Federally Guaranteed Jobs Versus UBI

Certain presidential candidates are promoting the idea of a Federally Guaranteed Jobs program. This proposal is competing with the idea of UBI (Universal Basic Income) proposed by other candidates.

First of all, one has to take into consideration is the fact that a Federally Guaranteed Jobs program does not equate to guaranteed federal jobs.

Think of it in this way. For decades we have had a federally guaranteed student loan program and federally guaranteed home loans. In each of these cases, the services rendered are not provided by the federal government, they are farmed out to be provided by corporate entities. The corporations make the profits while the federal government acts as the collection agency for the corporations, ruining your life for years should you default on any “federal guarantee”. Simply put, they do not guarantee the loan or service, they only guarantee that they will put the screws to your thumbs to collect for the corporations.

Right now, while federally guaranteed jobs are being discussed, our government contracts out most of the work being done. Contracts out to corporate entities who do the work for corporate profit, that is. Road construction and repair, building design/construction/renovation, food production and delivery, weapons manufacturing and research. You name it, the government probably contracts for it.

So it most likely means that when we talk about federally guaranteed jobs, what we are really talking about is federally subsidizing corporate profits. Above and beyond the level to which we already subsidize corporate profits through government grants and subsidies. We subsidize corporations through welfare and food stamps, allowing them to continue to pay low wages while collecting inflated profits. We subsidize the current and past bailouts of corporate banks through quantitative easing and the repo market. We subsidize corporate profits through sanctions and tariffs and tax breaks. We subsidize profits for wealthy investors and executives through bankruptcy laws that allow for pre-bankruptcy dividends and post-bankruptcy bonuses for executives. All while writing off unpaid debts to other businesses and individuals who will be forced to also declare bankruptcy or increase prices for the debts they were unable to collect. We subsidize through slashed benefits and seized pension funds.

So, let’s expand on that further, right?

It is only a very small step between federally guaranteed jobs to federally mandated jobs.

A huge difference between UBI and federally guaranteed jobs is the chance for self advancement. UBI is suggested as an income for every person as a means of meeting their basic needs, hence the term “basic”. It should cover food, housing, shelter and ideally basic medical needs. Thus, if a person wishes to move beyond absolute basics in their existence, they can work part time or full time, even overtime as their needs or desires dictate. Their employment income serves as a means forward beyond mere existence.

With the guaranteed jobs program, this does not happen. The income from the job serves as nothing more than spinning your wheels. That job becomes your basic income. If you want to move ahead, you would be exactly where millions of Americans are at this exact moment. You would have to forfeit family and leisure time, subject yourself to more physical and emotional stress, chasing a higher income while paying more taxes in the process.

Which one sounds more like a move forward for our society, for the individual?

I have already written that UBI in and of itself would require additional measures to counterbalance the responses from capitalists. If you missed that article, you can find it here.

Respect Workers For The Holidays

So, this week is Thanksgiving. Once upon a time, Black Friday began on Friday, the morning after Thanksgiving. In recent years, more and more stores have been starting their Black Friday sales on Thanksgiving day. Even that first started in the evening, then moved earlier and earlier. At this point it may be all day Thanksgiving, taking away any chance for employees to spend with their families on that day.

I’ll be clear. I have spent my life in service industries of one kind or another. Years ago I was a chef in restaurants. Every restaurant I ever worked in was open on Thanksgiving and Christmas. I accepted it and went along with it. People have to eat, many have to or choose to eat out for the holidays. Later I was in the Army and was frequently not in the position where I had a holiday. Then I became a nurse, which is a 24/7 occupation. In my 25 years of nursing, I worked in positions where I had holidays maybe 2 of those years and had a couple of years I was not employed for one or both holidays. (I opted to suspend the job search until January for obvious reasons.)

Retail is not service. People do not have to shop for televisions, clothes and cheap plastic shit on Thanksgiving or Christmas.

What is happening here is that corporations are forcing people to leave their families on Thanksgiving and Christmas for the sake of corporate profits. In the majority of cases, these employees have no choice. They are threatened with personnel action up to and including termination from their low wage jobs if they do not work on these holidays.

If you surrender to the call of capitalist obsession and start shopping on Thanksgiving, you have become an active part of this process. You are rewarding the corporate oppression of employees while reveling in the subservience of low wage, unprivileged workers. You have personally become the problem.

I really do not care what kind of apathetic, arrogant, narcissistic, sadistic excuses may be offered by disgusting people attempting to justify their materialistic greed. I have heard every single contrived statement you can make by other cloned, indoctrinated, Xerox copied, stereotyped, sociopathic slugs that crawled out from under their rocks to spew their disease. You don’t need to say anything because you are nothing original. Just another asshole.

Your shopping can wait just a few hours to make Thanksgiving and/or Christmas less profitable for these employers. Just enough to make it more expensive to open their doors than to let their employees have two specific days of the year off to spend with families.

For the rest of you, have a wonderful Thanksgiving!!!

Anarchists: The Best Example Of Your Ideology Is Libya Today

I keep hearing people who claim to be ideologically left, yet continually espouse such sentiments as not voting, eliminating parties and outright eliminating government. This is more dangerous thinking than everything we are currently facing today.

Many, if they apply a label to themselves, call themselves Anarchists. Merriam-Webster defines Anarchy as, “ a state of lawlessness or political disorder due to the absence of governmental authority”.

Of course, they will attempt to apply the third definition, which is, “ a Utopian society of individuals who enjoy complete freedom without government”. We’ll get to that.

Many also adhere to Libertarianism, which I have raged against previously, pointing out clearly that Libertarians are NOT, I repeat NOT Progressives.

