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  • Gun Regulations – Good or Bad? (0)

    Will getting tough on gun laws prevent tragedies such as Sandy School massacre? I say Yes and No. Do we need AK47 assault rifles? Maybe Yes and No.

    The main problem is not with the guns themselves. It is a society problem. Our society produced the type of person that would go out and buy the gun and turn it on children and other human beings. We have very realistic video games where you blow the bad guys head off. You walk down the street in the games and kill everyone in site. In the 50s we had violent westerns. But those westerns had good guys and bad guys. The bad guys were killers, the good guys would round up the bad guys without killing them if possible. Growing up in the 50s did not produce a large crop of sickos that went out and killed in mass.

    In the 50s – 80’s we had more mental facilities. We had less homeless. We had more affordable healthcare. Today, most of the state mental facilities (as flawed as they may have been) have been shut down for budgetary reasons. Our homeless rate skyrocketed following these closures which turned thousands of people with mental disorders onto the streets. Today, many families can not afford to go to the doctor when their child displays abnormal behavior. We have more mentally unbalanced adults parenting mentally unbalanced children.

    So let’s backtrack. Today’s TV shows are more violent with more gore and blood. Movies go a step further and have even more gory detail. Video games have become more violent and much more bloody and gory…. and are now available to play on cell phones – all day long. Take this pre-programming, add an unbalanced individual, add a plethora of drugs available and our society has raised a mass murderer.

    Instant fame – even 15 minutes of fame – seems to dominate our young and even older adults. YouTube & Facebook has made this phenomenon even more possible. So you can see the Molotov cocktail we as a society have created.

    Now back to the gun issue. Do guns kill people or do people kill people? Answer is both. Society has created the potential mass killer, now what? If we made it harder to obtain a gun would that help. Yes. Would it stop this vi0lence. No. But just stopping some is a step in the right direction.

    If we limited the type of guns available would that stop the killing? No. But it may prevent that 10th, 11th, 20th person in the killer’s sight from being shot. So, do we need assault type weapons? Some feel it is our right to have them in the event we need to protect ourselves from an invasion or a rouge government. A six shooter against an invader with high power, automatic weapons that hold 60+ shots would not be a fair fight. Isn’t it our right to be able to own the weapon of our choice to protect our family in the unlikely event of a major disaster or invasion?

    Sure, the possibility of an invasion is very, very remote. But what about an apocalypse? We see movies all the time. The bombs fell, life as we know it is no longer… the bad guys take over, the mentally disturbed that should have been institutionalized, but aren’t because we closed the facilities are roaming the street. There is no law except the law of the land which means looting, rape, murder, mayhem. It sure would be nice to have an AK 47 assault rifle to protect my family.

    Would I personally buy an assault rifle? No. Too expensive and I don’t think there will be an apocalypse. Should you have the right to purchase an assault rifle? No. Sometimes you have to weigh the pros and cons, and the likelihood of an apocalypse vs. the likelihood of that gun in the wrong hands turned against innocent citizens and children. The answer becomes clear. Get the assault rifles off the street. Get the mega-clips that hold tons of bullets off the streets.

    There are plenty of weapons and guns left for you to purchase to protect yourself and your family. If you want more bullets, buy more 9 bullet clips. Will this prevent mass murders with guns? No. But as I said earlier… it may prevent that 10th, 11th, 20th victim from being mowed down by a spray of bullets.

    Will bad guys still get assault weapons and large clips? Yes. Were there is a will there is a way. So, yes, the bad guys will still have illegal weapons. We can make stricter laws if you are caught with one… mandatory jail time, no parole. But in most mass murders such as Sandy School, it wasn’t what we would call a “bad guy”…. it was a “sick guy” that was a product of society.

    We need to make it as difficult as possible for “sick” people to own weapons of mass destruction. If we do that, then maybe the next school, mall, or movie shooting won’t be quite as bad and that 10th, 11th, 20th victim may be you or a loved one that didn’t get shot because the shooter not only had to pull the trigger to fire each shot, he had to reload after firing 9-10 rounds… and was able to be stopped by a hero in the crowd.

    Yes, we have the right to bear arms and to protect ourselves and our family. No, we do not need assault rifles and large clips of bullets to do it. Yes, society has to take a good look at itself and start promoting the type of person we, as a society, want as our neighbor.

