The Twenty-First Century Criminal-Class

February 7, 2010 at 8:40 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , )

I miss my stepfather. But there have been many times during this past decade when I’ve been grateful he died back in 1999. Because, if he weren’t already dead, the new millennium would have probably killed him. I mean from the sheer aggravation of it all.

The 1990’s were tough enough on him. By then he had retired from his workaholic life as a plumber. That gave him time to finally read the newspaper and watch tv shows like “60 Minutes” and “20/20” and they’d get him all stirred-up. I’d stop by to visit him & mom and he’d be gritting his teeth and swearing at the “scum,” his term for politicians and business moguls who were crooked.

He was born on a farm in Greenville, Ohio, in 1921. He’d slogged through the Great Depression and World War II and seen the difference it made when working people had finally got a piece of the economic pie. He would turn red-in-the-face and rant mightily at the thought of ordinary folks being cheated, lied to, or otherwise kept-down. Good gosh, what would he think about today’s America. We no longer seem to know any other way of life!

Here in the 2000’s the average American is so inundated by double-dealers, con-artists, and crooks of every size that it is impossible to fight against all of it. The phone company deliberately bills customers for services they don’t have and credit card companies put phony fees on their bills, figuring that a few customers will notice and demand removal but most customers won’t notice and just pay. Doctors & hospitals send bills to patients in hopes of getting paid twice, by said patients & the insurers. Speaking of insurers, nowadays the insurance companies expect to only collect premiums without paying claims. Employers fiddle with employee time cards to screw them out of wages and gasoline giants openly gouge the motorists. If you watch closely next time you go through the supermarket checkout, you might find that the sale items are ringing-up full-price on your bill (it’s happened to me often enough that I no longer believe it’s just a mistake).

True stories: in the past few years I’ve received three notices that I could join in class-action lawsuits against the following thieves:
My life insurance company was chiseling its policy holders.
The stock broker I used was shaving a little bit off each of its clients’ transactions.
Until recently, I owned a convenience store/gas station (for that sad tale see my essay, “And Then the Financial Tsunami Hit.” One of the items I sold was propane tanks. Well, it turns out that the major oil company that supplied propane to thousands of stores was padding its costs.

Last night, a friend of mine was late to our dinner appointment. Seems he was online entering a contest held by a popular magazine he subscribes to. When he got to the end of the form, he told me, he clicked “submit” and was informed that he’d thereby signed-up for a subscription to an additional magazine, which would be charged to his credit card. He spent the next half-hour phoning the company demanding to cancel the new subscription.

My real point is that our casino economy is hooked on this sort of crumb-bummery. It seems to have become the lifeblood of Capitalism, along with endless war and the reverse-socialism of taxing the poor to subsidize banksters and Wall Street wheeler-dealers.

The problem is so widespread that one could spend one’s entire life doing nothing else but guarding against being ripped-off. It’s like being out in the woods and beset by a huge swarm of hungry mosquitoes: while you’re slapping at one bloodsucker another dozen put the bite on you. Up until a few years ago, I believed we could count on the authorities to make an effort to catch and punish those who prey upon the innocent. Unfortunately, the authorities now line their pockets in exchange for looking the other way and increasingly they even cook-up schemes of their own.

So keep your eyes open and your wits about you. Defend yourself. But try not to get too angry while you’re doing it; otherwise you might blow a gasket, die, and then the Twenty-First Century criminal-class wins.

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Wow, Was I Wrong!

December 22, 2009 at 5:36 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , )

I haven’t had health insurance in 9 years. The end of my coverage coincided with my downsizing out of a 20+ year career in the printing industry (another of the multitude of enterprises America no longer has within its  boarders). I still remember how ecstatic I was back in 1980, when I got that job; my first that not only paid well, but had fringe benefits like health insurance and a retirement pension. It was a real “grown-up” job like my parents had.

My excellent health has enabled me to go these 9 years without the wallet-draining help of the medical profession. I attribute my good health mostly to my long-standing belief in positive thinking and what used to be called “health foods.”  I don’t have the highest opinion of doctors. I really think they aren’t good for much beyond operating if you’ve got something like appendicitis or diagnosing an obvious condition like diabetes. Anything more complex and their attempts at a “cure” may be worse than the ailment.

