In the Name of Jesus, Stop Executions

I am thoroughly pro-life in all its forms.  Yes, abortion kills a living being but so does war and executions. Pro-life means believing in the sanctity of life before and after birth. Jesus made that pretty clear in his teachings and I intend to follow him in that and most all other regards.

Some folks will argue that the death penalty is necessary for the most heinous crimes, the “worst of the worst.” But it is increasingly clear that when it comes to executions in America, we are not killing the worst of the worst. We are killing the poorest of the poor. One of the best determinants of who gets executed is not the atrocity of the crime, but the resources of the defendant. As renowned death penalty lawyer Bryan Stevenson has said, “Far too often, you are better off being rich and guilty, than poor and innocent.”….

Geography often determines who dies. Texas is the death state, accounting for roughly half of all executions. This year six of the 15 executions in the U.S. were in Texas, and every remaining execution of 2016 is in this one state…

It blows my mind and breaks my heart that we continue to trust our very imperfect government with the ultimate and irreversible power of life and death. It is time to end the death penalty in America. In the name of Jeff Wood. And in th2016-08-20_06-47-21e name of another executed man … named Jesus.


Source: In the Name of Jesus, Stop Executions – Red Letter Christians

It is amazing to me that one State is responsibly for half the executions in this country.  What is it about Texas that makes it the execution capital of the world? Why are they so intent on vengeance, even wrongfully pointed vengeance? There must be something significantly different about the people in that region of the country than the rest of us. Anyone who has read many of my posts know I don’t have much respect for the State of Texas. For being such a bible-thumping State they just don’t seem to care about people, especially people different from them.

Geography,  race, and wealth,  have much more to do with who dies by execution than the type of crime committed. Thanks again Shane for helping me remember that….


Why America’s good fortune won’t last

All we seem to hear lately is how the bottom rung of the employment ladder is stuck at dreadfully low conditions. Part of that of course is the low minimum wage level. Historically, mainly due to GOP gridlock, it has not been increased nearly enough to keep up with the times.

But it is nice to see that significant gains have taken place in recent years.

The 2015 Census data on income and poverty is out — and for the first time since the Great Recession, it’s unambiguously great news.

Median household income was up 5.2 percent compared to 2014 — the largest one-year gain since 1967 at least. Income gains were strong up and down the income ladder, with the biggest percentage gains coming from the bottom income brackets. Poverty fell by 1.3 percentage points….

Second, this huge gain in median income is actually the first statistically significant increase since the recession struck — and despite its size, did not recover the lost ground since 2007. Median household income is still down 4.6 percent from 2007, and 5.2 percent from the all-time 2000 peak.

Source: Why America’s good fortune won’t last

While this report is good news, we still haven’t recovered from the meltdown that  was caused by poor regulation during the Bush administration and the way the GOP still stalling budgeting enough to fully carry out Dodd-Frank there will likely be another meltdown in the not too distant future.

I am going to make a “47%” comment here that might not be acceptable to some but I kind of think that many “trapped” in low wages are there because of their unwillingness to take personal responsibility for their circumstances.  The unemployment rate is now at historically low levels. The median income is rising but still there are those who are not benefitting from these statistics.

Yes, the employment opportunities are different than they were when I joined the job market some fifty years ago. For whatever reasons we have allowed large corporations to shed their pension plans, kill labor unions, and even the idea of a full-time employment.  I worked for thirty years at the same company while it is said that those entering the job market today will change jobs seven times during their working lives.

When a business is making something that is no longer in demand they often recover by retooling for a more modern version. It seems that is what job seekers need to do also. Retool by doing what is necessary to get skills that are in demand. One of the hindrances to doing that is the high cost of education right now. In order to get a good job you need a good education. In order to get a good education you need a lot of money.  Kind of a catch-22.

That is where government should step in. There is no reason why schooling has to be as expensive as it is today anymore than why healthcare needs to be so expensive.  Many European, and especially Scandinavian countries, provide free education and healthcare for all it’s citizens. That seems like a no-brainer to me but stubbornly we in the U.S. refuse to follow their example.


The Appeal of Simplicity In A Complex World..

2016-10-03_09-38-51.pngI loved the quote in the title above when I came across it recently on the CNN Channel’s GPS.  Too many people want easy-to-understand answers to all the problems around them. So when someone comes along and tells them that the solution to gross wealth inequity is to build a wall around the country they jump on board. When someone tells them that the answer to terrorism is to ban all Muslims and deport those citizens who don’t take a loyalty test They say “yeah, yeah”. In my mind the people who do that are just too lazy to take the time to understand the complexity of the issues.  “Get rid of immigrants and all the jobs will come back.” “Ban Muslims and there will be no terrorists in the good ole USA”. HELL YEAH!!!

I have made it known several time on this blog recently that simplicity is one of my current goals in life. To lead a simple life free of stuff is the central part of it. But there is a difference between trying to simplify your life and thinking everything has simple answers. There are unknown connections between many things in life that make “simple” answers almost impossible.

A long time ago on PBS there was a series called Connections  hosted by David Suzuki. It showed how many diverse things were connected in this world. It seems that almost everything interrelates with everything else. Nothing is isolated onto itself. The answer to wealth opportunity inequity requires serious contemplations and attacks. A big part of it is simply perception.

  • Too many people are wrongly convinced that they don’t have a chance in this world so they think and act (or maybe don’t act) accordingly.
  • Too many people think that they are unable to learn so they don’t even try.  The slog along in high school and then expect a high paying job when they get out.
  • Too many people don’t take the time to “think” and ponder the issues to find the most viable solution.  They are convinced that if they can’t find a job where they are or with their current training then there is nothing else they can do.
  • Too many people are just too lazy or have such low self-esteem to believe that they can do something about their circumstances in life. They want simple answers and easy options.

The appeal of simplicity in a complex world is enticing indeed…

Inside America’s war over political correctness

Being politically correct is one of those phrases that actually means something quite different than the words indicate. Here are some thoughts about that from my friends over at the Week.

bullhorn_final_9_6But over the past few decades, as the country has developed a more multicultural common culture, national institutions that tend to be based in diverse, cosmopolitan cities — especially the federal government and mainstream media — have attempted to foster greater social cohesion by promulgating a civic ethic of tolerance and sensitivity regarding an ever-lengthening list of potential points of tension or difference.

The consequence? For one thing, it’s probably much less likely than it once was that a Jewish kid or black kid or Puerto Rican kid or gay kid will have to endure being called any number of slurs… It’s far less common today, and for that we can thank political correctness — which for those of us who live in diverse communities amounts to nothing more objectionable than the background presumption that we will treat each other with a minimum of respect that includes the avoidance of gratuitous insults and other forms of social cruelty.

