Archive | July, 2012

Austerity Politics v. Posterity Politics

31 Jul

Are we keynesians or would we prefer to be serfs? It’s an election year, soCourtesty Billy Hathorn Wiki Commons we get to weigh on this and other questions. I really think we need to be thinking about creative economics. Market-based economics that are sustainable, that create useful commons instead of quarterly profits, dividends and obscene bonuses. We all get to decide how to make that happen.

As for me, I will be voting for posterity economics. Raise taxes and reinstate the steeply progressive tax rates that discourage bald-faced greed and encourage investment in useful infrastructure. You will hear that taxing the rich won’t raise the funds that we need, that we will have to tax the middle class. That is a calculated threat by the rich to discourage taxing the rich. And besides, look at the demographics, where is this vaunted middle class?

Where are the middle class jobs?

Time to downsize? Ouch!  Click me please

A couple of stories from the Washington Post this morning caught my attention:

The Mittster is chillin’ in Israel for a few days after his tour of the London Olympics where he wowed them. well, maybe not. but anyway, he’s out to Israel now. Checking the real estate in Jerusalem. Making contacts with car elevator contractors in case he decides to build a get away place in the Other Holy Land (not salt lake).

Mittster did have kind words for the Israeli health care system. Unfortunately that health care system is exactly the kind of big government interference that the right wing is certain will destroy the soul of a great nation. Here is a piece of the WAPO article on that:

 

Romney praises health care in Israel, where research says ‘strong government influence’ has driven down costs

 

Posted by Sarah Kliff on July 30, 2012 at 11:10 am

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney had some very kind things to say about the Israeli health care system at a fundraiser there Monday. He praised Israel for spending just 8 percent of its GDP on health care and still remaining a “pretty healthy nation:”

When our health care costs are completely out of control. Do you realize what health care spending is as a percentage of the GDP in Israel? 8 percent. You spend 8 percent of GDP on health care. And you’re a pretty healthy nation. We spend 18 percent of our GDP on health care. 10 percentage points more. That gap, that 10 percent cost, let me compare that with the size of our military. Our military budget is 4 percent. Our gap with Israel is 10 points of GDP. We have to find ways, not just to provide health care to more people, but to find ways to finally manage our health care costs.

Romney’s point about Israel’s success in controlling health care costs is spot on: Its health care system has seen health care costs grow much slower than other industrialized nations.

How it has gotten there, however, may not be to the Republican candidate’s liking: Israel regulates its health care system aggressively, requiring all residents to carry insurance and capping revenue for various parts of the country’s health care system.

Israel created a national health care system in 1995, largely funded through payroll and general tax revenue. The government provides all citizens with health insurance: They get to pick from one of four competing, nonprofit plans. Those insurance plans have to accept all customers—including people with pre-existing conditions—and provide residents with a broad set of government-mandated benefits.

Read the whole article? Go for it.

It’s too bad that the conservatives have no sense of humor or appreciation of irony. They really miss out on the best that their leaders have to offer.

Second piece from the WA Post that jumped out at me:

 

 

 

As ‘fiscal cliff’ looms, debate over pre-Election Day layoff notices heats up

 

 

 

 

By , Published: July 30

 

 

 

The deep federal spending cuts scheduled to take effect at the start of next year may trigger dismissal notices for tens of thousands of employees of government contractors, companies and analysts say, and the warnings may start going out at a particularly sensitive time:

Days before the presidential election.

Read the whole piece. I dare you.

I hope that the Dems find a semblance of spinal material and will hold certain feet to the fire. Imagine a budget cut so severe, so fair that it would even cut into defense jobs. Well, try to imagine that. What are the chances?

Each moment we are faced again with the choice of austerity politics or posterity politics. Think on.

 

 

 

The State is a Condition

29 Jul

“The State is a condition, a certain relationship between human beings, a mode of behaviour; we destroy it by contracting other relationships, by behaving differently toward one another…”

Gustav Landauer

Have to pack and set up the Really Really Free Market in Olympia. Contracting other relationships, behaving differently toward one another? Can we really destroy the state by behaving differently?

Wall of Films? Yes!

28 Jul

Boy, we all need a little couch potato time, don’t we?

