No, Tariffs Will Not Bring Jobs Back

Talk among the right wing and some corporate media claims the opinion that tariffs will bring jobs back. That’s not going to happen. Of course, some other sources claim that tariffs are destroying jobs. That may come closer to the truth but also not entirely accurate.

China did not come first. First, let’s consider the fact that corporations have historically exported manufacturing jobs to low income countries. At varying times, jobs have been exported to Japan, India, Pakistan, Taiwan, Mexico, South American countries, Taiwan, Hong Kong and the list goes on.

What you can surmise from this is that corporations will continue exporting jobs to lower wage countries that offer tax breaks. Even if the wages were the same, corporations would export jobs to avoid environmental restrictions in the US.

No, US manufacturing is not on the rise. Of course, some sources claim that manufacturing in the US is back on the rise. Ask them for specifics and they cannot reply exactly what manufacturing jobs they are referring to. No, US Steel is not building new plants. Auto manufacturers have added a few jobs but far more have been laid off in the last few months by a negative balance of tens of thousands.

Bailing out corporate farms. Agriculture in the US is suffering because of lost trade with China thanks to trade conflict. Thing to notice most about that is that this caused an oversupply in the US market yet it did not result in decreased grocery prices. Mostly because the farmers got bailed out by the US taxpayer, so they had no need to offer their crops at lower prices to diminish their losses. They dumped many of their crops rather than selling at lower prices.

China refuses our oil sales. China stopped buying US oil back in Oct or Nov of 2018, resulting in an oversupply in the oil market. That was the reason gas and oil prices dropped for a time, as there was no way to store that much oil and no way to dispose of it. It had to be sold. Even if they could have stored it, that would impact trade with OPEC. Relations with OPEC nations, especially Saudi Arabia, are already contentious at the moment.

Where next? One question is where they will be exporting those jobs to. Workers in Mexico are rising up, demanding better pay, benefits and working conditions. No doubt US corporations were counting on further exploiting South African workers but China has beat them to the punch. China is investing billions in South Africa, to include infrastructure which benefits the communities and low interest loans. Things that the US and IMF do not offer. Meanwhile China issues no threats to the countries they work with.

Eastern Bloc? So, the most likely nations that US corporations may target for low wage labor are some former Eastern Bloc nations like Poland. Countries that have few resources of their own and have suffered since the fall of the USSR. One big problem with those countries is that the population is aging because the younger generations have left due to lack of opportunities. Other problems include social unrest and the rise of white supremacists (literal Nazis), so that may well impact the willingness of American consumers to purchase goods produced in those countries. No doubt we will see continued propaganda claiming these countries are standing up to big, evil Russia.

US consumer market. Yet even with low cost labor, that will not bring back stability to the US consumer market. That is where the conflict lies. To bring back the consumer market means the need for living wage jobs. Wages the corporations do not want to pay. Without decent wages, American consumers cannot afford to buy the items produced.

Chinese consumer market. That is why corporations are trying to make inroads to the Chinese consumer market. The Chinese consumer market is now the largest in the world. US corporations have no loyalty to the US. They are loyal only to their own profit margin. If they can make money convincing you how evil China, Russia, North Korea or any other country is, yet conduct profitable sales in those same countries, they will do exactly that.

US impact on China’s GDP. Threats and tariffs are not going to budge China. Our politicians and media try and make it seem as though the Chinese economy relies solely on US trade. Nothing could be further from the truth. US trade accounts for only 4% of China’s GDP. That number is from before China stopped buying US oil around Oct of 2018. So our trade accounts for even less of their GDP now. Basically, China could survive without any trade with the US at all.

US military empire. Trade is not the actual issue concerning China. Their concern is our militarism. We already have considerable military forces in the South China Sea. There is much made in the US media about China building up military forces yet they never mention that the only reason China is doing so is because of the threat posed to them by the US.Think about it and you realize that nobody else poses any risk or potential for risk against China. Nobody else is trying to pose a threat to them.

Weapons sales. Essentially, the only US industry that can compete with China at this point is weapons production and sales. Something the US seems to excel at above and beyond any other country. For now. Meanwhile China is advancing their military technology and offering sales of military drones at prices lower than the US. While Russia has developed aircraft and missile defense systems that are more advanced than our own, also offered at lower prices and with fewer diplomatic demands or threats. I’m sure they would each refuse to sell to nations that pose a threat to themselves or their direct interests. That’s understandable.

Chinese technology. China is building artificial islands, dams, bridges and railways spanning not just their own country but reaching into other countries , other continents as well. Their projects tend to be completed far faster and at lower cost than US corporate contractors have managed projects for decades. They built 18,000 km of high speed rail in under 11 years. Can you even imagine that happening here? They now have the largest dam in the world, the Three Gorges Dam, which incorporates the second largest hydroelectric power plant on earth and a ship lift. It took 18 years to complete but considering the scale that time frame is still a huge accomplishment. While some try to portray China as some backward country where technology is concerned, I’d say they are quite capable. China has a long history of being technologically competent. Rockets and gunpowder originated there. Take a look at the history of China and gunpowder is only one accomplishment of many.

Competition should not be war. The trade war between the US and China should not be a war. It should be nothing more than competition. I’ve written before that growth is toxic. If our economy does actually need to grow larger, it needs to be redirected toward industries and efforts that help our own people. Stop building weapons, stop creating wars, stop building bombs, start building and repairing bridges. When you create an entire segment of your economy to be dependent on war machines, you must create wars to sustain that industry. That means you must create enemies where none existed before. you must destroy things in order to build something and call that growth. That means destroying ecological environments and entire civilizations much older than our own, killing people and call it business.

They are more experienced than we are. China has survived thousands of years in spite of numerous enemies, both economic and military. They are more experienced at trade than we are, having built the original Silk Road and are now building what is dubbed the New Silk Road. Our economy is barely planned 6 months in advance, while they plan 50 years and further ahead. The Belt and Road Initiative is an indication of this. It’s highly unlikely they did not take possible US responses into account when planning. When they refuse to negotiate, that is negotiating. It’s just saying they will not bow down to US tantrums.

