The Trade-Off

The Trade-Off

Socialism

Republicans equate it to communism and Democrats fear using the word. So, let’s examine it and make some things clear. Under communism, the government has absolute control.  In this system no individual is permitted more privilege or property than any other.  All is controlled by the state and doled out equally to be used as determined by the ruling government.  That is the enforced law.  

Under socialism, programs are designed to prevent citizens from falling behind due to expenses they cannot reasonably afford.  Failure to do this causes poverty.

What happens when a large section of the society confronts poverty?  It causes huge problems for the economy and crime increases.  Addressing the poverty problem becomes a difficult and expensive problem for the government, as we learned (or should have learned) from the Great Depression of the 1930’s.

Socialism does NOT eliminate individual initiative.  Instead, it increases the ability to survive.  If one thinks socialistic programs are expensive, consider the governmental cost of eliminating extensive poverty.   In fact, America already relies on socialistic programs.

Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are all forms of socialism.  Without them, many middle-class citizens would confront bankruptcy and/or poverty.  If you doubt it, ASK them.  Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren categorize it as “democratic socialism.”  It has been largely successful in Canada and many European countries for years.  Arguments that it serves only the elite or makes people wait in long lines are largely debunked when the program is applied in a systematic way.  

Capitalism is only effective when everyone can participate.  In our present society, many middle-class citizens have a difficult time acquiring the necessary assets to initiate or maintain businesses, in part because banks and lending institutions are reluctant to take unnecessary risks. This means the corporate elite control corporations, including wages, benefits, prices, and exercise considerable influence over governmental policies which affect the largely powerless working class.

So here is the trade-off:  we either institute socialistic programs or confront having a two-class society–the rich and the poor–ending democracy as we know it.

Effective US Economy

Effective US Economy

The President would have us believe that his tax cuts are the panacea for a great economy.  One could hardly argue that tax cuts for the middle class are beneficial.  The problem with the administration’s cuts is that they are modest for the middle class (and ephemeral) while they are huge for the already wealthy (and permanent).  Tax cuts for corporations, many of whom already successfully avoid much of the taxation, will probably only make corporate executives richer unless the government demands mandatory assistance for workers through education, training programs and benefits.

The administration claims that these tax cuts plus elimination of many government regulations will result in wage increases for the middle class.  There will be some wage increases, though most of them will go to management employees.  Wage increases for across the board middle class employees will be limited and (my guess is) will eventually fade.

Furthermore, when wages increase, prices also increase, particularly in the absence of wage and price controls.  This results in inflation, causing the Federal Reserve Board to raise interest rates.  Interest rates can be a boon for investors, but they profoundly will affect the cost of homes for potential home buyers, reducing both the housing and realty markets.

The primary business of business is to make profits for management and shareholders, and the easiest way to do that is to limit wages and/or cut full time employees. Regulations, on the other hand, can in some cases, be reduced or simplified, but eliminating them poses a serious threat since most were intended to protect the American public.

The stock market may reflect what is occurring generally in the economy, but it has only a modest effect on the middle-class public since it is largely premised on the buying activities of wealthy entrepreneurs– and many middleclass Americans don’t own elaborate stocks. The recent ups and downs in the market clearly indicate that the administration has little direct control over market activities.

The best resolution for the American economy is wage and price controls which could help allow middle class workers permanent tax cuts, guaranteed wage increases and benefits, and help control prices on manufactured goods. Both John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon supported the idea of wage and price controls, but business lobbyists have effectively eliminated these from congressional consideration.

Then there is the deficit.  The huge tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations will undoubtedly expand the deficit, so Republicans will go after what they conveniently characterize as “entitlement” programs: social programs designed to help stabilize middle class civilization such Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.  In a country that cries for socialized medicine, cutting or eliminating these programs would be disastrous.  Those who oppose welfare programs should note that these are relatively minor expenses.

When we think about an effective economy, let us carefully consider all the implications.

-William

Building the Wall

Building the Wall

In the 1960s, California lettuce growers needed workers for their fields. To hire Americans, the managers had to pay the government mandated minimum wage, which they opposed. Many Republicans opposed it also, though it was the law. Lettuce growers decided to import Mexican workers, who could not be subject to the minimum wage. To be certain, many of these Mexicans were desperate for work and income. However, traveling back and forth across the border was difficult, inconvenient and expensive. So many of them found the means to stay in the United States, though they were illegal aliens. Union leader Cesar Chavez argued that many of the laborers were being abused by the lettuce managers. Regardless, it was the start of massive illegal migration into the US. Companies were not penalized, and workers were paid low wages. Many migrant workers eventually infiltrated throughout the country, including the large cities. Even Amish communities hired them. Along with the migrant workers came the drug dealers and undesirable elements. Not all were Mexican, many came from Central and South America.

