Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Senator Edward Kennedy Remembered

Senator Kennedy always made me cry from pride and hope. Perhaps because he was a lion, and courage makes me cry.

Joe Hill, labor activist convicted of murder, on the day before his execution made a suggestion to his supporters: "Don't Mourn, organize!"

This would be an appropriate way to remember Ted Kennedy. Senator Edward Kennedy did this after burying his 3 brothers who all died serving this country. In his honor, we will do this to help to get the first American health care reform bill passed with a public option.

We can't talk about someone who lived so much of his life in the US Senate without a good by from an old friend, Vice President Joe Biden. In the following video he explains that with Ted as a colleague, idealism was infectious and most recently, they had more hope and faith than they did when they were young.

At this time, when most lawmakers are beholden to fundraisers and their funders, Senator Edward Kennedy was fortunate to come from family wealth. This enabled him to stand tall, and sometimes to stand alone or almost so as when he voted against funds for the war in Iraq. Senator Kennedy never forgot that he was a liberal and that his party was the party of working families rather than the home of lobbyists.

The millions of dollars spent by insurers,and hospitals have already defeated any chance for single payer, but perhaps Senator Kennedy's memory will help to empower the supporters of the public option.

This is a nice 8:22 minute video of Teddy sailing with his family, and about him as spoken by many of his friends from the Senate.

Now, what can an individual do in these last few days before the lawmakers come back?

  1. Learn about the law from the Whitehouse:
  2. Sign the petition by Schumer/Leahy/Durbin This is at 96,571 and it would be far more effective if we pushed it over 1 million. -- Send it to everyone you know! Let's see how fast we can build these numbers.
  3. Call or write to your Congressional Representatives, and your Senators, several times is fine. They are being bombarded, I promise you, by the right wingers who have been fed a stinking sack of poop that they believe is truth. We have to let them know that we are out here, and we are reasonable, and we are watching. Put in your information, and the name of your rep will come up with telephone numbers. Click on the name, and you will get a form for writing an email. This is the Senate site, and you can contact your Senators from here.
  4. Repeat as often as possible....

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Glenn Beck's Advertisers Head for the Hills!

There are companies in America which are pulling back their advertising support of right wing hate speech.

They deserve our business. This is wonderful news.

How did it happen? Color of members have successfully mobilized in one of the fastest and most effective campaigns I have ever seen. Thousands of phone calls were placed and thousands of letters were sent to company executives.

According to, and an August 24th, Color of Change press release:
"By the end of the week, three of these companies - Clorox, Lowe's and Sprint - had pledged not to run additional ads; Red Lobster and Vonage have not yet responded.

The new companies distancing themselves from Beck include Airware Inc. (makers of Brez anti-snoring aids),, AT&T, Blaine Labs Inc., Campbell Soup Company, Clorox, Ditech, The Elations Company, Experian (creator of, Farmers Insurance Group, Johnson & Johnson (makers of Tylenol), Lowe's, NutriSystem, Sprint, The UPS Store and Verizon Wireless. They join twenty other companies who previously pledged not to run additional ads on Glenn Beck. The moves come after the Fox News Channel host called President Obama a "racist" who "has a deep-seated hatred for white people" during an appearance on Fox & Friends."

The first companies to respect the request to correct their advertising include: Allergan (maker of Restasis), Ally Bank (a unit of GMAC Financial Services), Best Buy, Broadview Security, ConAgra, CVS, GEICO,, Men’s Wearhouse, Procter & Gamble, Progressive Insurance, RadioShack, Re-Bath, Roche, SC Johnson, Sanofi-Aventis, Sargento, State Farm Insurance, Travelocity and Wal-Mart.

When you visit these companies, let them know that you appreciate their removal of support from Glenn Beck and Fox Network.

You can join and support the campaign to stop sponsorship of Glenn Beck.

Thank you.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Jon Stewart Explains the Health Care Reform Bill

The Health Care Debate?

This explains it all….

From August 17th…..

Part 1

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Exclusive - Betsy McCaughey Extended Interview Pt. 1
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealthcare Protests

Part 2 August 20th

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Exclusive - Betsy McCaughey Extended Interview Pt. 2
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealthcare Protests

She insists that patients are under treated 46% of the time, and only over treated 11% of the time. How can she make that statement, and then suggest that we don’t need this bill?

She could not find anything wrong with paying for a consultation that would cover all end of life choices including the “creation and adherence to orders for life sustaining treatment”. She tried to insist that doctors would get paid less if the patients or their families changed their plans at the last minute, and Jon agreed that would be wrong but that this was not in any way what the bill says.

