Monday, October 7, 2013

Shutdown and parasitic money

The shutdown is supposedly about Obamacare and separately about the debt ceiling (or rather money).  So what is money?  Does it have value?  Did you know it's created out of debt in the first place?

We actually have a parasite on our economy called the Federal Reserve.  This private institution, owned mostly by a secretive cartel of bankers, creates money out of thin air and lends it to the government to spend or to banks to lend it into existence.  Our income taxes go directly to the debt service of the money the government has spent.  The US used to print its own money debt-free at various times in our history until the last time we stopped in 1913, when the Federal Reserve Act passed Congress.  Do you ever wonder how much of your work goes to paying off this debt to this banking cartel?

Congress could complete change the talk of the debt ceiling by addressing our money problem, but Democrats and Republicans are largely dependent on Wall Street and other power elite interests to fund their campaigns and privately become wealthy.  Our two parties have us divided and conquered fighting about social issues while both parties give Wall Street practically free reign to gouge all the capital it can from any person, government, business, or country that has any left.

Here are some questions everyone should want the answer to:

* Why can't we audit the Federal Reserve?
* Why wasn't anyone punished for the irresponsible behavior that caused the housing bubble?
* Who profits during each economic shock?
* Why won't network news outlets mention 3rd party candidates or allow them in debates?
* Why do the biggest corporations pay less (net) taxes than churches?
* Why are portions of SOPA being resurrected in the TPP?
* Would we be better off as a country to print our own money, debt-free?

Me no like none of this

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Drug war assassinations in the U.S.A.

So it's been all over the news, political assassinations of law/prison related officials in Colorado and Texas.  In case you missed it:

So how does it feel?  Are Americans happy with this?  The alleged perps are Aryan Nation folks who make their money in black markets running drugs.  What does this say about our drug war?  Doesn't it sound a little like the cartels in Mexico?

Assassinations like this have happened thousands of times over in Mexico due to the drug war the U.S. has imposed on them.  This is a consequence of prohibition pure and simple.  This is further evidence of the laundry list of failings of the drug war.  Where are the successes?  Oooops there aren't really any, unless you consider who's profit(eer)ing substantially from the drug war.

It's time to tell the WELFARE KINGS (weapons manufacturers, private prisons, BANKS*, pharmaceutical industry)  to stop the drug war, to make an honest living without wasting our tax money on a useless drug war and without ruining the lives of millions of people in the process.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

HEART The Rock (one depressing breakfast with mtvu)

Ate breakfast on a college campus this morning.  MTV-U was being pumped out of flat screen TVs all over the dining area.  I was a bit disturbed by the one minute that I watched.  I still enjoyed my breakfast though in case the reader was concerned with my eating pleasure.

First up:  Advertisement for the movie G. I. Joe.

<beginsarcasm> Yay!  They've remade the old cartoon starring The Rock.  Support the troops! </endsarcasm>

OK.  Do you love our military?  Have you ever wondered why?  Would you love your military as much if you didn't watch TV and sporting events?

Some articles about Iraq to show some further cynicism:

Second up:  Advertisement for St George University.

<beginsarcasm> Yay!  Student debt!  Universities are using increased tuition to compete with other universities to increase enrollment and tuition which increases need for student loans! </endsarcasm>

If you don't know that student debt is a huge problem, then under what rock are you hiding?  Even THE Rock knows that student debt is a problem.  But did you know that student debt has reached ONE TRILLION DOLLARS and as surpassed credit card debt?  Did you know that you cannot bankrupt out of student debt?  Did you know student debt can even garnish Social Security if it isn't paid off before collecting benefits?  Did you know that the promise of getting a well-paid job with a college degree is less true than ever?  Does anyone think this isn't a mess?

Some articles to make us feel bad about universities and student debt:

Finally:  Advertisement for Snickers.

