Friday, December 23, 2011

The self destruction of the Republican Party?

Wow, what a campaign, imagine what it will be like once people finally get around to voting!

Let's go through the campaign for the Republican presidential nomination so far, Mitt Romney is crowned the winner by the media the day he announces only to find out that most Republican voters can't seem to stand him. The voters decide that Michele Bachman is their candidate of choice until she starts saying crazy things about vaccinating children which cause the voters to drop her like a hot potato. Then the Republicans decide that Rick Perry will save them from the wishy-washy and possibly Marxist Romney. Sadly Governor Perry couldn't remember which government agencies he would kill (he was talking to Republicans, wouldn't he have been safe to say he would kill all of them?) and then made a speech that was less intoxicating than it was intoxicated. It got so bad that he couldn't even save himself by attacking gay soldiers. Next up at bat was Herman Cain who won over hearts and... well he won over hearts in the Republican party. With his 999 mantra he became the Pied Piper of the Republican primary. Sadly it seemed that saying "999" that often prevented him from remembering other words, like "Libya". Oh yeah, there was that little thing about him sexually harassing several women and having a mistress too. With the possible anti-Romneys running out the members of the GOP turned to failed politician and Tiffany's patron Newt Gingrich. Sadly as Republican voters started to hear about Newt getting paid huge sums of money by the hated Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac the shine started to fade from Newt. I was hoping we would get to hear more stories about the organization Gingrich runs that gives out awards to companies willing to pay $5,000.00 to receive the award.

And now, with the Iowa caucus' just 10 days away the flavor of the moment is Ron Paul. Ron Paul has attracted considerable support from younger voters, much of which seems to stem from his call to bring home all US troops and to legalize marijuana. They seem to ignore the blatantly racist statements that appeared in newsletters published by Paul and which carried his name. Paul has disavowed the statements and has said he didn't write the statements and failed to read his own newsletters before they were sent out. Today we learned of an advertising letter sent out to sell subscriptions to his newsletters. This letter was signed by Ron Paul so it seems safe to assume even if he didn't write the words in the letter he must have read them before being sent out.

This letter contains further racist statements, comments about secret plots unearthed by Paul using his skills as a doctor, and a plan by the US government to kep tabs on its citizens by changing the color of our money.

So does this mean Romney will win the nomination? Hard to say. It seems the GOP voters don't want to vote for someone in a primary election who isn't a lunatic overflowing with bluster and little else. Of course a candidate of this sort has little chance of winning over the independent vote any candidate would need to have any hope of winning the election.

The Republican party has been seemingly taken over by extremists on the right. Those on the right will of course claim that the Democrats have handed their party to extremists on the left but any honest examination of the Democrats will show that they have actually been taken over by a cabal of neo-Republicans, moderates, and spineless wimps. The republicans though seem hell bent on not winning the presidential election, then again maybe they don't care if they win the Oval Office.

Using a combination of the gerrymandering of congressional districts and new laws to help suppress the votes of likely Democratic voters the Republicans have developed a plan to lock down their control of the House and Senate. This will allow them to permanently remain the opposition party and exercise all the power and control they need to push their agendas.

Democrats often speak of the Republican party as if it is ran by a bunch of bumbling rednecks. On the contrary, with a little study of their tactics it seems that the GOP is being led by exemplary students of Machiavellian politics. The real question is who will really suffer from their extreme power grab?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

A story about jobs and taxes...

If you read the news or listen to the pundits on TV you are going to encounter a lot being said about jobs and how job growth would be effected by changes in tax policy. Recently a millionaire surtax was proposed but congressional members of the GOP and a few democrats started screaming that this tax would negatively effect job growth. They claimed that many small business owners would be effected by this tax and the 5.6% would cause these small business owners to curtail hiring. Of course at other times republicans have suggested that tax cuts to the wealthy would help to spur job creation. Is any of this true? Let's take a look at a short story about a small business and see how these ideas hold up.

John and Judy are a married couple in their 50's. John has managed retail operations for a computer manufacturer for the past 18 years and Judy is an accountant. They live a comfortable life but about a year ago they realized that they were tired of working for someone else and wanted to find a way to spend more time together. John loves to cook and Judy is quite a people person and so the idea came to them to open a small restaurant in the town where they live. Judy developed a plan to increase their savings so they could amass the capital they needed to open their restaurant and not have to touch the savings they had set aside for their retirement. After a couple of years of saving and studying they both quit their jobs and opened up their restaurant.

John worked in the kitchen cooking all of the food and Judy waited tables and took care of the books. From the very beginning things went well. After a couple of weeks news of their restaurant had spread and they were serving an average of 20 tables of customers every night. For just two people 20 tables is quite a bit to handle, but they both worked hard and their happy customers kept coming back. After being open for 5 months though things were about to change.

One morning Judy and John left home to go to work at the restaurant. On the way they stopped to put gas in their car and on a lark Judy bought a scratch off lottery ticket. When they arrived at the restaurant Judy scratched off the numbers and let out a yell that could be heard blocks away when she saw that they had just won $10,000.00! This was obviously their lucky day but little did they know that their good luck wasn't over. It was a good night at the restaurant and all of their customers left happy and full, it all seemed quite average until the next morning when John was reading the local newspaper. As it turns out one of their customers the night before was the food writer for the local paper and she had given their restaurant a glowing review! They excitedly left for work wondering what kind of effect the review would have on their business.

As it turns out the effect was astounding. Instead of having 20 tables of customers show up throughout the night 80 tables of customers showed up. There was no way that they could keep up with the demand and still provide the quality of food and level of service they had been praised for in the review and so they, sadly, had to turn many, many people away. John and Judy left the restaurant that night knowing that they had to make some big decisions.

They sat down the next morning to talk about how to handle the sudden influx of business they had experienced. Being good business people they knew that they couldn't count on 80 tables of customers showing up every night but knowing their competition and the area they are in they decided that 60 tables wouldn't be an unreasonable average to expect. The space that they were renting could easily handle the extra tables they would need but without adding a few employees the additional tables wouldn't help. They didn't have the man power needed to serve the additional tables. They started working up numbers and found that the additional employees they would need to deal with 60 tables worth of customers would run them around $1,200.00 a night. Their average check per table was $50.00 meaning that they were taking in about $1,000.00 a night by serving 20 tables, at 60 tables they would be bringing in around $3,000.00 a night in revenue. After subtracting the $1,200.00 per night for the total cost of the employees they would still be bringing in around $800.00 more per night in revenue, almost doubling their current revenue. Of course if they only served 40 tables a night they would be reducing their total revenue by $200.00 a night so there was risk involved in hiring any employees but they felt confident that the demand for their food would make it worth hiring a few employees.

While planning to open their business they made sure that they had enough money set aside for surprises just like this and so they ordered additional tables and plates and took out help wanted ads. Within a few weeks they were averaging around 70 tables a night as more people eating at their restaurant meant the positive word of mouth advertising about their business spread faster and created more demand. John and Judy knew that they had made a good decision and were thrilled to know that they might even be able to take some time off from the restaurant now that they had someone else to help them out with it.

So how does this relate to taxes? Did you notice how much impact wining $10,000.00 had on John and Judy's decisions to hire new employees? None. You see being good business people they had the monetary resources to handle the growth of their business. Even if they didn't have the cash on hand it would have made more sense to take out a loan for their expenses instead of spending their recent windfall. Why? Spending this money involved risk, as noted in the story when they discussed what would happen if they only served 40 tables a night. By obtaining a loan that they could pay off over time they would spread out the risk, if they had spent the $10,000.00 they won it could have been gone all at once. So just like the money they won a reduction in their tax rate would be seen as something separate from their need to hire. Hiring is based on demand, if John and Judy had won a million dollars but seen no increase in demand for their food they wouldn't have hired anyone as they would have simply been throwing their money away.

But what about a tax increase? We have been told over and over again that increasing taxes will cause businesses to stop or slow down their hiring. Again not true. The millionaire surtax that was proposed would have raised the taxes of those that it effected by 5.6%. Let's imagine that John and Judy's rent and food cost had suddenly went up by 5.6%, would they have still hired the new employees? Yes they would have. They hired because not hiring would have cost them money potentially. Hiring would allow them to make an additional $800.00 per night, not hiring would have cost them that $800.00 per night. A rise in the cost of their rent or in their food costs are unrelated to the extra demand they were experiencing just as a tax increase would be unrelated. If your weekly grocery bill goes up you don't turn your car into the finance company so you can stop making car payments. If you got rid of your car you wouldn't be able to go to work and buy any groceries in the first place. The same idea applies to a business, expenses are listed separately in their ledgers because they are individual expenses and have to be considered on an individual basis.