Don’t know about you, but I would rather watch a movie stream across my big screen at home than fight traffic and take other chances with a night out at the cineplex. Sorry for the loss of jobs, but I just don’t go out to the movies very often.. for a variety of reasons.

We also don’t have an antenna on top of the house, or a dish, or any cable channel systems plumbed into the domicile, but we have a decent internet pipe and an extra computer plugged in to big screen and sound system, so we can watch the inter-tube-net movies when schedule allows.

Always looking for free streaming movies and entertainment.

Here’s a new source that I just came across: Wall of Films

Check it out.

Wall of Films | Films For Action

If an Agent Knocks…

26 Jul

Well, the news in Olympia is that the agents came knocking in the last few days.

Our free society has generally embraced the political freedom of aligning with either the Republican or the Democratic Party!

For those of us that find that range to be a little too tight, you can stray into the fringes of the Justice Party or the Green Party.

If you are drawn to politics beyond this range, you should expect to be surveilled, investigated, possibly indicted and maybe jailed for your politics.

True political freedom in the land of the free and the home of the brave has always been illusory.

There are some important considerations to consider if you have a hoody on your coat rack in the closet today.

Claim and exercise your Constitutional rights. Don’t fall for lying schemes and conversational gambits such as “you know why I am here, don’t you?”

“Let me come in and let’s talk.”

You may want to exercise your right to remain silent.

You may want to exercise your right to counsel.

I expect we will be having meetings to discuss the suppression of political thought, the continuing criminalization of poverty, the politics of oppression.

Sunday, July 29th at Sylvester Park at 2:30. See you there?

Here are a couple of online resources:

http://ccrjustice.org/files/CCR_If_An_Agent_Knocks.pdf

http://grandjuryresistance.org/

Dana Walker for State Treasurer!

26 Jul

It’s official. We are running a write-in campaign against Jim McIntire for Washington State Treasurer.

I have imposed on my friend Dana Walker to accept the role of running against the previously unopposed Jim McIntire for Washington State Treasurer.

Here is what Dana had to say about the write-in campaign:

Hi, I am Dana Walker and while I am somewhat ambivalent about this ad (I am proud of the fact that I would make a lousy politician) I approve of it nonetheless.

Now it’s official.

Do you think McIntire would debate me?

I don’t think McIntire will want to debate Dana, but we will make the offer.

Jim McIntire has been running unopposed for State Treasurer. He has been running unopposed despite the fact that he has done everything in his power to keep the power of the big banks intact in the State of Washington. He actively opposed the State Bank legislation that could provide economic stability for investment in Washington State that Chase Bank and Goldman Sachs never will. McIntire is the State Treasurer for the 1% and he is running unopposed. Our democratic system could not even muster an opponent to challenge McIntire’s corporatist economic agenda as State Treasurer. Until now.

As an act of conscience, as a symbol of resistance to the unopposed dominance of Wall Street Banks that are dictating the policies to the Washington State Treasurer, we are encouraging you to cast your ballot for a write-in candidate for State Treasurer. Every community in Washington State has a better candidate for Washington State Treasurer. In South Puget Sound, the Olympia Coalition for a Fair Budget has drafted Dana Walker as our write-in candidate for State Treasurer.

Dana Walker for State Treasurer. Write it in.

Or write in your favorite candidate who is not a creature of the Wall Street Banks.

We deserve better than Jim McIntire as Washington State Treasurer.

Political Fables for a Political Year

24 Jul

The WA Post has back to back stories in my digest this morning that I found interesting.

 

In the first story, the Government Accountability Office found that the Republican’s budget showdown over the debt limit coast the county 1.3 billion dollars last year. That is money that we could have used somewhere else in my opinion. But it shows the hypocrisy and stupidity of the current republican congressional legislators. And don’t get me wrong, it’s not that the democrats are just chomping at the bit to pass the kind of legislation that the country needs, look at their record in 2009-10 when they controlled Senate, House and White House and we could get banker bailouts, but not the public option for health care. Single payer was not even on the table. The dems are clearly beholden to their corporate funding sources, but they don’t engage in wasteful theatrics like the debt ceiling fight or endless votes to repeal legislation that clearly go nowhere. There are significant differences between the parties, but both parties understand that they cannot legislate against the interest of the wealthy interests that now decide our elections (thanks to Citizens United and Scotus Inc.)

