Monday, November 22, 2010

Maybe Now Is America's Time to Enter:

The New-Technology Energy Race

America Needs to Focus on the severity of the “good jobs” issue in relation to America’s future. In a sense, the two sides of the political divide are like a couple of vicious canines, and the size of the bone that we are fighting over is shrinking dramatically.

This Is a Systemic Issue, in that none of the cures seem to be within the reach of corporations, and corporate competition makes it tremendously challenging for individuals or small groups to make the difference, even as we Americans, as a people, refuse to use our biggest tool—government—while what we are competing against is the entire economies of other nations.

The Speed with Which a Private Company (Whole Foods makes an excellent example) can grow and change things is not fast-enough in relation to what is going on in much of the rest of the world.

For Example, China
is no longer really a “developing nation.” Given that their economy is poised to overtake America’s as the world’s largest, the Chinese are laughing at our idea of them as an under-developed nation.

And Other Parts of the World are taking back their American-educated citizens and putting them to work at home: in India, in the Middle East, in Brazil, etc.

In Europe, They Laugh at America as a second-world nation. They are leaving us behind in the dust. And it’s not just the French who are laughing.

While Europeans Have their own economic issues these days, they are taking those issues in hand, by cutting spending. But unlike America, they are not cutting their own tax income at the same time. (Only Americans seem to believe that cutting your income helps get you out of debt.)

Europe Is Finding Ways to Move Forward in developing new jobs, through developing New-Energy Technology. Europe has joined the eNTER: race against China. And they are not waiting for us to catch up.

What Makes the Current  Round Different than earlier ones is that  for business/economic growth  this time, our large, international corporations can continue to grow and to enjoy record levels of profits, but they do it using only jobs that are created abroad.

Meanwhile, America (which currently still makes more buggy-whip-equivalents than anyone else) is focusing all of its energy on cutting costs (i.e., trimming the deficit).

In Your Family Life, if you are unemployed, your don’t just cut costs. You have to focus on finding new work. And no one likes living on credit-cards and savings (i.e., deficit-spending). And yes, you need to cut your expenses, such as the cable TV and the lattes (which is what earmarks are).

But When Your Income Is Too-Low (the way we have starved our government’s income over the last decade, as well as losing citizen income by shipping good-paying jobs overseas), then you really need to come up with a new income plan.

While China and the Rest of the BRIC Nations race away with the New Technology Economy (NTE), America just focuses on its taxes and its deficits.

So Far, America Has Stayed out of eNTER: the New-Technology Energy Race.

We Need to Focus on changes America can make to how we stimulate new-technology industry. America needs NTE: a New Technology Economy.

America Needs to:

Meanwhile, the Coffee Party
wants to reform campaign contributions. As if this will somehow stimulate America in a race for the next technologies.

Meanwhile, the Tea Party wants to take back a government that it keeps useless in the economic battle with the rest of the world. As if Boeing can compete successfully, head-to-head with the entire nation of China.

Are We Really Willing to Let China build the first lunar base on the Moon? Is America really ready to let India or Brazil send the first manned mission to Mars?

Around the World, Other Governments have gotten involved. While the Soviet Union went broke trying to mix a dictatorship and communism, the ancient civilization that is China has found a way to mix a dictatorship with capitalism. And China is eating America’s lunch.

Without Some Kind of Floor under Energy Price
s (to give eNTER: an environment in which it can create manufacturing jobs) or without some sort of government seed money (such as NASA gave to so many American industries in the 1960s and beyond), America would keep losing the eNTER: race. And not just to the BRIC nations.
In Case Americans Haven’t Noticed Yet:
Europe and the Chinese have already figured eNTER: out.

What Else Could Get Historic Enemie
s such as Britain and France and Germany and Italy to unite as one entity?

It’s Okay to Laugh at the French
all we want to. But France has high-speed trains and wind farms all over the place. That’s energy-use reductions, fewer new cars clogging highways, new-technology jobs, and a better quality of life over all.

While We Americans Are Bickering over Coffee and Tea over here, the European Union is busy putting its financial house back in order, while working toward winning their own share of the NTE. (Spain already is a leader in building wind turbines. While not one wind turbine in America is built in America. For that matter, how many of America’s cell phones was actually built here in America?)

If Only We Could Get the Rest of the World’s Governments to stay out of the NTE race, maybe America wouldn’t be falling so far behind.

And Maybe We, the People, would be creating good-paying, factory jobs.

Or Are We Really Going to Let China and Europe put the first permanent colony on the moon, send the first manned mission to Mars, and keep leading the way in winning eNTER: The New-Technology Energy Race?

America’s Next Race to Win


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Ask Your Neighbor!™

This Week: The “Job Creation” Issue

As We All Know, jobs in America are created by high-income citizens, which President Obama identifies as those Americans earning more than $250,000 per year. Over the last ten years, high-income Americans have been responsible for creating the jobs that have driven our economy to its current heights.

But We Also Know that somehow all these new jobs created during the past ten years have not been quite enough to keep the unemployment rate below acceptable levels.

So What Gives? “Ask Your Neighbor !™” wants you to find out.

Here Is This Week’s Assignment:

1) Go outside right now and drop by one of your high-income neighbors next-door. Ring or knock politely at the front door, and wait for them to invite you inside.

2) Once you are inside and have exchanged the preliminary courtesies, ask you neighbor if he or she minds your asking him or her a few questions.

3) Assuming that he or she gives permission, here are this week’s questions for you to ask:
Question A: If ten years of the so-called Bush tax cuts have not encouraged you to create enough jobs for America, what’s the holdup?
Question B: What is it about Year 11 that has held up job creation until this important year?
Question C: Are you currently hiring any additions to your household domestic staff?

4) Report your findings to “Ask Your Neighbor!™” before midnight tonight.

5) If the answer to question “C” is affirmative, please report your findings sooner.

Thanks Once Again for Playing America’s Favorite Good-Neighbor Activity:

“Ask Your Neighbor!


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Adam Smith’s Yankee Breach Babies:

In The Welfare of Nations, the second and better-known book of his planned trilogy, Adam Smith describes capitalism more than he argues for it. And more than he argues against such latecomers as socialism or communism—or consumerism, for that matter. (Smith could not argue against these other economic models, as they had not yet been discovered or invented at the time of Smith’s 1776 work.)