Taxes, and regulations, don't cause a company to hire or not hire, demand, or a lack there of, are what drives hiring. If the GOP are so pro-business why do our republican representatives seem to know so little about how businesses actually operate? Furthermore why do so many democrats sem willing to go along with their lies? The tax policies they are supporting won't create jobs, but they will allow the wealthy among us to keep more money in their pockets, and some of that money winds up being used as campaign contributions. That's what the arguments about tax policy actually come down to.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Redistribution of wealth

Today a friend of mine posted a link on Facebook to a newsletter entry from financial guru Dave Ramsey in which he discusses the Occupy Wall Street protests. It is an interesting piece in which he discusses one of the most common complaints about the movement, that it has no real, firm goals. Of course he then goes on to contradict himself by discussing what he sees as the faults of the movement's goals. I have issues with several of the things that he says, but one of them really stands out for me.

Mr. Ramsey delves into the concept of income inequality by saying this;

"I've heard a lot about wealth redistribution over the past few years, and I'm sure you've heard it too. Call it whatever you want, but this is how it usually sounds to most Americans: "We are the 99% of Americans who don't have as much as the 1%, so we're mad and think the government should take their wealth and property away so that we can have a piece of it. Wealth inequality is a moral breakdown! We should all spread the money around so everyone gets a fair share!"

I have my toughest critique for those who believe this: You are a thief. When someone takes my money and gives me no say in the matter, that's called theft—whether they're using a gun or the government. At the core of this demand is envy. And that's not the same as jealousy. Jealousy just says, "I want what you have." Envy is a different beast. Envy says, "I don't think I can ever have what you have, so you shouldn't have it either." Decades of horrible economic teaching and the politics of envy have kept this monster alive and growing and moving forward."

Well here is my question, if Mr. Ramsey is so upset by redistributing wealth why hasn't he railed against the redistribution of wealth from the poor and the middle class up to the wealthy that has been going on for years in this country and that many are pushing to expand?

The US economy is not driven by the wealthy, it is driven by the poor and the middle class. No one, and I mean no one, has become wealthy in this country just by being smart, or innovative, or hard working. Every single wealthy person has derived their wealth, directly or indirectly, off of the labor and consumption of the poor and middle class. If it wasn't for the hard work of the poor and the middle class nothing would be made in factories, nothing would be rung up at check out counters in stores, nothing would be displayed in an attractive and organized way on store shelves. If it wasn't for the spending of the poor and middle class there wouldn't be enough money flowing through our economy for anyone to be rich, the goods and services provided by businesses would just sit on the shelves and gather dust and our economy would grind to a halt. Sure, the top 1% control an inordinate amount of the wealth in this country but their numbers are so small they are in no way responsible for a majority of the spending in this country. I do not in any way shape or form deny that many wealthy individuals have put in a lot of hard work and have had to be very smart to get to where they are but without the poor and the middle class they would have had no chance to get to where they are.

Somehow we forgot this basic truth and decided that we should start giving tax breaks to the wealthy. We believed that it would be good for all of us if a corporation like GE pays nothing in taxes while a family of four with both the mother and father working pays a large percentage of their income in taxes. We call the wealthy job creators when in fact only demand, demand that comes primarily from the poor and middle class, can lead a business to hire new employees. We have decided that companies should be able to go anywhere in the world to find the cheapest labor possible so they can increase their profit margins to obscene levels while jobs are lost in the US every day and the only hope we have to bring them back is to turn our country into the same kind of sweat shop based economy that we find in the other countries where the jobs have flooded in. We have decided that turning our nation into an environmental wasteland makes sense because companies shouldn't have to deal with common sense regulations that protect all of us if it means their CEO can't take home 4500 times the wages his or her average employee makes. Trickle down economics is a lie that forgets that wealth only trickles up in a capitalist economy. Sure it can produce short term booms that make most people happy, but it also produces extreme busts that make it almost impossible for people to survive and that from which our economy never fully recovers.

It seems like everyday we hear of a new tax plan that will cut taxes on the wealthy and raise taxes on everyone else. I'm not just picking on republicans here, the Bush tax cuts weren't ended by the democrat we have in office currently. But tax plans that increase the burden on the poor and middle class ignore a major fact, the wealthy get the most benefit from the government spending the revenue it takes in. Lets say you start up a car company. You will immediately be benefiting from the roads that exist in our country and that were paid for by tax dollars. The roads, after all, give people a place to use the product you want to sell and allow the market for your product to be vastly larger than it would be without the roads. You also benefit by having a road system that allows the parts for your products to be moved to your factories. Then of course you benefit by being able to use the roads to transport the cars your company makes to the dealerships where they are sold. Oh yeah, roads make it much easier for your workforce to get to your car factory every day so they can build the cars you hope to sell. You are getting a huge amount of benefit from something that was built by the government and paid for with taxes, in fact I doubt your company could exist without this important government benefit. But how much benefit do your workers get from the roads? It seems the major benefit would be the roads make it easier for them to get to work, which of course is also a benefit for the car factory owner.

Of course the factory owner also benefits from the public education system by being able to hire educated workers, and he benefits from the social security and medicare systems by not having to pay out big pensions, and he benefits from the national park system by having places that people will want to drive to which makes his cars easier to market. The list goes on and on. We all benefit from the money our government takes in from taxes, but the wealthy can benefit much more than the poor and middle class and yet people like Mr. Ramsey think that the wealthy shouldn't have to pay any extra for all of these additional benefits that they receive. Mr. Ramsey thinks that asking the wealthy to pay into a system that they are more than willing to take from is theft. Well if a theft has been perpetrated it has been by the wealthy over the past few decades and we should take such an accusatory tone towards those trying to make it right.

I mean I think I understand a little. The wealthy think they are the reason they are wealthy. We have this myth of the self made man in our national psyche and we really believe that if we work hard enough that we can all be rich. Sorry, this isn't true, plain and simple. If you are wealthy in the US the greatest likelihood is that you were born into wealth. You may have not taken loans from your parents, you may not have received an inheritance from them, but you were raised in an environment that gave you a big leg up on everyone else. You didn't learn from your parents how to put off paying the light bill as long as possible. No you learned how to pick a good stock broker who could help you increase your wealth. You didn't have to go to a community college, even if you went to a public school it is very doubtful that it was a poor inner city public school. You had fewer worries so that you could focus more on what your future would be like and didn't have to concentrate on making it week to week or day to day. If you are wealthy you probably grew up with all the tools you needed to continue and grow that wealth and so you had a big advantage on everyone else. But you think you did it all yourself, and if you could do it anyone can.

Well I am sorry to say that this just isn't true and I hate to tell you this, but those people the wealthy think are trying to steal from them with redistribution of wealth aren't thieves they are just people trying to make it by and who think it is time for the wealthy to pay us back for all the support we gave them that allowed them to be wealthy. I am all for people being filthy rich, work hard, use your smarts and the advantages you are lucky enough to have. Just get to be filthy rich in a fair and truthful way, redistribution of wealth is about being fair an truthful and I can hardly see that as theft. After all, Mr. Ramsey is very open and proud of his faith, and Jesus said in Luke 12:33, "Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys." If Christ says that the redistribution of wealth isn't theft I'm going to believe him over Dave Ramsey.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Occupy Nashville Arrests, take 2

I woke up this morning to hear that 29 individuals were arrested last night for peacefully protesting in a public location. The government of Tennessee will say that they weren't arrested for protesting, but instead for violating a curfew imposed on this one location. Of course this curfew had only been instated that day and was obviously instated to stop or at least curtail the protest.

The US Constitution and the Tennessee Constitution both guarantee the right to free speech and the right to peacefully assemble. The state of Tennessee violated both of these rights for the individuals arrested. Tonight there were more arrests.

The information I have received via live video streams from the Occupy Nashville web site says that around 30 more people were arrested tonight. The Tennessee Highway Patrol officers conducting the arrests refused to give out their names when asked, had their badges covered, and refused to give out their badge numbers. One of the individuals arrested was apparently a reporter for a local news paper who was there covering the protest, he had his press credentials and showed them to the patrolmen, he was still taken into custody. Another reporter who questioned the arrest was also threatened with arrest. The first reporter was told that his press credentials didn't matter because he was not on public property which in fact is not the case.

Freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom of the press were stomped on tonight by the state of Tennessee. I have not been an active supporter of the Occupy movement simply because I won't be part of a group unless I know exactly what they stand for and the Occupy groups have been purposefully vague. I do, however, actively support the exercise of the rights guaranteed to all of us by our Constitution. We have to stand up against this type of oppression, we have to stand up against this type of governmental disenfranchisement. If you are a resident of the state of Tennessee please contact your state representative and senator and strongly voice your disapproval with the actions that have been taken by the state against these protesters. You can find contact information for your state legislators here;

Contact information for Governor Haslam can be found here;

You can contact the Tennessee Highway Patrol as well;

Sunday, October 23, 2011

How to take our country back...