<beginsarcasm> Hungry?  (Yes!)  Is Robin Williams coaching a football team?  (Yes!)  Will scarfing down very sweet candy satisfy his hunger and make him healthy?  (Yes!)  What would The Rock do?  (Yes!) </endsarcasm>

Is Snickers a gas station PBJ?  No, it's candy not food.  It's making people sick not healthy.  It's making people fat not healthy.  Much of our food is making us sick.  I saw someone say recently that if it's advertised on TV, then definitely don't eat it.  I've heard others say not to eat anything out of a box.  Are convenience, shelf life, and sweetness the properties we're most concerned with in our food?  Not if we care about our health.

In conclusion: <beginsarcasm> Support attacking other countries, go into debt, and make yourself sick.</endsarcasm>

Or maybe just stop and think about what you do and why.  What would The Rock do?  Put down that Snickers.


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Walmart in NYC? NO THANKS

I wrote this in reply to comments in the Reason article:

New York City Council Wages War on Walmart

The latest dumb idea from politicians in the Big Apple.

(Click link above to read the article, read below to see a comment I posted (in 3 parts due to the limit on comment size))


First of all (apologies if any heads explode), Walmart isn't *all* bad.  They are simultaneously a marvel of capitalism and an example of most of the major problems of capitalism.  I would argue (and a real debate would actually be nice) that Walmart is more bad than good, for America, for Americans, for the world, for the ecology, for other businesses big and small, and for good taste (the most subjective part so it’s pointless to address this as taste is personal).  

While Walmart isn't a monopoly, it is anti-competitive.  For example, it operate any individual store at a loss until it claims a sufficient portion of market share.  How does the average business compete against that?  Books have been written about how Walmart is anti-competitive, so I won't belabor this, but I'd *love* to hear any arguments about how Walmart is good for competition.

For those who can take off the idealist hat for a moment and look objectively at government regulation and protection, wouldn't it make sense to protect your voters from an organization that would make your voters' lives worse?  (One must rant...)  It sucks to work for Walmart.  It sucks to supply Walmart.  It sucks to own a business or live in a community near a Walmart.  It sucks to be a supplier to Walmart.  Walmart sucks wealth from everyone/everything it touches. Walmart isn't anyone's friend, and it's a bad neighbor.  If we had a mutually beneficial relationship with Walmart, it would be one thing.  Walmart acts much more like a parasite.  (To name a few reasons to oppose them.)

Many American small towns that have lost agriculture, manufacturing, and mining jobs are kind of on life support through welfare and social security.  Some would argue that these towns might crumble (economically speaking) on their own.  Many do manage a sort of equilibrium or (at least over time) can evolve and possible develop new industries or populations, ...unless Walmart shows up.  They turn on the wealth vacuum and suck up a large chunk of the money people have to spend in the area.  If it tips the balance and the area's economy goes down the toilet, Walmart has been known to leave the market just as quickly as it entered.  Also conveniently, above and beyond the locals on welfare and ss, 44% of Walmart employees are on government benefits.  How do you feel about Walmart profiting immensely from your tax money given to its customers?  How do you feel about Walmart externalizing its employees hardships on the rest of us instead of paying them a little better?

Are Walmart's extra low prices good for America if they destroy other business and competition?  I'll check back for answers more profound than simple free market idealism.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Let's be outraged by corporate job deletion

Corporations behaving badly

"Georgians to Legislature: Make job creation top priority" was the headline of the Atlanta Journal and Constitution this weekend.  Why wasn't the headline "Georgians outraged at multinational corporations for automating, outsourcing and exporting way too many jobs"?  Is it better for the world to build stuff half way around the world and transport it here?  It's only better for the corporate bottom line not for you and me.  Unfortunately our system rewards this behavior, and we tolerate it.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Israel versus Palestine versus TRUTH

I don't know if I've ever seen anything this amazing.  Thankfully a ceasefire has been reached just at time of writing, but after a week of fighting between Israel and Gaza, who knows who or what to believe.  Unfortunately, I can't write this without bias because I do have my beliefs about this situation, but I'm hoping to touch on something more important than taking sides.  I would like to demonstrate what I think is an incredible information gap.  I think that this gap goes beyond bias to the level of massive disinformation reaching well outside the boundaries of Israel / Palestine.