Now we are saddled with the problem. Will the wall resolve the problem? I doubt it. Immigrants and drug dealers have been circumventing the borders for years by scaling, tunneling and flying over them.

Yes, we need to determine who is entering our country and filtrate the undesirables. But America is still a haven for the oppressed and the home of opportunity. Probably most of us would not be here otherwise. So now we need to fairly and reasonably resolve the problem.

Mafia Involvement Kennedy Assassination

Mafia Involvement Kennedy Assassination

Is It Possible?

1. Upon returning from the Soviet Union, Lee Harvey Oswald and Marina live with Oswald’s uncle who is an associate of New Orleans mafia chieftain Carlos Marcello.

2. Marcello has been instrumental to the operation of mafia casinos in Cuba during the Batista regime.

3. The CIA considers approaching the mafia about assassinating Castro, but there is some evidence the mob is more interested in working out a deal with Castro to reinstate the casinos in Cuba, and Robert Kennedy becomes concerned about the difficulty of continuing to prosecute mafia figures should an assassination be successful.

4 Oswald is believed to have attempted shooting an American military general who opposed Castro.

5. Oswald is seen on a sidewalk in New Orleans carrying a sign that reads “Fair play to”Cuba.”

6. Oswald travels to Mexico to meet with officials there about getting a passport into Cuba, but fails.

7. Carlos Marcello is deported from the United States by Attorney General Robert Kennedy.

8. With assistance from mafia associates, Marcello manages to return to the U.S. He is livid about the Kennedys and makes statements to associates about retaliatiation.

9. As a mogul in the motion picture industry during Prohibition, Joseph Kennedy Sr. enlists the assistance of the Capone operation to smuggle illegal whiskey across the Canadian border for corporate meetings.

10. Prior to the Kennedy Presidency, both Robert and John Kennedy conduct congressional investigations into the mafia.

11. When John Kennedy runs for the Presidency, his father requests that mafia heads instruct unions in West Virginia to vote for his son .

12. Frank Sinatra becomes closely associated with John Kennedy through his friendship with Peter Lawford. During the campaign, Sinatra supports Kennedy, connects him with
mafia girlfriends, and records a campaign song for him. After Kennedy becomes President, Attorney General Robert Kennedy advises his brother to disassociate his friendship with Sinatra.
No longer welcome at the White House,
an infuriated Sinatra reportedly complains to his mafia friends, who are equally angry. Later, Sinatra supports Richard Nixon.

13. As attorney General, Robert Kennedy continues his investigation of the mafia, particularly the Teamsters’ Union and James Hoffa, and again goes after Marcello.

14. The New Orleans mafia has close connections to the Dallas mob, including Jack Ruby. Though considered a minor player, Ruby keeps in contact with New Orleans mob figures. As a young man,
Ruby, though Jewish, is a “runner” for the Chicago Capone gang.

15. After moving to Dallas, Oswald is reportedly seen by employees sitting in Ruby’s establishment with some other men. The Warren Commission apparently refuses to interview the employees.

16. There is some reason to believe Ruby may have been acquainted with Oswald and upon discovering he probably assassinated the President, kills him. It is unlikely he did it as a mob “hit.”

17. Oswald was highly impressionable and needed to feel important. He was surrounded by mafia influence and was well aware of their resentment for the
Kennedys It is not unreasonable to assume they might have encouraged him to kill the President, knowing he would be dismissed by the authorities merely as a psychotic.

Though it is only a theory and we may never know with any certainty, the situation nevertheless seems suspicious.

 

Honoring Our Flag

Honoring Our Flag

It isn’t difficult to understand the frustration of black Americans who see their compatriots killed by white officers in seemingly unreasonable and highly questionable arrests. As a white American who has had some considerable associations with police, I know that police reaction can vary radically, regardless of race, and I too, often am outraged at these seemingly unjust situations and outcomes. But refusing to stand for the flag or acknowledge the national anthem is an affront to every American, regardless of race, who gave his or her life for that flag.

Yes, athletes have a Constitutional right to express their concerns. But that is why we have a press. That is why we have political action groups. That is why we have political representatives. These actions against the flag don’t reflect political positions, they refute the very people who died to protect freedom for EVERYONE, not just protesters.

