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100. Basic Causes of Greatest Concern

10 Mar

In my 100 blogs to date, I have tried to cover important governmental, social, medical, and related issues, that profoundly affect our way of life. In this, my 100th blog, I will list some of our most significant current issues, and maybe some possible solutions. I know that my blogs are sometimes imperfect and not very original, but my purpose is to increase the number of voices urging important changes and understanding. So here is a list of ideas to emphasize:

Our American founding fathers when creating the Constitution and other rules, were afraid of the kind of populism that we see today. So they tried to move important decisions away from the ordinary citizens and towards more responsible and intelligent leaders. Here are two examples supporting this lack of trust:
1. The establishment of an electoral college, to prevent direct citizen voting.
2. Until 1913, senators were elected by state legislatures, and not the people.
The founding fathers were afraid that ordinary people could be scammed by unscrupulous politicians. They anticipated someone like our current President.

Societies that over emphasize capitalism and the importance of financial success, foster corruption so that clever manipulators accumulate vast wealth, much of which belongs to the people. It is apparent that anyone (or party) in office for a long time will drift away from the people’s needs and develop methods for increasing their wealth. These methods include donating to Congressmen who will legislate tax loopholes and unfair subsidies.

An age requirement for U.S. President is not enough. Tax returns must be required and other financial and business details provided. It is too easy for very rich people, once in office, to make decisions best for their businesses and not for the country. A notable example is the transport minister for Azerbaijan, formerly a part of the Soviet Union. His covert construction contracting, participation in money laundering schemes, and wide-ranging contacts made him extremely rich at the expense of the citizens.

Corruption and unjustified accumulation of wealth, is not limited to politicians. Almost every vital service needed by the people, such as healthcare, education, and insurance, has cheated the citizens and made administrators (and others) hugely wealthy. Many of these rich people donate to Congress and through resulting legislation, make themselves even richer. Donations to congressmen has shifted vast amounts of money away from ordinary citizens, to undeserving administrators (making many millions of dollars). For example, median total compensation for ceos of major teaching non-profit hospitals is 1.35 million. Many make much more. Is it right that many millions of dollars are given to hospital administrators while poor people are being rejected (even die) for lack of insurance? Important services should be provided by the government at little or no cost. I feel that administrators and certain others should be allowed to become somewhat rich, but not extremely so.

Clarification: All “Western” or developed countries are a combination of capitalism with some socialistic features. Pure capitalism allows the unlimited accumulation of wealth with no financial protections for the citizens. Pure socialism is an economy totally controlled and owned by the state. In the USA (and many other major countries) capitalism is primary, and there are “social programs” in areas such as healthcare, education, and supporting the poor. Shifting some funds from the very rich to the very poor through taxation changes and programs like Medicaid is not “socialism,” it is simply the addition of a “social program.”

Last but not least, is the unethical and self-serving practices of many doctors, dentists, and other healthcare practitioners. Diagnoses and treatments are often are more determined by cash-flow than by what is most beneficial for the patient. Here are some examples. In the area of severe back-pain, diagnosis is usually a defect in the spine, and the possibility of simple excessive muscle strain and tension is ignored. Procedures for spinal defects are very expensive whereas procedures for muscle tension simply involve (at no cost) frequent muscle stretching. Here is an example from dentistry. Several years ago, my teeth would develop a dark blue hue, which could be removed by a professional teeth cleaning. Two dentists I went to urged me to double my teeth cleaning sessions, and spent little effort in trying to determine the cause. Fortunately, I was able to figure this out myself, and saved a lot of expense. The blue colored mouthwash I was using, dyed the teeth, and there was even a warning on the label. I could provide a lot of other personal examples, and many are described in previous blogs. An excellent book on this subject is “Confessions of a Medical Heretic”, 1979, by Robert Mendelsohn, MD. This is an old book, but still very applicable to many current physicians (but definitely not all).

Is there a quick fix for all of the forementioned issues? No, but major efforts to improve education could be transformative. Knowledge is important, but developing an ability to reason and research is even more relevant. Still, I have a sneaking suspicion that our current administration would fear a well-informed electorate.

