Headlock on the Body Politic

November 4, 2010 at 4:27 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

As I expected, the mainstream media is busily pushing absolutely wrong conclusions from Tuesday’s election massacre.

Coming from their topsy turvy universe in which economic depression is recovery & right-wing views are centrist, the corporate news analysts churn-out coverage such as this, which sagely blames voter disgust with Obama & Company upon his forcing rapid change upon America. Change that “was was too much, too soon.” Having apparently just returned from a two-year voyage into outer space, where she has been completely out of communication with Earth, this particular bloviator assures us that the American people wanted to send an “overriding message” to President Obama to “slow down.”

Slow down? Too much change too soon? I don’t know whether to laugh or throw-up! B.O. & the Democrats lost overwhelmingly because they promised us big, constructive, genuine change and for two years they have done nothing of benefit for ordinary citizens. As soon as they got control of Congress & the White House the Democrats promptly spun their supporters around & gave them a series of swift kicks in the ass. So when the next election came around their erstwhile boosters found better things to do than go to the polls. The next two years of increasing Democratic cravenness & further enabling of the Republican agenda will simply erode liberal support in 2012.

Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, & Harry Reid have likely done a reverse FDR. After 3 years of the Great

Depression caused people to turn to Democrats to save them in 1932, FDR’s courage, vision, & actions assured that Republicans were shut-out of the presidency for 20 years. Thanks to B.O. & his gang no Democrat is likely to be president for another 20 years.

When I voted on Tuesday morning here in Ohio, I cast my ballot for the Green Party candidate for governor & the Socialist Party candidate for senator. Those candidates garnered only 1 or 2% of the votes. It amazes me that even in the midst of the obvious theft & widespread ruination our nation is undergoing at the hands of the fat-cat criminals, an overwhelming majority of voters are still stuck voting for only Democrats or Republicans.

What will it take to break the Democrat-Republican headlock on the body politic?

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Wall Street Gets the Goldmine & We Get the Shaft

April 23, 2010 at 1:49 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

In spite of my best efforts, America’s casino economy hums-along in its happy, fraudulent, and bonus-filled way. Meanwhile, the needs of the real economy and the hundreds of millions of citizens it supports are as ignored by the Washington crowd as coal mine safety.

Our wise “leaders” in business, media, and government grasp at every straw, twisting statistics to fit the “prosperity is just around the corner” scenario they need to keep us from rising-up & demanding the rotten system really be changed. For instance, they blew their trumpets loudly to announce that, Heaven be praised!, 162,000 jobs were created in March. So the economy is on the mend and Wall Street can go back to handing-out bonuses. Sounds good… but whoa wait a minute!, it turns out that at least 150,000 jobs must be created every month just to absorb new people coming into the workforce (like all those eager young people and immigrants). Well, ok, that leaves 18,000 jobs to chip-away (for 361 years!) at that nasty 6.5 million “long-term unemployed” number. But, oh my gosh! 88,000 of those 162,000 jobs were temporary work, such as working on the U.S. Census. The truth is that real job growth is still going in reverse.

And that does not even address the fact that America’s jobs increasingly lack wages & accompanying benefits that allow workers to share in their nation’s prosperity. Livable pay, health insurance, retirement, and vacations are all things taken mostly for granted by our Capitalist elite, Socialist Europe, and in the “mixed-economy” days of post-Great Depression-pre-Ronald Reagan America. But they are vanishing quickly in this country. The only real solution I can see is a turn to Socialism or at least a return to its milder cousin, the “mixed-economy” of the 1930’s-1970’s, wherein government’s main job was to make sure the playing-field is kept level by keeping a tight rein on big-business and helping the common citizen to flourish.

Back in November, when this blog had almost no readership, I posted the essay, Bring Back the Red Menace!” Now, I wish to re-print it, with apologies to those who would debate finer distinctions between “Socialism” (an intermediate step between Capitalism and Communism) and “Communism” (the ultimate destination in the flight from Capitalism), I use the terms interchangeably.

Bring Back the Red Menace!

We Americans are brought-up to believe that genuine, vigorous competition is the life-blood of our great system. Vying against one-another for victory, with the winner taking all the spoils and the loser conceding any claim is what makes social Darwinism tick. And so it is drilled into our red, white, and blue brains from cradle to grave until it becomes second-nature to believe that non-winners deserve to have nothing. Gaining or losing it all motivates us to try our best. Striving against a rival makes us strong!