But what about the people who live in places that remain as homogenous as they were decades ago — and who very much want it to remain that way? When my wife returned to her hometown in 1988, her reprimand merely provoked an eye-roll from her parents. Today her town is still overwhelmingly white and Christian. The nearest gay bar is more than 30 minutes away on the interstate. Yet the government and mainstream media continually push the message that mores need to change to reflect a country filled with blacks and Jews and Latinos and Muslims and gays and the transgendered. To the white Christian residents of rural eastern Ohio, this sounds like unnecessary moral fussiness mixed with condescension and backed up by the threat of coercion.

Source: Inside America’s war over political correctness

I can relate to much of this story. I too came from a hometown that was overwhelmingly white and Christian and regularly heard the “jokes” about all those other people. Like the author I didn’t think much about them until I went to college and saw a different world, but even before then the jokes embarrassed me. I wondered how they could talk about someone as if they were not even human?

When our world moves from a very homogenized one to a diverse one you we basically have two options. One is feel threatened by the existence of those “other” people and the other is to celebrate the diversity of our new world. It seems too many choose the former today.  These are the folks who make up the Trump “base”.  I am hopeful that the majority of us are in the diversity camp and will actually show up in the polls in about 8 weeks to shut down the fear mongers among us.

I think politically correct means we treat others, even those quite different from us, as we would like to be treated.  But then again I do agree that like everything else there are fringes out there that need to grow a thicker skin…

The Next Step

Amazon is growing in leaps and bounds so it just makes sense that they start their own air delivery system both big and small. In order to control costs end-to-end processes are required and that is just what Amazon is doing.

2016-08-05_07-36-34SEATTLE (AP) — Seattle-based Amazon is unveiling its first branded cargo plane, one of 40 jetliners that will make up the e-commerce giant’s own air transportation network as it takes more control of its delivery process.

Source: Amazon unveils cargo plane as it expands delivery network – Business Insider

I have been a pretty constant Amazon customer for the past 15 years or so.  I wish I could say that I have also been a stockholder for that period but this seems to be another example of lost opportunities for me.  :)  I simply like the convenience of getting what I need without gassing up the car and driving the 45 miles round trip to most stores. The variety of goods that Amazon now carries is astounding and seems to grow daily.

I am convinced that Amazon is the next paradigm shift in how we get much of what we need. Maybe clothes, a high touch item, and food are not totally compliant with remote sales but Amazon is even testing those areas.  It seems inevitable that they will be the Walmart of the 21st century in that they will dominate the consumer retail sales.  For them to become number one means Walmart will have to shrink and that will mean lost jobs at many rural locations where jobs are needed the most. But since Walmart is pretty much a minimum wage employer not as much is lost as is gained in  areas where Amazon builds regional fulfillment centers. I just checked the Amazon regional center near me and it appears that they pay about $12 to $14/hour compared to Walmart’s $7 – $11/hour.  I know that Amazon has a reputation of expecting their employees to perform at fully involved levels that are not comfortable for some. I also know that their centers are highly automated.

Amazon is one of those forward thinking companies that is just not satisfied with the status quo. They are even investigating drone delivery to locations close to their centers. Is all this a good thing?  I guess it depends on your point of view doesn’t it?

Obama Invaded Afghanistan.. and Other False Tidbits…

Marketing is a strong force in our world today. If you say something enough times many people will believe it regardless of the facts.

“You must have a fire pit in your backyard right next to your outdoor kitchen…”

“Hillary is an evil evil evil person”

“Obama is to blame for the slow response to hurricane Katrina”

Say it enough and they will believe it…

“Barack Obama went into Afghanistan, creating another problem,” she [Katrina Pierson] added. “It was Hillary Clinton and her incidents in Libya, which was also a reckless decision to create that vacuum. They armed the rebels and they’re even funding them now.2016-08-14_07-55-18

“When Blackwell asked for clarification on whether she believed Obama invaded Afghanistan post-2009, Pierson responded “What I’m saying is the policies of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton … that was Obama’s war, yes.”

To clarify, President George W. Bush ordered the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in the year 2001. Obama inherited the war….

Katrina Pierson is the same Trump spokeswoman who seemingly admitted the candidate really was referring to an assassination when he quipped “Second Amendment” people could “do” something about a Clinton presidency last week.

To be fair to Pierson, it can get kind of confusing which things Obama is to blame for and which he isn’t. For example, one third of Louisiana Republicans blame Obama for Bush’s response to Hurricane Katrina.

Source: Donald Trump Spokeswoman Says Barack Obama Invaded Afghanistan

I think everyone, except maybe those who have rocks for brains, should know that all my quotes before the source and even in the source are blatantly false. But say them often enough and the rock brain people will believe them and start parroting it themselves.

The young woman mentioned above is an official representative for the Trump campaign and often says things I’m sure she knows to be untrue. But the thing about it is she  is able to keep a straight face while doing it. But, I guess being a good con is an absolute requirement for king of cons’ staff.  According to the latest polls maybe my dream most of us being sane individuals is proving true. Now that people are paying at least a little attention the con artists are being rejected.

I had a flash of insight yesterday about the “angry 50%” who are so mad at so many things.  I think part of all this are all the cable network shows that are constantly showing how the more affluent live.  They buy $4 million dollar homes on islands and then complain that they are too small or too dated.  Nuke the kitchen, its not good enough, the 150 square foot bathroom is simply too small. In the old days you only had your neighbor to compare how you were doing, now with a thousand cable channels it often overwhelms too many of us.

I grew up pretty poor in the 1950 and 60s but the thing about it was that I really didn’t realize we were poor as there was not much to compare my life to.  Many of the kids in my small rural high school didn’t have much more than I did. I had three changes of clothes and we lived in a 400 square foot house but that was the normal to me. Fast forward to today and the things that many who consider themselves financially challenged have were only dreams in my world.  TOO MUCH MARKETING IF YOU ASK ME…..

How To Exclude…

I guess Mr. Gingrich is still trying to be the VP choice for the egomaniac  candidate. His words below are a total affront to the basic meaning of America.  It is equivalent to the witch hunts or at least the McCarthy years and taunts me as the primary dark side of politics and religion.  But before I get to that lets look at Gingrich’s statement:

2016-07-15_08-01-35“Every person here who is of a Muslim background” should be tested to determine whether he or she believes in Shariah, a legal code based on the Quran and other Islamic scriptures.Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich introduces Donald Trump during a rally at the Sharonville Convention Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, on July 6. Getty Images

If they do, he said, they should be deported — even if they’re U.S. citizens. Gingrich added that anyone who simply visits any website “favoring ISIS or al Qaeda or other terrorist groups” should be guilty of a felony, “and they should go to jail.

“The Council on American-Islamic Relations condemned Gingrich’s call to “test” Muslims in the U.S. as well as the truck attack.

