Echo Chamber?

On social media, I am now breaking ties with some people. Some of these are people I have “known” for years. Online, of course. I have cheered for them, been cheered on by them, encouraged and been encouraged by, felt badly and congratulated one another.

However, there can come a time that one has to part ways with toxic and damaging people. That is true online and in real life. Ever broken from a toxic relationship? An abusive relationship? Abuse does not have to be physical or overt, it can mean a manipulative relationship where the other person tries to shame you, use false information or gather a group to oppose you. The goal is not to convince you but to exhaust you, wear you down, leave you with no strength to raise your own voice, leave you with no pride or self respect and ultimately surrender to their will.

The need to separate myself from toxic relationships becomes even more true in my own case. For one thing, like I recently wrote, the influence of certain cultists and extremists has led to extreme stress, resulting in chronic anxiety. Personally, this is harmful to me, seeing that I have ulcerative colitis, making stress my worst enemy (after specific foods and medicines).

On a larger scale, the same people are harmful to all of us. These are the people who do more harm than good. They are unwilling to part from their own echo chambers, prejudices, preexisting biases, the dictates of others thinking for them from religion to political party elitists to corporate “reporting” and corporate-friendly “fact checkers”.

Interestingly, these are the same people who will accuse you and I of retreating to our own echo chambers when we are ultimately forced to ignore their voices as they insist that you must be part of their cults or you are not informed. You can strictly oppose parties, religions, all forms of elitism, promote the demand for answers to reasonable questions, offer all forms of evidence available and adamantly defend equality across all boundaries. Yet if you do not believe (worship) as they do, you are not a “true believer” and must be shamed, attacked, invalidated and ultimately sacrificed on their altar.

Sorry, folks. I refuse to be your martyr, sacrifice or tied to your whipping post. You will never break me.

I have made clear what it would take to “recruit” me. Chief among the criteria is opposing war and corporate influence in all forms. These in addition to religion are the greatest influences we face in the fight for social progress. Anyone who does not oppose these first and foremost is offering only platitudes, bandages on gaping wounds, promises they cannot deliver. Those bandages are not progress, they are roughly the same as donating to a food bank rather than fixing the source of widespread hunger.

If we want true progress, we have to address the root causes of our problems. Those who sow dissent and use ad hominem, swallowed and regurgitated advertising tropes do nothing to solve actual problems.

So, fine. I have gone through the weeding out and expulsion of Fauxgressives from my friends lists on numerous occasions. Guess it’s time for another round of it. Some people, especially writers, try and gain large followings and boosted numbers. I don’t do that. In real life, I have always kept a small social circle of those whom I trusted. Online I’m the same way. I’d rather have a list of people whom I trust, respect and can converse with rationally, as opposed to some impressive digits next to my name representing strangers I don’t know and who show no respect to me or anyone they cannot recruit to their cult.

Call it an echo chamber. I prefer an echo chamber with many voices, all working toward permanent solutions. Real voices with no auto-tune. I can always hope those voices form a choir open to an ever-expanding list of voluntary members until the chamber must be expanded and ultimately outgrow any structure. All languages, ages and genders singing the same song. A song of healing, of strength, of trust, of sharing, of caring, of sorrow for the past, of hope and plans for the future.

Chronic Anxiety

In many ways, I think it should be obvious that I put every effort into being brave, even objective. I place a lot of effort into examining and researching the topics I cover here. Many of my articles are the final result of prior drafts, revisions, fact checking. Yet still presented in an accessible form that almost anyone can understand.

I know that in some cases where I try to be objective, I come across as far more biased. That’s because I must continually confront blatant, mindless, brainwashed bias. As I have said many times, the cult mindset. I never hide the fact that I am a Progressive, yet find being such to be the most objective and truthful way to be. After all, in many cases it involves standing for policies which do not benefit me directly. Though I try and express how issues which may not seem to affect us always do in some ways.

I have explained how universal healthcare benefits the economy, while our current system damages the entire economy. I have done the same with “free” college and capital gains. I could go on but that’s a short list of examples. In all, I show how capitalism and elitism consistently do more damage than good to our society.

It may not appear to some that I have researched subjects for the fact that I generally intentionally omit sources. I have said since early on in this blog that this is on purpose. When providing sources, I have watched too many other writers spend more time defending sources or comments which divert to attack the source material. I leave it to the reader to do their own research. I will continue moving forward.

Where my own research comes in, sometimes it is also difficult to name my sources because I have studied (formally and informally) numerous subjects for at least 30 years. Economics, marketing, psychology, government, business. On top of being a nurse in my 25th year. When writers name specific sources, it often means they are regurgitating material which is not their own. We see reports of reports of reports based on opinions. My content is nearly all original. So, my source is myself based on years of observation. I give plenty of methods where the reader can observe and verify the accuracy of those observations.