Who would deny that in the 1970’s, our domestic auto makers had become bloated, complacent, and inefficient. They were insensitive to and exploitative of their customers; building increasingly lower-quality and higher-priced products designed for “planned obsolescence.” They were improved by stiff competition from foreign car companies that gave customers an alternative. Likewise, the United States Postal Service was improved when other carriers appeared. I could fill pages with examples of industries and organizations that were increasingly out-of-touch with their market, all of which were raised-up by vying against tough, strong, viable opponents.

That lack of competition is exactly why a monopoly does not function well. There is no rival to keep said monopoly under control so sooner or later hubris, greed, and decadence set-in (note that this is why government regulation is used to control these tendencies in monopolies). In modern American, Reagan-Bush-Clinton-Obama-nomics, monopoly is a diseased thing that must be cured through competition. If the schools, the airlines, or the electric company can’t face the challenge, then that’s too bad because it’s sink or swim for everyone (except for banks and Wall Street tycoons).

And now I come to my point. And here I am relieved to know that no one actually reads this blog, so I will not be hounded by threats and cat-calls for the assertion I’m about to make: The worst thing that happened to the average American citizen in the past 100 years was the collapse of the Communistic Soviet Union. Why? Simply because we now have no competitor to which we can turn when we are abused by the monopoly known as American Capitalism. And so that monopoly becomes increasingly abusive of its captive customers.

Apparently, I am the only one to notice that there was only one span of time when conditions consistently improved for American workers and citizens: the years from 1920 until the mid-1980’s while the Soviet Union existed and, in the minds of America’s leaders, there was real danger of a (cue-up the scary music) Communistic revolution in America.

Before that window of time, laissez faire Capitalism was firmly in the saddle and there was very little progress in the treatment of the vast majority of the population. Things didn’t really begin to improve until the Great Depression of the 1930’s caused a large percentage of Americans to start considering the alternative economics of Communism/Socialism/Populism (all close cousins). This scared the bejesus out of our political and business rulers who then reluctantly agreed to allow a little of the wealth to be spread around. And for the next 50 years, more and more wealth got spread in America so that the people were kept happy and non-Communist.* Overall, things kept getting better all the time for Americans across the board: the old, the young, all races, both genders. The poverty level crept down a little at a time and literacy rates kept going up.

Then in the late 1980’s, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics fell-apart under the weight of its leaders’ corruption and greed. The threat by the Communist menace was over. Sure there were still a few other Communist nations around, but none of them posed a real threat to Capitalism. American Capitalism boasted of being the only superpower remaining on earth. And, immediately, (actually it had started a few years earlier when the Soviet collapse could be seen on the horizon) American Capitalism no longer had to try to keep our hearts and minds. The tide turned against the average American. And it’s been downhill for us ever since.

So today we Americans are seemingly stuck with a bloated, uncaring, inefficient, corrupt, wasteful, unfair, and unresponsive system that is typical of any monopoly. But we are not stuck! Having no competition allows Capitalism to dismiss the needs of the citizens. There is only one solution: We must pick-up the threat of Communist revolution off the ash heap of history and, at the very least, pretend to be considering it as a replacement for Capitalism. That will scare the elite into once again being willing to share some of our nation’s prosperity.

* And contrary to what neo-conservative ideology teaches, in spite of having to share prosperity with the bottom 95% of the nation, there was still plenty of money for the upper 5% to stay very, very, very, rich.

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Beautiful

March 8, 2010 at 11:01 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

by Colonel Edwin Girdle

Our Hypocrite of the Day is right-wing masturbatory fantasy, Sarah Palin, who admits she and her family used to “hustle” across the Canadian border to get free medical care. Palin, in case you were lucky enough to miss hearing her completely uninformed viewpoint, has said in previous interviews that “Canada needs to dismantle its public health-care system and allow private enterprise to get involved and turn a profit.” (By the way, polls show the Canadian people give their health system a 90% approval rating.)

