Thursday, June 28, 2012

The US Supreme Court has ruled... now what?

With the US Supreme Court's ruling on the Affordable Health Care act many things will be changing in our country and I wanted to make you aware of a few of them.

The implementation of this socialist plot (which has private insurance companies covering health care costs just as they have been doing and goes as far as mandating that Americans pay money to private companies) to turn America into a Soviet style communist country will mean that you have to get up earlier each day so that you have time to stand in line for bread. The TV show America's Got Talent will be replaced with government produced indoctrination programs. Work camps for those not participating in the health care program will be built in Montana and Idaho. You will be required by law to hang a photo of Barack Obama on your dining room wall.

Of course the US is actually not about to turn into a version of the 1980's Soviet Union, but I figure that Rush Limbaugh will be claiming that it is within the next few days and so I wanted to try and beat him to it. Yay! I scooped Limbaugh!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The bogeyman, haven't you outgrown this by now?

Today my local newspaper included an editorial about Nashville's transition to a single city/county, metro style government. To people in Nashville today it is just accepted as the way things are and, overall, it works pretty well. Fifty years ago it was hotly debated and created a fair amount of fear and animosity.

Opponents of the change tried to use a tactic to sway opinion against the change that is still in use today, the bogeyman. They compared the change in Nashville's government to something that filled two criteria, it had to be 1. widely hated and 2. something that very few people had any real understanding or knowledge of. This allowed the comparison to sound valid and frightening no matter how ridiculous it was. So the opponents of combining Nashville and Davidson County compared the new government to communism. Of course this form of government had nothing to do with Karl Marx or Vladimir Lennin, but saying that it was the same thing made people fear it because the only thing they knew about communism is that it was bad and if the new form of government was the same thing it had to be bad as well.

Today the insult isn't "communism" (unless you are Republican Congressman Adam West who claimed personal knowledge of many communists in the House of Representatives), no, today the insult is "socialism".

The word "socialism" is bandied about by Republicans like a 4 year old with a new toy on Christmas morning. They love this word and they love using it even though most seem to have no understanding of what it means. The ones that do know what it means still use it in completely incorrect ways as they know the value of the fear the word inspires is much greater than the value of the word itself. I wish they feared Americans actually researching what the word means so that they could see that it is just another economic system that can be used and mis-used just as capitalism can. There is nothing inherently evil about socialism and it is, in some ways, even more effective, dare I say better, than capitalism. Of course Republicans don't want you to understand this, they want to keep you frightened and afraid. They want to be able to treat you like a little child that will fall for anything, that is where their power lies, not in their ideas or concepts, but in their ability to inspire fear in those too lazy to do their own research. Don't fear the bogeyman, fear those who use him to control you.

Here's the article.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

How to fix our economy in two easy steps

Our economy sucks right now. We all know it. Unemployment is too high, consumer demand and confidence are too low, our economy is getting better but at about the same speed glaciers move through a mountain valley. We want things to get better faster but no one seems to know how to make that happen. Well actually lots of people know how to make that happen. We know exactly how to decrease unemployment and increase demand. We have done it many times in the past and it has worked exceptionally well. So why aren't we doing it now? Because the Republicans want us to suffer because they think it will help them win elections.

I am assuming that most of the people reading this blog have heard of Keynesian economics. But if you haven't or don't understand what it means let me sum it up for you. When our economy faces a drop in demand businesses sell fewer products, selling fewer products means then need to make fewer products and so they lay off employees that they don't need. People that are laid off have less money to spend and so they spend less money which further reduces demand and causes our economy to falter. The way out of this downward spiral is to increase demand. To increase demand you have to get money into the hands of consumers. Private businesses could do this by hiring more people but they won't because with less demand for their products it would make no sense for them to bring on additional employees. So it is up to the government to put extra money into the economy with spending programs. This does not mean that the government should just hand out cash, no, it means it should spend lots of money on things like infrastructure (Eisenhower and Obama), it should spend vast sums of money on advancing our national defense (Reagan), heck, even spending huge sums of cash on an unnecessary war (Bush) will get the economy going by introducing massive sums of cash into our economy. Cutting government spending has the opposite effect, it takes money out of the economy, creates higher unemployment, pushes demand down, and during bad economic times makes things much worse. The problem is that presidents like Reagan and Bush and Obama have stimulated the economy with deficit spending. Reagan and Bush seemed to see no problem in spending like crazy on the backs of future generations. Obama would like to pay for his spending by Republicans are so enamored with running up huge debts that they won't let him pay for his spending in the only way reasonable, by increasing taxes. So the Republicans have suddenly found "fiscal" responsibility and refuse to let our government do the spending it needs to while they also refuse to let the government raise taxes from their ridiculously low levels to help pay off our debt. Most 5 year olds in a candy store with a credit card would be more fiscally responsible than today's Republicans but they keep claiming they know how to fix our economy while hoping that all of us are stupid enough to believe their outrageous, self serving lies.