Jon pointed out that the health insurance companies have already rationed care, and she tried to say that there would be too little money in Medicaid for seniors….. What? Seniors get Medicare, not Medicaid.

She was suggesting a plan that would offer a debit card to uninsured Americans, $1000 to $2000 per year for health insurance. Jon pointed out that the average health care plan costs $5000. Her comment was that he was good at math….

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Return of Feudalism in America

The attack on this public option is a serious and focused attack on the Middle Class in America.

Thom Hartmann reminds us that the rise of a middle class is not natural in a "free and unfettered" economy. It has happened accidentally, only a couple of other times in the history of the world.

  1. It happened after the plague, the black death because there was a sudden change in population and resources were then freed. The increasing demand for labor drove up the price of labor. Many historians, Thom reminds us, credit this emergence of a middle class with the Renaissance.
  2. 400 years later, when the wealth of America was "discovered" by Europeans, the increasing wealth balanced by a stable population produced a second middle class. This emerging middle class brought about the Enlightenment and the American Revolution.

As the population in America increased, pushing back the Native Americans into small "reservations", the middle class again decreased. At the time of the Republican Great Depression, President Franklin Roosevelt tackled the question for the first time, "How to create a middle class without killing off a third of the population, or discovering gold in a distant land?"

Previously, capitalism had been uncontrolled. He developed the controls that "saved American capitalism from itself."

The Wagner Act of 1935, mandated unions when 51% of the workers voted for them.

The Social Security Act (Act of August 14, 1935) [H. R. 7260]

An act to provide for the general welfare by establishing a system of Federal old-age benefits, and by enabling the several States to make more adequate provision for aged persons, blind persons, dependent and crippled children, maternal and child welfare, public health, and the administration of their unemployment compensation laws; to establish a Social Security Board; to raise revenue; and for other purposes.

Fair Labor Standards Act, 1938 - 2009 set a minimum wage and standards regarding overtime and child labor and record keeping.

He also instituted government employment through the WPA, CCC, etc. and invested money in roads, bridges, dams, hospitals and schools. These improvements on infrastructure are investments, and not simply expenses as are bombs and other munitions that disappear when used.

The Weimar-style Hyperinflaton, or The 2nd Great Depression:

Ronald Reagan came into office and set about undoing FDR's New Deal, and we have heard more about this from the right wing pundits. Rush Limbaugh never tires of saying, "Roosevelt is dead!"

Ronald Reagan began to lower income taxes, and he lowered the cost of government as well, but this practice was not followed by either of the Bush's. They continued to lower taxes while increasing costs. Borrowing from Saudi Arabia and China, rather than taxing Americans kept the costs of the wars against Iraq and Afghanistan hidden from the concerns of the American taxpayer.

If we look at this chart we can see that the height of the minimum wage in America was in 1968. Since then, we have had an almost steady decline in real wages due to inflation, and a lack of Congressional support for minimum wage increases. There was a recent increase in 2006 after the longest stagnant period since the first minimum wage.

The government is supposed to provide a stable currency to make markets possible. As the Weimar Government failed to do this, so the recent conservatives have failed. The court system should enforce the contracts that make markets possible. Yet, health insurance companies are allowed to rescind customers who develop any ongoing condition, without access to the courts. Congress was appalled during their testimony, but they refused to change their policies.

An educated workforce, through public education, should be able to travel to work on public roads, or over public bridges or through tunnels or on public railroads or buses. These costs have gone up, and the maintenance has gone down. There has not been a major improvement in the public transit system since, well, the 1950's.

If you Google "bridge collapse", there is the Tacoma collapse in 2006, the Indiana collapse in 2009, and the Minneapolis collapse in August 2007. That year, in April, Bob Herbert wrote for The New York Times that
President Truman had signed the Marshall Plan which rebuilt Europe. He pointed out at that time that a half century later, the US couldn't even rebuild New Orleans. He added that the American Society of Civil Engineers claimed that the US infrastructure was in such bad shape that it would take more than $1.5 trillion over a five year period to bring it back to reasonably adequate condition.
Obama's entire stimulus package was only $787 billion, and still the complaints are unrelenting.

New York City raised its own alarm in the 1970's when the West Side Highway, a raised highway in Manhattan collapsed. Afterwards, studies for the city showed that the entire highway system, the bridges, the drinking water system, and the subway system were all seriously and dangerously deteriorated. In the 1980's, iron workers attending to the Manhattan Bridge were given hazardous duty pay because the iron was so rusted in many areas that they could put a finger through the structural iron.