To the same end, I also frame many things in the form of questions. Thus encouraging readers to think for themselves, realize what questions they have not been asking. Realize what questions too few people have been asking, no matter how obvious the questions should be. How this is most horribly true with corporate media. For a good example of how I frame issues as questions, see my recent piece on gun rights, hereThe “sources” who always object to you asking questions are the very sources who should always be questioned most. The “sources” who claim to be above questioning are the sources who should be silenced entirely. The “sources” who claim you are not allowed to see/hear evidence or cannot explain their own positions in their own words should be shamed into silencing themselves.

With all the conflict going on, all the fake news, all the propaganda, all the obvious questions never voiced, all the effort of taking complex subjects and explaining them in simple terms, many times this kind of writing becomes stressful. Toss in being a prison nurse, a father with shared custody of my teenage daughter, being single while in an exclusive relationship while maintaining my mundane life.

Of late, my biggest stress tends to be coming not from the right but from the center-left, the Fauxgressives content with platitudes of universal healthcare while ignoring the risk of war with a nuclear power. not concerned in the least with sanctions killing tens of thousands in other countries thanks to their economic structure. Not giving a damn that the goal is selling off Venezuela’s resources to the highest corporate bidder in the US. Willing to completely forget being themselves called “Russian trolls” by their anointed godhead. I have not forgotten, never will forget and have been waiting for a nonexistent apology for 2 1/2 years now.Completely willing to ignore election fraud by the DNC and what that means, while still insisting this to be a “democracy”. Thinking one person or small group of people asking for their hard-earned money is a substitute for completely eliminating corporate money from our electoral and legislative systems. The best these cultists can offer is “nobody’s perfect” or asking what cult I follow.

Fuck every damn one of you, I follow the cult of rational, critical thought, holding elected officials to account and not bowing down to your cult which is buried within another cult and all of you together are willing to sacrifice the entire planet for your own greed.

That is where it all comes together. You criticize other parties, other candidates for their greed and warmongering, while you seek your own gains and ignore millions of deaths, blindly deny the very real risk of complete obliteration of the planet, just as long as you get your piece of the pie. You behave with arrogance and petulance and outright hatred of anyone who refuses to join your cult.

Go ahead, slap each other on the backs and revel in your empty, meaningless, mindless, gutless, heartless insults. Tell yourselves you are somehow different from the very ones you claim to oppose. Greed and arrogance are greed and arrogance, no matter how you look at it. How do you really think you are different from warmongers when you are willing to ignore that your god is promoting the same wars? How do you think you are different from other cults when you make excuses, close your eyes and chant endlessly in hopes of drowning out the cries of reason? How do you think you oppose capitalists when your god walks in their path, himself worshiping at their feet in their temples and congregations?

Yes, thanks to the Fauxgressives who worship themselves, I now have chronic anxiety. Trump, our government in general, our intelligence agencies, MSM, gun nuts and bigots cause me enough stress. I only gain some hope from discussion and camaraderie with those who can see clearly, think rationally, question the narrative and stand independently.

You who worship false gods do none of that. You do not offer hope but diminish hope, strip it away and continue the same cycle which has demoralized this country. You literally worship yourselves.

Hate me. Unfollow me. Ignore me. Attack me. I refuse to drink the blood of the innocent from your chalice. I refuse to willfully pave my streets with the bodies of children in other countries. I will always stand by my values, no matter how you sell your souls for a false pittance.

This is the last chance, make no mistake about it. There are no more chances for incremental “progress”, for party loyalty, false narratives, sheep herding candidates, nationalism, cheering or ignoring wars, blaming “the other”.

I am your “other” and I am not going away or joining you. You will not destroy me or beat me down. You are too weak an adversary and you know your weakness. You can join ME and actually move left or you can stay in the middle and claim it is left. This anxiety discomforts me but will never break me. It takes nothing to break the followers of false gods because you are already broken, shattered, scattered pieces propping each other up.

Epstein Case Highlights Widespread Issue

I am going to state up front that I believe Jeffrey Epstein was murdered. There are now reports of yelling coming from his jail cell just before his time of death. He had too much dirt on too many powerful people.

However, I expect as much truth to be revealed on this as I expect the truth to be revealed in Seth Rich’s murder. It is very possible the same people at some level were involved in both deaths.

Be all that as it may, this highlights a widespread problem in our jail and prison system. The inadequate access to mental health care in our incarceration facilities and inadequate quality of care in those facilities.

In 2016, there were 372 suicides in local jails across the US. In 2014 there were 4371 reported suicides in state and federal prisons. Those are only the successful suicides, not the number of attempts.

Keep in mind that most of these people who took their own lives were not rich, were not famous and did not have access to the kind of legal representation that Epstein had.

We know Epstein was guilty and flaunted it. “Lolita Express” was not some nickname ascribed to his jet by the media, it is the ACTUAL name which HE had painted on his private jet. He even kept the name on the jet after suspicions and legal charges arose. Any innocent human being would have asked themselves what such a name looked like in the first place and definitely removed it in the face of such criminal charges.

That said, being incarcerated is a highly stressful, life-altering, life destroying event for many. This is even more true for those who are incarcerated while innocent yet see no way they will be exonerated. Others fear the violence in jail and prison. Still more are subjected to rape and torture. Most incarcerated long term lose everything, their jobs, careers, professional licenses, homes, vehicles, savings, spouses and children. Just the very realistic threat of such loss can drive those prone to depression (like many arrested for drug use) over the edge into suicide.