So how do we fix things? Easy, raise taxes on the wealthy so that they are paying 40 to 45% (still very low rates historically) into income taxes. Make sure that this covers all of their income with no lower rates for investment income. Take half of this new tax revenue and put it into spending on roads, schools, the electric grid, defense technologies, and all of the other things that out nation really needs. This will create jobs and consumer demand which is the only thing that can fix our economy. Take the other half and put it towards reducing the deficit. We won't spend a dime that we don't have and we will be reducing our deficit at the same time. Easy as pie. That is of course unless you are a Republican who thinks a bad economy increases your chances for re-election.

So there you have it, 2 steps to a brighter economy, raise taxes and then spend the money. Sadly you probably won't get to see this easily obtainable brighter future as it seems the Republicans are thrilled with having a terrible economy.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

A new day for the Southern Baptists?

Last Sunday I worshiped at a Southern Baptist church pastored by a friend of mine in a rural South Georgia town. While the church is a Southern Baptist church it should be noted that my friend doesn't really consider himself a Southern Baptist. This may not be the most common situation in the world, but I feel that it may be more common than one would expect. I know many people who were raised in the Southern Baptist church and still attend Southern Baptist churches on the rare occasions that they step through the doors of a church for something besides a wedding. Many of these individuals have told me that they have stopped going to church regularly because, while they have a great appreciation for the teachings of Jesus Christ they find very little of his teachings apparent in many churches today. It looks like the Southern Baptists have taken note of the feelings of many of their irregular or former members. Sort of.

This week in New Orleans the Southern Baptist Convention elected its first African American president. Many hope that this will help potential church members forget about the SBC's past connection to slavery and bigotry against African Americans. The SBC also voted to adopt a new, optional, name for their organization. SBC members can now refer to themselves as "Great Commission Baptists". Why the name change? It seems that the SBC figured out that many people have a very negative concept of what the SBC stands for. Anti-gay, not supporters of full equality for women, and weak on issues of race. They realized that it might be a good idea to do a bit of "re-branding" and so just like Phillip Morris changed its name to Altria without changing the fact that it makes an addictive, cancer causing product, the SBC is changing its name without changing any of its practices that have driven so many away. Do they really think that we will be fooled by this poorly constructed illusion? Personally it all seems a bit dishonest to me, and I would hope that a major Christian denomination would want to project honesty instead of bad marketing.

Some of you might be thinking that it's possible that the Southern Baptist Convention really has changed, that this new name is about something more than sleazy marketing. Well I leave you with one piece of information. This week the SBC elected its first African American president and voted to allow an optional new name be used to describe it. It also adopted a resolution stating that while the LGBT community faces "unique struggles" it should not be protected from discrimination including being barred from exercising their right to marry the person they love. The Great Commission Baptists, still favoring discrimination and trying to insert their personal will into the Bible. Jesus commanded that we should love one another, any exceptions to this were created by men, not by God. Seems like the SBC is still siding with man over God.

Friday, June 1, 2012

It's Official!

It's official! President Obama released the above video today along with an official proclamation recognizing June as LGBT Pride Month!


In my opinion the pride celebrations held every year around the country are some of the most important efforts that the LGBT community puts forth in our effort to end our second class citizenship. In many ares this is the only time that we are really visible to the straight community. Sure, pride celebrations are just big parties, but they are big, visible, parties where we can be seen by people who would rather not acknowledge our existence. The diversity of our community, the fact that most of us are just normal people, the fact that many of us have kids, are elderly, are in long term loving relationships, all of these things become visible and make it harder for the people who want to hold on to liberty only for themselves to justify their positions. Pride celebrations are important.

So head out to a pride festival, take your partner or your husband or your wife. Take your straight friends. Take members of your families. Take your pastor or your boss, mostly take pride in who you are and that by being there, by having a good time, by being out you are changing things. We have a lot to be proud of this June and every month that follows.