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Poverty, John Edwards, and the American Dream

  • Posted on August 5, 2014 at 3:15 pm

In the beginning of this video from John Oliver he talks about income inequality, you know whether you get your HBO legally or illegally.  I had to laugh from the get go as I have to go to watch John from YouTube because I don’t have HBO.   John has such a way of getting to the heart of things and explaining how we are too stupid for our own good.  It was even funny when he said we have to have some Brit telling us what we probably should already know, and wouldn’t you know it he is a Brit as well.

It isn’t easy for politicians to push in this area because corporations and the wealthy are really driving the political agenda.  The last politician that really talked about poverty and inequality was John Edwards.  His own personal issues took him down, you know having an affair on his cancer stricken wife, and this essentially put a damper on the issues he was talking about, poverty and inequality.  He was going to be the voice for the voiceless.  John’s agenda was the driving force of the 2008 election.  He took Senator Bobby Kennedy’s 1968 trip through Middle America to put a spotlight on the issues of the poor and disenfranchised.  It wasn’t Hillary or Barak that were driving the discussion.  John was the one hitting on Hillary and trying to get Barak to chime in during debates.  John was the one that talked about fair wages and single payer.  John may have been an imperfect messenger but killing the messenger seems to have killed the message.  It really makes me wonder why other politicians can do what John did and survive politically.  Could it be the message that was really the target?

Are politicians today so corrupt and tied to their corporate masters that they cannot see what it is doing to our country?Perhaps they just don’t care?  When I was young, I had politicians that I looked up to, respected, and even idealized.  Bobby Kennedy was one of them.  These are his words, “It is a revolutionary world we live in. Governments repress their people; and millions are trapped in poverty while the nation grows rich; and wealth is lavished on armaments.”

These timely words could have been spoken today.  Our country is far more concerned about the military machine than the plight of the poor and middle class.  The ideals of my youth have grown to skepticism in my maturing age.  The people that seem to make the most sense about political matters are entertainers like Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, and John Oliver.  With the exceptions of Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, I cannot name politicians that make me feel that sense of respect and admiration for standing up for what is right and just.  There is a gap in our country between the rich and the poor, the powerbrokers and the bottom feeders that just try to be that crab in the basket that wants so badly to reach the top.  Someone at the bottom keeps tugging him down and someone at the top puts a lid on the pot.  In the end, he is cooked into a system that has no freedom because he is stuck to a class system that only recognizes the rich and the connected.  If you have connections, you are going places.  If you are poor, you are probably stuck in a system that is working to keep you down and under control.  I always find it interesting that your credit report can be tied to so many things that help or hurt you.  If you have good credit, you get lower insurance, lower interest on loans, and more respect.  If you are poor and you have a tough time paying your bills, you can now expect even more problems because your credit is going to tie you to a life of debt.  They say we don’t have a debtor’s prison any more but that really is not true.  Students getting out of college soon discover they have a world of hurt when they start trying to pay back their student loans.  Those loans can follow them for their entire life if they are stuck in some low wage job with no chance of real promotion.

I know I tend to rant about certain things but I am an observer in a system that I see is stacked for certain people.  It doesn’t matter where you live today, there seems to be two different worlds:  The world for the rich and connected and the one for everyone else.  If you or your family is “someone” in your community, then you will have a better chance at those connections, even if you aren’t wealthy.  They can lead to jobs, scholarships, and ultimately success.  If you are poor with few or no connections, you are like the crab in the pot.  You have to work extra hard to climb to the top.  Some at the bottom will be pulling you down and sometimes it is through their own lack of understanding the system.  It always amazes me when the poor vote for people backed by the right wing establishment.  These people are controlled through religion and do-goodery.  Yeah, I made that word up, so deal with it.  They are so busy trying to be on the right side of the “Kingdom of God” that they forget about the here and now.  They believe that old Biblical saying about the rich and the camel through the eye of a needle when it comes to heaven.  They are kept stupid by a system that wants to maintain the status quo.  They sacrifice their kids for war because they are inclined to believe that wars really matter.  They don’t believe in global warming because they have been told that these things are cyclical.  They are waiting for the rapture and worried about public schools putting some harebrained idea in their kids’ heads.  Then there are the other poor:  The ones that are so down on their economic luck that they have lost all hope.  They don’t see how they can change anything.  They may not be into religion and surely don’t bother to vote because they don’t have the time to worry about such matters.  They are too tired trying to keep food on the table and their bills paid.  Life for them is just a continuous sucking machine of bad luck and meager existence.

From my perspective, as a nation we seem to be more concerned with the poor in other countries than in our own.  I used to feel that sense of pride in my country and what “we” stood for in the world.  Today I have many mixed feelings.  Maybe I have become immune to the propaganda.  It is hard when I watch protesters screaming at kids on the border.  That behavior is in direct contrast to what I thought we were as a nation.  It is hard when I can remember being a student at Michigan State University back in the seventies and I was full of idealism.  Reality is so much more complicated than that young idealism that I held in my youth.  I worry about the young students I teach today.  What kind of world we are leaving them?  If they are poor and not connected what do they have to look forward to, a world of debt and stress?  People used to be able to live a good life by working for GM on the line.  Today, that just isn’t possible.  Most families need two incomes and if you are poor, you are probably going to need some kind of assistance to have a decent life.  I do not have all the answers I just know that the politicians today disappoint me with their constant representation of their corporate donors and not the poor and the voiceless.

Mitt and Mini Mitt

  • Posted on August 14, 2012 at 7:37 pm

( Justin Sullivan / Getty Images ) Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) speaks as Mitt Romney looks on during a campaign rally at the NASCAR Technical Institute in Mooresville, N.C.

By now, everyone knows that Mitt Romney has made his VP choice.  I have had a few days to digest this information and really feel that Mitt just picked himself in many ways.  Not that Ryan had the same life as Mitt but Ryan looks a lot like any one of Mitt’s sons.  I saw the two of them on stage together wearing similar shirts.  It reminded me of an image I can remember of my many brothers lined up in their white shirts and dark pants, except for the pattern on the candidate’s shirts.  The image of Representative Ryan is that of an all-American family, much like Mitt’s image.  However, the family that currently resides in the Whitehouse is just as all-American as Mitt’s family except for the ingrained image White America has of themselves.  In many ways, the image Mitt portrays is a message he continually sends out when he refers to President Obama as not sharing your values.  This ad is a message about values that I personally find repugnant.