  • Fiscal Cliff and Social Security (0)

    For some reason, Republicans want to cut or change Social Security benefits. For years they have been borrowing from the fund and spending the money on pet projects. Now, they claim the system is going broke. Suggestion – instead of cutting benefits, stop borrowing from the fund, reduce SS fraud, and figure out how to increase funding of this important program. Once again, the poor and middle class will suffer if SS benefits are reduced.

    It is rumored that President Obama may cave in and eliminate or drastically reduce the Cost of Living increases built into Social Security. Think about who this will affect – not the wealthy who do not depend on Social Security, not members of Congress who do not rely on Social Security – but the poor and middle class that depend on Social Security. A grandmother, living alone, who worked all her life and raised a family retires with very little savings. What savings she has is going to prescription medications. Her main source of income is Social Security which she helped pay for for years. Flash forward 10 years. Her rent has gone up, groceries have gone up, her medications have gone up, gasoline has gone up… but, if Republicans have their way, her small monthly Social Security check will not have gone up. What does she do? She can no longer afford her modest lifestyle. Should she eat less? Stop some of her medications? Move to a shelter?

    Our society is better than this. We will spend trillions on a war that gets us nowhere. We will spend billions on pet projects that only benefit a few, but we will cut benefits to our citizens that depend on them to live in dignity… and which they paid into with the understanding they would be taken care of in their twilight years.

    Taxing the upper 2% a little more does not even compare to the devastation Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid cuts would cause. Reducing the Pentagon’s bloated budget will not decrease our military superiority – but to reduce Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid would definitely decrease the quality of life of the poor and middle class. Let’s get our priorities straight.

    All of congress – Republicans, Democrats and Independents need to stop thinking of their war chests and large contributors and start thinking about the right thing to do for those in our society that are struggling to live with dignity.

    Leave Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid alone. Instead of cutting parts of these programs, find ways to shore them up. Make that a priority and not your special interest projects and contributors.

  • Romney’s Taxes or Lack Of… (0)

    Harry Reid, Senate Majority Leader, accused Mitt Romney of paying no taxes for 10 years. This move is very similar to Obama’s election in 2008 where Republicans accused Obama of not being born in the USA. Obama’s birth certificate was fodder for all kinds of conspiracy theories and accusations that exist even today… even though his birth certificate was finally released. Conspiracy theories claim it was doctored.

    Back to Romney… he can put an end to speculation that he paid no taxes by producing the last 10 years of tax returns. But even if he does so, will conspiracy theories continue claiming they were doctored? Except in this case, the IRS can confirm or deny his released returns accuracy. The tax return Romney did release shows that much of his income was sheltered in foreign countries such as the Cayman Islands and Switzerland.

    Could this be the fall of Romney in the eyes of the middle and lower class voters? If Harry Reid is correct and Romney paid no taxes for 10 years his credibility among tax paying middle class may go down the tubes.

    I have been so disgusted and sick of getting email from “friends and relatives” denouncing Obama every time he steps out the door or makes a decision. I get it that some do not care for our current President, but enough is enough. He is not a Muslim, Socialist, born outside the United States bent on destroying America. The amount of untrue emails floating around out there is staggering. The sad part is, many half way intelligent people believe them without bothering to fact check.

    If Romney happens to win the election, will we see the same onslaught of emails demonizing Romney? Will the same type of untrue emails flood our in boxes? Does Romney have a hidden agenda to destroy the middle class and do away with social programs that benefit the less fortunate and mentally ill? Will Social Security and Medicare become a thing of the past? Will we see the homeless population double under his leadership? Will endangered species become extinct species under Romney?

    Come election time we have a big decision to make…. or do we? Or will it come down to who is able to spend the most money brainwashing us peons with negative ads? Our political system has come down to who can raise and spend the most money. Buy a seat in congress. Reward the donors with favorable legislation. Open the pristine National Parks to oil and gas drilling. On the other hand, will Obama continue to push social programs that we can’t afford? ….spending money we don’t have now, counting on the rich to cover the tab?

    What’s happened to America? America the beautiful? Home of the free? Land of the brave? Are we becoming the Home of the Poor, Land of the Rich? Read my post on the game of Monopoly (The Demise of Capitalism) and ask yourself, “Who’s winning the game?”

    So… did Romney pay taxes the last 10 years? If so, how much? The game of politics continue. The game of Monopoly.

  • Congress kicks the can again…. (0)

    Our leaders are ready to postpone budget cuts and taxes another 6 months. Instead of dealing with real issues, Congress – both houses and both parties – continue to kick the can. They are incapable of passing meaningful legislation or a meaningful budget. For over 8 months they knew a budget reduction bill needed to be passed. They were unable to pass anything last year or the beginning of this year, so they kicked the can a little further down the road. They said give us 1 more year. Now they want another 6 months. Instead of doing their jobs and tackling issues that are important such as a balanced budget and meaningful government cuts and reductions, they do nothing. Instead they waste their time on unproductive  items like holding the Attorney General in contempt of Congress and wasting time and money on something that will produce no benefit to us, the public. I don’t know if AG Holder was in contempt or not, if you are going to kick a can, kick that one. Spend your time on something important for once.

    It is bad enough that nothing but bickering gets done during an election year. Election years happen every 2 years, which means our overpaid Congressmen and women and Senators get paid 4 years to work 2 years, and even then get nothing meaningful done. Not to mention all their vacation time – summers off, weeks off for Christmas and other holidays. Come on.

    Get to work! You are getting paid to work, not campaign. We need a balanced budget. Work it out. Compromise. Do what you are paid to do. I am sick and tired of playing kick the can. Forget about whether you like the Affordable Healthcare Act or not…. it passed, it is law, let it go. And stop trying to scare us by telling us if we cut anything out of our bloated Defense budget that the bad guys are going to get us. Get real. Sit down and hammer out a long term plan. Know going in you will not get all you want – either side.

    Our politicians spend more time politicking than doing the job they were hired for. As one of their employers, I say fire them all. No work, no pay. Can’t make a decision – you’re fired. Can’t compromise – you’re fired. Get off your high horse and start stepping in the manure you are leaving for the rest of us to step in. You are all full of yourselves and think you know best… I can tell you right now, all you know is how to BS your way through 4 years of doing nothing, collecting overblown paychecks along the way.

    Kick the can… you’ve gotten good at playing that game. Being negative and condescending, you got that down. Pretending to work by shuffling paperwork, yep, good at that. Getting something done – you fail.

  • The House trying to pull a fast one on Insider Trading Bill (0)

    One of the few good bills that got passed in April – with bipartisan support has a major flaw. For some reason, Eric Cantor and his Republican flock decided to “unintentionally” move the requirements that the bill also apply to spouse and children, to another section. This “unintentional” move legally excludes spouses and children of Congressional members from having to report insider trades they make.

    The purpose of this bill was to prevent members of Congress and their family and staff from purchasing stock based on inside information – such as upcoming legislation that may affect stock prices of certain companies. Up until now, members of Congress could sit on a committee and make decisions that will affect a company or industry, and rush out and buy or sell that stock before the actual bill gets passed or denied – knowing in advance how it would be voted. This is the same reason Martha Stuart ended up in jail.

    Several members of Congress, including Nancy Pelosi, have been accused of this practice. Up until July 3, 2012 it was perfectly legal – for Congress – not the public –  to do this.

    Which brings us to Eric Cantor’s sneaky little move. If CNN had not brought this legal loophole to light, Cantor’s wife and spouses and children of Congressional members could transact these insider trades just like before the bill. Cantor got caught… so is claiming it was an “unintentional” mistake. The question remains, why did he move spouses and children out of the Senate bill’s legally worded section and move it to a completely different section in the back of the bill where they would legally be excluded from the bill before presenting it to the House?

    This move just underscores the self serving corruption that has been going on for a long time in our government. There was no reason to mess with the Senate passed version of the Insider Trading Bill. But Cantor and his people saw a loophole and grabbed it. They got caught and now it was just an “unintentional” mistake. Does not sound so unintentional to me. If you left it as it was, I would not be writing this.

    Shame on our government for not being able to govern even themselves. Get elected, get rich, is the mantra these days. Serve your country, serve the people, has been withering away for years. Shame on them, shame on us for not holding them accountable.

  • JP Morgan $2 Billion Loss – $23 Million Pay Day (0)

    Goes to show you, some things never change. When the “too big to fail” institutions decide to gamble with stockholder and consumer money in hopes of hitting it big, they can end up losing it all. JP Morgan’s insurance bets just lost that company $2 billion. JP Morgan’s CEO just received a $23 million paycheck voted by shareholders. And the 99%’ers are left scratching their heads saying, “what’s wrong with this picture?”.

    I’m not against huge pay for those at the top… but my definition of “huge” is obviously different from that of the 1%’ers. Based on a 60hr work week, 52 weeks/yr… that is just over $7,000/hr… or $120 per minute. I know those that support these massive pay scales say it is not an hourly rate as much as a performance pay — if they are making the company money, they should be compensated. Just like an actor that gets $5 Million for one movie. If that actor has the ability to draw a larger audience, he/she deserves the money. So the question is — is the CEO the star that is bringing in the big bucks? and if so, how much does he deserve to get for his efforts?

    When you have a publicly traded business, such as JP Morgan, should the CEO (and other top tier execs) receive exorbitant amounts of pay and bonuses with less trickle-down to rank and file? and less payback (dividend) to shareholders? How much is too much? A private business is a different story. The owner of the private business has to absorb any losses and stands to lose everything so on the flip side, if he/she is running the business well, should be rewarded accordingly. However, there still should be an equitable trickle-down to rank and file for their help in creating profits for the company. A bonus structure works well to protect the owner during down times. It is easier to give smaller or no bonus than to cut the pay of workers.

    Back to JP Morgan Chase. Read this article for an understandable description of  how they lost $2 Billion. Suffice it to say, they gambled and they lost. The troubling thing about this is it is reminiscent of the 2007-2008 fiasco. Lessons never learned. The excuse given is “we did nothing illegal.” Every time something like this happens in the financial industry (and others) the excuse is always, “we did nothing illegal.” Which leads me to believe they will continue making stupid, risky, decisions with other people’s money as long as it is “legal”. I dislike regulations and rules and government interference as much as the next guy… but because of this attitude, Wall Street and the Financial Sector are forcing us (the government) to make regulations to protect consumers and also the collateral damage which would occur in the event of a business meltdown and closure.

    The 1% (Wall Street, et al) better get their acts together and not look at what they are doing as if it is “legal” or not, but is it “prudent” or “ethical” or not. They have a responsibility to the public and to their shareholders to “do the right thing” not just the “legal” thing.

    And… $23 Million dollar pay package – $7,000/hr — $122/minute — $2/per second is not a necessary sum to attract smart resourceful executives. You don’t allow your company to lose $2 BILLION and not take some responsibility. If you are really worth $23 Million ($2 for every second that ticks by) you better be superman and take responsibility for ALL aspects of your company. That is why you are paid the big bucks.

  • Tax Reform vs. The Buffett Rule (0)

    Wouldn’t it be nice if we didn’t have to pay taxes? If we got to keep 100% of what we make? Unfortunately, that is not the case. Our country has grown to be the most powerful and advanced country in the world. With that comes responsibilities we all must pay for. We need a military to protect us against bad guys. We need highways that allow us to travel this great country. We need bridges to go along with the highways so we can cross waterways. We need a justice system to protect our citizens from evil doers.

    As we prospered and grew, we also realized that as a civilized country we need to take care of those of us that can not care for themselves. This includes the elderly and mentally incapable. To assist in caring for older citizens, we set up a plan where everyone helped pay into a fund so as we outgrew our productive years we would have a basic income to keep us fed and housed… we called it Social Security.

    In addition we felt it was the right thing to do to provide healthcare to those past a certain age that were no longer covered by employer provided insurance. We called this MediCare. We realized that the very poor, disabled, and mentally incapable of our society were unable to afford medical health coverage so we set up a fund called MediCaid and asked States to contribute. It was agreed by most all that everyone that had an income in our great country would contribute a small portion of their earnings to maintain and provide these services. This we do by paying our fair share in taxes.

    As time went on, some individuals came up with new programs that they felt were in all of our best interests. Then it started to get complicated. Some “special interest” lobbyists started bargaining with our elected officials to promote their “special interest.” In return they promised to do the same when that elected official had their own “special interest” project. Soon it got out of hand. Public relations experts were hired and great sounding names were given to these “special interest” projects. Names that made us ordinary citizens say, “Yes, that sounds pretty good.” So our taxes went up to pay for these so-called “needed” programs.

    As incomes climbed, those making the most said, “Boy, I’m paying an awful lot in taxes.” So began the quest to come up with reasons and ways to lower the taxes the wealthiest were paying. Although they were making more than they could spend in a lifetime, they insisted that if they didn’t have to pay so much in taxes that they would build new businesses and invest in other businesses so they could grow and hire more “regular” people. The Public Relations experts were good at their jobs. Soon many of the “regular” taxpayers agreed. Some felt they (the wealthy) must be smarter since they made so much money, so if they say they need to pay less % of income in taxes in order for the rest of us to prosper, maybe we should believe them.

    Here we are… paying higher taxes for things we really don’t need and a higher % of income in taxes so the wealthiest can trickle down some of their tax savings to the rest of the country so we can all live a better life.

    What should we do?

    First, we need to get rid of programs that do not benefit everyone equally. We need to leave the programs that care for the elderly, disabled, and mentally ill alone. Those programs need to be shored up and re-funded with savings from “special interest” programs. I can’t believe that every government agency could not cut 2% out of their budget in the next 90 days. Everyday citizens have had to cut their budget more than 2%. Stop complaining about it and do it.

    We could spend years trying to close “loopholes” so the wealthy don’t get breaks the rest of us don’t get… we could raise the minimum tax rate so the very rich pay at least as much as a percentage of income as the average citizen – the Buffett Rule. But these are band-aid solutions. Better than doing nothing at all… but still a band-aid where stitches would be preferred treatment. We need to heal this illness – not have it linger and fester.

    If we eliminated “Income Tax,” and began a brand new “Consumption Tax,” then we would not have to argue what the rich pay vs. what the poor pay. We would not need to file complicated tax forms. We keep 100% of what we make. We only pay a tax if we purchase a service or product. Medical & Food would be exempt. A rebate would be given to those making less than the new adjusted poverty level. No more loop-holes… no more special deductions for your 2nd, 3rd or 4th vacation homes.

    We cut government spending. Figure a plan to pay off our deficit in 10 years – and stick to it. Create a budget we can live with and stick to it…. do not spend more than our budget allows. Have contingency (rainy day) funds for unforseens such as wars, natural disasters. Put “X” amount every year into that fund. In 10 years be a debt free nation.

    This can be done. It may take some sacrifice… especially from the wealthy who have been used to having more and paying less. Stop the excuses and special interest campaigns… stop the partisan bickering. Start with 2% cut across the board and go from there.

     

  • Should the Government Mandate Health Coverage? (0)

    As the Supreme Court contemplates whether it is Constitutional for the Federal Government to mandate (force) all US citizens to have health insurance or face fines, we have to ask ourselves if this is a road we want to go down.

    Do I want the government telling me what to do? If the government forces me to get health insurance, what’s next? Dental insurance? Long-term care insurance? Individual unemployment insurance?

    As a proponent for less government in our lives, you would think I would be against this part of the Affordable Healthcare Act. Yet, I understand the need for individuals taking responsibility for their own life, which includes their own healthcare. A healthy, young adult may not see a need to pay for health coverage… money better spent on the newest cell phone, or car. But what happens when that same healthy, young adult is diagnosed with life threatening cancer? Is he/she prepared to pay for the costly, life-saving treatment? Now the question becomes, who, if anyone, should pay for his/her cancer treatment so they can live to buy the next new cell phone or car?

    Maybe we should have all those that Opt-Out of purchasing healthcare insurance sign a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) form that kicks in once their own personal funds are depleted. Then their loved ones can stand by their bedside and watch them die…. and say, “This is what he/she wanted.”

    Then there is the question of the Opt-Out’s children. They had no choice in the matter. Should they be denied health coverage just because dad wanted that new car or that 4G unlimited cell phone plan?

    Because our health is the most valuable thing we have… and should be protected regardless of our income or station in life… shouldn’t our society have some plan in effect to protect everyone and provide life saving care to everyone? Wait… we do have a plan. It basically says, if you do not have insurance – even if you have that cool phone with the 4G unlimited plan, and drive that nice shiny car – we will provide medical care for you… so don’t worry. We may not be able to give you a private room, but you will receive treatment in most cases. Don’t worry about the cost, your neighbor driving that 10 year old car and doesn’t own a cell phone will help pay for your care.

    Or, you have the deadbeat that would rather purchase more beer than pay a health insurance premium. Their IQ may be so low they don’t understand the need for insurance. Plus, they have been raised without it and know they get it free at the emergency room.

