The Programming of America: Pt III, Downsizing Government

One of the big things being pushed by media and corporate culture, in tandem with Libertarians (I’ve written about them before) and Republicans, along with centrist Democrats to a large degree, is the desire to downsize our government.

This is something I have covered in the past in a different form. The size of our government has nothing to do with our prosperity. Many of the largest government programs (after the military, which I will get to) support millions of jobs and add value to our lives on a daily basis both directly and indirectly. Schools, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, police, fire departments, libraries, health departments, the Forestry Department, the CDC, the EPA, the FDA (okay, in intent more than current function) and on and on. Without these government programs and agencies, from local to federal, our economy and environment would collapse, sold to the highest corporate bidders.

Some claim they do not trust our government. Government per se is not the problem. The problem is how beholden our government officials are to corporate interests.

Some Americans are foolish enough to think censorship is perfectly acceptable as long as a corporation does it but reprehensible when a government does the same thing. Never mind that only a few corporations own most of the media and all internet access. Yes, an ISP has the right to censor your content and even what information you can access. That can be your cable, telephone or cell service provider. All because corporations fought to eliminate Net Neutrality. They won, you lost. FB, Twitter or anyone else can block you, eliminate your account along with history and never allow you back in. They do not have to tell you why.

Some Americans are raging against the China Social Scoring system. Are you kidding me? We have the same thing here, it’s just not called that. Much of it is also run by corporations. In China, a low social score does not prevent you from getting a job, it prevents you from getting some jobs which are connected to the government. Here, you go through a background check which can include your social media history. If you are critical of the government, try getting a government job or even a job with a government contractor. Go ahead, try it. I dare you. Yet here you can be denied a job with a private or corporate employer for the same background check, even if they have no connection to the government.

In addition, private individuals will check your social media accounts to decide if they will associate with you.

There does not have to be a number associated with it to be a social media score. Information is compiled by faceless, sometimes nameless entities. Some are known, like Transunion and Equifax, credit score reporting agencies. Ones that check your social media don’t have to offer names, the criteria for judging or the fact that they ever looked at your information. They can judge you worthy or unworthy according to who is on your friends list, what groups you belong to and comments you have made on different threads.

Right now you are being monitored by the NSA. You do not have to be a US citizen. Not by a long shot. You do not have to be a terrorist. Not by a long shot. You do not have to be critical of the government. Not by a long shot. The fact that you are reading this article has been logged on an NSA computer. The phone call you made a few minutes ago to your mother, your child or Mr/Ms side piece was logged and recorded.

This country has over 1300 superfund sites. Nearly every single one of them exist because of corporate malfeasance. They poison the environment, break laws, lie about it for decades. Then when they no longer can wring a profit out of an area, they abandon it, may change their names to avoid responsibility and the taxpayer picks up the bill to clean up the mess. That process and expense can continue for decades, even generations. Your grandchildren and great grandchildren will be paying for cleaning up many of those sites. If you or they do not die from cancer or be disabled by birth defects as a result of that poisoning.

Yes, the size of some parts of our government needs to be downsized. Like the military. In money, our military budget is roughly six times larger than the next largest military budget, which is China. As far as size and extent, we are up to 100 times larger than Russia. Russia has 8 military bases outside of their country, while we have 800 foreign military bases. We have forces on every continent, ocean and nearly every country on earth. While our government rages on about how this country or that country is being “aggressive”. I’ve mentioned before that this onerous expense is paid for by you, me, every man, woman and child in this country in ways most never imagine.

I have challenged those who claim we need to downsize our government, asking them for specific examples of what should be downsized or eliminated. 99% of the time, they have no answer at all. They are just regurgitating the crap they have devoured by corporate influences. The other 1% of the time they offer inane responses which offer no solutions to any problem at all. They are just uneducated, uninformed, apathetic whores to corporate profit.

Too much? Nah. I really hope the karma of these people bites them in the ass.

The honest truth is that we may hear anecdotal stories of government overreach. Most of the time, anecdotes are all they are. Other times that overreach is a result of corporate influence, such as the legal status of cannabis, brought about by bribes by alcoholic beverage companies, drug companies and for-profit prisons in conjunction with systemic racism. In other cases, overreach can be caused by inadequate resources of government agencies, such as child welfare agencies. In other words, it is literally a case for expanding government, not reducing government.Those problems are caused by understaffed agencies with underpaid workers who come under fire if they offer an inadequate response. Those same workers may be in their jobs by dedication to protecting children or similar motivations, so they would rather overreact than underreact and have a child injured or killed because of weak actions. They would prefer to do a deeper investigation but cannot do so because of lack of time and resources thanks to their case load. Of course, that case load is a result of their job being seen as an expense which offers no monetary profit.

In a government of the people, by the people, for the people I see no reference to corporate profit or control mentioned. The founders of this country abhorred corporations. Remember the Boston Tea Party? That was waged against the East India Tea Company, a corporation. The entire Constitution of the United States references personal freedoms. Historically our laws and governmental institutions have been in place to support those freedoms from those very corporations that seek to destroy our freedom for their own profit and benefit.

I will bring this back full circle. The people who promote the concept of downsizing government are rich capitalists who want fewer rules and regulations standing between them and higher profits. They want lower taxes, lower paychecks for workers, fewer environmental regulations. They view social support programs as nothing but blockades between them and your money. They view you as an expense and an inconvenience. They view the environment the same way. They view international borders the same way.

The same rich people own nearly all media in this country and try to limit or eliminate the influence of the small percentage of media they do not own. The corporations which do not own media pay the media corporations to represent their agenda while ignoring what is best for the people of this country. In that effort, they employ psychologists, media experts, retired government agents to influence your views through fear and intimidation.