I personally believe in a separation of church and state.  I do not believe President Obama has declared a war on religion.  However, the image and message are clear.  If you are white, the president does not share your religious values.  He probably wasn’t even born in this country and he probably isn’t a Christian.

Therefore, we have the two religious candidates that share our collective values, a Mormon and a right wing Catholic.  I’m not sure that those protesting nuns agree with Representative Ryan on his vision for the poor, so maybe they too are un-American because they don’t share these exact values.

We are not all the same.  The beauty of our country is the fact that we are a melting pot of people, cultures, and ideas.  I believe our greatest strength is the diversity of our people.  With our diversity we are able to develop and create new ideas and stimulate thinking beyond the cookie cutter mode of one size fits all.  We are not a cookie cutter nation where the religious right owns our brains.  We can and must think for ourselves.

As an educator, I am appalled to be inundated with narrow-minded thinking that implies we are all of the same values…one size religion for everyone.  How many times are we going to be told that we are a “Christian” nation?  In our country, we are able to be what we want to be whether it involves religion or it doesn’t.  No one has to buy into any of this nonsense.  It’s like a subtle brain washing.  I always thought that religion was a personal matter between a person and their God.  I have never looked to a politician for my values and I doubt I ever will.   When I think of most politicians and how they got where they are I certainly don’t think of religion.  It’s backroom deals and money that talks.  You scratch my back and I’ll scratch your back.  We largely don’t have control over whom we get to vote for because it’s the money that gets them where they are.  It isn’t God and it isn’t love of country.  This is the same old crap they roll out every year to get the masses on board for the next big thing (You know tax cuts for the wealthy and shared sacrifice for everyone else).  They put up something about how religious they are and stupid sheep follow them.  Take your blinders off and see these people for what they really are.

Mitt Romney was a man born with a silver spoon in his mouth.  He used his own religion to get out of fighting in the Vietnam War.  He has five sons that will never go to battle for anyone except a hostile takeover of some company.  He had a “cushy” gig in France where he tried to convert French Catholics to the Mormon Church.  I think he converted two.  While he was there, he had a car accident that I would like to know more about than I’m currently reading on the web.  He is wealthy beyond our imaginations and he won’t let us know about his taxes because it’s none of our business.  He has a lot of money outside of this country and we are supposed to believe that is a patriotic thing to do.

Then there is Representative Ryan who cannot wait to dig in and dismantle the social programs created by FDR.  Here is a man that lived on the safety net of Social Security and Pell Grants but wants to deny them for the future citizens of this country.  He wants more breaks for the wealthy and less for the poor and middle class.  He believes in the same old trickle down bullshit the Republicans have been spewing for years.

I don’t see the pick of Ryan as being that big of a stretch for Mitt.  They both are really after the same things.  With these guys, the rich get richer and the poor look for the scraps left by the rich.  Social programs and social justice, those things we were taught in church when we were kids are just some left wing Commie plot that we should avoid.  In their world, they are self-made men and the rest of the world better get in line and pull up their bootstraps.

Last night I was talking to my son and he told me he watched “The Dictator”.  Now I am not a Sacha Cohen fan but Josh wanted me to watch the dictator’s speech on Youtube, so I did.  What can we learn from this?  Where is our democracy?  I will leave you with the dictator’s speech, as it is a parody filled with truth!

Some of the American People……

  • Posted on August 8, 2011 at 3:23 pm

According to the President, the United States hails some of the most productive workers in the world.  I would say words matter Mr. President.  Today you said there were two things we could do.  I waited anxiously to hear about taxing the wealthy and creating a jobs bill.  Neither one was one of the two.  According to you the two things we can do is make cuts to Medicare and “reform” the tax code.  You still are repeating the same old sorry agenda that got us into this mess.  Shame on you!  You have chosen to follow the “Bush” agenda from dealing with the economy to continuing in endless made up wars!

President Bush came from a structure of corruption and bankruptcy.  The businesses that he and his family have been involved in have many questionable features.  Whether it was the sale of his Harkin oil, his daddy’s deal back in 1989 to grant a national security waiver for the sale of two Hughes Aircraft company satellites to China, Neil’s Savings and Loan scandal, or Jeb’s defaulted loan from Broward Federal Savings and Loan any way you look at it, Bush came from a family of corruption.

Yet, somehow he managed to get those corrupt hands on our government.  Bush became President and ushered in the Bush tax cuts and the notion of endless war.  He destroyed what little gain we had made under the Clinton years with these moves.  However, ultimately with these moves the rich were allowed to get richer and the regular people and the poor were appeased by their personal tax cut not realizing that their personal wealth would eventually shrink and their wages would stagnate.  The American people were fooled by the Carny of all carnies.  So, I ask you Mr. President why you would choose to continue this fraud on the American people.  What are you getting out of this?  Your speech didn’t inspire confidence in the American people.  I was ready to give you a break.  After all, the Tea Party has literally brought us to the brink of disaster with their game playing.  However, it appears that you are right there with them!  You stand there ever the “Pied Piper” expecting us to follow your melody and jump into the sea with you.  This is not leading.  The small mention of jobs was so miniscule that it’s obviously not something you spend a great deal of time worrying about.  That crack about “some” of the American people are the most productive in the world was really quite un-American in its left handed compliment.   In other words, some of the American people suck!  I guess the “suckiest” one of all, is you!  You fail to inspire people to do the right thing.