89. Some Tweet-like World Observations

2 Feb

1. Privatizing means creating a system that has a private owner as opposed to a government-run institution. Examples are schools and prisons. The latter has been tried but is now diminishing. In privately run systems a concern for profit can cause neglect in providing required services. Often, civic-minded people working as a public governmental body can be more effective, and with less expenditure. There is a fixed budget so that workers can focus on quality work.  Some would argue that privatizing creates beneficial competition, but in fact there is little competition in areas where privatizing is being promoted.

2. Do we need insurance companies that develop extreme wealth for their executives, paid for by you and me, while benefits are diminished. Why should our world be configured so that a few can become very rich at the expense of the rest of us? Our more advanced civilization has been around for 150 years or so. In that time, the “royalty class” has become entrenched in our system — robbing many ordinary people of their means of survival. I am not against the concept that hard-work and intelligence should be financially rewarded, it is the extremes and abuses that concern me.extreme we Being rich is OK, wealth is not. I also want to make clear that I owned two businesses and believe in our form of regulated capitalism.

3. The arrival of Trump marks the creation of a new entity resulting from social/business evolution. The new creation is what I shall call the extended governing family unit. The Trump version consists of himself, his offspring and their spouses; each having a specialized function. But to clarify, effective and powerful family units are not really “new”, but a unit this large, with necessary distributed functionality, has never before been our “president.” My next blog (no. 90) will explain this further.

4. Diagnosis of all types should be separate from treatment. The fees for various treatments can be very different, and the Dx could be biased towards better income. For example, the exact diagnosis for a cancer could lead to expensive and profitable surgery or a much less expensive radiation or drug treatment.  Dentists have tough decisions in deciding what is actually a cavity that require a filling.  Any healthcare, other service, or repair company can be jaded by this factor. How to fix this is a real dilemma.

5. Our U.S. government may be doomed to failure, because of powerful relationships between very rich folks (donors) and governmental leaders. The best cure would be a great improvement in education so that we can break the donor influence. Remember that our current leaders arose to power under this system and, as you would expect, want to preserve it. Many of those at the top have little interest in teaching logic, reasoning, and correct history to our students and potential voters. We are caught in a powerful loop and will need to be coordinated and industrious to have a chance of breaking it. The current massive demonstrations in many cities is on the right track and encouraging.

6. Ironically, a thousand years from now, the invention of email may be identified by witty history professors, as the cause of the downfall of our Earth civilization. Take away email, and there would have been much less abuse of Hillary Clinton, and she could have been elected. If that had happened, a strong NATO, great international relations, better climate change efforts, fair treatment of the middle-class, control of nuclear weapons, careful communications, and other factors could have saved the world from numerous disasters.  Trump has already alienated some of our closest allies.

7. Governmental officials generally set their own salaries and rules of operation. They are only people, after all, so how can we expect them to be fair. It seems that most people in power long enough will eventually become corrupted (at least somewhat). We need a better system, but change is difficult. The press should help us, but are often limited by some very real vulnerabilities. A tough leader with violent supporters can be an awesome force that discourages needed criticism and modification.

8. I suspect that most of Trump’s early supporters voted for him for various reasons, including: his power, likability (for many), promises of jobs, identification of scapegoats, prejudices, anti-terrorism statements, etc.  What probably was overlooked, was a good estimation of what he would actually DO and SAY after taking office.  Many of us had hoped that he would change after a couple of weeks as POTUS, but he has not.

85. We Need Change ?

17 Jan

Trump is the man who will make “change” and deliver us from big, bad government. He is not a politician, he needs no donors, ignore what he says because there is goodness in his heart, he is smarter than the generals (and just about everyone else), all past negotiations are pathetic, and he will rid us of ISIS in a month. He is never wrong and will make you suffer for any criticism. He almost never addresses the criticism itself, but instead attacks the person who made it (even the Pope).

He paints a picture of a failing nation with incompetent leaders and government workers, rampant crime, poor negotiation, widespread poverty, etc. — “things could not be worse.” Black people have not made any progress — an insult to the millions that are doing well and have even achieved the presidency. His motto is “make American great again” without any explanation of when, how, and the meaning of “great.”