I am not in favor of downsizing the government, other than the military and their contractors. I am in favor of expanding the government. That does not mean I am in favor of Communism. Mostly because we are not evolved enough as a culture for that. Yet. Until that time, I continue being in favor of Social Democracy which forces the reinvestment of resources into our own country and places limits on corporate control of your every breath.

So which is it for you? Smaller government and removing controls from those who have no concern for your well-being, even your life? Or maintain/expand a government in which we have a voice?

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Cost Of Education? Get Ready For A Real Shocker.

Yesterday my teenage daughter was inducted into the National Honor Society. I’m extremely proud of her. I always have been but now it’s quantified.

After the initial induction, they had a parade of high school seniors. It was announced what college or university they would be attending, their intended major and how much they had received in scholarships. Considering the major focus of this high school is primarily arts, many of the students are going to be studying arts programs, such as theater and music.

This is where the shock comes in. A number of the students had scholarships in amounts of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Several had over $100,000 in scholarships. For theater arts programs. One had a scholarship of $700,000. That is not a typo. Seven hundred thousand dollars.

One student will be attending medical school. His scholarship? $193,000. So the theater students had scholarships far surpassing the medical school student.

In total, roughly 30 students had a grand total in scholarships of over $4 MILLION.

In no way am I dismissing the accomplishments of these students. They worked hard and earned their scholarships. The deserve the reward and recognition they will be receiving.

The point I am making is that this is now the cost of education. Over $4 million for 30 students. How did we get to this point in this country? How did education become this expensive?

Consider the students who may be bright and talented but were unable to gain a scholarship. How many of them are there in just this one high school? How much will the other hundreds of students be paying for years, decades, their entire lives to acquire an adult education? How many will not see any real benefit to that education yet still have that debt?

Consider the fact that a scholarship is not intended to cover all the costs of an education. It is only intended to defray some level of that expense. So even the students with scholarships in many cases will incur debt along the way.

How many students give up all hope of further education? Disheartened by the cost, the very idea of a lifetime of debt? How many have seen parents paying student loans for the length of the child’s life? Many people today retire with student loans they still must pay for years into retirement.

Did you know if you marry someone with federal student loan debt that if they die you are liable for the remainder of that debt? Did you know if you become disabled there is still no way to discharge that debt without paying it in full?

Adult education really should not be a for-profit endeavor. Yet it is. Corporations make profits from the lifetime of work we exert but that’s not enough. They have to make profits from the education we are required to have to do that work.

Even that is not enough for corporations. Corporate owned charter schools are making profits from children’s basic education while often doing that extremely poorly. Probably so they can charge more for remedial adult classes. Meanwhile, the pay for teachers remains stagnant or decreasing, benefits stripped away as time goes on.

This is why so many of us are pushing for socialized adult education. This is why countries that have socialized education are passing us by at light speed.

We pay the price in many ways besides the obvious. Our entire economy suffers because money spent paying student loans is not spent to support the economy. We pay in terms of stress and depression which diminishes productivity and creativity. We pay in terms of medications to alleviate the stress and depression. We pay if we fall behind on student loans (or heaven forbid we default on a federal student loan). This impacts our credit score, which can affect our ability to be hired for the best jobs. The stress may affect our relationships and our health. Paying the debt may take time away from our families, leading to more stress and depression. That stress and depression can cross generations as it affects the time and quality of our relationships with our children.

And it’s getting worse by the day.

So, let me hear more of you corporate puppets say, “Just get an education!” One more time.

Inflation Is A Myth

Capitalism and the capitalist media, even education, teaches us that inflation is a fact of life. That’s not true. This is where you should be asking questions.

Labor cost. One myth we are told is that the cost of labor drives up the cost of goods and services. This raises the question of why workers need pay increases. Of course, the answer is the increasing price of goods and services, often just for basic survival. If prices did not keep increasing, workers would not need increases to their pay.

Automation. One method businesses use to decrease the cost of labor is automation and technological advances. While it comes at an initial cost for capital outlay, the entire reason companies do this is because it saves money on wages and worker benefits in the long term. Technology increases productivity, meaning each worker can make more products, serve more customers. This means the company needs fewer workers. Pay remains the same, the cost of benefits stays the same or keeps costing the worker more each year. Automation often completely eliminates jobs. Do prices go down commensurate with the decreased labor cost? No but company profits keep going up, prices keep going up and corporate profits keep going up.

Raw materials. We hear the argument that the cost of raw materials keeps increasing. Typically, this is not true. Corporate mega-farms use more machines than labor. While labor costs have increased, go back to the second paragraph of this article. Many raw materials are imported because of lower cost. Like steel. China isn’t “dumping” unwanted steel on corporations. The American corporations are buying that steel. This goes back years, when corporations began buying steel from China because they did not want to pay for the cost of American labor. Which caused the near collapse of the US Steel industry. Consumer prices never decreased but corporate profits kept increasing. Pick any raw material that is imported yet available domestically and the same rule applies.

Lawsuits. One claim is that lawsuits drive up the cost of goods and services. You would have to look more closely by specific industry and company but lawsuits account for less than 1% of the cost of business in this country, overall. Even when faced with lawsuits, the damages are minor and still make the abuses which led to the lawsuits worth the price, leaving corporations with massive profits. The worst thing that happens is that their stock price dips for a few days. Who pays the cost of the lawsuits in reality? Consumers.

Tariffs. Numerous companies have laid workers off or exported jobs while citing tariffs as a rationale. This is disingenuous at best, a complete fabrication at worst. I’ll go back to steel as an example. If the cost of imported steel increases, it does not increase for only one company, it increases for all companies that utilize imported steel. So the cost of products increases across an entire industry, like vehicles. The consumer pays the price. The corporation preserves their profit margin. While sales may decrease, that is more of a function of stagnant wages than increased cost. Consumers either cannot afford or are hesitant to pay the higher prices.