They hold far more, far better cards than we do. We are playing their game, they’re not playing ours. So we can play by the rules or take our ball and go home. Because if we try cheating against them, we already lost. Tariffs may bring jobs back.. just not to America.

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I am an independent writer with no corporate sponsors or backing. The only income I make from my writing comes from views. At least I have reached the point where it makes more than it costs me! lol! My writing is done in between full time (and overtime) nursing, shared custody of my brilliant daughter and mundane existence.

Please consider becoming a patron on Patreon. I try and average at least 20 articles a month, so a $1 a month donation would come down to 5¢ per article to support independent, non-corporate writing. My Patreon page is here.

If you care to share articles with those who do not have Medium or Patreon accounts, I also post most of my articles on my own website, which has no advertising and I pay for with income from writing. My website is here and all articles can be shared freely. You can always quote me, no attribution required. My goal is spreading information and awareness. The whole point is building a better, more peaceful, more equitable world for us and future generations.

Why Trump is NOT Guilty of Obstruction of Justice

The focus since the Mueller report came out is claiming Trump in some way obstructed justice. Just as the Mueller investigation was seeking “collusion”, now they are seeking “obstruction”.

Legally speaking, this will not work. If you think it will, you have been propagandized and know nothing about the law.

For a person to be guilty of obstructing a criminal investigation, the very first criteria for that charge would be that a known crime had been committed. This is not the case in the Mueller probe. The entire point of the Mueller probe was an investigation in search of a crime.

I have pointed out on numerous occasions that there was never a known crime which sparked the Mueller probe. There were claims by biased FBI agents and the DNC. There was no evidence. Since the Mueller probe began, several FBI agents were forced to resign or were fired in disgrace. Including Strzok, who was fired from the Mueller probe first and later from the FBI itself. And if you think his infantile display was in any way heroic, there’s something seriously wrong in your head. He was defending the illegal obtaining of FISA warrants under false pretenses and the right to do so. Is that really what you want our federal government to be doing? What if it were turned around and used on someone you liked? Would your view be the same?

Here I will point out something else I have repeatedly pointed out before- The DNC is not a government agency. It is a private organization. They used that defense in court when accused of fraud. The FBI never examined the DNC servers. Neither did any of three “investigations”- House, Senate and Special Counsel. All claims relied on information from Crowdstrike, a private IT firm hired and paid for by the DNC. A firm that has been discredited on numerous occasions, including for the claim that Russia hacked artillery in Ukraine. The shame was revealed when the Ukrainian government said there was no truth to it.

It has been proven that the FISA warrants relied almost entirely on the Steele Dossier, which was paid for by the DNC and then paid for more by the FBI with your tax dollars. Nothing in the dossier was ever verified and therefore is not evidence of anything except for DNC collusion with a foreign agent who was working with Russian government insiders (in other words, the Kremlin) to obtain information damaging to a presidential candidate at the time. Money changed hands. We know this. It is documented. By Mueller. The FISA warrants were falsely obtained. We know this. It is documented. By Mueller. The alleged information was intended to help one candidate, Hillary. We know this. It is documented. By Mueller.

Still want the unredacted Mueller report released? I do. I want every last scrap of evidence, every document, every interview released. Not just the 400 page summary. I want all of it.

In addition, Trump never stopped Mueller from investigating. We endured 18 months of claims that trump would fire Mueller. He never did, never said he would, never said he had any such intent. We had theatrics of numerous petitions to “save Mueller”. We had theatrics of the Democrats claiming to “defend Mueller”. Defend him from things which there was no danger of occurring.

Now the Mueller report states that there is no evidence of collusion. You would think it would end there but no.

What we have is the DNC trying to claim Trump obstructed a probe which he did not obstruct into a nonexistent crime which never happened into claims he committed acts which that very probe exonerate him of.

Basically this is the equivalent of charging a person for resisting arrest when they are being arrested for a crime which never happened, that there was no evidence for and while they were not resisting. Just because someone wants them charged with something.

Last thing I will repeat yet again. None of this means I support Trump. I do not and never have. I am not defending Trump, I am defending justice, itself. I am fully cognizant of how these tactics being used against him can be turned around and used in reverse.

I am also fully aware that this entire show is intended to distract from the fact that the DNC is just as right wing as the RNC. They are both slaves to corporate power and are not opposing anything the Republicans are doing to strip us of our rights. The Dems use nicer words while conducting the exact same atrocities.

You want to “Resist”? Then get off your tail, start getting informed and start calling elected officials, writing letters and attending protests to demand Progressive policies. Universal healthcare, increased wages, UBI, ending wars, humanistic immigration reform, increasing taxes on the rich, universal adult education, increased education funding, closing down charter schools, fighting systemic prejudice, breaking up big banks, restore Glass-Steagall, police reform and on and on and on… Those things would be defending your country. Those things would be patriotic. Those things would be rational. Those things would be enduring.

What you are doing to push this Russiagate/Obstruction BS is not going to help us. It is not going to help anyone but the power elite. If you think the media has your interests at heart, you’re dead wrong. If they win this, they have proven they can manipulate you. Turn off corporate media.

If you are not part of the solution, then you are the problem.

Trump’s Tax Returns Change Nothing

So, this week people and especially the neoliberal media have been raging about the release of Trump’s tax returns showing he did not have as much money as he claims.

Numerous problems with this.

First, the most recent of those tax returns is what? 25 years old? A lot can happen in 25 years. I’m not sure I had ever heard of Trump 25 years ago. If I did, I basically ignored what I heard. Then again, I ignored The Apprentice. I may have watched some part of that show twice and still ignored most of those episodes.

How many of you had heard of Bill Gates, Warren Buffett or Steve Jobs in 1994? Even if you heard some mention of Apple or Microsoft at that time, did you know the name of the CEO’s of those companies? Windows 93 was largely ignored. Microsoft did not seriously take off well until the release of Windows 95, leading to Bill Gates being one of the richest men on the planet today. Even that was accelerated enormously with the release of Windows 98.