In the Course of His Book, Smith addresses a number of capitalism’s defects as well as its strengths. Such human frailties that many un-reading ideologues presume to be part of Smith’s capitalism—notably, greed—are addressed.

Smith’s First Great Work in the series—The Theory of Moral Sentiments—is seldom mentioned in America. But as the earlier book describes, Smith believed in inherent human motivation to do good to one another. Capitalism, which is based on the division of labor, gives that do-good motivation its best means. Or so Smith apparently thought.

As Far as the Sin of Greed  is concerned, it has no good place in capitalism (despite that greed and other sins are to some extent unavoidable).

As for Our Notorious American Economic Engine, the relentless U.S.S. Competition, the beneficial effects of competition were to reach all in any capitalistic society. Not to reach just the parties involved in creating the wealth, but also to the customer. Under capitalism, competition is a way that we do good unto one another. Not a way to obliterate one another, driving each other into the poorhouse.

So the Ideal of Capitalism as it exists in America today is pretty clearly a perversion of Smith’s work.

For Example:

What Does Adam Smith say about taxation in The Wealth of Nations? I thought these might be a couple of good tidbits to throw to any anti-tax “Capitalists”who happen along this way:

“The revenue which must defray, not only the expense of defending the society and of supporting the dignity of the chief magistrate, but all the other necessary expenses of government, for which the constitution of the state has not provided any particular revenue, may be drawn, either, first, from some fund which peculiarly belongs to the...commonwealth, and which is independent of the revenue of the people; or, secondly, from the revenue of the people.”
     —The Wealth of Nations, Book Five, Chapter Two, “Of the Sources of the General or Public Revenue of the Society,”
“The subject of every state ought to contribute toward towards the support of the government, as nearly as possible, in proportion to their respective abilities; that is, in proportion to the revenue which they respectively enjoy under the protection of the state.”
     —The Wealth of Nations, Book Five, Chapter Two, Part I: “Of Taxes”

It’s a Mystery how anyone else finds another way to read that, but to me it supports the income tax specifically, and also supports arguments (posted elsewhere) about the CEOs of America’s multinational corporations:

Virtually All of the American People Pay Federal Taxes

What More Can I Tell You?

The Happy Capitalist,

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Prohibition 2.0 Is Now 50 Years Old....and George F. Will Is Worried About Lightbulbs and Salt

It Is Hard to Miss the Compelling Comparison between alcohol prohibition and drug prohibition, with both prohibitions yielding amazingly similar and intensely deleterious side-effects. Leave it George F. Will, writing in The Washington Post, to find a way:

Instead, Mr. Will peers under his bed and into his closet, and finds comparable bogeymen of.....encouraging reduced sodium-intake and the use of energy-efficient light bulbs.

It Seems like a Stretch, to imagine the speedboats of incandescent-bulb smugglers and iodized-salt-sneakers outrunning our 21st century U.S. Coast Guard.

Maybe Those of Us who back in the 1960s predicted the worldwide cartel-wars of drug prohibition did not know what we were talking about.

But the Evidence, both of the damage of drug wars and of the lesser drug-use damage where drugs are not prohibited, argues that we Hippie-types back then did know what we were talking about. And those who continue to oppose a reasonable regulatory relationship with psychoactive drugs——even today, after more than fifty years  of epidemic incarceration and anti-productive treatment——keep their sense of facts separate from their confirmed, destructive opinions.

Ideology Is Blind. It is intolerant. Its foolish consequences are murdering people throughout Mexico and on our border. It bankrolls the Taliban and al Qaeda.  It fuels drug-cartel wars in Colombia, in Brazil, even here in the U.S., exacerbating our immigration issues. Its priced support for Afghan poppy farmers means that the war in Afghanistan likely will remain a fool’s errand for decades more to come.

Ideology Kills. It ruins countless lives. It destroys families and the benefits of American capitalism. 

So Long as the Blind continue to support the price floor underneath the drug industry, we will keep reading foolish essays, by such illuminati as George F. Will, on how being forced to lower your salt intake will push Americans into a life of crime.


Friday, June 25, 2010

“Can We Please Be Quiet, Please?”

[This is another version of the item previously posted on 12 June 2010]

I Wonder What America Might Look Like, if we elected our officials and then stood back and let them work. And then when election time came around, we listened to what they had to say for themselves, and we looked at what we could see of what they had actually done, and we voted accordingly.

Instead, We Stand Around Everywhere, constantly getting in their business, constantly speaking out our opinions as if  all of our opinions (based on our limited perspectives on each issue) could possibly be as sound as the professionally informed positions of those whom we have elected precisely for this purpose.

If Every Single Moment of an Official’s Life represents a photo op and an assessment moment, is it any wonder that our politicians spend more of their time posing for the cameras, and preparing their defense statements, instead of actually doing the jobs that we have elected them to do?

No Wonder Our America and its government can get so little done. Call it the persistent moment of:
 “Smile! Say, ‘Cheese!’”

How Terribly, Badly, Awfully can the Bush administration and the Obama administration and next administrations all do in tackling the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Gulf oil spew, the unemployment figures, the financial re-regulation, climate-control issues, etc.?

Compared to Our Under-informed Opinions from the sidelines, I mean.

With So Many Different Opinions of Our Own, how can we all possibly be so right, and all of our politicians be so wrong?

Maybe It’s Time We Took a Few Steps Back, sat down, shut up and watched the show. Instead of a few days of a news event before we start all the shouting, how about if we actually gave our government a chance to work?

How about Encouraging Government to provide some solutions, instead of always yelling at government for all the problems?

If I Were a Writer of Fiction, I might call this a novel concept.


Saturday, June 12, 2010

Let’s Stop Saying “Cheese!” to Politicians:

Does Anybody Else Remember a time when Americans elected Representatives and Senators to go to Washington, study the way the Nation works, and then hammer out the best solutions for moving America forward?

Now We Citizens Are All Experts. And if the people in Washington can’t fix things now, or even quicker than we can think up new bright ideas about it, we’re ready to throw the bums out, and vote in a new set of bums......who will have the same lack of success as the last bunch.