Taxpayer subsidies. The ultimate fact of the matter is that while media rages about a “free market”, we do not have a free market. We truly have no idea how much we pay in subsidies to corporations. Lots of estimates but real numbers are elusive. From milk to corn to oil to gas to soybeans and on and on. One big problem is that subsidies are not always direct. When corporations pay wages so low that employees qualify for public assistance, we foot the bill. That’s subsidizing that corporation. When a company offers free shipping but the government offers subsidies and tax deductions for that company, that’s a subsidy. When US troops provide security for poppy fields in Afghanistan or navy ships protective escorts to oil tankers, those are subsidies. The entire military industrial complex is nothing but subsidies. So are superfund sites. The purchase of vehicles and fuel by small local governments all the way up to the US military are subsidies to vehicle manufacturers and oil companies. So, we pay the subsidies, then we pay the price at the pump, in the grocery store, on our utility bills… Socialism for the rich and corporations, capitalism for the rest of us.

Real inflation control. If we even discussed real inflation controls, it would implement such mechanisms as corporate profit caps by percentage of gross income, not allowing for stock repurchases or executive bonuses. It would look like implementing a maximum income. It may include price controls without subsidies. It would include stringent penalties for consumer abuse and price gouging. It would enforce anti-trust laws and practices. It would penalize every job eliminated or reduced while maintaining or expanding production levels. It would make stock repurchases illegal.

No going back. The point to be made here is that there is no going back on inflation. Not within our current system. Yet there is no valid rationale that bread is not 25¢ a loaf. Or that gas costs as much as it does. There is no valid rationale for oil being a top export and top import.That does not increase our energy security, does not help the environment, does not control cost or inflation.

Inflation is a myth. Like I began, inflation is a myth. A story we are told and just accept as fact. We have lived our lives without really questioning why prices increase while wages do not. We recognize the need to increase wages without asking why we need to do so just for survival. Schools teach inflation, media preaches inflation, corporations profit from inflation while causing most of that inflation for their own bottom line. Politicians promise to control inflation, then offer subsidies we pay for in order to maintain the profits of the corporate structure that causes inflation, in effect rewarding those same corporations.

Stop accepting the idea that inflation is a fact of life. It’s not. It is not a consequence or complication of capitalism. It is a core feature of capitalism.

A Deeper Look At Universal Basic Income

The idea of a Universal Basic Income or UBI has been gaining wider attention, both good and bad. Of course, some claim it would be a panacea of sorts, while others claim it would destroy the job market and the economy. Not many examine it from a neutral standpoint and look at both sides. Here I will try and postulate what would happen if it were implemented, both good and bad.

Full disclosure, I am in favor of UBI. There have been limited experiments with it in other countries, with varying results depending on the interpretation by sources who have an existing bias. I would be very much in favor of a large scale experiment in the US involving an entire city or state. I don’t find it likely that would happen because of capitalists who fear the results.

Any such experiment would have to be at least a full fiscal year, though two years would be more valid to eliminate attempts to manipulate circumstances and give a more clear image of what adjustments would be needed and true end results determined.

What it is. To recap, UBI is a proposed system whereby each citizen would be provided with a basic income. While we call it universal, it would prove no benefit to offer that income to those above a certain income level, such as those earning above $100,000. Determination of benefits should include a person’s income from all sources, not just wages. Above a certain income level, that money does not benefit the individual or the economy. So it would only serve to remove money from the economy and increase the flow of wealth to the top.

It should meet basic needs to be considered a basic income. A UBI should offer an income level high enough to provide for all basic needs. Housing, food, clothing, transportation and medical care. Not entertainment.

We’ve heard these arguments before. The major criticism of UBI is that it would encourage those already at the low end of the income spectrum to stop working. This argument is something I find equivalent to the objection to ending slavery. Slaves did not object to ending slavery and it is not those living below the poverty line who object to having a secure income which provides stability.

Decreased work hours. Many people would stop working entirely or scale back hours voluntarily. Those most likely to continue working full-time would be those in positions and careers they enjoy or pay which allowed them to rise above basic subsistence.

This would lead to wage increases across the board as employers were forced to compete for employees with higher wages, a more hospitable environment and better benefits. THIS is the biggest reason that the mere mention of the term UBI sends capitalists and corporatists into shivers of terror.

Job market effects. What this would mean to the job market would be a decrease in unemployment numbers as fewer people would be seeking employment. This would be followed by a further increase in available positions as those previously employed by companies would have the opportunity to branch out on their own.

Effects on society. What this would mean for society would mean increased life satisfaction, decreased stress, lower levels of drug abuse, increased health and longer lifespans.

Effects on militarism. A society under less stress and less ruled by fear would be less prone to wage war on other countries. Another reason that capitalists loathe the idea.

Effects on general economy. For the general economy, it would be beneficial, as more people would have an increase in disposable income, spending more and investing more. Problem is, major investors don’t really want the average consumer to invest. The greater percentage of a lower number of stocks available the rich control, the greater their profits, the greater their grasp on the economy as a whole.

Effects on consumer spending. As is obvious, consumer spending would increase. Not only in purchasing but on tourism, education, entertainment, you name it. The negative? Value menus would meet their demise.

Explosive growth. If UBI were implemented, we would see a period of explosive economic growth which would level off after a short period of years but end with sustained stability. I have covered how growth is a myth, here. Growth cannot continue indefinitely, the entire idea is ludicrous and unsustainable.

Like I said, we’ve heard these arguments before. Many of the same arguments being used against UBI have been used previously against Social Security, welfare, TANF, WIC, food stamps and the minimum wage, both when it was first implemented and with every single minimum wage increase ever. In no case did these things destroy the job market or the economy. In fact, the exact opposite is true. They improved the job market and the economy.