For the purposes of this blog, Israel means Israel's government and not its civilians or any other people of Jewish faith/culture.  The politics surrounding this conflict are so vicious that I feel I must make absolutely clear that I am not antisemitic.  Actually, I am anti-violence and pro-truth (versus any lies, disinformation, or secrecy).

The pro-Israel camp generally believes (with some variation):

  • Palestinian extremists (and other regional Muslim extremists) want to destroy Israel basically at any cost or chance
  • Hamas is a "terrorist organization" 
  • Israel has a right to all of the land it currently occupies and expands into
  • Anyone against Israel, since it is the Jewish state, is antisemitic
  • Military attacks on Palestine are self-defense

The pro-Palestine camp generally believes (with some variation):

  • Palestinians are being robbed of their land (often violently) and oppressed by the Israeli government.
  • Palestinians live under "apartheid"-like circumstances whereby they are subject to different laws, rules, and rights than Israeli citizens
  • Many of the territorial actions of Israel are illegal by international law and according to the United Nations
  • Votes on actions to condemn Israel for this situation in the United Nations are always blocked by the United States
  • Much of western mainstream media (essentially all mainstream media in the United States) only gives the pro-Israel point of view
  • The two state solution as it's been negotiated occasionally over the past few decades was incredibly unfair (unacceptable) to the Palestinian side
  • Military/bomb attacks on Israel are justified retaliation for the untenable situation
Middle ground?  There is no middle ground.  How many sides are there to this story?  At least 3?  

Besides the lives lost (on both sides) and injustice suffered, I think the real victim is the truth.  Do you want to know the truth?  I DO.  

P.S. Define "terrorist"

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Who's afraid of big bad OBAMACARE?

Here's a great article explaining a lot of the points of Obamacare.

This one criticized some business owners that are vocal in complaining about it.

Here are a few words I'd like to say:

To focus my comments about health care, I will respond to a very common statement about health care in general in the context of Obamacare.

"Health care should be divorced from employment."

For starters, it's not really possible (very exceptional or contrived exceptions) for a person to survive in this country without money, directly or indirectly.  Most people's money or support comes from being employed, receiving government benefits (Social Security or welfare-ish things), or being family (liberally defined) of the former two.  

Health care is pretty essential (some room for debate).  Unless you're off the grid with health care or some rare other alternative, you are paying for it.  In addition, we all are paying for other's health care already, directly and indirectly (like it or not) by increased costs from unpaid bills and emergency room visits (that can't be refused) and in Medicare/Medicaid.  

The Affordable Care Act (u.k.a. Obamacare) an insurance-based model as opposed to for example a single-payer model.  (This is my least favorite part;  generally not a big fan of insurance.)  By making everyone participate (as they do to some extent already), the risk is pooled (insurance terminology) helping to bring down cost.  Optimistically, people that can afford it take responsibility for it (financially) and those that can't at least are treated reasonably instead of letting things go until emergencies arise.  For better or worse (and this certainly isn't perfect), the overall costs to individuals and society should work out to be less and misery/suffering should be less, too.

To bring this back around full circle, many (but certainly not most) of us are gainfully employed and technically can afford insurance or it's already built into our benefits (and families are covered, too).  Those that are employed but can't afford it are a drain on the system in one sense, but their employers are also a bit of a drain on the system (this point is quite disputable, but for example companies like Walmart have a huge percentage of employees on food stamps, can health care be considered an externality?)  Medicare recipients are already in a system designed to aid their health-care costs significantly.  Unemployed drain the system, but the system drains them a little, too.  At least their drain of the system is mitigated a little (much less emergency care, more preventative care, and healthier so more employable in the future).   

Marriage of employment and sources of obtaining money with health care (and essential service?) does make some sense in this modern society we find ourselves in.

If you're as lucky as I am to be pretty healthy, it hurts a little more to know you're paying for the sick (naturally or self-inflicted), but we really are paying for a lot of it anyway, and hopefully this system will realize some savings for everyone.   I hope we can address obesity and our awful diet as well, but I digress even further.

I think Obamacare will be ultimately worth it (an improvement), but it isn't the perfect system we'd hope for.