Our System of Representative Democracy was designed to slow down the process and give Congress and the President room in which to work. But that’s not good enough for us. No, we all know better. And we know that all of the information we get from MSNBC and FoxNews and all the blogs is better information than what the so-called “experts” we send to Washington can possibly know.

No Wonder America Wanders around in circles, with a Left or Right foot nailed to the floor, while we ship our jobs and our capital overseas, our incomes plummet, our coastlines are ruined, and noone can afford the health care that will be denied when we need it, anyway.

Go Ahead: Complain about the President and Congress. Sure, you can do better. So can all the folks lining up in the Tea Party and the Coffee Party, to get elected and to do better. Yeah, Sarah Palin! Yeah, Scott Brown! Yeah, Alvin Greene!

It’s Easy to See Why Government 
Doesn’t Seem to Work for Us Anymore:

If We Want Our Government
to actually get things done—instead of always playing to the nearest camera—we, the people, need to quit hollering “Cheese!” so much, and let the best politicians we have do the best work for us that they can do.


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

BP Does Not Deserve to Die....

.....Merely for Playing by the Rules of Misguided America’s “Free-Market Capitalism”

Not “Greed,” but America’s Deluded Misunderstanding of “free-market Capitalism” is the culprit in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill: in the rest of the developed world, oil companies are required to drill the auxiliary well with the primary one, before pumping begins. Thus, this disaster, if it occurred in the North Sea, could be shut down immediately.

But Our Ideological View of Capitalism says that the oil companies are the best stewards of their interests, and thus can be trusted to avoid these disasters.

The Flaw in That Argument is the “Hockey Helmet Conundrum”: If Shell and ConocoPhillips do not bear the cost of auxiliary wells—and the regulators do not require it—then BP can not bear the cost and remain competitive with the others.

Capitalism Is the Friend of our system of government and economics. But the misguided, misapplication of some of its tenets is the folly destroying our economy:

The Purpose of Regulation is not to inhibit or to punish individual competitors. It serves to level the competitive playing field, while protecting the assets of all.

And That (In the Nutshell) is the short answer on how the anti-capitalist illiteracy of the Left, and the ignorant-capitalist ideology of the Right, are bit by bit shipping the abundance of American capital overseas.


Thursday, May 20, 2010

When Ideology Meets Morality, Morality Usually Wins:

Two objects, even if they are just two philosophical constructs, 
cannot occupy the same space at the same time.

It Is Not Just a Moot, Ideological Point, this argument that the Nation has been having between a presumed moral need for universal health care of some sort, and the clear constitutional mandate for individual liberties. Now the argument has reared its ugly head once again, and it appears yet again in relation to a battle fought 45 years ago, over the Civil Rights Act of 1965.

The Latest Related News out of Kentucky is that Republican United State Senate candidate Rand Paul has articulated his opinion that the Federal Government has no right to impose its moral values on private businesses and individual citizens. Even when it comes to the civil rights of other American citizens.

In Ideological Terms, this view seems factually correct: the United States Constitution is designed to prevent government from taking liberties away from private citizens. 

But the Constitution Also Mandates that there shall be no second-class citizenship.

And for the 100 Years from the Civil War until the 1965 Civil Rights Act, what America had was de facto second-class citizenship.

In the Pre-Civil Rights Act Days, African-Americans constituted “second-class citizens,” for all intents and purposes.

Even Though Federal Facilities might empower people of all origins to use them, so long as private companies, and even local and state governments, presented obstacles to passage and to nourishment and to accommodations, it could be practically impossible for persons of some origins to reach full access to government. (One needs only read the stories of Jackie Robinson and other African-Americans who helped break the “color barrier” in American sports, to see the truth of this.)

What Is Most-Striking about the Civil Rights Act issue is how it puts two opposing aspects of American ideology into conflict: where do the rights of some citizens, to equal rights, resolve in relation to the rights of other citizens, to run their lives and their businesses how they choose?

In Retrospect, Forty-Five Years Later, it is hard to imagine skin color ever again becoming the controlling factor in any American’s right to avoid second-class citizenship status.

So Now One Might Make a Stronger Argument for the return to the pre-Civil Rights Act rights for businesses to “reserve the right to refuse service to anybody.” Forty-five years later, it is hard to imagine that private “law” being much-imposed against people of color. But the continual presence of “white supremacists”in our society argues against this.

And If it Were True, it would only be so as a result of our 45-year history of racial and ethnic equality since the Civil Rights Act was passed.

Reconciling Conflicting Rights

It Takes Some Mental Finesse in one’s thinking, to see how essential such an overreaching action on the part of the Federal government was on behalf of the conflicting rights of all Americans. The short description of that “finesse” is this:

Without the Overreaching Civil Rights Act and its enforcement, those few who were determined to keep the African-American citizen “in his place” had the power to do so. (As I say, it only takes a few “No Coloreds Allowed” blockades to restrict access everywhere else.)

This Situation, Restored to Life by Rand Paul yesterday, has great applicability to the health-care-reform debate. It is the same kind of situation:

Within the United States, millions and millions of American citizens want some kind of universal health-insurance coverage. And millions and millions of American citizens want their rights against government imposition to remain at or below its current level.

The Two Opposing Groups Are in Direct Conflict.

Now, Those on the Limited-government Side will argue that nothing stops the pro-reform side from setting up their own system. And in law, this is true.

But in Practice, it Is a Lie. Because the only entity that the pro-reform side can use for such a person is their shared entity. The United States government.

If You Look at Both of These Issue—universal civil rights and universal health care—what you see is that both sides of both arguments have equal standing before the law.

Both Sides Involve the Rights of Some Citizens, which rights are unattainable over the impedance  of the rights of some other citizens.

The Adolescent View or the Adult’s?

The Adolescent View, of course, is to argue relentlessly for your own view. But the adult view has to be, must be, that some sort of compromise or yielding must occur.

In the Ongoing Health-Care Debate, the pro-coverage side has consistently demonstrated its willingness to yield and to yield and to yield. If one looks at the recently passed Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, one sees a hodgepodge of a bill, filled with all sorts of different kinds of provisions, designed to move the Nation as much as possible toward that universal coverage that millions of Americans desire, while resisting as much as possible the imposition of Government powers on those millions and millions of Americans who desire their personal liberties.