Getting the point here?

In no way am I claiming Trump has anywhere near the wealth he claims. He’s an idiot who has claimed bankruptcy 3, 4, 20 times? I lost track and don’t care. Why do you?

Nothing about the release of his tax returns changes one decision he has made.

Nothing about his tax returns reverses one single policy, many of which were not opposed by “The Resistance”. The tax break for the rich? That was voted into law with a Democratic majority in favor. Remember the shutdown over DACA before that budget passed? It lasted one weekend. It ended when big money donors told the Democrats to cave and they did. In fact, the Democrats in CONgress took a long weekend and ended the shutdown on Tue or Wed after that weekend. Every one of them still got paid.

Since then the “Resistance” has confirmed at least 15 Conservatives to lifetime appointments to federal bench positions. They have not only approved of increases to the WAR Dept budget, they gave Trump more money than he asked for by tens of billions of your money per year. We have seen an increase in the “defense” budget of $10 billion one year and $20 billion the next year, totaling $30 billion in just 2 years. With another increase already planned for next year. No end or decrease in the budget increases in sight. Not mentioned at all.

Has the DNC opposed Trump’s aggression toward Venezuela, China, Russia and Iran?

Legalizing cannabis? Trump has suggested that more times than the DNC has.

Changes to our electoral process? Paper trails? The Dems make a huge show of claiming the GOP blocked their budget request for that purpose but that is something which is actually handled and budgeted at the state level, not the federal level. This is why some states have paper trails and others do not.

Yes, you are buying into this every time with no thought, no question.

Has the DNC looked at one (lame, dishonest) peace effort made by Trump and tried to alter it, make it workable, make demands which would make peace a realistic goal? No, they oppose peace itself and then increase military funding.

Has the DNC endorsed universal healthcare? Or, as a party, still continued oppressing support for Progressives and push the corporate welfare program known as the ACA? Have they suggested eliminating deductibles or even placing caps on deductibles? Placing a cap on profit margins means nothing when corporations can claim billions in advertising, executive bonuses and stock repurchases as expenses. They can keep increasing your premiums and deductibles infinitely with no limit suggested.

Has the DNC or corporate media stood to defend Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning and by extension freedom of the press? In other words, your Constitutional right to be informed of what your government is doing?

Has the DNC ever stood up and admitted that the DNC itself is a private entity, not a government agency?

Has the DNC admitted that FB ads are not election interference? Or that any “Russian ads” accounted for less than 0.8% of all political ads in 2016? That when calculated honestly, any ads by Russian trolls accounted for $1 for every $4000 spent by candidates before the election? No, keep talking about Mueller and Russiagate.

Trump’s tax returns have changed nothing. Not one thing. Keep telling yourself that this is “resistance”. Keep telling yourself that you are informed, awake, aware, Progressive, peaceful, caring, or want what is best for this country.

YOU haven’t changed, either. Nothing in this country will change until YOU change. Until then, YOU are continuing the same cycle, the same system, the same reality show. You want change? Start by looking in the mirror.

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I am an independent writer with no corporate sponsors or backing. The only income I make from my writing comes from views. At least I have reached the point where it makes more than it costs me! lol! My writing is done in between full time (and overtime) nursing, shared custody of my brilliant daughter and mundane existence.

Please consider becoming a patron on Patreon. I try and average at least 20 articles a month, so a $1 a month donation would come down to 5¢ per article to support independent, non-corporate writing. My Patreon page is here.

If you care to share articles with those who do not have Medium or Patreon accounts, I also post most of my articles on my own website, which has no advertising and I pay for with income from writing. My website is here and all articles can be shared freely. You can always quote me, no attribution required. My goal is spreading information and awareness. The whole point is building a better, more peaceful, more equitable world for us and future generations.

The Programming of America: Pt III, Downsizing Government

One of the big things being pushed by media and corporate culture, in tandem with Libertarians (I’ve written about them before) and Republicans, along with centrist Democrats to a large degree, is the desire to downsize our government.

This is something I have covered in the past in a different form. The size of our government has nothing to do with our prosperity. Many of the largest government programs (after the military, which I will get to) support millions of jobs and add value to our lives on a daily basis both directly and indirectly. Schools, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, police, fire departments, libraries, health departments, the Forestry Department, the CDC, the EPA, the FDA (okay, in intent more than current function) and on and on. Without these government programs and agencies, from local to federal, our economy and environment would collapse, sold to the highest corporate bidders.

Some claim they do not trust our government. Government per se is not the problem. The problem is how beholden our government officials are to corporate interests.

Some Americans are foolish enough to think censorship is perfectly acceptable as long as a corporation does it but reprehensible when a government does the same thing. Never mind that only a few corporations own most of the media and all internet access. Yes, an ISP has the right to censor your content and even what information you can access. That can be your cable, telephone or cell service provider. All because corporations fought to eliminate Net Neutrality. They won, you lost. FB, Twitter or anyone else can block you, eliminate your account along with history and never allow you back in. They do not have to tell you why.

Some Americans are raging against the China Social Scoring system. Are you kidding me? We have the same thing here, it’s just not called that. Much of it is also run by corporations. In China, a low social score does not prevent you from getting a job, it prevents you from getting some jobs which are connected to the government. Here, you go through a background check which can include your social media history. If you are critical of the government, try getting a government job or even a job with a government contractor. Go ahead, try it. I dare you. Yet here you can be denied a job with a private or corporate employer for the same background check, even if they have no connection to the government.

In addition, private individuals will check your social media accounts to decide if they will associate with you.

There does not have to be a number associated with it to be a social media score. Information is compiled by faceless, sometimes nameless entities. Some are known, like Transunion and Equifax, credit score reporting agencies. Ones that check your social media don’t have to offer names, the criteria for judging or the fact that they ever looked at your information. They can judge you worthy or unworthy according to who is on your friends list, what groups you belong to and comments you have made on different threads.