Included in the “EVERYONE” are the fans in the stands who pay exorbitant prices to watch games, buy food at stadiums or pay high costs for internet and cable tv connections–and have themselves or have relatives who have served that flag, often with their lives.
Why? So that those protesting football players can make millions upon millions of dollars playing a GAME THEY LOVE, in the only country in the world that grants that kind of privilege.

Ira Hayes was a Pima Indian. As an Indian, he had been subject to many indignities. But Ira Hayes risked his life–RAISING THAT AMERICAN FLAG ON IWO JIMA FOR THE COUNTRY HE REPRESENTED.

If every time a black American shoots an innocent white cashier during a convenience store robbery and escapes, should all Americans then refuse to honor the flag?

It is that simple.

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Afghanistan

Afghanistan

During the heart of the Vietnam war, we heard similar phrases: “peace with honor,” “additional forces,” “successful conclusion.” This was empty, meaningless rhetoric to the nearly 60,000 Americans who died “ending communist aggression.” When America left Vietnam, it was communist.

We will probably repeat the mistake in Afghanistan, because we are getting proficient at repeating mistakes.

Afghanistan is a largely Arabic Islamic country. If you know anything about Islamic history, you are aware that western culture is held in very low esteem. In fact, Muslims have been battling for thousands of years with themselves, among themselves, against themselves and others because there is no absolute agreement even regarding their own theology or culture.

Contemporary Islamic radicals are worse. Many are illiterate, unemployed nomads who are otherwise societal rejects. Their only true skill is killing, for any cause, and any reason, rational or otherwise. As with the Viet Cong, every time we kill one of them, there is another one to replace him. And they move around at will, often infiltrating regional militias and local communities.

We fought in Vietnam for over ten years. Nothing was resolved. We’ve been fighting in Afghanistan for over 16 years. Nothing has been resolved. Now we are told we must continue fighting until a satisfactory conclusion has been attained. What does THAT mean? In the meantime, the US dead and wounded mount, a convenient and welcome target for the radical terrorist–and Americans pay both the human and economic price.

If the threat of terrorism is our primary concern, we have contemporary technology that can substitute for many ground forces. Use it. Send in the drones to pinpoint and destroy terrorist encampments and equipment. Yes, some innocent people may be killed. But then, many are being killed right now. So, let’s get our ground forces out of there. Trump’s initial instinct probably was correct.

Republicans Fiddled Washington Burned

Republicans Fiddled Washington Burned

Republicans Fiddled Why Washington Burned

For those of you over sixty, you will remember the American saga referred to as Watergate. For those of you younger, some much younger, you may remember it from school and for those who have no clue, read on!

Richard Nixon was, up until January 20, 2017, the most paranoid, media-hating, schizophrenic, thin-skinned President this country had ever had. He did, however, have good traits. He was very intelligent; politically moderate, by today’s standards a flaming liberal; extremely knowledgeable in the area of foreign affairs: and was a master politician, in the good sense of the term (he was also a flawed politician in the bad sense of the term). I point that out because I have yet to see any good traits in this current President.

Nixon allowed the dark side of his persona to overrule the bright side and the result was disaster. When he was elected many of us predicted something bad would happen, which turned out to be Watergate. But if not, it would have been something else. The same scenario can be predicted for Trump.

The side bar story of Watergate, and one that does not get enough ink in academia, the media and even in historical writings, is the role the Republican Party and leadership in the Congress played in all this.

When the story broke of the Watergate break-in in June of 1972 (Nixon’s re-election year) it was dismissed by every republican in the country. Nixon himself called it a “third-rate burglary”. The democrats yelled, demanded an investigation and alleged a cover-up. The press, as they so often do, wrote a little, gave more weight to the comments from the administration and dismissed the democrats’ claim of insisting this was part of a systematic game plan from CREEP. (The Committee to Re-Elect the President). An earlier break-in under the direction of CREEP was the first “smoking gun”, which was given lip-service by the press initially.

Not until two intrepid reporters from the Washington Post were given the full go-ahead by their Editor, Ben Bradley, did the effort finally come forth to investigate just what caused all this “distraction” called Watergate, Nixon’s word not mine.

And even then, the full gravitas of the issue did not gain traction until Congress started investigating, which led to all the discoveries, along with the gutsy rulings of one Judge John Sirica. Finally, republicans started to peel off and separate themselves from THEIR President and develop a case for his impeachment. If you go back and look at the timeline of the comments starting with the republicans’ full-throated defense of Nixon and their denials of any wrong-doings (mid 1972) to their pronouncements that they saw no way to save this Presidency (mid 1974), you will see a party that turned its collective head, lied right along with Nixon and his henchmen, against all odds, to protect and preserve their man. NOT the office, but Nixon alone.