Effects on environment. The effect on the environment would be positive in the long term. When people are not running in fear of being unable to meet their basic needs, they would have more consideration for the environment. Right now, people are fed a diet of fear leading some to place more concern for income than the future of the planet their children and grandchildren inherit to live in. Capitalists place no concern on the environment in the first place, unless they can profit from it.

Effects on inflation. Now, here we do see a negative. Perhaps. Yes, implementing UBI would result in inflation. The biggest question is whether that inflation would be a damaging level. The answer lies not in UBI itself but in how much capitalists would continue to insist on a continued unlimited increase to their profit margin above and beyond the increased profits they would experience as a direct result of UBI itself. Because capitalists are never happy with simply increasing profits, they want to increase their percentage of profit over cost. Even if they had to pay higher wages and offer more benefits, they would already experience more profits by consumer spending. So inflation would not be organic, it would be a forced component. That should be no surprise, it’s what we have been enduring for decades. So legislation would likely have to be implemented to limit profit percentages or for direct cost control. The difference between us and Venezuela on that? Nobody is going to invade us.

Effects on taxation. Some may claim that UBI would result in less income tax revenue. Any initial loss of income tax revenue would be offset in the longer term by higher wages and business profits (assuming cities and states don’t give it all away, which they probably would). Of course, sales tax revenue would skyrocket with no increase in the tax rate being charged. Federally, we all know the tax cut for the rich is a disaster and should be repealed.

The Revolution will not be televised. Of course, none of this is going to be discussed on corporate media. Look who their advertisers are. The same companies that thrive by keeping wages down, keeping people terrified. Including the MIC. How would they convince you we need more bombs or convince young people to die in foreign countries if there was nothing to fear? If there were no enemy raging at the gate “taking away your living”, you may realize there never was an enemy, other than those at the top.

Lastly, with automation expanding with no end coming, UBI is the only way that capitalism is going to survive. If people have no income, they have nothing to spend and capitalism will collapse.

Class And Generational Conflict Are Going To Get MUCH Worse

Many people know that the US national debt is currently at over $22 trillion. Many may not realize that this is the highest level of debt which has ever existed by any nation at any time in history. US debt accounts for 1/3 of all debts by nations globally.

Yet most people do not realize that US consumer debt has also skyrocketed. US household consumer debt has increased to $13.54 trillion as of the 4th quarter of 2018, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. This is higher than 2008, before the crash and 21% higher than 2013.

Corporate debt is reported as being $9 trillion, according the CNBC on 11/21/18.

This all comes at a time while student loan defaults are at the highest level in history, vehicle loan defaults are higher than 2009, corporations are downsizing or declaring bankruptcy and retail closures may well reach record numbers for the second year in a row. As corporations downsize or fail, that affects consumer income, leading to more debt, more defaults.

As of this moment, the only reason we are not seeing a rise in home foreclosures is because new property loans since 2009 have primarily been to equity owners. In other words, companies that buy property to rent out, rather than for direct occupancy. Those corporate owners got a reprieve via the bipartisan tax cut but that has a limited beneficial time frame. While rents have increased, so has the percentage of vacancies nationally.

Many younger Americans are staying in their parent’s homes longer than they used to for financial reasons. They are also not buying as many vehicles as previous generations, opting instead for public transportation or car pooling. They are also having children later or choosing to not have children at all. If they do leave home, they are less likely to purchase a home because they cannot be assured of employment status for any reasonable period of time. Aside from student loans, they try and avoid long-term debt for exactly that reason.

Younger generations have become the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, sharing and upcycling generations. They may buy some things new but tend to reserve their funds for things they really want instead of going on wild-eyed capitalist frenzies.

Some of this is done out of fear for very real reasons. Jobs pay too little and are not reliable. The younger a person is, the more prone they are to being laid off in a last-in, first-out scenario when mass layoffs, corporate restructuring, downsizing are announced. I saw much of the same conditions regarding job experience when I was a teenager. Employers demanding experience, yet not willing to hire a young person so they would gain that experience.

Younger people are less able to become successful entrepreneurs than previous generations. If they start a business, it is likely to be driven out of existence by corporate competition. If they have an innovative idea, it will be stolen, copied and mass produced with no credit or royalties ever offered.

The thing to realize about all of this is that nearly all of their well-based fears is that these conditions are being orchestrated by those of older generations. Older corporate executives announce layoffs and bankruptcies while claiming multi-million dollar bonuses. Older stockholders demand these conditions by insisting on stock dividends every year or even every quarter. Older workers have seniority which they insist upon, some deserving for their experience and others barely productive, just riding out the calendar. AARP lobbies for special treatment of older workers, special rates, while sometimes being the same ones causing the other conditions which younger people face.

Is it any wonder that younger people today are voicing ever-increasing support for Socialism, all the way up to Marxism? Is it any wonder at all that there is a perceived conflict between both economic class and generations?

We’ve known for years that the population is aging and there are not enough younger workers entering the workforce to provide for the elderly who are retiring. Wages are stagnant and Social Security may not exist to the time when I retire and I am about to be 57 years old. Yet the national debt keeps increasing so much that we will soon be paying so much interest that the debt will never be paid by any living generation.

Add to this the fact that younger people are more likely to come out as gay or bisexual than older generations. Yet more and more laws are introduced which target them for their orientation. Some of this is mere ideology but most of that ideology is forced upon younger generations by older generations and even employers who check social media posts and associates. Privacy is a thing of the past and employers sometimes make sexual orientation a subject and condition of employment. One of the most ironic aspects of this is that older generations claim younger people are sexually frivolous today, even though studies have shown that today’s younger people are waiting longer to have sex at all, more likely to use protection and have fewer partners by the same age as their parents did.

Younger Americans are also less likely to buy and own firearms than their parents. Which is why firearm sales have decreased over recent years. Once you’ve lived through fear of being a school shooting victim, guns seem a lot less attractive for some reason. A few months ago, the NRA claimed it is going broke and may not be able to afford to continue to exist. That’s doubtful but we can always hope.