Right now you are being monitored by the NSA. You do not have to be a US citizen. Not by a long shot. You do not have to be a terrorist. Not by a long shot. You do not have to be critical of the government. Not by a long shot. The fact that you are reading this article has been logged on an NSA computer. The phone call you made a few minutes ago to your mother, your child or Mr/Ms side piece was logged and recorded.

This country has over 1300 superfund sites. Nearly every single one of them exist because of corporate malfeasance. They poison the environment, break laws, lie about it for decades. Then when they no longer can wring a profit out of an area, they abandon it, may change their names to avoid responsibility and the taxpayer picks up the bill to clean up the mess. That process and expense can continue for decades, even generations. Your grandchildren and great grandchildren will be paying for cleaning up many of those sites. If you or they do not die from cancer or be disabled by birth defects as a result of that poisoning.

Yes, the size of some parts of our government needs to be downsized. Like the military. In money, our military budget is roughly six times larger than the next largest military budget, which is China. As far as size and extent, we are up to 100 times larger than Russia. Russia has 8 military bases outside of their country, while we have 800 foreign military bases. We have forces on every continent, ocean and nearly every country on earth. While our government rages on about how this country or that country is being “aggressive”. I’ve mentioned before that this onerous expense is paid for by you, me, every man, woman and child in this country in ways most never imagine.

I have challenged those who claim we need to downsize our government, asking them for specific examples of what should be downsized or eliminated. 99% of the time, they have no answer at all. They are just regurgitating the crap they have devoured by corporate influences. The other 1% of the time they offer inane responses which offer no solutions to any problem at all. They are just uneducated, uninformed, apathetic whores to corporate profit.

Too much? Nah. I really hope the karma of these people bites them in the ass.

The honest truth is that we may hear anecdotal stories of government overreach. Most of the time, anecdotes are all they are. Other times that overreach is a result of corporate influence, such as the legal status of cannabis, brought about by bribes by alcoholic beverage companies, drug companies and for-profit prisons in conjunction with systemic racism. In other cases, overreach can be caused by inadequate resources of government agencies, such as child welfare agencies. In other words, it is literally a case for expanding government, not reducing government.Those problems are caused by understaffed agencies with underpaid workers who come under fire if they offer an inadequate response. Those same workers may be in their jobs by dedication to protecting children or similar motivations, so they would rather overreact than underreact and have a child injured or killed because of weak actions. They would prefer to do a deeper investigation but cannot do so because of lack of time and resources thanks to their case load. Of course, that case load is a result of their job being seen as an expense which offers no monetary profit.

In a government of the people, by the people, for the people I see no reference to corporate profit or control mentioned. The founders of this country abhorred corporations. Remember the Boston Tea Party? That was waged against the East India Tea Company, a corporation. The entire Constitution of the United States references personal freedoms. Historically our laws and governmental institutions have been in place to support those freedoms from those very corporations that seek to destroy our freedom for their own profit and benefit.

I will bring this back full circle. The people who promote the concept of downsizing government are rich capitalists who want fewer rules and regulations standing between them and higher profits. They want lower taxes, lower paychecks for workers, fewer environmental regulations. They view social support programs as nothing but blockades between them and your money. They view you as an expense and an inconvenience. They view the environment the same way. They view international borders the same way.

The same rich people own nearly all media in this country and try to limit or eliminate the influence of the small percentage of media they do not own. The corporations which do not own media pay the media corporations to represent their agenda while ignoring what is best for the people of this country. In that effort, they employ psychologists, media experts, retired government agents to influence your views through fear and intimidation.

I am not in favor of downsizing the government, other than the military and their contractors. I am in favor of expanding the government. That does not mean I am in favor of Communism. Mostly because we are not evolved enough as a culture for that. Yet. Until that time, I continue being in favor of Social Democracy which forces the reinvestment of resources into our own country and places limits on corporate control of your every breath.

So which is it for you? Smaller government and removing controls from those who have no concern for your well-being, even your life? Or maintain/expand a government in which we have a voice?

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I am an independent writer with no corporate sponsors or backing. The only income I make from my writing comes from views. At least I have reached the point where it makes more than it costs me! lol! My writing is done in between full time (and overtime) nursing, shared custody of my brilliant daughter and mundane existence.

Please consider becoming a patron on Patreon. I try and average at least 20 articles a month, so at $1 a month that would come down to 5¢ per article to support independent, non-corporate writing. My Patreon page is here.

If you care to share my articles with those who do not have Medium or Patreon accounts, I also post most of my articles on my own website, which has no advertising and I pay for with income from writing. My website is here and all articles can be shared freely. You can always quote me, no attribution required. My goal is spreading information and awareness. The whole point is building a better, more peaceful, more equitable world for us and future generations.

Cost Of Education? Get Ready For A Real Shocker.

Yesterday my teenage daughter was inducted into the National Honor Society. I’m extremely proud of her. I always have been but now it’s quantified.

After the initial induction, they had a parade of high school seniors. It was announced what college or university they would be attending, their intended major and how much they had received in scholarships. Considering the major focus of this high school is primarily arts, many of the students are going to be studying arts programs, such as theater and music.

This is where the shock comes in. A number of the students had scholarships in amounts of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Several had over $100,000 in scholarships. For theater arts programs. One had a scholarship of $700,000. That is not a typo. Seven hundred thousand dollars.

One student will be attending medical school. His scholarship? $193,000. So the theater students had scholarships far surpassing the medical school student.

In total, roughly 30 students had a grand total in scholarships of over $4 MILLION.

In no way am I dismissing the accomplishments of these students. They worked hard and earned their scholarships. The deserve the reward and recognition they will be receiving.

The point I am making is that this is now the cost of education. Over $4 million for 30 students. How did we get to this point in this country? How did education become this expensive?

Consider the students who may be bright and talented but were unable to gain a scholarship. How many of them are there in just this one high school? How much will the other hundreds of students be paying for years, decades, their entire lives to acquire an adult education? How many will not see any real benefit to that education yet still have that debt?

Consider the fact that a scholarship is not intended to cover all the costs of an education. It is only intended to defray some level of that expense. So even the students with scholarships in many cases will incur debt along the way.