The priority in this country should be jobs.   The only way we are going to compete in the future is if we start working now on building up what we’ve lost in this country.  We don’t even have to go to the big cities any more to see where our infrastructure is failing.  We can drive over any road in America and know that something needs to be done.  We can visit any town or city in America and see abandoned buildings where there once was a bustling factory or store front!  We need to revive our country and make it have a first class infrastructure.  Take the money out of defense and put it into our infrastructure because this has become a national defense problem.   We have the best military in the world.  We spend more than all the other nations combined to get it.  However, what is it fighting for?  Is it fighting to keep our American values here at home?  If that is the case, then we are losing the war because our jobs have been outsourced and believe it or not people are valued by what they do.  Why else would we refer to people as being a “lazy bum” or a “brilliant surgeon”?  With so many people in our country out of work what do you think they feel like?  I believe most people want to be productive in our society.  So, when you say “some” of the most productive workers in the world, I have to wonder what you mean by that.  People need to be inspired Mr. President.  They need to know that everything possible is being done to get our country on the right track for the masses, not just for the wealthy.  The divide in this country is continuing to grow deeper and deeper.  You are in Washington D.C. surrounded by other people of wealth.  I suggest visiting the real world for a change.  You live in an artificial world that just doesn’t understand what it means to be out of work without any real new prospects for work.  You live in an Ivory Tower surrounded by corruption where deals are made every day that don’t take the middle class and the voiceless poor into consideration.  You live in a world where no bid contracts are given out in places like Iraq, probably in exchange for some political apple polishing for the next big political race.  You live in a world where talk is cheap about transparency but where the American people are always the last to really know when they have been royally screwed.  The problem in our government Mr. President isn’t just that you lack leadership.  The problem with our government is that you probably are right.  “Some” of the American people are the most productive in the world, unfortunately they are not, and I repeat, “Not!” the American politicians.

Michigan Polls and Stupid Politics

  • Posted on July 28, 2011 at 8:43 pm

Some how this cartoon reminds me of our current politicians!

I have many different things on my mind today so don’t think I’m nutty when my thoughts hop around.  I watched a few minutes of the Chris Matthews show last night and Chris was bemoaning a recent poll from Michigan.  In the poll, if the election were held today, Mitt Romney would beat President Obama 46 to 42.  I guess that means that 12% of the people refused to pick either one in that poll.  Chris has always acted like Michigan will vote for Obama.  He obviously doesn’t realize that we have a Republican House, Senate, and governor.  He thought it was just because Mitt’s dad used to be our governor many years ago.  There is a lot more to it than that.  I’m one of “those people” that are still smitten over my stolen vote during the 2008 Democratic Primary.  Matthews and other political pundits seem to be blind to the fact that there are a number of people that are not happy with the direction this country is going.  The Tea Party is like the antithesis of how I feel, but when you put both the far right and the far left together, that’s a lot of ticked off people.

When Senator Obama ran for the presidency he talked about “hope and change”.  My problems with Obama started early on when he spoke glowingly about paying those math and science teachers more money than other teachers.  That is union busting language that just serves to divide teachers.  I figured he was secretly a Republican and I knew I couldn’t vote for him.  That was in July of 2007.  Now that wasn’t my first exposure to Barack Obama.  The first time I had ever heard of Barack Obama was during the Kerry nomination.  I really liked Obama’s speech at the 2004 convention.  I guess that line about red states and blue states but the United States really got to me.  I thought this guy could be president some day, you know like some time off into the distant future, not four years from then.  Then of course I heard the speech in 2007 where he spoke in front of the National Education Association and I was unimpressed.  It seems to me for being a “no drama” president; we have had nothing but drama since he became president.  Right now I feel that the American people have been whipped into frenzy over the debt ceiling debate just to get us bent to the will of both parties.  I don’t believe either party is innocent in this debate.  It almost feels like the only innocent people are the American people.  Just like the time when banks and corporations were just too big to fail, it seems like we are being brought to the edge of a cliff and told you must get down off the cliff and you have only two choices, now both choices are bad.  The Republicans want us to jump off that cliff and the Democrats want us to fly off that cliff.  Either way we pick to get off that cliff is going to end up with a similar result.  I feel there is much fake outrage about all of this.  I was over to Black Agenda and Bruce Dixon has written a piece that just says it all for me as both parties have been in cahoots for years in their “drama-o-drama”  machine playing good cop to the other guy’s bad cop.  You must read this piece!

Now this is a guy that has supported Obama.  I probably would have supported him in the last election, if he hadn’t stolen my vote, because I have always been a lifelong Democrat.  However, after the election was over, I wanted President Obama and still want him to be a successful “Democratic” president.  He just hasn’t been that!  He has continued the Bush policies and even extended them into another war in the Middle East.  Most people, even Republicans, should be able to see that he is nothing more than an extension of GW, from policies to vacation taking.

We are being told he is a Centrist.  That is only true if the “Center” has shifted dramatically right.  Some people think he is like Reagan.  While I think he admires Reagan much more than any other president, I think he is more like GW.  He speaks better than GW, but the policies are the same which makes you wonder who is really pulling the strings in this country.  It certainly isn’t the American people because he doesn’t seem to care about us.  He can’t even get the “feel your pain” speech down like President Clinton could always master.  In President Obama, I am often left wondering just what the Republicans are holding over his head.  Is there something they could let out of the bag at any given time, some dark secret that we haven’t already heard?  Does he secretly wear tiger costumes and exhibit inappropriate behavior like Representative Wu?  I’m at a loss as to why President Obama acts the way he does.  He certainly hasn’t lived up to the rhetoric of what his promises during the campaign suggested to the people that voted for him.  I never believed him, so I don’t exactly feel betrayed.  However, those that believed in this guy have to be wondering what’s going on with him?  Did he change or is it a reality that the job of the president is just so overwhelming that us “little people” just don’t and couldn’t possibly understand what it means to be president?