As a prison nurse myself, I ca attest that we have inmates on suicide watch on a daily basis. Some are trying to avoid debts they owe and cannot pay to other inmates. For good reason because the threats they face are very real. Others are genuinely suicidal. The reason doesn’t matter. I have had inmates who said they would rather take their own lives than have someone else kill them. There are gang wars and race wars in jails and prisons.

Yes, there are dirty officers who bring drugs into the prisons and are part and parcel of the violent conditions. They won’t get their hands dirty, they pay someone else to do the dirty work and then turn their back for a few minutes. All it takes to be a target is saying the wrong word to one of these officers, being “disrespectful” and your life is over. Who does an inmate tell but another officer. who may be in league with the one reported? Did you think this was all drama on TV and movies?

I agree, some people belong in prison. I deal with them face to face, so it’s not some abstract concept to me. Others not so much. Do non-violent offenders incarcerated for drug possession deserve to be in such conditions? What if the person is not even guilty? We see reports continuously of police planting evidence on innocent people.

No matter whether a person is incarcerated for justifiable reasons or not, what does it say about our system, our society when those facing emotional crises are not kept safe? When someone is supposed to be on suicide watch yet not watched? When counseling consists of a few seconds of questions a day by an apathetic worker who doesn’t want to be bothered? Could you merely accept these conditions if it were someone in your family?

Even the conditions for inmates on suicide watch, while rational and necessary, are highly undignified. All their clothes and shoes are taken away. They are given a padded smock and a bare mattress and placed in an isolation cell with concrete walls and floor which can sometimes be very cold. Isolation. Just what you need when you feel emotionally isolated.

What does it take to be removed from suicide watch? Just say you are no longer suicidal. Seriously, that’s it. Many inmates commit suicide immediately after being removed from suicide watch.

I suspect the actual suicide rate to be much higher than reported. The most common methods for an official suicide pronouncement is wrist cutting or hanging. Others may obtain drugs and intentionally overdose. Others may start a fight which they intend to lose with the most violent inmate. These are not reported as suicides.

Our prisons have been overrun with people with chronic mental illness increasingly for decades. Meanwhile, mental illness is on the rise due to the general conditions in our society. Treatment is poor and focuses on prescribing pills with little therapy, if any. That’s not only true for inmates but as a whole. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suicide has been on the rise for years. In 2017 (last reported year), there were 1.5 million suicide attempts and 47,173 suicides. Suicides cost the US an estimated $69 billion. Yet that is only direct cost which does not include the human cost on those left behind, years of therapy for survivors, etc.

You can have your conspiracy theories about Epstein’s death and I will agree with some of them. I have my suspicions. Even if he did commit suicide, in the process he victimized his victims even more by denying them the chance to confront him.

Otherwise, we need to use this as an issue to raise awareness of the very real problems we have in our society. With how our citizens, including our inmates are treated when faced with depression. Whether you like it or not, inmates are members of our society. We would likely have fewer inmates if we lived in a society that cared more about each other than the “cost” of caring. In other words, not caring costs us far more than caring would.

As a final note, I will state that this is not an abstract issue for me. I attempted suicide three times when I was young. They were very real attempts, not attention seeking stunts. Somehow they failed and I was lucky, though did not feel that way at the time. Karma? Fate? Fucked up body chemistry? Who knows? Personally, I am no longer at risk. I could have easily become a prison inmate, considering my upbringing. In which case, I would not be writing this. I would not be a nurse, my daughter would not have been born, I would not have saved the thousands of lives I have saved. Each life has potential value in some way. We need to recognize this.

There Is A Massive Difference Between Populism and Rationality

Right now in America we have people claiming to be political supporters, radicals, dissidents, activists, revolutionaries and patriots.

One one side we have so-called patriots who think that their rights are being taken away if they’re not allowed to personally own a Vulcan large bore, 6 barrel, 6600 round per minute machine cannon. Meanwhile they are perfectly fine with allowing corporations to think for them and determine what rights they do or do not have. Tune in to Fox News.

On another side, we have neoliberals who support the DNC manipulating and rigging elections. Also allowing corporations to determine their rights and think for them. Just tune in to Rachel Maddow and the corporate heads at MSNBC or CNN.

Then we have Libertarians and MMT cultists, who want to hand the entire economy, environment, healthcare and wages to capitalists.

Then there are the Communists who want all wealth seized and redistributed. No need to study or understand basic psychology and human motivation.

The one thing all groups agree on is that our government is not representing our interests. What is bad is that these groups have been driven to despise one another so much that they refuse to talk to each other. They have been conditioned to respond to any attempts at civil discourse with extremism, offense and aggression. All think they represent this country and anyone outside of their exact mindset is “the enemy”.

This is what causes me the most emotional distress. Some people try and portray me as or accuse me of being an extremist. Why? Because I refuse to join an extremist cult or follow any candidate/group blindly. Because I always promote the concept of paying attention to policies. Because I listen and illustrate not just what is being stated but what is not being stated. I ask questions and demand answers.