None of the above even mentions young people fearing that a draft could be instituted, considering the number of wars the US is in and expanding for the benefit of corporate profits and unreasoning xenophobia of their older countrymen.

Millions of older Americans like myself do understand and are not blind to the predicament young people are in. That there are valid reasons for rising illicit drug use, antidepressant use and clinical depression that have become so common for younger generations.

I am not speaking for or against it but a flashpoint is coming. The lid is off the powder keg and we’re just waiting for the spark that sets it off now. It’s unlikely there have been this many calling for a true Revolutionary overthrow of the government since the Civil War. JFK said, “Those that make peaceful revolution impossible make violent revolution inevitable.” We’ve been trying for a peaceful revolution for years. It’s not working. Patience has worn thin.

So it’s up to the young and the poor just what happens from here. You know which side I’ll be on.

No, Capitalism Does Not Create Opportunity Or Drive Innovation

One of the most-oft claims of capitalists is that capitalism creates opportunities and drives innovation. This is an absolutely false statement driven by desperation or willful ignorance. Indeed, the opposite is often true.

Have you ever watched children play? Seen how their imaginations work? Children can be truly innovative. The point of education is supposed to be to guide that curiosity, that innovation using valid information which they can use through their lives, rather than “reinventing the wheel”. Learn what is already known and progress from there.

The history of mankind is a history of innovation. From first learning how to use tools to the wheel to building structures on up to electricity and computers and space flight. Let’s note right here that the first country to fly in space was not a capitalist country, it was a Communist country, the USSR.

Know any geeks and/or inventors? Inventors invent because that is their nature. Most begin as curious children who take things apart to learn how those things work. They just never get over it. It is a part of themselves they cannot deny. Yes, of course they have high hopes of creating something which will make them rich. Yet ask most of them and why do they want to get rich? Usually so they can build the workshop of their dreams and keep inventing with no monetary restraint.

All inventors and artists and writers hope to make money from their creations. For many, not because they want fame or actual fortune. Just so they don’t have to have money as a concern to limit their creativity.

Yes, I include myself in this. Of course I hope my writing takes off and becomes wildly popular. Even so I get wealthy. Of course, I would be the first to find and laugh at the irony if that happened. In my case, it isn’t likely to occur. I’m already on the radar of capitalists attempting to invalidate my work and oppress my efforts. Why do I have these hopes? First of all, I have the same concerns as everyone else. Financial security. In my own case, also so I could stop working my regular job and spend more time researching and writing. Would it be good for my self esteem? Definitely. However, it should be noted that my writing focuses on things far beyond personal accumulation or ego and that is not going to change. Yet because of the nature of my writing, it is unlikely to be published or accepted by corporate interests unless I already have gained enough of a following that I pose a profit to the capitalists. That is where the irony I mentioned comes in. Until that point, my ideas pose a threat which is easily suppressed. The subjects I and other Progressives cover are a threat to them and the capitalist system.

The history of capitalism in this country is littered with the oppression of ideas which posed a threat to the powerful and wealthy. Look at the history of Nikola Tesla versus Edison. Wind and solar energy development. Fuel efficient vehicles. Watch the documentary, “Who Killed The Electric Car?”

In many cities across the US, there were once electric streetcars. Over time, those were removed and replaced with gas and diesel burning buses. Yet electric streetcars and subways are still popular in Europe. They are efficient and less polluting than our buses. Why were they eliminated here? Why do we not have them now in more cities? Why are we the only industrialized nation to not have high speed rail systems? It’s because these things are suppressed by certain corporate interests. Car companies, oil companies, airlines. All of whom stand to lose large sums of money by the use of efficient public transportation. The lack of efficient public transportation also helps maintain the separation between affluent and poverty-stricken areas in place. When the poor have to spend huge portions of their lives or large sums of money simply getting from one place to another, they have no energy or time remaining to engage in public activism or even self improvement by anything more than basic educational needs. Which the corporations own, manipulate and use for indoctrination.

There have been legends of various inventions which have been suppressed over decades. Like a carburetor that allowed vehicles to be far more fuel efficient. That one is slightly dubious but an example. We can have no doubt that inventions which stand to limit the profits of certain corporations or industries have been suppressed, even to the point of murder. Look at the actions of our military contractors and the oil industry. They are willing to kill millions in other countries for profits. With the blessing and assistance of the highest members of our government. The same holds true for drug companies. How many medications have been approved and later removed from the market because of the harm they caused, including lives lost? If corporate and government entities are willing to do or allow things like that, why would you believe they would have qualms with taking one or a few American lives to maintain that much money and power?

How many aspiring inventors and innovators have been suppressed just by the system we have in place? Just by virtue of having to work full time jobs, pay so much for insurance, mortgage, student loans and transportation that they have too little left to invest in developing ideas and projects? How many young people who could be great innovative minds are held back by the cost of adult education and/or helping pay for medications for their parents or even their own medications? Then ask why so many young people are on antidepressants. Meaning more hours worked and more money spent for that medication.

There is no way I am suggesting that any system is without flaw. No socioeconomic system will allow every member of a society to have everything they need or want all the time. This is really a discussion of implementing a system which provides basic needs for all members of a society and interconnected systems which are most beneficial to the members of our society, creating a more level playing field.

There is nothing level in a playing field in which the rights to innovations along with the profits from those innovations consistently belong to those at the top. Where those who invent are merely subjects to the owners of capital, forced to sign away the rights to their creations and discoveries or incur crushing debt and be destroyed by lawsuits brought by oligarchs. That is not a system that creates opportunity or drives innovation.

Capitalists Be Warned

I keep having responses from capitalists trying to attack my writing and concepts. Several have PhD’s in economics. I guess I should take it as a compliment that I am having such an effect.

