvested into exploration, green technology, stockpiles, and additional refineries.

8) - Lower the age for FULL retirement to 55 and have everyone qualify for full medical and Social Security benefits once all of the above have been enacted and in place for 10 years. If someone has more than $5 million in assets at the time of their retirement, they will not qualify for any government social services (Medicare, SS, UI, etc).

9) - If any corporation outsources more than 50% of their employee-base, then all corporate officers (the CEO and board of directors) must relinquish their U.S. citizenships. Major shareholders who collectively own more than 50% of company stocks will be subject to same. (As American patriots, could we expect any less from our corporate leaders?)

10) - Only Congress (and not a sitting President) can appoint one judge at a time to the Supreme Court, vetted by a rotating party affiliation, to keep from politically stacking the our highest court in life-time positions that favor one party over another.

Michele Bachmann radically screamed, "Take our country back!", but she and others in Congress already RULE our country now, so who are we taking the country back from...her? If so, I'll agree with that.

(Poor bastard...never in HIS lifetime!)

Related : The Republicans Lack the Seriousness to Govern

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

New Spin - Only 5% Unemployment!

Today the New York Times puts another spin on the unemployment numbers: "On average, all but 5 percent of people lived in a family with at least one person working (this includes one-person families). By comparison, almost 20 percent of prime-age adults (25 to 54) were not employed. In other words, it is much more common for a person to be without a job than for a family to be without a job."

Breaking down the demographics, they conclude that single unemployed people and whole families with just one unemployed household member are far more rare than simply unemployed individuals, as though to imply that the jobless situation wasn't really as bad as it appears. After all, if just one person in the house is still working (no matter what their income), no one should starve to death...even if it's their teenager working at McDonald's.

But what the article fails to mention or to take in to consideration is that over the last 30 years, on average, it takes two members of a household working to keep up with household expenses and the higher costs of living. Americans have had DECLINING wages when looked at in that context. It now takes two people working to equal one family household income.

Dad used to go to work when mom stayed home with the kids. Now dad has to work over-time and mom has to work also to pay a babysitter earning less than her net wages to bring home a little bit more to meet the mortgage and car payment.

From another New York Times piece today: "Unless American workers have enough leverage to demand raises that help their wages keep pace with inflation, their wages won’t keep pace."

Today in the Huffington Post: Inflation Hits Levels Not Seen Since Financial Crisis - "But some economists also warn that higher food and energy prices do not necessarily trigger higher prices of goods and services. The OECD report stressed that excluding food and energy prices, inflation was stable."

So if we turn off our heat and lights, stop driving, and stop eating, everything will be ok?

I think we should base the economy on what BOTH New York Times articles have stated: 20 percent of prime-age adults (25 to 54) are unemployed, and those who are lucky enough to be still working are having their wages being eroded away with inflation.

Another Rich and Middle-Aged Man

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

I Want to be a Banker

"It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning." ~ Henry Ford

I'm pretty stupid and don't understand the complexities of our banking system, and how their financial wizards have been making so much money during the Great Recession while ordinary people have lost everything they had. So if I wanted to be a banker, how do I open my own bank?

Why is it that the fine print on credit card and checking accounts agreements says I am legally bound by the Federal banking and tax laws of the U.S. when I am FORCED to open a bank account just to cash my paycheck? Is there a law that says I can demand cash from my employer instead? Would I be fired from my job for demanding a cash payment for my labor? Would a law protect me if I were fired if I chose to not voluntarily participate in the Federal Reserve banking system?

"Governments do not govern, but merely control the machinery of government, being themselves controlled by the hidden hand. The world is governed by very different personages from what is imagined by those who are not behind the scenes." ~ Lord Rothschild

What's the difference if:
  • I loan you money and charge you 15% interest for one month
  • You borrow money from a loan shark at 20% interest for one week
  • You cash your payroll check for a "Pay Day" loan for 15% of the check
  • You borrow money from Goldman Sachs and get charged a commercial interest rate (20.0% APR for a personal loan over 3 years or 5.5% APR interest for a home mortgage over 30 years)
  • Goldman Sachs borrows from our central bank (the Federal Reserve) and gets charged Federal Interest (only 0.15%, practically nothing)
  • What's the difference between "usury" and legal lending; and the difference between "banking" and theft?
What would be the difference between a silver dollar (or a gold dollar) and a paper dollar (or a digital dollar today) when a U.S. dollar was once backed by gold held at Fort Knox?

Why does our money say "In God We Trust", to infer we should blindly trust the banks and Federal government because THEY believe in a god? Weren't gods invented to control and manipulate people all throughout the ages?

"Since I entered politics, I have chiefly had men's views confided to me privately. Some of the biggest men in the United States, in the field of commerce and manufacture, are afraid of somebody, are afraid of something. They know that there is a power somewhere so organized, so subtle, so watchful, so interlocked, so complete, so pervasive, that they had better not speak above their breath when they speak in condemnation of it." - Woodrow Wilson, 28th President of the United States (1913-1921).

The Constitution of the United States of America provides that the United States Congress shall have the power "To coin Money". Does this only mean silver and gold coins that are minted ("coined")? Or does this also include I.O.U.s printed at the privately owned Federal Reserve Bank?

"I am a most unhappy man. I have unwittingly ruined my country. A great industrial nation is controlled by its system of credit. Our system of credit is concentrated. The growth of the nation, therefore, and all our activities are in the hands of a few men. We have come to be one of the worst ruled, one of the most completely controlled and dominated Governments in the civilized world, no longer a Government by free opinion, no longer a Government by conviction and the vote of the majority, but a Government by the opinion and duress of a small group of dominant men." - Woodrow Wilson, 28th President of the U.S. on his death bed for passing the Federal Reserve System.

The Constitution provides that "a regular Statement and Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time". The U.S. dollar may therefore be described as the unit of account of the United States. Is a Federal Reserve Note a legally binding "U.S. Dollar" and Constitutionally recognized as legal tender?

The word "dollar" is one of the words in the first paragraph of Section 9 of Article 1 of the U.S. Constitution. This act designated the United States dollar as the unit of currency of the United States. Did this also mean promissory notes (and not just gold coin dollars), such as "Federal Reserve Notes" (essentially I.O.U.s) are valid, even though they no longer promise a dollar's worth of gold being held by the government at Fort Knox?

Denominations equal to or greater than one dollar are produced out of thin air as Federal Reserve notes, with the exception of gold, silver and platinum coins, which can be valued up to $100 as legal tender (but worth far more as bullion) and are coined at the U.S. Mint for the U.S. Treasury. But remember when the ownership of gold by a "private citizen" was once illegal?

The dollar (USD) used to be backed by gold, but no more. Why? And why can't we see the gold in Fort Knox? We haven't since the it still there? And if not, where is it, and where did it go?

For the past several years China has been buying tons of gold and gold has tripled in value in the last 10 years alone. If we still had gold in Fort Knox, and it tripled in value, how is that applied to out nation's wealth and national debt? Can we buy our debt back from China?

Why (and how) do the following countries also use the U.S. dollar exclusively as its national currency?

British Virgin Islands
Caribbean Netherlands
East Timor
El Salvador
Marshall Islands
Federated States of Micronesia
Turks and Caicos Islands

Before the Federal Reserve system the U.S. used to have many different banks that printed and "coined" their own money (dollars) and issued bank checks (supposedly if they held they real assets). Now America has one privately owned bank called the Federal Reserve, which has NO association to the U.S. government - and was designated as the U.S. central bank, for which it prints paper and digital dollars for American banks. The U.S. Mint makes the coins..."To coin Money".

Can the Federal Reserve print a dollar any time it wants to (with the consent of congress-people who are beholden to banks) and "loan" it to Goldman Sachs for a penny, who in turn, loans it to you for two dimes? Is this how bank bailouts work? When these banks make bad investments, we are FORCED to buy their debt....the banks hit pay-dirt. When we make bad investments, we just eat plain dirt. Is this how our Founding Forefathers envisioned the U.S. dollar (and our banking system) in the Constitution?