Anyway you look at it the American people are always taking a back seat to the corporations and the wealthy in this country.  I don’t want to hear how I am pushing “class warfare” because the truth is the people in power have kept this war going for years.  The Republicans have fed their people the line about “personal responsibility” to the point where many on the right look down with disdain at the guy that isn’t making it in this country.  If it is their own kid, they are getting on the phone and calling in favors to get their kid employed the old fashioned way, not based on merit, but on nepotism.  They can’t stand the look and feel of affirmative action, but they love the fact that they can get their kid “in” because of who they know.  The poor have never had this advantage in life or politics.  The poor don’t have someone they can call when their kid can’t find work.  There is a divide in our country between the haves and the have nots, but most people are in denial about it.  They secretly know they make those calls but they pretend that their kid did it on his or her own merits.  I always find it so interesting when I watch TV pundits and discover that many of the young people getting their feet wet are the sons and daughters of those earlier figures.  It isn’t what you know but who you know that counts in this country.  If you know someone powerful, you probably will get what you need.  However, if you’re like most people you don’t have some sugar daddy just waiting to give you a job.  You must create your own life based on what you can get and what you can strive for.  Back in the fifties and sixties after WWII many people surpassed their parents economically by going on to college.  They benefited from low school loans, to the low cost of college, to even the GI Bill.  When they got out of college, they could live the American dream.  Some of them didn’t even have to go to college to live that dream.  They built automobiles.  The point is there was a dream that most Americans could grasp.  Now, after forty years of Republican and Democratic political failures, we have reached a point where some of our children may not do as well as their parents.  That American dream is becoming a nightmare of student loans, no job prospects, and even forced moves of hundreds and thousands of miles away from family just to find a job!  It is no wonder that if you have the means to help your child find work that you will pull in that marker that someone owes you!  The point I’m trying to make is that the current economic situation is very much related to the constant bickering between the two political parties and their need for greed.  While the politicians are busy shuffling the chairs on the deck of this sinking ship, they don’t deal with the reality which is jobs and job creation.  They only care about making businesses more comfortable and keeping the wealth in the hands of the wealthy.  Truthfully, businesses can go anywhere for their labor and that is what they’re doing.  Our governmental policies favor this.  Neither political party cares enough about our country to remember that our best asset is our people.  They care more about their own political careers than anything else.  They will continue to build their careers off the backs of the middle class and the poor.  They will continue to ask the American people to squeeze one more dime out of their crappy pension, Social Security, or college fund so they can give it to corporations and those wealthy “job creators” to piss away on anything but creating real jobs.  I’m disappointed in the politics of my nation.  I want the students that I teach to be able to have real dreams for their future.  I don’t want politicians that play these stupid games representing me.  If this is the best that we can do in our country, we’re in real trouble!

Bush Tax Cuts + Wars = A Deficit Problem

  • Posted on April 17, 2011 at 4:03 pm

Two peas in one proverbial pod!

Okay, it’s a simple math problem.  The Republicans would have us all believe that the deficit issue is because of the American people.  That’s right folks, you are the problem.  You are really the problem, if you are a union member and you work for the government.  You are not the problem, if you are a member of Congress or the head of some government entity because your position is so very necessary for the proper functioning of government.  You caught me laughing again!  You are so very “special” if you work for the military.  You don’t have to worry about losing your job because they’ll never cut enough to matter.  However, if you are a lowly Private in the military, it’ll be mostly talk about honor and bravery, less about money and benefits!

Rep. Dennis Kucinich says, “The geniuses on Wall Street decided that a certain amount of unemployment is necessary for the proper functioning of the economy.”  You must ask yourself a question.  Does your job fall under the category Dennis is talking about?  If it does, beware!  You could be next.  So, I’m thinking what does this mean?  It might explain why a friend of my son went in for a job interview thinking he was really competing for a job, when he really wasn’t.  It turns out, they weren’t really hiring at all at that time.  The business was just seeing what’s out there to hire.  Of course that isn’t how the posting was listed.  My son works for the company and was surprised to find out that they weren’t really hiring.  So, why would the economy benefit from a certain amount of unemployment?  Could it be that it makes people hungrier and willing to work for less?  You know less money, less benefits and more hours for less.  Who benefits under this scenario?  Certainly not the American worker!  Here is Dennis talking about the deficit and President Obama.

Dennis is right.  If we get more jobs going out there, there will be a bigger tax base.  Why have the politicians decided to focus on “contracting” government instead of focusing on job creation.  James Carville had that catch phrase, “It’s the economy stupid!”  Someone needs to be whispering these words into President Obama’s ears every day because for some reason, he hasn’t figured this out either.  Instead of going to the Republican playbook of tax cuts for the wealthy and reducing spending to cut the deficit, President Obama should be focusing on JOBS!

The other night I caught a bit of a program on the History channel about our collapsing infrastructure.  Here is just a taste of that program.  It’s a nightmare.  However, it’s not the Freddie Kruger kind where you watch it at the movies and know it’s not real.  This is a real nightmare that could have a profound effect on our lives.

We all remember the bridge in Minnesota.  Most of us know that the roads, bridges, sewer systems and many other structures in our states are failing.  So when our infrastructure truly is at risk, what are the politicians doing?  They are like Henny Penny screaming, “The sky is falling!”  Of course, the sky they are talking about relates to the deficit and the hole we have dug ourselves into.  They weren’t singing that tune back in December when they ushered in two more years of the Bush tax cuts and decreasing the amount we pay into social security by 2%.  This is corruption at its core.  There is a systematic effort here to destroy wages and benefits for the American workers while continuing to prop up business, banks and the super wealthy.  If the politicians and their cohorts can do enough damage to the American workers wages and benefits, we might have enough unemployed that will be willing work for peanuts.  Now, you might be wondering why this is important.  I’m thinking that the cost of fuel is far too high to ship things.  It only makes sense to produce things locally to save energy costs.  However, the wages have to be low enough so that business can make the type of profits they really want.  Those profits have to be big enough to be able to give out the big bonuses to the big bosses.

Now let’s get back to that equation, “Bush Tax Cuts + Wars = A Deficit Problem.”  War is very profitable.  One of the things that the politicians are really pushing for is PRIVATIZATION.  They want to privatize everything from health care to education.  They have already taken over our military.  This is happening throughout our government.  Tonight my sister asked me if I knew that while we have 50,000 troops in Iraq, did I know there are another 77,000 working with private companies.  Of course these aren’t military.  They are probably ex-military working for “for profit” companies that have been hired by the Department of Defense.  Of course, the American tax payer is still footing the bill.  Don’t be thinking we will be getting out of any of these wars too soon.  They are far too profitable for private businesses that are invested in them.

So, where are President Obama and the Democrats in all of this?  Our fearless leader is spending his time dangling carrot sticks at us at moments when he thinks we might be vulnerable.  He was “unaware” that his mike was on and he was being recorded recently.  He sure gave it to those Republicans in that private conversation, or so we have been led to believe.  As we get closer to the election of 2012, he will probably look more like he’s actually in charge.  So far in my book, he has looked like a wimp.  This is all window dressing for the next election.  My brother says he will win the election.  I don’t know if he will or he won’t.  However, I think it’s interesting that the Republicans and Democrats publicly sound so different, but when they get behind closed doors they both do everything they can to dismantle social programs, subsidize the rich with deep tax cuts and ignore the plight of the poor and they do it all on the backs of the middle class, or what’s left of the middle class.  Is the problem in our country really all about the deficit?  If it truly is about the deficit then what on earth were these two parties doing in December when they set us up with two more years of the Bush tax cut?

