Sunday, February 20, 2011

The 2% Solution

Here’s a quick thought:
The wealthiest people in America who appear to be able to pull the strings of many others and have them dance to a strange tune seem to get their way every day.
And the end result is while they get richer the dancers fall further behind.  And the gap between the average citizen and the wealthy widens daily!
But here is the simple solution we have all missed!
And I already have the backing of at least 2% of the country.
America’s population is around 311 million as of the recent census.
Therefore that 2% group would comprise a group of 6.2 million people.
Obviously they do not wish to pay taxes and for the last 10 years have been able to prove that point.  But our deficit is growing and could become a nightmare for the country if nothing is done.
So if each and every one of the other 98% of citizens in the country would pay $1 per month – every month into a “Beat the Deficit” fund that fund would have $3.66 billion by the end of the year.
But in order to really defeat the deficit we the middle class and poor would have to pay a bit more into the BTD Fund.  Perhaps we could all fork over $10 per month, or make that $100 per month.  The BTD Fund would then be a bloated $366 Billion by years end!
This sacrifice would help our debt head in the right direction.
We must do this in order to ensure that the top 2% wealthiest people in the country are not hit with any taxes at all!
You see they have promised to start hiring again if we can just remove all the terrible uncertainty in the country.
That uncertainty hovers around the question of whether or not the wealthiest 2% will have to pay a penny of their money to help the country out of the awful situation that their actions caused in the first place!
Once we ensure that they can keep every cent of every dollar they either earn or steal then and only then will they feel certain enough about their future to start thinking about hiring people to work.
And the BTD Fund will be our ticket to future prosperity for at least 2% of us!
Now I don’t wish to turn the BTD into a Beat to Death item but there is still one problem.
I overlooked one other small item of interest to those who are living with these ‘uncertainty caused stresses’ and that is health care costs.
If we could just remove the cost of health care from the equation and not make any of those nervous prospective employers have to chip in to keep their new hires healthy we could sew up the deal and really get this country moving once again!
So let’s all pull together America!
Dig deep into your pockets for freedom!!
Let’s make this country great again!!!
Remove all the uncertainty from the minds of our overlords and exempt them from our tax rolls like we’ve already done for large corporations such as Exxon and GE!!!!!
Beg the Supreme Court to continue ruling in favor of the poor set upon wealthy multi-national corporations and their board members.
Then and only then can we all get back to work and have a bright future, as long as we can do it in the dark since we may not be able to afford light bulbs.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Union vs. Union

