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.

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.