Here is another good piece from the Real News Network.  It’s an interview with William Black and you should watch it through the end.

Think back to what Dennis said about this being a transfer of wealth.  This is not about transferring wealth, like robbing the rich to give to the poor as in Robin Hood.  It’s all about taking from the majority and giving to the wealthy.  The government is giving tax breaks and tax cuts to the wealthy and they are also privatizing much in government and giving those no bid contracts to their buddies!  There is a constant drumbeat that we have to get on board whatever those “brains” in Washington think we must do to fix the economy.  Just remember those “brains” are listening to the geniuses on Wall Street!  Remember  William Black said, “Deficit hysteria has nothing to do with anything.”

Class Warfare

  • Posted on March 15, 2011 at 8:11 pm

When I was a kid one of my many brothers would climb up on our huge Maple tree and throw sticks and stones down on anyone that tried to claim his roost in HIS tree.  I mention this here today because it’s a good analogy for Republican politicians and their huge attempts at limiting the power of the poor and the middle class.  The buzzword is “reform”.  However, the reform is ONLY about limiting the power and ability of the poor and the middle class.  There is no mention of any kind of reform that really will have an effect on the wealthy or upper classes.  These reforms can be anything from workers’ rights to health care to even the judicial system.  The tort reform we always hear them talk about is set up to limit the ability of the disenfranchised to make a claim against anyone above their stature, which would be most people and corporations.  The Republicans have tried for years to limit the amount that can be received in a lawsuit for inadequate health care claiming that this is the reason health insurance costs so much.  I noticed the steep change in the cost of health insurance right after September 11th 2001.  Do you really think it had something to do with the changes in our health care providers or was it something to do with the drop in revenue the insurance companies felt from investments that tanked after that time?  Just remember that the health insurance industry is a for “profit” industry.  They exist to make a profit.  There may be some like Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, my company, which are supposed to be non-profit.  However, they still pay their CEO a huge compensation.

Republicans like to claim that it’s all about personal responsibility and the need for people to pick themselves up by the bootstraps and of course that they, themselves, never had a helping hand.  We all know that is ludicrous because so many of them have been groomed for the positions and posts that they currently hold.  Sometimes it’s not what you know but who you know that gets you to the top of that tree.  Most of us sitting under the branches of that proverbial Maple tree are lucky enough if we can get a small perch we can claim as our own.  However, those at the top aren’t very willing to share their perch because they feel a sense of indignation that anyone would want to claim what is rightfully “their” perch.  They earned it!  They are the self satisfied, bloated, corrupt individuals we all know that don’t care about what is in the best interest of the common good of all the people.  It’s what is in “their” best interest that really matters.  By golly they clawed their way to the top and you better too.  However, once they get to the top they work very hard at taking all of the supporting branches away that helped them get to the top.  You know those things like low interest student loans, Pell grants, public education, and any aid programs like heating assistance for the poor.

Many people have talked about class warfare for years.  The Republicans have accused Democrats of creating this warfare to get votes.  That part might be true because Democrats always talk about these things around election time.  However, neither party has done enough of what they could to elevate our society so that everyone can get a little branch on that tree.  True class warfare is really happening right now and it is being instigated by Republican politics.  We have been pressured into believing that we all have to “share” in some kind of sacrifice for the good of the country.  We have been living way beyond our means and we must pay the piper what is due.

No one has really pointed out something that I can see so clearly.  Most of us people sitting under the Maple tree don’t use much resources of any kind in our country.  Most of us are not flying off in our private jet wasting tons of fuel.  Most of us haven’t been to a government created airport in the last month.  We might fly once in awhile for a family vacation but we aren’t the ones using that airport like it’s our own home base.  However, we are paying for it.  Most of us aren’t living in gigantic houses sucking up our natural resources with our rich and famous lifestyles.  Most of us live quite conservatively by shutting off our lights and dialing down our furnace in the winter and up in the summer months.  Most of us pay our bills and do everything we can to not declare bankruptcy.  However, for the rich and famous, it can be done any time they get in a tight pinch.  The rest of us will pay for it because the banking industry will get their money back one way or another.  That famous rich guy will eventually think he should run for the presidency because he knows how to run a business, so how about doing the same with our country.

In my opinion the great leveler in society is a good education.  If you have a good education, you can go far in life.  You may not become a millionaire sitting at the top of that proverbial Maple tree but more than likely you will be able to create a decent life for you and your family.  The true key to solving poverty is in education.  The statistics here from my state are interesting.  As the education level goes up the poverty level goes down.  That makes a lot of sense, so why do all of these new Republican governors seem to want to take away from education to pay for their tax breaks for the corporations?  It just doesn’t make any sense to me.

You can check your own state levels at these next two websites:

43 million people are below the poverty line in this country.  If you head on over here you will find some fascinating things to read but it won’t be surprising to most of you.

The Gini coefficient is a mathematical equation that basically shows the disparity between the income of the rich and the poor.  The closer the number is to zero, the more equal things are.  The closer the number is to 100, the more unequal things tend to be.  In 1929, you know during the times of the stock market fall and the beginning of the great depression the estimated number for the United States was 45.  We had a period after World War II when this number declined considerably.  This was a time when the middle class was really built and unions were a big part of that.  Since around 1980 we have gone back in decline with numbers as high as 46.9.  Most of us know there has been a change in who has more money and who has less.  This site just makes you think about things.  The rich just keep on getting richer and the poor keep trying to figure out how to strap those gold laced boots on to get to the top of that proverbial tree.

I always wonder why the wealthy seem to always want more.  They are already at the top of the tree, so you would think they wouldn’t mind letting some of that wealth trickle on down like Reagan assured us it was supposed to.  However, it turns out most millionaires don’t feel wealthy.

I want all of you to stop laughing.  I know you are because it really is unbelievable.  Even those workers at Ford are sharing in the profits these days.  That would sound great if they hadn’t already given up so much.  The real slap in the face for Ford workers is that CEO pay!  Just check this article out.  The rich get richer and the rest of us get whatever happens to land our way and we thankfully take it!