Was this why limited liability corporations were also used to do business in America?

Who are these INDIVIDUAL people who own and profit from our central bank, the Federal Reserve, and what of the other central banks around the world, such as the Bank of England who stayed with the British pound, rather than go "Euro"?

If ONE DOLLAR represented all of America's wealth, and was backed by one ounce of gold at Fort Knox, could the Federal Reserve print one more dollar (devaluing the current dollar), then loan it to Goldman Sachs for almost nothing, who in turn loans it to you for a profit? And would doing this thereby double the value of the gold at Fort Knox? Is this how the prices of precious metals go up, by central banks monetizing their currencies?

And what if there were only half an ounce of gold (or no gold at all) at Fort Knox? Why can't we get Congress to allow us to peek inside the vault and show us? How much of the gold that is presently mined in Northern Nevada (and elsewhere) shipped and stored at Fort Knox? Isn't the gold ours too, a natural resource, our national treasure? The PEOPLE'S gold? And why can't we get Congress to audit the Federal Reserve? What do they have to hide?

Why did most of the central banks in the countries of Europe agree to a "EURO"? And who exactly MINTS or COINS the Euro?

"Three hundred men, each of whom knows all the others, govern the fate of the European continent, and they elect their successors from their entourage." ~ Walter Rathenau

Who exactly MINTS and COINS the Amero, and is it Constitutionally recognized a legal U.S. tender like the Monopoly money the Federal Reserve prints and profits so much from? Would it be backed by a barrel of oil, as opposed to gold? And isn't our domestic oil also a natural resource and national treasure...the PEOPLE'S oil?

 "I care not what puppet is placed upon the throne of England to rule the Empire on which the sun never sets. The man who controls Britain's money supply controls the British Empire, and I control the British money supply."  ~ Nathan Mayer Rothschild

If I wanted to be a banker, would the Federal Reserve print me a FREE dollar (or produce a "digital" dollar and electronically transfer it to my personal home computer - to my own personal "bank") so that I can loan that "dollar" to you for a profit? If so, then I want to be a banker.

Today from the Huff Post: Big banks saved billions as homeowners suffered.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Did God Bless America?

According to the New York Times a recent report from the Bureau of Economic Analysis claims corporate profits rose 29.2 percent last year in 2010. That is the fastest growth in over 60 years! So tell me then, where are all the jobs that the Republicans have promised that the Bush Tax Cuts would create, and who's paying payroll taxes?

Social Security and Medicare benefits help old, sick, and disabled Americans. Medicaid (for the low income and non-income people like myself), helps the downtrodden and poor. But all these social services will soon exceed the payroll taxes that fund them.

But if programs such as Medicare are "going broke", then why did our government just reduce BY HALF Medicare taxes in average working people's payroll taxes in the Obama Compromise this past December? This was part of the deal with Republicans to extend the Bush Tax Cuts* for the wealthiest 3% (for 2 years) in exchange for extending just the funding of unemployment benefits (for those who still qualified) for only 1 more year.

* Corporations like GE pay no taxes at all, and the Republicans want to lower corporate taxes and eliminate capital gains taxes entirely (capital gains taxes are the rich man's "payroll taxes", and pay no Medicare or Social Security taxes at all).

Wealthy people don't NEED Social Security or Medicare when they get old, sick, or disabled. But because they consider it "free money" when they turn 62 (or have a working spouse who gets laid off from a job and qualifies), they will apply for Social Security and unemployment benefits whenever possible. They will take from the government treasury (i.e. tax breaks, loop holes, subsidies, etc.), but they never want to contribute their fair share to it.

So if we just relied on payroll taxes alone to fund these government programs (Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid), and we have 40 million people dependent on these government services - just for their very survival, and we now have 15 million unemployed Americans paying NO payroll taxes at all (and another 15 million under-employed Americans now paying far LESS in payroll taxes because of reduced hours), how can ANY government program remain viable if the wealthiest are paying less and less into the government treasury - all while their massive wealth is just being hoarded away in off-shore bank accounts and earning interest?

Now we learn that our old, sick, poor, and disabled Americans will get no "cost-of-living" increases - AGAIN! - because our government says there has been no significant rise in the cost of goods or services. But they conveniently leave out the cost of food and energy when calculating this "cost-of-living" index. The two most basic needs just for human survival! They're basing this "index" on such items as the cost of flat screen TVs that are being imported from China. Why is this?

So, with the corporations and bankers and CEOs getting richer and paying less in taxes; with more and more American workers losing their jobs or getting paid far less; and with the Republicans (and Tea Party) recklessly slashing the budgets, I've come to only one conclusion: Our government, the Republicans, and the wealthy wants to work the rest of us to death...literally.

If you are 21 years old today and digging holes for minimum wage, you will need to do this for the rest of your life - until the very day you die. Is this how God blessed America?

50 years from now when you are a great-grandpa, and after breaking your back digging holes all your life (even if you increase your "worker productivity"), you will not be able to retire, pay for heat in your home, buy basic food, or get any required medicine unless you continue to break your back digging holes until the very day you die - and fall into the very hole you've been digging all your life.

If you are 21 years old today, there most likely won't even be any Social Security or Medicare for you, or by then, you won't be able to qualify until you're at least 80 years old. That's where it's going now. You will need to work all your life, digging holes, and being grateful that, unlike China* , America is "exceptional". And unlike Europe*, you'll realize that America doesn't care for their old, sick, poor, and disabled citizens. Here in the United States of America we throw them away like used paper towels.

* Is it that wealthy Europeans no longer want to help their old, sick, disabled, and poor...and that's why we see the all the protests in Europe today? And what of the people in North Africa and the Middle East? Is it JUST "freedom and democracy" that they clamor for, or is it really for better economic conditions? I predict that it is THOSE people who will be the new "emerging market", and that the working people in China (the new middle-class) will be then be complaining when all THEIR jobs are outsourced from China to the Arab people who will be more than happy to work for one-dollar-a-day, breaking their backs to further enrich the wealthy American and European corporations and bankers.

* What would it take to induce a Chinese company to move to America and pay American workers our higher wages? Would lower corporate taxes in America (with all the "legal" tax loopholes) be more profitable for them? Or would paying their domestic workforce much lower wages be much more profitable?

It's odd that the Republicans would attack the old, sick, poor, and disabled Americans...the way they attack labor unions who only want fair wages. The Republicans must think that old, sick, poor, and disabled Americans are also Socialists who just want to "redistribute the wealth". But isn't that EXACTLY what the Republicans have been doing for the past several decades? Taking from the average working people (and the weakest among us) so that they'd all have less, just so that the richest among us could have more?

So, judging by the past 50 years, we might also assume that 50 years from now (at the present pace) 1% of America's population will have 99% of all the wealth and be living in luxury, while everyone else will be digging holes all their lives - until the very last day until they die - just so that the rich can live longer and better than everyone else.

If you come from a poor or working-class background, your chances of obtaining vast wealth is as good as hitting the lottery, even if you work hard, save your money, and go to college. Sure, we always hear about the great American success stories (the American Dream come true); but in reality, these stories are much more rare than they are common. Very few of us actually have the talent, opportunity, or the good luck to obtain this dream. There are a lot of very talented rock bands that no one has ever even heard of, so most of them don't become ROCK STARS, but must also dig holes for a paycheck and pay payroll taxes to the government, just like the rest of us. (I know a few.)

But the Republican's argument has always been that if you tax the wealthiest less, they will create more jobs for us digging holes (but paying us less than before) - - - and maybe, if you dig long enough, and if you dig deep enough, then you TOO can stop digging holes and one day become rich just like them! But while you've been digging your holes, they were shoveling shit. But if you CAN stop digging, shouldn't you at least keep paying taxes?

When can you stop digging holes? Will you EVER qualify for Social Security? And if so, will it be enough to pay for heat and food? Or will you have to dig until the very day you die? Did God really bless America, or just the richest people in America?