All around the country, in fact all around the world, people have joined the individuals in New York who are part of the Occupy Wall Street movement. I hesitate to call it a movement because "movement" implies something is going in one direction or another while the Occupy Wall Street groups seems to be headed in 10 or 15 different directions at once. So if any of them are looking to stand up for something instead of just being angry at something I am offering my assistance by proposing that everyone support a three step process for taking our country back.

Step one, End corporate personhood. Corporate personhood is a legal concept, technically (and I am not making this up) a "legal fiction", that states that corporations are people and have the same rights as people in out country. Yes I agree, this is completely ridiculous but it is true. In 1886 the US Supreme Court ruled that corporations are people and are entitled to the rights you and I are. So when a case came before the Supreme Court charging that laws against corporations funding or supporting political campaigns were unconstitutional the Supreme Court had to look at the earlier court's ruling and agree. If corporations are people then they should be able to support political campaigns just like anyone else. I am dismayed by this ruling but I can see why the Justices ruled the way they did. So now we need to fix the problem set up by the Supreme Court back in 1886 and the only way to do this is a constitutional amendment. This amendment would state that only individuals are granted rights under the US constitution and that no organization is entitled to the rights provided for in the constitution. Step one complete.

Step two, Reform campaign financing. I'm not talking doing something minor here, I am talking a major overhaul.

*Only registered voters will be allowed to donate to political campaigns. No corporations, no unions, no political action committees, no civic groups, not even political parties. If you can't vote then you can't donate.

*Individuals can only donate to candidates they can vote for. I live in Tennessee, I can see no reason why I should be able to donate to the campaign of a candidate running for the governor's office in Idaho.

*The maximum donation is $500 per election cycle per candidate. This would allow everyone to donate up to $500 per candidate in every election they can vote for. Heck they could donate $500 each to two candidates running against each other if they want to, but only $500 per candidate per election cycle.

These changes would go a long way to making each of our votes count and would take the influence of big money out of campaigns and out of running our government. The wealthy would still have their say, but they wouldn't be able to shout over everyone else with their money.

Step three, End all lobbying. We must eliminate the system of citizenship by proxy that is currently transforming our nation from a democratic republic to an oligarchy. Each of us has one vote we should each also have one voice. You could contact your elected representatives as often as you want, you could encourage others to contact their representatives as well, but no one could speak for anyone but themselves. A CEO should not be able to spend any more time with the President or a senator than I can, if nothing else we should be equal in political representation and the CEO should not be able to hire people to speak for his or her interests. One vote, one voice.

Steps 2 and 3 require that step one happen first but if we the people could yell and scream loud enough that these three things happened we the people would be in charge of our government once again.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The anti Federal Reserve cult

I have been involved in a discussion with a few individuals in the Ron Paul anti-Federal Reserve cult the past few days. I call it a cult because these people have completely drank the kool-aid. They believe exactly what they have been told and completely ignore any factual information that might cause them to question their beliefs. They try to proselytize and bring others into their cult by screaming about conspiracy theories and completely ignoring facts. They talk about the Fed being run by a secret cabal of mysterious individuals who don't have to answer to anyone. They scream about all of the harm the Fed has done while ignoring the Fed's positive accomplishments. They are cultists and Ron Paul is their prophet and supposed savior.

To be honest I am not the Fed's biggest supporter, I think Alan Greenspan helped to put our economy into the crisis situation it is in now with his complete faith in the Chicago School of Economics. But the mistakes of Alan Grenspan, large as they may be, are no reason to destroy an organization that has allowed us to not suffer through the wild swings of inflation and deflation that our country endured before the Fed existed. The Fed also brought us through the transition away from the gold standard which had we stayed on it would have destroyed the middle class in the US with the fairly constant supply of gold versus the quickly increasing US population after World War II. The Fed is far from perfect and could use a bit of restructuring, as could all of our economic institutions, but to claim that it is solely responsible for everything from our current economic woes to the murder of of US House of Representatives member Louis McFadden, to the Great Depression is not a sign of political involvement, it is a sign of insanity. To those Ron Paul supporters who may be reading this, think about your vote, I worry that Ron Paul, if elected, could become the economic version of Jim Jones.

Friday, October 21, 2011

super-micro economics

If you have read much of my blog you know that I talk about economics a lot. A whole heck of a lot. This post is about micro-economics, micro to the point of just being about me.

The economy is tough right now and boy am I feeling it. I am currently unemployed but making a small amount of money by selling a few nice vintage items online (come check it out and buy some stuff at my etsy store!) so things aren't quite as bad as they could be but they aren't good either. You see me and my husband have a house, but my husband is also working on his PhD in another city. I am here so we can keep the house and also to be close to our families and this means we are paying for 2 places to live, 2 electric bills, 2 water bills, etc. My husband is still working on weekends (this kind of blows since the weekends are the only time we can see each other) and gets a very small stipend from the school he is attending, but we are well below the poverty level as a household, so if you ever thought I was some well off guy just blabbering about things I don't understand, trust me, I understand things.

So if anyone knows of a part time job let me know, I can't sell plasma unless some rules are changed so that's out of the question, but I sure can pump out some articles if you need anything written :-)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Decline of America

Recently the Christian Science Monitor published an article detailing the decline in the standard of living in the United States. Income levels have been dropping, disposable income is vanishing, total wealth is on the decline with falling real estate values and the less than stellar performance of the stock market in the past few years. When I was young parents just assumed that their children would lead better lives than they had. Now many parents wonder how their children will make it which adds to the stress these parents endure wondering how they are going to make it as well. In all of this pain there is one bright spot. At least it is bright if you are in the top few percent of income earners in our country. You see while poverty and despair extends its grip all around you have seen your income go up. Corporate bonuses keep being handed out and huge donations keep getting paid to the politicians who will protect and enhance the wealth of the richest Americans no matter what the cost to most Americans.

We now have presidential candidates promoting tax plans that will shift even more of the tax burden onto the poor and middle class while saving the wealthy millions each year, that's not a typo, the wealthiest Americans would save millions if the 9-9-9 plane were to pass. We have seen the effects of "trickle down economics" and yet we allow our elected officials to keep passing laws that only benefit the wealthy and the corporations they profit from. We have allowed our country to get into this shape, easy and cheap credit allowed us to spend like we were wealthier than we were and as long as we could make the minimum payment we felt rich and saw no reason to change things. We were fooling ourselves and when it came time to pay up we realized we couldn't, we had given just a few people in our country control over our money and what control we didn't give them they bought themselves.

Tea Party supporters often scream about wanting their country back, I'm not sure what country they are talking about. A country with less regulation that ignores its poorest citizens and works only to make the rich richer while everyone else, the people that do the work and spend their hard earned money so the wealthy can be wealthy, get left behind? Well that is the country we have now, so that can't be what they are talking about. Maybe they are talking about the country that placed high tax rates on the wealthy, had a "war on poverty" created safety net programs instead of killing them so the government could save money and pass those savings onto the wealthy. The country that had strong unions which helped make sure that the workers in this country got paid a fair wage. The country that passed regulations to protect the health and safety of its people and knew that the business community was smart enough to deal with these regulations and still make a profit. The country that was prosperous and saw increasing income levels across all economic classes. If this is the country they wan't to get back, because this is the ACTUAL country that we used to have, the I will stand with the Tea Party supporters. Sadly the Tea Party people want the country that the wealthy have dreamed up in the fantasy world they live in and that so many in this country have bought, hook, line and sinker. This country never really existed in the US until now, but it bears a strong resemblance to a lot of third world countries where the rich have ben getting richer for years.

The wealthy love poor people. Poor people will work for less money and complain less for fear of loosing their jobs. Poor people make the wealthy wealthier and they hope to expand the population of the poor in the US. The wealthy will bring jobs back to the US when we are willing to work in the conditions and for the wages that people in places like China and India deal with. The Tea Party didn't take the country back but, with the permission of most of America, the wealthy took it away from us.

Friday, October 14, 2011

A question for the average American revisited

Recently I asked which was more dangerous to the average American, radical Islamists or radical capitalists. So far no one has responded and so I thought that this might need a bit more explanation.

On September 11th, 2001 the United States was attacked by terrorists who murdered nearly 3000 people in one day. Our nation's reaction was incredible. We, for a period of time, were unified in support for each other and in our outrage at the small number of unthinkably horrible people who had committed and planned this insane attack on our country.