Libya is the best example of anarchy and capitalism. If you want to know what Anarchy and unrestricted capitalism looks like, look at Libya today, since the US-orchestrated destruction of the Qaddafi government. They have no elections and no viable government. They also have open slave markets in the streets, lack of food, lack of water, armed gangs running the streets. Unrestricted capitalism means unrestricted. That means anything and everything is for sale. Including human freedom and life. If you cannot pay, your freedom and perhaps your life will be surrendered. Because of lack of government, lack of laws, lack of law enforcement, your freedom and your life may be forfeit even if you DO pay. After all, who is there to insure that your abductors or abusers hold their side of that bargain?

Define no government. Those who call themselves Anarchists or Anarcho-Socialists (aka Libertarian Socialists) have an objection to the existence of a centralized government, especially one which controls the economy. In general, they protest against the collection of taxes. Meaning any existing government would have to be self-funded. In other words, only those who could purchase their way into office would hold office. They claim that all humans should be self-governing and they toss in the Socialist label to try and legitimize their claims that this would be freedom or “liberty”. Their ideas would serve to empower the rich and the most brutal in society. Why would anyone think that the rich and violent would not threaten and control anyone opposing them? That already happens right now!

Their labels are oxymorons. No matter which label they choose to apply to themselves is self-contradictory. You cannot be in favor of social liberties while denying funding or oversight to the very programs which provide for the welfare of the people, especially the young, elderly, poor and chronically ill. What they propose is survival of the privileged. Not very social, is it?

A Socialist government still needs a central government. Understand something. Any time you gather a group of people together, including civilians, to define rules of conduct in any way, you have created laws and regulations. Those laws must include penalties or there is nothing to stop anyone from violating those laws. Without defined laws, courts and means of enforcement, what results is mob rule and vigilante justice. Without laws and a system to enforce those laws, who protects the general public? Who stops businesses or anyone from selling unsafe medications and medical equipment? Who enforces food safety? Environmental protection? Worker safety? Consumer finance protection? Child labor laws? Wages?

Who saves capitalism? Opposing a government basically means opposing safety, security and the general welfare. It also means opposing capitalism itself. In 2008/9 it was inadequate financial regulations which led to the financial collapse. Who did capitalists turn to? Who saved them? The government. Right this minute, the Federal Reserve is creating roughly $180 billion PER DAY to bail out unstable private banks which would otherwise collapse. Those banks became unstable by placing money in risky investments. What are the banks doing with the money loaned to them? Bailing out the risky investments, of course. In all honesty, without government, what stops banks from taking your deposits and closing their doors?

Don’t vote? If you choose to not vote, that is your personal choice. You have chosen to silence your own voice which could at least be used to help raise the chances of increased ballot access for third and fourth parties. So do not act like not voting is making a statement. That is passive-aggressive whining. It is highly unlikely that there ever has been or ever will be one candidate for any office that you agree with absolutely. It is a matter of balance and priority. If you don’t see anyone you like running for office and you want to be so much of an activist, get out and run for office yourself. Instead of sitting on your ass criticizing, put yourself on the line and be the one being criticized. Be the one trying to find the balance needed to improve things. Be the one to offer solutions, not just complaining about problems.

Revolution? Anyone who reads my writing knows I absolutely oppose violent revolution. That kind of violence always gets out of hand and causes harm. The ones who advocate violence have some fantasy that they will be immune to that violence. There’s nothing humanitarian about their ideas. Does any of this mean that I do not expect violent revolution to occur in this country, at least in limited pockets? I fully expect that to happen. Does that mean I will shy away if it comes down to an outright physical confrontation between varying factions, including the government against the people? I will be right there if and when it happens.

However, IDEAS are what are truly revolutionary. Knowledge, truth, peaceful negotiation. Unity across party lines is revolutionary and what the oligarchy truly fears. We will not gain that unity by attacking one another using labels and contrived divisions between us. We will not gain that unity by violence. None of us can expect to agree on all points with all people or even most people. We have to be dynamic in our allegiances by joining with one group for one goal and another group for another goal, etc. Not only can we accomplish more that way but we gain stronger bonds with a wider variety of people. We build COMMUNITY.

Yes, we absolutely need changes to our system. That’s not a question. We need a system which bails and benefits the people, not the banks, not the corporations, not the warmongers. Let the ones throwing money into failed investments fail. Only then will they learn their lesson.

Banding together is anything but anarchy. Banding together as some propose for the purpose of destroying the government with no viable alternative is mob rule. Destroying the government would result in mob against mob, gang against gang. Which is not very Utopian, is it?

The US Is Not Ready For Socialism

When the majority of people spoke of Socialism for many years, what they really referred to is Marxist Socialism. Some confuse Marxism with Communism but that’s not exactly accurate, either. If you want a better distinction between the two than I can offer, I advise listening to Dr Richard Wolff.

In summary, Communism and the Bolshevik Revolution initially began with Marxist Socialism as a goal. However, it was diverted along the way by numerous forces which distorted it.

However, this is not about a history lesson. Nor is a full college course definition of Marxism the point I am making here. There are many sources for that information easily available.

If a person is informed on exactly what Marxist Socialism truly is, one can easily define it as a society which places the welfare and well-being of the society above that of the individual. It is the members of that society utilizing the resources produced by that society to help all members of the community. It involves strict regulations of resources and oversight of monetary policies to enforce fair distribution of goods, services and money. The regulations are determined by the very members of the society in question. Policies and laws are debated and voted into place by a democratic majority of regular citizens taking part in the process, each with an equal stake in the outcome and/or consequences of their decisions.

In opposition to Socialism is Capitalism, in which there is little to no oversight of the distribution of resources. The distribution of goods and services are unfairly diverted to those who gain the greater share of those resources, by nearly any means possible. Goods and services are produced by the many for the benefit of the few. Laws and regulations are determined by what benefits the already powerful, with no input by the members of society. The elite suffer virtually no consequences for their actions or decisions, while the consequences are suffered in severe form by the successively lower classes. In modern times, we can clearly see the capitalist system as a direct descendant of slavery and feudalism.