Quote of the Day by Mike Thornton: "George Orwell quotes 'Truth is treason in the empire of lies.' That about sums up my thoughts of how the government handles truth. The three branches of our government used to be the executive, legislative and judicial - but that has since changed. It's now the bankers, corporations, and the news media."

Sunday, March 27, 2011

General Electric (GE), Freeloaders, and the Bush Tax Cuts

Let call a Spade, a Spade...if an individual or a corporation doesn't pay taxes on income or earnings, then they are a "freeloader", because they're getting the benefits of government without paying their fair share.

If I get a $20 donation on this blog through PayPal while getting food stamps from the government, but I don't pay taxes to the IRS on that income, then I'm a freeloader.

If a corporation earns $5 billion and their CEO earns $21 million, and neither the company nor the individual pays any taxes, then they are freeloaders. If that same company lays off 21,000 employees and they all collect unemployment benefits, then they are NOT freeloaders, because THEY paid income taxes on their unemployment insurance benefits.

If a corporation uses a team of expensive lawyers to avoid paying ANY taxes, then the tax laws themselves must be illegal if a large company like GE can "legally" evade and dodge paying any taxes at all. But GE would still be a tax-dodger (a freeloader) because they're getting the benefits of government without paying their fair share.

The big differences between the CEO of GE and the employees who lost their jobs are:
  • The employees suffered financially, whereas the CEO did not.
  • The employees are ashamed, whereas the CEO is not.
  • The employees were vilified as freeloaders, whereas the CEO got a pat on the back.
  • The employees weren't freeloaders, the CEO was.
John Stossel did a piece the other night on Fox News called "Freeloaders". He complained that panhandlers could make up to $100 a day doing absolutely nothing. I once panhandled for spare change, and I can tell you, there's nothing "easy" about standing or sitting outside on the street in the cold begging for money - or being exposed to the hot sun and humidity during the summertime.

Why should Mister Stossel even care if these freeloaders could take in a hundred dollars a day when, even if they did this EVERY SINGLE DAY FOR A WHOLE YEAR, that's only $35,500 a year. I wouldn't say the beggars were getting very rich off of charity - and they would have "earned" every dime they made while braving the elements. They don't receive any company-paid healthcare insurance or free meals, and I doubt that nothing they earn ever goes towards a retirement plan when they get too old to beg. So what's the big deal John?

Let's look at a major U.S. corporation like GE and see who the REAL beggars are.

Last year in 2010 Obama's JOB CZAR (Jeff Immelt) was paid about $1,000 for every job he eliminated at GE as its CEO. He earned $21 million to lay off 21,000 of GE's workers. What did he have to do, besides just sign a company memo?

And he's our JOB CZAR?

And on top of that, his company (GE) made $5 billion in U.S. profits last year, but paid ZERO in federal taxes to our government's treasury. Where is the outrage? Do we need any more proof as to what's been going on in this country? And GE is just the tip of the iceberg; there are many other large corporations that pay little to no corporate taxes - and many actually get money from us in taxpayer-paid subsidies.

New York Times: "Companies have been increasingly using a maze of shelters, tax credits and subsidies to pay far less [in corporate taxes]."

And the income tax rate on Jeff Immelt's $21 million personal income is lower than that of a regular worker earning $40,000 a year (only 15% is paid in capital gains taxes on stock-options held for at least one year).

But in all fairness to John Stossel, in his segment he also mentioned corporate welfare as well...I just didn't think he needed to insult us panhandlers to make his story, because that's not the real story at all, and it only draws attention away from the real corporate crimes that have been committed in America.

By contrast, compared to GE's obscene avoidance of corporate duty to the community, I earned less that $10,000 in unemployment benefits last year (just slightly below the government's official definition of the poverty line); but because I had no taxes taken out, I will still owe the IRS money this year. Am I the only one who sees something wrong with this picture? Maybe I should have just panhandled, if anything, just to piss off Mister "Pretty Boy" John Stossel.

All my working life I've worked in union houses with collective bargaining, annual COLAS, and comprehensive healthcare coverage. The companies I worked for, all throughout those years, all grew and expanded (even GE)...BEFORE the Bush Tax Cuts.

So then, why did last December when there was the debate about returning the tax rates back to the pre-Bush era did the GOP use the argument of "uncertainty in the marketplace"? Was GE uncertain about something? Were they wimps and scared of the boogy-man? They wouldn't take a risk and invest unless they were SURE they'd make a huge profit?

After the Bush Tax Cuts, no more jobs were created...instead they were lost and outsourced - and hours were cut, more unions were eliminated, and employer-provided healthcare was dropped. We had record deficits, a housing crash, a stock market crash, and massive layoffs. We had record unemployment, forclousres, bankruptcies, homelessness, and suicides.

If there ever was (or still is) "uncertainty in the marketplace", then how did the value of GE stocks double in value over the last two years alone, while record profits were being made in the stock market - all while bonuses on Wall Street were being handed out like candy on Halloween?

And that was even BEFORE the Bush Tax Cuts were extended - and during the time when Obama's national healthcare bill had been debated and passed. (You need not be a Republican or Democrat to grasp that little tid bit of plain information; just look at a few stock charts on Google Finance and read the discussion forums.)

All throughout those years before the Bush Tax Cuts those corporations all grew and expanded, and they still are...only now many are also making HUGE profits overseas too. Now they're bigger and better than ever, with companies earning record profits and CEOs earning record salaries. That's the only difference BEFORE the Bush Tax Cuts and AFTER the Bush Tax Cuts...corporations and CEOs make more money now. We don't. We lose jobs and we make LESS money (depressed wages and higher cost-of-living).

Before the Bush Tax Cuts we didn't have records deficits, now we do. Before the Bush Tax Cuts we didn't need to slash much needed government services, now we do. Before the Bush Tax Cuts the CEOs were only earning 100 times more than their employees, not 400 times more. Before the Bush Tax Cuts we had a budget surplus, now we don't.

Before the Bush Tax Cuts Americans had the necessary jobs skills, now suddenly we don't. Before the Bush Tax Cuts, we didn't need to be more "mobile", now we do. Before the Bush Tax Cuts we only had 5% unemployment, now we have a real unemployment rate near 14%. Before the Bush Tax Cuts we had a much lower poverty rate too.

Before the Bush Tax Cuts we had a lot less people as a population, but now we have to cut the budget to accommodate the millions more who were born AFTER the Bush Tax Cuts. By the nature of population growth, we have "bigger government", but after the Bush Tax Cuts we're suppose to run a much larger government with much less tax revenues - to have a "smaller government".

Before the Bush Tax Cuts we didn't have the problems we have now, but the Republicans not only insisted that we continue the Bush Tax Cuts, but they also want to make them permanent - and now they even want to cut corporate, estate, and capital gains taxes even more...maybe eliminate them completely!

So then, just exactly what does the GOP want to cut from the budget, besides just what ordinary Americans pay for with payroll taxes, not as the uber-rich (sometimes) pay in corporate, estate, and capital gains taxes? And with permanent tax cuts for the rich, does the GOP also want permanent poverty, permanently declining tax revenues, and to have America be a permanent third world country?

The richest 2% (with their Bush Tax Cuts) are no better than the despots in the Middle East and North Africa, hoarding the wealth and reducing the majority of their populations to poor beggars..."freeloaders"...panhandlers.

It's being reported in the news that the U.S. government froze billions of dollars in assets of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi because it wasn't HIS money, but that of the Libyan people - money that Gaddafi acquired through the sale of the nation's oil reserves.

But if Americans rose up in rebellion, and an outside military force and government came in to support them, would the assets of Exxon-Mobile be frozen and returned to "the people" of this country as well?

If that were the case, why don't Americans also share in our own country's natural resources (such as oil), but instead pay oil companies to explore and drill it - and then sell it back to us for enormous and continuing record profits? Why are a few corporate oil executives (and commodity speculators) allowed to enrich themselves with taxpayer-paid oil subsidies like Muammar Gaddafi? Why not nationalize the oil companies, and sell the energy to American citizens (and companies) at COST? That would be great for the economy - even for GE too!

