Archives For February 2013

As Our Newspapers Make It…

February 28, 2013
Banner - Will Rogers
newspaperI hope we never live to see the day when a thing is as bad as some of our newspapers make it. – 19 July 1934  — Will Rogers

In Will’s day newspapers were pretty much the only place to get a glimpse of the daily news. Except for a few monthlies, magazines had not come into common use. Of course the Internet and cable news networks were fifty or more years in the future. Will Rogers had two very famous quotes in his day “I never met a man I didn’t like” and “All I know is what I read in the newspaper”.

Fast forward to today and newspaper, at least the print variety, are going the way of the horse and buggy. Even the news magazines have come and pretty much gone. But what is here now is 24/7 cable news and thousands, if not millions, of different Internet news sources. Many people just feel overwhelmed by all this information available so as to tune out all but those who seem to agree with their current worldview.

Even though we have in-your-face news now it seems that many just don’t have the time to even glimpse at it, let alone attempt to absorb it. I think part of the problem is that things have just changed so much in the last fifty years relating to living. The typical family of years ago was the dad who had a good secure eight-hour a day job earning a living wage and the mom who stayed at home to nurture the kids. Zoom forward to today and most families, even if they are two parent households, which most aren’t, are often holding down three or more low wage jobs between them just to put a roof over their heads and food on the table. When you work 12 – 15 hours a day there is just not much time to for anything else.

Getting back to the topic of Will’s quote above, cable news and many Internet sources thrive on creating conflict and controversy where it doesn’t really exist. They seem to be like the kid in the school yard who was always prodding his classmate into fighting each other. I am one who takes the quote above with some seriousness.  What we see as urgent today is never as bad as those guys make it to be and that includes the sequester that everyone seems to be dreading now.

Banner -Off The Top
Schizophrenia—an impairment in social cognition which is associated with paranoia and  social isolation.

Paranoia, which is a major symptom of schizophrenia, is a mental condition in which the person often loses touch with reality.  Here is some of what Wikipedia says about this condition:

Paranoia is a thought process believed to be heavily influenced by anxiety or fear, often to the point of irrationality and delusion. Paranoid thinking typically includes persecutory beliefs, or beliefs of conspiracy concerning a perceived threat towards oneself. (e.g. “Everyone is out to get me.”) Making false accusations and the general distrust of others also frequently accompany paranoia. For example, an incident most people would view as an accident or coincidence, a paranoid person might believe was intentional.

I don’t know about you but if someone were to give me this description without a name I would say this clearly describes the people who are currently attempting to hi-jack the Republican party. Before I go any further I want to make it clear that I am not saying that everyone who wears the Republican mantel are paranoid schizophrenics.  In fact I am sure the vast majority who wear that label are not. But I am also sure that many of those who are attempting a hostile take-over that party are indeed paranoid about many things.

I just finished watch a town hall meeting that John McCain had recently in Arizona and some of the questions and speeches made there were down right disturbing! People were calling him all kinds of nasty names. They were wagging their fingers at him (that seems to be a signature of the tea party folks) and telling him he was dead wrong about immigration. Their solution it seems was to basically gun down anyone who is an “illegal alien” on the Arizona streets if they refused to self-deport.  Many of their words started with “Those people” and ended with some paranoid action.  I was surprised how Mr. McCain maintained his composure. When one person in the group stated that “all we have to do is take away their welfare checks and all those illegals will go back to where they came from!”, Mr. McCain correctly pointed out that the vast majority of undocumented are not on welfare. Then he made the statement, “you are entitled to your own opinions but you are not entitled to your own facts”. Nice comeback John.

I’m sure that many in the GOP are as frightened of these new players in their party as are the rest of us. But those now lamenting moderate Republicans must remember that they are the ones who created this Frankenstein. They unleashed him in order to try to win some seats in the 2011 house.  I wish they had thought it through before cuddling up to the Tea Party radicals.