ONLY when it was incontrovertible that he was part of the crime did they run like scalded dogs to isolate themselves from him and, in a weird way, hung him out to dry.

This same scenario is playing out again. Must this country once again be subjected to a deeply flawed Republican President being empowered by a bunch (with a few notable and laudable exceptions) of lapdog republican leaders who will dismiss anything he does, illegal or not, just because all they care about is power and winning? Forget governing, forget representing ALL the people, and forget following the Rule of Law.

At some point in time it will be obvious, after much anguish is heaped upon this country, that Trump must go at which point all the republican leaders will try to put on their shining armor. Until that point arrives, they will continue to turn their head, dismiss factual allegations, swallow hard and go along with his madman rantings. Then they will say they fought him all along, they are not to blame and, by the way, the democrats are the ones to blame!

So far at the outset of this Administration, we have seen numerous examples of republicans turning their head to most of what they had previously stood for and ran campaigns on.

More than half of what Trump says he will do, legally requires Congressional action. Will Congress step up and step in to say no? Keep a scorecard. See how many things he wants they deliver on and how many they push back on. See how far he can push the envelope before any meaningful number of republicans in leadership say that is enough!

When Trump started gaining traction in the primaries, many republicans were caught off-guard, as I wrote earlier. Then when he was nominated, many still felt they must lose with him to ultimately gain. Now that he is in office, almost all have rallied around him because the person in the White House has the (R) by his name. They no longer get a pass.

If and when Trump goes, and I think it is only a matter of when, do not let the republican party off the hook. They will be just as culpable.

The Challenge of Democracy

The Challenge of Democracy

Among the many textbooks for American Government in college is one titled “The Challenge of Democracy.” I used it only one semester but loved the title. It sums up what it means to live in this country.

WAY too many people in the U.S. see living here as a one-way street. It is not. There are requirements and expectations and legalities to follow by both the citizens and the governments…state, local and national… to each other.

In fact, there is a contract, all legal and binding. Almost no one sees their day-to-day living as such but it. It is the basis you have for redress…to the courts and to the government entity you may reach out to. There are things expected of you and you expect things from your government. That is a contract.

What are these quid-pro-quos? One is, the understanding that while you may exercise your freedoms and rights so too can your neighbor. And neither one of you may impinge on that exercise. They are exactly the same, neither of you have more or less, generally speaking. Two, that while you expect and require certain things from your government, they expect and require certain things of you. What are examples? You expect your rights to be upheld but you must exercise them in a responsible and legal and equal way. So too must your neighbor. And if they do not then you expect the government to do something about it. Another…you know if you do what the government asks you to they will respond in a certain way. If they do not, then you know you have the courts.
Three, you are expected to act a certain general way in a society and so too must your neighbor. This creates an expectation of order and safety.

In exchange for the government protecting you, you must conform to certain minimum and equally applied standards. You cannot have your cake and eat it too.

When either side breaks their side of the contract, as with any contract breach, you have redress…and so does the government. Ours, as citizens, is to go to court and force the government to do what is required of them in the law. Their redress is to, 1) prosecute you for breaking a criminal law, 2) taking away some of your privileges that they themselves granted you or 3) see to it that you conform to prior knowledge you had about what was required to conform.

Let’s go back to number three above. This is where most people lose sight of what it means to live here and why it is a challenge. To enjoy the rights, privileges and protections afforded to us under the U.S. Constitution, we must exercise them in a responsible way and let our neighbor do the same. We cannot demand to have free speech and then not allow that same exercise to our neighbor. We cannot say what we want then get mad when our neighbor does the same, only in a different vein. We must tolerate that which we cannot stand in order to have the freedom to do the same ourselves. If we choke off our neighbor we are choking off ourselves. If we want to worship a certain way, our neighbor must have that same right.

That is why it is a challenge. If we lived in an autocracy or dictatorship, all decisions would be made for us. We will not like many of these decisions but we have no responsibility to our neighbor or our government. In other words, conform and keep quiet and you will live. In the U.S., we have a give and take every day. The problem is way too many people take but do not give.

This is the challenge. We must have certain traits in this country to make it work. Tolerance, understanding…if not about what our neighbor says or does then an understanding that they have the right to do so, and patience. I am afraid, no I know, this country loses this patience from time to time and we have lost it now in this time we live in. Generally speaking, there is little tolerance, little understanding and no patience.