What Makes it Seem So Despicable is that in any head-to-head controversy, it is always possible for one or both sides to dig in their heels and never give an inch. But that decision in itself makes a statement about the inclusive attitudes of those who will not yield.

“Those Who Would Deny Freedom to Others”

And Thus (ironically enough in the health-care debate), it is those who—by their obstinacy, “would deny freedom to others”—will lose out in the end. When it comes to obtaining rights versus denying rights, eminent domain dictates which side ultimately wins.

Just as Those “States Rights” and “White Supremacists” advocates, by the enactment of the 1965 Civil Rights Act, both lost out in the end.

The Rights of the Many versus the Rights of the Few

So Those Who Oppose the Government imposition of health-care coverage and the taking away of their constitutional rights to die in the gutter will also lose out eventually. And maybe we will end up having another Civil War to enforce it.

Will the American Tea Party Movement end up destroying the country they claim to love, in order to save the resolution of its values in conflict? It’s hard to imagine things getting to that extreme point. But when rights are in direct conflict with one another, and one or neither side will budge, eventually the issue will be resolved.

According to Pauli’s Exclusion Principle, two competing objects—even when the objects are merely the philosophical constructs of “individual rights”—cannot occupy the same space at the same time. Unless that law, too, is subject to disputation and to obstruction and to repeal.


†Pauli’s exclusion principle, modified.

Friday, May 14, 2010

What the European Union Teaches America About “States’ Rights”

In the Development of the European Union, we can see the issue of “states’ rights” versus “large, central government” play out in real time, in the modern world, before our eyes. One great example of how these two approaches interact occurs between Sweden and Spain.

Swedish Citizens May Spend Their Entire Working Years
contributing to the Swedish healthcare system, and then retire to Spain to draw down their late-life healthcare. What they will have paid for in Sweden will be more than they would have paid into the Spanish system, but they are free to move around the continent and retire in Spain, where things cost less. There, they can draw on health-care benefits for which they have not paid, while the Swedish system stays flush with their unclaimed payments.

And the Spanish Health-care System
is going bust, at least partly as a result.

If We Had States-Run Medicare or Social Security Systems, we would experience the same issues here. Such as all those New Yorkers who retire in Florida, if they had only paid into a New York state system during all those cold winters, before heading south.

The States’ Rights Argument of the Republican Party and the Tea Party protesters can be powerful and compelling. But that does not make it viable nor realistic in our twenty-first century world.

In Today’s Edition of The Washington Post, Utah Republican candidate for the United States Senate Tim Bridgewater argues for just such a system, however. Mr. Bridgewater writes:
“In 1787, the Founding Fathers crafted a free system of government built on the principle that individuals have God-given rights. The Founders protected those a vertical separation of powers between the federal government and the states. The national government would manage external affairs and keep the states on a level playing field; state governments were to do the rest.

“Over time, that vertical separation of powers has almost disappeared. Today, the federal government feels it can manage even the details of personal health care and education. States have been relegated to administrative units of a central leviathan, in a system of plunder in which each state tries to live at the expense of the others.”
Candidate Bridgewater Offers Telecommunications as an example argument for states’ rights. But how could the individual states possibly regulate such a national, and even international, structure? How could we possibly have the Internet, with every aspect of regulation negotiated among “the several states,” if not for the coordinating power of our Federal government?

What the EU Demonstrates,
even more than our 200-plus-year history shows, are the challenges of the state/Federal hybrid.

Candidate Bridgewater Also Writes:
“Not to put too fine a point on it, but Washington’s track record stinks. Congress has given us more than $100 trillion in unfunded liabilities in Social Security and Medicare. Lawmakers encouraged a housing bubble and then took hundreds of billions of dollars from taxpayers when it burst. There is no reason to think Congress can do a better job this time than when it tried to manage energy in the 1970s and ’80s.”
One Might Insert the Word “Republican” in front of each Bridgewater assertion about Washington, Congress and lawmakers, and get a better understanding of the failure of this thirty-year adventure with ideology. Despite that Mr. Bridgewater and the ground-swell of Conservative protesters seem oblivious to this fact, too, regardless of the inconvenience of actual reality.

What the Last 30 Years——and particularly the years 2001-2008——show is the limitations on the “states’ rights” policies, combined with an underfunded Federal government. The answer is not to excise the Federal government. The answer is to use that of it which works well, and to improve that of which works poorly.

Or Does Candidate Bridgewater Truly Believe
that the state of Utah can individually put a floor under the price and costs of carbon, and let Utah take on the Chinese, the Germans, the Scandinavians, and the Spanish in developing the world’s new growth industries, the new technologies?

Naivety Such as We Saw Under
President George W. Bush is a powerful force. But what America and all its 50 states need now, is to put away the “childish things” of failed ideology, and roll up our sleeves, and get to work.

Find Mr. Bridgewater’s essay at:


Saturday, April 17, 2010

For Some People, the Past Only Began Yesterday

If America Already Faces a potential shortfall of 16,000 doctors within the next fifteen years, how can that possibly have been caused by last-month’s passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act? This shortage was reported this morning on Pajamas Media, on XM-Satellite Radio’s  P.O.T.U.S. station.*

I Understand That President Barack Obama reportedly can walk on water and part the loaves and the fishes. But it’s hard to believe that even the Anointed One could sign a law on 23 March 2010, and the downward spiral toward medical armageddon has already begun, just three and a half weeks later.

Something Must Have Gone Wrong a While Ago. And coming off three decades of a Republican agenda, it’s a little hard to believe that it’s not the Republicans’ fault. Unless you use the kind of Republican reasoning that the Republicans use.

How Long Will We, the People, have our reasoning faculties beclouded by the slings and arrows of outrageous, mis-informed opinion? At least with adults back in the White House, we get some facts with our opinions these days.

If Doctors Are Being Chased out of medical practice by bureaucracy, the red tape comes not so much from the Federal government, as it comes from the confusion and contusions imposed by the multiplicity of insurance companies:
  • Each insurance company has its own forms. Your doctor pays special personnel to handle these.
  • Each insurance company has its own ideas about what procedures a patient (you) needs, and how long a  patient (you) should be allowed to spend in the hospital for the surgery your doctor prescribes, and what medicines you should take in recovery. Your hospital has special “case managers” just to handle these rationing ideas.
  • Each insurance company has its own “disallows.” You yourself will likely have to pay for these.
  • Each insurance company has its own structure of fees negotiated for the payment of services you provide. You will either pay more or less than your neighbors because of these.
Now That’s a Lot of Red Tape. All in the name of illogical opinion and an ideology that has persistently failed the American people for much of recent history. Anything but “single-payer.” Anything but “socialism.” Anything but “health-care reform.” Anywhere else but here.