What is popularly called centrism is not centrist. Being pro-corporate, pro-war, pro-WAR Street, pro-party, pro-hate-Trump, pro-Trump is not centrism. Every one of these attitudes are extremist.

The very term centrist means being in the middle. It means striving for balance. It means being against war while agreeing defending our own country is necessary, defending corporate profits at the cost of human lives is not necessary or desirable. It means being in favor of capitalism while imposing strict controls on capitalism. It means allowing the rich to be rich but not so much that they destabilize the entire global and national economic balance. It means being in favor of election reform so that our governmental structure represents the people of this country and should not be in any way attached to the bribery of the most privileged. It means knowing our service members should be respected, not worshiped. The same is true of our police. It means knowing our media should be forced to equally represent opposing views and opinions are not news.

Our entire government and media have devolved into partisan bickering and attacks with no discussion on the merits of policy. Political ethics, if there were such a thing in this country, would demand that to be the focus of all political discourse. Any and every elected official should be sanctioned for name-calling, personal attacks or intentional partisan division.

This tends to be the entire goal of my writing. To discuss the pros and cons of policies and attitudes. To explain where things are damaging, what the damages are, what options are better choices and detailing exactly why.

We cannot continuously be cheer leaders for populism. Just because a given candidate is popular or has one or two policies you approve of does not mean you should be ignorant or dismissive of the dangers their other policies pose. There is far too much of this going around.

This is how we got where we are right now. By Americans reacting emotionally with no critical thought. Many people voted for Trump not because they supported Trump but because they opposed Clinton. In most cases on both sides, the candidates had no definitive policies that supporters approved of, in some cases their supporters did not even know what the policy proposals the the candidate were. Now we are headed into 2020 and many are either blindly supporting Trump because of his false and ludicrous claims or supporting certain opposition because of an emotional claim that, “We have to beat Trump”.

That’s not good enough.

No matter how much you tell yourself that that is good enough, it’s NOT good enough.

Simply getting rid of Trump as a singular goal means running the risk of winding up with far worse than we have now. It is mandatory that we move leftward on policies starting immediately if we want effective change.

It is mandatory that you know what you are voting FOR, not just against.

It is mandatory that you are not assuming that a candidate represents your values. They must actually state that they will work toward peace and explain precisely how they will do so. Universal healthcare will count for nothing if we wind up in nuclear war. Guaranteed jobs means nothing if there are no jobs. Increasing wages means nothing if the economy collapses and inflation runs double and triple digits.

I really do not care how popular your chosen candidate is. Joel Osteen is popular. NFL football is popular. Professional wrestling is popular. Trailer park wives of whatever are popular. The Kardashians are popular. Popularity doesn’t mean anything at all. If candidates only speak about domestic economic issues, that’s not enough. They HAVE to address international relations in terms which do not include bullets, bombs, sanctions and threats. We will NEVER have prosperity without peace. They HAVE to address election integrity and methods of permanently removing corporate money from politics. Peace and election integrity cannot be vague, meaningless talking points. They cannot be assumptions you make. Incremental change is not an option.

You know what the truth is. Stop denying it. Stop making excuses.

Decline of The US As The Leading Economic Superpower

For over a year economists have been discussing the fact that China has emerged as the largest global consumer market.

Meanwhile the US has claimed jobs and income growth, which has been demonstrably proven false. It is not possible to have expansion of jobs and income while concurrently having mass layoffs and retail closures. It simply doesn’t work that way.

Some have pointed to the stock market numbers as indications of economic health. I’ve covered many times how the stock market is an inverse indicator of the general economy at worst or completely unrelated at best.

Now new numbers are telling more of an advancing tale of the decline of the US market. Perhaps this will be enough for more people to awaken to the truth.

In the most recent Global Fortune 500 list, the US is headquarters to 121 of the most profitable companies. China is headquarters to 129 of the most profitable companies. 20 years ago, in 1999, China was headquarters to 8.

In the global list of the largest banks, 3 are headquartered in the US. China is headquarters to 4. There are one each in Japan, the UK and France. JP Morgan Chase is the highest on the list of American banks and it comes in at number 6. The Chinese banks occupy spots numbers 1,2,3 and 5. This has remained unchanged for several years, even as US media makes claims that China’s economy is declining and US economy is growing.

In the last few months, cryptocurrency has seen a resurgence with Bitcoin as of this writing valued at $11, 834 and precious metals are increasing in value with gold spot price now $1499 per oz, while bonds have shown an inverted yield curve, with short term bonds having more return value than long term bonds.

At the last meeting of the Federal Reserve board, the interest rate was decreased by 0.25% to between 2% and 2.25%. This is unprecedented, as the only time to interest rate has ever declined has been when the economy was showing signs of recession and the interest rate was decreased to encourage spending to spark growth. If our economy is doing so well, why do we need to decrease the interest rate, which is already extremely low? That leaves virtually no buffer for safety if we enter an officially recognized recession/depression.

