Sunday, September 30, 2012

Did You Know?

Did You Know?

A ‘like’ on Facebook places a tracking cookie on your hard drive and every site you visit is captured by Facebook. The tracking takes place even after you sign off from Face Book and is sent to FB the next time you sign-on to FB.  Your personal information and the sites you visit are sold to advertisers and anyone willing to pay the price.

Facebook has the right to copyright any photo or video you post. (When you signed up for FB you clicked “I agree” and like 99.9% of us you did not read your agreement. So what? If you post a photo of a news event that you witness, for example, you can’t sell it to the media. FB owns the copyright.

Not to beat up on FB, but the same applies to much of Twitter and most social media sites. You agreed. Your personal information is tracked and you agreed to the copyright by these social media sites.

Alternate e-mail addresses, like those used on dating sites and by some FB users, can be easily traced back to you. Your name, address, telephone, etc. is easily available. Those ‘safe dates’ where you meet someone at a restaurant and he does not have your real name, address, etc. – well they are not really all that safe.

Wal-Mart, Target and a lot of businesses receive government tax subsidies. For example, a state or city might wave all property taxes for Wal-Mart so that ‘new jobs’ are created. Small businesses, that pay property taxes’ cannot compete and close their doors.  (read on – it gets worse).

Some states allow businesses to keep the state income tax it collects. You read that correctly. Instead of mailing the taxes to the state, some businesses get to keep those payroll taxes and simply inform the state that the employee paid x amount in state income tax. Small businesses send the taxes they collect to the state and cannot compete and close their doors. (read on – it gets worse).

Studies show that the ‘Wal-Mart’ effect creates very few new jobs because so many people are put out of work when the small businesses that cannot compete go under.

Why do politicians cut these deals? Because we are lazy and uninformed. The politicians know they are killing local businesses, but they can fool a disinterested public by claiming hundreds of new jobs.

What to do?

Create an email group that lists every political representative that needs your vote and email the hell out of them.


Monday, September 24, 2012

Of Course You are Right!

Here are some important facts.

1.       The average American’s reading comprehension level is between the 8th the 9th grade.

2.       People want quick solutions that confirm their beliefs.

3.       Millions of others support your belief. You have innate knowledge and do not need to read and understand facts. The voices tell you and you are right!

Bumper sticker solutions, 30-second sound bites, and a group to blame fits our needs. Low reading comprehension and little effort is required for us to ‘understand everything’. “Obama did it.” “Its Bush’s fault.” “The liberals caused it to happen.” “The Tea Party is to blame.” “The Conservatives did it.” “The illegal immigrants caused it.” Google any of these statements and you will find up to 14 million hits. Think about it: 14 million people support your opinion. (No matter what it is!)

Don’t like Google? ("I hate Google" shows 190 million results). Find ‘your’ station on the radio or television to verify that your opinion is right.

We vote and argue over bumper-sticker wisdom.

·         The answer to high gas prices: drill baby, drill.

·         The cause of high taxes, overcrowded emergency rooms and class-rooms, crime and unemployment: illegal immigrants.

·         Obamacare

We seldom demand results beyond our petty prejudices.

Look at the price of gasoline. Until the early 70’s, we paid about 32 cents per gallon at the pump. After the oil embargo was lifted, gas prices were suddenly a dollar more, then two-dollars more, than three dollars more. Nobody asked why? There was a lot of talk about our need to become less dependent on foreign oil. Images of Iraq, Iran and even the Saudis were used by politicians as they demanded that the USA become free from foreign oil. The inference was that fuel prices were sky high because of those mean old people in the Middle East.

Realty: we purchase most of our foreign oil from Canada and Mexico. (Geography, anyone?)

Reality: oil is sold on the world market. If we drill the price at the pump is not going to change very much[1]. Prices are controlled by the super-rich of the world.