There is a tragic opera, a Wagnerian tug of war being played out all across America.  The ‘haves’ vs. the ‘have nots’; the ‘needy’ vs. the ‘don’t need a thing,’ the we vs. they.
At the heart of the battle is the struggle in Wisconsin where both truth and a deceiving lie are the main characters.
First the truth and as painful as it may be to hear it labor unions have caused our municipal and federal deficits to rise.
Hey, facts are facts and to sane minds facts are indisputable.
You do remember facts don't you?
Facts such as global warming.
But I digress
Unions gain higher wages and concessions from their employers for their individual members either by collective bargaining or, in the extreme threats of slowdowns and strikes.
But for their loyalty and continued service they cannot and do not ask for so much that the company or concern for which they work would go under!
The public, comprised of many non union workers is told by the owners of the companies and certain media concerns that the unions cause prices to go up and therefore cost the rest of us money.  That tactic of playing to the media is meant to get us on the side of the them.
Union members are vilified by these groups as freeloaders on the public dime or even dole.
We are told that they get far better health care with lower rates than the rest of us and that they receive automatic wage increases for little or no increase in efficiency even while the rest of the country is experiencing high unemployment.
Many of us non union people have long since passed the so-called 99er status.  We can no longer collect unemployment wages yet we still cannot find gainful employment of any kind.
We have also been vilified as lazy, pot smoking, baby creating, sex crazed losers by the same people who are now fighting the unions.
The same people to whom we must apply for jobs.
And just what is the makeup of these wonderful finger pointing groups?
The people spending all that money to advertise against the public workers and former workers of all kind happen to have a very important dog in the fight so to speak.
No, I am not talking about Michael Vick but rather the owners of large corporations and their Republican friends.
It is this unholy union that is holding the country hostage as they attempt not to deal or negotiate with labor unions anymore.
Now I said that labor unions cause the deficit to rise but so does bad weather.  And a host of other variables in and out of our control cause the deficit to fluctuate.
And that’s where the deceiving lie comes in.
Aside from the obvious fact that each side in an argument will always place as much blame as possible on the other side the winner in this contest goes to management and many members of the government.
But while management is active in the fight they realize a poor public relations persona could hurt their bottom line so they remain quiet choosing rather to work behind the scenes.
In other words they pull the strings and their puppets dance to the music.
And that brings us to those puppets aka their friends in the Republican Party, the corporate army, not to be confused with Dick Armey who is but one of their evil uncaring henchmen.
These non-silent partners of big business have emerged as the the true mustachioed villains of the piece, Boris and Natasha if you will.
Our government is comprised of men and women duly elected to serve the people of the country.  We entrust them with the power to write, create and enact laws aimed at making our lives safer and better.  We also empower them with the means to regulate business and foreign trade all while keeping the country safe from attacks both foreign and domestic.
So what is the lie of which I spoke earlier?
It is no secret that Governors are going to attempt to balance their State budgets.  That is their responsibility.  And a key factor therein is the compensation of public employees.
The lie is that the unions are the biggest piece of the deficit puzzle.
They are not!
They are collectively a large piece but by no means the largest.  And the have been shrinking in numbers for years, much to the delight of the Republican Party.
If the unions can be busted there will be far less organized support for the Democratic way of thinking and the Republicans will benefit tremendously!
Their plan is to go forward without unions around to offset the billions of dollars the corporations can now spend on campaign ads per their puppets in the Supreme Court.
Last December (2010) the Nation witnessed the caving in of the White House and the Democrats when they incredulously extended the incredibly ill advised Bush tax gifts (they are not tax cuts but rather gifts) to the very people who need the money the least.  And many of these people own or are board members of companies that have already and are still laying workers off while not hiring new ones.
They argued that the tax gifts were needed to give them the wherewithal to hire new employees.  And even though we all know better the Government fell for it.
But the people in the above scenario have nothing to do with the public work force since they own private sector companies and hire private sector workers.
So how do they fit in with the gist of the story about unions and union busting?
Well, I'm glad you asked!
Simply put the cities and states across the country are hurting.  Many municipalities are near bankruptcy and they must get or make money somehow.
But if it became apparent that billions upon billions of tax dollars were eschewed in lieu of keeping the wealthiest 2% of the country happy the Governors and the rest of their political allies would lose most if not all their credibility.
And the very same people who are making the most money and are paying the least amount of taxes by rate are the ones orchestrating the fight against the middle class workers of America.
They are deflecting our attention from themselves and picking on an easy target.
And they do it very well hiring actors who look like average Americans complaining about everything from oil company bashing to silly ads about fake taxes and constraints on soda!
The gap between the average worker in this country and those at the top, the owners of those companies has never been wider.
And to add insult to injury the largest most profitable corporations in the history of the world pay zero dollars in taxes!
Get out a calculator and see how much money we lose by allowing this fraud to continue.
We're like France in the 1830s & 40s - "Do you hear the people sing? Singing the song of angry men? It is the music of a people who will not be slaves again!"
Even Grimm would say our future is no fairy tale.
It's not too late!
If we cannot change the direction of this country and soon we may be spelling the end of the middle class.  The fat lady has started singing and the opera is well into the second act.
If these incredibly successful corporations and obscenely wealthy individuals were to suddenly lose their loopholes and inexplicably become honest and pay their fair share of taxes the country would be basking in a beautiful surplus rather than asking the poor and middle class to help pay down the current burdensome deficit.
If that happy ending were to miraculously occur the unions would no longer be depicted as the villain in this pseudo-Wagnerian tragic opera and perhaps all could live happily ever after.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