Unfortunately, in this country we have been basically banned from even discussing Socialism for decades. To even mention Socialism raised the contrived specter of an evil enemy, a narrative construct created by elite propagandists to keep the masses in line, subservient to the masters and mistresses of the manors. Generations have been indoctrinated to believe that capitalism is the only system which offers freedom, even as we sacrificed our freedom and our very lives on the altar of the capitalist religion. The servants have warred amongst ourselves to defend our own oppression.

Times have changed. Much of this is thanks to one of the most Socialist constructions ever. The internet. More specifically, social media. While nobody can deny that much of social media is emotionally reactionary behavior, ideas still manage to get through and eventually discussed if perpetuated enough.

This is why the corporate culture has been rising to attempt to censor these ideas. Yet then they must face the backlash of protests, outcries and, most importantly, the threat of losing their audience and consumer base which provides their revenue stream. The threat exists that users will abandon their platforms and form new platforms, never to return. So, should the corporate media sources tolerate some ideas for short term profit? Or censor speech in an effort to control the narrative? Capitalists will always and consistently choose short term profit, even when they know they will suffer some level of defeat further down the road.

One big problem is that our society still believes too much in capitalism as a model. They listen too intently to corporate propaganda fearmongering about the dangers of Socialism.

We have been emotionally conditioned to react emotionally rather than think critically or understand concepts. We have been conditioned to fear simple words without knowing their meaning. Yet this country has had Socialist programs in place for decades, without which the economy would collapse and humans would suffer. Social Security, public schools, public roads, worker safety laws, health departments, environmental protection laws, wage laws, consumer protection laws and more are all Socialist in nature. These programs and other Socialist constructs are responsible for millions of jobs resulting in trillions of dollars in tax revenue.

It is not taxes which are the problem but how those taxes are spent which pose the problem. Our taxes benefit the rich far more than society in general. Bombs and weapons create very few jobs and save no lives at all. Medical care, infrastructure and education save lives, improve lives and don’t directly kill anyone. Yet they create jobs across the country, across the planet.

While our grasp of the benefits of Socialism is improving, we are not yet evolved enough for Marxism. Even the vast majority of those who support Social Democracy are still prone to the mindset of capitalism and consumerism which we have been immersed in for our entire lives. We are not yet evolved enough emotionally, educationally, intellectually or even spiritually to move directly toward Marxism. Just by virtue of the psychological and emotional maturity of our populace, any possible move toward true Socialism will have to be done by gradual steps. We already see the lesser evolved populace fighting in favor of their own oppression, their own suffering, their own insecurity, even their own deaths. They are simply unable to break free of their indoctrinated programming.

One must recall that the two major countries that have utilized any form of expansive Marxism both did so only after being decimated by world wars, the USSR by WWI and China by WWII. People were desperate, their cities, infrastructure and economies laid waste. They enacted Socialism as they rebuilt their socioeconomic systems and even then only with extreme struggle and civil unrest. In addition, they both faced the exact same adversaries which we face now- Corporate influences and the capitalist-enabling US government, backed up by a massive military force. Yes, if we try and move too quickly toward Socialism, we will definitely confront US military force and militarized police on our own streets, in our own homes.

I have no doubt we can eventually make the move toward Socialism. It would be natural social evolution and maturation. It will simply have to happen over a long period of time and include mass education to prove the concept. Each of us in favor of Socialism can help by pointing out the Socialist programs we already have in place and their benefits to both society and the general economy. Still, even we must accept the fact that the only way it will stand a chance of occurring is for us to follow in the same economic path by which it has taken hold in other countries. That is to say, capitalism MUST fail completely, forcing the majority of the population to come to complete realization that a new system to replace it is mandatory. Our only other choice would be reinstating slavery. If that happened, who gets to choose who the slaves would be? What would happen to those who did not own slaves or resources? Their labor would not be needed on any significant scale. To a populace blind to the fact that they are already enslaved to debt, desensitized to our own suffering, to give up more rights may not seem like a frightening concept. Our society has become secure in our own insecurity.

The necessary collapse of capitalism is coming soon. It has been inevitable for many years and is completely unavoidable at this point. The illusion can no longer be maintained. It will be the capitalists who have used the capitalist system as a religion, a drug, a means of self definition who will collapse as the system collapses. People who define themselves as capitalists will be unable to adapt, unaware of who they are without their possessions. Sadly, we can expect many to take their own lives rather than adapt. Some may try and take the lives of others. It will be tragic but we must expect it.

It is time for us to face these facts at this moment, without waiting or trying to defer the mental evolution to a later date. It is time for each of us to be the grownups in the room. The already evolved will find no true challenge in adapting to such a reality. We will have no problem leading the way forward.

Boeing Is Just Another Symptom Of Failed Capitalism

Currently, Boeing is seemingly being raked over the coals in front of CONgress for their mistakes at best, outright fraudulence at worst regarding their 737-MAX jet.

The evidence keeps mounting that Boeing covered up information which illustrated how unsafe the MAX jet system truly is. This was done in an effort to bring the jet to market before their competition brought a new model to production. In other words, for profit.

Nothing but theater. The biggest problem with this is that there will never be criminal charges applied. It doesn’t matter at all if overt, intentional fraud is clearly demonstrated with full knowledge that human beings were going to die because of it. There is not even the suggestion of criminal charges coming out of these proceedings.

