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.

Now Is Our Time

The midterms are officially over. Say what you will about recounts taking place, the races, the campaigns are done.

Trump has been in office for coming on two years. Are you tired yet of hearing about every single tweet, every offensive word he speaks? Aren’t you looking for something, someone who opposes his actions? You know, some Resistance? Or do you just want to keep looking for things to be offended by?

Have you realized yet that if Trump is impeached, we wind up with Pence, who is even worse?

By this point, if you are even remotely conscious, you know the corporate Democrats are truly no better than Trump and the Republicans. They use nicer words. That’s all. In the end, they bow to the same corporate owners, start even more wars and smile while doing so.

However, now is OUR time.

While many will try and postulate about the 2020 presidential race, we are almost a year away from the DNC choosing their nominee before the campaigns are ever announced. Unless they have already chosen, which is a distinct possibility. No matter because whatever the case may be, discussion is basically useless at this time.

Yes, MSM is going to be starting to discuss 2020 immediately to divert your attention and manipulate your attention. Does not matter. Before the first campaign actually begins is at least a year away.

That makes this time crucial for us. It means we have a full year to wrest control of the real discussions going on. To force those discussions onto issues which actually matter. To demand actual policies. When Democrats talk about how Republican policies are so bad, we need to be screaming, “Then what are you doing about it?! Not in 2020, now?!!”

It us we who need to be forcing discussions on universal healthcare, ending wars, increasing wages, immigration reform, police oversight, legalization of cannabis, election reform, publicly funded elections and more. We know they are not going to do it. We know corporate media is not going to do it.

Now is the time to turn off corporate media for good (if you have not already). If you find money to donate to political campaigns, now is the time you need to divert that money to independent media and help the message grow. Use the time you wasted on corporate media and explore more independent sources. When you find good ones, share those sources and help them gain an audience. Sources like Caitlin Johnstone, Jimmy Dore, Real News Network, Lee Greenwald, Chris Hedges.

Yes, of COURSE I would like to be included in that list!!!!!

Here is what you should not do. Share MSM articles which you hate. I don’t GAF what your comments are about the article. Neither do they. Every time you turn on their station, they get paid. Every time you open their article, they get paid. Every time you share the article for others to read, you help them get paid.

It’s like having two children, one is a monster and the other is well behaved. You spend all your time, effort, money and resources on the one who misbehaves. The more attention you pay the one that acts up, the more they act up because you are rewarding that behavior. Meanwhile, you never even noticed the good kid was sick and starving to death. You finally notice it after they’re dead. Then they finally get your attention. Until the other kid throws a tantrum at the funeral. You were also blind to the fact that the bad kid was poisoning the good kid.

It’s time to ignore the bad kid. Ground them, lock them in their room. Start spending time with the good kid. Both of you will be better off for it and the bad kid just may learn something.

You want things to change? The very first place to begin is with yourself. Change your habits. You want news with substance? Then help those news sources continue, grow and succeed. You want hope? You have to help create that hope. Stop asking for shit to be handed to you. You want a brighter future? Then stop turning off the lights all around you and seeking darkness. Call yourself “woke”? Sure doesn’t look like it when you lay there with your eyes closed.

Now is our time. Stop wasting it. Start doing things differently. Stop bitching and moaning and start talking about solutions. If you are not part of the solution, then you are the problem.

You Blame Immigrants?

With the caravan from Honduras approaching the border, some Americans are losing their shit.

Never mind that this has been an annual event for several years. Ever since the US orchestrated a coup of the democratically elected president of Honduras, turning the country into a death trap.

Never mind that they are not immigrants but refugees from those life-threatening conditions.

Never mind that at last count there were only about 5000 of them.

Now we have a military force heading to the border to stop them. Exhausted, poverty-stricken, frightened human beings forced out of their own homes, their own country where their whole life has been, where they likely have descended from thousands of years of ancestors in their immediate areas.

Never mind how much the military operation will cost. One estimate states it will cost $50 million. Yet the Pentagon made it clear that this is only “the start of operations”. Other estimates have stated the cost to be at least $200 million.

Never mind that it is likely that the National Guard will be called up for these operations, taking people away from their families for the holidays.

No, these refugees are a threat. A threat that requires military force to deter.

They have no weapons. They have offered no aggressive language. They come seeking asylum, safe harbor from dangerous conditions. A place to settle and contribute to the society which adopts them.

Meanwhile, the US is a country comprised mostly of immigrants and descendants of immigrants. People who came here seeking something better than what they had. Often, seeking safety. Others seeking profit, prosperity. Some kind of chance.

Yet for decades it has been our country causing the very conditions these people flee. More Americans are becoming aware of this on a daily basis. Those who are not aware simply do not want to be aware. Or they do not care. Worse, they may have taken active, conscious part in the dangers and atrocities these people suffer in their home countries.

No matter which of those categories you fit into, it is a statement of what kind of person you are when you object to these people seeking asylum, stability, safety. It says you are incapable of thinking or caring beyond yourself. It brands you as a coward. It says you are selfish. It says you are hateful. It says you have few, if any, redeeming qualities as a human being. If you claim to be a Christian it brands you as a false prophet, the enemy of the religion you claim.

