Yes, White Shooters ARE Terrorists

Over the past few years we have heard rhetoric about Islamic terrorists and Mexican/South American criminals. We have political actions, police actions and intelligence actions being taken against anyone from Islamic or South American countries to “protect us” from them.

Yet, when we hear of mass shootings, school shootings, even the majority of bomb threats, the guilty party is almost invariably a white male. Much of the time they are members of white supremacy groups as well.

The same white supremacy groups have been revealed over and over to make open threats against minorities and Jewish people. Threats of violence and fantasies of genocide.

So the question arises over and over, why do we not declare these white shooters terrorists? Why do we not consider white supremacy groups to be terrorist organizations?

The answer goes further than most really consider. The first and best answer is that if this happened, the government and police would be obligated to take action against these people and groups. The media would have to actively and openly admit that the greatest terror threat in this country comes from people who are commonly in their own ranks.

It has been well documented and well known that American politics have had numerous white supremacists in elected office. This is not distant past history. It includes Senator Robert Byrd, who served in the Senate for 51 years until his death in 2010. In recent elections we have had alleged and admitted white supremacists run for office and even get elected. It is unquestionable and in some cases proven that we have lawyers, judges, prosecutors, wardens and forensic examiners who are white supremacists.

It is also well documented that many police officers are white supremacists, some having been photographed in full KKK robes or sporting tattoos to include Nazi symbolism.

While not all NRA members are white supremacists, nearly all white supremacists have ties to the NRA. My own guess is that at least some executives of the NRA and major weapons manufacturers are white supremacists.

So, if we admitted that white shooters are terrorists, that would eventually lead to the necessity of making direct correlations between the individuals and their organizations. From there, actions would have to be taken. Those actions would have to begin with examination of the investigators. From the FBI to the police to forensic specialists to lawyers and judges.

That would still not be enough. When enough members of an organization or corporation were found to have ties to white supremacy, they would have to be investigated further, censured and members placed on terror watch lists. In some cases, this could result in the full dissolution of some groups.

Make no mistake, white supremacists are fascists in the most real sense of the word. They seek to oppress certain groups based on skin color, sexual orientation and religion. They use threats and violence to instill fear and have been known to murder people. Less obviously, they use legal actions, deny housing and employment to those they deem “unacceptable”.

Notice that our media and some elected officials have ignored the threat of these organizations while promoting fear of the only major group opposing them, Antifa? The name Antifa means anti-fascism. In promoting fear of Antifa, they use vague and misleading claims. To date, no major violent acts have been attributed to Antifa in this country. If there have been acts of violence or property destruction, that is typically not Antifa but Black Bloc Anarchists, who are not the same. A few months ago, some members of CONgress proposed a bill making membership in Antifa illegal. However, Antifa is not actually an organization, it is a political and social ideology. They specifically oppose fascists. So, what is the goal of such legislation? To discourage acceptance and support for Antifa. To prevent Antifa from openly forming an organization.

If Antifa actually did organize so that anyone opposed to fascism could join, what would that mean for groups like the KKK and Nazis? White supremacist tactics seek to divide and attack individuals. Imagine if they faced a group with public funding and the power of lobbying behind them. Such a group could well bridge any gaps between numerous minority organizations while possibly organizing mass physical opposition against the violent fascists groups in this country. Yet the more of us that get involved, demanding police protection, legislation and prosecution, the less likely any physical opposition becomes. Honestly, such an organization is needed badly. If not Antifa, then some other group should take on that role. Bring together all races, genders, sexual orientations, religions formally to oppose groups like the Proud Boys, who continue organizing and growing with no formal opposition and no laws to limit them. Yet how much do you hear of that from MSM?

This issue is going to keep evolving. More and more people are speaking out, asking why this is being labeled as anything but terrorism.

Yet certain things in this battle are absolute:

1- We cannot march in step with or bow down to gun-toting, jack-booted, white robed, Brown Shirted fascists who want to talk about “freedumb” and “Constitutionality” while attempting to oppress others by force.

2- We cannot fight fascism with fascism. Censorship, whether government or corporate, has backfired on us and will continue to do so. The corporate fascists own and run the media.

3- We cannot claim to oppose fascism or be afraid of violent fascists and then be more afraid of the opposition to them when the police refuse to stand up. Someone must step in.

4- We cannot oppose fascists and then vote fascists into office.

Passivity is not an option. Choose your side. There is no middle ground. You either oppose fascism or you are a fascist. What do we today call Germans who did not oppose the Nazi party in 1930’s Germany? We call them Nazis. History will remember us in the same way.

Peace Of Mind

When I was younger, my greatest goal in life was peace of mind. Really, that was it. I wanted stability, peace, personal security. One of my favorite songs was and remains “Peace Of Mind” By Boston.

At a young age, I understood that peace of mind was unlikely to happen while being part of society as it exists. I had dreams of moving out in the woods and living as a mountain man, like Grizzly Adams, sans the bear. I had dreams of a society based on education, knowledge, wisdom. Obviously, I fantasized a lot. Later those dreams turned to more mundane ideas of a stable job, stable income, stable relationship, owning a home while still pursuing knowledge throughout my life.

Boring? Fine, I can do boring. The most exciting things I’ve done in my life like driving explosives, going through live shooter events, bomb threats and so forth were never goals. I definitely learned from them but they just happened.

Of course, when I was young, for the most part my thoughts focused on myself. I was aware, cared and was active about social issues but mostly only regarding my own actions and being a positive example for others. I did take part in protests and stood in the face of violence more than once for those weaker than myself. Put myself on the line personally and professionally but never as a comprehensive pattern or part of a movement. Along the way I have stood for women’s rights, racial rights, gay rights, disabled rights, against war and on and on.