And wouldn't it also be better to eliminate the oil speculators altogether unless they can actually prove that they can - and will - take a future delivery of oil, instead of just driving up the prices to enrich Wall Street mobsters? And maybe we should drill instead of buying Gaddafi's oil, then maybe we wouldn't need to spend billions of dollars in another war over there today.

And with the present taxpayer-paid oil subsidies, aren't the oil companies by de facto already nationalized? Don't we really already own them...and doesn't the nation's oil belong to us, just like the mountains, lakes, and rivers? Then why have a few corporate oil executives been profiteering and flying around the globe in their private jets and buying mansions while we have to apply for food stamps?

Before the Bush Tax Cuts (and before Ronald Reagan's elimination of the oil companies Windfall Profits Tax), America was a much more fiscally sound country when the U.S. Dollar was once worth something. Now it's a junk bond because we are in debt and create money out of thin air - and the uber-rich no longer have to pay their fair share of taxes...thanks all to the GOP.

We need both: More taxes AND more budget cuts. But just tax the rich, who only hoard the wealth, not share it. Middle-class Americans use their tax cuts...they spend their money to stimulate the economy. Many times they are forced to spend more, just to keep up with the cost-of-living. Does the CEO of GE ever have to worry about the cost of HIS elecricity going higher?

Read - Plutocracy: GE Doesn't Pay Taxes -- Taxpayers Pay GE

Cut the budget, but not from where the most needy Americans would benefit, but cut the waste fraud, abuse, and corruption in such places as the $700 billion annual military budget...something we should have done LONG BEFORE the Bush Tax Cuts, but something we can still do now.

And cut out ALL the damn corporate welfare from ALL those sleazy corporate freeloaders too!

Before the Bush Tax Cuts we could afford to buy gold.

Since the Bush Tax Cuts, between April 2001 and April 2010, gold has surged more than threefold in value against the U.S. dollar. Today the price of gold is at an all-time high, but only the uber-rich (and Glenn Beck) can buy gold as an investment. OUR money is spent on rent, heat, and bread. We put OUR money back into the economy. When was the last time an ounce gold (that was just collecting dust at Fort Knox) ever created a real job? Do we even have any gold left in Fort Knox? Or was that looted too?

But if you're the CEO of a company like GE, you won't need gold...because like most other big corporations, you can grow money on trees...or on the backs of everyone else. But as the best freeloader of the year, GE need not worry about "certainty in the market place".

Saturday, March 26, 2011

New Debtors Prison in 2011

Over the past three years during the Great Recession have you owed $250 on a credit card balance, but had lost your job and stopped making the monthly payments because you needed the money to pay your rent and buy food?

If so, then you might not pass GO, but go directly to jail.

Collection agencies are filing lawsuits and then sending court summons. If you don't appear for a court judgment, a warrant is issued for your arrest. Bail is many times set at the balance you owe on your unpaid debt (up to a certain limit), and the sleazy collection agencies have been using the resources of the taxpayers (police and courts) to collect these unpaid debts and profit from them.

We can always rely on our sleazy lawyers to make a buck while hurting people are struggling during hard times...that's what always made America so great.

I just read this in the Star Tribune: Deborah Poplawski had only learned by chance from an employment counselor during a background check while looking for a job that she had an outstanding warrant. Debt Equities, a "debt buyer", had sued her. Deborah says nobody had ever served her with court documents.

A month later she was digging in her purse for coins to feed a downtown parking meter when she saw the flashing lights of a police squad car behind her. Poplawski, a restaurant cook, assumed she had parked illegally. Instead, she was headed to jail over a $250 credit card debt.

"We hear every day about how there's no money for public services," she says, "But it seems like the debt collectors have found a way to get the police to do their work.

Though Poplawski, who knew of the warrant and unpaid debt, said "I wasn't equating the warrant with going to jail, because there wasn't criminal activity associated with it. I just thought it was a civil thing."

She spent nearly 25 hours in the County jail, where she had been ordered to change into the standard jail uniform. While in jail a male inmate groped her behind in a crowded elevator and she had to sleep in a room with up to 16 other women - with one toilet and no privacy. One woman had offered her drugs.

The next day, Poplawski appeared before a district judge. He told her to fill out a form listing her assets and bank account, and released her. Several weeks later, Debt Equities used this information to seize funds from her bank account. (Personally, if after I had my court appearance, I would have cleaned out my bank account. What was she thinking?)

Well-funded, aggressive and centralized collection firms, in many cases run by attorneys, buy up unpaid debt and use the courts to collect. The debt buyers file tens of thousands of other collection actions seeking court orders to make people pay. The debts, often five or six years old, are purchased from companies like cell phone providers and credit card issuers, and cost a few cents on the dollar. Using automated dialing equipment and teams of lawyers, the debt-buyer firms try to collect the debt, plus interest and fees. A firm aims to collect at least twice what it paid for the debt to cover costs. Anything beyond that is profit.

Few debtors realize they can land in jail simply for ignoring debt-collection legal matters. Debtors also may not recognize the names of companies seeking to collect old debts. Some people are contacted by three or four firms as delinquent debts are bought and sold multiple times after the original creditor writes off the account.

And if you can barely pay for rent and food, how do you hire a bankruptcy lawyer to get a government bail out like the big banks?

Full Disclosure: I owe AT&T an unpaid balance of 57 cents on my last cell phone bill.

JUDGE: "Mister Meyers, you are accused of free-loading. How do you plead?"
ME: "Not guilty your honor."

JUDGE "Then I hereby set your bail at 57 cents. Until such time you will be remanded to the County jail. Bailiff, get this scumbag out of my face! Next!"


Friday, March 25, 2011

Republicans Created Welfare, Not Democrats

It's become common knowledge now: The Republicans are beholden to specials interests - corporations and the wealthiest among us. The Democrats represent the average working people and the needy, those who were once averaging working people too - before the Republicans drove them into poverty. Most of us aren't rich, so if you have a job now (and could also lose it like 15 million other Americans have so far), then why would you even vote for a Republican? (Unless of course, you really believe that one day you'll have a very good chance of becoming a wealthy CEO of a major American-based multi-national corporate conglomerate.)

For decades the Republicans have enabled American corporations to reduce average middle-class incomes to increase corporate profit margins as the cost of living has risen, pushing many into poverty (and forcing them to use government social services), while at the same time the Republicans were pushing legislation to reduce those services, making it almost impossible for them to survive.

It was the Republicans who created the welfare state by outsourcing jobs - thus driving more people into unemployment. It was the Republicans who created the welfare state by busting labor unions and depressing wages for common working people. It was the Republicans who created the welfare state by allowing the cost-of-living to sky-rocket so much over the last 30 years, all to enrich the corporations more.

In turn, this forced millions of working Americans into poverty and made them co-dependent on government services such as jobless benefits, Medicaid, and food stamps - and drove many into early retirement for reduced Social Security benefits at the age 62 - all to enrich the corporations more.

Then after the Republicans created this welfare state, they attacked those in the welfare state by attempting to deny them of all the government benefits they needed just to survive, while at the same time, allowing the corporations (and wealthiest 2%) have more tax breaks to further under-fund the federal, state, and local governments - denying the funding of all these social services.

The Republicans, for the last 30 years, have been successfully waging a two-pronged attack on the average working American...squeezing every penny they could from them, sucking them dry, and then leaving them to shrink, shrivel and die on the vine. Then afterward, denying them help from their fellow countrymen with reduced government services...and vilifying them as just lazy free-loaders on the government dole, just looking for a free government "hand-out". The Republicans and their corporate masters have been winning this class war that they have cleverly waged on the American working people.

It's wasn't enough that the Republicans (who are only beholding to the banks, corporations, and the wealthy) had killed off the middle-class for average working Americans and reduced them to poverty as the "new poor" in America, but also the Republicans have been attempting to deprive them of any humane existence at all.

The Republicans are now trying to prevent us from curbing ever more Wall Street abuse, greed, and corruption by under-funding the SEC to investigated and prosecute all the other Bernie Madoffs, those who helped destroyed the economy and housing market for the middle-class and average working Americans.