It would be more than arrogant to say they are envious that I am a top economics writer here on Medium. Yes, they have more education on the subject. However, if they continue promoting the status quo as they are wont to do, I do not consider it education. I consider it nothing but indoctrination.

While I am assertive in my views, in general I try to be polite in my writing and responses. On the other hand, if people actively and purposefully promote views that are harmful by intent or willful ignorance and defend that position I will become far more forceful. Neither I nor our society have any use for people that place profit over people.

These people are brave in their attacks on me, sitting behind their keyboards, still grasping their belief that the economic crash that is coming will not affect them. They are blind to the rising calls for literal revolution. Just because I am not part of that call for taking to the streets does not mean I am complacent or passive. I will not stand down when confronted by aggressive, sometimes racist. capitalists.

I find it more egregious when they claim knowledge of economic systems when they only grasp one economic system and have never even examined other economic systems other than to attempt to discredit systems which are currently outperforming our own system to an extreme degree. It demonstrates clearly that they have no understanding of economics, they only understand capitalism.

In the end, I know the truth. That they do have at least some understanding of other systems. These are the priests.

If I have not explained my view on capitalism, it is that capitalism is a religion. Money is God, bankers and CEO’s are priests, believers are sycophants. Nonbelievers are heretics who must be sacrificed to their God. Money literally does not exist. It holds value only because we agree it has value. It is numbers on paper, digital impulses. If we all agreed today that money has no value, tomorrow there would be no more wars for profit. Yet capitalists are more than willing, sometimes they are even eager to allow or directly cause suffering, destruction and death for their belief system. Some will claim to be Atheists but that’s simply not true. Money is their religion.

Capitalists genuinely subscribe to a belief system in which they, themselves have no value. Only what they possess has value. Take away their possessions and they are worth nothing at all. Because of their ethics, they hold no value to society. If they have no money, they have no value to the capitalist system because they present no profit. They can incur debt, which is of value to the system but that is still no indication of their personal value.

Don’t ask yourself, “What’s in your wallet?” Ask yourself, “What value am I to anyone without my wallet?” Be honest with the answer. If you cannot name anything, it’s time to change your world and personal views.

I will challenge capitalists to name something they have done in their lives for the benefit of others with no profit motive. Almost consistently they will claim that they have donated money to charity.

Without capitalism, the recipients of that charity would not need the donations.

Do they donate so much money that they will be forced to skip a single meal? Not take a vacation? Cancel their cable bill? Place an extra charge on their credit card? No. They donate enough to use as a tax write-off. Maybe they do it to feel better about themselves but more often it is self-promotion. They’re very fast to bring it up.

So I have no tolerance for these attacks. I’ve said before I have no problem blocking people who have no ethics. I have better things to do with my time and my brain cells. Yes, I have an agenda. My agenda is helping to promote a system which benefits all. A system that fairly distributes resources to all and recognizes the value of human and animal existence. That houses the homeless, treats the ill, feeds the hungry, educates children and adults, conserves and heals the environment. If that is not your goal as well, I have no use for you. If your mind is closed to these goals, I have no use for you. Just go away now and save me the effort of blocking you.

If you are a capitalist, I don’t need you. Does anyone?

Bernie Sanders and Alleged Progressives Need To Listen.. This Time

I will admit that the way things are shaping up, I am actually getting a bit excited for 2020 now. Not for the Establishment candidates already being pushed on us like Harris. I am excited for the growing response to them.

Socialism in various forms have taken solid hold in the political landscape. Most are Social Democrats like myself but ideologies run the gamut all the way to true Marxist Socialism. Not in the form of what happened in other countries, which is what is used as a constant hand-wringing threat. We have the advantages today of information and communication, which previous societies did not have. We also have the advantage that should Socialism take hold in America more than it has, we do not have to deal with the capitalist US government and military apparatus to sanction our own country. Of course they can try but you want a civil war? That’s how you get a civil war.

Now we have several candidates claiming various levels of Social Democracy. Though they do not go far enough and they all still subscribe to certain propaganda which holds them back. Bernie Sanders is the most obvious and has the greatest following.

Of course, the issues I am referring to are election fraud and Russiagate. Millions of his former followers will never vote for him as long as he continues to subscribe to and promote Russiagate and ignore DNC election fraud.

Maybe, just maybe this will finally start dying down. I’ve written numerous times that Russiagate was dead. At this point the House and the Senate bipartisan investigations on Russia have closed their probes with the statement that there is no evidence. Meanwhile Mueller has had to rein in press claims and none of his indictments have shown anything. His case filed against the 13 trolls resulted in him trying to deny providing evidence to the defense in discovery, which was denied by the federal judge. Since then I have not heard anything about it. Mueller was not expecting them to have representation in court. The rest of the indictments had nothing to do with Russia, only regular DC corruption. Not to mention his “investigation” has never once looked at the DNC servers, which is the scene of the alleged crime. The scene of the crime is where any true investigation begins.

Russiagate began with claims of Russia hacking the DNC servers. Somewhere along the way that simply disappeared. Funny how that happens. There were some initial claims that the DNC emails were falsified. Until people started demanding to see the originals. That’s when the DNC servers were no longer part of the equation. Then it became that Russia hacked the election. Until it was proven and stated by Obama that that was not technologically possible. Then it became collusion, which a select few people still loosely hold onto. Nobody could ever even define collusion and has not to this day. Then it became interference. The best they could come up with was what amounted to a maximum of $50,000 spent before the election, which was split between promoting Trump, Hillary, Bernie and Jill. I am making the assumption that the reader is actually informed on the real numbers. In an election process which saw at least $2 billion spent between candidates, that comes to $1 of every $40,000 spent on campaigning. Even for those that subscribe to the claim of $100,000 spent by “Russians” you’re still talking about $1 for every $20,000 of campaign spending.