“When former House Speaker Newt Gingrich suggests that American Muslims be subjected to an Inquisition-style religious test and then expelled from their homes and nation, he plays into the hands of terror recruiters and betrays the American values he purports to uphold,” CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad said.

Source: Newt Gingrich Wants Tests for All U.S. Muslims After Nice Attack – NBC News

There are just too many politicians going as deep into the gutter of politics as possible today!  I wonder if Mr Gingrich would settle for making Muslims wear large cloth patches on their clothing so that everyone would know they are Muslims.  Maybe that is good enough for the “cafeteria Muslims”? What upsets me even more than his words is the lack of words against his thoughts by the rest of us.  This guy has gone completely off the rails so to speak!

Looking at this from a higher level brings out my disgust for the very concept of exclusion. It is happening far too often now in both politics and religion. America is the land of immigrants and Christianity is about inclusion. To turn both on their heads is shameful to say the least.

I know fear is a powerful emotion but it is just grabbing far to many of us in both realms. The current thoughts that drive exclusion are:

  • We need to only allow those who think, look, and behave like us in our midst….
  • Anyone who questions any of our personal principles must be avoided at all costs….
  • Our safety is much more important than our principles…

Too many in our religious circles have tunnel vision when it comes to what they they allow to challenge their fixed beliefs.  They want to exclude anyone who doesn’t tow the line.  They fear that if they allow differences of opinion that they will fall down a slippery slope into oblivian. Take out the word “religious” above and put in the the “political” and the same thing applies.

Jesus, if he was about nothing else, was about inclusion. The founding fathers of our nation were also about inclusion. To twist their words for a personal agenda is both dangerous to us as a society and deadly to our basic principles.

Race With The Machines….


Too many things in life now seem to just concentrate on the negative. Lost jobs, not enough healthcare, not enough of this or that.. On almost anything in life you can put either a positive or a negative spin on it. Why we choose the negative approach so often is beyond me. But then again don’t I do that too?

Maybe the real policy priority should be making sure that workers can do more of what robots can’t and a dynamic economy produces a never-ending supply of new jobs for the robots to try and steal. “Journalists and expert commentators overstate the extent of machine substitution for human labor and ignore the strong complementarities that increase productivity, raise earnings, and augment demand for skilled labor,” economist David Autor says. Mayb2016-06-02_08-43-08.pnge we should race with the machines as opposed to against them, in the metaphor of MIT’s Eric Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee. As for the weak 2000s job market, Autor thinks a series of one-off economic blows — the bursting of the dot-com and housing bubbles, the financial crisis, and China trade shock — are likelier culprits than automation….

A new analysis from the OECD — an advanced economy think tank — finds only 9 percent of U.S. jobs face “high automatability.” Instead of broadly looking at what occupations can be automated, the OECD researchers look at the “task-content” of jobs. Different jobs may contain a mix of tasks, each with varying levels of automation potential….

As with trade, not everyone is a winner with automation, even if it’s a net benefit to society. In particular, the OECD study notes that low-skill workers are likely to “bear the brunt” in terms of needing retraining.

SOURCE:  The overhyped fantasy of basic income vs. robots

For four summers while going to college in the 1960s I worked in a factory setting. It was a machine shop that made emergency exit doors. I’m sure all of those jobs are now being done by robots and rightly so.  They were mind numbing but then robots don’t mind that.

Most progress in this world, and there has certainly been much of that in my seventy year lifetime, is stressful to some.  When cars replaced the horse and buggy many lamented of all the noise and such and the loss of horse stable jobs. They fought cars tooth and nail so to speak.

Yes, robots are replacing many jobs previously done by people and that is a good thing as far as I am concerned. We humans are destined for greater things than sitting in a chair doing the same thing over and over and over again. The basic problem with this is that too many of us don’t have the encouragement to be confident that we can do things that require us to use our minds. Too many of us don’t think we are smart enough, or maybe we are just too lazy to do the work to make that happen.

We Don’t Really Need Their Votes…

Its about time the the Democratic Party quit even trying to pander to the racist southern white vote. They are going to hate Democrats until the day they die. It was heartening to see that the latest Democratic Party platform has nothing in it for them

Perhaps this new confidence comes from Democrats’ understanding that they have majority support in the country, and simultaneously realizing that there’s little they can do to win over the voters who despise them, particularly in the South. After years of approaching conservative white voters on their knees — Watch, I’ll go hunting! I’ll go to a NASCAR rally! Will that make you happy? — Democrats have decided that they don’t really need those voters, and they’d do better to serve the people who might actually vote for them….

At this point it’s hard to imagine how the GOP could get any more conservative unless it started advocating burning witches at the stake. Republicans’ growing ideological extremism may have freed Democrats up to be themselves without worrying about whether they might alienate some white guy from Alabama whose vote they were never going to win anyway. And the spreading understanding of the Democrats’ demographic advantage — where they have strong support among most of the groups whose proportion of the population is growing — serves to make them even more bold.

Source: How the Democratic Party quit being wimpy

Maybe Donald Trump will end up being a good thing for this country. It shows us that a significant portion of our population are out of the mainstream of 21st century American life so extremely that they should be ignored and eventually they will go away simply by attrition. The racist southern white vote still makes up a large percentage of the Republican party but most are greying and will soon leave the scene.

Given how easy it was for Trump to capture the Republican nomination for president I too find it hard to imagine the GOP could get any more conservative.  Their numbers are shrinking but not fast enough for me. I wish the moderates of that party, of which I was once one, would take back control but I wouldn’t mourn the collapse of the party to be replaced by something more willing to live in the future instead of an imagined past.

I have been finding more and more articles about young people who are embracing the challenges of today. They are prepared to take on significant debt in order to get an education that will provide them with a pathway to the future. They are shunning the 3,000 square foot homes in favor of movable “tiny homes” of 400 SF or less.  This is a dynamic generation willing to move to wherever the jobs are.  Our government needs to embrace these attitudes and help them along the way.  The first contribution is to somehow make higher education more affordable.

Sadly we need to write off many around today. Mainly those who are stuck in a very hateful past or those who are not willing to put in the effort to join the middle class. That is our future…

Guns and the Great USA…

I know guns are an emotional topic for many in this country. It is kind of like the immigration issue. Many of us have compassion for those who struggle to come to the “land of opportunity” but others see those coming, both legally and illegally, as someone to fear.  They fear they are rapists and murderers or at least taking away their jobs. Some see threats, some see love. I guess that is American diversity for you.

What are some of the common misconceptions Americans have about the gun industry, the NRA or the violence we see day in and day out? Most people believe that the NRA is an organization about gun rights. It’s not – it’s the lobbying arm of the for-profit gun industry. They work for the gun industry to sell more and more guns. Thus, it is not their priority to support any rational restrictions to our legislators that would make society safer.