It brands you as not being a true American. 

Before Midterms Are Called

We have a number of hours before the midterm results are called. 

So far, on the East coast and the South, not looking good for Dems. That’s not a surprise. The overall picture may change as more Western results are coming in.

We can hope that the Dems regain a majority for some purely theatrical “opposition” which does nothing at all. The biggest problem is that if they gain a majority or even remain static, they will take that as a sign that we support them and they don’t need to make any changes. They can continue on the same way they have been.

The Dems learned nothing from 2016. They have learned nothing in the 2 years since then.

Would losing seats finally and ultimately teach them a lesson? Honestly, even that seems doubtful.

So far, I am seeing some hopeful signs that people are learning, though. Last I saw, McCaskill and Heitkamp were getting thoroughly trampled. Two of the oligarchic DNC elite that forcibly offer no change and are sometimes further right than many GOP’s are. 

Yet then I see Kaine and Manchin winning and realize cult mentality still reigns. 

I do not expect this election to change anything politically in the immediate future, no matter who wins. The only thing that has a chance of changing is voter awareness and engagement. 

Midterm Elections Today- But What About Tomorrow?

Today is the day!

Today are the midterm elections. Around the US, it is being met with hope, anger, anxiety, fear and apathy.

I’m not going to bother talking about Republican candidates. We know what to expect of Republicans. We have no expectation, belief or hope that they will move left or give a single thought to what is best for the people of this country.

Anyone who has read anything I write knows I am against both parties. However, I live in AL. If you saw the ballot here, there is no such thing as an Independent or Green candidate to be found. So anyone with a drop of Progressive blood in them has no choice but to vote Democrat and hope for the best.

The DNC is supposed to be the party of the people. Yet they have illustrated quite clearly for many years they are just as corporate as Republicans. Sometimes even more so. Therein lies our biggest problem.

If the Democrats had moved left in 2016, they would already have a majority. If they had moved left on their policies for the last two years, their majority at the end of today would be set in stone. They haven’t and that is why the results of today’s elections are even in question.

I expect the majority of voters to sit today out. Too demoralized to believe anything will change, no matter who gains the majority today.

In the end, it doesn’t matter who wins today. What matters is what we do, today and every day. Whether the Democrats are a majority tomorrow or not, they need to be forced by us to move left. We need to hold their feet to the fire. We need to be demanding town hall meetings. We need to hold elected officials of any party accountable. We need to write, call, march, rally, speak out, speak up.

The move leftward does not have to be for a presidential race. It can very well be at the local and state level and move upward. It would truly work best that way. Use Progressive-dominant city and state governments as test cases to illustrate that Progressive policies are vastly superior to centrist and right wing policies.

We can start with grass roots movements for publicly funded elections. At the state level, elections could be well funded with a sales tax increase of 0.25% rounded upward. Meaning that you pay an extra penny for every $4 you spend. Here in AL, the sales tax is 10%. So, for a $4 sale, instead of $4.04, you would pay $4.05. Then eliminate all private donations. Elected officials would be able to spend their time working on policies, meeting with real people. They would not be whoring themselves out for campaign money or making backroom deals in exchange for that money. That money would fund multiple parties, not just two.

Term limits are something else that do not have to be determined federally. Each state could establish term limits for their CONgressional elected officials. There is nothing in the Constitution which says otherwise.

Those two policies alone would virtually insure having elected officials that represent the people, not corporate owners. Officials who would be more likely to work toward policies that are effective and truly acted upon, rather than pushing policies back to use as campaign promises for the next election and the next and the next. They could run for higher offices and be seen for what they did or did not do in lower offices. Voters would vote based on past results rather than rhetoric.

Of course, that would mean having an electorate that pays attention to results, rather than words.

Honestly, at this point, I’m not hoping for much, no matter who wins today. I will vote, absolutely. I do not believe anyone has the right to complain if they do not take part in the system. Though my efforts will not cease, either. Not after this election or any other. It takes more than voting every 2 or 4 years to change anything.

There is only ONE “them” in this country and that is the oligarchy. WAR Street. The ones who wage war for their own profit. The ones who own the media which misleads us. The ones that divide us and turn us against each other as a diversion. The ones that cause most of the pain, poverty, untreated illness, hunger, homelessness, hopelessness, depression, desperation, anxiety, anger, poisoned air and water and fraudulent elections.

Until we stop attacking each other and stand together, we have no chance of changing anything. We must be informed, educated, educate each other, support each other (including immigrants and refugees, which most of our families were at some point), care about each other.

Vote for whomever you choose today. It’s what you do tomorrow that counts.

All Names Are Cults

Part of my tag line for this page is “All names are cults”. Best for me to elaborate on that. 

It does not matter what name a person follows, be it Trump, Hillary, Bernie, RNC, DNC, etc. The fact is that if you follow the name and not the specific policy on any given issue, you have surrendered to cult thinking. Needless to say cult thinking has become highly prevalent in this country.