I guess now that Sarah is living large off her undeserved 15+ minutes of fame she no longer need grab freebie care from the Canadian taxpayers, because money is essential in America to get adequate medical treatment. Celebrities like Sarah, Senatorial Democrat/doormat Harry Reid, or entertainment windbag Rush Limbaugh get A-1 care. By the way, Rush, who was hospitalized in Hawaii recently by severe chest pains, has pronounced the U.S. health system free of any problems- based upon his experience. So that settles that and anyone who says differently is just a crybaby.

Well, this crybaby writes this blog with the intention of telling you what life is like at my level of the American pyramid. Therefore, please let us recount some recent experiences I and some of my friends have had down here near the economic basement. Oddy enough, our impression of the U.S. health system was not nearly as favorable as Mr.Limbaugh’s. In fact, I think most everyone I know wishes they lived close-enough to hustle over into Canada for some of that evil socialist health-care.

In my January essay, “Financially Naked”, I wrote about Myra and her frustrating & expensive run-in with America’s medical colossus. Now Myra’s elderly mother has developed blood in her stools. Doctors were unable to quickly diagnose the problem and talked her into a procedure that involved injection of a substance containing gold, which she was told would detect a problem as small as one cell in the body. The procedure was done and, unfortunately, told the doctors nothing useful. Although Myra’s mom has insurance HER SHARE OF THE BILL WAS $49,000 !!! Just the stress of dealing with this one bill threatens to send the old lady & her hubby over the mental & physical cliff. But Sarah Palin should be happy about that opportunity for the medical business to “turn a profit.”

Back during the long Ohio winter, I came down with bronchitis & laryngitis (no, I have never smoked but do have severe dust allergy). I did what any uninsured American would do: I tried to tough it out and treat myself. After 6 weeks, I was so ill that I could not drive myself to the emergency room and I had to be wheelchaired into the hospital. Five hours, 5 minutes with a doctor, and some free pills later I went home. While there I got a list of clinics that serve the poor, so as to schedule a follow-up visit. After a few days, I concluded the medication was doing no good. But when I called the nearest clinic I was told they had been taken-over by some sort of doctors’ conglomerate and they “no longer serve those people (the low income).” The other clinics are only open limited hours a few days each week. Back to the emergency room for another 6 hours’ wait, another 5 minutes with a different doctor, and a different diagnosis. Another week brought no improvement in my condition. Back to the emergency room a third time, for another 5 minutes with a doctor. His diagnosis was allergy gone rampant.

At this point let me tell you the story I croaked-out to that doctor: Since childhood, I always had severe allergy to particulate dust. Up until 15 years ago, I had health insurance & used to go to my doctor once each month and get an allergy shot. That kept the stuffy nose, sore throat, ear infections, bronchitis, and other complications at bay. Then the insurance company put a stop to the shots because they cost too much. After that I tried many prescription & over the counter allergy medicines with no real improvement. One medicine I found that definitely doesn’t work for me is Claritin. It has absolutely no effect at all. I emphasized that point as emphatically as a person could who sounded like a bullfrog. The disinterested doctor exited. Fifteen minutes later a nurse comes in and hands me a prescription sheet for, of course, Claritin.

After that, I went to a health-food store near my home in search of natural allergy potions. I fought my allergy down to a dull roar and made a slow recovery. Experiences like these have lead me to believe modern medicine is vastly over-rated in its effectiveness and over-compensated in its cost.

As for the $1200 worth of bills from the hospital: I applied for them to be written off under HCAP (Hospital Care Assurance Program). You are aware, dear reader, that each year the government gives hospitals millions of dollars to help cover care for the poor? But you have to apply for it through the hospital’s “social services” department. Many times they fail to let patients know that it is available. Such was the case with one of the other citizens waiting in the emergency room. In brief, the man waited anxiously with his 8 year old daughter. His wife had fallen down the stairs in their home and was brought in by ambulance. Not only did he not know how he would pay for his wife’s treatment, he didn’t have money to pay the $5 charge for the parking lot. He had just finished receiving a brow-beating from a representative of the hospital billing department, when my wife Myrtle stepped in to let him know about HCAP and that he should demand a pass for free parking. He was effusively grateful. Oh, I almost forgot. The man was dressed in a police uniform from one of the Dayton suburbs. He said he made $8 per hour and was lucky to get 30 hours’ work per week. He had just got home from duty and found his injured wife.