The Origin of Much of the Standardization of these terms of insurance coverage comes from coding by the Federal government, through Medicare. If anything in American medicine has worked to standardize the relationship between medical providers and medical insurers, it is the Medicare system

That Codification Is a Benefit of Government, not a curse. Without even just this little bit of standardization, every single transaction throughout American medicine would be subject not only to the preceding list of items, but also to different forms of terminology, and to different computer codes for different medical procedures, drugs, and routines.

“Different Strokes for Different Folks” may work for individual freedoms. But it does not work for medicine. It does not change the facts, no matter what the underlying opinions would have us believe.

The Laws of Cause and Effect
are often subject to interpretation. And the connection between what comes first and what comes later is not always cause and effect.

But You Don’t Get to Just Make Up your own reality. If the United States will suffer a substantial shortage of doctors in the next decade and a half, and the new reform law was just passed three and a half weeks ago, the opposition to the bill was not only lame, but was also contraindicated by those who oppose the reform law now.

We All Heard  the Republican Leadership in Congress repeat, over and over, through the long year of debate, “Go slow.”

We All Heard the Same Leaders Say, “We need to start over.”

We All Heard the Same Leaders Say, “We need to scrap this bill.”

If the System in Place before the three-week-old reform was already steering us toward a 16,000-doctor shortfall by 2025,* it was surely broken to start with. So how could America possibly afford to scrap this bill, start over, and go slow?

Someone Is Not Being Entirely Honest about This.

But at Least While the Republicans
and the angry Tea Party Movement folks keep debating it, the Obama administration and the Democratic Party will be working on getting more Americans insured, encouraging more Americans to go into medical practice, and keeping more Americans healthy.

Outrage Is Easy.

Talk Is Cheap.

Pajamas Media Has an Agenda
that defies logic.

But We Finally Have a Few Adults Back in the White House.

At Least For Now.....


*Pajamas Media broadcast on P.O.T.U.S. XM Satellite Radio (04/17/2010)

Friday, April 16, 2010

What Good Are Other People’s Opinions, Really?

It Seems Most of Us Forget that all of the columnists and commentators in all of the papers and on all of the networks make their living by putting out their opinions according to schedule.

Keith Olberman and Bill O’Reilly and Glen Beck and George F. Will and Maureen Dowd all make their living by how well they express their opinions. Not from the factual value of the opinions themselves.

Of Course, We Should All Know This, without saying. But judging by the verbal badinage flying back and forth over the Net, sadly, we don’t. It’s all pretty much “news” to us.

Our Responsibility as Readers is to filter those opinions through the prism of what we know about each commentator. When we listen to Charles Krauthammer in The Washington Post, we must look for any break in the Right-leaning perspective, and if to Eugene Robinson in the same paper, we should look for the same kind of break from the Left.

That Is, Mr. Krauthammer’s Praise of President Obama means more than Mr. Robinson’s. But Mr. Krauthammer’s condemnations may be taken as just “more of the same”: noisy opinions from a guy just writing to deadline.

Likewise, When Mr. Robinson takes the Left to task, it teaches more than when he lambastes the Right.

Of Course, We Can Continue getting our “news” from these commentators—from the editorial pages and from MSNBC® and from FoxNEWS® and the like. We just need to put it to constructive use.

The One Objective We All Share—everybody who comes to comment pages such as those online, and everybody who writes letters to the editor anywhere—is the desire to make the world a better place. Or at least to see it become one.

Not Much of This Happens when we just keep cheering those we agree with and hurling insults at those we don’t—on “Letters to the Editor” pages. Or on “Comment” forums all across the WorldWideWeb.


Thursday, April 15, 2010

Virtually All of the American People Pay Federal Taxes

A Recent Statistic about Who Pays Income Taxes has been attracting quite a bit of attention lately. The statistic is that 47% of American citizens pay zero income taxes. It makes a compelling figure. But we respectfully disagree:

When You Buy Something in America, some of the money that you pay eventually goes to the Federal government in the form of income taxes. If you cook hamburgers and French fries and sell them through the drive-through at a fast-food restaurant, and you get paid $8.00 an hour, some of your labor that goes into selling that food earns money for your employer and eventually goes to the Federal government as income taxes.
Your Boss Pays These Taxes for You, and his boss pays some of them, too. All  of the way up to the CEO of, say, McDonald’s®, who earned more than $17,000,000 last year. Some of the taxes that he paid came out of money that he got as labor from you.

Now if You’re the CEO of McDonald’s® (which company’s last two years have been economically successful, despite the Great Recession and millions of other jobs lost by other entites), you not only can afford to pay your portion of your health-insurance premiums and any deductibles and co-pays; you could also afford to pay your entire medical bills, almost without regard for any preexisting condition or lifetime maximum or disallows. On the other hand, if you’re the guy making that $8.00 per hour, (which comes out to about $16,640 a year), you might find it harder to pay these deductibles and co-pays for yourself, let alone for the rest of your family. Along with housing and food, etc.

But Even with That Low Income,  you’re still part of the capitalist American economic engine. And of course you’re still free to go off and invest in a competitive business and sell more or better hamburgers at a lower or better price. And then you, too, can run your own hundred-billion-dollar publicly owned fast-food corporation.

Either Way, You’ll Still Get to Pay Your Fair Share of Taxes.


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

In Defense of Corporations

Citizens on the Political Left generally consider as suspect, two terms key to America’s economic greatness. Those terms, capitalism and corporation, have a mixed history in service to the “well-being” of the nation.

But as Any Student
of Adam Smith knows, nothing inherent in capitalism or incorporation creates the kinds of excesses that we, the people, have wrestled with for at least the last 150 years.

It Is Not “Capitalism” That Is the Evil.
It is the deadly sin of “greed” that is the culprit.