It’s no surprise that this is true. The alternative is for citizens to be informed and engaged on a given issue. Americans don’t want to do that. They want top hand the reins over and believe one entity is going to truly represent their interests while they go back to watching the Kardashians or Duck Dynasty. It causes them “too much stress” to pay attention to the policies which will impact their own lives. 

Americans are also addicted to conflict. “Us against them” and the “them” changes daily, hourly, even minute to minute. That is the basis of American history. Not the multiculturalism we are led to believe. Christian against Jewish, Islamic, Atheism, etc. Catholic against Protestant. Even Baptist against Methodist, Presbyterian, etc. Female against male. Straight against gay. White against Black/Hispanic/Asian/Native/Middle Eastern and on and on. Republican against Democrat, Conservative against Liberal, extremist against moderate. Of course, moderates no longer exist and there’s no room for that in this environment. 

Americans have been socially conditioned to view all things as competition, never cooperation. The only way to solve problems is by “winning”. Blame takes extreme precedence over problem solving. Once “our side” is dominant, all the problems will go away. 

Yet, as you can see from the list of divisions above, those problems never go away. If one side is dominant, then we seek out more divisions. If whites dominate, then we see divisions on religion, sexual orientation, income level, genetic purity.. One cult gives way and breaks down into more cults and the division never ends. (Just using white as an example.)

How did we get here? Social engineering. Lack of personal responsibility. Cult mentality. Americans are socially engineered to be part of a clique. Politicians, religions and the media convince us that we are divided. That conflict is necessary and there is no such thing as teamwork, even though our country would collapse without that teamwork happening every second of every day. Yet we are assaulted by continuous messages that one cohort contributes more than another, one group is more deserving, more worthy of prosperity, safety, security, comfort, pride, status and any other positive you can name. 

It all comes down to “my cult is better than your cult”. But they are all cults. Exactly akin to various levels of extremist religious factions and exactly as dangerous or more so. 

The only way we can fight back against this mentality is by focusing on the issues we all face. We all have common needs. Food, shelter, safety, security, employment, healthcare, education, social contact, acceptance and on up the scale of Maslow’s Hierarchy. 

So, when I say all names are cults I am being quite literal. Each one of us can reject the cultist ideology if we try. Yet only the most intellectually and emotionally advanced among us will exert that effort willingly. It is up to us to lead the way. 

Welcome to my new website!

Welcome to my new website!

The name of this site is a shortened version of my own motto, “Issues unite, names divide.” This is my way of saying that it is common for people to be able to discuss many problems facing this country. As long as we stick to those issues, we can often reach across party lines and reach some consensus. If not agreement, we are more likely to engage one another with respect. Obviously there are no guarantees but chances are good. The problems begin when we insert names. Trump, Hillary, Bernie, RNC, DNC, Conservative, Liberal, Socialist, etc. Once any names are thrown into the equation, any consensus, any rational discussion is gone, no longer exists.

If you have not read my writing before, my name is Russell Meyers. In 2016 I was moderating and writing on social media during the campaign season. I did not attempt to attain any payment for my writing at that time, not wanting the accusations that payment affected my views. As of this time, I have no backers and still vehemently oppose corporate media, so it’s not likely I will gain any formal business funding. The money is not why I write what I do by any means. 

The point of my content is always taking a deeper look at issues. I think I generally succeed at offering viewpoints which are too easily overlooked. Or offering logical analysis which many fail to offer. 

I will be republishing articles on this page which I have published elsewhere, though categorized for reference. 

Since 2016, I began publishing on Medium. You can find my Medium page here. I also publish on Steemit and you can find that page here.

In between the social media writing and publishing written articles, I started a YouTube channel. You can find that here, though I have not kept up with videos for a while. I will be going back to that occasionally as my schedule permits. Videos are time consuming and production is less flexible. I can write text articles at my regular job but videos? Not so much.

I will not claim success or influence up to this point in my writing. Most of the content I have done to even try and gain a name has only been in the past year or less. Being a Progressive and in such competitive times, making a name doesn’t happen quickly. I have no real gimmicks, no “hook”. Just honesty.

Instead, my approach is valued by intelligent people who hate the divisive rhetoric, the hatred, cult mentality of the two major parties and not enough focus on how political decisions affect all of us in real terms.

I have idols whom I follow but can see not flaws but gaps in their approaches. I love Jimmy Dore but he doesn’t do much that has not been done. He does expand on it wonderfully. Chris Hedges is a Progressive god to me but he often uses high language which is above many people. While completely valid, some find him pretentious.

My own approach uses simple language and I try to break things down into manageable pieces. Many people today are only just waking up to many facts. I do not blame one person or one party for all of our ills but show how we are experiencing a logical progression which we have been headed for for a very long time. 

Then I try most often to suggest potential solutions to various problems.

My biggest goal is keeping a human focus in my writing. At times I will step back from overt politics in my writing and focus on purely human issues. 

I also hope to host guest writers and content creators over time. 

I would like to do more content creation and expand on it. I will be posting various funding methods along the way and hope to gain support from those that agree with my views and would like to read more. 

Special thanks to my wonderful girlfriend, who offers me emotional support in my efforts. She is also very much a humanist and shares my passions. For the record, she is the best woman I have ever met in all ways.