How many students give up all hope of further education? Disheartened by the cost, the very idea of a lifetime of debt? How many have seen parents paying student loans for the length of the child’s life? Many people today retire with student loans they still must pay for years into retirement.

Did you know if you marry someone with federal student loan debt that if they die you are liable for the remainder of that debt? Did you know if you become disabled there is still no way to discharge that debt without paying it in full?

Adult education really should not be a for-profit endeavor. Yet it is. Corporations make profits from the lifetime of work we exert but that’s not enough. They have to make profits from the education we are required to have to do that work.

Even that is not enough for corporations. Corporate owned charter schools are making profits from children’s basic education while often doing that extremely poorly. Probably so they can charge more for remedial adult classes. Meanwhile, the pay for teachers remains stagnant or decreasing, benefits stripped away as time goes on.

This is why so many of us are pushing for socialized adult education. This is why countries that have socialized education are passing us by at light speed.

We pay the price in many ways besides the obvious. Our entire economy suffers because money spent paying student loans is not spent to support the economy. We pay in terms of stress and depression which diminishes productivity and creativity. We pay in terms of medications to alleviate the stress and depression. We pay if we fall behind on student loans (or heaven forbid we default on a federal student loan). This impacts our credit score, which can affect our ability to be hired for the best jobs. The stress may affect our relationships and our health. Paying the debt may take time away from our families, leading to more stress and depression. That stress and depression can cross generations as it affects the time and quality of our relationships with our children.

And it’s getting worse by the day.

So, let me hear more of you corporate puppets say, “Just get an education!” One more time.

In Case You Were Wondering

In case you were wondering why I have not posted anything for a long time and now posted a lot of articles at once, it’s because I was moving.

Most of my writing is done on one specific site and then copied over to other sites for publication. Much of my writing is done during slower periods at my nursing job, though I have not had much slow time there for a few weeks. I can easily access the main site where I write from work, while other sites take more effort. For pasting them over, I use my PC, which I had disassembled during the move. Once I got moved, more practical considerations like furniture, kitchen, clothing, cleaning and clearing the old place had to take precedence. I just got the PC set up last night.

Even copying and pasting articles over is not completely straightforward. Then it takes changing the address of some links to coordinate with the other site, adding search tags. Some sites only allow 5 tags, while others are unlimited or at least much higher.

Some of the articles I just transferred over may have some minor details which are slightly dated but I made sure the ones I transferred are mostly accurate and up to date. Things that are out of date are fairly arbitrary and nothing has actually changed.

The move is an extremely welcome one. I have a lot more space but the cost is nearly the same. No more rap music at all hours of day and night in the parking lot. No more dodging potholes which could do tire or suspension damage. The more I get the new place set up as I like, the more comfortable I am becoming. Daughter is happy with the move. We even have a room we can set up for arts and crafts, while I now have a workshop where I can set up my woodworking equipment. Covered deck for summer, large kitchen. The deck looks out at vine covered trees.

Though I do have to start doing yard work again. Ugh.

The move had a few unexpected adventures which slowed me down. New place had a gas leak at one point. Then the AC went out and they had to replace the entire system. Then where I thought I had transferred gas service, there was an error and gas was turned off for a few days. (I cooked out. Daughter was not sad about that.) Each episode caused me to be awake while I should have been sleeping.

Daughter had various school events she worked at. Yesterday she was inducted into the National Honor Society!!! I am so proud of her!!!

Needless to say, add up working full time, overtime, moving with no assistance (the king size bed was a real mother to move), the various adventures along the way kind of took a physical toll for a while. I did not have the motivation to get the PC set up until this weekend. I was finally able to get a 4 day weekend to recover. I am pretty sure some people at work hate me for doing so but they’ll get over it. Eventually.

So, I expect to be getting back to some semblance of a regular writing schedule again soon.

Violence And Drugs In Alabama Prisons

I’ve mentioned before that I have been a nurse for over 24 years. Currently I work in the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC).

You may have heard of the recent DOJ report on violence in the ADOC system. Unfortunately, I feel this report falls far short of an accurate picture because of all that it neglects to mention. It does reveal that ADOC experiences far more violent instances than the next most violent prison system. However, the DOJ report mentions only prisoner-on-prisoner violence. It does not mention officer-on-prisoner or prisoner-on-officer violence.

The DOJ report also makes recommendations for curbing the violence in ADOC facilities such as increasing the number of officers.

Where the report truly falls short is expressing where the violence stems from in the majority of cases. Speaking from first hand experience, what I can tell you is that the majority of violent incidents are related to drug use and traffic inside the prison system.

This brings up an obvious question which nobody seems to want to address. This is a prison system. So, how do drugs even get into the prisons? The answer should be just as obvious as the question.

At some prisons, all personnel are checked on entering the facility. At others like the prison I currently work at, checks are random. Nurses get “shaken down” or dogs sniff your vehicle before entering. Since I began here a year ago, no nurse has been caught smuggling in an illicit substance. Tales of years past persist and I’ve never heard any stories of a nurse smuggling in drugs. Not saying it doesn’t happen, just that it is exceedingly rare. In an environment where drug use is rampant, every hour of day and night, no nurse or visitor would be capable of smuggling a quantity of drugs sufficient to add 1% to the amount of drugs flowing through a single prison facility. Visitations are monitored by officers, visitors are checked before entering. Medical personnel encounters with inmates are supposed to be monitored by officers at all times, partly for the safety of medical personnel.

Shortly after entering the ADOC system I learned how low the pay for officers is. They have good benefits but pay is not very high. Which led me to notice something. The vehicles in the parking lot. While nurses are paid higher than officers, most of us drive pretty standard, sometimes older, vehicles with no exorbitant price range. Yet many officers drive sports cars or large trucks with much higher price tags.

That’s not saying anything against officers who work a lot of overtime, multiple jobs or have retirement from prior careers, such as military. This is not uncommon. Others have spouses who bring in an additional income to their household.

Yet there are a large number of officers who drive expensive vehicles, work minimal overtime while driving expensive vehicles which most nurses say they could not afford easily.