 

 

GAO: Debt fight cost at least $1.3 billion

 

 

By , Published: July 23

Last summer’s fierce political debate over raising the federal debt limit cost taxpayers more than $1 billion in extra borrowing costs, including hundreds of hours in overtime for federal employees responsible for avoiding default, according to a new government report.

Delays in raising the debt limit forced the Treasury Department to pay an extra $1.3 billion in borrowing costs — and the final sum is expected to climb higher as multi-year obligations and other outstanding costs are added later, the Government Accountability Office said in a report released Monday.

Read the whole story?

In the second story, the League of Conservation Voters is reported to planning to launch a global warming campaign to unseat 5 flat-earth republicans who have been a little too vocal about their ignorance.

I think it has become more and more difficult for the red-staters to deny global warming. What’s wrong with Kansas is starting to shift from the question about how they can vote against their own best interest over and over to just how bad is the drought going to be? As folks see the crops dry up and experience the consequences of supporting electoral candidates and parties who guarantee that we do nothing about global warming, they may have an epiphany. A lot of folks are going to become believers in global warming through the rough lessons of direct experience.

Torrential rains, floods, derecho windstorms, super tornados, droughts, may provide a wake-up call to folks in the heartland that was never going to be delivered by the threat to polar bears and penguins or rising sea levels that are threatening the coastal states that can’t afford to harbor politically-rooted doubts about climate change.

Here is a bit of the second story and link to the whole thing:

Environmentalists target 5 Republicans who question humans’ impact on climate

 

 

By , Published: July 23

The League of Conservation Voters will launch a $1.5 million campaign Tuesday targeting five House Republicans who question the connection between human activity and climate change, in an effort to test whether the issue can sway voters.

Prominent conservative Republicans have challenged the scientific consensus that greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels and other sources are transforming the Earth’s climate. But it has not emerged as a central issue in a national political campaign, and President Obama, who pushed unsuccessfully for national limits on greenhouse gas emissions at the start of his term, has played down the issue over the past two years.

Read the whole story? Why not?

 

Release the Tax Returns, Mitt

18 Jul

Washington Post carries story this morning about pressure from both sides to have Romney release more tax returns. I don’t think he is going to do it. I think he is going to try to tough it out and claim principled stand that he has shared enough personal information. That would fly better if his father, George Romney, had not staked out the bipartisan ground 40 years ago for transparency by releasing 12 years of returns.

I think the simple truth is ten or twelve years of tax returns is going to show how much money Romney has made and how little tax he has paid in that time period. I think the returns would also undermine his story about himself as a job creator as his personal income would be revealed to be derived from passive investments, job out-sourcing, smart investing, but not from economic activity that has any significant connection to job creation. And there is the problem for the Republicans and the 1%ers. They keep trumpeting about the Job Creators, but if anyone has failed in the current economy it is the job creators. Outsourcing for profit, moving manufacturing industries off shore to areas with low wages and non-existent environmental regulation has been very profitable to the 1%ers, but it has not created or sustained good jobs for Americans, just the opposite. Hence, the big lie: we have to give the job creators more tax breaks if working folks want good jobs. That is simply not the way this thing plays out.

Show us the returns, Mitt.

 

With or without tax return release, pressure on Romney ramps up from both sides

View Photo Gallery — Mitt Romney on the campaign trail: Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney continues his campaign to unseat President Obama.

 

 

 

 

By and , Published: July 17

The political pressure on Mitt Romney to release more of his personal income tax returns is causing some divisions inside the GOP presidential candidate’s camp, according to a Republican strategist close to the campaign.

Although some advisers are arguing privately that Romney needs to release additional filings to curb the political fallout, others are resisting that suggestion, reflecting the candidate’s longtime reluctance to publicly disclose information about his personal finances.

Read the whole article? Why not? Read’m and weep.

Who Deserves Sympathy?

17 Jul

 

 

 

I came across this article today and wanted to pass
it on with somethoughts about sexual orientation
and sympathy. We live in a pretty competitive
world these days.

Social darwinism is probably better understood
and more influential than the complexities of
Darwin’s natural selection and evolution, even
though there is good reason to spend time
trying to understand Darwin’s ideas and
little reason to spend time on Ayn Rand’s
warped economic romanticism.