However, while specific aspects of my own awareness came ahead of the curve, I think much of my story is common. My realization of the systemic nature and effects of our system have exploded in recent years. Most of this has happened primarily because of the rise of the internet, social media and independent media. Many people give credit to Bernie Sanders yet the issues he raised in his campaign were already being discussed. Social and independent media had given us exposure to alternatives to the corporate propaganda. Social media gave us the chance to discuss issues with vast numbers across vast distances. It allowed us to know that we were not, are not alone in our concerns for things larger than ourselves.

Yet while the internet, social and independent media have enabled our discussions, these discussions began long ago. What do you think led to the Suffrage Movement for women’s right to vote? The implementation of Social Security, the minimum wage, Medicare, Medicaid, OSHA, the EPA, FDA, USDA, Voting Rights Act, Civil Rights Act, wage protection laws, consumer protection laws, public education, child labor laws..?

Awareness did not begin in 2016. We were discussing universal healthcare in the early 90’s before we were sold out. Jackson Browne was singing about corporate war profiteers in the 80’s. There were protests here against our wars in Korea in the 50’s and Vietnam in the 60’s and 70’s. About election integrity in 1968 at the Democratic Convention.

Our problems did not begin in 2017. Hillary is not a martyr and Bernie is not a saint. Maybe you just became aware in the last 2–3 years but that just means you have kept your eyes closed or have a really short attention span.

Let me refer you to the Mind Control speech in the movie “Network” from 1976, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQAzpV7GC0U or the Business Is God speech from the same movie, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8jIw22XXSso

Let me refer you to one of the most powerful speeches you will ever hear, no matter how staged it is. From 2012, Jeff Daniel’s speech in The East Wing on why we are not the greatest country in the world any more. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4MYjyLg8bbo

How many speeches can I refer you to by JFK or MLK or Malcolm X?

Any periods we have had of peace and prosperity we have had the the history of this country have been fleeting and relative. Nor has peace and prosperity been equally distributed to all citizens. In effect, such things have been nothing short of an illusion forced upon us through government/media propaganda and our own willing conscious deception. There has always been an unease and outright suffering in this country, even at the best of times.

So, while I say I sought peace of mind at a young age, there was always part of me aware that I would never attain that as long as others continued to suffer. If any major parts of our society suffer, we all do. I had major problems with depression for many years. Not any more. The more involved I became, the more I do to help right what is wrong, no matter how small my effort may seem, the more empowered I feel. Because I cannot look around me and do nothing.

My own peace of mind comes from action. Awareness. Sharing information with others. Standing up, speaking out, lending purpose. If you have problems with depression, maybe being more involved will help you as well. At worst, you may make some friends along the way. Even if you don’t have problems with depression, there are far worse ways to spend your time.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Happy Thanksgiving to all!!

I’m going to start off with a list of things I am thankful for. None of this indicates a religious leaning, just an appreciation for what I have. I’ve been through times in my life that were far less secure than this moment.

I am thankful for my wonderful daughter. She is intelligent, beautiful, talented, well behaved and has a huge heart. I am thankful she is healthy and appears to be happy. She has a sense of humor which is sometimes dark and sometimes silly but smiles a lot, which is rare for a teenager.

I am thankful for my girlfriend, who is also intelligent, beautiful, sexy, talented in many ways, has a huge heart and a strong spirit. She is the first and only woman I have ever felt I can truly be myself with. I feel like I have waited my entire life for her and it was well worth the wait. I know what else is out there and what she is worth, so I’ll never take her for granted.

I am thankful for my health. I’m not doing badly at all for my age of 56 years. I still run circles often around people much younger than myself. My blood pressure is good without medication. I do have some minor health issues I will not go into but compared to many with the same condition, which I had my whole life before learning of it a few short years ago. So I am thankful for my own condition.

I am thankful for being employed and know my position is far more secure than most jobs these days. It may have ups and downs but that’s no different from other jobs.

I am thankful for a car, roof over my head, heat, water and food in my house. I am as safe from harm as I can expect to be.

That list can go on and on. I realize I have things better than many. I empathize for the sick, the homeless, the abused, the oppressed, those living in war zones, the lonely, depressed…

I find it ironic and ridiculous that so many Americans take what they have for granted. Thanksgiving is no longer about being thankful. It is a sign of excess.

Too many people will spend today eating large amounts of food, having time off from their jobs to spend with their families. Then they will go shopping either today or on Black Friday or Cyber Monday. Claiming to be thankful for what they have but having an emotional need for more, more, more. Victims of marketing and the American ideal to never be happy with what you have, you must have more.

These people will blind themselves to the fact that so many other Americans, their own neighbors, will be forced to work for the alleged “holiday”. In the last few days I have seen ads for places that will be open on Thanksgiving Day. McDonald’s open 24 hours. Hardee’s, Burger King. And Dollar Tree. Is Dollar Tree having a sale on Thanksgiving? Will they have specials which charge customers less than $1? Will McDonald’s be serving turkey dinners?

Is it really so worth it to keep businesses open on a day which was once reserved for family gatherings? To sell cheap burgers and plastic crap? To keep parents from their children?

I work in a field where I work most Thanksgivings. The medical field. If I have to work, there is a reason. I have no qualms with it and everyone that has ever been in my life has had to accept this for decades. They understand my presence is needed and this is who I am. Though I am not selling cheap shit for the profit of some CEO or shareholders who care about nothing but money, stock dividends, share prices. Give no thought to what this does to this country over time.

I tend to urge people to not shop on Thanksgiving or Black Friday if they can avoid it. If you must, then just the basics or necessities. It is we, the consumers, who cause and perpetuate this system which victimizes and deprives our own neighbors.

If you have today off, when you drive past these open businesses, keep driving. Maybe next year your neighbors and even family members will have Thanksgiving off as well. Maybe it is only tradition but tradition does count for something. It counts for far more than corporate profits.