Source: Making a Killing – Guns, Greed and the NRA – Red Letter Christians

The sad fact is that there are now more guns in this country than there are people. I hear the latest episode of the guy to went in and shot over one hundred people has caused the gun model he used to fly off the shelves! How sick is that.  I also learned that those who own guns often times own many of them. It is not unusual to see “gun collectors” having dozens of guns in their collections.

In many ways America is a land of obsessions. We have the privilege of having most of the necessities in life satisfied and that allow us to unreasonably seek out unnecessary things. Then there are the survivalists among us who are preparing for doomsday. They say with their firepower to hold off the hordes they will be the ones who will survive. Personally I can’t imagine that kind of lifestyle that fixates on such a scenario.  Give me love not fear for the cornerstone of my life.

Guns, especially assault rifles, are solely a means of human destruction. To think that they are a necessity is absurd if you ask me. America is a land of obsession. The definition of obsessions that it is an unhealthy and compulsive preoccupation with something or someone.  Yeah, that fits gun ownership to a T but that is not our only obsession.

We seem to be obsessed with having whatever the marketers point us to.  Now it is not good enough to have a comfortable home to provide us with shelter.  Now we must have outdoor fire pits, outdoor kitchens, even living rooms. We must have the latest designs and will go into serious debt to get them.

Its great that America, the land of opportunity, provides us with the ability to obsess over whatever we want but acting on those obsessions can be a very damaging thing to ourselves and especially our society.

On The Wrong Side Of Yet Another Issue…

It seems that the GOP is on the wrong side of yet another issue important to U.S. voters. 85% of us want congress to act to keep guns out of the hands of terrorists. So what does the GOP do?  As usual they prevent it from happening.

2016-06-24_07-38-56.pngSenate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Thursday cut the legs out from a bipartisan effort to keep suspected terrorists from buying guns.

In doing so, McConnell, a master of the Senate’s arcane rules, provided cover for vulnerable Republicans who wanted to be seen as supporting the effort, but did not want to cross the National Rifle Association.

“The scenario that Sen. McConnell set up was textbook McConnell,” said Brian Darling, a former Senate Republican aide.

McConnell had promised a vote this week to Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) on her bipartisan measure barring people on two key terrorist watch lists from buying guns or explosives.

But what he scheduled was not what she had in mind.

Instead of setting up a vote to add the Collins legislation to the pending appropriations bill on the Senate floor, McConnell scheduled a vote to discard it.

The Collins bill survived that test in a 46-52 vote, but it fell far short of winning 60 votes, the threshold necessary to overcome procedural hurdles.

The result allows Republicans to argue that no other action is necessary.

“It didn’t have sixty votes. That’s what a motion to table does. It demonstrates where the votes are,” said Don Stewart, McConnell’s spokesman.

SOURCE: McConnell quashes Senate effort on guns | TheHill

I have heard their argument that the proposed bill might prevent someone who is not a terrorist from purchasing as many guns  and ammunition as he wants. The GOP seem to be willing to sacrifice thousands of us to prevent that from happening!

Sooner or later the ones still clinging to the ultra conservative cause will finally realize that they are riding a dead horse and abandon it.  Our obsession with guns has resulted in  many times more deaths than 911 ever did.

Sooner or later the ones still clinging to the ultra conservative cause will realize that the NRA is nothing more than a lobbying organization for the gun manufacturers.  I will admit that it was brilliant to get 5 million people to purchase memberships so it can be called a club but it is really no different than any other lobbying organization in that it protects those who pay their salaries and that is the ones who profit from gun sales.  The NRA membership make up about 1.5% of the U.S. population, so how do they yield so much power. They do it by attacking viciously anyone opposing them. Sounds kind of like one of our presidential candidates doesn’t it?

A lot of stuff needs to change in the world today and much of it is right here in our country.   Before closing this post I need to get in a little snippet about Great Britain leaving the EU which is yet another conservative cause that is simply wrong headed in my mind. We, as a world, need to be coming together instead of splitting apart. It is the only way we will ever see the 22nd century.  Our world is just too small now for all of us to go our own ways…..

‘Of course’ ISIS is driven by Islam…

2016-06-03_08-41-53.pngI know that it may not be politically correct to say that ISIS is driven by Islam but the truth is the truth.. ISIS and all their offshoots take a part of the Koran and use it as an excuse for their extremism the same way that the KKK does with the Christian Bible.

“I hear so many people say ISIS has nothing to do with Islam – of course it has,” Mr. Ahmed said, using an acronym for the Islamic State. “They are not preaching Judaism. It might be wrong, but what they are saying is an ideology based on some form of Islamic doctrine. They are Muslims.”

“That is a fact and we have to get our head around some very uncomfortable things,” he added. “That is where the difficulty comes in for many journalists because the vast majority of Muslims won’t agree with them [ISIS].”

Paul Vallely, a journalism professor at the University of Chester who chaired the panel agreed, saying, “We need to open trainees’ eyes.”

“Religion is not on the way out, it is on the way in — in a big way,” he said.

SOURCE:  Aaqil Ahmed, BBC religion chief: ‘Of course’ ISIS is driven by Islam – Washington Times

Spiritual beliefs are a big part of human nature. Almost everyone has a basic need to know who created them and what is the “right” way to live on this earth. I chose the teachings of Jesus Christ as my spiritual foundation.  I take the red letters as found in the bible to heart and try to live my life accordingly. I looked to religion to strengthen my beliefs but was mainly disappointed with what I found there. Simply stated there was just too much unnecessary, often radical right political,  stuff clouds over the red letters for me.

There are many who are also disappointed with religion but take a very different track in life.  They take a  piece of a religious document and reject every thing else. ISIS as well as the KKK are examples of that group. I call them selective literalists.  But I think the crux of the truth is most of these deviants are just feeling insecure in their world. They fear this or that and try to ameliorate that fear with a rationalized religion.

ISIS is driven by Islam, that’s a fact but does that poison the many others who don’t take the extreme views that they do?  I don’t know but it does give us reason to be cautious when dealing with anyone of that variety.

I have almost come to the conclusion that religion does more harm than good in the world today. If God is really out there somewhere I think its time for her to come and straighten us out as to what she wants us to do while occupying space on this earth. We humans, including or maybe especially the theologians among us, have done a miserable job of it if you ask me. We have splintered into literally thousands of religions and they all can’t be right as each claims to be….

How Islam Is Different… Or Not…

I would guess that the moderate Islam theologians, if they really call themselves that, tire of saying that these almost weekly killings don’t represent them. It just doesn’t seem to have much conviction behind those words anymore. I know this guy who killed and injured more than 100  in the latest event probably is more a Muslim in words than in acts but he is the face of that religion for most of us.