Illegal immigrants: cause and effect. Instead of debating the issue, let’s watch Alabama and other states that enacted laws to push illegal immigrants out of their states. We should see lower taxes, uncrowded emergency rooms and uncrowded classrooms. We should see significantly lower unemployment rates as the unemployed snap up those jobs at fish and poultry processing plants, hotels and motels. Social service agencies, criminal justice agencies and schools will soon be asking for smaller budgets. Those states should soon have a tax surplus.
Illegals Cause Sky High Taxes
If our real concern is the cost we pay because of illegal immigration, then tie any laws to reduce the number of illegal immigrants to a proportionate reduction in taxes. Simple math formulas should be included in these laws. (We have 1000 illegal immigrants in our state. They cost us 100,000 in taxes for our schools, welfare, police, etc. Every less immigrant means a reduction of $100 in our tax needs).
Health Care "Check Please!"
Arguing about who pays for health-care is a national pastime.  This is like five people arguing about who pays the hundred thousand dollar check at a restaurant. (I had the salad and fish, you had lobster and John ordered soup with his meal. We must dividing this hundred thousand dollar check fairly!) The real argument should be with the cost!

Why do we pay more per person for health care than France or England? Why are they paying 50% less per person and outliving us? Just like the people in the restaurant, our first concern should be about the outrageous cost.

Our limited reading comprehension levels, our prejudices, our ‘certain’ knowledge that required no research, fact-checking or any thought about other opinions serves the super-rich. They steal trillions while we argue over the winner American Idol[2].
Will We Change? No, we can't even understand what we read.
We will not let facts get in the way. We prefer bumper-sticker solutions, bumper-sticker causes and thinking just enough to come up with a bumper-sticker.





[1] Michael Levi, a senior fellow for energy and the environment at the Council on Foreign Relations
[2] Should have been called Americans Idle

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

To Reduce War . . . Sell More Arms????

Goal: A world without war.

Solution:     Arm the world with modern destructive weapons and tell everyone to discuss peace. Provide foreign aid with the requirement that other nations use those American tax dollars to buy American arms.

The United State of America was responsible for 66.3 billion dollars of arm sales abroad. The land of Democracy, freedom and love for the world provided three-quarters of the arms sold to other nations and groups around the world.

Those involved in the production and sale of U.S. arms, lobby hard to make certain we keep every nation well-armed. Eventually, many nations we armed turn on us or our interests and we need to purchase newer arms to supply our military as we go to was against the nation or group we armed.

Many Americans criticize foreign aid without understanding why it should be criticized. Critics site ‘the needs at home’ when complaining about foreign aid. This is because they think foreign aid to be a form of ‘do gooder’ help to another country. Our foreign aid is a help to American corporations, mostly in the arms or farm industries.  For example, we poured billions of dollars every year into Egypt with the requirement that Egypt’s military spend the money on procuring weapons. Today it is popular to express dismay about the control the Egyptian military has over the people. We armed that military and expected them to control their people. Yet, when the people revolted in the Arab Spring, we acted as if we wanted the Egyptian people to be free from the military all along.

If the United States wants peace, stop selling arms, stop overthrowing governments, stop assuming that what worked in an isolated country in 1776 will automatically work in nations older than hundreds of years with a dozen other nations living right next store.

Not surprisingly, many people fear the loss of jobs if we curtailed the sale of arms to foreign nations and reduced our military spending to what the military says it needs. I wonder if we could list the value of a dead human to the U.S. economy? Let’s see, the weapon used generated x number of dollars to x number of workers. produce and the result was one-hundred dead women and children.
Neither the sale of arms or the military should exist to provide jobs. Military bases should not exist to provide jobs. The fact is that when the military states they no longer need the production of a particular tank or a particular military base, our leaders refuse to allow the military to cut their budget. But that is another intelligent thought.


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

“Those that fail to learn from history, are doomed to repeat it.” ―

George Santayana’s often repeated quote is simple to understand. Learn from history of be doomed to repeat it. It is difficult to learn from history without knowledge of history. Sadly, this is where we begin. There is a lack of historical knowledge. Why does it matter?
Suppose you trip over a rock and fall into the mud. Every person walking down that same path trips over the same rock and falls into the same mud. Because nobody remembers the ‘history’ of walking down that path, everyone trips and falls into the mud every single day.

So here we are: walking down a path that was walked before. The same rock and the same mud await.
Let me put it another way.

