Oct 5, 2011

George Carlin's Greatest Moment

Check out this video on YouTube:

May 27, 2011

Learning about Right-Wing ideas

I've really been trying to understand the Right-Wing desire to protect the richest Americans from paying their fair share of taxes. Rep. Paul Ryan said the other day that it wasn't political when he proposed to strip Medicare from folks and replace it with a voucher. He said his budget proposal was a manifesto but an economic one, ". . NOT political" he said. So I'm learning about the economic underpinnings of the right & some Tea Party Patriots - I say some because I'm sort of a TEA Party guy. (Tax Even Aristocrats - but my voice is drowned out by the Bachmann/Ron Paul types)

So Republicans since Reagan have been trying to "starve the beast." By this they mean the Government here & most often the Federal Government. Rep. Ryan explained "When you take a look at the problems our country is facing, debt is No. 1," Ryan says. This is a debt largely wrought by Republicans; cutting taxes on the rich and paying for Wars off-budget during the Bush years. "The math is downright scary and the credit markets aren't going to keep on giving us cheap rates. "Lawmakers," he says, have "a moral obligation ... to put up solutions to fix this problem."

So why not increase revenue to lower the debt? Is there any room for Republicans to agree with Democrats on some increases in taxes for those earning the highest incomes? Ryan says no. "Here's the problem if you keep raising tax rates," he says. "You slow down economic growth." To those who argue that taxes used to be higher and the economy did OK, he says, "this is the 21st Century where tax competition matters so much more. ... Our competitors are lowering their tax rates."

In trying to understand w/ these arguments I noted a few premises that we have to consider:
1) Republicans seem to believe that "each man is an island," that on this island that man is king of his domain, toiling in solitude to support his family, maintain his castle and serve his maker. This idea seems to form the basis of former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty's Freedom First PAC and many GOP calls for freedom from Government.
2) Economics are all & only about competition. Cooperation between and amongst individuals, companys, countries, or any groups can only lead to socialism or worse, communism. In America the right believes that the COMMONS -those assets held in common for the good of all people- are an insidious cancer on the rights of private capital and the owners of that capital. As J.P. Morgan said, "If Congress insists on making stupid mistakes and passing foolish laws, millionaires should not be condemned if they take advantage of them." Only now Congress is more and more in the pocket of the rich before they even take their oath.

3) Economic decisions, negotiations, and leverage flow only to the rich. In effect the capitalist concept of one dollar/one vote. Political questions must be decided by he who is richest, loudest, and most belligerent. The notion from our earliest days that a meritocracy would be a smart way to govern has been entirely discredited by these economic anarchists. "Ruling elite" has become an epithet to be hurled at anyone who might use superior intellect to argue in favor of balance or compromise in our deliberations.

At the risk of setting up straw-men to argue against, these seem to underpin the Neo-Con arguments against raising taxes on rich people. The rich must be protected from paying a fair share. They create jobs -the argument goes- that poor and middle class people need to pay the rent, buy groceries, and care for their children. The rich job creators must be free to decide the amount of pay & work rules while the worker CANNOT use collective bargaining or regulatory leverage such as a Minimum Wage laws, equal pay rules, or any Government intervention in economic matters.

I want to understand. I want to feel that thoughtful folk are struggling to come to agreement about these issues but, it seems that liberals like me are only talking amongst themselves. I do not sense that anyone in the Republican Party, the Tea Party hierarchy, or Right-Wing think tanks has any desire to come to agreement about what is best for our country. They only seem to want to win. As if winning would be best even if they are wrong. So we continue with policies that have slowly bankrupted our treasury, lowered our standard of living -ironically only if you are poor, middle class, or upper middle class but, not the rich, whose incomes have increased substantially due to much lower taxes, caused declines in our sciences, research, arts, healthcare, housing, business climate, environment, and our precious natural resources. 30 years we've been walking down this wrong path. But, so long as the GOP keeps winning, what is good for America can just, "GO to hell!"

I for one hate this mentality. I believe we should create a more perfect union. I believe our Government should be the agent for this & for the establishment of Justice, ensuring the domestic tranquillity, providing for the Common defense & the General welfare. That by doing these, all building up of the Commons, we will secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves & our offspring.

Apr 15, 2011

Is too much TOO much. Not for the GOP, tax FREE in the USA!

I know anecdotes are not statistics. &, 2, 3, four or more things happening at about the same time does not mean they are related but, these types of news stories keep getting juxtaposed on the front pages of my papers. To wit:


WI Governor Scott Walker admits his budget cutting bill that dissolved many rights of workers to freely associate had nothing to do budget cutting but was solely about taking away the rights of poor & working class people of Wisconsin. (posted to YouTube by Congressman Denis Kucinich D, OH)

A Financial Crisis With Little Guilt - After Widespread Reckless Banking, a Dearth of Prosecutions (NYT 4/14/11)

United's Hemsley took home $48.8M (Strib business 4/14/11) Total compensation in 2010 was less than half his $102 million in 2009.

Ameriprise, broker unit to pay $150M (Strib business 4/14/11) Clients, many seniors who were misled, get 40 cents on the dollar.

GOP votes to Cut taxes on rich & pay for it with cuts to health care for poor, elderly, & infirm & food stamps for young needy families. (NPR 4/15/11)

Percent working lowest since '83 (USA Today 4/14/11)

[President] Obama Unveils Debt Relief Plan - Calls for Spending Cuts & Tax Increases (NYT 4/14/11)

Congressman Paul Ryan R WI says Medicare & Medcaid must be privatized even if it men more expensive less effective care than a government run plan can provide. (NPR All Things Considered 4/14/11)

What are the GOPers thinking? What part of "Huh?" don't they understand? If you get a chance to ask, please ask the GOP: Why should rich people get a free ride on the taxes that all the rest of pay US in full?