So, what are the options for the majority who make up the GOP? There are really only two; 1) Abandon it, 2) Reform it. Obviously the easiest is just to abandon it and call yourself and independent. That is what so many of the 18 – 29 year olds did in the 2012 election. They left in droves. Reforming it will take a lot more effort. It is just very hard to put the genie back in the bottle.

I will finish of with saying that yes the Democrats also have a radical fringe in their party. The difference is that the Democratics generally keep their crazies locked away in a rubber room somewhere in the far back of the house where as the Republicans gave their radicals the key to the front door….

Taking It From Somebody….

February 27, 2013

Banner - Will Rogers

The difference between our rich and poor grows greater every year. Our distribution of wealth is getting more uneven all the time. . . . A man can make a million over night and he is on every page in the morning. But it never tells you who give up the million he got. You can’t get money without taking it from somebody. – 1 June 1930  Will Rogers

WealthAs Will points out here the difference between the rich and the poor has always been greater than many of us would like to see but I really don’t think in Will’s day it was even remotely as wide a gap as it is today.   The latest statistics show that there is about $58 trillion of wealth in the U.S.  But as the chart to the right shows 80% of the population  controls only 7% of the wealth. That is about $10,000 per person for 80% of us. The top 1% average $7,000,000/person.

But as Will further points out that there is just so much wealth that can be owned. There has been a twenty fold increase in billionaire in the last twenty years.  In order for the money to come to them it had to come from someone else. Of course we all know where it came from. It came for the wages and benefits of the 80% that have actually decreased over that same period of time.

I’m not a financial wizard but it really doesn’t seem like rocket science to me to understand that if we want to grow our GDP we must have citizens who have the money to buy additional goods and services. The 1% can only buy so many jets and yachts. :)   In fact most of their increased wealth is likely just sitting in off-shore accounts accumulating interest.  When the elite among us insist on stagnating wages there are no additional resources to grow our economy. It is a Catch-22 and that I can understand so why can’t the big shot economists in the gOp figure it out?

Banner -Off The Top

DinasaursWhen any organization becomes totally dysfunctional it is time for a major shakeup. I am becoming more and more convinced that the only way we are ever going to reduce the gridlock we find in Washington is to remove the current leadership and hopefully replace them with some who are not as battle scarred and vindictive as the current ones. The current leaders are just too more consumed with battling their rivals than of governing for the good of the country. They have lost all perspective of life outside that contaminated city.

For my Republican friends who would never conceive of voting for a Democrat I plead you to find someone in your party who can challenge the leaders in your primaries. That way you don’t have to touch the dreaded “d” word at the polls.  Both Mr. Reid and McConnell are like long toothed dinosaurs. They seem to have nothing but contempt for each other and are willing to sacrifice the good of the country to get back at each other.  It used to be that seniority in the Senate was about wisdom but I personally see little wisdom in either of these two men right now.

It is not much better in the House of Representatives. Mr. Boenher just isn’t  able to control the radical right wing of his party.  He seems to be more afraid of them than he is of the Democrats. Mrs. Pelosi is a lightening rod for the conservatives in the desert west and the south in our country.  Being from San Francisco is probably a big part of that ingrained prejudice. I do think that both of these leaders are of noble spirit but they are just too toxic for our times.

Until we can resolve the underlying contempt of and for the current leaders it will be hard to accomplish much for our country. There are many current issues that can be resolved if only we did a little house cleaning in Washington.  Closing tax loopholes is one of them.  They all complain that the current tax code is 10,000 pages long but what they don’t say is that over 9,000 of those pages are exclusions/loop hole for one favored interest or another. Why can’t they at least agree to eliminate those give-aways?  I know that much of this toxicity is not confined to the beltway but that is a most appropriate place to start.

Voting long time politicians out of office is not an easy thing so I have my doubts that it can really be accomplished.  But something has to be done or our country may soon be in deeper jeopardy than it already is and something we just may not be able to recover from.

But I’m just a simple guy so what do I know……