Not the first time by a long shot. We have seen such fraud committed by corporations for as long as this country has existed. Companies have intentionally dumped hazardous waste in waterways, which they continue to do as of this moment. Oil companies have hidden their full knowledge of the fossil fuel connection to climate change for decades. Drug companies hide drastic, even lethal effects of medications every single day. We’ve seen tire companies hide known catastrophic tire failures while continuing to produce and sell the same tires. Auto companies cover air bag failures. Vehicles that explode on low speed impact. Brake systems with known failures common on certain vehicles. The list can go on indefinitely.

No consequences. The biggest reason we continue seeing this is that there are no real consequences to this kind of corporate behavior. The corporation is typically given a slap on the wrist with a ridiculously small fine in relation to the consequences paid by consumers who are sickened, injured or killed because of such malfeasance. In this case, Boeing will likely have a fine imposed which still allows them to walk away with billions in profits. They will be forced to retrofit the MAX jets. Which will be done as cheaply as possible, so think about that. The CEO will be voted out or forced to resign while receiving a severance package worth dozens of millions of dollars. Boeing stock may decrease for 1–2 quarters, then bounce back. (If the economy doesn’t crash beforehand.)

This is not a flaw in the system, it is a feature of the system. The reason we keep seeing this over and over is because apathy to human consequences is literally built into the capitalist system. The word “capitalism” literally means a system which places profit (capital) above physical/emotional/environmental health or life/existence itself. Capitalism is a religion which worships itself and nothing else. There will never be consequences paid by the priests of capitalism when their actions have been for the purpose of promoting capitalism.

You pay for it. What will happen after Boeing is forced to pay a nominal fine and retrofit the death jets? Your airfare will increase. Your baggage fees will increase. You will pay for the theatrical performance CONgress is staging. Boeing will be faced with lawsuits and you will pay for those too. Just like you pay higher prices for tires, medications and vehicles. You subsidize the alleged “losses” brought on by products known to be unsafe yet that information is hidden, while the corporation posts higher profits, higher stock values, higher stock dividends and corporate executive bonuses/severance packages. Corporations poison and pollute the environment and you pay for it for decades, for generations in terms of over 1300 Superfund sites. You pay for it with your safety, with your health, possibly your life or the lives of your loved ones. You pay for it in stress, in fear, in hypervigilence, in loss of freedom of speech to protest against these same corporations, censorship by media corporations who threaten journalists who report negatively about advertisers, in laws favorable to corporate campaign “donors” while stripping more of your rights away.

No, none of what is happening with Boeing right now is an anomaly. It is business as usual. It is so normal that most Americans will not be listening, not be paying any attention to the CONgressional proceedings. Mostly because we know nothing will change in our favor because of this. For those of us that do pay attention, we can cheer, we can jeer, we can sneer. The result will be the same. That is, until we stop worshiping corporations, stop bowing down to the rich, stop allowing this to be just another day in corporate America.

People Rise As Capitalism Collapses Globally

Corporate media of late has focused intensely on the protests occurring in Hong Kong. Yet they don’t mention the numerous protests happening around the globe. The focus on Hong Kong is meant to be indicating some form of Western victory, while not much mention is made of the fact that there are counter-protesters in favor of China.

Right now there are protests happening in many countries. Some are violent, some are not. Nearly every single one has a basis which boils down to an objection to capitalist systems. There are currently protests occurring in France, Venezuela, Honduras, Ecuador, Brazil and Chile, all of which have had extensive violence involved. Meanwhile in the US we have protests by the UAW (United Auto Workers), backed up by the AFL-CIO. More protests occurring against General Electric. In recent years, Mexico has seen a rising tide of protests for various reasons, some financially based, others against police violence and corruption.

It is not a debatable point that most corruption is in some way rooted in capitalism. Political and police corruption often happen because of bribery by unlawful or unethical entities seeking to make a profit. From direct bribes of police or public officials to turn their heads as crimes are committed to lobbying for favorable legislation in return for campaign donations or post-political-office positions at high salaries, all of it equates to the same thing.

Many union leaders over the years have been investigated and/or convicted of corruption and racketeering. The leaders walk away with massive profits while the workers they are supposed to represent have wages stagnate and benefits slashed.

Interestingly, public officials in the US, elected or appointed, who act against the welfare of much larger number of citizens are basically never indicted or even investigated for their corruption.

The size, scale and geographic diversity of all these protests are a clear indication that the people of the world have had enough of the decades of oppression imposed upon them by capitalists. People have had their comfort, their emotions, their health, their welfare, their children, their very existence brought into doubt or completely sacrificed for the benefit of the wealthy. While the wealthy on average are apathetic or even sadistic in their regard for the middle class and poor.

There was at one time something of a balance where the poor could attain a comfortable middle class status and the middle class could attain some level of wealth. That balance has been destroyed because for the extremely wealthy, enough has not been enough. Today it is far more likely the middle class will fall into poverty than attain any level of wealth. While those already in poverty could well fall invisibly and silently out of existence.

Most of those rising up and those not yet rising up are not seeking any extreme level of wealth. Merely comfort and security. Most are happy working for what they have, as long as what they earn is not claimed by the rich as a birthright. There is nothing abnormal in wanting your labor valued enough to make a living wage, have medical care without bankruptcy or education without decades of debilitating debt.

The absolute biggest reason capitalists gain control of socioeconomic systems is because of common election funding systems. In countries where election funding is primarily through public funding, such as the US, candidates for office make promises and incur debts to “donors” who fund their campaigns. Anyone who denies that quid pro quo exists in such a system is either willfully ignorant or is a direct beneficiary of that system. Thus they have no desire to change such a system.

The only alternative to public funding is government funding with transparent controls. In the US, that would include equal funding for at least the top four parties, not two. Combined with equal access to all state ballots and debates. Ranked choice voting would be a logical and necessary component of such a system.