.                 False, rigid beliefs interfere with common sense

The Trump movement shows how many people are prisoners of their false and rigid beliefs, and cannot see the obvious and exercise common sense. Sad to say, there are many who voted for Trump just as a protest or just to do something based on frustration. Those persons may be responsible for a new direction leading to our country’s decline. Impulsive superficial voting may be the end of our world leadership and all of the good things developed to date. Trump will make change, but change for the better is unlikely. Here are some possible changes that have been mentioned at least once (but may have been retracted and/or restored at some time):

1. Changed healthcare legislation will cause millions to lose their insurance and many will die.

2. NATO is obsolete. Our long-standing, beneficial, and powerful pact with many nations is under threat.

3. Instead of sanctioning Russia, we will support their authoritarianism, attacks on the press, and take- over of countries like Ukraine. We will ignore their meddling in our elections and their efforts to undermine many nations.

4. We will pull out of the multi-nation “Iran Nuclear Deal”, allowing Iran to go back to making the bombs and delivery systems — prevented by the Deal. We will also pull out of climate-change treaties, which could prevent massive flooding (Florida, NY, etc) and catastrophic human migrations due to massive droughts.

5. Taxes for the very wealthy will be lowered by decreasing the tax rate and by allowing more loopholes. The rich will celebrate while the rest of us will either pay more tax or have reduced benefits — and/or our national debt will surge.

6. We will change trade policies and tariffs so that trade-wars will arise and prices for goods, everywhere, will increase. The chaos will affect our valuable relationships with long-standing allies.

7. Pres. Obama has at times been criticized for inaction, but Trump may impulsively engage us in wars, costing lives and greater national debt.

8. He may generate more terrorists by his abuse of Muslims, various other insults, and dangerous policies.

9. Our valuable press, which is required to keep our democracy honest, may be thrown out of the White House and attacked so viciously that it is ineffective. If Trump’s ideas are so laudable and clearly beneficial, why all the press criticism?

10. Is anyone suspicious of the fact that Trump’s cabinet is filled with extremely rich people and/or persons with questionable histories.

11. Trump would restore vicious torture and wants to keep Guantanamo prison. He also admires the strength of tyrants around the world. Are we setting a good example (under Trump) for the rest of the world? Traditionally the USA has been known for its might, and also its moral authority. Is Trump leading us in the right direction?

After Trump is in office for a while, the appreciation for the positive change that Pres. Obama caused will grow even more.  And the candidate, Hilary Clinton, that Obama so enthusiastically endorsed and was attacked so unmercifully by the GOP will be much more appreciated.  Ironically, she won the national vote count by almost three million.

Just added: I have been working on this blog for several days and at times almost scrapped it, because it may have been too negative. But after hearing Trump’s unnecessary and incorrect abuse of the civil-rights hero and self-sacrificing activist, Congressman John Lewis … well, here it is.

76. Actually, Rigged FOR Trump

3 Nov
Trump has complained that everything is rigged against him.  But if you examine the facts, you will actually see that almost everything is rigged for him.
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Tax laws are rigged for rich folks like Trump: loopholes, low effective rates, etc.
Banks are rigged to provide loans for very rich and powerful folks like Trump.
Rigged for Trump: a US Constitution that allows him meet his needs by lying.
Fraud laws are rigged to go easy on creators of fraudulent universities.
Republican FBI director breaking rules to tarnish Hillary;  rigged for Trump.
Capitalism rigged so that Trump can afford the best lawyers and accountants.
Social and legal rules are rigged to support a sexual aggressor like Trump.
Financial laws favor non-payment of contractors, the way Trump does it.
Bankruptcy laws are rigged to provide profits for Trump types.
Rigged press avoids asking really tough questions of people like Trump.*
Laws related to inheritance are rigged for Trump types.
Better investment systems like Hedge funds are rigged for rich folk like Trump.
Debate rules are rigged to favor a bully like Trump, who often interrupts.
Lobbyist laws and rules favor rich folks who can afford to pay them.
Influence with Congress is rigged for rich donors like Trump.
Campaign finance laws are rigged to favor folks like Trump.
Draft laws provided five deferments for Trump, others served to protect.
Trump’s father: rigged to provide him millions for a good start.
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The GENERAL ELECTION IN MANY WAYS IS RIGGED TO FAVOR TRUMP.
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But he is not quite clever enough to take full advantage of it (so far). He is defeated by his ego, lack of knowledge, poor social skills, misogyny, prejudices, and temperament. He  probably will lose, but not by much.  With some really good “presidential” behavior and social skills, he could have won (of course, at this time, it is still remotely possible).  His children and advisors tried to help him but he always reverts to his spoiled and crude self.
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*Some tough questions:  Why does your tax plan lower taxes for the very rich? How could Hillary fail in so many ways over 30 years, as you say, when the President and Congress make all of the major decisions? How can you blame your “Birther”movement on Hillary?  Why does the KKK support you?  Why did you lie about what was said about the wall, in  your meeting with the Mexican President?  Why did you say nothing was gained by the Iran Nuclear Deal when it provided for loss of Uranium, dismantling of  equipment, inspections, etc.?

