Archive | April, 2015

21. Simple Political ReWording with Dangerous Consequences

26 Apr

This is a short blog devoted to something so important that it deserves a separate brief piece.  A minor alteration in a short phrase can have a profound negative affect on the outcome of elections. Here it is in its original form (supported by most Democrats) and its slanted rewriting for diversion:

1.  Original:  “Raise tax collection for the very rich”

2.  Slanted:  “Raise taxes”

The second looks similar to the first, but there is a profound difference. The second scares the general public and is a blatant misquote.  Republicans love to say that Democrats want to raise taxes.  They leave off: “for the very rich”.   I have seen this alteration over and over again and its negative effect is profound.  It really affects voter behavior and causes horrible damage to our country.

Here is an example.   According to CNN Money, “Calling for higher taxes on the rich has been a feature of every one of Obama’s budgets since 2009.”     See: http://money.cnn.com/2015/01/30/pf/taxes/obama-taxes-rich/

Republicans usually rephrase this as: “Obama wants to raise taxes”.  In fact, Obama has repeatedly said that he wants to lower or hold steady taxes for the middle class.  You can see this in the legislation he has promoted.   See the following for more info on Obama and middle-class tax reduction:  http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2011/dec/01/barack-obama/obama-says-taxes-lower-middle-class/

20. Mr. Jones Saves Capitalism

26 Apr

The TED Conferences are a valuable source of intellectual information and stimulation.  I was excited when I read the recent talk title “Why We Need to Rethink Capitalism” (April 2015) by Paul Jones.   He describes “income inequality” and makes us feel that he really cares about this issue. He admits to being extremely wealthy but immediately rejects the idea of “higher taxes”, it’s not on his “bucket list.”  Note that he says simply “higher taxes”, not “higher taxes for the rich”. This is the first clue that we are getting brainwashed, and it is a typical ploy of Republicans: shortening “raising taxes for the wealthy”, a Democrat ideal, down to “raising taxes” to scare the general population.

What he suggests is something very special.  He proposes “actually trusting the system that got us here.” We must increase the “justness in corporate behavior”.  In fact, he actually started an organization devoted to determining and implementing “just corporate behavior”.  He does not propose a solution but leaves it up to the public to lead this effort.  Pure capitalism cannot be trusted — that is why “anti-trust” legislation was implmented early in the 20th Century. History shows that unregulated capitalism often spirals out of control, leaving poverty and despair in its wake.  Remember Enron, and remember the banks “too-big-to-fail” with the bailout paid for by the public — and many other examples.

No doubt this idea will please the naive.  And rich people will be happy to work on a voluntary system that will be a diversion from real solutions.  This approach at best will provide token improvements and will make happy those that should be paying higher taxes.  We must raise tax rates at the highest levels, and close tax loopholes, many of which were created by congressional payoffs.  I have worked with government-supplied data to see if increased taxes could provide substantial help for those in need.   Regardless of what politicians say, it will help, and some of the increased revenue could be devoted to infra-structure repair (a job creator).

It is sad that the obvious Republican diversion tactics from real solutions like higher tax collections from the rich, can be effective with large segments of our population.  For decades, rich people have enjoyed unfair income advantages, and it is time to implement real change.  A final thought: there are some moral rich people who realistically promote tax fairness, but most got to their elevated positions by the ruthless disregard of others less fortunate.

19. American Lazy Slackers ?

25 Apr

Bloggers that want to support the rising wealth of very rich people, love to find ways of distorting statistics to justify their goals.  Based on government surveys, one such writer states that 172 million persons in the United States are not working.  This may well be true, but he goes on to say that these 172 million are lazy slackers.

There is a long history of surveys being misinterpreted. He goes directly from the “number not working” to the conclusion that most or all of these are lazy.  The blogger does not cite any survey that explores slacking or laziness.  To make this conclusion, you would have to do a costly major investigation to find out which people are actually lazy and which have good reasons for their unemployment.  But, you can’t make such a survey, because few will admit to being lazy. We don’t even know what type of survey questions were used to arrive at the original “number not-working”.

Over interpretation of data is a device often used to justify political agendas.  “Not working” could include housewives raising children, disabled people, people who don’t interview well, children, retired people, students, unskilled and inexperienced persons, convicts, people in rehab, people who have large monetary resources, handymen doing odd jobs, volunteer workers, victims of identify theft, floods, drought, etc., etc.  Many informal studies have shown that most of those able to work would prefer to do so.  To penalize the many for the lazyness of a few is unjust.

It is sad that there is such a need in some to attack those that are less fortunate.  And even ironic that fair tax code and fair tax collection just for the wealthy could substantially benefit those that need help.

18. Energy, Food, Water and Our Survival

25 Apr

An intelligent alien from another planet might see the great surge in human population in the last couple of centuries as similar to an infestation of locusts. Evolution of life on Earth has resulted in a species with an ability to survive and reproduce so effective that it is now straining the resources of the entire planet. We are gobbling up all the fish in the seas, we are creating huge heards of cows that consume massive amounts of energy and give off climate-affecting gases, and in many places we are running out of water and resources for electricity.

Although I have been aware of all these problems for a long time, an excellent article in Scientific American by Michael E. Webber (Feb. 2015) clarifies these issues and points out often neglected interactions. He states that:
ENERGY <> WATER <> FOOD
are the three most important factors for our survival, and that the interaction between these factors is of critical importance.

Here are some examples. To increase necessary food production, overuse of water pumps has often used up electrical energy resources causing massive black-outs. Producing drinkable water by desalination of sea-water consumes too much of available energy. Planting more crops for food uses up water and energy resources. Using oil for increased energy produces atmospheric gases that lead to droughts in some areas and floods in other places. Nuclear power-plants, great for energy, squander available water required for cooling processes.Food production and distribution can consume massive amounts of energy.

There are solutions to all of our energy, water, and food problems, but we must carefully consider how each factor affects the other. Times have changed. 50 years ago, all three were plentiful, but now we must make unbiased adaptations. “Deciders”, such as congressmen, need to be well-educated (particularly in science) in order to make the best decisions. Special interests can support short-sited legislation that will make our survival even more hazardous.

A final thought: terrorism, ISIS threats, and wars in general, are all stimulated by large populations of poor people. Desperate people are easy recruits for anti-social acts. Inefficient handling of the three factors clearly promotes these desperate situations and poverty.