Another major reason for capitalist control of socioeconomic systems is corporate lobbying. Right now there are at least 8 lobbyists in DC for every member of CONgress. Government officials go through a rotating door between elected/appointed office and corporate executive employment. Lobbying and the rotating door are closely entwined. The rotating door must be closed and corporate lobbying should be declared a criminal offense with mandatory prison sentencing for lobbyist and lobbied officials. All debate on legislation should be public with no closed door events, no private communications which do not involve tightly defined issues of national security, such as weapons design.

Fighting for such changes against the beneficiaries of the current system will be a true fight. The corporate media will absolutely be against such changes, seeing that they are some of the most prolific profiteers of our current system. This means this fight will be fought tooth and nail at the grassroots level. It is not something we can take lightly. This issue is gaining ground slowly and each one of us can help with it.

The other option is going to be violent protests as we are seeing in other countries right this minute. JFK said, “He that makes peaceful revolution impossible makes violent revolution inevitable.” We are standing at the edge of that choice right this minute. It will not take much to push us over. In Chile, all it took to push the country into chaos was imposing a tax on internet based phone calls. Americans are far more passive than Chileans are. However, we cannot put off action on these issues any longer or we seal our fate of sinking into violence. It may begin in isolated events but will spread nationally very quickly. Many believe they would be immune from the effects of such violence. I expect the violence here would be far worse, considering the apathy common in the American populace and the number of firearms in this country. Trying to impose gun control at that time would make it infinitely worse.

So, your choice. Peace through submission? Peaceful revolution? Or violent insurrection? Shall we burn our cities to the ground? Anyone in favor of violence I reject outright. Anyone offering passive-aggressive criticism with no viable alternative is useless. Those who choose to not decide will merely leave that choice to others.

The Root Source of Drug Abuse

The US government and media has spoken about drug abuse for decades. Constantly seeking one influence or another to blame. Migrants, minorities, drug companies, etc.

The biggest problem with nearly any discussion on drug abuse is that the root cause of drug abuse is too often ignored, downplayed or completely omitted.

While we are seeing a massive increase in opiate addiction and overdose, this is not the first instance of this in US history. Prior to the creation of government agencies to regulate drug use, opiates were common and sold over the counter. Morphine, codeine and other opiates were in everyday medications like cough suppressants. At one time, Coca-Cola contained cocaine, derived from leaves from the coca tree, hence the name of the most popular soda in world history. 7-Up once contained Lithium, which is now used as a psychiatric medication used to treat manic disorders and allegedly acts as a mood stabilizer. Today, the US comprises 5% of the world population yet accounts for 80% of global opiate consumption.

At the same time we are seeing an increase in opiate use/addiction/overdose, the US also has seen an increase in antidepressant use since 1999. Benzodiazepines such as Valium, Xanax or Ativan saw prescriptions roughly double between 2003 and 2015, that most recent data compiled which I saw in a cursory search.

In addition to opiate use, the rising trend seen in illegal drug trade is bath salts. Bath salts act as a dopamine reuptake inhibitor, causing elevated mood in the user.

Whether we are talking about legal or illegal drugs, alcohol, bath salts, opiates or antidepressants, the same trend becomes evident. Each of these substances has specific similar effects, meaning decreased anxiety/elevated mood. To be clear, increased dopamine production or slowing the reuptake of dopamine, results in a similar response. Dopamine is the “feel good” hormone produced by the brain.

So, the question is, why are we seeing a desire for chemicals to improve our mood? Some like to claim it is a matter of privilege. Yet they cannot then explain why drug use and addiction are either constant across income levels or worse among the least privileged in society. Or why countries with higher income levels do not have higher rates of use and addiction. In general, why has addiction become more common in the past few decades in the US, while income levels have remained stagnant? Why do drug and alcohol use increase during times of severe economic downturn?

There have been studies on antidepressant use among younger Americans which show clearly that their depression is very real, for very real reasons which pills cannot cure. The same reasons apply to all forms of drug use and abuse.

Here is a short list of reasons we are seeing chemical use rise in the US-

This country has been at war for 18 continuous years. Many younger Americans see family members and friends enroll in the military due to lack of other opportunities. Those family members and friends change, become different people. Then they may not come back or come back injured, damaged physically and/or emotionally. Young people who do not enroll have a very real fear of a draft being enacted at some point. That fear has a very rational basis.

From young to old, we see people struggling to make ends meet. Many working multiple jobs. Younger people are staying at home much longer than previous generations and it is all due to financial reasons.

The price of education has skyrocketed far beyond the rate of inflation, leaving millions with student loan debt for decades, along with the associated interest. Defaults on student loans are the highest they have been in the history of this country. Meanwhile, many who are graduating are unable to find employment in their chosen careers, even when their degrees are in business management, accounting or vocational occupations. Which leaves them earning low salaries with high levels of debt.

Vehicle loans are seeing high numbers of defaults, with the average car payment today being over $500 a month. Or a person has the choice of spending many hours every day on the worst public transportation system of any first world country. Imagine doing that when you have children. Or maybe you don’t have to imagine it. You may be reading this while riding the bus, for all I know.

There is the constant fear of mass shootings, either in schools, churches, theaters, malls, night clubs. Meanwhile our CONgress remains in the pocket of the NRA, refusing to take meaningful action. If the same number of people died every year from an illness or certain class of vehicle as from assault weapons, we would have large sums of money thrown at it and the banning of that class of vehicle entirely.

Anyone being pulled over by police has no idea if evidence will be planted on them or in their vehicle. Road side drug tests are proven to be unreliable and are inadmissible in court, yet you can be held in jail for days before a more valid forensic test proves your innocence and even that will not help if a dirty officer plants evidence. Of course, you also have the chance of being shot while reaching for your wallet.

Racism is rampant. People of color fear being victims of hate crimes just walking or driving. Or being shot by police for the crime of not being white.

Women fear being physically and/or sexually assaulted. Men fear being accused of things they’re actually not guilty of.