The words below come from a Muslim scholar at the Brookings Institute who tries to point out that Islam is just the way it is and you can’t do much about it. I take exception with his words:

2016-06-13_08-24-09.pngI am a bit uncomfortable making this claim, especially now, with anti-Muslim bigotry on the rise. But Islamic exceptionalism is neither good nor bad. It just is, and we need to understand and respect that.

Two factors are worth emphasizing: First, the founding moment of Islam looms large. Unlike Jesus Christ, the Prophet Muhammad was a theologian, a preacher, a warrior and a politician, all at once. He was also the leader and builder of a new state, capturing, holding and governing new territory. Religious and political functions, at least for the believer, were no accident. They were meant to be intertwined in the leadership of one man.

Second, for Muslims the Quran is God’s direct and literal speech, more than merely the word of God. It is difficult to overstate the centrality of divine authorship. This does not mean Muslims are literalists; most are not. But it does mean the text cannot easily be dismissed as irrelevant.

via How Islam Is Different from Other Religions | TIME

Islamic exceptionalism is mainly in the eyes of the beholder it seems. I googled the term and couldn’t find any references but I think he means that to the followers it is the only true religion. Of course there are many in the Christian world who make the same claims. They say that every word in their bible comes directly from God. Many in the ‘flat bible’ arena take that to believe that they can base their faith in any of the words contained in it as each word is as important as the next.  Some make snake handling as a serious part of their worship, some take the belief that God intends all of his believers to be millionaires. They can pick and choose any words as all are equally important. Isn’t that what all the suicide martyrs are doing?

The arguments in the quote above are the main reasons why we have so much religious related violence in the world. Every believer thinks they are exceptional. No, it is not” just the way it is”.


Oh Texas, There You Go Again…

2016-05-24_07-55-55.pngAfter traveling through all fifty States I can’t help it, I have my most favorite States and my least favorite States.  Texas is in the latter category. In my mind Texas, at least the most vocal of Texans, are the epitome of bravado, arrogance,  and most sadly vengeance.

A textbook proposed to help teach the cultural history of Mexican-Americans in Texas public schools is under scrutiny by scholars, some of whom decry the effort as racist and not a reflection of serious academic study.

The textbook, titled Mexican American Heritage, describes Mexican-Americans as people who “adopted a revolutionary narrative that opposed Western civilization and wanted to destroy this society.”

The book also links Mexican-Americans to immigrants in the country illegally, saying illegal immigration has “caused a number of economic and security problems” in the U.S. that include “poverty, drugs, crime, non-assimilation, and exploitation”…

The Texas Board of Education’s members sanction textbooks for use statewide in a process that has for years been marred by ideological fights over lessons on subjects including evolution, climate change and the influence of biblical figures such as Moses on America’s Founding Fathers.

SOURCE:  Mexican-American history textbook proposed for Texas schools called ‘racist’ by scholars | | Dallas Morning News

I simply get tired of hearing how big Texas is.  I admit that Texas is a big desert State. Nothing seems to grow there but sagebrush. At one time it must have been lush to have made all the oil underground but that was eons ago.

There seem to be a lot of shows in the home flipping and custom auto variety on the air right now. From my observations I have deemed most of those from Texas as “lipstick on a pig”. They all just seem to cover up all the underlying problems with a coat of fresh paint and then try to sell it for a big profit.

Sadly most of the school books used throughout the nation come from Texas companies. I don’t know why that is? As cited in the article above they often try to put a “Texas” slant on them. Mexicans  come to our country wanting to destroy our society and bring drugs and crime with them. But then again that does sound a lot like one of our presidential candidates doesn’t it? I suspect he won’t have any problems winning Texas in the fall elections.

Anything that differs from their biblical interpretation of creation is flat out wrong to them. Climate change is also wrong because the Bible doesn’t mention it. To them, contrary to the facts, all the founding fathers were Baptist style Christians. Just don’t try to confuse Texans with facts…

Texas, along with Florida, execute more people annually than the other 48 States combined. They  seem to be a society founded around vengeance.  I mourn all the innocent people who have been executed by the Texas rush to judgement.

Now I am sure that there are many very nice people in Texas that don’t fit my view of that State but I just don’t personally know of them. Many in Texas often rant about how they should be a separate country; sometimes I kind of wish they were…

Taking Jackson Off The $20 Bill..

2016-04-21_09-02-18.pngI have said here before that I simply not a fan of Andrew Jackson. He was not my kind of president. So when I heard that they are going to take him off the $20 bill my reaction was almost a sigh of relief or maybe a pleasant suprise.

Replacing Andrew Jackson instead was the most oft-cited alternative: He was a plantation owner, a slave trader, and, as the seventh president of the United States, he forced the relocation and death of thousands of Native Americans. So axing him in favor of a more progressive and inclusive vision for America’s currency seemed uniquely appropriate.

But if you’re an economics nerd, there’s yet another reason why striking Andrew Jackson from the $20 bill has a certain poetic resonance: Namely, the man hated paper money.

SOURCE: Here’s the nerdiest reason for cheering Andrew Jackson’s removal from the $20 bill

The Native American part of my heritage could not understand why so many Democrats praise Jackson. My local Democratic party, even as small as it is, has an annual Jefferson/Jackson Day dinner. I know he is in the wrong party but I kind of put Trump into the same flavor as Jackson.  Jackson too was very a opinionated narcissist who simply didn’t care much for people different from him.

It is a shame that women have not at least until recently had much influence in our governmental process other than to be the guiding, or sometime misguiding, wife.  Abigail Adams and Dolly Madison were part of that group. I adamantly hope a woman becomes president before my time is done, but I would rather it be someone besides Hillary. Someone who has a passion, other than that of just having the power.

I think I will go out and celebrate with the first non-Jackson $20 bill I get….

From Reagan to Obama…Big Promises….

2016-05-02_09-32-12.pngI’m a U.S. history guy. I have read quite a bit about the Robber Barons of 100 years or so ago. The similarities to today are very revealing.  It took a Republican named Roosevelt to start the process of giving hope back to the other 99% of society.  I kind of think that is what is happening now.  Since there is no new “Roosevelt” around to do the job a populist movement is doing it via a faceless revolution.  Trump is simply a symptom not a cure of this re-invented movement.

The PBS segment by John Komlos below does a good job of reflection the current moods.  If you are interested in this topic I would suggest you read the entire source.

We have had a long string of very big promises from Reagan to Obama. Tax cuts, trickle-down economics, deregulation, globalization and NAFTA and bailouts all conferred tremendous financial benefits on only one group: the ultrarich. They led to the “hollowing out” of the middle class. So wealth and its concomitant, political power, became as concentrated as it was during the era of the Robber Barons at the turn of the 20th century.

So why Trump? Trump promises to bring back jobs that were lost to China and Mexico. He promises to make America — the middle class — great. He uses minorities as scapegoats — a standard strategy for demagogues to attract the support of those who have lost status and are anxious about the future. He vilifies women, perhaps in an attempt to appeal to those men who have lost out to women in the workplace….