66. To Trump Voters: Really?

13 Aug

Why are you voting for Trump? He thinks you are stupid. He says that his fans are so devoted that he could kill someone in downtown N.Y. and they would not care.

He tells you obvious lies because he thinks that you don’t reason very well and will not detect them. For example, he says that Hillary enabled her husband Bill in his affairs. That is not what she said and his numerous apologies at the time, suggest otherwise. Trump’s lie comes from a distortion of the fact that she helped him with bogus lawsuits. This exemplifies his method of changing facts to support his rants.

You originally voted for him because he said that he was entirely self-supporting and could not be corrupted. Now he is accepting and soliciting donations. This is clearly reported in the news.

He says that our military is a disaster. Another lie — military leaders and other experts feel that our military is as strong as ever and best of all nations.

He developed a procedure of communication that assumes that you will not research anything that he says. He thinks that you are so ignorant that you will just accept everything he says.  He proposes a gigantic expensive wall that will be paid for by Mexico — ignoring the fact that Congress would have to approve it, which they would not do. Mexican leaders have already said that they absolutely would not pay for it. He does not discuss all the ways that this expensive wall could be circumvented — like flying over, digging under, going by sea, going through checkpoints with false ID, coming in from other countries, etc, etc. He just assumes that you can’t figure this out.

He lied about an early condemnation of the Iraq war, he lied about Hillary wanting to raise taxes for the middle class, he lied about his business successes, and he refuses to let you see his income tax returns. He has insulted women, Mexicans, NATO allies, Muslim nation allies, many Republican leaders, disabled people, military men, and others. His emphasis is on revenge rather than on making productive alliances.  He supports torture even though President Reagan was against it.

But you say you don’t care about all these things, because when he takes office he will really be on your side and do wonderful things for the middle class. But why would you think that? He tells countless lies so why would you believe anything he says. He often changes his mind. His past behavior is selfish and full of failures where he profits and other are cheated (like those joining Trump University). His original written budget lowers taxes so much for rich folks that our country would soon be bankrupt.

He claims all sorts of abilities, but all these are related to business and not to a presidency. Creating construction jobs has no relation to the way a president would have to create jobs, which is by a complicated promotion of favorable economic conditions and job creating projects. He would have to work with Congress to achieve this and he has already alienated numerous congressmen.

So if you still are for Trump, have you really considered why? Ignoring what he says (words are cheap), has he actually done anything that would suggest a presidency that would help you? Have you researched the facts? Maybe your problem is limiting your choices to Republicans. Maybe the other party can do more of what you want.

56. Why: Not-Trump?

10 May

While millions of well-qualified people are unable to get entry-level jobs, Trump zooms into a viable candidacy, which for him is an entry-level position — the most difficult job in the world. In previous blogs, I have discussed Trump supporters and their rationale. Trump’s early success was his appeal to people with less general education and/or less political knowledge; those with prejudices against various minority groups; and those influenced by FEAR mongering. Most are looking for simple solutions (often violent) to very complex problems. The don’t accept life styles dissimilar to “American” ways. That said, I argue that most of his early supporters have these characteristics, but later supporters often simply join in with what appears to be a winner. Now I am going to provide some reasons why Trump should not have this entry-level position:
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He often does NOT tell the truth, or is painfully ignorant about past facts. Briefly:

His portrayal of the Iran nuclear deal is terribly false. The USA took NO money out of its treasury to give to Iran. The money belonged to Iran and was confiscated by a group of nations that supported its sanctions. The treaty was not between Iran and the USA but was developed by a group of nations including China, Russia, France, Germany, UK, etc.   He says we got nothing from this deal, which is a terrible lie. Iran lost its enriched Uranium, lost most of its bomb-making equipment, there are provisions for inspection, etc.