The radical Republicans have been accusing the liberals as being the "radicals", when really, who has been doing the most to break the backs of working Americans, increasing their "worker productivity" (squeezing more), just to enable the few to further enrich themselves that much more?

It was the Republicans who created the welfare state, the Democrats only supported "welfare" (social services) to care for the needs of those that the GOP created and wanted to completely destroy.

Let's be honest, who are the REAL "radicals" in this country today? The greedy Wall Streeters and corporate CEOs (with the help of their political GOP enablers)? Or the average working people who only wanted to earn an honest and decent they once could 30 years ago?

Oh, and don't you know? The Republicans also created the CORPORATE Welfare State.

History of Corporations

* Exerpted from the introduction and conclusion of The History of the Corporation by Bruce Brown (2003) with my notes and links.

The main human attribute that corporations lack is a soul, as Roger Manwood, chief baron of the Exchequer, noted as early as 1592. Since the corporations themselves, and not their souls, were immortal, they were not held accountable to the moral standards that applied to individual people.

"Corporations cannot commit treason, nor be outlawed, for they have no soul." wrote the great English legalist Edward Coke. Or as English lawyer Howel Walsh put it, "a corporation cannot blush." Thus the corporations' moral inadequacy amounted to a significant legal advantage, one of many they have accrued.

In fact, special dispensations, exemptions, and privileges of every kind imaginable are the life's blood of the corporation. Corporate members enjoyed various privileges during Roman times, such as curial immunity, and organizational privileges are evident as early as 628 A.D. in the ecclesiastic orders of the Catholic Church, the first great corporations of the post-Roman era. Modern English and French law traces the secular corporation to the concept of "franchise," which is the French Norman word for privilege.

Over the centuries, these privileges have been nurtured, entrenched, and expanded. You can get some idea of this corporate favoritism when you realize that no American corporation was indicted -- let alone convicted -- for murder until 1978. Criminal law is really a sidelight, though.

The place where corporations enjoy their biggest advantage is tax law. During the height of the Reagan era, 50 of the largest business corporations in America avoided paying any federal income tax. In many ways, modern corporations are analogous to the aristocracy of the ancient regimes.

The Catholic religious orders were never terribly good at incorporating the Christian God, but they were remarkably successful in other areas, notably acquiring wealth, mastering their human attendants, carrying out complex tasks, and perpetuating their own undying, incorporal existence.

Humanity threw off the yoke of corporate rule during the Age of Revolution, smashing many of the powerful old corporations and asserting the cause of human rights throughout the sphere of European cultural and political influence. The United States had virtually no chartered corporations at the time of Independence and the adoption of the Bill of Rights.

America proved an exceptionally fruitful ground for the corporation, though. Within 200 years, a slicked-back new breed of American for-profit corporations multiplied until they numbered in the millions and controlled the physical wealth of not just the United States, the wealthiest nation on the globe, but most of the human species.

Today – during the Second Dominion of the Corporation – our corporate lords make no pretense to serving a higher good. They wear no artfully hung drapery. The great secular corporations of the Second Dominion like Wal-Mart and Microsoft do not strive to incorporate the spirit of God, but rather the spirit of mammon, which is to say unbounded greed and the free-floating will to dominate.

Click here for Chapter One

Last year our Supreme Court ruled that multi-national corporations (who may have foreign interests) can contribute unlimited funds as campaign contributions to influence America's political elections. Do corporations have Constitutional Rights? I say reign in, and then dismantle, these evil conglomerates, who only siphon the life blood from our economy and hurt ordinary people.

From the New York Times: American corporation's use of so many tax shelters amounts to corporate welfare, allowing them not just to avoid taxes on profitable overseas lending but also to amass tax credits and write-offs that can be used to reduce taxes on billions of dollars of profit from domestic manufacturing. They say that the assertive tax avoidance of multinationals like G.E. not only shortchanges the Treasury, but also harms the economy by discouraging investment and hiring in the United States.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Our Modern Gods

In the current debate about the economy, we must also include theology, because after all, what do all the ancient Pharaohs, rulers, and kings have in common with all the present despots, dictators, czars, and presidents of today? The use of God (or gods) to control the economies (resources and wealth) to have the power and control over the masses, the peons, the subjects, the commoners, the people.

If you were a Believer, a person of Faith, a good Christian, and trusted in the Holy Bible (as Glenn Beck claims to), then wouldn't you also realize that "in the name of God" thousands upon thousands of innocent Muslims (and Jews) - - men, women, and children - - were slaughtered, mutilated, maimed, and murdered during the Holy Crusades?

This brutality and ignorance existed long after people had already become "civilized" and had learned that the Earth was not a disk floating in a ocean, like the ancient Egyptians once believed. The Church had been "enlightened" at that time, and knew that the Earth was not flat, but round.

And didn't the Church also allow for the burning of "witches" at the stake, the torture of innocents, and the rape and pillage of its "enemies"? Wasn't slavery condoned in the U.S. not too long ago by their religious Founding Fathers (and throughout the rest of the world), and weren't there mass cover-ups of pedophilia practiced by men of God in the house of God?

Weren't our earlier scientists convicted of heresy when their views of the Earth as the center of the Universe were questioned, or if the evolution of life and the Universe's creation didn't fit into the Church's faith of an 8,000 year-old Earth?

Not so long ago, we humans were savage, barbaric, and savage beasts. Today we consider ourselves "modern" and "enlightened". Didn't the Church, and humanity in general, consider themselves to be enlightened and modern 500, or even 2,000 years ago? How will we look back on ourselves 500 years from now? Aren't we STILL ignorant, savage, and barbaric? Isn't this inherent in human beings, who always try to put themselves on the same level as their Creator, claiming they've now become more "enlightened" because of their new technologies?

In 2011 the most intelligent human beings on the planet Earth tells us that the age of our Universe is 13.7 billion years old. That's odd, considering that just a mere 2,000 years ago our ancient ancestors had no comprehension of our Sun or Moon, and thought they were gods.

Now our brightest and most talented physicists, using string theory, are now guessing that our Universe may be just one of many, perhaps billions, of other universes.

And not too long ago (in perspective to the age of our Universe), God never even existed until another human being had told us so. What else might we humans learn after another 2,000 years have passed, that is, if we don't become another mass extinction like so many others in Earth's past?

God, the Master of the Universe, is "all knowing", and knows all our thoughts. But "He" gave us humans FREE WILL, so "He" does not need to micro-manage all 6.75 billion of us. And why would the Almighty and all-knowing God want to? As ignorant and as barbaric as humans are, I would think that God would get bored very quickly and have better things to do with His time...such as create a much better Universe with more civilized human beings.

Not until about 500 years ago could we humans even believe in extra-terrestrials and the existence of aliens. Man seems to have started imagining life on other worlds as soon as we realized that there were other worlds, when we learned that the Earth was a planet, and that other objects in the sky were also planets, not just tiny points of light in the sky.

It was Nicolaus Copernicus who first discovered that the Earth orbits the Sun, thereby displacing the Earth from the center of our Universe. The Holy Church wasn't very happy about that. What will the Church think 2,000 years from now, that is, if we still exist? What would humans of all faiths and religious beliefs think of our supreme entity, the One who created billions and billions of universes, each with incomprehensible distances just between the points of two very insignificant stars (Suns)?

But our Maker need not micro-manage each one of His beings, not His least (such as an ameba), nor even His most intelligent creatures who bear life (whatever THEY might be). No more than my ex-boss, or an American congressman, or any other bureaucrat or human being like myself need not micro-manage my life. But when one has the power over another, they all aspire to do be gods themselves.

Our creator made man in the image of Himself, but instilled greed in us, then says He gave us "free will". The will to have more than others so that others may do without, suffer, and die. Man's inhumanity to man. It's God's doing, an Act of God, it's God's way, it's God's "will". Humans, God's creation, then lays God to blame for everything evil it seems. God created evil too.

