Gee, I'm overjoyed that the stock market has shot back up to the 15,000s. We wouldn't want the 1% to miss one cent of profit, now would we? The powers that be want us to believe that rigging the system to make Wall Street gamblers more prosperous will somehow make the average Jane and Joe financially secure. That's like saying that a bunch of rich people in evening gowns and tuxedos gluttonously gorging on caviar and foie gras in front of poor, starving folks will somehow, by osmosis feed them.
The many perversities that drive stock market prices up or down usually have no bearing or have a negative bearing on things that affect our everyday life. Translation, what's good for Wall Street usually isn't good for the average person. In their constant quest to improve the quarterly bottom line to please Wall Street, corporate CEOs have become merciless cost cutters who have resorted to shipping American jobs to places like China and India. The workers who are displaced by job offshoring create a huge pool of desperate people that other greedy CEOs, who have to answer to Wall Street, not to us, can exploit to keep the wages that they pay their employees low.
The most insidious aspect of the above is that job cuts and stagnant wages cost our country tax revenues which then cause our corporate owned electeds to try to balance the budget on the backs of those who can least afford it by cutting so called entitlements like Social Security and Medicare. That would give many Americans less money to spend, costing more jobs. Did I hear you say vicious circle? If you thought that all of that was the entire mess,you would be wrong so read on and you will be outraged.
Let's suppose that, by some miracle, you had a few bucks to spare and wanted to start a small nest egg for either retirement or a rainy day. You open a savings account at your local multinational bank because you are only able to put away a small amount of money at a time. You are shocked to find out that your “friendly” local bank is not only paying you close to or zero percent interest, but has the nerve to charge you all sorts of fees. Yes, you are paying them to keep and use your money. That's because our “friends” at the Federal Reserve Bank are giving banks money for nothing at around zero percent interest. Guess who wins when they compete with you, the small saver?
I have just scratched the surface in this article. I didn't talk about our rigged healthcare system that denies care to many people and bankrupts others with huge bills. I didn't talk about the endless, gratuitous wars for fun and profit that sap our country of its youth and tax revenue that could be put to better use saving lives. They will be addressed in future articles and have been addressed in previous articles. At this point, you might want to know what you can do about the situation? The answers are in the articles on this website. Read, read!
Hey, did you say that it's your you know what?
These days in the USA, if you’re middle class, chances are it's your life savings. Thanks to corporate greed, pensions are gradually becoming a nostalgic memory. As if that's not bad enough, many soon-to-be retirees lost a good portion of their 401Ks when they panic-sold during the 2008 financial crisis. You remember 2008, that's when Wall Street and the banks were bailed out and us ordinary, small enough to fail common folk were left to drown....oops, I mean fend for ourselves.
As if all of the above isn't bad enough for an older person's fiscal health, and if it didn't totally wipe out his or her life savings, a major illness will probably get the job done. In the good old USA,
bad physical health causes bad fiscal health. Although being insured is better than not being insured, in many cases health insurance, Medicare included, doesn't fully cover the medical expenses of a serious illness. One illness can wipe out your life savings or cause bankruptcy.
In many enlightened countries, getting sick doesn't mean going broke because they have nationalized health care that covers just about every contingency. In many enlightened countries, people can retire with dignity. Not so here because our country seems to put corporate profits
before the well being of its citizens. Case in point being the constant attacks on Social Security and Medicare that corporate owned electeds refer to as “entitlements.”
The bottom line is that our country has finally devolved to the point where it, comparatively speaking, not only has few social safety nets, but has electeds that want to either cut or take them away. The question of the day is, are we going to stand for that?
President Obama made it perfectly clear in his inaugural address that this term, he wasn't going to take any nonsense from the GOP. I am looking forward to seeing his words translated into positive action that benefits ordinary people as opposed to Wall Street, multi-national corporations and mega-banks. I look forward to his vigorous defense of the social programs put in place by Democrats like FDR and LBJ.