Recently an officer at one local prison was charged with drug trafficking inside the prison and bail was reportedly set at $1.5 million. One of the biggest problems with this case is that the officer had worked at the same facility for several years. Verbal reports claim he was caught with nearly 2 lbs of artificial marijuana, which has been linked to numerous medical complications, chest pain and altered levels of consciousness.

What is worse is that drug dealing in the prison system leads to violent altercations for drug debt or suspicion of inmates being informants. In some cases, officers have been assaulted and severely injured. For a corrections officer to be witness to the consequences of drug traffic in the prisons, including the danger to their own fellow officers, is inexcusable. Stabbings are fairly common and deaths definitely occur, either from assault or directly due to the substance involved.

The further questions which should be raised regard how many other officers have been or are currently involved in such drug trafficking. Are there supervisors further up the chain with awareness, yet allow it to continue because they share in the profits?

Many modern drugs in the prison system are harder to detect than in decades past. These drugs can incite completely mindless violent behavior. A popular one is Flakka, which has been heard of in cases like one in Florida where a man tried to eat another man’s face off. Many are synthetic. Meaning formulations and forms can change from one lab or supplier to another. This also means they are higher risk. One never knows what chemicals are being pumped into a person’s body. These drugs can have unpredictable effects on the mind, while causing possible permanent damage to internal organs and the brain.

If an inmate suffers permanent damage which renders them permanently disabled, that leaves the taxpayer holding the bill for their support and medical care for the rest of their lives, even if they are released from the prison system. The same is true of injuries from violent incidents.

So this is an issue which affects all of us in the state of Alabama because the price will continue to accumulate and increase year after year. Even without permanent disabilities, the cost of acute medical care is massive, costing tens of millions per year. For rural prison sites, medical emergencies warrant frequent helicopter flights for transport, which costs the taxpayer roughly $40,000 for just one single transport.

Meanwhile, the level of violence and risks involved make it difficult to recruit corrections officers. The legislature acts as though throwing money at the problem will fix it. That will not work. They just decreased the pay raise for existing officers this year. For good officers who have spent years in the system, what effect will it have if new officers are hired in at higher pay than the veteran officers? Yet even new officers understand that the violence is not worth the risk. What good is money if you’re dead?

The known sources of violence must be addressed before anything will improve. For that, it really requires investigation and coordination with external agencies. ADOC and our legislature should request assistance from the DEA to go into the prisons and root out the sources of drugs flowing into the system.

I have already written before that the prison population needs to be reduced. Drug addiction should be treated as an illness rather than a crime. Treating addiction as an illness costs far less than incarceration. The average cost of incarceration in AL is $57 per day. If we spent $10–15 on treatment per day, the cost would plummet. If cannabis were legalized, the cost would be even less and would create jobs which would increase tax revenue.

I will be honest and state that even writing this could well place me in extreme personal danger, not only while at work but away from work as well. That risk is only minimized by the fact that the DOJ report has already shown a spotlight on the violence issue in the system, so more attention is being leveled at the problem. The risk involved is probably why nobody openly even asks the questions or state the obvious as I am doing here. Yet the other thing which decreases my risk is publicly raising awareness. Once published, there is no taking it back. The questions cannot be un-asked, the information cannot be erased. Then again, retaliation is always a possibility.

A copy of this article will be forwarded to multiple media sources, along with multiple elected officials. I will post information of any responses I may receive on the subject. Let’s see if they can do anything but spend money and point fingers.

The Programming of America: Pt II, Selling War

This is part II of my series on how Americans are programmed to think in certain ways without thinking, without questioning. If you missed part I regarding marketing in various forms (not always called marketing and advertising, sometimes called many other things), you can find part I here.

In part II of this series, I focus on war (military adventurism) and how it is sold like everything else in this country, though in a more complex form. We are sold warfare as a positive from early childhood until death. This is something I have written about previously, though often split between different subjects and articles.

Corporate (Military Industrial Complex) influence does not begin with the news media, as far as our life exposure is concerned. It begins in grade school. Think back to history classes and how past US wars were presented to you. Heroism throughout. Never the slightest question that each and every conflict we have been engaged in was justified and ethical. Never a hint that our soldiers and officials issuing orders have committed war crimes, which they absolutely have when you omit “patriotism” as a rationale. Protests against Vietnam barely gain mention and the protests which happened against WWII, Korea and Iraq are never mentioned in grade school. For all I know, they’re not even mentioned in college. Nor is it mentioned that the Nazi and Communist parties had wide support in the US prior to WWII. The Communist and Socialist parties had wide support in the US right up until McCarthyism.

For this, we have to look at the tangled ties between textbook publishers, politicians and the deep pockets of weapons manufacturers who donate to the politicians. Then the politicians set the standards by which textbooks are chosen. This is stage one of selling war to the American public, beginning with childhood.

Then the next stage comes as teenagers. Partly through movies and TV which glorify warfare without showing images of the reality involved. Military recruiters at schools and patriotic displays at sports events. Commercials showing someone in a uniform, then transitioning to that person in civilian life, uninjured, no PTSD from horrors they have witnessed or directly taken part in. They are all smiling, clean, drug-free, no therapy.

Who pays for all those displays and commercials? You do. Who pays for those textbooks? You do. Who acts as consultants to Whollyweird for the movies and TV shows? The military. Who pays for them to act in that role? You do. If a movie tries to show the military in an unflattering light, the military will bring pressure against the studio. That pressure can include coercion by coordinating with local authorities for licensing purposes. The military has “consulted” on tens of thousands of movies and shows over decades. Who pays for their “consultations”? You do. Who pays to prosecute and incarcerate peaceful antiwar protesters? You do.

Only after considering all the above do we reach the point where we can consider corporate “news” media and their paid portrayal of our military endeavors. Try and name a US military conflict which the media has ever opposed. I’ll wait. I’m 57 years old and have never seen the media object to a US military action. Look at the reactions we have seen when it was even suggested decreasing military presence in Middle Eastern countries or any peace efforts with Russia and North Korea.