Of course, those of us paying attention know the US has remained in a recession since the 2008 crash. Yes, it was a crash. Not a “crisis”, not a small event, a crash.

Yet the China trade war still has major implications.

Last year, China temporarily halted purchases of soy from the US, leading to Trump announcing a bailout of mostly corporate farmers to the tune of $16 billion. As of this week, China responded to increased tariffs on Chinese goods with a complete ban on agricultural purchases from the US.

Trump’s response? Threatening even more tariffs on Chinese goods by as much as an additional 15% on top of the recent 10% tariffs.

Last year, China temporarily stopped buying oil from the US. They began buying oil again in February this year but at much lower amounts, less than 50% of their previous purchases. China is likely to respond to this recent threat with banning all oil purchases from the US for good.

Many alleged economic “experts” say the loss of sales to China is basically no big deal and the US will gain additional revenue by selling to Europe. They do not explain where any “additional” sales are going to magically appear from. I haven’t heard of Europe having a sudden increase in their desire for soybeans.

Many countries are banning the import of many US agricultural products because of concerns regarding GMO’s and glyphosate, declared a likely carcinogen by the World Health Organization. The “experts” too often fail to mention these concerns or the fact that the US State Dept has literally tried to sue other nations to force them to accept sales of our produce in contradiction to the will of their own people, who demanded the bans. Alternative agricultural producing countries have primarily already turned away from GMO’s and glyphosate, meaning they are more likely to buy and sell from each other than from the US at this point. Even a large percentage of Americans have objections to the same things.

As of this past week, Trump announced another bailout of farmers to the tune of $28 billion. Combined with the $16 billion already mentioned, that adds up to $44 billion, which comes to a cost of $130 each for every man, woman and child in this country. Plus he has promised he will bail the farmers out again next year if necessary. Of course, the major recipients of these bailouts are corporate farm owners and investors.

Trade deals, especially with such contentious issues as China is facing with the US at this moment, once China establishes trade agreements with other countries, they will not easily be swayed to change those agreements back to the US. They are in the process of negotiating new trade agreements with other countries right now. Which means future sales may be lost indefinitely.

No matter how we look at it, the US cannot force other countries to buy from us. This is even more true when we try and force our sales onto other nations at the point of a gun, literally or figuratively. We cannot sue other nations into submission. Other nations see the fact that we are threatening all of them. The likely outcome is that they will form alliances in opposition to our government. That risk increases when considering that we have a trade deficit with most of the countries we trade with. It increases more when those countries view our massive national debt which has only increased every year for 18 years now and the suspension of the debt ceiling. All those nations are acutely aware that we do not have the resources to pay off that debt.

The road to where this nation is at this moment began decades before Trump. He did not cause all of it but is definitely making it worse. Of course, Trump was merely a logical progression of what came before him with each successive administration since Reagan, at the very least. The flow of wealth to the top is now about to capsize this country. The Panama Papers. Tax cuts for the rich while our own citizens suffer. Collapsing infrastructure, rising “defense” costs.

In terms of international relations, we have been following the same path for well over 100 years. Trade agreements under threats, regime change, the fiat petrodollar, American “investors” who then try to rule over other countries.

We are now in the precise circumstances where all empires in history have fallen. Only on a larger scale.

Prejudice In The Open

Many people bemoan the fact that since Trump came along, we have seen all forms of prejudice in the open. There is the belief that prejudice in all forms is increasing- racism, sexism, gender identity, religious prejudice, wealth inequality, etc.

I admit that this appears to be true. However, appearances are deceiving. I am seeing something very different.

I said while Trump was running for office that no matter what laws are enacted, you cannot make a person prejudiced who was not prejudiced to begin with. Yes, bigots feel more emboldened now. That doesn’t mean that they were not there to begin with. They’ve been with us all along, hiding in fear and shame for good reason.

Some like to think that bigots are motivated by a loss of wealth or privilege. There is no truth to that. We see bigots travelling to the border, armed with guns, driving RV’s, etc. These people are able to take time off from work or are unemployed yet have the means to travel and still own weapons which are not inexpensive, buy gas, rent hotel rooms, etc. This indicates that they have wealth and privilege which most do not have.

Seriously, if you had accumulated paid time off from work from a stressful job, would you spend that time in the desert, walking around with a gun, seeking to abuse poor people on foot, trying to find safety and a more secure existence?

Lack of prejudice is a sign of emotional and spiritual evolution. Being able to accept others when they are different from yourself is a sign of maturity. Qualities of emotional and spiritual advancement which these bigots neither possess nor care to develop.

These are people mindlessly claiming that immigrants are crowding this country and taking jobs away. Even as they cross large stretches of empty land while taking time off from their jobs. Or claiming immigrants get government support, while these people are claiming welfare and travelling to the border.

Many of these people claim to be Christians, while ignoring what their own alleged religion teaches. They claim that Islam teaches violence, which it does not. They claim that immigrants bring crime, which they do not. The current, very white, director of the FBI is Christopher Wray. He said that the majority of cases of domestic terrorism investigated by the FBI are caused by some form of white supremacy. Yes, he used the word “terrorism”. Oddly, this man was appointed by Trump.