Yes, those are the numbers. That’s how stupid Russiagate is.

Now, Bernie and Tulsi and other candidates who even remotely lean away from the establishment are seeing the Russian claims turn against them. Call it karma but they are once again seeing claims that they are tools being manipulated by Russia.

For what purpose? To provide us all with healthcare? Damn those Russians!!!

No alleged Progressive candidate is going to have the backing of the millions and millions of us who oppose Russiagate. Poll after poll have shown that most of us do not believe the Russian allegations, do not think Russia is any threat to us and that we have much more pressing concerns. The more informed anyone is on the subject, the less there is to be believed in the allegations. What we do know is how much risk there is in continuing this charade. The risk of war with Russia is something we do not care to allow to advance. The cost of always increasing spending for “defense” while more Americans go homeless, jobless and without medical care.

I’ve already covered how the claims of job growth are all lies, here.

So, is it time we can put this to rest yet? Can we start focusing on policies and dispense with the propaganda? Can we stop covering for blatant election fraud? I doubt it. Not as long as people continue tuning in to MSM for their daily or hourly dose of fear, offense, anger and bigotry. Not as long as our media and our elections are governed by military contractors and oil companies. As long as the media is making profits from the lies and parties can distract you from the issues with bullshit, it will continue.

Until this stops, we will still hear about “investigations” which steal time and resources that should be spent on governing, on representing us. We will continue paying money for these things. We will keep spending more on “defense” while placing the entire globe at risk. We will keep listening to how candidates are “resisting” not with policies that benefit us, our economy and our very lives but with even more “investigations”.

Turn off MSM, cancel subscriptions to WaPo, NYT, etc. Text, write, call, email, tweet to the candidates of your choice that you demand that they stop with Russiagate immediately. That they directly confront election fraud and promote ways to stop the profit motive while repairing our electoral process. Tell them to focus on policies like Medicare For All, raising wages, ending wars instead of trying to start more wars. Do it now. Don’t wait until 2020.

Nationalize SOME Industries

There can be little debate that we have specific focal problems that hold us back as a society. Income inequality, access and cost of medical care including medications and warfare being chief among them.

If Americans truly want peace, security and prosperity, the honest truth is that specific industries should be nationalized. Take away the profit motive for warmongers and apathetic capitalists who allow or even cause death and destruction of lives for their own greed.

Military weapons and aircraft. One industry that should be nationalized is military weapons manufacturing. We all know that MIC contractors are the biggest promoters of warfare. They spend huge sums of money paid by taxpayers to promote the next conflict and the next and the next. If the military weapons and aircraft industries were nationalized, completely operated by government agencies and worked by government employees, we would not be paying for advertising. We would not be paying for corporate profits. With that manufacturing accounting being subject to FOIA requests, the cost of military supplies would plummet. CONgressional representatives would be far more likely to question and criticize cost and time of development of new weapons systems. In addition, the media just might start asking critical questions about our conflicts.

The oil industry. We all know that many, if not most of our military conflicts for decades have been for the benefit of the oil industry. Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, the current regime change attempt against Venezuela and much of the heightened tensions with Russia. The industry uses unsafe practices which result in environmental damages while taxpayers are left to pick up the cleanup bill. We are told that America has achieved “energy independence”. Meanwhile, oil is one of our top three exports and one of our top three imports. Why are we shipping oil out, only to replace it with oil shipped in? The answer is the petrodollar system but I am being rhetorical here. The oil industry seizes land from citizens with barely a finger lifted by elected officials paid by the oil industry. What many people don’t realize is that thousands of oil workers are injured each year. In some cases, permanently disabled. From that point on, those workers are the responsibility of the taxpayer to provide for through Medicaid and Social Security. In addition, it was demonstrated that the government subsidizes the oil industry by tens of billions of dollar a year, partly by paying for surveying new oil sources. The industry never has to repay one penny of that money, they just take the profits and run. Have you seen how much the oil industry advertises? The propaganda they promote? You pay for that. You also pay for their lobbyists and lawyers to the tune of billions a year. So, if we have to pay for surveys, security, cleanup and the care of their injured while surrendering rights to our own property and environment, nationalizing the industry just makes sense. If we are net exporters of oil, then we have no need of wars in other countries for oil. Do we? Make the oil industry directly profitable to the country and assume responsibility and accountability so we have more control over it.

Medical payment systems. Yes, Medicare For All. Medicare For All does not propose making all medical care being provided by the government. That is propaganda pushed by insurance companies. I’ve written long explanations of the money the insurance industry makes, spends and distributes which has nothing to do with medical services. Advertising, executive pay and bonuses, promotional crap, commissions for insurance agents, lawyers to deny coverage, lobbyists, campaign “donations”, stockholder dividends. You pay for all of it!!! Yet your deductible and premiums keep climbing. Chances are good that your insurance never pays one cent to your medical care, so every penny you give them goes to profits. If we nationalized the healthcare payment system, the cost of medical care could be reduced as much as half. Yet everyone would be covered and have higher quality of care. No bankruptcies due to medical costs directly.

Drug manufacturing. Many new drugs are developed by universities funded through grants, paid for by taxpayers. Corporations bid for the patent and claim all profits from that point and for many years. They never have to repay the development costs which the taxpayer funded. Look at many other countries that are developing new treatments that surpass our own. Drug prices on common medications for blood pressure and diabetes, let alone cancer, have risen to the point that many chronically ill people cannot afford their medications and then suffer catastrophic health events including death, stroke, heart attack and kidney failure as a result. Or they have to make a choice between medications and food or shelter. Insulin has increased by 700+% in recent years. Once again, look how many drug ads you see. Look at corporate executive pay. Look at stock dividends. Look at chain pharmacy profit margins. Look at how many drugs have been approved which were later pulled from the market because they were unsafe to begin with. Look at how many lawyers drug companies retain and pay. Look at campaign donations and lobbying. You pay for that before and above the cost of your medications. It is no longer enough to even suggest regulating drug prices. The entire drug industry should be nationalized. If we spent our money to have universities developing new medications, that money would go toward improving education. Cutting lobbyists out of the equation would allow the FDA to do what it was intended to do. Our medications would be safer and more affordable.