Bigotry, prejudice, sexism, racism — all this matters not. Important to the disaffected Trumpists is that America and their place along with it will be resurrected to its former glory when incomes were decent, they were not swimming in debt, and women and minorities knew their place in society.

The establishment was good at making big promises, but in the end, they left few crumbs on the table for the middle class. But still the establishment is surprised by the middle class’ anger, by Trumps appeal. This is a generalizable rule: elites are endangered by excessive greed. And being out of touch to the last minute is not uncommon at all.

via Column: How Reaganomics, deregulation and bailouts led to the rise of Trump | PBS NewsHour

I kind of think this quote above sums up the underlying feelings around the phenomena that is currently taking place. Given the way our politics is funded the politicians are paying more attention to those who fund their ambition.

The quote about demagogues reminds me of the 1930s Germany.  As a result of World War I Germany was under the yoke of restraint. Their economy just refused to expand so that the average citizen could make a meaningful wage. Then along came Hitler who promised to reverse the current stagnant order of things. People feverishly migrated to his message even if it was impossible to obtain.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not comparing Trump to Hitler but the underlying theme is the same.  Once people have known prosperity it is hard to lose it for any reason. I will be voting tomorrow in the Indiana primary. We are one of those States that can declare which party we want to vote in at the poll.  I will leave the GOP decision to others this time around  and will be voting for Bernie, but due to the extremely conservative electorate here I image Mr. Trump will again rule the day on his way to the nomination.

The Biggest Part of Racism…

The biggest part of racism is what you learn in the home especially when there is nothing to counterbalance it.

2016-04-13_10-05-18.pngI heard these words on a recent PBS Newshour and they immediately went to my notepad for future thought.

When we are young children we know very little about the world outside our immediate home. We think of our parents as almost godly. They can do no wrong. By the time we are teenagers many turn 180 degrees in that belief but often the damage is already done.

I admit that I grew up, like most of us, in a very sheltered life. I never knew anyone that was very different from me until I was off on my own at college. I went to a Catholic grade school and a small rural high school. As I recall there was literally no one of color or ethnicity different from mine.

Fortunately, my parents although they were more racist than some did not teach me to be a racist. For the most part it never came up. But for many racism was thoroughly embedded in them by their parents even before they went to kindergarten. In my recent trip to Disney World we traveled by car.  On the return trip we decided to go through Alabama. What I saw there reminded me that prejudices are still very much a factor in that part of the country.  Many there call it their heritage and adamantly uphold its principles.

I must admit that if I have any prejudices it is for people in that area of the country. I still blame them for the million people killed during our Civil War that they provoked. To see a huge statue of Jefferson Davis so proudly displayed in front of Alabama’s capital building almost made me shutter. To me Davis was a traitor to his country even beyond Benedict Arnold. At least Arnold’s betrayal only resulted in a few deaths.  I know there are many Civil War buffs out there that celebrate each battle that claimed hundreds of thousands of American lives. I see that period as the darkest and most shameful time in our nation’s history.

Racism will continue to be a part of the American fabric for generations to come. But I have a dream that as times goes by it will strangle fewer and fewer people. God told us to love one another and he didn’t put any restraints on that command…

The Bathroom Issue…

Being a self proclaimed Red Letter Christian I am a constant follower of this website. The article below states that everyone is ignorant until they learn about a subject.  This article is about the anti-transgender law recently passed in North Carolina. It is supposedly about bathrooms but apparently it is really much deeper than that.

If you miss everything else I’m saying here, please hear t2016-03-30_06-45-46.pnghis: this legislation is not about bathrooms. The bathroom issue is real, but there are some fairly easy answers that could satisfy everyone, if that were what they were seeking. This week’s actions are just another episode in a political game that’s feeding on the ignorance and fears of us, the voting public. These politicians have learned there are several tricks to keeping their constituents where they want them, and these two are among are the most dependable: 1. pretend it’s somehow related to Christianity, and/or 2. convince the people they need to be afraid of something. Most often it seems they combine the two….

Here is a good rule of thumb in political and religious controversy: If it singles out a group of people as inferior to you, or less valuable to God, think twice, and ask yourself if your fears are coming from a biased news source or from a friend or relative who listens to such a source, and then seek to balance it with what the other side is saying, or better yet, if you claim Christianity, how does it measure up to Jesus’ example and teachings of unity, inclusiveness, and love for our neighbor? Politics is making us a more and more divided state and nation, but I can’t help but believe that we are better than this.

via We Are Better Than This – Red Letter Christians

The GOP has been very adept in keeping their coalitions together, that is until at least recently. Of course the two major components of that for the so called Evangelicals is to pretend this is a attack on their religion and that they should be very afraid of it. Sadly fear seems to drive so much in today’s world. If you look far enough in the Old Testament you can find words about homosexuality but you can also find reasons for not eating pork or many other diet restrictions.

I must admit that I don’t know much about the transgender issues. But if someone is so willing to take on the hates of the world and serious surgery to change their sex it must be a very serious issue for them. That is almost enough for me. I won’t judge them anymore than I want someone to judge me every time I eat a pork chop.

The bathroom issue, which is supposedly the prime reason for the NC legislation is an easy fix that should probably have been done years ago. Why do we have two sets of bathrooms in today’s world? Why not uni-sex bathrooms? When I was in college, dormitories were either either male or female. Now they are mostly intermixed. If we trust our teenagers to live together why can’t we quit segregating ourselves when we use a bathroom?

It seems simple and probably should have been done years ago.



The Lost Americans…

One of the things I like about the folks over at The Week is that they can intelligently talk about difficult subjects and  keep down the blah, blah, blah.  They get right to the point without a lot of unnecessary words crowding the underlying message.  I try to do the same by my self mandated 500 word blog post limit but am often unsuccessful.

The topic below about what to do about the “lost Americans” is at the root of all the turmoil today. Where is the quote:

2016-03-25_18-12-58.pngWhenever I’ve passed through decomposing Rust Belt cities or haunted former factory towns in the South, I could not help but wonder: Why do people stay? Why not move somewhere where there are jobs and a future? This, I know, is a facile, even smug, judgment: People are bound to hometowns by the powerful gravity exerted by families, friends, and community. Starting over in a strange place is a gamble that takes a lot of courage. In a startling essay in National Review, Kevin Williamson argues that those who don’t flee blighted regions have only themselves to blame for their misery, and that the white working class should stop whining and self-medicating, load up the U-Haul, and move to where the new jobs are.

