Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Reflecting on Sandy

As the cleanup for hurricane Sandy begins, I have asked myself a question.

It is easy to see the contribution of government in time of crisis. It is represented by the National Guardsmen, the FEMA representatives, and equipment. It is represented in National Weather Service, in emergency declarations, and shelters.

It is easy to see the contribution of charities in time of crisis. The Red Cross is feeding, clothing, and sheltering people. If necessary they are organizing blood drives.

My question is, "What is the contribution of multi-national corporations?" There must be some, because Wall Street is their homeland if anyplace is, but I don't see much.

I suppose that is relevant, because Mitt Romney talked about privatizing FEMA earlier in the year.

In a privatized rescue operation, would a helicopter lower a credit card swiper first, and a rope only if the fee was met?

I view government as organized cooperation, and think it works best when its' services are commonly needed, or morally necessary. Organizations like the Coast Guard, National Guard, National Weather Service and FEMA prove their worth when you need them most. These are organizations that the US government needs to take care of our own and I think it is unwise to cripple their effectiveness, and it seems especially obvious now, doesn't it?

Would New Jersey's governor Chris Christie, for instance,  have complemented president Obama's effectiveness if FEMA were unresponsive?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Romney gone wild

Here is a link which shows Mitt Romney at a Boca Raton fundraiser:

Romney exposed

The video is surprising on many levels, but I suppose it is always surprising to hear a Parseltongue speak carelessly.

What is most offensive to me is that Mr. Romney was born rich and personally embraces every tax loop-hole he can discover, yet derides the poor and the elderly as government-dependent moochers for taking credit where credit is due.

Mitt seems to forget that the Earned Income Tax credit was a conservative idea that was proposed to offset tax-cuts for the wealthy in the interests of fairness, but it has been successful at lifting people out of poverty. If anything, Mitt should be proud of the idea because it works, and remind the Florida elderly in particular about the unintended benefits of cooperative conservatism. 

Instead, Mitt characterized the largely GOP-voting elderly in a crucial swing state as "takers", as "moochers", and as essentially bought-votes. One expects that if voters were to watch this video and juxtapose it with their own finances, as perhaps military men might, that these same voters would vote against Mitt or else stay at home.

This speech was self-defeating.

More than that, it highlights a view that conservatives have adopted recently that they should be ashamed of. If a neighbor needs help, you offer a hand. It should be a self-evident truth that cooperation is better for all.

It is flattering to believe that if you are successful it is due to your virtues, but self-flattery is not a virtue even in the rich. There is more to success in life than success in finance and this video makes clear that Mitt has a lot to learn about being both human and American.

Shall we live in a society that laughs at Katrina victims, throws the elderly on the streets, slams a door in the face of the talented-but-poor, and idolizes tycoons as virtuous?

If so, then Mitt is your Messiah and Paul is your patron saint.

Monday, August 20, 2012

A warning for the GOP

Moral behavior extends from the principles of Justice and Compassion.

A party that wants to comfort the comfortable during a time of economic stress is no guiding light in the darkness, no pillar of strength.

Is it not weakness and a moral disgrace when the strong bully the unfortunate?

Is this the path to greatness?

Friday, August 10, 2012

Money isn't everything.

When Henry Ford got rich, America got cars.
When Thomas Edison got rich, America got phonographs, lightbulbs, and motion pictures.
When Bill Gates got rich, America got a high-tech industry.

When Mitt Romney got rich, America got Bain Capital, tax dodging, and a whiny nouveau riche.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Advice for Romney

Here are more honest campaign messages for the Romney camp:

"If I am elected president, I promise to lower my own taxes substantially and make you suckers pay for it."

"If I am elected president, I promise to have the best of healthcare for myself and make you suckers pay for it."

"If I am elected president, I promise to cheat on my taxes and make you suckers pay for it."

He's a dick and he should own it.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

More advice for Occupy

I am listening to Neil Young & Crazy Horse's new album, Americana, at the moment. He gives classic American songs, like Oh Susannah, the Neil Young treatment. That is, these songs belong to Neil Young in a big way.

However, he sings Woodie Guthrie's "This Land is Your Land" straight. As I sit listening to it, hearing the lyrics again, it occurs to me that this should be the Occupy anthem. It really is perfect, a case where message and movement align.

If Woodie were alive today, you know he'd be at Wall Street with his fascist fighting guitar.

Monday, May 14, 2012

My advice to Occupy

Whenever I hear the phrase, "Occupy movement" I bristle. A movement, after all, stands for something.

I suggest that Occupy stand for restoring the Glass-Steagall Act. Not restoring Glass-Steagall and a laundry list of pet peeves, but for restoring Glass-Steagall exclusively. There is a broad coalition of people that would get behind a stance like that, essentially everyone except lobbyists, politicians, and big-job bankers.

Clearly Occupy needs focus, otherwise it will have accomplished so little for so many at a time when the need is great.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Jim Yong Kim

President Obama made an interesting nomination for World Bank President. Partners in Health is a charity featured in the book, Mountains beyond Mountains, and the star of that book, Dr. Paul Farmer was delighted with the pick.

Here is more information on the pick from the Partners in Health website:

Dr. Jim Yong Kim

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

My thoughts on Trayvon Martin

What are my thoughts on Trayvon Martin (story here)?

I sez, first, that irresponsible gun use should not be defended by gun owners as if it was responsible gun use. This act was not self defense, but murderous.

I sez, second, that if this vile deed goes unpunished then it would mean that an unarmed black teen was killed in the deep south and the killer wasn't arrested. That would feel familiar to those of us above the Mason Dixon line.

I sez, third, that I hope for Justice for Trayvon's family.

And finally, I sez, that while Obama doesn't need to get involved it might not hurt to remind Americans what a destructive force racism can be.

ADDENDUM: Today president Obama did weigh in on the tragedy and you can view his comments below. I think it was important for him to comment publicly on this, because it might temper a violent response, by restoring public faith in the rule of Law.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

An apple that rolled far from the tree

In this article Mitt Romney is compared and contrasted with his father George.

Article here

The GOP base seems truly to despise Romney while being most responsible for elevating him.

Who benefits more from capital gains tax cuts than vulture capitalists like Mitt Romney? Who benefits more from weak regulators than corporations like those Mitt invests in?
Who benefits more from government hand-outs than men like Mitt who always seem to have their hand out?

I've never believed Republicans capable of disliking someone like Mitt. He is the icon of their coddling is he not? He is the arch-type, the mold, the prototype, for baron of capitalism and benefactor of Republican policy for decades.

Did Republicans really fight to enrich people like Romney with every breath, every bill, every veto, intransigence, and all that noise, without knowing the fruits of their labors?


Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Hardly surprising

I have posted before that I think psychopathic personalities, or morally insane people, would naturally be drawn to Wall Street. The reason is simple, they are driven by lust for power and clearly that is where power in America lies.

This new study posits that an extraordinary number of psychopaths (1 in 10) do work on Wall Street.

1 in 10!

Turn-of-the-century economists like Keynes seemed to take this for granted when they advocated tying CEO wealth to corporate wealth. The idea was, it seems to me, to leverage the skills of the morally insane for the greater good (or at least the good of capital).

Now, however, things have broken down as CEOs manage to enrich themselves no matter the state of the companies they direct. Until Washingtonians restore accountability to profitability there is a high probability of continued American decline.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

If a cherry tree falls, and nobody saw?

President Obama is treating Super-PAC money the way he treats every other moral dilemma. He says, to paraphrase, "I will not keep my word because of Republican behavior".

Source: Presidential about-face

One of his first promises to American voters was that he would close the Guantanamo gulag. He would do this in his first year, but it turned out that Republicans wouldn't let him and that was that.

I was reminded of how offensive Guantanamo is to the foundational ideas that made America great when reading an article on unpersons in unhistory by Noam Chomsky. Here is an excerpt that personalizes what Guantanamo means to a human being, and what the president's promise-breaking entails:

"the first Guantanamo case to come to trial under President Obama: that of Omar Khadr, a former child soldier accused of the heinous crime of trying to defend his Afghan village when it was attacked by U.S. forces. Captured at age 15, Khadr was imprisoned for eight years in Bagram and Guantanamo, then brought to a military court in October 2010, where he was given the choice of pleading not guilty and staying in Guantanamo forever, or pleading guilty and serving only 8 more years. Khadr chose the latter."

Source: Anniversaries from "Unhistory"

This is like George Washington shrugging when asked about a fabled cherry tree, is it not?

Addendum: Kevin Drum is a writer I respect and he takes a different view of the Super-PAC story. Here is a link to his viewpoint:

Not hypocrisy

Hey may be right up to a limit, and that limit might be drawn by the consequences of your actions on others.

When you take bribes you validate bribery. So the question is, does validating the actions of people like Jack Abramoff harm society more than it will benefit from another four years of president Obama?

Time will tell, but my instincts tell me no.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Warm wind

What's the biggest lie that president Obama told in his State of the Union address last night?

We've put in place new rules to hold Wall Street accountable, so a crisis like that never happens again.


Foot Quotes

"Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge"

Charles Darwin