An I for an I is not Teamwork

Growing up I always heard the phrase, “There’s no “I” in teamwork.”
It was and still is a catchy phrase and at least for winning teams true.  And although there are exceptions such as the Cleveland Cavaliers who have completely lost their way after losing LeBron James generally all involved must pull together for a team to be successful.
We can also extrapolate the opening phrase into many other areas such as Congress which has no “I” or the corporate world, also devoid of an “I.”
And yet both Congress and the world of big business have forgotten about the members of the American team.  Both of those entities have left the average citizen out of any equation.
For the past decade or so the team comprised of large corporations and members of Congress have consistently acted in their own best interests.  Their ‘one hand washes the other’ attitude for self advancement works well for them in the short term but could eventually hurt all of us.
According to all teams our current fight is with an ever increasing deficit caused simply by the fact that we as a nation are spending more money than we are taking in.
The fix to that problem is also simple.  Either take in more money or dole out less.
Or better yet, dare I say it compromise.
It is that compromise I wish to discuss because it is something this country has lost sight of.  And coincidentally the time period during which we have closed our eyes to that word happens to be the same time period for which our economy has faltered and our unemployment numbers have spiked.
Unemployment is another interesting word.  And while there is no “I” in unemployment it is most certainly an individual problem.  And too many of the 'I's' have it!
People who are employed in the work force are all part of their particular team.  And while they each may grumble about their jobs to co-workers or to their family they nevertheless fight for their team and pull for their team and defend their team when attacked by competing companies.
And yet corporate greed working in a government induced and controlled environment of profit over people at any cost has created a dangerous mix of oligarchic mentality and well funded campaigns to keep the status quo for years to come.
We have billionaires who have more money than they could ever spend in many lifetimes quietly funding ad campaigns and special interest groups aimed at removing all taxes or regulations or any other perceived impediments to their continued wealth grab.
The result of their efforts has produced the widest gap ever known between the wealthiest 2% in this country and the workers who helped them realize their stratospheric status.
And these people did not stop at funding advertisements.  With the help of odd and unprecedented rulings by the Supreme Court of the United States they are also using some of their vast wealth to fund the political campaigns and careers of our supposedly unbiased congressmen and women.
It is hard to fault people for taking the easy way out especially when tremendous amounts of cash are waved in their faces.  That is usually how spies and double agents are created.
But when we as an indivisible nation of individuals take the time to believe in a group of people; take the time to campaign for those people; and in the end put our votes where our mouths are should we not have the right to expect something in return?
America is a nation founded in Democracy.  We were born from the ashes of a revolution against the unfair practice of taxation without representation.  We gladly, sort of, pay our taxes knowing that the money is going toward the greater good and that our best interests are being religiously guarded and defended by our team leaders, the members of the US  Congress.
And yet an incredibly large number of corporations including the largest one the world has ever known, Exxon pay no taxes in or to America.  But they seem to be represented in government far more than the millions upon millions of individual tax payers!
Billionaires were given huge tax breaks under President Bush and then were able to coerce President Obama and the Democrats into allowing them to continue.  These gifts were made in the hopes that a few bones in the way of jobs would be tossed down to the American public.
We the people are still waiting.
While there is no “I” in team I am a nevertheless a member of the American team and I am fed up with corporations getting away with financial murder.
Here’s a cute pneumonic I stole from our Constitution,
All Men Equal, Remember? I CAN!
Here’s hoping Congress remembers as well and starts working for the American team once again.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Allah’s in Wonder Land (Egypt)

Twas brillig and the slimy king
Did bribe and steal all and did bring
Upon his people much despair
And lo they cried; pulled out much hair

Beware the mobs and gobs of hate
            And always know it’s not too late
To face the dragon and he slay
            So all your children once more can play

In lands the Pharaohs once called home
            And nomads once did freely roam
Rebuild the past and show the world
            Your bright new flag in peace unfurled

Twas brillig but the slimy king
            Is gone and all the land shall sing
The Jabberwock is gone this day!
            Oh frabjous time, Callooh Callay!

Welcome and embrace your freedom Egypt!
And never lose sight of the ultimate goal of a representative government.
But until that time do not allow another dictator back in power to bring you down!

Thanks to Lewis Carroll for not leaping back from wherever he is to yell at me for this!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Pyramids in America?