People are afraid to speak to each other. Period.

Like I said, this is a short list of reasons we are seeing such an epidemic of mind-altering chemical use and abuse. Yet the discussion regarding those chemicals, the root causes for the prevalence of their use is rarely discussed. The media and government steadfastly refuse to discuss the issues leading to the problem because doing so would result in lower profits for major advertisers and donors, such as drug companies, for-profit prisons and weapons manufacturers selling to police departments. They all want to continue the failed war on drugs which has raged on for nearly 50 years and only escalated with the results being what we see today.

If we want to see a change, we have to change the approach. Up to now, it has been doing the same thing every single year and expecting different results. So it is up to us to insist on the discussion to change topics. That real problems be addressed, that new solutions be enacted. Too many lives have been destroyed by the current approach. If we don’t absolutely demand that things change, millions more lives will be destroyed.

We have no idea how many innocent people have had their lives and the lives of their families torn apart by planted evidence. Even if guilty of possession of drugs, does that alone warrant paying for it for the rest of your life?

The war on drugs to date has cost us uncounted trillions of dollars. Mock hearings, millions of people in prison, families on public assistance where they were not before, children and innocent adults caught in the crossfire, decimated careers, psychological therapy for any number of related issues and militarized police all cost us every day of our lives in ways we can never account for financially or emotionally.

The ultimate truth about our drug problem is that it leads to many other problems which are far more costly on every level. It is caused by other problems which are too often ignored or viewed separately. We will never solve the drug problem unless we address the problems which lead to it. We will never stop the problems it leads to unless we solve the drug problem.

In other words, drugs are not the problem, they are a symptom of the real problem. The real problem is capitalism. Does that mean we would have no drug problem if we lived in a Socialist society? No. It means we would address the drug problem in far different ways, ways which preserved society instead of ripping it apart. The only reason we are not doing so right now is because of the profit motive of those truly in charge of our society. If we discuss ways to reduce the cost of any problem, capitalists instantly think, “But we’ll make less money!”

If we talk about treating addiction as an illness using a nationalized treatment program, they scream, “But who will pay for it?!” We would. We would pay far less than we do now in every way. We would have more money, more freedom, less violence, less crime, less depression, less anxiety, less anger, less paranoia, fewer suicides, fewer guns, fewer families ripped apart, fewer absent parents, less racism, lower medical costs of treating poisoned chemicals made in garages in other countries…

In the end, we need to wage war against the war on drugs.

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I am an independent writer with no corporate sponsors or backing. The only income I make from my writing comes from views. At least I have reached the point where it makes more than it costs me! lol! (Not by much.) My writing is done in between full time (and overtime) nursing, shared custody of my brilliant daughter and mundane existence.

I have opened my new website which is intended to be a central listing of protests and political rallies across the US. It’s still a work in progress but is functional. You can find it at http://RallyAndProtest.com

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

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

Capitalist Challenge

Capitalists and capitalist wannabe puppets (who own no capital yet support the agenda of the ultra-rich) are fond of claiming that Socialism has never worked. Of course, they leave out the trade sanctions and militaristic threats or outright military destruction imposed by capitalistic countries (mostly the US) on Socialist countries.

Be that as it may, here is a challenge for anyone who supports any level of Socialism to present to said capitalists:

Ask them to name one single country in all of world history in which capitalism has worked for all citizens. That has to include high wages, low taxes, affordable healthcare, no crushing poverty, no slavery, little to no homelessness, no debtors prisons, no wars for profits, protection of the environment, worker safety laws, consumer protection laws, high rate of home ownership and freedom of the independent press with no censorship.

Hell, it doesn’t even have to be a country. It can be a city.

What you can consistently expect is going to be diversion. They will try to redefine the question, the challenge, even the definition of capitalism. They will try to throw around terms like “free market”, which they will refuse to actually define. Yes, I fully expect responses which will focus on that last sentence and ignore the challenge. Just wait for it. They will try and claim capitalism is about small business, yet not explain how limits are imposed on business growth without Socialist-leaning policies.

The reason they do this is because capitalism has never worked for the population. It does not work for the general population now. It will never work because it cannot work. It is not designed to work for the general population.

The entire design of capitalism is intended to work only by force, subjugation, oppression, propaganda, brainwashing, poor education and legal control of all resources available to a society.

In the most prosperous years in the history of this country, we had controls and limits on capitalism. We had price controls on certain necessities. The subsidies we have in place right now are relics of Socialist-leaning policies meant to help the middle class and poor. Such as subsidies on fossil fuels, coal, milk and corn. The original intent was to protect society. Over time, the subsidies grew ever larger while profit caps were removed. Thus today we will hear capitalists rage against profit caps and price controls while they never mention subsidies.

During the same prosperous years, taxes on the rich were the highest they have been in US history.

Yet that prosperity did not reach all our citizens by any means. Many lived in abject poverty, often with no plumbing or electricity.

Some reading this may recall or have heard of “urban blight” from the late 60’s through the 70’s. Yet few recall what brought that blight into being. Give you one guess. It was capitalism. Elitism. Gentrification which drove up rents and property values. Racism played a heavy hand. This was topped off by the reduction of taxes on the rich. This resulted in insufficient resources to maintain public transportation and infrastructure. As desegregation spread, the affluent white moved away from city centers to the suburbs, often taking their retail and possibly manufacturing businesses with them. There was often little to no public transportation to these areas, so the living wage jobs they offered were typically off limits to the poorest in society. What remained in city centers were vacant, decaying business locations with high rent, so if less affluent businesses with less affluent customers moved in, the conditions were poor and crime escalated.