Renewed Push For Trickle-Down Economics

Lately we are seeing a renewed push for trickle-down economics. Of course, this is all based on the claims that the economy is doing well, even with tariffs, sanctions, etc.

Let me address the claim that the economy is doing well first because that is a complete fabrication.

The major part of this claim is based on the performance of the stock market. I have been covering this issue quite a bit for some time. The stock market rose in the last few years because of stock buybacks. Absolutely none of that has to do with the consumer economy and is often at direct odds with the job market. In January this year, a positive report came out stating employment and wages were up. The following day the stock market had a massive drop.

In recent months we have heard of companies laying workers off due to tariffs. Yet the stock market only decreased after the interest rate went up.  Laying workers off runs in tandem with decreasing production. Yet they can only decrease production if consumer sales are on the decline, even with tariffs. Tariffs cause a price increase of similar products across the market, so any increase at all means the same product will remain competitive with other manufacturers. Example: If Ford must increase prices by 10%, so must Toyota, GM, etc. Layoffs are not necessary unless all vehicles are selling less. Then the decrease comes only after the decreased sales are evident.

Side note: The same manufacturers did not increase production or hiring when they got a tax break. 

So, Ford is laying off, as is GM, Harley Davidson, GE and more. Sears is bankrupt. Apple has announced decreased production. Toys R Us is gone, as are numerous other retailers and others are scaling back. The only retailers I have heard are expanding are Family Dollar and Dollar Tree.

There have been claims that US Steel is building new plants. US Steel said that is not true.

In fact, many are claiming that new jobs are being created in manufacturing. That’s not even possible. If retailers are closing locations or even going bankrupt, that means jobs are being lost. Fewer jobs means fewer consumers and less consumer spending. So if production were to increase, who the hell is buying the additional products being produced? Nobody, that’s who.

It does not end with production. Less consumer spending means services are impacted, from insurance to cable to massage to fitness centers to taxis and on and on. At each level, profits are lost, jobs are lost, income is lost, consumer spending is lost.

The fact is that trickle-down economics has never worked, is not working now and has no possibility of working in the future. Economies do not work from the top down, they work from the bottom up.

One of the tenets used to promote trickle-down is that the people at the top are job creators. As you can see above, this is not true. Consumers are job creators. Most of the highest paying jobs in this country and globally are occupations that produce nothing. Corporate executives, stock investors, fund managers, bankers. These are people far more likely to demand the elimination of jobs and reduction in wages to preserve their own bloated incomes than to ever create jobs.

Historically, production and trade predates investing. Even today there are “less developed” small societies that may have leadership positions but manage to have assigned workloads, methods of sharing and yet have no money. Barter systems require no money yet have plenty of jobs. Not for profit organizations, including some hospitals have jobs, expand to create more jobs and profits go back into the company and employees. Small local businesses create lots of jobs and used to provide many, many more than they do now, before they were forced out by corporations. In all the above cases, guess how many jobs get deported offshore to other countries? Small retailers may purchase goods for sale from foreign suppliers but small manufacturers do not export labor.

We cannot keep believing the same lies we have been fed for decades, doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results. We cannot believe when we are told the economy is doing well while it is not our personal economy doing better. We cannot believe jobs are being created if we have no opportunity to replace the jobs we have been laid off from or have no room for advancement. If you are overworked, still broke and struggling, the entire narrative should be falling flat. If you can look at anything objectively, you can see through these deceptions.

The Diversity Of The True Left

One of the most interesting things about the true left, aka Progressives, is our diversity.

The right and centrists have certain homogeneous traits. The far right is typically either poorly educated and proud of that fact or they are educated and set on taking advantage of the less educated ones. Centrists tend to be better educated in general but middle class who think they are much higher on the feeding chain than they actually are.

In each case, right and center, the ones at the top take advantage of those lower down, who never examine the lies they are being told. In most of both cases, they are predominantly white and, while they call themselves Christians, they fail to follow the tenets of their own religion.

I am being quite serious when I say that those to the center left tend to have the highest intelligence and sense of empathy. In today’s terms, center left means far left of neoliberals and slightly right of Marxism.

Any form of extremism is extremism. Whether far left or far right, there is no balance and any extremist system is bound to fail, if not by it’s own shortcomings, then by massive resistance which results in outright violent conflict. While ethically I do see value in Marxism sans fascism, I understand that our society has not evolved to a degree that it is realistic at this time. First and foremost because of the means of motivation which have been conditioned into our culture. If I thought it were realistic, I would be for it. Not in our lifetime, though. We have a long way to go.

Back to the main subject.

Progressives span a wide variety of people across cultures and subcultures, races, genders, religions, income levels and education levels. Too often we are portrayed as lazy or wanting something for nothing. Yet most of us are employed, most educated. In fact, I would venture to say a larger than average percentage of us can be classified as workaholics.

Not all of these people are running for any office but they are all examples of who is on the true left.

Dr Jill Stein. Harvard educated and magna cum laude (Harvard College) physician and social/environmental/political activist who has run as the Green Party nominee in every election since 2012. Prior to that, she ran for various elected offices in 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2010 in Massachusetts.

Professor Richard Wolff. Marxian economist known globally, has taught at Yale, University of Paris, University of Mass-Amherst, New School University-New York, the Brecht Forum, University of Utah and City University of New York. Has a weekly radio program and appears on various leftist TV shows and radio programs in addition to writing.

Dr Ajamu Baraka. 2016 Green Party VP Candidate, most people know. He has also served as founding executive Director of the US Human Rights Network, served on the boards of Amnesty International, the Center For Constitutional Rights and Africa Action and is an Associate Fellow at the Institute For Policy Studies. Prolific and powerful speaker and writer.

Aaron Mate. Journalist who never fails to ask the right questions and challenge interviewees when they speak obvious falsehoods. Currently at The Real News Network, he has also reported for Democracy Now!, The Intercept, Vice, Al Jazeera and the Toronto Star.

Jimmy Dore. While Jimmy is a comedian, he is a voice to be reckoned with, having been on The Young Turks for years, he has his own show on Patreon and YouTube. Any Progressive can love watching him go on a heated rant because he never holds back. He travels the country doing stand-up comedy which is politically intense. His show usually has Stef Zamorano, Ron Placone (who also has his own show on YouTube and also travels doing political stand-up) and frequently Graham Elwood.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. A New York Representative who is making a name for herself on the left. I do not always agree with her on some subjects but she shows promise. Considering the fact that she was a waitress not long ago and has risen to using her first day of her apprenticeship to stage a protest in Nancy Pelosi’s office, I would not call that lazy.

Tulsi Gabbard. Representative from Hawaii who stood up for equal representation for Bernie Sanders during the 2016 election, stepping down from a top position in the DNC. She has traveled to Syria, stood up to the power structures in DC and is an Army veteran. Highly Progressive on many subjects, though again I cannot claim I always agree with her.

Bernie Sanders. Yes, I know some of you will be pissed I did not put him first. On many subjects, he is highly Progressive and extremely vocal on those issues. I still believe he should have won in 2016. He is one of the most energetic members of Congress and definitely one of the most Progressive until recently. This is merely an example, not an endorsement. I have stated clearly what I feel his failings to be previously.

While this is a rather short list, they are some of the most visible. These are all strong voices who work hard and always have. They are capable of seeing and caring beyond themselves. They work toward improving this country and this planet for someone besides the extremely rich. They do not divide people nor do they try and convince one sector of society that that sector is superior to others. They try and unite us all, which is precisely why they encounter so much opposition. None of them endorse the concept of something for nothing.

Not in popularity but in effort, I’d like to include myself in this list. Anyone claiming I want something for nothing could not be more wrong. I am a diagnosed workaholic. I began working when I was 12. Over the years I have been a dishwasher, chef, veteran, auto/diesel/turbine mechanic, assistant military instructor, web designer, freelance writer and a nurse. Right now I work 32–48 hours a week, try and stay on top of issues and attempt to write 4–5 articles a week while making virtually nothing for doing so. If you read my articles, you can see that I do my own research and am not averse to running numbers to prove my point. In fact, I may be spending more at times than I earn from my writing. Does any of that sound lazy or selfish to you?

It used to be a standard that employers provided for medical care for employees in this country. I even had that when working in a convenience store while in college. Now that idea is being considered selfish on the part of the worker. How did we, as a nation, come to care more about the profits of the rich than the suffering of the many?

It used to be a standard that people earned a days pay for a days work in this country. Again, how did this become too much to expect? It is not in any way unreasonable to ask multi-billionaires to part with some of their accumulated hoards which they could not spend in 100 lifetimes so that this country is truly prosperous.

All of this has come about as a result of corporations owning the means of information. It is beyond time to turn off corporate media and see them for what they are.

It is beyond time to look around and see how close to the edge we are as a country. That when we turn our backs on each other, we have nothing left. It is only through diversity that we will gain unity and change the way things are going. The road we are on now runs directly to epic disaster as few Americans have ever dreamed. 

How Universal Healthcare Is Best Pt III

This post was published on Medium and Steemit on 9/5/18. 

In the first two parts of this series, I examined and pointed out things which are more factual and can be validated quite easily. Now to delve into things which are more murky but clearly show which side of ethics any person is on. Including how much they are willing to blindly follow corporate propaganda.

Advertising- I mentioned before that insurance policy holders pay for $millions spent on advertising by insurance companies PER DAY. It comes to $billions spent per year. TV, internet, snail mail, email, telephone, “free” health fairs, advertising products (key chains, bags, etc), newspapers, magazines, you name it. YOU pay for ALL of it.

Hint- NONE of that money is being spent on medical care.

No Debate- Where do most Americans get their information about the universal healthcare debate? Corporate media. The very same media corporations that collect the advertising $billions every year. Whom do they have as guest speakers to discuss these issues? If they discuss the issue at all, their “guest speakers” invariably come from insurance companies, lobbying firms or politicians who have received large sums of money from the insurance industry. Possibly WAR Street “experts” who sell stock in insurance companies. Even when a recent Libertarian-funded study proved universal healthcare would save $billions, numerous corporate media outlets ignored the actual study and instead interviewed the author of the study, who argued against his own findings, yet had no hard numbers, made no revisions to the actual study. He’s a Libertarian. Of course he will argue against the truth which he, himself, revealed.

So, who represents the pro-universal healthcare side? Basically, nobody on corporate media. That side of the “debate” (sic) consistently states that universal healthcare costs too much, yet never explains how that is possible, considering the costs I detailed in part one of this series. Nor the benefits detailed in part two. Those are never discussed at all. Americans have become so accustomed to having one sided corporate opinions spouted as fact that they never even question that only one side, the corporate side, is represented. Such is the danger of allowing corporate media to do your thinking for you.

Main detractors- Who are the main detractors voicing objections to universal healthcare? There are the obvious corporate entities mentioned above. Insurance companies, advertising agencies and media companies that make huge sums of money from the current system. However, there are local insurance agents and their employees. I understand their concerns though most of them have other revenue streams because insurance agents tend to cover multiple forms of insurance. Plus drug companies who are often in bed with the insurance companies. Consider CVS buying Aetna insurance while they also run clinics in many of their locations. CVS has one of the largest drugs by mail systems in the country. So they control the medications and collect the profits from premium to clinic to pharmacy.

On top of that, there are those who believe the claims of “death panels” and so forth, which makes no sense when you consider a system that has the benefits I’ve already laid out. They can never answer why Medicaid and Medicare have never had such “death panels”, aside from those imposed by the capitalist insurance and drug companies that have been involved since GWB privatized parts of it.