No, I am not giving kudos to Trump. In response, Trump announced he is considering naming the anti-Nazi movement Antifa as a terrorist organization. Yet Antifa is not a group or organization, it is a movement opposed to fascism. I will be writing something separate about that for those that oppose Antifa, among other things.

There is a definite benefit to prejudice being in the open. Like the old saying goes, “Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t know.” In other words, it is easier to fight against evil which is clearly displayed. You know who your enemy is, you know who your allies are.

Some believe that the Democratic Party are our allies. While there are some minority members of the DNC who are allies, as a party the DNC is not to be trusted. Bill Clinton enacted the crime bill which decimated the minority community. Obama bailed out Wall Street and ignored homeowners, many if not the majority of whom were minorities. Over the past 20 years we have seen the rise of for-profit prisons with no opposition from the DNC. Police have no oversight even with the mass numbers of black men arrested and killed by police. We are only now seeing changes to erase marijuana possession charges and restore voting rights for inmates. That has only happened because of grassroots mobilization. The legalization of marijuana is moving forward because of outliers who have advanced the agenda, while the DNC still opposes or is at least neutral on the issue, thanks to pharmaceutical, alcohol and corporate prison campaign donations and lobbying.

The people who want prejudice to be out of sight don’t understand the issue well. This is wanting to stop talking about it because they find it stressful. Put yourself in the position of those who have been subjected to passive-aggressive prejudice their whole lives. Not just minorities but women as well. People who have been denied promotions, employment, housing, credit, safety, justice. Those who have lived in absolute terror to see lights in the rearview mirror or afraid to call police even though they have done nothing wrong. Can you imagine such an existence for your entire life?

Obviously the ultimate goal is to eliminate prejudice. Unfortunately, it’s not going away easily. However, the stage that we are in now are the dying throes of what has been a way of life and mind for too many people for far too long. The bigots are backed into their corners and trying to perpetuate that as a right. Meanwhile their communities and even families who have tolerated that prejudice are abandoning them. It is they who can now be denied jobs, promotions, etc. The younger generations will not accept that prejudice, knowing just what damage it does.

The Real Cost of Gas and Oil

Americans think when they fill up their gas tank that the price displayed on the pump is what they are paying. Many of these people also think they hate Socialism. Yet when they fill up their tank, they are benefiting from what comes down to Socialism.

Oil companies receive direct government subsidies from the federal government of roughly $38 billion a year. However, that’s not nearly all they get from the taxpayer.

Some oil companies have government contracts, federal, state and/or local. Some of those contracts are with the US military, the singular entity which uses more oil than any other entity on earth. More than all of Europe, the UK and all South American military organizations combined. You pay for that.

In many cases, oil tankers have military escorts for their security, whether the tanker is coming in or leaving. We have military vessels in the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz, providing security for tankers that are not American owned, not delivering anything to or from America. You pay for that.

If a US oil company has a major spill or explosion anywhere in the world, our government pays for 90% of the cleanup. In fact, it does not have to be a US company. Remember BP with the largest oil spill in history? The fine levied on them paid for maybe 10% of the cleanup cost, the US government funded the rest. You pay for that.

When an oil company had a standoff with the Water Protectors over the DAPL using militarized police, you paid for that. Each time police respond to any protest against corporate interests of any kind, you pay for that.

When the government hands money to oil companies which the nation goes further in debt for, including the interest on national debt, you pay for that.

When our government spends trillions bombing other countries for decades for the sake of seizing that country’s resources, you pay for that.

Both major parties approved a tax cut for corporations, which they used to buy back their own stock. That’s still happening. You pay for that.

The thing to keep in mind is that oil subsidies are absolutely a form of Socialism. We all pay for the subsidies, even if a person does not drive or lives off the grid. In other words, they are not buying gas and oil yet they are paying for you to pay less at the pump. Which makes you a Socialist.

You subsidize low gas and oil prices for corporate fleets. You pay subsidies in the form of higher taxes on every dollar you earn, even if you get nothing in return. This helps corporations state higher profits and boost their stock prices. Rich investors and CEO’s get subsidies for their stock values and dividends. You pay for that.

No matter how you view it, this is welfare and Socialism for corporations and the rich. You insure the continued profits for them, no matter what the economy looks like, no matter how many workers they lay off. Capitalism for you, Socialism for them.

Add all the above to how much you pay at the pump and ask yourself how much you are really paying. What is the real price of that gallon of gas? You have no idea and neither do I. Nobody does because it cannot truly be calculated.

Even if you think climate change is not real, how is renewable energy looking now?

True Low Unemployment Would Mean Things We Are NOT Seeing

Corporate media is fond of saying that unemployment is low, which would mean employment is up. I have previously covered the Labor Participation Rate, the Bloomberg report calculating that 600,000 jobs have been lost just since December, unreported and that report came out several months ago. However, even that isn’t necessary because the evidence that employment is as high as claimed does not add up with what we see all around us.