In the high-tech global economy, the new jobs go to “knowledge workers” — highly educated people with specialized skills. If your only qualification is a willingness to work hard, you might land a $20,000 gig at the Hardee’s or the Walmart, instead of an $80,000 job at the plant. So what does our country do about the folks the free market no longer values? So far, the presidential candidates are offering nothing but Band-Aids and bunkum. Tariffs and trade wars will not bring shuttered factories and industries back from the dead, or reclaim the millions of jobs now performed by machines. Heavily taxing the rich and redistributing the income might cushion the fall a bit, but it will not restore the dignity and self-respect that only work brings. Let’s be realistic: Not everyone can go to college and graduate school, or become a programmer or engineer, or pack up the U-Haul and find lucrative work in the big city. We can scorn those who can’t, send them government checks indefinitely, or feed their resentments in a bid for votes. But the lost Americans aren’t going away.

SOURCE: The lost Americans.

It is sad to think that the only solution is to write off so many that are stuck in places without any meaningful jobs. The “Rust Belt cities and haunted former factory towns of the South” are in the hotbed of this presidential election. They are the prime drivers pushing Donald Trump or Ted Cruz toward the Republican nomination and giving Bernie Sanders a good part of his base.

But let’s face it, there is a significant part of our adult population who aren’t, and probably never will be, prepared for the working world of the 21st century. They just don’t have the drive or maybe the will necessary to escape their low paying jobs. They are no longer of value in today free market as all they have to offer has been replaced by repetitive robots.

Being an empath it troubles me deeply that there appears to be no general solution for this group of uneducated workers any longer. As the article says about the only thing we can do is to send them government checks and hope that the next generation understands how to get that well paying job that was lost to their fathers and mothers…


The Brain PBS SeriesWe all think we know what propaganda is but until I saw the show on PBS entitled “The Brain with Brian Eagleman” did I understand just how invasive it is. Propaganda allows us to do very dark things that we never imagined possible.

Here is a quote from the episode “Why Do I Need You”.

But there is a darker side. For every “in group” there is an “out group”. Dr. Eagleman’s labs  has show that belonging to an “in group” means that at an unconscious level our brains care less about members of the “out group. He journeys to modern day Bosnia to hear an eyewitness about what happened in 1995 when genocide returned to Europe. What could have allowed for such horrific group on group violence? Dr. Eagleman believes that neurosciences offers important answers. Dr Lasana Harris t Leiden University has discovered that there are certain circumstances under which the human brain stops perceiving others as human, and when we perceive others as less than human it’s easier to ignore them, and its easier to suspend the moral and social rules we normally live by.

Besides so effectively causing terror in us, ISIL is very effective with propaganda. There are literally thousands of people to go to Syria each year because it seemingly offer relief to their empty lives. The vast majority of these come from the Middle East and North Africa; the U.S. accounts for only a very small minority of those disenchanted souls.

Propaganda, and the corresponding lack of other information, is what keeps North Korea in the insane condition it is in where a young demigod dictator can rule over so many millions of otherwise sane people.


The True Cost of Gun Violence in America

Jennifer Longdon was one of at least 750,000 Americans injured by gunshots over the last decade, and she was lucky not to be one of the more than 320,000 killed. Each year more than 11,000 people are murdered with a firearm, and more than 20,000 others commit suicide using one. Hundreds of children die annually in gun homicides, and each week seems to bring news of another toddler accidentally shooting himself or a sibling with an unsecured gun. And perhaps most disturbingly, even as violent crime overall has declined steadily in recent years, rates of gun injury and death are climbing (up 11 and 4 percent since 2011) and mass shootings have been on the rise.

“It does not matter whether we believe that guns kill people or that people kill people with guns—the result is the same: a public health crisis.”

And solving a crisis, as any expert will tell you, begins with data. That’s why the US government over the years has assessed the broad economic toll of a variety of major problems….

An executive order in 2013 from President Obama sought to free up the CDC via a new budget, but the purse strings remain in the grip of Congress, many of whose members have seen their campaigns backed by six- and even seven-figure sums from the NRA. “Compounding the lack of research funding,” the doctors added, “is the fear among some researchers that studying guns will make them political targets and threaten their future funding even for unrelated topics.”

SOURCE: The True Cost of Gun Violence in America | Mother Jones.

I am not going to say too much about this source article. Instead I am going to let the words and graphics speak for me. I encourage you to read the entire article to really understand the costs of guns in our society.  Much of the rest of the world knows all of this and have done things to attack it. Sadly too many of our political leaders in this country simple refuse to go against the NRA to do that…





I Just Wish I Knew What I Am Supposed To Do..

2016-01-30_11-26-38.pngI just heard the words in the title of this post in the movie “Matrix Reloaded”. I hear some of you probably saying “you watch that type of stuff???”.  I realize the Matrix movies have a bad rap from the conservative community because it is waaaay out there but to me its symbolism is awesome and I do like SciFi movies.

Getting back to the topic, some versions of religions including  quite a few Christian sects believe that God controls everything in the minutest detail, including every breath we take and every thought we have.  I guess that idea is comforting to some but not me. Maybe they are perfectly happy to think of themselves as puppets whose strings are pulled by a deity beyond their understanding. But I think that stand is just laziness on their part. They just don’t want to be responsible for how their lives turn out. They would rather put that in God’s lap.

If the statement “I just wish I knew what I am supposed to do” pushed us into a mode of deep reflection that would be something else. I think one of the things seriously missing in our American culture is determination in finding our path in life. Often times we don’t ask the serious questions until it is almost too late.   I believe that God puts in each of us a passion and reason for existing on this earth.  He leaves it is up to us and those who mentor us uncover what that passion might be and then to do everything necessary to make it happen.

2016-01-30_11-27-01.png I personally think, at least on some levels, my life has been an example of how not to do things. I went to school in a small rural community in the 1950s and 60s where guidance counselors and mentors were for the most part non-existent.  Most of my teachers were fresh out of college and only doing a couple of years at our little school before they went on the the bigger cities for more money. Many, due to the lack of life experiences, were just not able to help me with my life questions. Since my father was a single parent and a very stoic man I got little guidance from him. I was pretty much left on my own with the question of “what am I supposed to do?” and that question is really beyond most kid’s abilities without some wise guidance.  It would be years before I was able to answer the question and by then I didn’t have the courage to change life tracts so dramatically.

Fortunately kids today can at least investigate many different possibilities of life via the Internet and other readily available sources.  That type of info is WAY beyond anything that was available to my generation.

I hope that teachers today, at least many of them, try to help their students address this question early enough in life. We should all discover what God put us on the earth to do…



Guns need food. Starve them.


Ammunition degrades because the gunpower inside of it does not last forever in the compressed state that it lives….

For most people, the decline in accuracy is mitigated somewhat by the fact that they never use their firearms for self-defense purposes. But it really can be a problem in the long-run. And that’s why ammo manufacturers are even more profitable than gun manufacturers.