This was not a new pattern. Look at the history of slums across major cities in the US. Nearly all slum sections of major cities were once wealthy, thriving middle class white neighborhoods. Harlem is a good example, should you care to look into the history. Yes, Harlem was a white neighborhood before it later was largely segregated. Today in some areas we are seeing these areas renovated. Though that is not typically good. The renovations lead to gentrification, bringing back high rents and property costs by equity owners seeking to make fast, easy, often unrealistic profits. Thus we have the poor who cannot afford the increased rents and taxes forced out. Sometimes with no place to go. If employment is in these areas, we now have people sleeping in cars and tent cities to have access to their jobs because they cannot afford the rent.

This is all a capitalist cycle we will keep repeating until we put an end to it. No capitalist can ever explain how paying profits and reducing profits for the rich is better than what Socialist-leaning policies offer. Capitalists always claim the higher taxes, price controls, higher wages and any limits at all will destroy the economy. The opposite has been proven true every single time, with no exception.

So, when you encounter a “capitalist”, go back to the challenge above and issue that challenge to them. Accept no diversions, no excuses. If they try it, drag them kicking and screaming back to the subject. Once they predictably resort to personal insults, walk away. You’ve already won that debate. No need to continue the discussion further.

The Case For Nationalizing The Military Industrial Complex

I’ve written before that the claim is false that weapons contractors creating jobs is false. Even in the rare instances that there is any truth to it, to maintain those jobs is entirely dependent on the perpetuation of our current wars. To expand and create more jobs would require waging more wars.

Many Americans still hold by the mantra that we have the greatest military on earth. That our military technology is virtually miraculous. In any case, they think our military can defeat any opponent in existence and do so in short order.

The same people are oblivious to the fact that we have been in Afghanistan for 18 years. In Iraq for 16 years. In addition, we are directly bombing, assisting in bombing or selling weapons to other countries who are bombing 5 more countries- Syria, Somalia, Libya, Pakistan and Yemen. We also fund a significant portion of the Israeli attacks on Palestine.

In the cases where we are selling weapons, those sales may pose a profit for military contractors but it comes at a LOSS to US taxpayers. Consider the fact that the US gives $90 billion every single year to other countries. Most of those countries use a portion of that money to buy weapons from US contractors. We also buy oil from Saudi Arabia, providing profits for them to wage war on Yemen and fund terrorists in other countries. Both Saudi Arabia and Israel have been on record assisting ISIS and Al Qaeda.

Did you realize that when military contractors sell weapons to other countries, those weapons are transported by or under escort of US military ships? The companies and purchasing countries are not billed for this security, YOU are. THIS is a corporate subsidy.

Military contractors spend billions each year on lobbying, campaign “donations” and advertising on corporate media. This alone should be illegal by any account. Their profits come from taxpayer dollars and should never be allowed to be spent to influence opinions of the public or elected officials.

When corporate media has “experts” speaking about international conflicts, over 90% of the time the “experts” and guests have direct ties to military contractors. The result is propaganda and sales pitches by MIC contractors being presented as “news”. Have you noted they do not host diplomats, who would be the logical choice for the subject? When was the last time a corporate media source interviewed Jimmy Carter?

Here is a list of companies you may or may not have known are military contractors- Boeing, Ford, General Dynamics, GM, GE, CAT, IBM, Microsoft, Apple, Google, Amazon, Heinz, Tabasco, Lockheed, McKesson, Humana, United Health Group, Hewlett Packard, Honeywell, Merck, Cardinal Health, Pfizer, Royal Dutch Shell, Exxon, Fedex, Valero Energy, AT&T, GlaxoSmithKline, Berkshire Hathaway, Rolls Royce, Express Scripts Holding, Bank of America, Burger King, Coca Cola, Tyson Foods, Walgreens, Citi Bank, the NFL…

Of course, this is a small fraction of the list of military contractors. Is this changing your view yet of all the patriotic and heartwarming “Support Our Troops” advertising?

The point I am making is not that all these companies should be nationalized. Just making the point that they all make significant amounts through government contracts and some portion of those profits funded by taxpayers and government debt are used on advertising. We could go even further by nationalizing any oil processing which is required by the military.

However, by nationalizing weapons contractors, we would end the practice of those weapons contractors having a voice in elections and what is presented as “news”. By removing corporate profits from the equation, military conflict would then be seen as what it truly is- a drain on resources that offer virtually no benefit to society in any form. By removing the commentary of those who gain from warfare, we have a much greater likelihood of war being portrayed as the horror that it truly is rather than some patriotic, heroic, profitable endeavor which creates more enemies than it could ever possibly nullify.

Yes, I know some will still claim that the weapons industry creates jobs. Okay, so if weapons manufacturing were nationalized, would thet create fewer jobs? No, same amount. Which would likely pay more and have better benefits.

Know what else creates jobs? Schools, highway construction/repair and medical care. Plus the fact that those would create jobs and incomes in all communities, reduce costs for real life needs and provide needed services to the PEOPLE of this country.

In short, the real enemy we face is unbridled capitalism. That is what created any enemies we now have in other countries. It is what has resulted in overthrow of governments, multiple refugee crises in the Middle East and South America, tens of millions of deaths, millions with PTSD, hundreds of thousands of suicides, children growing up with damaged or dead parents and trillions in debt while society has nothing positive to show for it. Only the rich benefit from the current system.

Automation- Your Job Is Not Safe From Indirect Effects, Pt 2- Solutions

Part 1 of this series addressed the challenges involving automation which affect our economy and job market. Part 2 addresses solutions which we cannot avoid having to implement at some point. If we do not implement these solutions at some level, our economy and our society as we know it will continue to deteriorate and ultimately collapse. We’re already well on the road to that conclusion.