Finally, here is more information that those Bush tax cuts really aren’t all their purported to be.  It turns out if you are in the top 10%, you probably did all right.  The rest of us, not so much!  This has the gap in income tax and it’s a great site to really research.

Unfortunately, we do have class warfare in this country.  The politicians take care of the corporations and the wealthy with the many tax loopholes and tax incentive plans while the rest of us are left to “share a sacrifice”, whatever the hell that means.  What it really means is that we will get less and the rich will continue to get whatever they want and need built off the backs of the middle class and dare I say the poor.  Those of us in the 90% are the ones that prop up everyone else.  We do our jobs whether it is teaching children, policing the world, scanning goods at the airport so the wealthy can continue to feel safe, or assisting them in their pursuit of more wealth.  We are factory workers, nannies, waiters and bus boys but the one thing we all have in common is proportionately we are greatly under paid, over worked and abused by a system that asks for continual sacrifice from us when the rich are expected to just get richer!

Desperate Times Call for Desperate Measures….or… Let’s just say the Republicans are in POWER!

  • Posted on March 13, 2011 at 12:10 am

Here in Michigan we are that sleepy old state that no one is paying attention to while everything seems to be going on in Wisconsin.  However, it seems like a coordinated battle plan has been drawn by many of the Republican governors in some very key political states all at the same time.  I don’t think this is a coincidence.  The main battles are taking place in Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, and Florida but of course there is also New Jersey as well as other states that I’m not watching as closely as my own.

One of the things I find really interesting is how close these states have been in recent national political elections.  It seems that all of these governors are hell bent on destroying unions, teachers’ unions especially.  The NEA is the biggest of all.  It is the largest professional organization and labor union in the United States.  Republicans have criticized it for years as being a big supporter of the Democratic Party.  In Michigan the MEA has supported more Democrats but has also supported a few Republicans.

Here is more showcasing the sneaky underhanded tactics being used by these governors to push through their ideology much like Wisconsin’s Governor Walker pushed through his plan in the dead of night.|head

The obvious goal is about taking away the financial support to the Democratic Party and to create an environment where business can have whatever they want.  A few years ago at our school everyone read a book entitled, Whatever It Takes.  Of course that book was about educating students.  These governors are using techniques that embody that spirit of whatever it takes to destroy the middle class.  John Edwards always said he wanted to be the voice for the voiceless.  Well, we know John has been permanently derailed because of the choices he made with Rielle Hunter and the fact that the Democratic Party, much like the Republicans, really don’t care about the poor and the voiceless.  However, I must mention here that Newt Gingrich can double down on being bad to his many wives and still gets respect from the Republican Party.  The reason I mention John here is no one is speaking for the voiceless, the poor and the disenfranchised.  President Obama is working as hard as the Republicans at thinking up new ways to screw the poor and the middle class.  Just keep this tidbit in your mind as you read on because no politician is really speaking for the disenfranchised today.  All we hear from politicians is how we have to have a “shared sacrifice”.  I don’t want to get too sidetracked from things but I wonder why these politicians in the following post aren’t sacrificing.  They want everyone else to sacrifice.

The first time I heard about farm subsidies is back in the seventies when I was young.  I was watching the Johnny Carson show.  Johnny had John Wayne on his show.  John Wayne was laughing about how the government pays him not to farm.  Now that’s class warfare!  The current Republican governors all seem to want to give massive tax breaks to corporations; you know those entities that the Supreme Court fully recognizes for their “corporate personhood”.  It seems to me that for years I’ve heard Republicans chastising Democrats for creating “class warfare”.  The Democrats are always pointing out the massive divide between the rich and the poor.  Unfortunately, this only seems to happen around election time, but it’s enough to get the Republicans crying for mercy.  However, truthfully the Republicans have declared a sort of war on the middle class and the poor in this country.  The class warfare of today is created through governmental policies that cater to the whims of the wealthy and big corporations while slashing everything from education to any assistance to the poor or disenfranchised.  I have always believed the one thing that can help to elevate a society is a good education.  It is getting harder and harder to obtain that education when policies are in place to ensure that it fails.  Budget cuts to education are designed really to keep the poor and middle class where they belong, dumb and uneducated.  If enough people were truly educated in this country, they might do something about the sorry state of our democracy.  We hear all about how education is broken but truthfully if you want a good education in this country you better fix poverty.  I know right now there will be some narrow minded person sitting here reading this and thinking how the poor will always be with us.  That’s uncreative, small minded thinking in my book.  The great leveler in society is education because it opens many doors that would be otherwise closed.

If you will remember back to when President Bush was in office you will remember that we had all of those color coded alerts about potential terrorism in our country.  We were constantly kept in a state of fear and panic at the thought that a terrorist might be living next door to us.  These terror alerts were manipulating us during the 2004 election.  Whenever John Kerry would go up in the polls, a new terror alert would be announced and like the sheep we are we would do whatever we were alerted to do.  Today the constant drumbeat has been about those lousy pubic unions and how they are screwing up our society.  Yes, it’s the lousy teachers that suck the blood and life from our society.  Even though some of them may give hope to the hopeless, they are the new enemy of the poor.  If it wasn’t for those greedy teachers, the poor would have money.  Sometimes you know the enemy of your enemy is your friend.  Those Republicans have called for a moratorium on spending for anything that will help you or me.  However, if there is some new subsidy or tax break they can give to corporations and the wealthy they’ll get right on it because they still pretend to believe in Reaganomics where that “trickle down” theory was invented.  Truthfully, our society is becoming one of the wealthy and everyone else that are left to “attend” to the wealthy.  I’ve never been able to figure out why enough isn’t enough for the wealthy.  How many billions do you need?  That trickle down theory just doesn’t work because the richer someone at the top gets, the richer they want to be.  They don’t let it trickle down and the only way you are going to get it to trickle down is through government policies that ensure that it does.  Our “desperate times” are created by policies designed to make the rich get richer and screw the poor.  Desperate times call for desperate measures.  Unfortunately, we don’t truly know how desperate we all are until we get a Republican governor to show us!  I’ll leave you with the desperate people in Wisconsin that have done everything they can to make our country wake up to what’s really going on.  This clip includes Michael Moore on the Rachel Maddow show.