Some Few Large Corporations 
in America subscribe in practice to the more-socially oriented capitalist ideal. We keep our own personal list of American corporations which in practice exhibit the kind of business activities and stakeholder responsibility that would do Adam Smith proud.

Two Favorites, for the purposes of this discussion, are Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway and John Mackey’s Whole Foods:

One can hardly read Warren Buffett’s annual letter to the shareholders without an appreciation for what authentic corporate stewardship means. The link below leads to 32 years of such letters. If capitalism and investment mean anything to you, you could hardly do better than to read some of these letters.

For what it’s worth, Mr. Buffett claims to vote Democratic, and believes that we, the people, through our shared government, should limit the legal ability of corporations to damage the overall society.

The annual shareholder letter by Whole Foods founder and current CEO John Mackey is less-direct than Mr. Buffet’s letter, perhaps. But these letters convey Mr. Mackey’s sense of a “mission” for the company, which mission goes beyond the mere issue of profit. Mr. Mackey clearly believes in using the structure of incorporation to spread his ideals of healthful living. Mr. Mackey also advocates the “stakeholder” concept, rather than the more-common “shareholder” concept that is honored more in the breach than in practice.

For what it’s worth, Mr. Mackey considers himself to be a Libertarian. He notoriously wrote a letter on health-care reform, which letter was published in The Wall Street Journal in an edited version. Mr. Mackey argued the Libertarian view that health-care is best provided through the structure of the employer. (While his perspective seems naive, given general, corporate practices in relation to employee welfare, his ideological integrity is substantiated by practices at Whole Foods.)

Corporate Links:
(In the case of Mr. Mackey’s communication, I appreciated his most-recent blog post, entitled, “Creating the High Trust Organization”)


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Constitutionality of Health-Care Reform Is Clear

Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution legitimizes the Federal Government’s authority to enact the new Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Here are relevant passages of the Constitution. (The highlighing in bold italics is mine):

The Congress Shall Have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States;”

(This means that Congress has the power, as exercised under the PPACA, to collect taxes on those who fail to provide for their own health care, for the “general welfare of the United States.”)

“To Regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States,”

(We know this clause as the catch-all clause of the Federal Government, which clause continues toirritate those who believe that the South should have won the War of Northern Aggression.)

“To Make All Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.”

What’s to Argue with That?


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Advancing America to the Rear

Only by Turning Around and marching toward the rear can we Americans sustain an illusion of ourselves as the most-advanced nation. For some people, an illusion of leading is more important than progress. As of this today, with the signing of healthcare reform, into law, those Americans are momentarily held at bay.

Let the Republican Party
keep putting all of its creative energy into derailing and repealing this important change. The rest of us don’t have that luxury: we need to keep moving forward.

Back in the 1980s, Ronald Reagan defined government as the problem, not the solution. That’s like complaining that air is often polluted, so we shouldn’t breathe it. We have no real choice about whether to breathe the air, or whether to have government.

And So While the Republicans
prefer to keep fighting against government rather than improving it for all of the people government serves, the Democratic Party keeps working at making the government “of the people” and “by the people” do a better job of serving the necessities “of the people.”

Throughout the Course of the healthcare-reform debate, the Republicans have insisted that they believe in reform, yes, too, but: We need to take it slow. We need to start over. We need to go step-by-step. Etc.

Now, the Majority in Congress has managed to pass reform—through the ugly political process by which all difficult change is made. And the best thing for the Republican Party to do, to be true to its word throughout the process, would be to get to work with the majority in Congress, making healthcare-reform work better for all of us.

Instead, State Attorneys GeneralRepublican attorneys general—are initiating a lawsuit to block the bill. Republicans in Congress say that they will fight to repeal the bill.

Was There Ever Any Truth behind their “we believe in healthcare reform, too” and.....whatever else they said in their festival of denial? Show us some evidence.

Government Is an Inefficient and messy process of compromise. Nobody really likes it. But some of us have to be more mature about how we deal with it. Just as in any family, the adults of the American populace cannot afford to spend their time throwing tantrums. There is much more work to be done.

The Republicans Continue to assert that compromise is not an option for them. Fortunately for us, they have some good ideas that have been included in the new law. Fortunately for us, the Democrats seem to take it all seriously, trying to make the best law they can get for the American people.

Meanwhile, the Republicans moan and shout. They initiate law suits and vow to repeal. The new law moves us forward. While the Republicans throughout government insist on turning around and marching backwards. Continuing a thirty-year effort to lead the United States as “the most advanced nation” in the world—marching loudly and proudly to the rear.


Monday, March 15, 2010

What Is a “Right”? Is the Left “Wrong” about Healthcare?

Every Time We Hear That “Healthcare Is a Right,” it pushes our buttons. But then we remind ourselves to review this “rights” concept. The real question—which we Americans have never fully addressed—is “What constitutes a ‘right’?”

Here’s How Rousseau Poses the Question in the opening passages of his book, The Social Contract:
“The problem is to find a form of association which will defend and protect with the whole common force the person and goods of each associate, and in which each, while uniting himself with all, may still obey himself alone, and remain as free as before.”

Rousseau’s Definition of the Problem divides the concept of “right” into two parts. The latter part—described as permitting each person to “still obey himself alone, and remain as free as before”—is what the Founding Fathers intended by their term, “unalienable rights.

These Are Rights Which Cannot Be Granted; they can only be withheld or denied.

But Rousseau’s Former Part—“to defend and protect with the whole common force the person and goods of each associate”“—is what James Madison labeled a “social right.

When People Make the Entitlement-sounding Claim that “healthcare is a right,” this is the sort of a “right” that they mean.

The Most-striking Facet of the Right/left Political Divide in the U.S. is between (R) those who believe that our nation’s greatness rests on defending the “unalienable rights” while minimizing the “social rights” and (L) those who believe that our nation’s greatness combines the best of both kinds of rights.

The Left Wants to Expand the American Social Contract so as to include as many citizens as possible within the level playing field of opportunity.

The Right, Believing That America Inherently Provides a level playing field, wants merely to keep government small, and to limit the complications of the social contract.

Both Sides Have Validity. The discussion on “rights,” here in America, is long-overdue.