His “birther” (citizenship) ideas about Obama were ridiculous and proven false. He never acknowledged this or apologized.

He claims that Hillary Clinton enabled her husband to abuse women. All of this is nonsense. There was no evidence of abuse and Hillary did not encourage these actions.

There is NO evidence that Hillary committed crimes with respect to her emails — and after years of investigation nothing criminal was found.

He says that Mexico “sends” criminals and rapists to the USA. The Mexican government does not send any immigrants to us and most who come are simply good workers trying to support desperate relatives back home. After the immigrant attacks, he later says “He loves the Mexicans”. (Note: I do not support illegal immigration)

The attack of Islamic militants on the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi and Hillary’s role, is falsely portrayed. Over two years, there were nine official investigations, none of which revealed any wrong-doing. The ambassador knew he was going to a dangerous area, but went anyway. Immediately after the attack, a variety of intelligence reports came in and Hillary’s explanations varied because our knowledge was rapidly changing. And in the end, one of the arrested terrorists admitted he was angry about the publication that was offensive to Islam. People die in wars and we really don’t know what the killers were thinking. Kevin McCarthy (a top Republican) admitted that all of the investigation was just to bring down Hillary.

Attacks by Trump (and Republicans in general) on the Clinton Foundation have been false and nothing illegal was ever found. Republicans are desperate to attack anything that Democrats do.

Trump claimed that Muslims in New Jersey celebrated in the streets on 9-11 when the Trade-Center towers were attacked. This was made-up and there is absolutely no evidence to this.
There are many other deceptions. One good source is:
http://www.ibtimes.com/list-donald-trump-lies-10-claims-gop-front-runner-immigration-muslims-kkk-dont-hold-2330265
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Trump’s proposals involve numerous “flip-flops” and many are irrational and impossible. A good example is the Mexican-USA wall. It would be extremely expensive and would not stop people from coming into our country. Terrorists would have the money to come in by sea or by air. There always will be other ways for people to circumvent any barriers. Mexico cannot be forced into paying for the wall — that’s nonsense. We need the support of our neighbors in many ways and coercion of any kind would be harmful.
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Trump is crude and lacks the temperament to be President. A really good example is his remark about a Democratic debate intermission. Hillary came back a little late and you can see Trump thinking about this and visualizing it (in an abnormal way) and concluding that it was “disgusting”. What was he seeing in his head?  It’s scary to imagine the way his mind works.  Trump endorsed torture, including water-boarding and worse — despite the fact that R. Reagan and almost all U.S. and world leaders opposed it.
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Trump deals with questions and criticism, not by talking about issues or facts, but by attacking the critics, often in childish way. He lost a wonderful opportunity of support by the Pope who said it is better to build bridges than walls. He could have agreed, and said that bridges are most desirable but in some cases like national defense, walls are necessary. What kind of person reacts so negatively and does not take advantage of opportunities to gain important allies.
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Many have observed that Trump’s crude, bizarre, and childish behavior reflects a mental problem. He acts like someone who is sleep deprived, and how he describes his lifestyle supports this notion. He is almost 70, dob: June 14, 1946, and the borderline age for Alzheimer’s disease is 65. At his age, many people have the noticeable cognitive impairments due to this disease. (Hillary Clinton, 68, by contrast, is very sharp, accurate, and presidential.)
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My Conclusion.
Trump is unfit for President for these reasons.
He is unfit because without hesitation he lies about past events to support his goals. If this is not lying then he is so poorly informed about the world that he is still unfit. He acts like a person with brain malfunctions, due to Alzheimer’s and/or lack of sleep. His methods emphasize vengeance and dangerous simple solutions to very complex problems. Every foreign-policy decision a President makes involves our relationships with other countries, our national budget, the lives of our soldiers, the support of allies, expensive and serious long-term commitments, etc., etc.  His decisions when dealing with building contractors, zoning laws, bankruptcies, firing people, TV, etc. are trivial compared to the complex presidential decisions.