Mar 22, 2011

On the chemical properties of dihydrogen monoxide

Since I've been able to experience both in the recent months: I would much rather deliver the paper at 4:00 am with .75 inches of precip. at 28 degrees F as the flakes pile up forming a six inch layer of quiet, white across the landscape.
-vs-
Today at 4:00 am delivering the paper with .75 inches of precip. at 36 degrees F as large drops of almost frozen water/slush hit my face and drench my clothing. Although I love the sound of rain and thunder, the eight degree variance really creates a different feeling and experience.

Let's hear it for water.

Mar 17, 2011

Gas Main Explosion Via @rstephens

Check out this video on YouTube:

Mar 15, 2011

Street walking in Minneapolis.

I estimate that #MPLS has spent or committed several billion dollars to creating an infrastructure that separates pedestrians from motor vehicles. Right-of-way, real estate, and other capital costs alone in the city must be 4-5 billion for sidewalks. When you include the time and energy spent to keep the sidewalks clear in the winter we easily spend millions each year to protect pedestrians. Why then do citizens still walk in the street, at night, wearing dark clothing, & walking the wrong way in the street?!??! So dangerous. So scary, so silly, so needless. I see it twice a week or more all winter.

Mar 10, 2011

Irony in our country!

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The political elite atop the GOP consolidates it's minority ruling party status by pitting union workers against TeaParty patriots in a cynical ploy to destroy government institutions in place since the Great Crash of '29 since none of us really remember it very well. Meanwhile the class elite, the rich, increase their wealth and consolidate their standing astride the backs of hard working Americans & the wanna-be-rich suffer the consequences of trying to enter the rarified world of monied elite; all on the pages of my morning paper! 

Why is that man in the picture on page 1A bowing his head? Because he knows he has betrayed his family, his constituents, and his state in a cynical political maneuver.

Shame should be on all these leaders but, certainly FoxNews will call it a victory for democracy!

Feb 27, 2011

Feb 21, 2011

Right wing media bias & confusion over taxing the rich

A letter writer in the right leaning Star Tribune: Newspaper of the Twin Cities. (er- I'm sorry, Minnesota's Top News Choice.) points out that the top 5% of earners pay 60% of the income taxes in the country. Patrick O'Keefe of Maple Grove doesn't give a citation but, seems to think this proves the rich are way over taxed. However, this doesn't begin to take all factors into account.

Do the rich make 60% of the income? No, it's closer to 80% isn't it? And, what about property taxes. Perhaps they pay 60% there to but own 70% of the property & control huge swaths of public land's mineral or right of way rights. Oh, then there's Social Security & Medicare taxes. The rich probably pay about .05% of these because they're capped at about $108,000 in earnings. And sales taxes? Clearly the rich don't pay a fair share of these. Another, the gas tax. The rich use way more road subsidies living out in private enclaves & driving huge cars that chew up our highways. Plus many of these privileged folk tend to speed, creating more pressure on our common right of ways. In so many ways the rich are greatly under taxed. One only need look at how much their income has increased in the past forty years. Our Former Governor Tim Pawlenty was fond of pointing out how fast government spending had gone up over some period of years, say 10% then asking, "how many of you know anyone whose salary has gone up 10%?" I always thought the answer was obvious, "not many of us because we don't rub elbows with the richest members of our society." It is their income that has gone up, while the working people of our country have lost ground, paid more in taxes, and seen their jobs, their homes, their communities and their way of life destroyed by Republican leaders and their rich friends in media, finance, and warmongering.

So, Mr. Patrick O'Keefe, please don't think your use of statistics convinces everyone of your delusion that the rich pay too much in taxes or even cover the cost to society of maintaining their life-style. I may be an atheist but, How I pray for the day that the rich man's behavior is treated like a gay man was in the last part of the 20th century. We can be better, but we need to be better aligned with one another first.

Feb 18, 2011

The Gift of a Decade.

It's been 3,652 days since President's Day 2001. GW Bush had been in office almost four weeks & the MPRB was planning to close the skating rinks after the evening skate. I rushed over to skate one last time for the season. Hockey stick in hand, I was involved in a friendly, pick-up game when, making a routine turn behind the net, I fell, perhaps my skate stuck in a short crack.

I knew immediately as I was going down,
"I broke my leg!" I said, as I fell.

"You did not!" replied of the skater next to me, as he looked down at me on the ice.

He continued, "I'll call 911!" seeing at a glance that something was not right with the configuration of my bones. The game stopped while players became caregivers, propping up my leg, bringing me water & my cell phone. I called Mary, had my Handspring PDA (like a Palm Pilot!) delivered, & within ten minutes I was being transferred from the ice to a stretcher. Soon, I was in the back of an ambulance, the EMT said, "I'm going to take off your skate, this could hurt." As he firmly grab both parts of my leg I could feel the two parts of the broken bone grind against each tour under my skin. Simultaneously, the other EMT injected Morphine into my arm. A warm, clam, relaxing wave washed over me. "Pain?!? What pain?"

I had surgery the next evening. A titanium rod, four screws, a pulmonary embolism, three months of rat poison, & countless hours of rehab later, I was able to skate an in-line marathon in June of 2001. I still have a file of the event:

I was lucky to out of work and living in MInnesota, the State Dept. of Health & Human services helped us pay the $37,000 bill. They also negotiated it down to about $7,200. (wish I had negotiating skills like that.)

The gift in this episode? Well, ten years on I'm fitter, thinner, healthier, & this morning when I slipped on the ice and felt my left leg bend awkwardly beneath the full weight of my body, I sensed the titanium protecting me from another catastrophic fracture.

Folks who care enough to follow my posts: