Tag Archives: poverty

101. Worldwide Chaos?

26 Apr

Is there “worldwide chaos” or is it normal to have a certain amount of danger, struggle and warfare. I feel that recently, chaos has taken a step upward,
and there is more to be concerned with now — particularly in the USA — than in the last several years.

Here is a list of factors that currently are particularly disturbing:
1. Endless war in Syria and the resulting massive migrations.
2. Our current leader, Trump, is unprepared for high office, and lacks “ideals.”
3. Brexit: Britain leaving the European Union.
4. Russian attack of Ukraine.
5. Israel and Palestinian endless conflict.
6. Worldwide terrorism, including the dangers of ISIS, Taliban, others.
7. Failure of many leaders to recognize climate-change danger.
8. In some countries there is assassination of reporters and dissidents.
9. Greedy leaders scam the citizens, promoting personal wealth for a few.
10. Significant interference in USA elections by a foreign power (Russia).
11. Christianity and Islam sometimes are compatible, but often clash.

The search for chaos “causes” can take many forms, and for most important events, there are many factors that can be causal. There are many places to start the search. I believe a good point is the industrial revolution, usually dated from about 1760 to 1830.

As governments and technology developed, there was a parallel evolution of greed and corruption. The basic principle is that in any society or nation, a few aggressive and intelligent citizens will become leaders. As they improve their political skills, they learn how to communicate with citizens to achieve power, and to make use of rich donors. Congressmen are “bribed to help the wealthy with tax breaks and loopholes, and subsidies, creating a financial cycle: rich donors support desirable legislation and in turn, get even richer.

Once in office for a few years, they also can become adept at increasing their personal wealth. It is a matter of “learning” and of the eventual irresistible temptation to become richer. Those in office gradually separate from the people and form what could be called a “royalty” class. In many cases, a leader that starts out with good intentions will eventually fall into corruption.

The end result of this process of corruption is often violent or non-violent revolution. Excessive greed at the top will produce more poverty and more poor people. This has taken place for centuries, but recent improvement in communication, like the Internet, focused on this oppression, and helped with the organization of protest. One result was the “Arab Spring”, which began in Tunisia around 2010. Revolutions in Egypt and several other countries followed. Syria was the worst case, resulting in a disastrous deadlock between rebels and its President.

So a basic cause for much of the current world crisis is the rise of a greedy “Royalty Class” in many countries (even in the USA). The Syrian disaster became a basic cause to many other international problems. War in Syria resulted in a massive migration to other countries. This refugee problem I see as the major cause of BREXIT, the rise of Pres. Trump, and perhaps the rise of ISIS and other terrorist activity. In the US, the fear of refugees was recognized by Donald Trump, and promoted by him.

Here is a summary of some major (not all) causal links:

The rise of technology was accompanied by gradual governmental corruption.
Greedy and corrupt leaders exploit the citizens and increase poverty.
Citizens, helped mostly by the Internet, discover the corruption.
They are able to organize and revolt in Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Libya, etc.
The revolution in Syria caused massive migration and associated fears.
Migration fears caused Brexit, the rise of Trump, terrorism, ISIS?, etc.

Final thought. I have condensed what could be a whole book, into a brief blog.
My purpose here, is to promote thought and analysis. As ordinary citizens better understand the world, it can become a better place.

99. Change Yes, Trump No

4 Mar

I think our country needs some radical changes to preserve it, and make it exemplary again. Forget Trump’s “great  again”, let’s make it admirable, honorable, and respectable. This blog is “BasicCauses” and I want to look at some of the fundamentals of our system.

I am going to make some major criticisms so I want to make it clear in advance, that I am happy to be an American, vote every election, served in the U.S. Army, and enjoy free enterprise, having created two successful businesses. I generally support the fundamental features of our current governmental system, but believe we need some significant basic changes. The arrival of Donald Trump as our country’s leader, emphasizes the need for  re-thinking.   Please consider the following:

1. The Primary Process and Voting does not yield the best leaders. This is hard to fix, and probably the best solution, better education, may not be effective for a long time. Many poorly educated voters do not have the reasoning and research skills to make the best judgments. Long held and obsolete beliefs are barriers to better choices.

2. Congress is organized so as to promote gridlock. Our current system has too many barriers to completing legislation. There are many different changes that could speed up law making. One thought that I have had is to have one large legislative body and require 52% of votes to pass a bill. Filibustering would not be allowed, but short speeches from many would be allowed.  The quality of legislation could be improved by adding to this body,  various specialists such as University representatives. A major reorganization will not occur in my lifetime, but starting to think about it is important and I may discuss it more in future blogs.

3. The “fourth branch of government”, the press, is being oppressed. It appears now that we need to pass laws or find other means of protecting the press and allowing them to criticize without recrimination. Also, the citizens should clearly support freedom of the press.

4. Rich donors should not have powerful control of our government. I suggest a maximum donation of $100 for all citizens and no donations allowed from corporations or other organizations. Let’s abolish the super pacs and have a true democracy.

5. Our middle-class is not benefiting enough from our nation’s success. We need to abolish tax-loopholes and increase rates for the very rich.  Many wealthy corporations and individuals pay no tax at all because of loopholes.  Even the Pope has criticized “trickle-down” approaches, which rarely work, but are advocated by the GOP.  (“Trickle-down” means: give lots of money to wealthy businesses and simply hope that some will trickle-down to the rest of us.)

6. Congress should not police and regulate itself. An independent body should do this. (The same goes for all Healthcare organizations and many other service areas.) Unfortunately, with today’s polarization, it is not easy to find truly independent persons.

7. A potential problem is “privatizing.” This means moving a function run by the government, to a private, for profit company. A consequence is that some rich person (and staff) will make huge amounts of money and emphasize profits over proper services. In most cases, the benefits of competition do not make up for all the money lost to over-paid executives. For example, privatizing prisons was a failure and was abolished. Politicians sometimes threaten Social Security and Medicare with privatization, which would decrease benefits.  I have said more about this in previous blogs.

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.

 

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.