For one thing, if employment were truly up, we would not be having the discussion about immigration at all. We have seen incidents in the past when employment was high. At that time, the US was welcoming immigrants with open arms. Compare to what we see occurring right this minute.

Deporting large numbers of immigrants may have some impact on employment but barely enough to budge percentages or numbers. Consider that the estimate was that there were 11 million illegal immigrants in the US. Not all of those were in any condition or age to be employed. Many are children, as we can clearly see from the children being caged at the border this very minute. Others have been here for years and are too elderly to work. Still more are disabled in some way.

Thus, we can consider that possibly 3 million may have possibly been employed and most of those have worked in low-wage agricultural or similar jobs. In cases where they have occupied jobs with higher pay and skills, deporting them does more damage than good to the economy, as many corporations have moved jobs to South American countries. Those are the DREAMERS, who have gained education and skills which many natives lack. In other words, not only are the immigrants being deported but the jobs they occupied are being deported as well.

Even without the above, if employment was as high as claimed, immigrants would be welcomed to occupy lower levels of employment, allowing more skilled Americans to fill higher positions.

Next, consider that if employment were up, we would not be seeing other signs of a declining economy which we are seeing. Student loan defaults are at record levels. Vehicle loan defaults have been increasing for several years while new vehicle sales are down, causing mass layoffs in the auto industry. New and used home sales are declining. Consumer credit debt is rising rapidly as consumers are forced to use credit to meet basic needs. While we already have the highest level of consumer and corporate debt in world history.

In times of high employment, pay and benefits increase because employers compete for the best, most qualified workers first and then move down the skill/experience ladder from there. Wages do not remain stagnant at any level.

It is well known we are living in a “gig economy”, with a large percentage of jobs being contract or temporary work. I had written that this was coming in 2001, beginning primarily with medical professionals and then spreading to other fields. That is precisely what happened. However, what has changed over time has been a decline in pay and benefits for such positions as they became more common across industries. In fact, that is why it has become more common. Temporary and contract workers were once used to fill positions which were short-staffed and as a result, pay and benefits were above average. They typically led to offers of permanent employment for good workers. Today, these positions are used to avoid the need to hire full time staff. Workers are offered part time and contract positions or nothing at all, while they rarely lead to offers of permanent employment. This does not happen in times of high employment because employers are anxious about being stranded with inadequate staffing. In fact, they would be offering nearly unlimited hours to the best temp/contract workers who have already shown their value.

In times of truly high employment, one can see an initial anomalous dip in the stock market as employment rises due to wages being seen as a cost. Then stocks increase as profit margins rise due to consumer spending due to the employment and wage levels.

Right now we see prices rising in comparison to wages. In times of high employment, prices rise but only secondary to higher wages and employment. Yes, tariffs are playing into inflation but there has not been a time that prices have decreased at any time since the 2008 crash. In fact, rent in general has continued rising unabated since that time.

In times of high employment, employers will eagerly subsidize or even pay for higher education for valuable employees wishing to advance. Today, companies are mandating continued education at employee expense, with or without advancement. Note that some may use the example that employers once paid for travel and attendance to conferences and this has become less common. I find this not anything abnormal with technology advancements which have resulted in video conferencing becoming far more common gradually over time, reducing the need for travel.

When employment is high, increased wages and benefits result in a decrease in out of pocket costs for workers. That leads to increased consumer spending. Increased consumer spending results in a further cycle, maintaining and creating more jobs. Right now we are seeing reduced consumer spending outside of absolute essentials. Tariffs would have some effect to slow the volume of goods being sold but would not by itself result in a depressed consumer market resulting in mass layoffs and loan defaults.

Obviously, capitalists will be capitalists and rent prices will continue rising, as we have seen in this battered economy. That leaves even less disposable income for consumers to spend.

These conditions are only going to get worse due to Trump’s trade war with China. No matter how much he gives farmers in subsidies at our expense, that does nothing for downstream jobs in trucking, packaging and shipping. Tariffs are a tax on the American people which slow consumer spending by volume purchased. When consumers have a limited budget, that budget does not increase because prices do, meaning they spend the same but obtain less. The tariffs do not mean more profit for retailers, so they see reduced sales volume. Less sales volume means less requirement for labor. That means more layoffs but will be less immediately evident because it will not be mass layoffs and instead be widespread and gradual reduction in staff. Then more downstream reductions in trucking, shipping, manufacturing and so on.

When corporate media is telling you anything about how well the economy and job markets are doing (among other things), it is highly advisable to question it very critically.

Guns Are Not The Problem

A favorite trope of the propagandized, Neanderthal gun nut mindset is “More guns will keep us safer.”

Okay, how many guns? Be specific. How many guns? Because guns already outnumber people in this country.

If more guns keep us safer, explain why countries with fewer guns have less violence overall?

If more guns keep us safer, why have there been multiple concealed carriers at multiple live shooter events and they did nothing but hide? We’ve even seen armed police and security officers hide while children were being gunned down. The heroes we hear about have been unarmed teachers and veterans saving others during these WHITE SUPREMACIST TERRORIST EVENTS.