The Reason for the “Coffee Party” Approach—rather than the “Tea Party” approach—is that one side would rather work together to solve our problems, while the other side is prepared to use force (Louder voices. Financial advantage. Fear tactics. Foreign invasions, if necessary. Etc.) in order to prevail.

May the Best Nation Win!
Here Are Two Relevant Links:


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Why It Makes Economic Sense to Pass Healthcare Reform Now

ChannelingBarackObama Has Posted an Argument supporting the economic sense of passing healthcare reform now, right at this difficult economic time. I encourage everyone on both sides of the issue to read the post.

People on Both Sides of the Issue shout so loud, and repeat their talking points so much, hardly any real debate is taking place. The Democratic side ignores the relationship between healthcare costs and the Federal deficit. The Republican side ignores the desperate necessity for reform as soon as possible, with the need brought on by a combination of a failed competitive environment for the insurance industry and Republican refusal to fund the costs of government.

Whether America Needs to shrink government and increase individual responsibility somehow, or to expand and pay for government in consideration of changes to business scale between the 18th and 21st centuries, what America needs is to talk about the issue and the challenges. Ideology alone cannot answer the question, of “nanny state” government or the Libertarian model. We need to put “ideology aside,” to educate ourselves, and to work this thing out.

But in the Mean Time, people and the economy are drowning out here. The longer we delay, the deeper we sink.

Here’s the Link to a Pretty Good Economic Argument:

(($; -)}

Newton's Fourth Law

If We Are Controlled Entirely by Our Fears, we will never do anything. Because every action is subject to Newton’s Third Law of “equal-and-opposite-reaction,” and every major change to a complex system is subject to the so-called “Law of Unintended Consequences.”

Because Every Liberal or Progressive Move Forward generates a Conservative or Republican reaction, the political Right are generally considered “reactionary.” This concept comes from Newton’s law.

The Human Urge to Do Nothing reflects the fears of these two, unrelated laws. And yet, sometimes we can’t afford to do nothing. Sometimes, we just have to do something.

Despite the Flaws and Unintended Consequences that will surely come from the current bill, these things can be fixed. American ingenuity and invention knows no bounds, and we will be able to make this better. We will be able to limit the ways that government controls our healthcare—but we are virtually powerless to limit the way that our insurance company controls our care.

If the Bill Is Scrapped, the determination and drive to get it done will have been wasted.

If the Bill Is Passed, Newton’s First Law
will kick in: a healthcare reform law in motion will tend to remain in motion.

The Determination and Drive of the American People to fix the thing will give us no choice but to move quickly and earnestly to make it right.

America Has No Constructive Choice but to Pass the Bill, get it started, and then get to work on making it better and better. When an object can’t go back and can’t stay put, it has not choice but to go forward.


Sunday, March 7, 2010

Unalienable Rights or Social Rights?

Those of Us Who Oppose Government Benefits as “rights” believe that only “unalienable rights” should be the provenance of government.

Because Services Such as “National Defense” and “universal healthcare” can be taken away or withheld by government, these cannot be unalienable “rights” in the sense that those of us—generally considered “conservative”—think of rights. Thus, Conservatives oppose any form of national healthcare.

Founding Father James Madison Believed in what he called “social rights.” Many of the rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights constitute social rights.

Those of Us Who Support a Social “Right” to universal healthcare and national defense—generally considered “liberal”—use the term in the Madisonian sense. Liberals believe that the social contract includes national healthcare. This is what they mean when they say that national healthcare is a right.

Both of These Positions Have Validity. Our national discussion—including the healthcare debate—might go better, and the government might get more done, if we addressed the topic directly, instead of trying to redefine “rights” on a continual ad hoc basis—to suit our various political agendas.

But Then, “Outrage Is Easy,” as the saying goes. It’s easier to shout out our anger and frustration, while learning little about economics and politics, than to study it directly ourselves, or to trust our elected representatives to get the job done well.


Friday, March 5, 2010

The Facts of History Paint Such a Different Picture

The Facts of History Paint a Different Picture of the Conservative-vs-Liberal struggle than the one that comes out of the mouths and pens of most Republicans and other self-styled “fiscal conservatives.”

Looking Back as Far as President Jimmy Carter, the presidencies that have given us the biggest deficits by far have been Republicans. Ronald Reagan gave America the biggest up to that time, until the past years of George W. Bush dwarfed even that.

Liberals Believe in Government Doing for us what we can’t do for ourselves—national defense, pensions (Social Security) destroyed by Republican excesses of the Coolidge/Hoover years, health care (Medicare) destroyed by the Great Recession of recent times.

But Liberals, Unlike Conservatives, 
Expect to Pay Their Own Way.
Americans overall pay the least in taxes of any industrialized nation. Yet historically, it is the “spend and spend” Republicans who balloon the debt—from President Reagan’s “Star Wars” to George W. Bush’s two unfunded wars and an unfunded Medicare program with a big “donut hole.” And then Republicans blame the Democrats—such as Barack Obama—for the lengths we must go to, to clean up the disastrous mess.

What a Republican Set-up of the Democrats! What a shame that it’s the American people—unemployed and now without health insurance—who have to carry that weight.

Republicans Want to Bring the Federal Government to its Knees, so that the Democrats will be forced to cut popular programs—loved by Conservatives and Liberals alike—that the Republicans lack the courage to cut themselves

Why Else Was That Side of the Political Divide so silent over the George W. Bush years?

.....And No Wonder “Conservatives” such as those of the Tea Party Movement are angry!

They want their Medicare..........and they want their Social Security.....
     .....They want their national defense..........and they want their roads.....
         .....and the post office..........and the criminal justice system.....
                  .....and Homeland Security..........and thousands of other things 
that the Federal government—made up of “We, the people”—does.

“Conservatives” like to Talk about “Individual Responsibility”:

They Just Don’t Want to Have to Pay for It.....


Thursday, March 4, 2010

Americans Who Like Their Current Health Insurance....

....Haven’t Really Needed to Use It Yet.

This Is the Dirty Little Secret of your health insurance:

When the Hospital Charges You $X Amount for an IV medicine, and $X amount for the solution that carries it, and $X amount for the tubing, and $X amount for the needle, and $X amount for the nurse to stick you, and $X amount for the next nurse to change out the medicine, and $X amount to change out the glucose solution—a “disallow” is the part that the insurance company says, “Unh-uh. No way. We’re not going to pay that.”