What makes these times so dire and seemingly hopeless is that we have a person like we have as President now. He not only shows no examples of leadership and guidance to encourage the country to use these traits to unify us, he is exhibiting the exact opposite. Divide, lie and conquer.

Our U.S. Constitution is a wonderful, unique and powerful document. It cannot be effective, however, if the citizens do not believe in it. When citizens go off on their own and think they can live life as they please they are ignoring the Constitution. When a President, for God’s sake, encourages this type of behavior, the problem is increased ten-fold.

We are in a crisis. There are many reasons creating this crisis but I am offering one here which I highlight. That is, if we do not respect the fact and acknowledge the understanding that we live in a society that requires give and take, then we have nothing. And when the person holding the office of President is of the same mind, then how do we break through to the proper conduct?

We will discuss that in future offerings.

Amendment 1 to the Constitution of the United States of America

Amendment 1 to the Constitution of the United States of America

Amendment 1 to the Constitution of the United States of America: ” Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Freedom of speech means the President, too, has the right to express himself. But whether you are the President, or the press, you are subject to the laws regarding slander and libel.

But the Constitution makes it very clear that a free press serves an important function in the process of democracy. The press is the instrument by which the people are informed as to how the government is performing. This is essential for an informed public in making decisions at the voting polls. Now to be certain, the press has an obligation to provide information that is credible. But so do the President and the Congress. Is the press fair? Probably not always. But it is more a sin of omission rather than one of commission.
One learns in journalism courses [I know, because I took them] that the basic rules of good reporting are factuality and objectivity. Unless one is specifically editorializing, in which case the reporter must make this CLEAR to the readership or audience, objectivity is fundamental.

All good journalists seek facts, not rumors, on which to base their stories. In order to acquire hard facts, journalists use “sources” who are hopefully responsible people of high intellect who have keen knowledge about the subject and are generally experts who prefer to stay anonymous so as to avoid personal and legal entanglement. Of course, the question always arises, if it is factual, why fear legal reprisal? For many reasons. To begin, sources often provide information because they believe it helps keep the government honest. But they know it can affect their employment and their families. And reporters “cover” for them because they need their insights repeatedly.
On the other hand, journalists sometimes exaggerate the importance of a story. For example, if the President compliments a lady because she has “a beautiful smile, ” reporters sometimes intimate this was a sexist comment rather than just a harmless compliment. This is not to be confused with an erotic comment by the President or a flagrantly insulting one to or about a woman. Respect for comments applies both ways.

The answer is to speak truthfully and respectfully, whether it be newspapers, radio, television, personal interviews, press conferences—or tweets.

Let’s Think About Healthcare

Let’s Think About Healthcare

Let’s think about healthcare. Healthcare is a three trillion-dollar proposition for the country. For most people, Medicare and Medicaid are crucial. Medicare provides essential health coverage.  Medicaid assists those in financial distress, but included in that are people having to enter retirement homes, including those homes which provide medical assistance.

The medium cost to enter a retirement home is two to three hundred thousand dollars.  THAT’S RIGHT–A QUARTER MILLION DOLLARS IN CASH OR ASSETS–AND THAT DOES NOT INCLUDE MEDICAL ASSISTANCE!

Republicans propose cutting Medicaid to permit greater tax rebates for the wealthy. So, health coverage is no joke! Allowing states to offer a choice of coverage may have some merit.   But it also forces up the price on policyholders who require more extensive coverage [which may seem fair, unless one cannot afford the greater price].  And allowing coverage for pre-existing conditions is essential!

Under the American system of privatization, there is little to prevent private companies from raising the cost of healthcare at will, no matter what they promise today.

A national single payer program would give everyone access to essential coverage by averaging out the costs.

Yes, we might all have to pay a modest increase in income taxes, but consider the benefits:  no paying doctor or hospital visitation charges; no filling out extensive paperwork, complete coverage for all medical emergencies, no out-of-system concerns, etc.

There are those who insist it will mean long waiting lines [as if to assume we don’t have these now], and favoritism. Folks, we have favoritism right now! People with prestige, such as congressional representatives, and people with wealth already get preferred treatment. 

A national health care program would have universal guidelines that would prevent individual states and companies from deviating from essential coverage.

Reducing the cost of coverage by reducing the coverage is merely a way for private companies still to charge any premiums they choose while providing reduced coverage – and reducing the coverage whenever they choose.

At present, the most convenient means of establishing a national health care program would be to expand Medicare by opening it to everyone.  It is worthy of consideration.