Much like an American limited liability corporation who wishes to deflect blame, then blames a worker, fires him, and says "It must have been just another disgruntled employee who unjustly blames us. We did no wrong." But an all-knowing God knows better, but He isn't micro-managing the human condition, so the unemployed whistle-blower goes without, suffers, then he dies. The corporation has higher earnings. The others see the fate of this man, does nothing, and cowardly thinks to themselves: "There but for the grace of God, go I." (As though they really believed in a loving God.)

Unlike our ancient ancestors 2,000 years ago, in a modern society in the year of our Lord 2011, as a civilized society we no longer offer sacrifices to the gods for a better harvest next year. Today we just deprive the worker, blame him, insult him, deny him help, allow him to do without, watch him suffer, and then be thankful when he dies. One less "carbon foot print", less resources to be used, more for the others. Greed.

In one of a billion universes that is 13.7 billion years old, the most intelligent and compassionate beings that humans have ever known, have evolved into thinking that they can make decisions that only God can make, if He had ever micro-managed us.

Today in 2011 we don't depend on God's mercy to sustain or save us. We have been reduced to relying on the mercy of our bosses, the bankers, the politicians, and our corporate masters to have mercy upon us. They are the cruel and barbaric savages who would slaughter, rape, pillage, maim, murder, and butcher innocent men, women, and children. They've been doing it all along, so how much has mankind changed since the days of the Holy Crusades?

There are those who build and use weapons for corporate profits, and those who take bribes to enable them to do so. A man is deprived of a livelihood for himself and his family so that such things may be built in foreign countries for higher profits, and the greedy ones went into hiding behind "limited liability partnerships" to escape the personal responsibility of destroying other people's lives.

Wasn't Faith, Religion, and God really just invented by man to control other men, just so that the few (the "powers that be") could have the power to control the masses, and therefore, the hoard the wealth? Such as the Pope and the church? Did the big bankers and CEOs aspire to replace God?

When I see these pompous people dressed in their expensive suits and ties on TV, appearing "civilized", I'm reminded of how humanity is no less cruel, barbaric, and savage than those who had slaughtered the innocents during the Holy Crusades. How these world and community "leaders" continue with their rape and pillage of humanity, denying the resources needed by "commoners" to sustain God's precious life. They have used their power to dictate "justice", sat in judgment, and decided who may live and be gods.

They have always lied and deceive the masses for personal gain; ruthless and evil in their ambitions to obtain power and wealth, to rule the be gods.

Just as we once did thousands of years ago, the commoners must now bear witness to these false gods, adore the money changers, and praise the golden calf, to survive in our "modern" society. In the 21st century, we must kneel to our more modern gods, just like the wealthy Pope...and pray to the MONEY MASTERS of the Universe...those that Glenn Beck places on the alter and idolizes. Did he too believe that he was also a god when he hosted his "Restoring Honor" rally in Washington DC? He pontificated as though only he knew who the truly good Christians were.

I wonder who Glenn Beck thinks are the truly good Muslims and Jews? If he were a good Christian during the Holy Crusades, what would he have been doing during that time in human history? Would he have been a priest or a money changer? Or would he have carried a sword?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Does the GOP's "Smaller Government" Mean Forced Abortions?

Since the Republicans and Tea Party members swept into office, we no longer hear the Speaker of the House John Boehner asking "Where are the jobs?" Instead the GOP has been focused on the federal funding of abortions. But if less babies were killed, wouldn't that increase our population base, thereby creating a "bigger government", and in turn, a larger budget deficit? If a whole bunch of young single moms starting having babies, wouldn't we need MORE social services, not LESS?

I'm not taking a moral stand or preaching either PRO or ANTI abortion, I'm just asking the questions. Because I see a HUGE dilemma in cutting the budget when more government services are actually needed with a naturally growing population base, as opposed to lowering the taxes on the uber-rich when all the government budgets are already severely lacking revenues. Does that make sense to you?

The Republicans have been trying to convince voters NOT to raise taxes on top 2% to erase our budget deficits. Quite the opposite; the GOP is now attempting to actually LOWER taxes on the uber-rich with their false arguments about "creating jobs".

The Republicans have always represented the larger corporations and big banks rather than average working people...that's why so many jobs left the country and we now have such high unemployment and huge budget short-falls. And that's why during the Great Recession the rich got richer while the poor got poorer - and that's why the Republican's plan to cut the budget only hurts the very people that they put out of work over the last 30 years - and who the Republicans have also just recently reduced to poverty, because of deregulation in the financial industry.

Now quite ironically, it appears as if the GOP and Tea Party are trying to increase government (the population base), but at the same time, deny all those people a way to survive. Sure, they could cut funding for all abortions and all social services entirely, but will that mean that people will just stop having babies? I DON'T THINK SO! Unless you live in China, where abortion is actually forced on people to control their population growth.

The GOP and Tea Party's mantra is "smaller government" and "cut the budget", even though the U.S. population* grew by 100 million more just since 1970. And 30 years from now the U.S. Census predicts another 100 million. The U.S. population IS the "government", so how does the GOP and Tea Party propose we achieve this "smaller government"?

* Currently our government consists of 308 million people, half of which are our workforce. Of those 154 million, 25% are under and unemployed, and the federal poverty rate is now at 17.3%.

And we are living longer too. Life expectancy has hit another all-time high, rising to 78 years and 2 months for a baby born in 2009. The infant mortality rate also hit a record low of 6.42 deaths per 1,000 live births, a drop of nearly 3 percent from 2008. Many more Americans will be living, and they will be living longer. What does the Tea Party want? Population control? Forced abortions? "Smaller government"? Or shouldn't they just raise the capital gains taxes on billionaire's personal income who don't expand businesses or hire people from their personal funds, but instead, just earn paper profits and then hoard their wealth.

The Bush Tax Cuts were crumbs for average working folks but were a HUGE windfall for the uber-rich. Now we have HUGE budget deficits and the GOP wants to lower taxes for the rich even more, layoff more government workers, bust labor unions, and cut social services for all the poor people they created.

That's the GOP's plan for invigorating they U.S. economy: Create more poor people, then deny them government help by cutting the budget, then lowering taxes for the rich to make them richer. Meanwhile the jobs continue to hemorrhage to other countries all over the world to "emerging markets" where American corporations can pay them with cheaper labor (enabling foreigners to have an income to buy their goods for a higher profit margin).

So tell me, if your household earnings (whether through employee wages or from a small business) netted less than $250,000 a year, why would you even be a member of the Tea Party, vote Republican, or believe anything you hear on Fox News? Unless of course you were a corporate CEO whose salary was primarily paid in stock-options paying a low capital gains tax. (I also once thought that what was good for my boss and his company, was also good for me. Ha-ha!) So tell me, why do Americans always vote against their own self-interests?

Read: Rising Wealth Inequality: Should We Care? by Michael I. Norton

"Why do Americans seem unperturbed about the growing gap between the rich and the poor? Many studies have shown that income inequality is rising. In several different types of communities, median family income is lower now than 30 years ago. In a recent survey of Americans, my colleague Dan Ariely and I found that Americans drastically underestimated the level of wealth inequality in the United States. While recent data indicates that the richest 20 percent of Americans own 84 percent of all wealth, people estimated that this group owned just 59 percent – believing that total wealth in this country is far more evenly divided among poorer Americans. What’s more, when we asked them how they thought wealth should be distributed, they told us they wanted an even more equitable distribution, with the richest 20 percent owning just 32 percent of the wealth. This was true of Democrats and Republicans, rich and poor – all groups we surveyed approved of some inequality, but their ideal was far more equal than the current level."

Why then, given the consensus on this more equal America, are Americans not clamoring for redistribution?

The actual United States wealth distribution plotted against the estimated and ideal distributions across all respondents. See more details.

The uber-rich has most the money now, but they don't want to share. But yet you always vote for Republicans to continue this massive redistribution of our nation's wealth to the very few. WHY?