Adult education funding. We’ve been having the conversation for years now about student loan debt and cost of advanced education. Student loan debt does a massive amount of damage, not only at the personal level but at the economic level to the whole country. As a nation, we spend billions of dollars per month on adult education. It is spent on student loans over decades and tuition costs over years. In many cases, the degree obtained never benefits the student. Tens of thousands of people declare bankruptcy every year thanks to student loan debt. That lowers their employment and earning potential for the best jobs. It is another system that benefits the rich and punishes the poor. If you are married and your spouse dies with a federal student loan debt, youare liable for the balance of that loan. Did you know that? If you default on a federal student loan, the IRS gets involved. They can seize your tax refund, part of your pay for years, your bank account, your car and your home. You will not be eligible for government employment at any level and may be barred from many other jobs. Federal student loans cannot be discharged for poverty, bankruptcy, chronic or critical illness, disability or homelessness. Your credit rating will be decimated for life. Did you know that? Many people do not. Millions of Americans never attend or finish college because of the cost or fear of debt. This is making the US fall behind other countries on advanced education, while we already trail much of the world in basic education. The money being spent on education and student loans is subtracted from the general economy. So that is billions every single month which is not spent in local economies to create and maintain jobs. Hundreds of thousands of people cannot buy homes because of student loan debt and it limits their options for renting as well. Colleges and universities over some years have been basically selling off parts of their facilities and educational programs to corporations. In exchange, the corporations get to dictate curriculum for various programs. Which means students are less educated than indoctrinated. While I would not yet advocate nationalization of adult education itself, it is far beyond time for us to nationalize funding for adult education. This would benefit the economy, our educational ranking internationally, the students and allow institutions to be freed from corporate shackles.

Many people still fear the term Socialism. Yet, as you can see, capitalism is far more destructive to our economy and our society than Socialism could even aspire to be. The speech against Socialism is propagated by capitalist media and politicians under the dictate of corporate entities.

Many people are pushing for complete Marxist Socialism. That’s not something I personally advocate. If we nationalized (socialized) the industries listed above, that would be a major move in the right direction which would allow true capitalism to flourish, as opposed to the corporatism we have in place now. It would lead to more secure lives, better health, better education and a more peaceful diplomatic nation.

Maximum Income

I thought I had posted this one over before but guess not. This was published on Medium on 6/26/18.

For years we have been discussing income inequality. However, we are taking the wrong approach.

Yes, trickle down economics CAN actually work, if handled properly. It has NEVER been handled properly and is not intended to work as promoted.

On income inequality, the common argument is that it will cause inflation, increased prices, etc. While there is some minor validity to this, that is minor. But I am not going to analyze that issue here.

Instead, the most effective route to achieving greater income parity is not to increase the income at the bottom. The best and most effective approach is limiting income at the top.

I am referring to establishing a maximum income. Not a maximum wage, but income.

This is not inferring anything should be taken away from anyone that they already possess. It would not limit your possessions that you could retain which you have or may purchase with your income. It refers specifically to taxing future income from all sources. This is not suggesting any ridiculously small number. I am suggesting a maximum income of something like $500 million a year from all sources.

No, that does not mean a lifetime limit. That means PER YEAR. If you need more than $500 million per year to live on, there is truly something wrong with you.

Yes, that income would also be taxed with an incremental tax system. If you do not understand incremental taxes, look it up. The rich (and willfully ignorant) like to claim that people at that income level are taxed at (for example) 40%. When you look at how incremental taxes work, the truth is that the real number is closer to 20% or less.

Yes, I know. That would leave them with ONLY $400 million per year to live on. The struggle is real. Oh, the horror.

When we talk about a maximum income, that would include stock packages, free insurance, corporate paid vacations at resorts, stock dividends. Anything that adds to your income and benefits would count as actual income for tax purposes.

Of course, anything above the established maximum would be taxed at 100%.

On the corporate side, we should be limiting corporate profits at a percentage. For example, a 20% cap on corporate profits after expenses. Once again from all sources. Because it would be set at a percentage, if a corporation makes $1 billion a year profits, if they want more it means they have to produce more. That means more production, creating more jobs, more sales.

The effect of more jobs existing than workers to fill them would be increased wages as companies try and attract workers. That would mean they would also spend more money on benefits for workers, such as better insurance, etc.

And that is how trickle down economics could actually work. It is not how it is happening now because there is no limit on profits. Companies increase profits by eliminating jobs, decreasing wages and benefits while performing stock buy-backs to increase their stock value (then there are fewer and fewer absolute stocks available, held by fewer and fewer people).

The additional effect is that it would stabilize the stock market. Fewer radical highs and lows because there would be no benefit to massive buying and selling. No stock price increases as companies announce layoffs. The only way a stock would increase in value would be by increasing sales and production, meaning more jobs being created instead of eliminated.

There is no question this entire idea will be attacked by those who say it cannot happen. Keep in mind that ALL grass roots movements begin this way. It starts with an idea, spread among people. Past grass roots movements have been the female vote, desegregation, domestic violence. Take the last one. It took years to convince people that it was bad for men to beat their wives and children. In fact, it was sometimes expected. How long did it take to gain legislation on that?

Those past movements took long periods because of the times in which they happened. Today we have the advantage of the internet. Social media in many forms. We share ideas in milliseconds across vast distances and millions of people. Yet it still begins with us. We cannot wait for a hero. I have said many times and will keep saying it: We are our own heroes. Let’s act like it. Defeatism has no purpose.