Since change delayed is better than Change denied, here's wishing the President a very productive second term.
During his press conference on Monday, President Obama let the GOP know, in no uncertain terms, that he wasn't going to put up with their obstructionist tactics that use the debt ceiling to impose their questionable agenda on us, whether we like it or not. I hope that the President's words are followed up by strong actions and mean an end to his seemingly endless attempts to "compromise" with GOP politicians who are only interested in bringing down, or weakening his administration. As I've said before, an administration that tries to be all things to all people winds up being nothing to everyone.
The GOP continually mistakes President Obama's conciliatory approach for a lack of political conviction. In other words, they mistake kindness for weakness. The Republicans are trying to use the bogus debt ceiling to coerce Obama into compromising away years of Democratic social programs. That's why Obama's brand new tough talk has to be followed up by strong action. The question now is, will FDR's legacy be obliterated on Obama's watch, or will he step up to the plate and be a real Democrat? The choice is his. For America's sake, I hope that he chooses wisely.
Chained CPI is nothing but an inherently deceptive stealth cut to Social Security and other benefits which guarantees that inflation will effectively shrink a Social Security check in a relatively short period of time. After you hear my description of chained CPI on the Listen Here! page, you will wonder how anyone can support it and still call himself or herself a Democrat!
I was watching the news reports of the senseless carnage that took place in that idyllic town in Connecticut and was overcome by an overwhelming feeling of grief and despair. Over the next few hours, my grief was replaced with a firm resolve that I was going to do everything that I possibly could to help prevent innocent children from being gunned down by weapons that belong on a battlefield, not in the hands of our neighbors. While I can't come up with a unified theory about the things that cause a person to reach a level of desperation and hopelessness that brings him or her to the point of taking the lives of fellow human beings, I can tell you what and who enables those sick individuals to effortlessly arm themselves. Hint, it's the same folks who want to cut your Social Security and Medicare.
Obviously, I'm referring to the GOP, a political party of consummate bullies that vigorously defends their well heeled campaign contributor's.... oops, I mean their principles! In my humble opinion, today's GOP has no political platform other than what is dictated to them by said contributors. The end result is that you have a party of extremes that defines "freedom" as the ability of an individual to own a weapon of war. One that defines protecting seniors as making cuts to Social Security and Medicare by privatizing them, making cuts to them or raising their eligibility age. One that defines "job creation" as giving corporations the "freedom" to offshore our jobs and be rewarded for it with tax breaks. One that defines "patriotism" as sending our fighting men and women off to war only to cut their veteran's benefits when they return.
If you think that imposing the legislation that results from those extreme definitions on an unsuspecting public makes the GOP America's top bullies, you are wrong. GOP politicians are squarely in the middle of the pecking order of bullies and take their orders from the real top dog bullies, their wealthy and corporate campaign contributors. The GOP voter is at the bottom of the bullying food chain and is reminiscent of the stooge toady that follows the bully around the schoolyard, doing his bidding in Jean Shepherd's A Christmas Story. In the case of the issue of gun control, I feel that the GOP is following the dictates of anti-gun control organizations like the NRA. For the sake of our children, we must stop that kind of bullying immediately!
Now that the elections are over, and campaign promises are nothing but vague, fuzzy memories in the minds of the folks that we voted into office, we are hearing constant chatter from them about the "fiscal cliff". As I've said many times, the "fiscal cliff" is nothing but a straw dog designed by our electeds to panic we, the people into accepting draconian cuts to what they like to call "entitlements." Their definition of an entitlement is any government administered social program that they see as a cash drain on the budget. That is usually something that the average citizen needs, as opposed to something the average billionaire or corporation wants. My definition of an entitlement is something that, by virtue of years of paycheck deductions or years of service is owed to an individual or something that, for moral reasons is a right.