A 2009 study found that around 45,000 Americans die every year from a lack of health insurance. There have been several attempts over the years to create a universal health care program in the United States. These programs have been defeated by the efforts of those who profit hugely off our current system, the health insurance industry, the pharmaceuticals industry, for profit hospitals, etc. What if all of the 45,000 people who die every year from a lack of affordable health care all died on the same day at the same location? Now we don't know about their deaths unless we know an individual who dies from a lack of health care personally, and then we might know of 1 or 2 people a year who's deaths are related to an inability to receive care for a condition that could be treated if they were able to afford the treatment. But if all 45,000 died on the same day, at the same time, in the same place while cameras rolled and the news media reported on their deaths, I believe we would have a man hunt for those who profited by denying these people the care that they needed the next day and by the next week we would have universal health care in this country. No one would be talking about socialism, everyone would be talking about the injustice that had killed these 45,000 people.

On 9/11 thousands of people lost their jobs as the places where they worked were destroyed by mad men in airplanes. Since then millions have lost their jobs as our economy has been destroyed by mad men in corner offices. If all of those jobs had been lost on one day. If the pink slips had all been handed out to every last one of the currently unemployed at the same time and from the same place how would things be different? Would the people responsible for the rise in unemployment still be receiving huge bonuses and sitting in their offices on Capitol Hill or would they be locked away in jail?

We are a nation that responds selflessly to an emergency as long as the emergency can be viewed in its entirety in the time it takes to watch the evening news. But we have death and suffering going on around us every day. Each day the body count is small, but cumulatively it eclipses any earthquake or hurricane or terrorist attack our nation has ever endured. We will spend billions of dollars, thousands of lives, and more time than we could ever imagine to hunt down an enemy that does great damage in one swift and horrible moment. But extend the time frame of the disaster and we can't find it in us to overcome our own selfishness to rail against our attacker. I believe the radical capitalists are fully aware of this phenomenon, lets hope our nation's outside enemies never figure this out.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Rick Santorum, my favorite republican presidential candidate.

You have to love Rick Santorum, if you google his name you will get a good laugh. He tried to blame the sexual abuse of minors by Catholic priests on the acceptance of the private relationships of consenting adult gay men. He compared same sex marriage to bestiality and pedophilia. He is an incredible idiot, but he is an honest idiot willing to say exactly what he thinks no matter how stupid it makes him look. Last night at the Republican presidential debate he got even more honest.

During a discussion on how the US should deal with China on issues like the trade debt and China's manipulation of their currency the phrase "trade war" was tossed around several times. Some of the candidates discussed how to avoid it, some seem to support starting a trade war with China. Rick Santorum had this to say;

"I want to go to war with China and make America the most attractive place in the world to do business."

That's an interesting thought. You see what has made China such an attractive place to do business are things like ridiculously low wages for the workers in China. A lack of labor regulations to protect workers from things like being forced to work excessive hours or to keep children from working in factories, or to make sure that conditions are safe for workers also makes China an attractive place to do business. China's lax environmental regulations mean that the country has been turned into an environmental basket case where in many areas it isn't safe to drink the water or even breathe the air, which of course also makes China a wonderfully attractive place to do business. Apparently Rick Santorum thinks it would be great if the US was just as attractive of a place to do business. I bet some of the other candidates wouldn't disagree with him on this. At least Santorum is honest about it.

A question for the average American

A few posts back I asked a question to all of my Christian friends, today I ask a question to a wider audience, the average American.

What is a greater threat to the average American, radical Islamists or radical capitalists? Before you answer think about this second question, how many radical Islamists are in our government writing and voting on laws that will effect all of us as either elected officials or lobbyists? How many radical capitalists are in our government as either elected officials or lobbyists writing or voting on laws that will effect all of us?

Feel free to answer by leaving a comment below.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

National Coming Out Day

Today is National Coming Out Day and I feel it is one of the more important days of the year when it comes to moving forward on full equality for the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community.

You have probably seen pools in which people are asked if they support gay rights. Quite often the question about gay rights is followed up by a second question, "Do you know anyone personally who is gay or lesbian?" This second question is the one that interests me the most. As you would expect those who answer "yes" to the second question are much more likely to answer "yes" to the first question as well. That makes perfectly good sense. What makes no sense at all is the fact that people still answer no when asked if they know anyone who is gay or lesbian.

There might be one or two old hermits who live in remote areas of the Rocky Mountains and who only eat what they can find and who refuse to ever talk to another human being period who could say that they don't know anyone who is gay or lesbian, but they aren't going to be answering the phone to take one of these surveys! Lets face it, everyone knows someone who is gay or lesbian. We are your friends, your family, your doctors, your convenience store clerks,your lawyers, your burger flippers, your teachers, your neighbors, sometimes we are even your florists and hairdressers. Who we are is who everyone else in this country is, but some people still think they don't know anyone who is gay because no one has ever said to them "I'm gay". It is important that we in the LGBT community be open and honest about who we are, not just with our close friends and families, although we should start there, but also with the people where we work, the people where we go to church, the people where we shop, we should be open about who we are everywhere so that no one can believe any longer that they don't know anyone personally who is gay.

If we can get our society to this point then the fight for equality for LGBT people will be over. We will not win this battle with lobbying although there are plenty of groups who will claim it is the only way and take your money so they can prove themselves wrong. We will not win this battle by screaming slogans and carrying signs even though that can be quit a bit of fun. No, we will win this by showing that we are a diverse group of people no better or worse than any other group and no less deserving of equal rights. Oh yeah, a little help from the Courts wouldn't hurt too :-) The fact is that once people know us and realize that they have known us for years, they will have a hard time looking us in our eyes and saying we don't deserve the same rights as they do.

I understand that many of you think you can't come out. I thought that for a long time as well. All I can say is stay safe, do not risk your safety to come out of the closet, and secondly start working on getting yourself to the point where you can come out to as many people as possible. Life is much better when you aren't hiding, this I can promise you. I also believe that living as who we are as individuals makes all of our lives better as a group. No one has to come out today just because it sounds all "official" today, but if you are still in the closet on any level, think about what coming out will do for you and for everyone else and start moving towards that goal. You may not come out today, but it is as good of a day as any to start working on it.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Herman Cain, out of touch with the people or just reality in general?

"Don't blame Wall Street, don't blame the big banks, if you don't have a job and you're not rich, blame yourself! It is not a person's fault because they succeeded, it is a person's fault if they failed. And so this is why I don't understand these demonstrations and what is it that they're looking for."

These words came from Republican Presidential candidate Herman Cain, a man who is gaining in the polls and who has also recently said that no one in the United States is held back by racism. So, according to Mr. Cain if you are unemployed, if you are a single parent struggling to raise a family because your ex just disappeared on you one day, if you were born with a disability, none of this matters. Your financial difficulties all come from your personal laziness and lack of ambition.

To me this is insanity, but to Mr. Cain it makes perfect sense. You see the current system has worked for Mr. Cain and he believes that everyone has had the exact same opportunities as he has, has the exact same skill set that he has, and therefore they could have had the exact same level of success that he has if they had only worked hard. Aren't you all ashamed of yourselves now?

A few years back I worked for a gentleman in a small company that he owned. I was the very first person he hired for this company and it was undoubtedly very successful. He had also worked very hard to make his company successful, I do not deny this. You should also know that he came from a very wealthy family, was surrounded by business people growing up who offered encouragement and support. When his parents passed away they left him a considerable sum of money along with some real estate. Lets just say that his experiences growing up were remarkably different than mine.

I grew up in a blue collar, middle class family. My father worked in a factory and my mother was a waitress for most of her life. I was surrounded by people who worked exceptionally hard, some worked several jobs, and many who still had a hard time making ends meet. I can't relate to my former employer's childhood any better than he can relate to my childhood, but at the same time I don't think the opportunities made him less of a person than me.

One night I was at a restaurant enjoying a meal with my husband, my boss, and his husband as well. Yes we did have a few things in common. My boss had a few drinks and as the night progressed he wound up insulting me, my husband, my mother, my brother, and a few of my friends. He was angry and screaming these insults, our crime in his mind? Not being wealthy like him. You see my family's struggles with medical bills, in his mind, came from us being to lazy to work hard enough so that we earned enough money that medical bills wouldn't be a problem. By the way, my brother was blind from birth and had had two kidney transplants and a liver/kidney transplant. My brother had graduated from college and wanted nothing more than to get a job, but having a job would have made him lose his health insurance coverage which was provided by our father's employer. Of course to my former boss my brother just hadn't worked hard enough and should have been willing to risk going a few years without health insurance so he could get a job and contribute to society. Everyone else was insulted for the same general reasons, we were all lazy and had no reason to complain because we were simply living the life we had chosen for ourselves. He also claimed that all homeless people choose to be homeless so they can live of of the hard work of others.