Mubarak is a crook at best and an awful leader for sure.  These facts are well known and it is therefore easy to point to him and his policies of greed and corruption as key factors in the economic woes of most Egyptians.
Egyptians want NO MOBarak
He has remained in power partly due to our laziness but more importantly because of our continued need for peace between Egypt and Israel.
But we lost sight of the fact that during the decades of his control in that country the people have lived under the tremendously restrictive thumb of Martial Law.
As human beings we have a need to find not only fault for failings but some one or some thing to blame.  And when we can pinpoint that blame we can codify all our angst toward that culprit.
In Egypt there is no doubt that Mubarak is the head of whatever group has held the country down for the past 30 years and is easily seen as that culprit. 
Egypt has an unemployment rate of over 9% but for the past 30 years under Mubarak it has not been below 8% and has often hit 12%!  In America we are up in arms when the rate is above 7% and most pundits claim that a President cannot be reelected with a rate even that high!
But we cannot point to the current Egyptian dictator as the cause of our economic woes in America.
Unfortunately there is no one person to vilify here.  No individual we can banish from our lives and go back to the glory days of blissful economic bloom and boom.
Instead we are mired in gloom and doom.
Oh the stock markets are doing well but most Americans are not broadly invested there.  Buying shares at depressed prices may have been a good idea and has created tremendous wealth for those who were already financially stable before and after the 2008 crash.
But the few dollars most average Americans had left in their pockets post crash went toward more frivolous items such as food and clothing.
And therein we find our culprit, our American Mubarak of sorts.
It is said that the Egyptian President has socked away a fortune in the neighborhood of $70 billion.  Much of that money was obtained in the form of aid from the US and given in the hopes of building stability in the region.
But over the same period of time big business, big banks, large multi-national corporations and Wall Street financial institutions in America banded together into a covert cabal of corruption that made Mubarak’s crimes look pitiful and petty.
Money! Power!
Money!! Power!!
Okay, both!!!
For example the Koch brothers who are behind many a conservative group hell bent on keeping the landscape free and clear for corporate greed to continue and flourish are each worth between $10B and $20 billion!
So did these groups secretly conspire to bring down the economy?
Of course not and I do not mean to give that impression.
They obviously hoped that the bubble would continue to grow and they could amass even larger, more obscene bundles of billions.
So they have been hurt for their collective acts and have lost fortunes as a result of the meltdown?
Give me a break!
If anything the companies that were hurt the most and were at the center of the meltdown were given a leg up by our government using tax payer dollars.
And in return for our largess we have been rewarded with our highest unemployment rate since the Great Depression.
But we are told that many institutions are repaying the loans they received and the government is actually realizing a profit!  So why are we not rejoicing?
Well for one thing deep damage done to our work force will not be fixed all that quickly.  Many of the corporations that are showing wonderful profits are doing so because they fired so many workers and scared those remaining into taking on double responsibilities and working longer hours.
But the large institutions are hiring again so it will get better shortly, right?
That would be true if those workers were located in America!  Sadly many of the needed jobs have gone overseas.  And who can blame a company for hiring someone at 10¢ a day in Asia rather than $7.25 per hour in the States?
Logic would tell you that if the American consumer continues to be treated like dirt with ever decreasing salaries they will not be able to purchase products produced by these offending companies.  But since when has logic trumped greed?
Unless our government steps in and regulates the cash flow out of the country we can look forward to continued high unemployment rates and a steady decline toward third world status.
But then logic does come into play and the owners of those companies and industry leaders who make up the wealthiest 2% of America, such as those billionaire brothers Koch push back and fund tremendous lobbying campaigns to stop any erstwhile regulatory fix.
In America we do not riot in the face of obvious corruption (most of the time.)
In America we calmly look to our leaders for solutions (most of the time.)
In America we have faith that our President can and will work with members of Congress to stem the tide of rising greed and set the ship of state back on course (not so much anymore.)
We all know the truth about the tooth fairy and the Easter bunny and we also know that the next elections are always just a few months away.
Perhaps those new elected officials will finally have our best interests at heart.
And right now that’s the biggest difference between America and Egypt.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