If you are foolish enough to think that “entitlements” are the main causes of the deficit, consider the following: Any businessman worth his or her salt will tell you that there are two ways for a
business to become profitable: 1- By bringing in profits. 2- By cutting costs. Most businesses use a combination of Increasing profits and cutting costs to succeed. Failing businesses make draconian cuts that hurt their infrastructures because they haven’t been able to bring in profits for one reason or another. Successful business find creative ways to increase their profits, let's say by building a better product. A business that is competitive, doesn't have to make
cuts that hurts its future capabilities. In the case of governments, profits are revenues and costs are expenditures.
In the case of the United States of America, the most obvious loss of revenue is due to the many tax breaks that our electeds have ”given” to corporations and the wealthy. A less obvious and equally significant loss of revenue was and is caused by corporations offshoring American jobs which increases unemployment and underemployment, turning taxpayers into former taxpayers. Similarly, corporations that underpay their employees create a shameful condition called the working poor, who are not a source of revenue because they don't earn enough to pay taxes and in many cases, through no fault of their own need government assistance. To make matters
worse, many giant corporations, especially those that own big box stores put America's real job creators, small businesses out of business by unfair competition.
Folks, I didn't write this article just to whine about the current sad situation, I come to the table armed with ideas that can put our country back on the road to true equitable economic recovery. Economic recovery is as simple as 1, 2, 3, 4:
If you think that those four ideas are baloney and our electeds have the answer, please let me know.
The road to social justice for every American is a long, circuitous one. Over the years, those who have chosen to travel down that road, despite the roadblocks put up by many Republican politicians, have given us many things that we take for granted today. Franklin Delano Roosevelt fought tirelessly to give America Social Security which helps scores of Americans retire with dignity and lets many more know that a severe disability isn't a one way ticket to starvation. Lyndon Baines Johnson used his political prowess to shepherd Medicare through Congress and the Senate, giving seniors and the disabled a healthcare safety net that should be given to everybody.
Social Security and Medicare as rights are both measures of our evolution as a society, much as the elimination of debtors' prisons and the passing of child labor laws were for earlier generations. There was a common thread that ran through all of those steps that brought America forward. That thread was the strong Republican opposition that each of those Democratically supported socio-economic advances elicited. What turned those dreams into reality was that politicians like FDR and LBJ had the will, integrity and political courage to take a stand and fight for them! Voters weren't shy about letting FDR and LBJ know that they wanted Social Security and Medicare.
Today's Democrats seem to forget that their party is the party of FDR and LBJ, a party that has helped us evolve as a society. Many of today's Democratic electeds seem to prefer to pay homage to Ronald Reagan, the father of trickle down economics, something that has lined the pockets of the rich and emptied ours. They would rather compromise with (sell out to) the Republicans than fight for programs that protect our interests. In short, the real Democrats of the past wouldn't call them Democrats.
Programs like Social Security and Medicare have withstood the test of time, the bush tax cuts have only been around since around 2001 and have helped put us in the fiscal mess we're in today. I become disheartened when President Obama and other Democrats call making cuts to Social Security and Medicare or raising the eligibility age in exchange for eliminating the Bush tax cuts for the rich a "Grand Bargain." That's hardly what I would call a "Grand Bargain", in reality, it's a fool's bargain!
There was something vaguely worrisome about the President's acceptance speech that has me hoping that his next term doesn't turn out to be four more years of compromise, not change.
To see if you picked up the same vibes, visit my Listen Here! page.
Hurricane Sandy's Object Lesson For The GOP:When it comes to the deficit - Those are just numbers, these are people!
President Obama's prompt and decisive response to hurricane Sandy graphically illustrates that the GOP religion of deficit cutting is actually harmful to the future of our country. The President pulled out all the fiscal stops to help hurricane victims. Think about what would have happened if the President stopped to worry about how spending money to help those people would affect the future of America's children. Needless to say, I have some choice words for the GOP and their cult of deficit cutting. To hear my rant, visit my Listen Here! page. Do it for the children!