No, you will never see anything more of the devastation wrought by US warfare beyond a few ruined buildings, blamed on “terrorists”. You will not see children splattered on walls and streets by our bombs. You will not see victims with limbs torn off and open head injuries showing exposed brain tissue. You’re more likely to see video of our missiles and aircraft launching, preferably in low light so it highlights the afterburner effect to make it visually appealing or exciting. You will hear rave reviews about drone warfare which makes warfare bloodless and without physical risk for our soldiers. You will not hear that drone pilots get PTSD too. You will not hear that children in the countries being bombed by drone warfare are terrified of blue skies because that’s when the drones are most likely to strike.

Cue the advertisements for Boeing, Raytheon and Northrup-Grumman. Paid sponsors of your favorite corporate news outlet. Who pays for the ads you see from them? You do. That is your tax dollars at work. Who pays for the drones? You do.

Up next, interviews with high ranking military officials and veterans speaking of how we need more bombs, more guns, more drones, more troops to kill more terrorists (children, mothers, grandparents living in their own countries, sitting in their own living rooms). It’s their own fault for living there. Their existence on top of “our” oil fields makes them enemies. Saying we need to invade another country and another. Never once do you hear a diplomat saying we need peaceful negotiations to end a conflict.

When the media and politicians talk about manufacturing weapons, they consistently do so couched in terms of “creating jobs”. What they fail to mention is that building bridges also creates jobs while not intentionally killing people. Universal healthcare would creates tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, possibly millions of jobs while improving and extending lives. Yet that we cannot afford. They fail to mention that to keep producing weapons means we must keep waging wars for as long as possible. When one war ends (if ever), another one must be started and another and another. We keep paying for each and every one of those conflicts with money ripped from our social support programs and educational system. We pay with creating more enemies and with trade losses. They fail to mention that producing weapons is only part of the cost. Then we have to pay for shipping those weapons, providing security for those weapons, targeting systems with training and salaries to operate them, and launching those weapons with training and salaries.. They fail to mention that weapons manufacturing frequently does extensive environmental damage long before the damage from using those weapons. Domestic environmental damage which we pay for in dollars, ill health and deaths. Yay, jobs..

Cue ads for oil companies who profit from our seizure of resources in the countries where we murder innocent civilians.

Next up, a report on how we cannot afford universal healthcare but we need to give more money to the VA for their limited socialized medical system which spends tens of billions per year on drugs and medical equipment. Wecan consider those VA costs to be subsidies for the oil companies, military contractors and drug companies who bribe politicians and advertise on corporate media to sell you on the next war. Who pays for the VA, even if you receive no care from them? You do. Who pays for the advertising? You do.

Cue ads from drug companies and medical insurance corporations. Maybe with big flags in the background telling you to support the troops. Yay, ‘Murca.

Up next, a report on the homeless epidemic. Many of whom are veterans. An epidemic, stated as though it’s a disease. As though the homeless are a disease, rather than victims of a diseased system which rapes them violently, bleeds them dry and leaves them to die by the roadside like bags of garbage thrown away by our government.

We have the VFW, the VA, insurance companies that specialize in veterans, magazines targeting veterans, Memorial Day, Labor Day… Have you ever noticed we do not have a single day or nationally recognized organization dedicated to the propagation of peace?

From childhood to death Americans are sold sterilized images of warfare. Shoved into developing minds in between basic math and English, as though mass slaughter is a mere fact of life. As long as it happens in other countries, not our own. Deaths at the hands of our war machine are sold as entertainment. The next war is sold as “humanitarian intervention” yet we are never shown the results when the bombs have stopped. Disease, famine, poisoned water, decimated economies, destroyed lives. Effects which take generations to “recover” from, as if recovery is possible. No reviews of success or failure, just advertising for the next war, the next “threat” which is never actually a threat, the next country we must save from themselves, the next investment opportunity.

Never question the advertising, the programming of your children or of yourself. Cheer for the veterans, pray for the widows, widowers and children of veterans but never ask why the war was fought. If you ask questions or object, you will be branded a traitor, un-American, unpatriotic, a pariah. Maybe a Russian troll.

Asking questions means you are brainwashed, not questioning means you think for yourself. Just believe, have faith, wave your flag and hold your hand over your.. eyes and ears. Keep telling yourself, “We’re the Good Guys©” until you convince yourself. Then keep watching the marketing machine, keep cheering as you act as free advertising for the death machine.

The Programming of America: Pt I, Marketing

This is my first installment of a series regarding how marketing pervades our lives in ways most do not realize and what the negative effects are. Be sure to subscribe to know when a new installment drops.

I continuously see Americans claiming to think for themselves while their words, opinions, attitudes and behaviors tell a far different story. This is no surprise. We live in a society that is ruled far more by marketing (advertising) than most Americans ever grasp. That’s because they fail to understand the very nature of marketing at it’s very core.

If you study marketing, what you find is that the core structure of marketing lies in a distorted study of psychology with the express intent of manipulation. In other words, it’s brainwashing on a massive scale.

If you look at a syllabus or course description of college marketing programs, you find references such as “customer engagement”, “consumer behavior and analysis”, “expanding value” (in other words, exaggerating claims) and so forth. You may have already heard such things as “creating a market”, “identifying a need”. What these things come down to means convincing people they need something they did not need last week.

Yet even that does not go far enough to explain how people are manipulated. One must understand that corporate news and political campaigns are forms of marketing. I’ve said before and say again, follow the money. Look at who is paying for advertising on a network. Look at who is donating money to campaigns.

Marketing is most frequently based on emotion. The emotion used most frequently is fear. Fear of social isolation. Is your breath fresh enough? Is your shirt white enough? Is your cologne as good as the next guy? Does your bra lift enough? (Look at old bra commercials, claiming to lift and separate and compare to push-up bras today.) Fear of pain. New insoles? How much pain medication can your liver withstand? Fear of illness. Fear of depression. In other words, using emotions to make you fear your own emotions.

Political campaigns use many of the same tactics and people with the same training in marketing techniques. That’s a large part of what campaign managers do. Identify “needs” of voters. Identify or manipulate fears to exploit.