These Are the Real Death Panels. They exist right now. We have them today. They are in the hand of the for-profit insurance companies. And there’s not much you can do about it.

Your Doctor Prescribes Your Hospital Drugs, the insurance company later “disallows” them, the hospital tries getting you to pay, but also raises prices elsewhere to cover these costs that it can’t collect from you.

Tens of Thousands of Dollars can be written off your bill by your insurance company this way. This is the hidden part of the broken system that you don’t know about until it happens to you.


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

When Your Shack Is on Fire....

....You Don’t Hold Back the Water Because Your 
Neighbor’s Mansion Might Catch Fire Later....

Fears about the Mushrooming National Debt
should concern every American. But a corollary factor looms equally large on the balance sheet of the U.S.A. financial statement:

This Factor, not surprisingly, is:
Healthcare Reform

The Broken Insurance System only affects those of us in the bottom 95% or so of the wealth class.

People Are Dying out Here, needlessly, and can’t really worry about the budget deficit right now.

Our Focused Efforts to Fix the System
aim to unite concerns of the wealthy—about the debt—with concerns by the rest of us–over the bankrupting features of healthcare.

So Long as the Debt-related Fears of the Wealthy act at the expense of the bottom 95%, all the Republican shouting about the national debt will continue falling on deaf ears.

When Those Worried Only about National Debt join those of us who also must worry about personal, healthcare debt, then the United States of America will unite in restoring fiscal sanity to the country.


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

It’s Too Late to Turn Back Now

When You Spend 30 Years taking your neighbors’ water to feed your cattle, you can’t expect the same neighbors to save more for you during the drought.

Times Are Hard All Around—and harder in the middle than at the top. The national debt is unconscionable. The budget deficits are terrifying.

But We’ll Only Get Through This—as one nation, united and indivisible—if we move forward now. While we finally have the chance.

Those Who Think of Themselves First will continue to do so. But it falls to the rest of us—the mainstream of the American people—to make the hard choices and do what must be done.

It’s Too Late to Turn Back Now. The hard process has begun. Congress needs to pass healthcare reform before any more of our middle-income neighbors suffer from the wasteful measures of our wealthier neighbors in the past.


Monday, February 8, 2010

A Healthcare Reform Opportunity

After Months of Wrangling, the hard-wrought House and Senate bills are stalled, but America needs healthcare reform. Meanwhile, the Democratic majority balks at moving the current reform bills into law using reconciliation. Passing reform “provisionally” could get around the gridlock.

Under Such a Plan, Democrats could finalize healthcare-reform now,  through the reconciliation process, but pass it with the stipulation that it becomes law only if Congress doesn’t replace it with a better bill within a year. This way, only continued failure of the two political parties to create a bipartisan bill would move the reconciled bill into law.

We Need Healthcare Reform Too Badly for Congress just to throw the current bills away. America cannot afford this kind of government waste. And yet, when it comes to ending gridlock in Congress, nothing has worked.

Using Such a “Provisional” Law, Congress can pass healthcare reform now and end gridlock, one way or another, on behalf of the American people.


Saturday, February 6, 2010

If the Democrats Can’t Deliver on HealthCare Reform....

.....Why in the World Should We Vote for Them?

Republicans Govern by “Win/Lose”

When Republicans win, the “haves” keep  what they have. Those who don’t already have....lose. Tax cuts fail to stimulate the economy. “Trickle-down” turns out to be “trickle up.” We enter the Great Depression (1929). Homeless people appear on the streets for the first time (1982). We enter the Great Recession (2007).

It’s the “Spend and Spend” Republicans who gave us all those years of lower taxes for the wealthy, wars not paid for, and a “trickle-down” economy that makes no sense.

History Proves  Republicans Wrong. But that does not deter them. Being wrong never weakens Republican resolve.

Republicans Govern by Winning, regardless of the cost to the American people, and to our children and to grandchildren. The record on budget deficits over the past 30 years is clear. The record on who brings on great depressions and great recessions is clear. But the “spend and spend” Republicans keep on rolling along. The Republicans keep blaming the Democrats for  messes that Republicans create. They argue  conservatism and fiscal responsibility, while driving the economy and the American people into the ground.

Republicans Govern by “Win/Lose.” And they do “Win/Lose” very, very well.

Democrats Govern by “Win/Win”

To Democrats, if Everybody Just Agrees, Everyone Wins. Democrats don’t like to stick their necks out, so they constantly seek a matter how horrible a mess the predecessor administrations have made out of things. The Democrats just need that little bit of agreement....such as a filibuster-proof Congress or a few Republicans to go along. Or else one vote shy of a filibuster-proof majority, so that they have someone else to blame their failures on.

Take the “Dare” of the Filibuster

No Wonder the Republicans Accuse Democrats of not being tough-enough: the Republicans, you will remember, would not let Bernie Sanders introduce an amendment to the healthcare bill without making him read the entire document on the Senate floor. Sen. Sanders read a few hundred pages and then threw in the towel. The amendment did not move forward.

When Was the Last Time the Democrats Made a Republican carry through on a filibuster threat? Did you see it on C-Span? 

The Democrats Have Good Policies for America, but Democrats are spineless. Democrats are more afraid of making enemies—whether with the American electorate or within the halls of Congress—than they are of letting America fall deeper and deeper into the Great Recession. Farther and farther behind in the technology race for alternative energy. Smaller and smaller as a force for good on the global stage in this new, twenty-first century.

Republican Policies Are Disastrous for America. But Republicans will see their policies through. Republicans will win. No matter the cost to America and the Americans.

The American People Want 
Leadership that “Wins”

Come November, if the Democrats have added a cowardly failure at passing healthcare reform, to the arguably unpopular effort of promoting healthcare reform, then the Democrats are sunk. The Republicans will win enough seats in Congress, so that the Democrats can wring their hands and say, “See? It’s not our fault? What can we do?”

America Will Be Back in the Hands of the tough, hardened, ideologically driven and wrong, “Just Say No!” Republicans.

No “Filibuster.”

No “Just Say Yes! for America.”

People Will Continue to Die from the Failure of Healthcare.

And Thats Just “Lose/Lose/Lose” for America:
Any Way You Look at It.