We cannot mince words about it. There is no shortage of people who are literally cruel. They enjoy the thought of others suffering, as long as they are not suffering or even inconvenienced. Some don’t even care if they pay more but get less, as long as they can feel somehow instrumental in the suffering of others. These people cross all religious, ethic and gender boundaries.

Human ethics- The saddest part of all of this is that so many Americans have the opinion that healthcare is a privilege, not a right. As long as they have their own, it doesn’t matter if others get sick, possibly chronically, or if the “other” person dies. Most interesting in the prevalence of this sentiment is how many claim to be “Christian”. While Christianity is supposedly a belief system that speaks clearly of caring for your fellow human more than you care about money.

Those who even think about ethics are in favor of universal healthcare. It hurts us to see our fellow human beings suffer, sicken and die for lack of access to healthcare. We cannot stand seeing people unable to afford crucial medications, making decisions between medication and food. Or asking themselves if that nagging, increasing pain in their stomach or chest can wait another month, another year. Is that purple spot or oddly shaped mole that keeps getting larger a concern? Can’t afford to think about it.

“I hate Socialism!”- Since I began this series, I have encountered a number of people who use this argument. The interesting part is how many of them are on SOCIAL Security. Hmm, where do they think that name comes from? It comes from the fact that it is a SOCIALIST concept and always has been. Social Security is funded by society for the benefit of society. The people paying into it now pay for the benefits of those collecting on it now. The same is true with Medicare and Medicaid.

Let me repeat that definition of Socialist programs. A Socialist program is any government program or policy which is funded BY society for the benefit OF society and the members of that society.

The others who argue against universal healthcare are members of the system which profits from the current system. Insurance corporations, lobbyists, politicians who get “donations” from the above, insurance agents, advertising companies. Note that these people rarely work in the same sense of the word that manual laborers do. They will claim that manual laborers need to work harder, work multiple jobs, “get an education” (In what? They cannot answer.), leave their children in daycare while they work 80 hours a week (until they become sick and never mind the cost of child care), don’t have children, don’t buy a vehicle, don’t eat out, don’t have that latte.. Oh, and be sure to get lots of exercise and watch corporate media in between.

Karma- The blindest part of this viewpoint is that younger people who pay into the system at this point are getting sicker. They lose days of productivity because of illness. They lose income because of it. They pay less into the system because of it.

The logical end result of this is that you wind up with huge numbers of people winding up with chronic illnesses, possibly disabling illnesses, unable to work, unable to make a living. What happens then? They get kicked off of insurance and placed on Medicaid and SSI. So they are no longer contributing to the system, they are a drain on the system.

The insurance companies get to keep their profits, taxpayers pick up the bill and fewer people are paying in. Such a system is doomed to failure because it is unsustainable. The worst part is how much of it is preventable.

End points- Some people want to blame Russia or China or immigrants or whomever they can for the failure of the current system. This is not anyone else’s fault, this is purely an American problem brought on by greed. That greed is at many levels. I’m sure with the details I have offered that I have only offered the most obvious culprits, yet it is still not discussed openly.

So, call me a Russian troll, tell me I hate my country because I think all Americans should have health care without going bankrupt. Call me a Socialist like it is a dirty word because I care about society. You can offer insults but until you can explain how the current system is better for everyone, not just the most affluent, you have no argument as far as millions of us are concerned. Even for the low upper middle class, the cost of access to medical care is slipping out of reach at this point.

Is universal healthcare perfect? Probably not but name a system that is perfect. When I say “best” I mean just that- best. Not perfect. When we come up with a perfect system, let me know. We’ve never been there and no country has been. That’s not even on the horizon as long as we keep fighting the fight of money over human life and well being. This is not about “perfect”. This is about the greatest good at all levels for the greatest number of people.

How Universal Healthcare Is Best Pt II

This post was published on Medium and Steemit on 8/30/18.

When I state universal healthcare is best, let me clarify what I mean by “best”.

I am speaking in medical outcome and ethical terms. When I say “best”, I mean that universal healthcare offers the best medical outcome for the largest number of people at the most reasonable cost.

There is no actual debate on this conclusion unless you prefer entities that sabotage a system for personal gain. Capitalists that try to torpedo such a system for profit. Malevolent system administrators that go against evidence based medical criteria with the explicit purpose of making that system fail. Each of these do so at the cost of human suffering and life.

Of course, we are having this discussion in a country that has left millions without medical care, millions bankrupt in an attempt to afford care. Millions with permanent disability or dead for the sake of profit. As a nurse for decades, I find that situation unacceptable.

Most Progressives know that a recent Koch-funded (Libertarian) study found that universal healthcare would save consumers over $2 Trillion over 10 years. Yet that study does not bother to touch on any of the points I raise in this article, all of which mean the actual amount saved would be far greater.

In part one, I detailed how universal healthcare is the most cost effective system by eliminating extraneous costs that have nothing to do with actual delivery of medical care. But it goes beyond that. Universal healthcare provides societal and economic benefits inside and outside the medical system which improve the economy as a whole. Here are only some of the benefits universal healthcare offers to the economy.

1- Increased disposable income. Because universal healthcare costs less than our current system, it results in more money left in the pocket of the average citizen. For most people, that money will be spent in the general economy. The economy operates on money being spent. That is how jobs are created. I’ve detailed before how money spent at a grocery store supports numerous jobs such as cashier, manager, maintenance, truck drivers, farmers, ranchers, food processors, dock workers. So the same holds true here.

2- Living wage jobs. Expanded access to healthcare would mean people using that access. The end result would be an increased need for doctors, PA’s, nurse practitioners, nurses, CNA’s. Those are obvious but it goes beyond those jobs. You would need more radiologists, radiology techs, respiratory therapists, physical therapists, dietitians, psychologists/psychiatrists/therapists, pharmacists/pharmacy technicians, medical equipment supply specialists, medical equipment manufacturing engineers, medical waste specialists.. The list goes on.