There is no stopping it. You will not stop the advance of technology and automation. It’s here to stay and is accelerating. Technology has been advancing since prehistoric times. Technology multiplies technology. Humans have always used tools to build bigger tools, better tools, buildings and factories to create tools. Computer programs speed the development of better, faster programs. We now have programs that write programs. Computer hardware is used to develop the next generation of hardware, faster, more capable, more resilient. The more the tools advance, the fewer the number of workers needed to accomplish the greatest amount of work. The only time this is bad is when it happens in a capitalist system. Remove money for survival from the equation and it is a positive. Keep money in that equation and it becomes deadly.

WE need to adapt our attitudes. Many Americans are still stuck in the concept that Socialism is bad. Never mind that without Socialist-leaning programs our economy would collapse right this minute. Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, public schools, public roads, health departments, fire departments, police, jails, prisons, etc. Millions of jobs rely on a Socialist ideal right now. The problem with the advance of technology is that our economy has not kept pace. Our attitudes as a society have not kept pace.Most of this is because of capitalist ownership of media and domination of education, all pushing a capitalist agenda. “Capitalism good, Socialism bad.”WE need to evolve beyond this mindset. Stop giving in to fear of change. See what is happening. Stop trying to prop up a collapsing building.

Advances and opposition. Technology will continue to advance no matter the economic system. It is part of our evolution. It is the human drive to solve problems and defeat challenges. The first humans that used rocks as hammers made no monetary profit. The first humans to develop bronze, iron and steel made no money. The problem is that the same mindset to evolve and defeat challenges in our economy is opposed by a barbaric need to dominate, by greed, by ego. It is an absolute indication that our society has not evolved socially. It is this barbaric mindset which holds us back, which is apathetic or even sadistically jubilant at the suffering of human beings who lack the resources to dominate, even if that person is born with artificial socially imposed disadvantages which have nothing to do with their capabilities or true potential. It is this barbaric mindset which refuses to grant anything for free and pushes to make even the most basic needs like clean water a commodity available only for an ever-increasing price. It is that barbaric mindset which keeps those born or forced to the bottom of the economic ladder constantly fighting for mere survival until they have no time, energy or resources remaining to even make the attempt to climb higher. Mental slaves to that barbarism attempt to blame the victims of this system for their alleged failings. Surrendering our minds to that barbaric mentality means surrendering our lives, our society, our health, our children and our futures to someday be on the victim side of that equation. Many are experiencing this today as the middle class loses ground and becomes ever more insecure.

Limited options. There are only a limited number of solutions to the conditions which we are facing. Every one of those solutions involve some form of Socialism. Trickle-down economics is a demonstrated failure. Capitalists still try to claim that only capitalist solutions can save capitalism. Yet none of that is true. We have watched the flow of wealth to the top over nearly 40 years and we are now in crisis mode globally. You can cheer for your favorite gazillionaire all you like, that doesn’t mean that your paycheck grows any larger, that your personal future becomes any more secure. The rich have had sycophants groveling at their feet through all of history but when you no longer present a profit to the rich, your purpose has been served and you get thrown out like so much garbage along with everyone else. Stop licking boots.

Drop the resentment of the poor. Resentment of the poor does no good. Let’s say that some people take unfair advantage of welfare and avoid that argument. The fact is, if 25%, 1 out of four of Americans, took advantage of welfare to the tune of $1000 a month every month, that would equate to an annual cost of $990 billion. Now consider that most of those welfare recipients are likely to be supporting families. Consider that this spending would be spent in the economy, supporting jobs and incomes. The government surrendered more money than that giving tax breaks to the rich in 2018. The rich responded by using that money to buy back over $2 trillion in stock. In other words, enough to give HALF of Americans an extra $1000 a month. Yet that tax break created exactly zero jobs. Bloomberg recently reported that the job market declined by 600,000 since December 2018.

Solutions. It is obvious that the only way that the general population and capitalism itself will survive is by implementing some form of Universal Basic Income (UBI). As more jobs cease to exist, competition for remaining jobs becomes more fierce and as a result wages plummet, we are driving headlong into conditions ripe for unbridled civil war. You can deny it but that doesn’t change the truth. Look through history and the same conditions have always resulted in civil war by some name. Call it revolution, uprising or anything else, they all mean the same thing. The only thing missing at this point is some spark to light the final fuse. That fuse is lit. Flooding in the midwest, decreased imports and increasing prices due to tariffs mean that we are now facing a shortage of resources which will only be available to those higher on the income scale. As resources become more exhausted, it will mean more jobs are lost and prices escalate further. Cutting social support programs to support warfare and corporate welfare is exactly the wrong thing to do at exactly the wrong time. Yet that’s what is happening.

New ideas. It is obvious that new ideas and approaches are needed. We cannot keep applying the same old ideas which have NEVER worked and expect them to suddenly solve our problems. We have to be brave enough to accept the fact that the old system has failed and will continue to fail. Remaining in the same system for fear of change is no different than remaining in an abusive relationship because the abuser tells you that you cannot survive without them. It is the rich, the capitalists who will not survive without us. We literally don’t need them at all. Workers build and produce everything. Our national resources, including intellectual property, belong to us, not them. The profits from our efforts, our lands and waters do not belong to them by any authorization but our allowance, which has cost too much destruction, too much suffering, too many lives. The time for UBI is now. Not later. Later will be too late. Corporations are not your friends. The rich are not your friends. Corporate media are not your friends. Politicians who push the capitalist agenda are not your friends. The sooner YOU realize that, the sooner we can move forward together and build something better than we have. The other choice is that we all fail together.

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I am an independent writer with no corporate sponsors or backing. The only income I make from my writing comes from views. At least I have reached the point where it makes more than it costs me! lol! (Not by much.)My writing is done in between full time (and overtime) nursing, shared custody of my brilliant daughter and mundane existence.

I have opened my new website which is intended to be a central listing of protests and political rallies across the US. It’s still a work in progress but is functional. You can find it at http://RallyAndProtest.com

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

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