To my boss, and I am guessing to Herman Cain, everyone's value as a person is directly related to the value of their bank accounts. They seem to think that it is the natural state of things for everyone to be millionaires like they are. Does Herman Cain not realize that if it wasn't for the low wage workers at the pizza chain he used to be CEO of he wouldn't be as wealthy as he is today? If he paid all of the cooks and counter help a real living wage the price of the pizza would have been so expensive that no one would have bought it. Does he not realize that it was the money of the middle class customers of his pizza chain that made him wealthy? I have no doubt that Herman Cain worked very hard as CEO of this company, but his work would have been for nothing if it wasn't for the poor and middle class who bought the company's products and staffed the company's locations. If we were all millionaires our economy would crumble and cease to function, we can not all be rich, plain and simple.

Of course the wealthy, every single last one of them, owe their wealth to the labor and spending of the poor and middle class. Our work and our money is more important to their wealth than their own hard work and good luck. We can't all be rich but the wealthy owe us for their wealth and they should be paying their fair share in our society. If they don't they may find themselves learning what it is like to live our lives. You see we can't all be rich, that is simply not possible, but we can all be poor. The way things are going that seems to be the most likely outcome as the wealthy destroy our economy with their self aggrandizing ideas about being self made and their apparent belief that they have the right to be wealthy.

Sometimes an individual can fail and it not be their own fault, but if our country fails it will be the fault of those who think they have succeeded.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Occupy Nashville

On Thursday afternoon I attended a demonstration that was part of a growing number of protests across the country inspired by the individuals camped out in the financial district in New York. I went out of a sense of curiosity as much as anything else. I had heard the media reports stating that the Occupy protesters were a rather motley group with no particular focus and supporting ideals that could be considered in conflict with each other and the dynamic of this fascinated me.

Today I heard a new narrative coming from a few different sources. They were talking about how the wide net thrown out by the Occupiers would allow the movement to grow larger and quicker than if it the groups had a limited number of ideals and issued it supported. Let me tell you what I saw here in Nashville.

The protest I attended was the second location of the day where the Occupy forces demonstrated. I have to admit it was a bit odd. The turn out was quite large for Nashville and the crowd was pretty diverse. There were old and young hippies, there were anarchist punks, there were Ron Paul supporters, and there were a few people that have been at every protest I have seen in Nashville no matter what the reason behind the protest. I may have been the odd man out as I didn't fit in with any of these groups.

The protest was fairly disorganized but I'm OK with that, heck, I have organized a really disorganized protest before. What struck me as less than ideal was a slight feeling of unease that some of these disparate groups seem to hold towards each other. I need to firmly state that this feeling was very slight, there was no indication that anyone was being driven away by anyone else, but still, the feeling was there.

Then tonight I visited the Facebook page for Occupy Nashville and the unease seemed a bit more palpable. Individuals called for the group to coalesce around eliminating the Federal Reserve and others complained about these calls. Some said that the group needed to decide if it stood for freedom or equity as it couldn't stand for both. Others were already saying that Occupy Nashville might not be the group for them.

I am not saying that this movement is doomed to fail or simply waste away, but I do think that they need to realize that simple anger alone isn't enough to build a movement. Bringing focus will cause some people to leave, there can be no doubt about this, but it will give those that stay behind more to work for instead of just having something to rail against. We need the anger being expressed and we need the anger to grow, but if Occupy is to succeed it must not allow that anger to be aimed inward.

I know what I would like to see Occupy take on as its primary goals, but my casual observations didn't lead me to believe that there would be a lot of support for rational business regulation and tax policy aimed at benefiting the largest number of people. I heard a few conspiracy theories but not a lot of thoughtful discourse on how to cut through the propaganda being broadcast by the business community that has brainwashed our country over the past few decades.

I am excited about this movement, it is at least not apathetic, and I hope it grows and prospers and most importantly I hope it becomes exceptionally effective. I will be watching Occupy closely, in the media and in person as I hope it becomes something I can support. At the moment though I just don't feel that I can support ending the Fed or starting drum circles as I can't see how either one will put anyone back to work.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Umm... Wow, Thank you, I really don't know what to say!

The 2011 Best of Nashville edition of the Nashville Scene just came out and surprisingly enough my little cardboard box on the sidewalk of the blogosphere came in second place only after the Nashville Scene's own blog for best political blog. Now you can tell all of your friends that this crazy, lefty, blog from George Oeser is kind of legitimate which is nothing I ever though would have happened.

But just remember, in all of this virtual celebration, real people are trying to convince us that what is in their best interest is what is in our best interest, people are being discriminated against for things totally out of their control, people right here in the US, heck, lots of them right here in Nashville, are hungry when we have more than enough food to go around. Fixing all of that is up to us, so lets get to work.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Business will not and can not save us.

Forgive me, some of what you are about to read I have written before. I felt the need to consolidate it though as I think it will make more sense if presented all at once.

We hear, on a regular basis, that the private sector has to pull us out of the economic mess we are in. This, I am afraid, is a massive load of fly covered, warm, stinking, crap. Let's take a look as to why business can't save us.

Businesses exist to make a profit, plain and simple. Businesses do not exist to create or provide jobs. Businesses do not exist to promote the health of the economy. Businesses exist for one reason and one reason only, to make a profit. Sure, some businesses claim they exist for other reasons but if they aren't making a profit they go away pretty quickly, so, businesses exist to make a profit. Now that we have that out of the way let's take a look at what that means today.

Many people are waiting for businesses to start creating jobs so that we can begin pulling ourselves out the economic hole we are in. This isn't going to happen. Businesses hate hiring, employees cut into profit margins as labor tends to be the largest expense for almost any business that involves more than 2 people working for the company. Hiring is a last resort for companies, they would rather push their current employees to produce more or install robots or other machinery than to hire additional workers. Businesses only hire when demand for their goods and services exceeds the company's ability to meet the demand and they can safely recoup the expense of additional employees by meeting the excessive demand.

But there is a problem inherent in this system. Demand is linked to income. If you lose your job your ability to spend is going to drop and you will not be adding to the demand side of the equation. So while it is in a company's best interest to keep its workforce as small as possible this leads to a serious problem for the economy as a whole. On top of this it is in a business' best interest to stockpile cash so that in a downturn it can continue to hang on in hopes that things will turn around. Of course taking this cash out of the economy makes less cash available to the people who generate the demand for a company's goods and services, and the people who generate that demand are quite often the same people the company laid off to help reduce its costs. So while we are waiting for the business community to save us they are simply acting in their own best interests which also happens to be one of the worst things that could happen to the economy as a whole.

The first economist to recognize this inherent contradiction of capitalism was Karl Marx. Being one of Karl Marx's theories would on its own make the idea dismiss-able to many people in our country, except some pretty well known economists are starting to pay attention to this theory. Economist Nouriel Roubini is one of these economists. Dr. Roubini predicted the current global financial crisis 4 years ago and his prediction seems to be pretty darn spot on. So now he is recognizing one of the biggest challenges we face, what makes the most sense for business makes the least sense for our economy.

So what do we do? President Obama has proposed that we put people back to work by repairing and improving our nation's infrastructure. This would involve raising taxes on the wealthy to pay for the program and then giving this money to the companies who will do the work so that they can hire individuals to actually perform the work which will create the jobs and provide the pay checks we need to jump-start demand and get us all back to work. But there is a flaw in this concept. If the government channels the money through businesses the businesses will do exactly what they are supposed to do and maximize their profits. How will they do this? By hiring as few people as they possibly can which puts a bit of a kink in this jobs program. Business will be doing exactly what it should do but it won't be doing as much as possible to use the tax payer dollars it will be receiving to create jobs.

We have a demand problem in this country which is caused by a lack of jobs and the fear and uncertainty unemployment causes in the poor and middle class who are the primary consumers in our economy. The wealthy have been called "job creators" recently when they do almost nothing to create jobs, it is the spending of the poor and middle class who create the demand we need to force businesses into hiring, the poor and the middle class create jobs, the wealthy just profit off their labor.

Some will say that the reason businesses aren't hiring is because they are over burdened with taxes and regulations. This is simply not true. Lets say we eliminated all taxes and regulations on businesses of all types in the US. This would save these businesses a tremendous amount of money, there is no doubt about that. But if you ran a business today and suddenly had a mass of cash dropped on you would you A. save that money and wait for things to get better? or B. go out and start hiring new employees when you don't need them because there is little or no demand for your good and services? Taxes and regulations aren't keeping any businesses from hiring, they just try to blame the lay offs and lack of hiring on them in hopes that it will save them some money and increase their profits, profits they won't waste by hiring additional workers.

So, it won't be the business community that pulls us out of this hole, in fact it would go against their best interests to really help our current economic situation. We can start off by increasing taxes on the wealthy, but instead of turning that money over to a collection of companies the government should do the work itself and hire the workers needed to do the work itself. This will make our country a better place to do business because of improved infrastructure and create the maximum number of jobs which will also help out the business community.