Now, one could argue that he would have the support of advisors. But he would have to choose good advisors and ultimately must make the final decision. Almost any of the other candidates could do this at least fairly well, but given Trump’s bizarre behavior, who knows? He claims to be incorruptible by very rich donors, but he is already one of them. Trump claims to be supportive of non-rich people, but says that working people are paid too much, the minimum wage should not be increased, his budget plan reduces taxes for rich people, and he started out his adult life with a “small loan” from his father, of One Million Dollars. Does this sound like he will promote the middle class ?  As the primary process is concluded, he will no doubt alter some ideas, but can we trust him?

49. Is Cruz Better Than Trump?

10 Mar

Clearly,  Trump does not have the thoughtfulness and the temperament to function as an effective President. But is Ted Cruz better? To answer this question, in addition to what I have heard and remember, I carefully examined what he presented on his web-site.  Here is a point-by-point examination of the most important issues.

The Cruz plan for personal income tax is a single 10% flat rate for all, total simplification of tax code, and “abolish the IRS as we know it”. This absurd plan is deceptive and impossible. First, the top rate for very rich people is reduced from 39.6% to 10%. So rich people, who don’t need it, will get a big break.  Currently, most poor people don’t pay any income tax.  Some middle class people will also benefit. Who do you think will pay for the staggering loss of tax income under this plan?  All social programs, infrastructure repairs, energy innovations, medical research, veteran benefits, etc., etc, — everything that is so important to our citizens is at risk.  Tax simplification only benefits the rich because their income is complicated and it will be easier for them to avoid tax liability. It is not clear what “abolish the IRS as we know it” means, but it will always take a lot of personnel to carefully collect the tax and enforce the rules.  Just defining “income” is extremely complicated because there are many types of ways to earn money, invest, receive grants, get tips, define expenses, have a home office, lease somethig, pay a maid, etc.  Tax is already very simple for ordinary workers, “simple tax” for the wealthy makes “cheating” simpler.

Like all Republicans, Cruz wants to abolish ObamaCare, and replace it with something better. Since Republicans already dominate Congress, if they are serious, they could already have a detailed and definite health-care plan for replacement, so that there would be no gap in coverage. But they have not done this because their main goal is not the health of the people, but is the destruction of the Democrats. and particularly Pres. Obama. Cruz is not the friend of the people, but is a loyal subject of the wealthy campaign donors, and the traditional (climate disrupting) oil industry. If ObamaCare is abolished without replacement, many millions of people will lose their newly gained insurance coverage and many millions more will lose reimbursement for “pre-existing conditions”, “over life-time limits”, and many other features.

Cruz would abolish all climate-change agencies, bureaus, and programs designed to provide safety for most of the world’s citizens. Almost all major countries take (man-made) climate change seriously and have committed to greenhouse gas reduction programs. I just watched on TV an interview of Pres. Obama and P.M. Trudeau of Canada. Both are firmly committed to climate change programs. If we compare the high level of discussion between them, with the juvenile discourse of Republican Candidates, the contrast is so stark as to be frightening. The danger of climate-change effects is supported by the National Academy of Sciences, almost all reputable scientists, national leaders throughout the world, and most other educated people.  Sorry to state the obvious, but the GOP is against efforts to control climate-change, because some very rich donors, such as the Koch brothers, would lose some money in making industrial adjustments.  But all of us would lose out due to the resulting major droughts, flooding, and storms.  The disrupted populations would produce overwhelming immigrations and possible wars.

On the Cruz site, he promotes the “solution to lift people out of hardship…. by promoting the dignity of work” and “reforming programs such as Section 8 housing” (with no detail). Telling poor people that they should improve their lives by believing in the “dignity of work” is beyond ridiculous. How many major social goals have every been achieved by a simple pep talk. “Just say no” to drugs is a great example of an ineffective and pathetic way to improve lives.

Cruz wants to eliminate the IRS (mostly), and Departments of Energy, Education, Commerce, and Housing.  Understanding the elimination of educational help by the government is easy, because he and the other Republicans cannot deceive well-educated people.  But it appears that Cruz is a little better than his rivals at the covert sabotage of other primary candidates by spreading rumors.

So, is Cruz better than Trump?  For a while I thought that Trump would be better because he has more liberal ideas, but when I heard his latest Muslim bashing: “they all hate us” I really cannot decide which presidency would be more of a disaster.