No Shock Just Awe


Rather than being shocked we should all be in awe of how the Republicans and their fringe factions have continued to usurp power and hand money over to the wealthiest individuals and corporations of the world.
The money grab and wealth divide, AKA trickle down economics of the Reagan era has become so firmly entrenched in the country as to be unstoppable.  After all how can it be reversed when the very
Dead time for Bonzo!
When will we finally fix all
the wrong this bozo did to us?
people who could effect the change are the ones benefitting from the system?
In the opening piece of the Broadway play ‘1776’ John Adams bemoans the fact that all Congress does is, “Piddle twiddle and resolve, not one damn thing do they solve…”
That was written as fiction but should be considered prescient in light of what we have lived through over the past few decades.
 The wealth gap between the top 2% and the rest of humanity is awe inspiring.  It has never been anywhere near as large as it is now and there are no signs of reversal.  In fact if anything it will continue to grow as new rulings such as
9 Justices - not counting Ginni
the Supreme Court’s so called ‘Citizen’s United’ gift allows corporations to basically choose our leaders for us!
An old adage says that if you can’t beat them, join them but the truth is they don’t want us! If we were to become wealthy or even start on that path it would mean that they were less elite and they cannot have that.
Groucho Marx stated that he would never join a club that would have him as a member.  Well the club comprised of the aforementioned 2% is making no such offer and never will.
But what they will say through their proxies, also known as Congressmen and women and also known as puppets is that they need more tax breaks and fewer regulations in order to create more jobs.
This would be laughable if it weren’t so tragic.  And if the scenario were presented to a Hollywood producer he would throw it out as absurd.
But it is not absurd.
It is life as we know it and life as our children will know it.
The 2% are nearly akin to Morlocks and we to the Eloi.  They throw us a bone every now and then but keep the meat for themselves.
And if we complain we are quietly blacklisted as unemployable and called names such as Socialist or Liberal as though they were insults.
But to them, our rulers those words and beliefs are worse than insults, they’re fighting words and a call to arms.  The 2% rally themselves together and sprinkle a few dollars around on Fox networks and in print publications such as their own Wall St. Journal.  Supporters such as the Koch brother who are each worth over $20 billion rally the troops on various web sites and conventions.  They stoke the fires against the dangerous masses that have the nerve to want to earn decent salaries and have affordable healthcare!
The nerve of these little people!
The machine that is the Republican Party is an admirable one.  As I said earlier I am in awe of their resolve and steadfast planning.
But searching the annals of history we find that as with most powerful groups such as this Party of the 2% society would have been so much better off had they used their strength for the good of the people.
Should we expect them to change?
Now that would be shocking.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Syllogisms vs. Silly-Gisms

Logic tells us of many ‘if-then’ situations in life such as, “If you toss a bowling ball off the roof of a building on Earth it will fall to the ground as a result of gravity.”
Statements that sound logical but under further review are found to be flawed are known as syllogisms.
One of my favorites is, “The American buffalo is a vanishing animal. That animal is an American buffalo therefore it is vanishing!”
And while it is true that all dogs are animals and all cats are animals it is not true therefore that all dogs are cats!
If history is to be used to teach then it must also be used to learn.  And the best thing we can learn from history is that it can be contradictory.
We must learn from history lest we be doomed to repeat it.
But we must also understand that if it happened before it does not necessarily have to happen again.
But the most important lesson to learn is that logic and reason must be used at all times.
Saying that evil people use guns to kill others is true but it does not mean that anyone with a gun is evil.  And it should also be noted that anyone who kills while possibly evil does not need a gun to do so.
Knives can be quite useful in committing that heinous crime.  But of course knives have a few other useful uses as well and therefore should not necessarily be banned.  I do not need the knife manufacturers of America coming after me with samples!
New York Representative Carolyn McCarthy and others are re-introducing legislation aimed at limiting the firepower of guns and the capacity of bullets in their magazines.  Ms. McCarthy is cleverly taking her argument to the schools in an attempt to educate our children!
Her claim is that with fewer bullets in a gun at any given time there will be less shots made before the gun is empty.
This is logical and irrefutable.
But an argument being used against the ban on high capacity magazines is that if someone wants to kill people he or she will find a way to do so and therefore the legislation is ineffectual and a waste of time.
One such logic denier is Budd Schroeder, chairman of the New York Shooters Committee on Political Education who used a faulty syllogism as his proof.  He pointed to the actions of suicide bombers as well as Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, and said that "the real proof is if somebody wants to get something to cause harm to somebody else, he is going to figure out a way to do it."
The argument is as silly as our original example and is a dangerous one at best.
Opponents of any gun control are very well funded and use their money freely to stop legislation.
They fund ‘testimonials’ about personal protection and rile the gullible public into believing their constitutional rights will be taken away if we allow gun control.
And from whom are we protecting ourselves with all those guns?
Obviously from other people with guns!
The opposition would rather have the entire country, every man woman and child armed with as many guns as possible.  What could possibly go wrong with that?
But if we allow this type of inane reasoning and flawed logic to rule our land then we should extrapolate the argument further.
Since any type of restriction on guns will be in and of itself ineffectual we should get rid of all constraints.
There should be no gun control laws because if anyone really wants to use one to kill he will be able to find a weapon and do the deed so why waste time writing and debating silly laws.
Obviously other items, such as knives may be used to commit violent crimes and there will be some who will use the silly argument that they too should therefore be banned.  But unlike knives guns have no other function than to shoot bullets!
And once we get that one out of the way we have to rid our legal system of all those other nasty restrictions on life as we know it such as driving while intoxicated or under the influence.  After all the law does not stop the vehicular manslaughter before it happens so what good is it?
And according to PT Barnum there truly is 'a sucker born every minute' so why waste time in Congress with laws against fraud?
Isn’t it clear that someone will always come up with a scam to dupe the gullible?
I could go on but the fact is without laws and amendments thereof our nation would cease to exist.  We would deteriorate into a world akin to “Thunder dome” or revert to the days of the Wild West with gunslingers roaming the land looking for and finding easy prey.
Religious people tell us that we are all flawed.  And within each of us is a struggle between good and evil.
In a civilized society we use laws to help us keep the evil side of our personality from gaining the upper hand.  But we must also realize that the dark side wants to be let out.  It will constantly look for an opening or a loophole in order to gain a foothold in our lives.  The best way to stop that from happening is to use logic against their silly arguments and force them into the light of day.
Guns may not actually kill people but people using them most certainly do! Limiting the access to those weapons will therefore lower the body count.  QED.
Simply logical!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