Getting our economy back on track is something that the private sector simply can not do at this point and there is no other organization that can tackle a problem of this size besides the government. The private sector has brainwashed the country into thinking that only the private sector can get things done. It is time we realized there are things the private sector simply can not do. If we don't come to this realization and act on it the private sector's self serving attempt at mind control will back fire on them. I just hope it isn't too late already.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A question for Christians...

Here is a question for all my Christian friends.

If there were no heaven and no hell, if when you die there is nothing, you just die, and I'm not saying this is the way it is,but hypothetically if when you die you simply cease to exist, would you still be a Christian?

Everything else remains the same, the only thing that changes is what happens to us when we die, if death meant death would you still live your life the way Christ tells us to? There would be no reward in the afterlife but no punishment either, would you allow yourself a few sins you don't now and would you continue to love and forgive the way you do now?

What drives you as a Christian? Is it God's love or a future reward or fear of a punishment? If you would like to answer this question please comment on this page, I would be interested in reading your answers.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Occupy Wall Street

This isn't getting covered by the news media, got any idea as to why?

People have been protesting on Wall Street in New York City for days. Protesting to draw attention to the simple fact that the US government is no longer by the people and for the people it is by the corporations and for the corporations. Businesses now run our government and we don't have the right to vote out the people who run these companies. They don't care about anything but maximizing profits and they sure don't care about the people of the US. We should all be getting upset that our votes are being invalidated by corporate money but for the most part we have decided to just sit by and let big corporations decide what is best for us when what they really care about is what is best for their bottom line.

The Tea Party movement was created and funded by big corporations, but that isn't the full story. Even the Democratic party seems to have fallen almost completely under the influence of the money the fat cats toss around. Now we have people in NYC standing up for us and very few are taking notice. They are out on the streets 24 hours a day and we aren't taking notice. They have been maced without provocation and we are not taking notice. I hope they can can give us all the kick in the pants we need to start standing up to our elected officials so they can understand that all the money in the world won't get them reelected if we don't vote for them. I would recommend that if the folks in Washington DC and in our state governments don't start working for the people of this country that we not vote for them. We hired them and we can and should fire them if they insist on working for just the banks and the corporations instead of for the people who put them into office.

So go look at the Occupy Wall Street site and see if it doesn't make you angry. If it doesn't then you probably deserve the government we currently have.

Friday, September 23, 2011


Looks like we have a pretty interesting crop of candidates seeking the Republican party's nomination in next year's presidential race, even more interesting are the crowds that keep coming out to see the candidates debate.

In the second debate we heard members of the so called "pro-life" Republican party cheer when the hundreds of people were mentioned that have been executed in Texas since Rick Perry became governor and later on in the evening when Ron Paul was asked if someone should be allowed to die simply because they couldn't afford health insurance members of the audience shouted their support for letting the poor die.

So the "party of life" seems to be made up of individuals who are big fans of killing and death and while they don't want to sacrifice anything themselves by doing something crazy like paying their fair share of taxes at least they support the military, right? Well maybe not. Last night's debate questions came from average, everyday, people who posted their questions on youtube. One of the questions came from a member of our military who is currently stationed in Iraq. Did the crowd cheer this man on to show their support for a member of the US military? No, they booed him because he is gay.

This man risks his life to serve our country, has been forced by his government to lie about who he is until the last few days, gets booed for being gay, and when he asks if the Republican candidates will try and remove some of the gains that gay and lesbian members have made in the military Rick Santorum (google his last name) says that the man should be forced back into the closet and the crowd erupted in cheers.

Members of the Republican party have said that they want to take our country back, take it back? Take it back to what? Jim Crow laws? The Dust Bowl era? The Salem Witch Trials? Or do they want to take us all the way back to the Roman gladiatorial spectacles? It seems like they are turning into, not a "party of life", but a party of death and bigotry and hate. I know they are strong words, but they seem pretty weak when you compare them to cheering for a poor person to be left to die.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Troy Davis

Today, September 21st, 2011, Troy Davis was executed in Georgia for killing an off duty police officer. There was no physical evidence to connect him to the crime. Seven out of the nine witnesses who testified against him have recanted their testimony saying they felt pressured by the police at the time to implicate Troy Davis. Another person confessed to the crime that Davis was accused of. Still the State of Georgia executed Davis.

Many say they support the death penalty because of religious reasons, "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth" is a statement found in the Bible after all. They seem to forget that it is found more than once in the Bible.

Matthew 5:38-39

38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’
39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.

If you are a Christian then you should follow the teachings of Jesus Christ, and Christ rejected the idea of "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth". If Christ rejected it then why are so many Christians clinging to it? Christianity does not support the death penalty, plain and simple, we have the word's of Jesus himself to go by on this one. We should never allow another person to be killed in the name of "justice" because there is nothing just about murder no matter who is doing the killing.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Undocumented workers and racism

Today I was deleted from the friends lists of an aunt and uncle of mine. This is not a post to complain about petty facebook or family politics. No, this is a post to lay out some facts about racist attitudes that are all too common in the US today.

My aunt posted a comment about undocumented workers and how we should close off our borders because they are taking jobs away from Americans, not paying taxes, and receiving benefits paid for by tax payer money. Lets take a look at these claims.

First of all there are approximately 14 million "officially" unemployed people in the US but this doesn't include those who have been unemployed for so long that they have stopped receiving unemployment benefits or those who are dramatically under employed, working part time jobs at very low wages while they are looking for full time employment. If we add those numbers in we reach a figure closer to 31 million. There are 11.2 million illegal immigrants, from all nations, in the United States. So, if we assume that everyone of those illegal immigrants has a job, which would be a false assumption, and we deported all of them tomorrow we would still have a huge unemployment problem. Furthermore many illegal aliens that do find employment in the US wind up working as migrant farm workers. These are jobs that have been filled by immigrants for years and years, why? Because Americans don't want these jobs. But lets assume that all of the undocumented migrant workers left tomorrow and US citizens decided to fill those positions. US citizens would probably demand higher wages for the same work so we can count on food prices going up. If we stop buying the food that would have been picked by the undocumented workers because of the price increases then the production of that food will simply move to another country where labor is cheaper. This of course will cause some US farms to close and this of course will cost jobs in the US. So, we have an unemployment problem in this country that isn't going to be fixed by shutting down our borders and if we did it could cause further economic issues because of a lack of cheap labor. Throw that myth out the window.

Illegal aliens are often accused of not paying taxes and I'm not sure how people think this happens. Have you ever bought something at a store and been asked to prove that you are a legal resident of the US and told that if you aren't you don't have to pay sales tax? Do you think undocumented workers get special pay checks that don't have taxes taken out of them? In fact a recent study showed that illegal immigrants paid over $11 billion in taxes in the US last year. So while illegals pay billions and we get angry at them major corporations pay nothing and no one wants to kick them out of the country.

As far as receiving benefits go, I am again confused as to how people come up with this idea. Illegal immigrants are fully aware that they are in the US illegally and they want as little contact with the federal and state governments as they can manage. Very few government provided benefits are available to illegal immigrants, for example illegals are ineligible for food stamps unless at least one member of the household is a US citizen but even if they can over come this barrier many wouldn't apply for fear of being discovered and deported. While illegal immigrants are able to get emergency medical care, no one should be asked to prove their immigration status before receiving medical treatment to save their lives, they aren't eligible for medicare or social security even though they may pay considerable amounts into both systems. In fact, far from costing our country money study after study have shown the net positive impact illegal immigrants have on our economy and some have even claimed ending illegal immigration would severely damage our economy.

So illegal immigrants aren't the reason so many Americans are out of work right now, they are paying taxes, and they aren't costing us tons of money by collecting government benefits, in fact they are actually helping our economy. Surely though they must be filling up our prisons? Well no. Studies have shown that illegal immigrants commit fewer crimes per capita than us natural born citizens. So if they aren't causing all of these problems that we are blaming them for why do so many people seem to hate illegal immigrants?

When you say the words "illegal immigrants" I would be willing to bet money that many, if not most people immediately have an image of a Latino person pop into their head. This is pure and simple racism. There are over 42 million Latinos in the US but there are only 11.2 million illegals here. Statistically this means that the vast majority of Latinos that you might come in contact with every day are not here illegally and yet I know too many people who assume every Latino they see is undocumented. They see a Latino working at a restaurant and automatically think they took that job from an "American". They see a Latino waiting in line for food stamps and automatically assume they are an illegal and taking advantage of the system. They see a Latino attending college and automatically assume that person shouldn't be there. This is nothing more than racism and we need to realize that we may have more of a race problem than we have an immigration problem.