3- MORE disposable income. With all the jobs listed above making a living wage, that means a considerable number of professionals with disposable income. Most of that income would be spent in the general economy, buying food, clothing, cars, homes, eating at restaurants. At each stage of consumerism, jobs are maintained and created. These workers pay taxes which are (ideally) spent supporting schools, libraries, maintaining roads, etc, in each case maintaining if not creating more jobs, more consumers, more taxpayers.

4- Decreased bankruptcies. Millions of Americans per year declare bankruptcy due to medical bills. With universal healthcare, this would be almost if not completely eradicated. The result would be the preservation of credit ratings for responsible people. Which would prevent them from falling prey later to predatory lending practices by payday and high interest lenders, being denied credit, mortgages, etc. Businesses, especially smaller businesses, lose money to bankruptcies every year, causing a cascade effect leading to those small businesses closing or declaring bankruptcy themselves. This would slow that process considerably.

5- Early detection of chronic illnesses. Millions of Americans have chronic illnesses which are only diagnosed when they become advanced or even critical because they cannot afford routine care which would detect those conditions at a much earlier stage. More of these conditions would be detected before they become severe to critical. In many cases this would prevent catastrophic illness. Meaning they would live longer, healthier, happier lives. Not to mention it is far less costly to provide preventive care than corrective to critical care. The cost of one ICU stay for one patient would pay for insulin and testing supplies for hundreds of diabetics for a year. This is NOT an exaggeration of any kind.

6- Stress/anxiety/depression. Medical issues alone can cause stress, anxiety and depression. It doesn’t matter if the illness is chronic or acute. In addition, medical bills can cause the same emotional issues. Combine the two sources of emotional distress and the effects can be devastating. Each one alone can affect self esteem, how one sees themselves. It is no personal failure when one cannot afford medical care, medications, hospital care, etc yet in our society today it is made to seem (by some) to be a personal failure as a human being when you are unable to afford these things. It becomes an issue which many people are too ashamed to discuss openly with friends and family members. Look at the cost of medical care today and it is no wonder so many struggle with the bills involved, putting off care until it can no longer be put off. We live in a country where a series was successful where a teacher becomes a meth dealer simply because of his medical bills and fear for his family’s welfare because of that. The series would not have been successful if it had been a scenario which was less realistic.

7- Health conditions related to stress/anxiety/depression. Always remember that chronic negative emotions can cause physical health complications of their own. High blood pressure, ulcers, obesity, malnutrition, increased tendency to self medicate with alcohol or drugs, gastric disorders, etc. By instituting a system where these negative emotions are lessened, we prevent many of the physical complications which increase the cost of health care. For those who already have these medical issues, stress makes them worse and harder to control. There is no way to truly predict just how much money this would save in the long term but my personal guess (as an experienced cardiac and neurological care nurse) is that the amount would be highly significant.

Now, this list is probably incomplete and could well be added to. However, these are aspects I have not personally seen/heard anyone else discussing to date. Which sucks, considering we’ve had at least two years of discussion about the issue. Just keep watching my page for views you don’t find in other places.

Of course there would be some negative effects involved. I consider all of those ethical concerns and will cover that in part III of this series, coming soon. Long as I don’t get bumped off by some insurance agent before I write it.

How Universal Healthcare is the Best System Pt I

Note: This was originally written and published on Medium and Steemit on 8/23/18.

The debate on universal healthcare has been heating up again. Just in time for midterms. Of course, the election of Ocasio-Cortez has a lot to do with that but the issues first came to the surface somewhat in 2008, then got dropped. Next it arose in 2016, as we are all aware. The obvious hope of corporate America and the elected officials owned by the corporations on both sides of the aisle was that it would again fade away, which has not happened.

Much of the time, we hear how universal healthcare is far less expensive than the system we have. What we rarely if ever hears is why this is true. And we NEVER hear how it would benefit the economy in general. The MSM is NEVER going to explore universal healthcare in a favorable light because they make too much money from insurance and drug company advertising. Elected officials get $millions per year in campaign “donations” from the same entities, so of course they are against even discussing any alternative.

So, this is going to be the first installment of a series. I was considering making this only one article but the subject is extensive and complex. The first part explains HOW universal healthcare costs less than our current corporate system or private pay models. The second part will focus on how universal healthcare benefits the economy in general. Beyond that, I will keep adding as needed, mostly debunking the arguments against universal healthcare.

Let’s begin with why it is far less expensive than the current corporate insurance system.

1- Advertising. If there is only one system and everyone is included, why advertise? The corporate insurance system spends many $millions of dollars PER DAY on advertising. TV, radio, internet, full page magazine and newspaper ads, telephone, email and snail mail. It’s not just one company but all health insurance companies competing with each other for your money.

2- Corporate executive pay. Universal healthcare may pay the administrators high sums but it would not be possible that it could equate to the amounts paid to all the major insurance groups ruling healthcare today. Not just CEO’s but CFO’s, COO’s and on and on for corporation after corporation receive $multi-million pay plus stock packages and bonuses annually. Narrow all of that, eliminate numerous positions and the money saved on healthcare decreases dramatically.

3- Stock dividends. If what we had were a public system with no investors, owned by the people, then there would be no stock dividends to pay out. These account for an unknown total but it would be easy to wager a guess of hundreds of millions, even billions of dollars a year. Stock holders themselves demand decreases in costs, meaning more care being denied to the people who need it most.

4- Criteria. Right now there may be similarities between various insurance plans but each insurance company has their own set of criteria in approving any medical charge submitted. Some of those criteria I actually agree with because they make sense. (Like requiring an x-ray before doing an MRI for a suspected chronic fracture.) The problems lies in the fact that each office or facility must check the criteria for each procedure according to the individual procedure, company and specific insurance plan the patient has. Even then, the charge can be denied. With only one system, one set of criteria, there is no confusion. The cost of hours researching, calling and submitting multiple forms to multiple payment offices would be reduced to a fraction.