“For a while, it seemed impossible to lose money on real estate. But then the bubble burst. The financial sector was paralyzed and the economy contracted. State and federal governments struggled to pay their domestic and foreign creditors. Washington was incapable of decisive action. The country seethed with political and social unrest[1].”  The time was 1837. Read it again and think about how this knowledge of history may have influenced those that lost a fortune on real-estate investments at the turn of this century.
Patriotism, respect for the military, love of capitalism, love of democracy are all admirable qualities and perhaps our finest characteristic as a people. Knowledge of history reveals how we allow these sacred beliefs to be misused to manipulate us.

There are many valid viewpoints about taxes, healthcare, and war, providing for the elderly, providing for the disabled, religion and immigration. Although we may engage in heated discussions and arguments, we must never be unwilling to consider another point of view and the possibility of compromise.

On July 4th, we celebrate the compromise known as The Declaration of Independence. For almost a year, the Founding Fathers argued over the wording. Jefferson was frustrated as his original document was edited and changed.
We treasure the compromise of The Constitution of the United States. It took over 168 days to write the Constitution and there were many, many revisions. Each version required compromises.

We’ve been a nation of one people from many lands that argue, disagree and reach compromises. Politics is said to be the art of compromise. Dictatorships and fanciest regimes lack compromise.

[1] America's First Great Depression

Economic Crisis and Political Disorder after the Panic of 1837

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Real Issues

So many e-mails and so many comments on the web focus on name calling and trivia about President Obama. I am a conservative and fear that our failure to focus on the economy and the issue of jobs helps President Obama in his re-election bid.

Naughty photos (not real porn) that are alleged to be the deceased mother of the President are again making the rounds. Since they were not published, the woman may have done this for her husband. Many women do just that and at the end of the day, who cares? If your daughter posed for naughty photos does that me none of her children can ever aspire to the Oval Office?

Of course the birthers are adding their 2-cents worth. If there were proof of this allegation, do you really believe that no rich Republican would have produced conclusive proof? The fact is that we cannot prove it so let's move on to real issues.

So much trash is flying around that I wonder if everyone thinks the the president did so great a job that they can't cite real issues.

Maybe we've just devolved into a soap-opera mind-set and no longer care about jobs, the economy, the bail-out, and the fact that the ultra-rich corporations move jobs to the slave labor countries at the expense of our workers. Maybe we prefer sensationalism over truth and facts.

I have one friend that stopped sending me chain e-mails and said, "I stopped sending them to you because you keep checking the facts and then explain to me that the stories were false." Think about that! My friend does not want to know that the stories she sends to her friends are fake. She just enjoys the gossip or showing she is 'in the know' so much that she forwards idiotic and false emails to her friends and family!

Independents and undecided votes count and they count a lot! It is believed that Mr. Obama received many of these votes because people hated the racist remarks made by conservatives. Since that is a possibility, don't you think we should be very careful and simply state the facts?

If that is not enough, perhaps we should stick to relevant issues because it is the moral and smart thing to do.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Change of Diet -

June 1, 2012

A consistently increasing effort to improve our food choices is about to unfold. Taxes on fatty food and food laced with sugar will be one of the results. Another result will be a reduction in our current health care costs.

I am a long-time opponent to government meddling. I was against even discussing any government taxes, programs or efforts to tell me what to eat. Then I read “The Jobs Wars”. The last chapters of this book by Gallup Chairman Jim Clifton, provides simple facts about the cost of our medical care. I have often said that the real issue about health care is not about ‘who pays’ but about reducing the cost. Mr. Cliffton says the same thing. Politicians and the American people are arguing about who pays instead of addressing the real issue: how do we reduce the cost?

Politicians will not take on big pharmaceutical companies and force fair pricing. However, the outrageous profits by these companies are only half of the problem. The other half lies in the choices we make about our health.

A huge portion of medical expenses result from obesity. Because almost half of medical expenses are paid by Medicaid and Medicare (taxes) the government may be able to convince us that people on the public dole should not be allowed to purchase foods loaded with fat and sugar. Recent studies have repudiated the old argument that poor people cannot afford to eat healthy. It turns out that healthy food is available and is as cheap as the unhealthy food that is often purchased. With the advent of ATM like cards that replace checks, programs can easily be implemented to limit their use to only healthy foods.

People will whine about ‘”Big Brother” as this is discussed, but I believe the government will prevail.