In the 1930's Hitler accused the Jews of being responsible for Germany's economic problems. He said that Jews were taking jobs that should be going to "Germans". He said that the Jews were destroying German society. This was wrong then, and it is wrong when it happens in this country as well. My aunt and uncle may not want to talk to me now, but if anyone expects me to sit back and listen to their racist comments without speaking up they are sadly mistaken.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Demand, demand, demand, demand!

We have all heard the functioning of our economy summarized as "supply and demand". Well tonight at the Republican presidential debate they left half of our economy out. All discussion of our economy and its problems was limited to tax cuts and reducing government regulation. The candidates all seem to think that this will fix our economy and get everyone back to work. This of course shows that all of the Republican presidential candidates are either total morons or liars.

So lets say we cut taxes, especially on businesses and business owners, and reduce government regulation. Both of these actions would give businesses more money to spend and so of course they would immediately start buying new equipment and hiring new people. Umm... no.

You see as many times as the candidates want to say that the reason businesses aren't hiring is because they are worried about taxes and regulation this just isn't true. If the government was to reduce taxes and cut regulations the money saved by businesses could be used for expanding production with new equipment and employees, but it could also simply be saved or used to pay off debt the business had acquired. I would think that most businesses would look at the current economic climate, consumer confidence levels, and the low levels of demand across the vast majority of our economy, and decide that right now investing the money they saved back into their business would be too great of a risk. Instead it would make more sense to simply pay off some debt or hold onto that money until the economy starts improving and then use it to do a bit of hiring. Tax cuts for businesses and the wealthy and eliminating regulations are solutions to a supply problem. We don't have a supply problem right now, the store shelves are full and companies are reporting record profits. The candidates tonight though kept promoting ways to fix a supply problem when what we have is a demand problem.

So how do you fix a demand problem? Simple, you start off by raising taxes on the people with the most money and who don't do the most consumer spending, that would be the wealthy. Then you take that tax money and use it to fix our roads and bridges and electrical grid and dams and to improve public transportation. To do this you hire hundreds of thousands if not millions of people and pay them for their work.

How will this fix the demand problem? When all of those people have pay checks they can spend they will spend them, they will buy groceries and gasoline and clothes and cell phones and computers and cars and all sorts of other things. When they start buying the companies selling and making the things they are buying will have to hire new people to help keep up with the demand. When the people they hire start getting pay checks they will go out and spend money creating even more demand and more jobs. We can't fix our economy by concentrating on supply, we have to fix the demand side of things and as much as it will cause conservatives to scream and complain when they hear it, business can't fix demand, only government can do that. We saw this in the Great Depression and we are seeing it again right now.

What puzzles me is how so many people could believe the self righteous lies they were told tonight at the Republican debate? This is not complicated economic theory, it is plain and obvious and can be understood by anyone of average intelligence which can only mean that the people of this country are either too lazy to figure out the truth, or too greedy to want to know the truth, or too stupid to understand the truth. I'm hoping they just haven't had someone scream the truth in their face loudly enough yet. So if you hear some yelling coming from my direction you will know that I haven't given up hope yet.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Labor Day

Today is Labor Day, a day when people from all over the United States get together for cook outs or head to the beach for this last long weekend of the Summer. We now see it as the non-official end to Summer but it started off as something completely different.

In 1893 workers for the Pullman Company that made sleeping cars for railroads, went on strike to protest low wages and high rent (the workers all lived in Pullman, IL a company town where you lived in a house you rented from the company, bought goods in a store owned by the company, etc.). The strike turned violent and supporters of the strike from other railroad unions son started boycotting trains that contained Pullman cars along with vandalizing and burning some of the cars. The railroad industry in the US was brought to a standstill.

The government declared the strike illegal and sent in troops to quell it. Some of its organizers were thrown in jail, workers for Pullman were forced to sign statements saying they would never form a union again and the railroad unions were effectively destroyed until they were reborn during the Great Depression. The US Congress and then president Cleveland wanted to make some sort of move to reconcile with workers across the country who were aghast at their actions and so in 1894 they made the first Monday in September an official holiday to celebrate the workers of our country.

Today Labor day is nothing more than an excuse to go to the beach, but it should be much more. It should remind us that it isn't the CEOs and Executive VPs that make this country great, it is all of the hard work done by ordinary people who make this country great and who's work allows the CEOs and Executives to make the big salaries that they do. Make all the CEOs in this nation suddenly vanish and it might be a while before we notice, make all the trash collectors vanish suddenly and we will all take notice right away.

We need to use this holiday as a time to remember that wealth is created by the poor and the middle class and then makes its way up to the wealthy by a process of concentration, the wealthy never create wealth they only consolidate what others have created. We need to use this holiday to remind our government that all of this is true and if they want to turn the economy around they need to look at what they can do for the people at the bottom of our economy, help them and the wealth will trickle up, helping those at the top ONLY helps those at the top. We need to use this holiday to stand up and say it is the workers and laborers that made this country great, crush us and you destroy the nation. Lift us up and we can all fly.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Facebook comments and jobs

When I write a new blog posting I always link to in on Facebook so my friends there will feel pressured to read it. Quite often I get comments about my blog on Facebook and after my last blog post I received a very interesting one.

A friend I went to junior high and high school with took exception to my call for a new government jobs program similar to the programs started by FDR during the Great Depression. My friend wanted to know what the government could give people jobs to do. He stated that we had all the roads and landing strips we needed and wondered how many more parks we could really use. He also argued that a program like FDR's would be ineffective because the private sector is taking care of our infrastructure needs today and so there is no reason for the government to tackle any problems we might face. These are fair questions and arguments and so I did my best to answer them.

I told him that of the 600,905 bridges in the US 72,868 are listed as being structurally deficient, an additional 89,024 bridges are functionally obsolete meaning that over 25% of the bridges in our nation are in need of serious repair or replacement. Add to this our crumbling sewage systems, road problems caused by disrepair and inability to carry current traffic loads, the fact that nearly 20% of the dams in the US are at risk of failure, and an electrical grid that is barely capable of carrying current demand and that is at risk of being shut down by cyber attacks and it seems pretty easy to see how the government could find huge numbers of jobs for people to do that obviously aren't being taken care of by the private sector. I thought I had done a good job of addressing my friend's arguments but my husband suggested that the information I listed might not really speak to the concerns of my friend. I can't say that the two of us have been terribly close since we left high school but from what I understand my friend has been pretty successful and now lives in a very nice city in Tennessee. So I started to think, how could I show someone like my friend the value of a government jobs program similar to the efforts used to pull us out of the Great Depression?

We have all heard the old saying, "Think globally, act locally" and it occurred to me that using local examples of how FDR's programs impacted people and the economy might be the best way to go. So here is my new answer to my friend's questions.

If we look at the history of the State of Tennessee from the Great Depression till today we can see several examples of how FDR's programs like the Civilian Conservation Corps and the Works Progress Administration benefited and are still benefiting the people who live in our state. Three small cities in East Tennessee provide a great example of this. The thing all three share in common is their proximity to the Great Smokey Mountains National Park (GSMNP). The GSMNP was chartered in 1934 and was the first national park in the US who's land and other costs were paid for in part with federal funds. All previous national parks in the US had been funded with state and private funds only. After the creation of the park a considerable amount of work had to be done to turn its rough terrain into a park that would be accessible to large numbers of visitors. Since the park was created during the Depression workers from the CCA and WPA were sent in to construct the roads and buildings and trails that would turn this rugged mountain landscape into the most visited national park in the United States. All of this work, performed by individuals being paid directly by the US government, had a great side effect in the area as the number of jobs created vastly outnumbered those produced by the work going on inside the GSMNP. Three little towns suddenly found themselves along the route a majority of visitors took to get to the GSMNP and these towns started offering lodging and food and other services for the many visitors that came to the mountains.

Gatlinburg, TN was a small, sleepy, isolated community. In 1912 it consisted of only six houses. But in 1934, the first year of the park's existence, 40,000 visitors passed through the city. In 1935 500,000 visitors passed through the city and the numbers have been going up ever since. Pigeon Forge is a town that sits a bit further out from the park but it also was changed dramatically. The main thoroughfare in Pigeon Forge, and most of the side streets are lined with hotels, tourist attractions, restaurants, and outlet malls. Dollywood, one of the most popular theme parks in the nation is located in Pigeon Forge. All of these thousands of businesses operate in a town that only had a population of 5,083 in the year 2000. Obviously finding a job is not a big problem in this community. The third town, Sevierville, sits along Interstate 40 and is the county seat of Sevier County and is much larger than either Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge. A visitor exiting the interstate at Sevierville still has a 45 minute or so drive before reaching the GSMNP but that hasn't stopped the city from taking full advantage of the tourist industry. There are over 2,000 hotel and motel rooms in this city of 14,101 residents and they generate over $500,000.00 each year in tax revenues alone.