This has been an ongoing project in New York City, with the city absorbing most of the costs. Mr. Felix Rohatyn explains that
"Since the beginning of the republic," he said, "transportation, infrastructure and education have played a central role in advancing the American economy....Politics and ideology are the main reasons that government has turned away from public investment over the past several years. Zealots marching under the banner of small government have been remarkably effective in thwarting efforts to raise taxes or borrow substantial sums for the kind of public investment that has always been essential to a dynamic economy."
Meanwhile, Herbert points out, China and India are racing to develop the infrastructure and education optimal for competition in the contemporary world. Felix Rohatyn explains:
"It has been shown that the productivity of an economy is related to the quality of its infrastructure. For example, if you don't have enough schools to teach your kids, or your kids are taught in schools that have holes in the ceilings, that are dilapidated, they're not going to be as educated and as competitive in a world economy as they need to be."

The economic conservatives for 26 years have managed to undermine the middle class and to empower the wealthy elite while transferring from investment in infrastructure to expensing for war. Even the little bit that Obama scheduled for the infrastructure in his stimulus bill was attacked.

This is not new. Thomas Jefferson first warned of free market corporatists:
"Those seeking profits,were they given total freedom, would not be the ones to trust to keep government pure and our rights secure. Indeed, it has always been those seeking wealth who were the source of corruption in government....I am not among those who fear the people. They, and not the rich, are our dependence for continued freedom. ... We must make our election between economy and liberty, or profusion and servitude."

And, this is why the attacks on Obama and the "health care reform" are so poisonous.

Changing the Tax Structure:

Progressive taxation, was another part of FDR's stimulus plan -- giving workers more to spend and thus stimulating demand for goods and services. In this case, restoring the tax on the upper class in order to insure payment for the public option part of the health care reform, would give more to the middle class to spend.

It is not uncommon for a small business/entrepreneur to pay as much as $26,000/person/year for health insurance. This is the down payment on a house! What other uses would the middle class put this money to if not on health insurance?

As Jefferson said in a 1785 letter to James Madison, "Another means of silently lessening the inequality of property is to exempt all from taxation below a certain point, and to tax the higher portions of property in geometrical progression as they rise."

Thom Hartmann adds,
As Jefferson realized, and FDR proved, with no government "interference" by setting the rules of the game of business and fair taxation, there will be no middle class.

And as history around the world proves, when the middle class vanishes, democracy often goes with it.

Thom explains in another article : "The policies of "free and open markets" will naturally produce a small and powerful wealthy class, a small "middle" merchant class, and a huge and terrified worker class, traditionally called "serfs". A free market will create a "Dickens-era" state where the working poor are kept in constant fear and anxiety.

Aren't we approaching this today? In this time of recession, as the unemployment figures continue to climb, those yelling at the Town Hall meetings are afraid and angry. They just don't know why. They are not seeing that their real wages have been shrinking since 1968, but they are feeling the pressure.

Who is the REAL ENEMY?

They don't realize that the middle class is under attack when government began to renege on its function to set the rules of business:
in such a way that working people must receive a living wage, labor has the power to organize into unions just as capital can organize into corporations, and domestic industries are protected from overseas competition

Jefferson realized that a strong central Congress would be needed to help to regulate the commerce of the States. Meanwhile, conservatives then, as now, believed in the trickle down theory and that government was the problem not the solution.

Still, they can't explain why the series of tax cuts by the Hoover administration, preceded the Great Depression, and then raising taxes to provide for government intervention, and the protection of labor rights through the 1930's, 1940's and 1950's, led to a golden age for the American Middle Class.

In the 1930's the top tax rate was 25%, and before Reagan began to dismantle it, it held at 70% for decades. As the top tax rate fell, it caused bubbles (in the stock market and housing) and the middle class fell in proportion. It seems that tax cuts to the upper 10% harm our economy, while tax cuts to the bottom 25%, as Jefferson predicted, are good for the economy.

Between Lincoln's death, and the Great Depression, conservative economics and the Gilded Age brought about a return of feudalism, a disparity between those with great wealth and the growth of the working poor. It took 2 generations before Franklin Roosevelt returned to Lincoln's policy of protecting the rights of labor and the founders' tariffs to protect domestic industries and workers.

We must learn the lessons of the past. To do this, I think we have to listen to each other and stop listening to the corporate megaphone. We had a saying in the 1960's -- "Don't trust anyone over 30 years old." Today, I think we can change it a bit to "Don't trust anyone making over $1 million." These guys are not in the Middle Class, and it's not the Middle Class who are paying them. In other words, they do not share our interests or concerns!