So, James Cantor asks, do pedophiles deserve sympathy? If you are willing to set aside all of your punitive media and cultural programming and consider Cantor’s work, you have my respect. I have thought about the subject of sexual orientation long and hard for a variety of reasons. I have considered the idea that just as most folks are sexually attracted to members of the opposite sex, some other folks are sexually attracted to members of their own sex. I can accept that. It’s not my experience, but is our own experience the yardstick by which everything in the universe must be measured?

I have read and tried to increase my understanding of transgender life. As a boy now trapped in an old man’s body, I can imagine how it might feel to have the experience of being a girl trapped in a boy’s body or vice versa. Decades of volunteer work in sexual assault response and domestic violence work have sensitized me to some extent to a wide range of human orientation and experience.

Catch the movies: Boys Don’t Cry or the documentary The Brandon Teena Story if you don’t understand this situation at all.

Maybe you just need to stretch a little to build sympathy and understanding of human sexuality and orientation.

Well, most of us would need to stretch a lot to build sympathy and understanding of human sexuality and orientation if the obscure object of desire (thanks to Luis Bunuel for his work) was age-inappropriate. Sexual attraction to children is really hard to comprehend for most of us, and if you can’t comprehend it, it’s going to be really hard to build sympathy for folks whose sexual orientation may include attraction to children.

Cantor asks a good question here. A question that leads to questions about our prison-industrial complex, about our ability to imagine and support folks whose very brain structure may criminalize them. If you can, try to imagine the number of folks out in the community who are pedophiles, but not child molesters in Cantor’s important definition.

I have always had sympathy for gay guys who are so deeply in the closet that they marry a woman who does not perceive that their sexual orientation is intellectually constructed, not innate (and I do believe that orientation and our internal experience of ourselves are male or female is innate). I also have sympathy for the gal in this situation who may eventually have a bad time if/when their spouse decides that they can no longer fool themselves about their sexual orientation.

Cantor challenges me to consider the plight of pedophiles who are in lifetime of resisting their sexual attraction to children. That has to be struggle. I hope we can do more to help these folks in their struggle and in that process, become better human beings ourselves, and protect our children and grandchildren.

Do pedophiles deserve sympathy?

 

By James Cantor, Special to CNN

updated 10:32 PM EDT, Thu June 21, 2012

 

A convicted child molester on the roof of a prison in Dresden, Germany.

 

A convicted child molester on the roof of a prison in Dresden, Germany.

 

 

 

Editor’s note: James Cantor, an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Toronto, is a psychologist and senior scientist at the Sexual Behaviors Clinic of the Center for Addiction and Mental Health. He is editor in chief of “Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment” and blogs at Sexology Today.

(CNN) — One cannot choose to not be a pedophile, but one can choose to not be a child molester.

As details of the accusations of sexual abuse emerged from the Jerry Sandusky trial, and as the public looks on with horror, a central element to the case that has received scant attention is pedophilia itself.

“Pedophilia” was long used as a synonym for “child molestation,” and both were often seen as psychological failures of self-control. Child molesters were thought to be acting out their own histories of abuses, reacting to fears of adult relationships, or manifesting a symptom that might be resolved in psychotherapy, after which they would no longer be pedophilic.

 

James Cantor

James Cantor

Recently, however, a number of studies have starting changing that view. It appears that one can be born with a brain predisposed to experience sexual arousal in response to children.

Read the whole article?

 

 

Tax Rate Facts

11 Jul

Washington Post has a story on tax rates.

I know that a lot of people will think that the low tax rates are a good thing, and they may be in a few ways, but these low tax rates translate into austerity political decisions, cuts in services, cuts to environmental protection, cuts to education, cuts in regulatory functions. The same folks who will cheer these low tax rates (even at the same moment that they complain about high taxes and advocate for more tax cuts) will also cheer the cuts in non-military governmental functions.

This is fine, I support free speech. I respect the right to espouse ideas, no matter how crazy they may be, but it is weird when working class and working poor, middle class folks start drinking this 1% koolaid. This is our task. Somehow we have to reach these folks and help them understand that our wildly expensive military adventures, drone murder program, kidnap and torture foreign policy are very destructive to our future as well as being morally indefensible. We have to help these folks understand that the 1% oligarchy are cooking the books as well as the globe with their planet for profit approach to the natural world.