It all boils down to this: The Republicans (and Tea Party, which ITSELF is a corporation) wants to:
  • Lower taxes on all the corporations who outsource domestic jobs to foreign countries; 
  • and also wants to lower taxes on the uber- rich, thereby  creating a much larger budget deficit;
  • while paying less in government services to the growing poor that the corporations and uber-rich created;
  • as the U.S has an ever-increasing population base, but with higher unemployment;
  • with ever more babies being born into poor families with no federal funding for any social services such as healthcare, unemployment benefits, food stamps, and abortions. 
The rich can buy all the abortions they want, and if the U.S. population doubled next year, the people that the GOP and Tea Party* represents couldn't give a damn, so long as they don't have to contribute one dollar more to our American society. As far as they're concerned, America as a country could go bankrupt tomorrow, why would they care? They'll have their loaf of bread.

* This could almost be funny (from a Tea Party newsletter):

Tea Party Patriots, Inc. operates as a social welfare organization organized under section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code. Contributions to Tea Party Patriots, Inc. are not deductible as charitable contributions for income tax purposes.

1025 Rose Creek Dr, 620-322
Woodstock, GA 30189 

READ: As Tea Party Koch Brothers Earned An Extra $11 Billion In Recent Years, They Laid Off Thousands

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

There's nothing FREE about a Government "Hand-Out"

We've all heard the saying: "Nothing in life is free." Nothing could be more true when trying to game the system while attempting to get a free government "hand-out". I know, I tried. It wasn't at all like Glenn Beck told me it would be. There was nothing "free" about it.

After hearing so much about these wonderful benefits I just couldn't wait to take advantage of these extravagant privileges. I had to plan ahead and put a lot of effort into "gaming the system". First, I had to get laid off from my job after breaking my back for 38 years. Then I had to get rejected for jobs for another two years while collecting half my previous salary in unemployment benefits. Then I had to cash out my IRA and life's savings to make the rent and car payments. After that I had to fall three months behind in all my bills, get my car towed away, and get evicted from my home...leaving behind most of my possessions. It wasn't easy, but I finally did it...I qualified for a government hand-out.

Let me say, if running the government were like running a business, the government would have went bankrupt 200 years ago if it weren't for annual taxpayer-paid bailouts. Also, the government's customer service department really sucks when attempting to manipulate the system for taxpayer-paid freebies. I would have filed a complaint if anyone would have listened, but talking to a government bureaucrat is like talking to a brick wall.

My wonderful odessy began when I first applied for food stamps. Then my second experience was trying to get the IRS to prepare my income tax return. My latest adventure was when I saught medical help. Here's my opinion of free government hand-outs.

I just got back from the Clark County Social Services to apply for a temporary medical card...and today was just one part of a long and tortuous process - - - but today was just a short 7 hour ordeal. They sure don't make it easy for you when trying to apply for government assistance.

First there were all the redundant and complicated forms to fill out with contradictory instructions. Then I had those phone calls to make where I would usually get lost in a maze of menus before I was finally left on hold for 45 minutes, only to be told I had to call another number. With all the paperwork and appointments, I really needed a private secretary to help me keep track of it all. What ever happened to the Paperwork Reduction Act? How many trees have died because of me?

There were the appointments to keep where I had to schedule transportation and then endure long lines outside in the cold and rain. When I was finally allowed in, I was told to empty my pockets for a security check because evidently there is a high level of threat for violence in government buildings when people go there to get free stuff. I guess some ingrates just don't appreciate a good thing when they're being offered these "goodies" for free. Once I was allowed into the building I had to spend a few more hours waiting in a hard plastic chair (with a sore back). I was really starting to enjoy myself after 7 hours of this, so you can understand why I hated to see this day end.

But in the end, after all that, I got a government medical card.

Yes, when one is suffering with debilitating and painful health problems, there's nothing more fun that dealing with a government bureaucracy. And it goes both ways:  I could tell that those government workers really enjoyed dealing with people like me too...all the hobos, the has-beens, the unemployed, the alcoholics, the drug addicts, the lazy no-good bums who are only trying to game the system and get a free government hand-out.

Oh yes indeed, I can tell you right now. The very LAST thing that I would ever want to do was to flirt with a pretty co-worker, sit in a warm office, or have a clean restroom to use at work. No way Jose! No sir! Put me on the government dole any day of the week!

I can see why all those honest and hard-working taxpayers resent and hate me so much. The nerve of me, a low-life dirty scum bucket hobo like me, who dares to ask for a doctor appointment because I was discriminated against for getting a make-believe job that had already been sent to China 3 years ago. I don't blame those good Americans for wanting me to climb back under my rock to die. I deserve to. The nerve of me!

Yet when it comes to cutting the budget, the very first thing the Republicans do is put a bull's eye on government programs that care for these scumbags like me, (rather than cutting a B-2 Stealth Bomber from the Pentagon's wish list). We just launched 114 cruise missiles at Libya at a cost of 1.5 million each to protect THEIR people (a "humanitarian cause"), but our people in the good ole U.S.A. can live in the streets and die under slimy rocks. Our unemployed aren't worth saving but our government appears to have a bottomless pit when it comes to war spending. Go figure.

But all in all, I'm just tickled pink by all this free stuff that a lazy stiff like myself can get, instead of going to a regular job and doing an honest days work to actually earn money. I don't miss my company-paid one-hour lunch breaks in the cafeteria at all! No way! I'm so glad I don't get THOSE free meals anymore!

Yes, those free government hand-outs are the greatest...and who knows, maybe next year they'll send me to Hawaii too!

Now, for Mister Glenn Beck and the GOP and Tea you want the truth? I used to be in one of those dreaded labor unions that you hate so much when I last worked, so I once had good and humane healthcare insurance.

I miss the old days when I had a full-time job and had FREE employer-provided healthcare insurance. If I was ever sick and wanted to see a doctor or dentist (or an optometrist for eye glasses), all I had to do was call my primary care healthcare provider to set up an appointment. I usually got to speak to a REAL LIVE person and I could set the date and time at MY convenience, not theirs. And they addressed me with respect and called me "Mister" Meyers, as though I were a real human being who deserved respect.

And on the very day of my doctor's appointment I could also take a "sick day" from work and get paid by my employer for the privilege of going to see the doctor. Can you imagine that? Wow! But this can't be near as good as getting all those government "goodies" for free, right?

And to think the unemployed are called free-loaders just looking for a government hand-out. This "free stuff" was the biggest pain in my butt I've every had to get for free in my life. If this is what "being on the dole" is like, give me a back-breaking job any day!

OK, no more doesn't help anyway, but I just wanted you all to know that I wasn't sitting in a Jacuzzi somewhere living the high-life and trying to dream up new ways of how best to screw those poor hard-working taxpayers...those people that hate me for seeing a damn doctor on their pathetic dime. Let THEM trying getting a free government "hand-out" sometime and then tell me how easy I have it.

And besides, I've already paid federal, state, county, city, excise, property, gas, and sales taxes for 38 what exactly am I getting for "free"?

And guess what? That medical card I got today is only good for two months. So if I still qualify, I'll have to go through the whole process all over again just to renew it for another two months. Boy, that sure gives me something to look forward to! I can hardly wait!

And this is the REAL kicker. When I got home to make a doctor's appointment the very soonest they could see me is still several weeks away...just ONE WEEK before my medical card expires!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

"The end is ALWAYS near!"

From Fame to Food Stamps -The Novel


He felt an intense and irrational fear, because although he knew he wouldn't see them, he knew he would feel their stares from the shadowed windows...the stranger's eyes from next door and across the street, penetrating and peering into his soul. He felt ashamed, because he knew they would see his disgrace, the failure he had desperately wanted to hide from the world. He felt helpless, because he knew he couldn't hide or escape their judgment. They would know, and there was nothing he could do. And now he had to face them again.

He put on his black sunglasses and pulled his baseball cap down tightly over his forehead, then took a deep breath and silently opened his front door. Now the invisible eyes were wide upon him; he could feel their prying eyes as he softly closed the door behind him. He felt his beating heart pounding wildly inside his chest.