  • Rush Limbaugh -- $400 million (More than Katie Couric, Brian Williams, Charlie Gibson and Diane Sawyer, combined!)
  • Glenn Beck -- $50 million over 5 years.
  • Howard Stern -- $500 million
  • Sean Hannity -- $100 million
  • Bill O'Reilly -- $9 million

We have a congress and a President who have taken on the $6 Trillion health insurance industry and are doing their best to give the American worker the health care we need at an affordable price. This is not a pretty fight.

Our government needs our help if they will be able to protect our interests.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Who is Responsible for the Deficit?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The GM Chevy Volt

The Chevy Volt is not GM's first electric car. Expected to get 230 miles per gallon in city driving, the Volt is part of a new lineup. It is expected to launch late in 2010.

Although this might seem radical, GM had an electric car many years ago which was quickly taken off the market.

The gasoline will only cost 60 cents per gallon. Beyond 40 miles, a gasoline engine works to charge the battery. Recharging takes 8 hours on a normal outlet, but only 3 hours if 240 volt outlet is available.

Either way, until there are chargers available in parking garages, park at work and run an extension cord out your window to recharge your vehicle! GM plans to charge $40,000 which is 33% more than the original Prius, but as that price came down, so GM expects that mass sales will allow them to lower the price.

At home, can you imagine solar chargers on your garage connected to storage cells that will fully charge your car over night? Then, what would your commute cost you?

Will there be a market for all electric vehicles? Would you buy one?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

"Not-For-Profit" Health Care Plan is not Socialism

The proposed not-for-profit American health care insurance plan has been suggested as an optional plan:

1. for those who don't have health insurance,
2. for those who have been expelled from for-profit plans,
3. for those who would rather change over from more expensive plans.

There have been suggestions/proposals that would make this not-for-profit health care insurance plan a ZERO tax burden on 99% of all Americans:

* Decrease the tax deduction for the most expensive homes
* Raise the taxes of the upper 1% back to that of the Reagan years
* Charge a fair premium from those who can afford it

Any two of the above would more than cover those Americans who don't now have health insurance.

None of those suggestions would be adding any tax burden on us or our children, but would reduce the tax burden on our children because:

1. it would eliminate the 60% of bankruptcies that are now caused by medical emergencies.
2. And, it would reduce the numbers of those who go on Medicaid/Welfare because they don't have medical insurance.
3. And, it would improve the health of Americans who would be covered for preventive costs.
4. All of the above would reduce the current national health care costs.
5. It would improve the profit margin of American companies who otherwise cannot control the cost of doing business, which would increase American tax income and help to reduce the National Debt

Any small businessman will tell you that the cost of for-profit health care insurance rises every year about 30%. It is not because their costs of doing business are going up. It is not because medical costs are going up. It is because the CEO enjoys having his salary and benefits and staff bonus' go up.

For the small business, any cost of doing business that rises 30% every year is unsustainable. Their income is unlikely to rise 30% every year, and if it were, why would they want this to go the the insurance company rather than to their staff who is responsible for making it happen?

In any other industry, there are laws against "price-fixing", but not in health care insurance. This insurance has a special relationship in the laws against monopoly because Blue Cross-Blue Shield once provided a service to Americans by providing low cost hospitalization insurance.

The small businessman cannot change providers to solve this great increase in the health care premiums charged each year:

1. Because then any staff member who has gone to the doctor would be un-insured because of the "prior condition" clause of all for-profit health insurance companies.
2. Because there is no real competitive price difference since the for-profit health insurance companies are allowed to engage in price fixing. One insurance might offer a lower "come-on-in" price, and then just raise it every year until they have the same price as the one the business just left.

A human would support this bill:

* If s/he believe in competition, because the current health care insurance system does not have any competition.
* If s/he believe that a business should honor its contracts, because currently, insurance companies do not honor their contracts.
* If s/he believe that a small business should be able to provide their employees with the same benefits as do large companies.
* If s/he believe that someone who is willing and able to pay for health insurance should be able to buy reasonably priced insurance for his family.

If you believe in any of the previous benefits, you can support the 3 honest Senators who are standing alone against the $$$$ of the Health Care Insurance Industry. They are simply looking for a show of hands, not $$.

If we don't support them, we are giving our vote to the lobbyists paid for by the current health insurance industry. Why would you trust them with your children's future? This is the moment in time when they can be curtailed. Not stopped, but curtailed.

I am not in favor of socialism, but neither am I in favor of handing my vote to those who have already proved that they are only interested in unrestrained greed.

This is the forum for smart people.... Vote from clarity, not from fear.