5- Agent fees. Across the country, there are tens of thousands of insurance agents who get paid for every insurance policy they sell. They get what is termed “residual income”, which means they sell you a policy once but then they get paid some portion of your payment each and every month you keep the policy. While nobody begrudges them earning a decent living, the combined total of each agent being paid each month for each policy drives the cost of medical care much higher than is ever truly examined.

Summary so far- Have you noticed anything in common with all the issues listed above? What each of them has in common is that they all drive up the cost of medical care significantly, yet not one of them have ANYTHING to do with the delivery of medical care. They are ALL administrative and investor-driven costs and they account for at least half of your cost of medical insurance. They also have great determination of what care you receive, what care is denied and even laws regarding insurance, more than any medical criteria. Medical criteria are debated for years based on results and science. How it gets paid for and how much gets paid is determined by corporate entities.

However, those are not the only ways that universal healthcare saves money.

6- Fraud, waste and abuse. With only one authorization, record keeping, billing and payment system for all healthcare, the opportunity for fraud, waste and abuse becomes narrowed greatly. Most of us have had instances where insurance records state a doctor, lab, etc was paid by our insurance yet we receive a bill stating we owe money for the exact same service. If we have multiple insurance providers, each one gets billed for one service provided. And we may still receive a bill on top of that. Plus duplicate procedures like MRI’s when a second one is not needed would be less common. Fraud, waste and abuse accounts for $billions in healthcare dollars each and every year. While insurance companies may pursue the issue, they do not have the same power as the government, who can impose fines and even criminal charges for extreme abuse instances.

7- Simplified paperwork. Medical facilities and offices spend massive amounts of money on paperwork and billing, even if done properly. In the end, it is we, the consumer, who foot the bill for this expense. If all billing goes through only one system instead of being forced to submit paperwork to numerous entities, calculating, appealing denied claims, recalculating and on and on, the cost of this expense would plummet dramatically.

8- Indigent care. We have all heard that many indigent people are forced to use Emergency Rooms as their primary care system. This is because by law an ER cannot turn patients away. Yet because they are low income, many of those bills go unpaid. This drives up the cost of care for those that can afford care because the cost is split among them. Still, it may limit the ability of not-for-profit facilities to expand services. Some facilities have such a high proportion of indigent patients that they cannot afford to stay in business. Which results in hospitals and clinics closing in the areas where they are often needed most. That means access to care become MORE expensive due to longer ambulance rides and patients waiting longer to seek care. Which can mean their condition deteriorates further.

9- Chronic care. Low income patients with chronic health conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes often delay care and may not know they have a condition until it does become critical. Most often this is due to financial concerns. The earlier many conditions are detected, the better they can be treated and controlled. Better control means they stay healthy longer, able to work and cost LESS money in the long term. You can treat a diabetic for years for less than the cost of one hospital stay. The same is true of treating high blood pressure caught early and NOT allowing it to progress to heart attack or stroke. Insurance continuously looks at the short term profit, actually functioning with the hope that many of those patients will DIE before needing care. And many do. Or they become so ill that the first thing they must surrender is medical insurance just to eat or keep a roof over their heads.

10- Cost to society. Millions of Americans go bankrupt each year due to medical bills. Some lose their homes. This becomes a cost to all of society in terms of money, morale, fear and anxiety. Those who suffer such fates often wind up with more health problems from anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, possibly sinking into substance abuse, homelessness, exposure and suicide.

11- Administrative costs. I covered some of this above but there are other aspects to consider. Like the fact that doctors, physician assistants and nurse practitioners are currently forced to spend many hours per week on the phone personally to debate/defend their own decisions with insurance companies. In some cases, I will state clearly this is well warranted. However, more often it is because of arbitrary criteria which does not fit a medical case they are handling. These are hours spent for which they get paid nothing. Instead, it forces them to raise prices on all patients or take on more patients than they can handle effectively, spend less time with each patient and even less time than that keeping current with new medical information (which changes constantly).

I could probably keep listing more items in this article but this is a good starting point and none of it is ever included in the so-called “reports” or “debates” on the subject on MSM. Frequently, many of these subjects are not covered even on Progressive media in any detail. Yet each point is valid and important. These are issues which should be discussed widely and openly.

Hiring Contractors

One of the biggest problems I tend to see in our society is that people in general do not want to have conversations of substance. They do not want to take personal responsibility for the problems in our society, even when it affects them personally. They prefer to be entertained. Constantly.

In the cases where you can engage them in more serious conversation, it is exceedingly rare that it involves taking personal action. They watch or read the news and get angry, anxious or depressed. Yell at the screen. Sit in circles with other people and voice their angst. Continually actively seeking someone to blame for their problems but only if who they blame is even more powerless than they are, themselves.

The most ludicrous part is when majorities or the more powerful express their victimization. Whites blaming minorities, men blaming women, rich blaming poor, Christians blaming everyone. As you make your way down the food chain, each level blames the next level down far too often.

This is what happens when we have a society of spectators and the most powerful hold the reins of information and communication. Corporations own the media. Men hold power and control checkbooks. Priests and pastors control the pulpit while being enslaved to their biggest donors to build the next mega-church.

In all cases, what too many people in this country do is hand the power of action to someone else. Then they do not even bother defining what actions they want performed.

This is like hiring a contractor to build or repair your home. Then not telling them the exact repairs. You hire the contractor based on their advertising but never check references or licenses. You just tell them to fix and improve the house. “Make it better.” Then hand them your credit card.