Here’s part 2 of that show!

Rabbit Proof Fence

  • Posted on December 29, 2010 at 2:47 pm

My son gave me “Roku” for Christmas.  It allows me to get Netflix, Amazon and other movie/TV services on my television.  I love it because I can watch movies I might not otherwise get to see.  Last night I watched “Rabbit Proof” Fence which is an Australian movie.  I must confess I don’t know a lot about Australian history, so this was a very interesting movie for me to see.

It was both horrific and inspirational and it was based on a true story.  Young ‘caste” children were taken from their families and put in orphanages.  Caste meant they were of mixed race between Whites and the Aborigines.  The policy was extremely racist.  If a child was “white enough”, they would send the child on to be educated.  If they were not white enough their life would be one of domestic service.  The story centers around three little girls and their struggle to get back home.  It’s an amazing journey and well worth watching.  This piece on cultural survival is a really interesting read.

The movie just reinforced for me the struggle that people of color have always had with white people that have taken over their lands and forced them into a submissive state.  It should not shock me that Australia, which was also settled by white Europeans much like our country, created this racist agenda.  However, it is shocking to think that this treatment lasted right up until the nineteen seventies.

I find this quote from Wikipedia very interesting:

At the same time, some settlers were quite aware they were usurping the Aborigines place in Australia. In 1845, settler Charles Griffiths sought to justify this, writing; “The question comes to this; which has the better right – the savage, born in a country, which he runs over but can scarcely be said to occupy…or the civilized man, who comes to introduce into this…unproductive country, the industry which supports life.”[23] In expressing this view, Griffiths was probably merely echoing opinions widely held by other colonists in Australia, South Africa, parts of South America and the United States.

This quote could be used by any corporate country today that is trying to impose its “rights” upon an endangered people.  Ultimately money talks and those that have it will win.  Isn’t this what we as Americans do?  We go to other countries pretty much to colonize them to do our will.  I’m just putting this in words that are easy to understand, so don’t be shocked by what I say.  I heard a Coca Cola executive talking the other day.  He said they have business in over 200 countries.  I was shocked because I didn’t know there were that many countries.  Looking it up, there might not be that many recognized countries and maybe he misspoke.

However, the Coca-Cola Company has a history of violence against unions.  It is interesting to see where they have been accused of their misdeeds.  Many of these countries are where people of color are the dominant race.  I just find all of this interesting especially after watching this Australian movie.

It makes me wonder about many of our corporations that have moved their business interests out of the country in search of higher profits.  This global effort seems to be creating a world of the super rich and the super poor.  When I saw this clip of Prince Charles and his wife caught in the middle of a riot, it got me thinking.  If you listen carefully you will hear someone scream, “Off with their heads.” It’s at the very end of the video and other videos I watched have been bleeped out.  The ruling classes of wealth better wise up or they may end up much like the Marie Antoinette!

People of color and the poor and middle classes are getting fed up with a system that allows such a juxtaposition of extreme wealth and extreme poverty to exist.  When is enough, enough?  It never seems like the wealthy can ever have enough.  They always seem to want more.

The Obama Legacy

  • Posted on December 20, 2010 at 11:50 pm

With the recent passing of the extension of the “Bush” tax cuts, I’ve been thinking a lot about the Obama presidency and how it will be remembered in history.  I was thinking that the first “black” president is mostly going to be remembered for being the president that lived in the shadow of President George Walker Bush and the continuation of the Bush presidency.  As much as President Obama used to talk about “change you can believe in” the truth is not much has really changed.  We have heard about these tax cuts for years.  The Democrats knew years ago that the deadline for these cuts was looming.  However, they have failed to grasp that fierce “urgency of now”.  President Obama in seeking to be more like his predecessor has ended up diminishing his own presidency.

Many people may be thinking that the American people wanted these tax cuts because we have been indoctrinated with this information for the past couple of weeks.  We have all heard about the polls and how people are for the tax cuts.  I am doubtful that most people even understand what is in the tax cut deal.  They probably don’t know that much about it.  They just may be happy that they got “their cut”.  I don’t know, nor do I presume to understand the masses.  I just know that there is a breaking point and kicking that can down the road means something else is going to have to go soon.  The budget is good until March but rest assured something will have to give soon and I suspect it won’t be good for the little guy.

In my mind, President Obama has become that “token” black president that ends up being just another “Yes” man to the whims of the wealthy and the corporations.  Was he chosen just because he was black?  Was that to appease those of us that clamor for social justice?  Is this what one of my brother’s meant when he said Obama was “black enough”?  I never really understood what that meant.  I am so disappointed in the direction that our country continues to be going that I am dumbfounded as to how this “historic” presidency has become nothing more than another tribute to the wealthy and corporate America, much like the last presidency.

Here is what Obama said about change during the election:

“We can’t be fooled because John McCain – I’ve been talking about change since we started this campaign- some of you were involved. I talked about change when we were up, I talked about change when were down,” Obama told the crowd of 1,700, “But now suddenly John McCain and his running mate Sarah Palin, they’re out there saying ‘we’re for change.’ ‘We’re for change too.’  Well I’m glad that they now agree with me but we’ve got to change America.” But let’s be absolutely clear about what change means – change isn’t just a word.”

Change isn’t just a word.  Frankly, I don’t see any real change.  During the campaign his motto was “Change we can believe in.”  In September of 2008 he changed that motto to “Change we need.”

He talked about more of the same versus change.  It’s our turn he said.  Barack said “Change is coming to America.”  He talks to these Iowans with such platitudes about what change is and how it is coming to America but I feel like most people probably now think all they got from his election was some crappy t-shirt.

Here is Obama on passing the tax cut bill:

When Bush was president he squandered the good will of the people after September 11th.  We all were one and the whole world was with us.  Much could have been done at that time to bring our country together and do some good but instead that good will was squandered.  We went to war in Afghanistan and ultimately Iraq on borrowed money.  We didn’t sacrifice a thing.  We went on a proverbial drunken spree while the corporations ran amuck through our money and pilfered goods left and right.  No bid contracts were given to corporations like Halliburton, Dick Cheney’s love interest.  Money was flowing from each of our pockets into the deep pockets of corrupt corporations that didn’t care so much about the care of the soldiers as they did about their bottom line, the money that they could make off the war and recently Congress cannot even see to it that the first responders from 911 who have given so much are taken care of.  They would rather pass tax cuts for millionaires than pass anything for the people that really sweat to save and build this country!