Because ammunition is gun food, if we can starve the guns a bit, or change the way ammunition sales are regulated and controlled, perhaps we can change the way guns are used.

SOURCE: Guns need food. Starve them..

If you have read anything here you know that I am not a gun fan. I do believe that the second amendment was necessary 250 years ago because local militias were the standard for our country so we needed to make sure that people could supply their own guns.  The only militias around today are like those nuts in Oregon who want to shut down government, not protect it. The second amendment has simply outlived its time, kind of like saying a person of color is only 2/5 of a citizen. Neither apply in today’s society if they ever did in the past.

I personally know how addictive smoking is. It took me years to finally get up the courage to quit. I think guns are pretty much the same thing. The the power of guns are addictive; when you own a gun you hold the power to easily take away a life, especially the “bad” guys (but who are the bad guys varies depending on your attitude). Our addiction to guns is fed to us at a very early age. Well over half the video games sold today involve using guns. There are so many show on TV that show taking a life is just an ordinary thing.

I didn’t realize that bullets got old and needed to be regularly replaced.  The idea of bullets are the food for guns is a creative way to attack our obsession for these weapons of destruction. I like the idea of restricting ammunition purchases  as cited in the article but I would attack the problem from a different angle.

Let’s treat bullets the same as we do cigarettes:

  • We start with the premise that you have a right to own a gun but do you really need one?
  • We show very graphic pictures of the results of guns in our society.  Show how many more people getting killed by their own guns than killing people who might attack them. Show gory pictures of kids killing themselves or other kids accidentally with guns in the house.
  • We tax the hell out of bullets. Gradually increase the cost of bullets to compensate the damage they do. Make them so expensive that you must give up something you consider valuable in order to afford them.
  • Keep hitting on it so that eventually it will soak in that guns just aren’t worth the deadly cost of owning them.

I know it took years to go from almost half of us smoking to now where less than 17% of us do but it has eventually happened. Only the most excessively addicted still smoke.

I know it will be impossible to take away guns in any near term but we can, like cigarettes, eventually make people realize just how damaging  and costly they are to our society….

Guns don’t kill people, bullets do….

Shared Equity vs Pure Capitalism…

But, first, let’s look at an unusual way of running a business, by having your employees own the company. One popular craft brewery has made a name for itself in part by going that route, with strong results so far….

One of things that we think is a big societal issue is this widening gap between the haves and the have-nots. And we realized that we had an opportunity to support people owning something that was increasing in value. Shared equity has been an incredibly powerful engine for us….

The better I do, the better we do, and I personally take that to every day of my job, and it really does inspire us all to go above and beyond in a way that I haven’t experienced at other employers….

Source: Brewery workers pour their hearts into business when given a stake

Shared equity vs pure capitalism is a very thought provoking idea to me. Especially in the circumstances where we find that today’s capitalism returns are overwhelmingly skewed to the top 1% of our citizens. It is just not being shared by the people who are actually creating the wealth as it once was.  Will shared equity become the new capitalism in the future?  I can only hope so; it would indeed solve many of the social issues of our times.

In my day “the three legged stool” was the symbol for a successful enterprise. The three legs were Owner/Employees/Customers. Each had equal weight in corporate prosperity. If something is beneficial to all three then it was quickly implemented.  Over the years the Customer leg has been shortened. If something can be made for a penny less and the product will still last at least through its warranty period it is cost reduced. Product longevity and quality is missing from far to many capitalist institutions.

The Employee leg of the stool has been ruthlessly amputated. As profits rise they are never shared by those who generate them. In fact brutal downsizing has become the mantra. The median income for U.S. families has actually decreased significantly while profits sour.

The only leg getting attention now is the Owner or stockholder. He is the king of capitalism as shown by the massive increase in wealth of the ultra-rich in our society. It seems the only way to straighten out the three legs is to make the employees the owners. With shared equity another thing that diminishes is the constant need to grow profits. The new owners will usually be satisfied with a constant income and not be obsessed with more and more. It is obvious that many business fail because they tried to grow too fast.

Our industrial society started out as a cottage  industry. Small businesses were built based on local needs. Maybe it is time to start heading back in that direction. If you ask me “Too Big To Fail” is a formula for the implosion of capitalism. How to make shared equity once again happen is the question of the day.  The first answer is probably to force  politicians to join Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren in realizing that shared equity appears to be our only viable future.


Death of the American middle class??

2015-12-30_11-02-50.pngBut maybe the “death of the middle class” conclusion isn’t obvious at all. And perhaps there is more to the Donald Trump phenomenon. Yes, the modern left instinctively sees such studies as further confirmation that inequality is the nation’s premier economic challenge. Much of the media agrees. The rich are gobbling up more and more of the economy’s bounty, leaving less for everyone else. Case closed.

The Pew results are more complex and nuanced than that, however. One reason the middle class — say, three-person households making between $42,000 to $126,000 annually — share is declining is that the upper class is expanding. Back in 1971, 14 percent of households were upper class, and 61 percent were middle class. Today it’s 21 percent upper, 50 percent middle….

Now, none of this is to downplay the particular economic strain on lower-income Americans, especially those without a college degree. There is evidence that real wages for male workers without college degrees have been stagnant or falling for decades. And those are Trump’s biggest supporters. But the billionaire is competitive even among the better educated. When growth goes away or even recedes a bit, bad things happen to the American psyche.  Now combine that with fears college is becoming more necessary and more unaffordable in a time of expanding automation. The emergence of Trump or some populist like him seems inevitable.

SOURCE:  The American middle class is doing better than you think.

This is a very interesting Pew study that kind of confirms what I have thought all along. That is that there are still plenty of households who have more than enough discretionary spending to keep the economy going. If there wasn’t then who are the targets for all the extravagance shown by most cable TV shows.

If you are to believe what you see on TV then all of us should be striving or at least dreaming of backyards filled with fire pits, outside dining and living areas and covered with expensive slate. If there is no discretionary spending left then who are all these people? After all a billionaire only needs so many fire pits.

I have to admit that when I was making close to a six figure income I didn’t consider myself well off. Maybe that was because of my continuing penny pinching from my poorer years. I just couldn’t see constantly spending more and more.  When I retired in 2000 we bought a 1928 farmhouse that had gone through a couple of badly done rehabs. We spent about 70% of the original purchase price in renovations. Since that time our only expenses have been repairs. We are satisfied with the way things are and don’t have much desire for all the latest “improvement” so many say we must have.

Getting back to the original thoughts here, yes the middle class is definitely shrinking but still, as shown above, it accounts for half of all American families. Only about 20% of us really worry if we can put food on the nightly table but that is 20% too many. Then there is that 1% whose power has grown exponentially and have more money than they could ever spend but still savagely seek more and more.  And they are getting it thanks to decreases in taxes beyond sanity…

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