If more guns will keep us safer, who gets to carry those guns?

Where should we have guns? Malls? Churches? Movie theaters? In our living rooms and bedrooms?

If all public events are to require paid “authorized” gun carriers to be present, if they fail to respond, shouldn’t they have an automatic indictment against them?

If civilians can carry guns, how do police tell the “good guys with guns” from the “bad guys with guns”?

How large a gathering should require armed personnel? 100 people? 50? 10? 2?

Do we start REQUIRING people to be armed? Who? Teachers? Preachers? Store clerks? Doctors? Nurses? Daycare workers?

What penalty do we impose for those that do not want to be armed? Should unarmed people be considered terrorists and thrown in jail? For how long?

Do we start a “Stop and frisk” program to make sure everyone IS carrying a gun?

What kind of guns?

Who pays for the guns?

Who pays for the training and accuracy testing?

What happens if you fail the accuracy testing?

How many times should you be allowed to retest?

Who inspects the guns? How often?

If mental health is the problem, shouldn’t anyone who purchases or owns a gun be required to have a mental health examination before purchasing and at regular intervals for as long as they own a gun?

Who makes the decisions on all of this and by what criteria?

Who writes the criteria?

Who do we blame? TV? Movies? Video games?

Then shouldn’t we be placing limits on those?

Who decides the criteria for those limits?

Can a given media have one gun? 12 guns? No guns?

How do we resolve that with freedom of speech and expression?

If we require guns to be on every street corner, in every mall, church, theater, medical clinic, daycare, school, bar, public gathering of any kind, when do we admit that this has become a police state? Martial law? An entire nation which has become a war zone?

Yeah, guns aren’t the problem at all…

Just Another “I Hate Trump” Meme

First, let me apologize for slowing down in my writing last couple of weeks. Really busy, lots of stuff happening behind the scenes. I’ll give a better update soon.

So, you posted another “I hate Trump” meme. Gee, you must be proud of yourself. Maybe it’s actually an article from some corporate media site. Basically a meme but more wordy. Feel better? Does that feed your emotional need?

Take that needle out of your arm. I’ve told you it’s an addiction.

Let me ask you a few questions about your meme.

What is the point?

What is the purpose?

What is the goal?

How is it any different from what you and many others have been doing since 2015?

Is it going to change any minds? Any votes? Any policies?

No? Then why are you doing it?

I know what I have to say offends a lot of people. To a degree, I admit I intend to offend those people for shock value. Simply because they may pay attention if they are offended. Trump is literal proof of this. Because these people only started paying attention when Trump started running for office. They call themselves “woke”. No, they are not. Are you? Or are you sitting there steaming in your anger at me for saying what I say? Because I am telling you that “I hate Trump” is not enough? Because I am trying to make you think? Because I know you can do better and HAVE to do better?

Yes, Trump sucks. I get that. However, people have hated every president that has ever been in office. Remember how people hated Obama? GWB? Clinton? George Sr? Reagan? Carter? Shall I continue?

Much as I hate Trump, I have to point out that his base supports him for a reason. Chief among these that he has acted in some way on every campaign promise he made. Many of these are horrid but he is the first president in decades to have actually tried to fulfill his promises without making excuses for making a lame attempt or passing the buck and then dropping every single promise. Did Obama use any Executive Orders to pass the public option? No. He basically said, “But the Republicans talked mean to me! Now pay the corporations, shut up and sit down.”

In some cases Trump tried acting on promises I supported. Like ending wars and making peace deals with opposing countries. What was the response from the neoliberals? They opposed any effort. Did they try and make any of those deals better? Or push for more aggression against other countries? You can say it is because Trump’s name is on the deals or that he stood to personally gain from them. Know what? That’s what Congress is for. In the cases where he has been militarily threatening, has he had any opposition? Any at all? From anywhere?

If you really want to beat Trump and make a positive change, it takes more than “hate Trump”. In fact, that is absolutely counterproductive. Think, if you support a candidate, does it convince you to change your mind if someone posts memes or articles attacking them every day? Or do you attack back, ignore them, block them? Does it change your resolve or strengthen it?

Russiagate has been proven for the farce it was. For anyone that was on the fence, that may have made them lean more toward Trump because they don’t trust the opposition. Not to mention many people think Trump is the least likely to start a war with Russia. For his base, that truly solidified their support. Yes, he withdrew from the INF treaty but that’s not overt aggression, where the opposition IS overtly aggressive toward Russia. Horrible decision but what has been the response from opposition “leaders”?

It is beyond time to stop with the hate memes and do something more productive. Do your research on other candidates. No more of this garbage of “they can’t win”. Look at policies. Stop looking for the biggest cults. Make a comparison. Do what I did in 2016 and create cheat sheets of all the major candidates and parties (including third parties) regarding the issues and policies. Don’t read anything into it that is not there. Assume nothing. Provide links to the policy pages. I am not sure when I can get around to these things and if you put out the effort, you will be more invested in it.

No matter what, if you are not doing good, you are probably doing harm. If you are not part of the solution, then YOU are the problem.