The most interesting part of this is that it takes very little effort to convince people to be afraid and immense effort to convince them their fears are unfounded. The vast majority of people are programmed to react emotionally, rather than think critically.

Know who else makes extensive use of the exact same psychological techniques? The “intelligence” agencies. The CIA, NSA and FBI are well known to use propaganda in other countries and to have used propaganda in the US itself. For some reason, Americans think that any such manipulations inside this country are things of the past. Citizens also think they are not prone to being controlled by these techniques, even as they tune in to corporate media and watch people like James Clapper being used as a source of information on major networks. Even as “intelligence” agency veterans run for public office.

There are no Jedi mind tricks at play here. People are actually easy to understand, easy to manipulate. Most people want some authority figure telling them what to do, what to think. More “likes” means something is valid. Bigger is better. More viewers means higher quality. Join the crowd, march in line, buy the most popular items, watch the latest blockbuster on opening weekend, vote for the popular candidate but keep telling yourself how you’re different from all the rest.

Even here on what is supposedly independent media I see articles from major media sources with the highest views, likes and comments. Nothing about those articles are any different from what is published on the core websites of those corporate sources. So, why are readers even bothering to be on independent media sites if all they are going to do is follow corporate media?

Does it make any sense? Or have they just programmed themselves by their own choice?

Inflation Is A Myth

Capitalism and the capitalist media, even education, teaches us that inflation is a fact of life. That’s not true. This is where you should be asking questions.

Labor cost. One myth we are told is that the cost of labor drives up the cost of goods and services. This raises the question of why workers need pay increases. Of course, the answer is the increasing price of goods and services, often just for basic survival. If prices did not keep increasing, workers would not need increases to their pay.

Automation. One method businesses use to decrease the cost of labor is automation and technological advances. While it comes at an initial cost for capital outlay, the entire reason companies do this is because it saves money on wages and worker benefits in the long term. Technology increases productivity, meaning each worker can make more products, serve more customers. This means the company needs fewer workers. Pay remains the same, the cost of benefits stays the same or keeps costing the worker more each year. Automation often completely eliminates jobs. Do prices go down commensurate with the decreased labor cost? No but company profits keep going up, prices keep going up and corporate profits keep going up.

Raw materials. We hear the argument that the cost of raw materials keeps increasing. Typically, this is not true. Corporate mega-farms use more machines than labor. While labor costs have increased, go back to the second paragraph of this article. Many raw materials are imported because of lower cost. Like steel. China isn’t “dumping” unwanted steel on corporations. The American corporations are buying that steel. This goes back years, when corporations began buying steel from China because they did not want to pay for the cost of American labor. Which caused the near collapse of the US Steel industry. Consumer prices never decreased but corporate profits kept increasing. Pick any raw material that is imported yet available domestically and the same rule applies.

Lawsuits. One claim is that lawsuits drive up the cost of goods and services. You would have to look more closely by specific industry and company but lawsuits account for less than 1% of the cost of business in this country, overall. Even when faced with lawsuits, the damages are minor and still make the abuses which led to the lawsuits worth the price, leaving corporations with massive profits. The worst thing that happens is that their stock price dips for a few days. Who pays the cost of the lawsuits in reality? Consumers.

Tariffs. Numerous companies have laid workers off or exported jobs while citing tariffs as a rationale. This is disingenuous at best, a complete fabrication at worst. I’ll go back to steel as an example. If the cost of imported steel increases, it does not increase for only one company, it increases for all companies that utilize imported steel. So the cost of products increases across an entire industry, like vehicles. The consumer pays the price. The corporation preserves their profit margin. While sales may decrease, that is more of a function of stagnant wages than increased cost. Consumers either cannot afford or are hesitant to pay the higher prices.

Taxpayer subsidies. The ultimate fact of the matter is that while media rages about a “free market”, we do not have a free market. We truly have no idea how much we pay in subsidies to corporations. Lots of estimates but real numbers are elusive. From milk to corn to oil to gas to soybeans and on and on. One big problem is that subsidies are not always direct. When corporations pay wages so low that employees qualify for public assistance, we foot the bill. That’s subsidizing that corporation. When a company offers free shipping but the government offers subsidies and tax deductions for that company, that’s a subsidy. When US troops provide security for poppy fields in Afghanistan or navy ships protective escorts to oil tankers, those are subsidies. The entire military industrial complex is nothing but subsidies. So are superfund sites. The purchase of vehicles and fuel by small local governments all the way up to the US military are subsidies to vehicle manufacturers and oil companies. So, we pay the subsidies, then we pay the price at the pump, in the grocery store, on our utility bills… Socialism for the rich and corporations, capitalism for the rest of us.

Real inflation control. If we even discussed real inflation controls, it would implement such mechanisms as corporate profit caps by percentage of gross income, not allowing for stock repurchases or executive bonuses. It would look like implementing a maximum income. It may include price controls without subsidies. It would include stringent penalties for consumer abuse and price gouging. It would enforce anti-trust laws and practices. It would penalize every job eliminated or reduced while maintaining or expanding production levels. It would make stock repurchases illegal.

No going back. The point to be made here is that there is no going back on inflation. Not within our current system. Yet there is no valid rationale that bread is not 25¢ a loaf. Or that gas costs as much as it does. There is no valid rationale for oil being a top export and top import.That does not increase our energy security, does not help the environment, does not control cost or inflation.

Inflation is a myth. Like I began, inflation is a myth. A story we are told and just accept as fact. We have lived our lives without really questioning why prices increase while wages do not. We recognize the need to increase wages without asking why we need to do so just for survival. Schools teach inflation, media preaches inflation, corporations profit from inflation while causing most of that inflation for their own bottom line. Politicians promise to control inflation, then offer subsidies we pay for in order to maintain the profits of the corporate structure that causes inflation, in effect rewarding those same corporations.

Stop accepting the idea that inflation is a fact of life. It’s not. It is not a consequence or complication of capitalism. It is a core feature of capitalism.