But back to Sarah Palin. Personally, I would love the press to hound her over her Canadian medical care until she was forced to issue a theatrical apology akin to Jimmy Swaggart’s tearful “I have sinned against you” speech. Then she could retire to well-earned obscurity. Not likely to happen, but it would be beautiful.

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Bring Back the “Red Menace”

November 1, 2009 at 5:12 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , )

We Americans are brought-up to believe that genuine, vigorous competition is the life-blood of our great system. Vying against one-another for victory, with the winner taking all the spoils and the loser conceding any claim is what makes social Darwinism tick. And so it is drilled into our red, white, and blue brains from cradle to grave until it becomes second-nature to believe that non-winners deserve to have nothing. Gaining or losing it all motivates us to try our best. Striving against a rival makes us strong!

Who would deny that in the 1970’s, our domestic auto makers had become bloated, complacent, and inefficient. They were insensitive to and exploitative of their customers; building increasingly lower-quality and higher-priced products designed for “planned obsolescence.” They were improved by stiff competition from foreign car companies that gave customers an alternative. Likewise, the United States Postal Service was improved when other carriers appeared. I could fill pages with examples of industries and organizations that were increasingly out-of-touch with their market, all of which were raised-up by vying against tough, strong, viable opponents.

That lack of competition is exactly why a monopoly does not function well. There is no rival to keep said monopoly under control so sooner or later hubris, greed, and decadence set-in (note that this is why government regulation is used to control these tendencies in monopolies). In modern American, Reagan-Bush-Clinton-Obama-nomics, monopoly is a diseased thing that must be cured through competition. If the schools, the airlines, or the electric company can’t face the challenge, then that’s too bad because it’s sink or swim for everyone (except for banks and Wall Street tycoons).

And now I come to my point. And here I am relieved to know that no one actually reads this blog, so I will not be hounded by threats and cat-calls for the assertion I’m about to make:  The worst thing that happened to the average American citizen in the past 100 years was the collapse of the Communistic Soviet Union. Why? Simply because we now have no competitor to which we can turn when we are abused by the monopoly known as American Capitalism. And so that monopoly becomes increasingly abusive of its captive customers.

Apparently, I am the only one to notice that there was only one span of time when conditions consistently improved for American workers and citizens:  the years from 1920 until the mid-1980’s while the Soviet Union existed and, in the minds of America’s leaders, there was real danger of a (cue-up the scary music) Communistic revolution in America.

Before that window of time, laissez faire Capitalism was firmly in the saddle and there was very little progress in the treatment of the vast majority of the population. Things didn’t really begin to improve until the Great Depression of the 1930’s caused a large percentage of Americans to start considering the alternative economics of Communism/Socialism/Populism (all close cousins). This scared the bejesus out of our political and business rulers who then reluctantly agreed to allow a little of the wealth to be spread around. And for the next 50 years, more and more wealth got spread in America so that the people were kept happy and non-Communist.* Overall, things kept getting better all the time for Americans across the board:  the old, the young, all races, both genders. The poverty level crept down a little at a time and literacy rates kept going up.

Then in the late 1980’s, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics fell-apart under the weight of its leaders’ corruption and greed. The threat by the Communist menace was over. Sure there were still a few other Communist nations around, but none of them posed a real threat to Capitalism. American Capitalism boasted of being the only superpower remaining on earth. And, immediately, (actually it had started a few years earlier when the Soviet collapse could be seen on the horizon) American Capitalism no longer had to try to keep our hearts and minds. The tide turned against the average American. And it’s been downhill for us ever since.

So today we Americans are seemingly stuck with a bloated, uncaring, inefficient, corrupt, wasteful, unfair, and unresponsive system that is typical of any monopoly. But we are not stuck! Having no competition allows Capitalism to dismiss the needs of the citizens.  There is only one solution:  We must pick-up the threat of Communist revolution off the ash heap of history and, at the very least, pretend to be considering it as a replacement for Capitalism. That will scare the elite into once again being willing to share some of our nation’s prosperity.

* And contrary to neo-conservative ideology, in spite of having to share prosperity with the bottom 95% of the nation, there was still plenty of money for the upper 5% to stay very, very, very, rich.

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