But in spite of that, I know modern medicine has its place in civilized society.  I don’t forgo medical coverage out of choice, I would love to have it if I could squeeze it into my minuscule budget. Ah, the luxury of being able to take my sore throat  or aching foot to a physician and receive treatment…

(Excuse me, I was lost in reverie for a few moments) Delirious from the hope induced by Obama’s election, I truly thought America’s politicians were, at long last, ready to provide their citizens with universal access to health care.

Wow, was I wrong! And now, it looks like Americans not only won’t get universal coverage, their crazy government will try to force the poorest ones to buy insurance coverage, under threat of being branded as criminals and fined. Only the twitterpated mind of an insulated-from-reality Washington, D.C. multi-millionaire politician who gets perks like free haircuts (and free healthcare) could think that this is any kind of fix for the problem.

“Where in blue blazes are people who were too poor to buy insurance in the first place supposed to get money to buy insurance when they’re forced?” ask many sane Americans. “Don’t worry,” the multi-millionaire politicians assure us, “they can apply to the government for assistance to pay for their forced insurance.”

Well, as one of America’s many financially-ruined citizens I have first-hand frustrating experience with applying to the government for assistance. To cite two examples out of many: 1) so that my working, divorced daughter could go to college, she needed financial help with my granddaughter’s daycare. That took seven weeks of almost daily calling the social workers and, finally, in desperation a call to our state governor’s office hotline to get results. 2) I applied for heating energy assistance for this winter, which involves getting up about 3 am in order to stand in line in the freezing cold outside the application office to get one of 25 entrance tickets at about 8 am.

I was 17th in the heating assistance line that day, because some people camp out there all night. There were about 50 people in line, which means a lot of people turned away each day. My point is that there will be a lot of poor people spending a lot of their time going begging “hat in hand” to the bureaucrats in order to buy insurance.

I was once solidly middle-class and paid taxes for 37 years before being destroyed in the Great Recession. I was surprised at how confusing, uncaring, and inadequate our social safety net is. Pray that you don’t have to find out also.

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What Then, Indeed?

August 11, 2009 at 2:13 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

While perusing one of my favorite alternative news websites, Unknownnews.net, I came across an article titled: “If healthcare loses again, what then?”  Since I am an older, lower-income, uninsured citizen, I have a keen interest in that question. I emailed the author with my thoughts. It read:

Yes, what…indeed…then? (You can’t see it, but I’m stroking my chin reflectively).

Unfortunately, I have no fear of contradiction when I say the first part of your question should be rephrased as “When healthcare loses…” That is partially because, as you so astutely put it, “…the President is a pansy.” But your overall question is very good and not limited only to healthcare. We Americans of a progressive bent must realize that this same question also applies to alternative energy, the environment, the war, the economy, unemployment, education, and other issues ad nauseum.

One thing is for darn sure:  We cannot count on the corporate-funded government nor their corporate owners to get us the solutions we need. Name the issue facing America and be assured any hint of sanity will instantly be greeted by a consortium of right-wing political nuts who are manipulated by criminal big-business. And they are abetted at every step by the so-called “liberal” Democrats and the so-called “liberal” media. Since nearly every mainstream media outlet and politician is owned lock, stock, and barrel by the economic elite– they are the proverbial “wolves in sheeps’ clothing.” It would actually be surprising if they supported populism. No, we can’t count on any of them for help.

So, if we can’t count on them, what do we do? We face facts:  Our country is in about 40-years-worth of deep doo-doo and the system is broken from top to bottom. We elected Obama and a Democratic majority to fix it, but they have shown themselves unequal to the task. The Republicans already disqualified themselves from leadership. We want to preserve our Constitutional form of government, which functions well when it allowed to function unhindered by the moneyed-interests. Therefore, our only course of action is to do all we can to encourage third-party candidates and vote them into office. This will break the stranglehold the two corporate parties have on our government. Then, to insure our public servants stay clean, we must immediately pass legislation to remove private finance entirely from our political process. It will be a big job but we have no option.

Meanwhile, awaiting the day when ordinary people re-take governance, we must all strive to make ourselves the best human beings we can be. Set a good example:  Practice kindness and compassion, help others and ourselves to reach full potential, and reject the culture of greed and cruelty.

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