All three of these towns are perfect examples of how the job programs had a positive impact well beyond the jobs they directly created. Here's the thing, these programs ended almost 70 years ago, but in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and Sevierville they are still, to this very day, creating jobs. These programs created the environment that allowed entrepreneurs in East Tennessee to succeed and bring the people in the area along for the ride. No private sector business would have ever made the huge investment and took the risk to buy the land and build the infrastructure required to create the Great Smokey Mountains National Park. The government took the risk and millions of people are still benefiting from the government's actions.

Of course my friend and I don't live in East Tennessee so let me see if I can get even more local. The two of us grew up in Hendersonville, TN, a city in Middle Tennessee just outside of Nashville located on Old Hickory Lake. We both attended Hawkins Jr. High School, one of the older schools in town. The oldest section of the building was built, you guessed it, during the Great Depression and I have been told that the CCA was responsible for its construction. I can't say with 100% certainty that the CCA did build our school but knowing its age I have no reason to doubt that they did. If they did it means that my friend, and myself, both directly benefited from a federal jobs program that had ended decades earlier. We both received part of our educations in this building, this building had something to do with what we have both become and who we are today. We are both, at least to a small extent and probably to a much larger extent than we will ever realize, products of a set federal jobs programs. Programs that helped to employ millions and put food on the tables of countless households across the country and played a major part in bringing our nation out of the deepest economic crisis it has ever faced. Yes, my friend and I are the products of a set of programs that ended almost 70 years ago and that are some how still working for all of us today.

Why should we institute a major new federal jobs program in this day and age? Because we need the jobs today, because the need the infrastructure improvements today, because our economy needs the help today, and possibly most of all, because we owe it to all the people who won't be born until after all of us are gone. This isn't a choice, this is our duty as Americans.

Many complain that we shouldn't expect our children and grand children to pay for our debts. I think it would be much worse to also saddle them with the added cost of our apathy and unwillingness to act while we still have the chance.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Economic lies

It seems like everyday I hear someone on TV saying that the government can't create jobs, only the private sector can do that. I also hear people talking about cutting government spending as a way of stimulating the economy. I am sick and tired of these lies.

First of all the government can create jobs. Take a look at history for an example. FDR started several jobs programs during his administration. Not only did these programs greatly improve the infrastructure of the US they also created millions of jobs. Between 1935 and 1943 the Works Progress Administration alone (the WPA was one of many programs that provided jobs for unemployed Americans) created more than 8 million jobs. These 8 million jobs put money back in the pockets of individuals all over the US who then spent this money on food and rent and other goods. This increased demand then created even more jobs and helped pull us out of the Great Depression. There was only one problem, FDR, like many Republicans today, was strongly opposed to deficit spending.

In 1937 FDR pushed for fairly severe spending cuts. His fear of deficits caused him to pull billions of dollars out of the economy as it was recovering. The effect? The US, in 1937, plunged headfirst back into recession. Spending cuts in no way helped the economy, they sent it into a tailspin.

So why, when we know that the government CAN create jobs and therefore increase demand which in turn stimulates the economy, are we allowing our government to destroy our economy with their claims that the government can't create jobs? Even worse, when we know that spending cuts during a period of economic contraction or slow economic growth is the worst thing we can do, why are we believing the lies we are being told about spending cuts?

We need to stand up to our representatives and tell them that since businesses aren't creating jobs it is time for our government to do it. We need to tell them that unless they support a real job creation plan that we will vote against them in 2012. We need to tell them that we can pay for a job creation programs by taxing the wealthy and that history also tells us that this won't harm the economy at all. From 1945 to 1963 the US economy experienced its longest and greatest period of growth while top income tax rates ranged from 70% to 91% so obviously taxes do not in any way effect economic growth or private investment.

We have to stand up and acknowledge that we are being lied to and then stop falling for the lies.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Money, people, and politics in Tennessee

I have recently started a new job as part of a grassroots effort with the Tennessee Democratic Party. Myself and the people I work with go out each day and talk to voters, we tell them about new demographic information the Democratic party has obtained that makes it easy to see how the Democrats in Tennessee, if we get the ball rolling now, can make the 2012 and 2014 elections turn out very differently from the 2008 and 2010 elections. We work to get the Democrats we talk to excited about this information and the new path the party is on. We speak with as many people as we can each day in order to make the Democrats of Tennessee understand that we need their help. We need volunteers and we need contributions to utilize the new information and tools we have at our disposal. We do everything in our power to make it clear that Democrats can win in this state, but only if we have the help of the people who will most benefit from the election of more Democrats.

The problem is that each and every day I have people tell me that I am wasting my time. They believe that Tennessee has become a Republican controlled state and that there is nothing that I or any one else can do to change that. The sad thing is that, if we think this way, they are right. Luckily if we decide that this state is worth fighting for, and it is, if we decide that things like public schools and Medicare are worth fighting for, and they are, if we decide that we can take this state and our nation back from the wealthy, self appointed elite that now control it, and we can, then we can make all of these things happen. But only we can make all of these things happen, no one else is going to do it for us.

The Democratic Party in Tennessee is going through a period of change as we speak. For years the party operated as a "good ol' boys" network with the control of the party resting outside of the hands of the average Democrat. Well the old network has moved on. A state House, Senate, and Governor's Office in Republican hands has made the good ol' boys look for greener pastures and this has put a dent in the Democratic Party's finances. At the same time it has created a great opportunity for the rest of us. Someone has to fill the vacuum left behind and if we act now we, the average, everyday, less than wealthy, Democrats in Tennessee can step in and have our voices heard in a greater way than they ever have before.

The way we do this is easy. We get involved. The party needs your contributions of time and money. You don't have to spend 40 hours a week at party HQ and you don't have to write out a check for $5,000.00. But the time that you can spare, you know that time you normally fill playing games on facebook, and the money that you can spare, think of how much you spend each month on eating out or on going to the movies or on drinks after work, will not only be of great help, it will also get noticed. Trust me, the party knows which areas donate the most and the most regularly. The party knows the average income levels and racial make up of the areas where volunteers and donations come from. The party knows this and will take notice, but if we don't contribute there will be nothing to notice.

A great opportunity has been laid at the feet of the voters of this state. Especially those voters who may rightfully feel that the Democratic party has not paid close enough attention to the issues that effect them the most. We have the opportunity to make the Tennessee Democratic Party our party. Will we make the most of this opportunity or let it slip away?

If you would like to make a contribution to the Democratic Party of your time or money you can contact me through this blog and I will be happy to make that happen. Because together we can make it happen, we can become the change we want to see in the world.

Monday, August 1, 2011

The best day of our lives.

This past Saturday my partner, Ranger, and myself had the best day of our lives.

You see this past Saturday was our wedding day. Before you ask, no, we aren't legally married anywhere. We did, on that day, sign legal documents setting up a domestic partnership agreement, medical and financial powers of attorney, and wills, but there was no marriage license as gay marriage isn't recognized in the state of Tennessee. On that day though the lack of legal recognition didn't matter.

We had the ceremony at the bar I used to work at. We would have loved to have had the ceremony at the church we attend, but the United Methodist Church strictly forbids conducting ceremonies celebrating the love of two men or two women on church property. On that day however, the lack of recognition from our church didn't matter.

You see on that day our relationship, our love, was recognized by our families and our friends. Even though we couldn't have the ceremony at our church several members of our church took part in the ceremony. That day we stood together on the stage in a bar, a straight bar, in a run down part of town, and we publicly proclaimed our love and commitment for each other in front of the people who mean the most to us.

The crowd completely filled the room and as we stood there looking out at a group of people who were gay, straight, transgendered, black, white, Asian, young, old, wealthy, poor, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, atheist, and who were willing not to embrace just us, but everyone else in the room with us. It was a beautiful and remarkable sight to see that much love in one space. As the ceremony progressed we sang together, laughed together, cried together. All of us, in a matter of a few minutes, became a community. My partner and myself watched total strangers become friends, we saw people with almost nothing in common bond with each other over a piece of cake and a cup of punch. We saw the love we feel for each other reflected in our friends and families. What we saw, in this simple place, filled with ordinary people, was nothing short of a miracle.

We appreciate so much all of the people who were there, all of the people who helped make the ceremony possible, and all of the people who couldn't attend but sent their well wishes to us. We thought that this would be a great day, but nothing could have prepared us for how wonderful it really was. Now we are challenged to take what happened that day and keep it going, to share with others, every day, the love and community and support for each other that we saw that very special day. If you were part of our wedding day then we challenge you to do the same, that day was so incredibly special, but we should do all that we can to turn it into something ordinary. We should try and make every day just like that one, if we can share love with the people in our lives on a daily basis like everyone there did that day we won't have to worry about working to legalizing gay marriage, it will happen on its own.

Thank you so much to everyone who made our wedding day the best day of our lives.