We have to understand that taxes are necessary. Here is what George Washington had to say about taxes:

It is essential to bear in mind that toward the payment of debts there must be revenue; that to have revenue, there must be taxes; that no taxes can be devised which are not more or less inconvenient and unpleasant.

George Washington, 1796

Here is a bit of the WAPO piece. I think the facts are important. If you have questions about tax revenue and trends, read this piece.

 

 

 

In 2009, Americans paid lowest tax rates in 30 years to federal government

 

By , Published: July 10

 

Americans paid the lowest tax rates in 30 years to the federal government in 2009, in part because of tax cuts President Obama sought to combat the Great Recession, congressional budget analysts said Tuesday.

A sharp decline in income — especially among the wealthiest Americans, who pay the highest tax rates — also played a role, according to the report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. Household income fell 12 percent on average from 2007 to 2009, with income among the top 1 percent of earners decreasing by more than a third

 

 

 

 

 

Personal Pos

 

 

 

(The Washington Post/Source: Congressional Budget Office) – Average federal tax rates

Summer is Here!

8 Jul

It finally got warm again here in Western Washington yesterday. Much of the country has been suffering through a heat wave for a while already. Some parts of the country have been on fire. This is an aspect of global warming that will probably come to Western Washington. We have large stands of timber that will burn if weather patterns were to change and reduce the amount of rainfall in the region. People in the Hoh River Rainforest might appreciate a reduction in rainfall, but by and large, the Northwest needs a lot of rain and gets it.

My grandsons were out and about and could not be located to grab our kayak/play boats and head to the river or Sound, so I scooped up my 5 year old granddaughter and we took the smallest kayak I have and spent a couple of hours playing and keeping cool in the Newaukum River. (video is shot a few miles away from the stretch we were in). The river has pretty good flow this early in the year, so granddaughter was not sure she wanted to be in the river, but by the end of our time there she was jumping off the bank and letting me catch her and be swept along in the current. It’s possible to get swept off your feet, but the river is only a couple of feet deep in the lower reaches, so it’s perfect for playing, wading and kayaking.

I have noticed that the climate change deniers are getting desperate. They know that the US electorate is finding climate change to be real. It’s too bad that it takes disastrous evidence and experience of global warming to persuade the folks who tune into traditional media in the US that the doubt about global warming is manufactured by the same folks who want to persuade folks that Obama is a dangerous socialist when he is simply another corporatist democrat, but this serves the goals of certain folks.

We get change in this country when the tea party folks wake up and realize that the occupy folks are their natural allies and have the story right where the media giants have the news all wrong.

Not warm yet in your neighborhood? Don’t worry, the warm weather is coming. We need balance. We need a carbon tax immediately to change the energy paradigm. The explosion of research, development and manufacturing that would follow carbon tax implementation would solve our double dip recession problem and create jobs. The tax would lower the deficit, but it could not/should not be large enough to solve our deficit problem, just enough to fund R&D on sustainable energy systems. The deficit problem needs to be solved by reinstating the steep tax rate system that existed in this country when JFK stimulated the economy back in 1961. We have flattened the tax rate so much since that time that there is little or no stimulus effect left in that approach, only increasing income inequality and deficits that threaten our way of life. Things could get so bad in the US that we would have to cut the military budget. Just try to imagine that.

Record heat? You want to deny that? Here’s a piece from Think Progress and elsewhere:

 

What Is Causing The Climate To Unravel?

By Climate Guest Blogger on Jul 7, 2012 at 12:28 pm

By Jeremy Symons, via the National Wildlife Federation

Answer: One trillion tons of carbon pollution.

40,000 heat records have already been broken this year across the United States, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Here in Fredericksburg, Virginia, the signs of an unbalanced climate system have been felt in recent years not just in heatwaves, but increasingly in the form of unusually severe wind storms. This past weekend’s storm brought 80 mph wind gusts that snapped three trees in our backyard like pretzels, even though they were each a foot thick. Once again, my insurance company is teaching me new weather terminolgy to explain the latest climate disasters. A few years ago, the term was “micro-bursts” (not quite tornadoes, but similar impact). Now it is “derecho” (not quite hurricanes, but similar impact).


Read the whole piece at Think Progress? Stay cool.