A good contractor will ask what specific repairs you want and in what time frame. They will tell you the steps involved and how much it will cost. Then they will set up a system where you pay as work progresses. As work progresses, they are happy to show you what has been done so far and what to expect next.

A bad contractor will not ask you what you want. They will sell you on vague alleged upgrades and unrealistic promises. They will not tell you how long the repairs will take. They will not tell you the cost, just demand your credit card. They will charge you all they can up front. Once they have your money, they will refuse to say when work even begins. Then declare bankruptcy with no work completed but your bank account emptied while your roof caves in. When they show up in court they will claim it was all your fault for not paying enough.

The saddest part is that too many Americans have watched this cycle repeatedly and never learn. They call the next crooked contractor that advertises loudly on TV, starting the entire cycle over again. Always choosing the bad contractors.

If we want problems solved, we must define the solutions. Find contractors capable of performing the work. If they claim to have done any similar work, check their references. If not, make them detail how the work will be done. Demand blueprints. We must refuse to pay the bill up front. We must ask questions, demand answers and inspect the work while it is being performed. We must check and be sure the contractor is even showing up to begin the work. If they do not perform the way we want, we must fire those contractors and hire more carefully. And keep our credit cards in our own possession, not theirs.

Along the way, we have to keep in mind that there are many people living in the same house, so any changes need to meet the approval of the majority of those residents. Before even beginning the work, we must discuss any plans as adults. Not try and scream over anyone who does not agree.

To the people who think in Jerry Springer show terms, remember they live in rotted out trailers and screw anything that walks. Home repairs to them mean getting a new screen door while leaving the leaking roof untouched. They’ll never read a contract in their life. They think taking out a payday loan to make payments on their other payday loans is normal.

We can do better than we have been. We must do better than we have been. Beginning with inspecting the work of the contractors we have already hired. Because that’s what an elected official is. They are not our leaders, they are our employees. We should not be following their orders, they should be following ours. When we ask questions, they should be answering, not claiming privilege over us.

Every bit of this means that we have to be involved in determining our own future. That means seeking more education and less entertainment.

Immigration Mathematics

Part of the right wing and some centrist objection to illegal immigrants is their claim that those immigrants claim benefits and cost too much money. The entire argument is patently false on many levels.

I am not going to bother contradicting the claim that illegal immigrants claim benefits. That’s no use. They will always swear up and down that they personally know illegal immigrants who have told them to their face personally that the immigrants they are speaking of are collecting benefits. Which of course, negates one of their other popular arguments, that illegal immigrants don’t speak English yet the arguer never speaks Spanish.

So, let’s take the opposite argument. Let’s say that ALL illegal immigrants are collecting benefits and run some numbers based on that.

Right now I live in Alabama. The top income tax rate here is 5%. Welfare accounts for 5% of the state budget.

Then we have the federal budget. Welfare accounts for 4% of the federal budget, while housing (all housing programs) accounts for 1% of the federal budget. For ease of computation in this example, we’ll say 5% for welfare. No need to make anything too complicated.

Let’s assume a median income tax rate of 15%. Combined with state tax, that gives us a simple 20% tax rate. We can use that as a calculation which is fairly accurate for an example.

In each case, when we say welfare, that refers to ALL welfare programs regardless of immigration status. gender, etc. At this point, some people are going to claim that this means 10% of their taxes go to welfare. Sorry, that’s not the way math works. While the combined tax to the person is 20%, the total amount of their tax going to all forms of welfare remains 5% of what they pay in. So, with those numbers in mind we can start calculating.

Again, simplicity. If you make $100,000 a year and pay 20% to taxes, that’s $20,000. If 5% of your taxes goes to all forms of welfare, that comes down to $1000 a year. That is 1/100th of your income. So for each dollar you earn, you pay one penny to feed and house poor people. Probably less than you spend on movies, restaurants and lattes or beer.

Now, the estimate is that illegal immigrants number 11 million people out of a country of over 330 million people. That equals 3% of the population. So, assuming that every single illegal immigrant collects government benefits, we have more numbers to work with.

Back to the above, assume you pay $1000 a year to all forms of welfare. With illegal immigrants comprising 3% of the population, also consider 3% of welfare is paid to them. That comes to $30. Per year.

Of course, some will argue against using the entire population as an equation. Let’s increase it. Some estimates say that 40% of the population gets public assistance in some form. So we will multiply by 4. Now you have $120 paid to illegal immigrants per year. That’s $10 a month. If you make $100,000 a year, that is. If you make less, you pay less. If you make $50,000 a year, that’s $5 a month. Less than you may spend at McDonald’s in one trip.

I know the math I am using is somewhat flawed but I am actually using the highest numbers for calculation, not the lowest estimates. Not all immigrants claim government benefits and damn few people reading this make $100,000 a year. The point here is illustrating exactly how ridiculous this argument truly is.

We can take this argument even further. Let’s look at where that money goes.

Welfare is spent just like money. So when it is spent on, for example food, here is what happens:

When money or food stamp benefits are spent at a grocery store, it does not simply buy food. It pays the cashier, the manager, the stock people, maintenance people, truck drivers, food processing jobs, farmers, ranchers, equipment/sales/service people who support farmers and ranchers, health department inspectors and more.

Without welfare programs, millions of jobs would cease to exist and grocery prices would increase. Those millions of jobs would cause loss of more jobs as those incomes were eliminated from the economy.

If your argument is that Americans need more support, I will absolutely agree with you. How about we take that money from the military budget? How about we increase taxes on the rich, corporations and stock speculators? Have you heard how many jobs are being eliminated just from auto factories? How about we stop subsidizing corporations who take the money and buy back their own stock with it?

How about we subsidize our own people instead? Last I heard, no corporations went to bed hungry, died from lack of medical care, skipped buying insulin because they could not afford it, became homeless because they were laid off.. Immigrants did not cause any of those problems.

So you can stop making excuses for your racism. We see you for what you are.