We Be Cash Cows - Milk Us!

Over the past few days Long Island’s own newspaper Newsday has reported on a tremendous number of people who have taken unfair advantage of the system and basically stolen money from the public.
The fact that they have found and used loopholes in the law is not as much a surprise as who they are and how they are justifying their acts.
They are either responding with the typical ‘no comment’ or implying that they have done nothing wrong since it is after all every man for himself in America these days.
But no justification for the kind of immoral actions can be good enough at a time when so many of us are hurting.
I applaud Newsday in their efforts to bring these characters’ shady practices into the light of day.
I have turned blue over police officers earning more in yearly pensions than they ever did in their salaries as a result of absurd overtime allowances.
I then growled when I found out about political patronage paybacks resulting in obscene salaries at the Hempstead animal shelter.
The latest in the series reports that Stephen Behar took joy in becoming the highest paid judge on Long Island.
So what, someone has to be the highest earner, right?
How much is enough?
Judge for yourself!
Perhaps, but should that person gain that lofty position because he retired?
With a pension from his former public position plus the salary from a new job this person is making $187K per year which is more than the highest ranking and currently working N Y State judge.
In the same paper there is talk about upgrading septic systems in order to head off the danger of cesspools seeping into the ground water and polluting the ground.
In other words Long Island is full of disgusting cesspools both physical and figurative.
I am not sure which one is more dangerous but both must be dealt with!
When we wonder why we cannot balance our budget or why Long Islanders pay the highest taxes while receiving less and less in the way of services we really don’t have to look much farther than immoral greedy supposedly ‘public servants’ such as these.
And it should come as no surprise to any intelligent human being that nearly every one of the people involved in scamming public funds are or have been elected to Republican Party posts.
In a related story the Federal Government is telling us to cut back on salt and get more exercise as a way to live a longer healthier life.
That is good advice that we should all heed and I appreciate their concern for our well being.
Now I have some advice in return; you cut back on your greedy partisan patronage ways and start performing the jobs for which you were elected or get the hell out of office and 
We milked Elsie for years
Now politicians are
returning the favor
allow someone with proper skills and competency to do so.
With our leaders raiding our wallets at every turn in order to fill the pockets of their already obscenely wealthy benefactors it appears the only reason they want us to remain healthy is to keep the stream of funds flowing much as a cattle rancher cares for his herd.