Now in walks Obama ready to continue all of the insane policies of the Bush presidency.  From the two unfunded wars to Guantanamo, torture and even now for the tax cuts.  We have all been told that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result.  These tax cuts haven’t created jobs.  We have lost jobs under those Bush years.  Some may think about their own tax cut and think it can be justified, just for that reason.  I have this feeling that we will all suffer greatly for the lack of will that we have today.  The day of reckoning is coming closer and I’m not talking about 2012 and the end of the world.  I’m talking about the end of the dream our country has had for so many years.  As we continue down this path of self destruction we are creating a debtor nation.  I, for one, am sick of the Chinese junk that keeps being sent to our country.  Nothing lasts any more.  When my dad died he had a washing machine that he owned for over 30 years.  We’d be hard pressed to get 10 years out of the current washers.  We are consuming junk and that has become the new norm.  Nothing lasts and neither can our democracy if we continue to let the corporations have control over congress and our country.

President Obama should be ashamed of the direction he is taking our country.  Like his predecessor he had a moment of clarity when he had the whole country and even the world ready to follow him.  He has proven to lack the leadership necessary to talk truth to the people.  He has chosen to align himself with the corporations and big business and has forgotten the plight of the poor.  He continues politics as usual with the same lethargic ideas of the past.  He has forgotten the little guy and has dined with the wealthy and now, like Bush, those are his base, his people.  He is more interested in his next vacation than in the plight of the American poor, homeless, jobless and working poor that think they’re middle class.  He shows no compassion for the needy.  We hear Michelle on TV asking us all to step up and send money to Haiti when we have Haiti on the streets of every city in America.  President Obama cannot seem to recognize this and has removed himself from the plight of the American people.  Maybe he thinks that the poor will always be there, so why bother.  Whatever it is, he is not a president of the people or for the people.  He is a president for the wealthy and the corporations.  It always comes back to business, the business of the wealthy, not the business of the people.  Even his talk about education is all about business.  Everything is about business and creating the future little worker bees to step up and do the work for business.  It isn’t about the life of our country and our freedom, because we have given up some of that freedom to be safe in this crazy insane place, which has a pyramid scheme where the wealthy and business are at the top and the poor are at the bottom.  However, just like a real pyramid those at the top need those at the bottom to help them stand tall.  This has been forgotten under the Obama presidency.  We are back to more “trickle” down theories that never seem to have enough trickles at the bottom to really affect the lives of the poor.  Change we can believe in has been forgotten.  Hope has been replaced with the hopeless.

Young Men and Murder

  • Posted on August 6, 2010 at 3:38 pm

Murder in New York

I was talking with my son who lives near Chicago about Detroit and I told him I couldn’t see why Detroit is still called “Murder City” when Chicago seems to be riddled with murders.  Chicago has somewhere in the neighborhood of 3 million people, Detroit has less than a million and New York has about 8 million.  I know there is a new show coming out on TV called “Detroit 187”.   Some aren’t happy with the show about crime but I say if they film it in Michigan, I’m all for it, anything to give someone a job.  I tried to check into the murder capital thing and I discovered something very disturbing.

I don’t know if Detroit is the murder capital but I do know that a murder map I found for New York was very upsetting to me.  According to the map it looks like young “Black” and “Latino” men are being killed left and right.

These are the stats:  61% of the victims are Black, 27% Latino, 8% White and 3% Asian.  The majority of both the perpetrators and the victims are male and young, you know, like under 34.

I find all of this very troubling for our country.  Our children are supposed to be our best and brightest.  Children aren’t born criminals.  Like an animal in a cage, treated with abuse, sometimes they will turn to violence.  I’m appalled that more isn’t being done to curb this violence and start these young children out on the right track.  No parent wants to raise a killer.  I cannot believe that this is something born in these people.  I do think there is a deep sense of hopelessness in our youth that are stuck in these huge cities with very few alternatives to make money except for selling drugs or joining the military.   I’m sure they can make more money selling the drugs or doing some other illicit deed than getting a real job.  Real jobs are hard to find any way, harder if you have little education and no familial structure to help support you.

There is a vast divide between the rich and the poor in this country.  History books try to cover this up with platitudes about how this is the “Land of the free.”   Much chatter is devoted to the “rags to riches” stories that are really just a bunch of bullshit like a carrot on a stick.  It’s something to appease the masses to make them feel that they too can become rich some day.  Some maybe make it, but for the most part, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”  We can see this in all aspects of politics and entertainment.  We see legacies from different families for both those areas.  If you come from the right family, you will excel and be given special opportunities.  However, this isn’t just true with these two areas.  It is also true with most small towns and suburban communities.  We hire our own in these places and teacher’s kids and cop’s kids get breaks that aren’t necessarily available to the very poor.

I mention all of this because I wonder who is there for these young men in these cities to mentor them and give them special treatment.  Probably the only people left are the lowest elements of our society.  I am troubled that these young men seem to be “throw away people”.  Nobody seems to care about them.  If politicians cared, they would devote more money to education, cleaning up the blight in these big cities, and doing everything possible to promote a strong economy rather than just building more prisons and hiring more cops!  Where is the outrage of this blight in America?  Who cares enough about our troubled young Black and Hispanic men to actually do something about it?

So many people have touted the Bush tax cuts and so many loved Ronald Reagan but I find it interesting that the income gap between the rich and the poor is at an eighty year high.

If you look at it, the incarceration rate really went up since the time of Reagan.  I really don’t know what to make of this except that I also know that the rich got richer and the poor got poorer during this time.

There has to be connections between all of these factors.  I don’t have all the answers.  I just feel that our country has some pretty screwed up priorities.  It seems like we’d rather be perpetually at war, feeding the war profiteers and the oil industry or extolling the virtues of the wealthy through shows like Donald Trump’s “Apprentice” and “Extra” that follows around the rich and famous to give us a birds eye view of their celebrity life; than educating our youth and creating a safe, productive environment where we can all have a piece of the pie.  Our number one priority in our country should be our youth and it simply is not!

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