We are about to see a campaign similar to the anti-smoking campaign that changed the habits of America. Imagine telling a person in 1955 that people would come to think of smoking as dirty, un-cool and stupid. We are now moving toward thinking in terms of fat people being lazy, un-cool and stupid. Now, I am going to the gym and getting rid of my fat and then I am keeping it off.

America is about to see more and more magazine articles, news paper stories and eventually, more taxes in an effort to improve our health, whether we like it or not. Perhaps we will one day pay about $4000 per person for our health care, which is about the cost in England, Canada and Germany - where people are outliving us. We now pay twice that amount per person and do not live as long!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Outcomes Matter -

Imagine that you switched electricity providers because you were promised great savings. What would you do if the result of switching actually cost you much more?

As a conservative I am concerned about outcomes more than goals and plans. When a plan is implemented to achieve a goal, I want to examine the outcomes. When the outcomes are great and the goals were achieved, I study the process to make it stronger so that I can implement the plan and improve on the outcomes. When the outcome is horrible and not one goal is accomplished, I am ready to move on.
Arizona and Alabama (and many other states) stated that higher taxes to run schools, higher taxes to run hospitals, higher taxes to run social programs and higher taxes to address crime resulted from illegal aliens. Arizona and Alabama passed draconian laws to push illegal aliens from their soil and we successful in causing the vast majority of illegal aliens to leave their states.

Now is the time to measure the outcomes. Are taxes for schools, prisons, hospitals and social programs lower? No. Has the crime rate dropped lower than other states near the border? No. Are hospitals, police, social services asking for smaller budgets? No. Has overtime been reduced? No.
In both states there are now many job openings. However, Americans will not take those jobs. They don’t want to clean fish and pick vegetables. Some businesses are going out of business because they cannot find dependable employees. Those businesses explain that they compete with China and the rest of the world so they cannot raise wages. China and South America ship fish, vegetables and fruit to the USA at very low prices.

Some of our largest farmers have purchased farms in Mexico to solve part of their labor problem. If these ventures prove successful, we may see farms to be the next big business that moves jobs out of America.
Results are what matters.
Arizona and Alabama clearly stated that the reason for the laws were that the illegal immigrant caused the higher taxes, higher crime, etc. Outcomes matter. Tax revenues are down since the illegal immigrants took flight. They no longer shop for clothes, groceries or other items in those states and sales taxes are down. Many that worked under false social security numbers are no longer paying any state income taxes in those states. As businesses that no longer have enough workers to remain profitable close their doors, there will be more unemployment and lower payroll taxes.

Sputter and rant about illegal immigration and shake your fist at the sky. Then do two things.

1.       Examine the result of illegal immigrants being forced to leave Alabama and Arizona in an unbiased manner. Look at the FBI Crime Stats, not some politicians claim. Look at the numbers. Ask the politicians about the reduction in taxes that should have resulted.

2.       Pretend that you are explaining your point of view to Jesus.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Real and Present Danger

The people with real power see the real and present danger of mass communication. If the Internet and cell phone mass communication remain unchecked, the people may accidentally focus on the people with real power. For example, it is possible that a couple of hundred million Americans may seek the elimination of all arms sales to foreign countries as a good thing. Perhaps the American people will constantly focus on the fact that Congress can legally invest and sell stocks based on their inside knowledge of laws that are about to be passed or stalled in committee that will directly affect certain stocks. Suppose either of those two items replaced the amount of 'talk' about illegal aliens? The first thing you know some very powerful people and lawmakers could see the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars!

The average person can be misled for a long time, but the mass communication technology could be a game changer and wake up the populace. Granted, the government has done an amazing job of keeping us dependent and stupid through our education system, but this could all change. Yes, we will soon see calls to severely limit the Internet, tweets, and texting.

A disappointment for a Republican

The field of Republican candidates for President is a poor field. It is unlikely that we will see a change in the Presidency unless there is some unexpected and dramatic event. After listening and reading positions of the Republican candidates, I cannot find one to support. Somehow the Republicans position themselves as big government and anti-middle class. While I resent the political power of large unions and other super-pacts, I shudder to think what a worker's life would be like without the advent of labor unions.

As always, every powerful politician and power-broker misdrirects (easily misdirects) the focus of the American people away from the public money and public policies that enable the uber rich so that workers fight among themselves.