He turned the key, locking the door, and with his head down in shame, began walking towards the dumpster. He went through this horrifying ritual once a week, late at night, when most people were sound asleep. He walked the 50 yards to the dumpster, and heavily breathing, threw the large plastic bag inside, then quickly turned around and walked back to his apartment.

When he was finally back inside, relief washed over him as he pulled the cap off his head, grateful to be back inside the safe and familiar confines of his small apartment. He was almost certain that no one had seen him this time, although he was never quite sure. But it was a risk he had to take, until now. He had always hated this weekly chore, fearful they might learn something that even he didn't know about himself. But this time was different, because this week was his very last trip to the dumpster. He was grateful that he would never have to go through this hell again.

After that night, Bud Meyers had never taken his trash out again, but opting instead, to let the large plastic garbage bags just pile up on his balcony porch for the last three weeks of his life - - - until the day he finally picked up the 357 magnum and shot himself in the head.

Chapter One

At 55 years old, he had always had a job, ever since he was a senior in high school - and that was the reason for him dropping out of school, to work and be with his friends. Bud Meyers had never aspired to being a wealthy man, just to have enough money to say he was free and independent. Of course, at 17 years old, the cost of freedom was high without a college education, cash in the bank, or even a car. When he had left his father's home for the very last time, it was as a run-a-way.

At first he bounced around from one person's house to the next until he eventually found a place to live. His father had co-signed an auto loan for him so he would at least have a car to drive. The year had been 1973, the car, a 1967 Pontiac Grand Prix.

Now 38 years later Bud reminisces and wishes he still had that car. Hell, any car would be nice right about now. The Chrysler Sebring he had been making payments on for the last three years had been towed away several weeks ago, just after he was evicted from his apartment. Besides leaving most of his other possessions behind, Bud had also left several large plastic bags of trash on his balcony porch.

Today he's living on borrowed time, borrowed from a stranger who took him in and fed him. He had been destitute and close to being homeless...or, according to him, dead. He had always claimed that being a homeless man was never an option for him. Then at the last minute, a woman who was familiar with his plight, took him in.

Bud now lives in a room with the TV that he managed to salvage, and he also has a computer that another kind stranger had donated to him after hearing about his close brush with the street (or death). The woman whose house he lives in also has a dog, a Chinese Shar-Pei named "Fu".

Considering the circumstances, Bud feels lucky to be where he is today, although he's now without a car, a job, or one red cent in the bank. Like 8 million other people, he's been unemployed for over 2 and half years since the start of the Great Recession, so his situation isn't all that unusual. Millions of average hard-working Americans suddenly had the rug pulled out from under them. Many, if not most, had lost their life's savings, their kid's college funds, their retirement funds, their cars, their homes, and many, their lives. So for now, Bud feels lucky because he's not a homeless man, and he's still breathing.

But because he's now without a car, and because he's 55 years old, and because his credit is no good now, and because he's been unemployed for so long, and because of the still weak economy, and because of his declining health, the odds are about 8-million-to-1 that he'll ever find gainful employment in his life ever again. Bud's future looks bleak; his life, as he once knew it, is most likely over - gone forever.

Despite all this, and the constant back pain and anxiety Bud feels every day, he still feels lucky. But just for now, because he lives from day to day. Last month he was approved for 6 months of food stamps, so for now, at least he can pay for his own food - but he's still at the mercy of  this woman - who he hopes will never one day say, "I'm sorry Bud, but it's just not working out. Tomorrow you'll have to find another place to live."

But he has no other place to go - so essentially, Bud lives every day of his life just one day away from homelessness; yet he has always claimed that being a homeless man was never an option for him. So for Bud, every day "the end is ALWAYS near" - just one day away from death.

Chapter Two

"Damn! I came so close!" he thought to himself after just waking up from a fitful afternoon nap. He had awoken himself while talking in his sleep, something he had been doing regularly for the past several months. While he didn't actually remember his dreams, or what he had been saying, he always woke up with a disturbing sense of doom.

Since Bud Meyers had first moved in with Tami, he felt like he had been living in a sort of suspended animation, almost like being frozen in time...between life and death. His past was gone forever and his future was as unknown as the Singularity, the exact point of time of the Universe's creation. For the last two months Bud has been living in a state of Limbo, half way between two forms of existence, on a high wire stretched between two tall buildings on a windy day, with no safety net underneath. Precariously balanced, both physically and mentally, with no control at all.

As usual, when he had woke up his TV had been on, and in his groggy state, had carefully maneuvered himself to the edge of the bed into a sitting position...his lower back throbbing with the consistent gnawing ache.

After a couple of minutes he used the edge of the nearby desk to help leverage himself into a standing position, then slowly, half hunched, he walked around the corner of the bed and quietly opened the bedroom door - and when he saw that Tami's dog was not waiting at the door for him to make his grand appearance, Bud then preceded to the front door to go outside and sit on the porch to have a cigarette.

He looked up at the sunny sky and noted that it was truly a beautiful Spring day, with wisps of white cotton clouds blowing slowly East in the gentle warm wind.

The front yard, and the immediate neighbor's, provided him with his current panoramic view. That's basically his whole world now - the bedroom and the porch, except for once a month when Tami would drive him to the store to buy food with his monthly allotment of food stamps. Most of his days are spent either prone in bed watching TV, or sitting in 30 minute incremental sessions at the computer to write and read - email, news articles, and blogs. Other than that, his waking hours during the daytime consists of a morning cup of coffee and occasional cat naps...until he falls asleep at night. His demons and pains constantly nag him, in both his waking and sleeping hours.

He doesn't live like a retiree, and although it's not house arrest, it is a form of confinement or imprisonment, with limited abilities and activities, restricted because of transportation, finances, and physical pain.

His latest battle has been trying to get free medical treatment, a gauntlet by anybody's standards...and then attempting to get financial help with Social Security disability. A HUGE battle that he can only pray and hope he will have the strength to mentally and physically to see through.

But other than that, it truly was a beautiful Spring day. He only wished he could better enjoy it. And just like his life, he wondered where the clouds would blow once they left his small world.

- - - On sale at a book store near you! - - -

"From Fame to Food Stamps" is a true account of a man named Bud Meyers who had worked as a casino bartender in Las Vegas for 20 years before Wall Street had looted America and crippled the economy...creating the Great Recession. After being laid off from his job, like millions of other jobless Americans, he too had lost everything. And like all the other unemployed people of the day, he had also been vilified, called names, insulted, and blamed for his though his fellow countrymen, those who still had jobs, had forgotten all about the gangsters who had destroyed the financial and housing markets. Bud had assumed that because average hard-working people couldn't exact their revenge on the big bankers (and maybe fearful of losing their own lobs), it was much easier to take out their frustrations on the most vulnerable...the jobless. For over two years Bud had endured their accusations and criticisms until one day, he had had enough. It was time for him to exact his own revenge. Only it wasn't the big bankers he was going after, but his tormentors.

"A riveting, gripping,  fascinating, and insightful story of one man's struggle during America's greatest economic disaster since the 1930s." ~ New York Times

"A call to arms to the greed in America and those who would kick a man when he's down." ~ Time Magazine

"I couldn't believe the cruelty of our own people and sitting members of Congress towards those who had suffered the most during this most shameful time in our country's history." ~ The Huffington Post

"A real page turner - I read it in one sitting - I just couldn't put it down. I couldn't wait to find out how it ended!" ~ Oprah Winfrey 

"Hold on to your seat, this is a roller coaster ride! The best hair-raising psychological suspense thrillers of all time, I can't wait to see the movie!" ~ Rolling Stone Magazine

"Just another lazy radical left-wing Socialist trying to destroy America, begging for a government hand-out, and wanting to spread the wealth around." ~ Glenn Beck (Corporate shill at Fox News)

Oprah Winfrey's BOOK OF THE MONTH CLUB! 

* 100 comments on this post will get you Chapter Three. 5,000 comments will get you all the way to the Epilogue.

* * Disclaimer: The "book reviews" are only a parody.