    So, just maybe, when it comes to healthcare… if we really feel everyone should have access to it… just maybe it should be made mandatory to pay your fair share. If you can not afford it, we (the government) have programs to help you. The Affordable Healthcare Act have these provisions built in. This bill addresses the problem of the deadbeats that rely on others to provide their healtcare. It says, “No more handouts. It is time you pay your own way.” Where the bill falls short, is it does not address the double digit rise in healthcare costs. For true healthcare reform, we need an equitable plan that addresses these costs.

    We can start with tort reform and curtailing frivolous lawsuits.

     

  • Affordable Healthcare or No Healthcare? (0)

    So what’s the plan? Republicans have been hell bent on destroying any type of healthcare plan or reform from day one. Is that because it is “ObamaCare” or just Healthcare reform in general? I watch Fox News and their poll quotes 74% want to repeal the “Affordable Healthcare Act” (ObamaCare). I watch CNN and their polls show 54% want to keep it. I haven’t heard MSNBC’s poll numbers but assume it would show 70+% in favor of keeping it. Poll numbers can not be trusted by themselves. How the questions are asked and to what group will define the results.

    So what’s not to like? and what are the alternatives? The bill assures coverage for everyone through private insurers. You can no longer be dropped if you become ill and get laid off from work. Your adult children can remain on your policy until age 26 – which gives them time to enter the workforce without loss of coverage. If you have a pre-existing condition, you can still get health coverage (from private insurer) without paying an arm and a leg. You no longer have a cap – so if you need one more treatment to stay alive, you do not have to worry that your benefits ran out. You can choose your plan of coverage. The only requirement is employers must provide basic coverages. These are all good things.

    The bad: your insurance is not portable, meaning you can not move out of your carrier’s area without losing benefits. For some reason, Republicans nixed that. The exchange benefit plans don’t really work. Employers are required to provide at least basic benefit coverage – which could be a financial hardship (although, there are tax incentives to offset some of the costs). Everyone is required to have at least basic health coverage or face fines. If you can not afford it, programs kick in to help out. Theory is that it will spread the risk pool to a wider range of healthy people and help keep costs lower for everyone (not to mention insurance companies will reap more profits). Many feel the government does not have authority to mandate coverage – hence the current Supreme Court review of Constitutionality. The thing is, those electing NOT to pay for their own insurance (usually younger healthier people), will still receive medical care if needed – and the tax payers foot the bill. I personally feel, like auto insurance, that everyone be required to have at least a basic care policy. If not, any medical bills incurred on your behalf, will be your responsibility until paid off, and not dismissible by bankruptcy, and subject to wage attachment. If you want to opt out of Healthcare – the burden is on you if you get sick or hurt…. don’t look to me to pay your bills.

    Bottom line: As much as many (mostly Republicans) want to strike down the Affordable Healthcare Act…. a bill that was hashed over for months by both parties and had many, many compromises (most of which watered down any actual reform provisions)….. I have yet to hear a reasonable alternative. I would hope that the majority of US citizens would acknowledge that healthcare costs are out of control, more and more are becoming uninsured, if you or a loved one had a life threatening illness you would hope that our medical system would provide life saving care. We are the richest and most powerful country in the world. We are also the most technically advanced country in the world. Yet good people are dying on our watch because of inadequate Healthcare. As a society of an advanced, and wealthy civilization, we owe it to each other to have a health system for all…. not just the wealthy.

    Your thoughts? Alternative solutions? I’d love to hear reasonable dialog and not just bad mouthing the other side.

  • Healthcare Bill Falls Short (0)

    Regardless of how the Supreme Court rules on parts of the Healthcare Bill (nicknamed ObamaCare), the original bill fell short of its mission – to lower or slow healthcare costs and make healthcare available to everyone. Unfortunately, the Single Payer healthcare initiative was blocked by the Republicans as was many other parts of the bill.

    Then the fear tactics were started to further diminish the effectiveness of true healthcare reform. Rumors (untrue) of “death panels” and “socialized medicine” that would ruin our high standards of care, and “refusal of treatment” after you reached a maximum amount… all lies and rumors to turn unaware citizens against actual healthcare reform.

    What we ended up with was a hodgepodge bill, over 2,000 pages – mostly to clarify wordings to appease lawyers. The good parts – children can stay on plans longer, pre-existing conditions are no longer cause for denial of coverage.

    For some reason, the requirement that everyone must purchase insurance caused an uproar. If you do not have insurance, someone has to pay for your care… why shouldn’t you be required to cover yourself, just like every driver must carry car insurance. What happens is younger, healthy people elect not to pay for insurance while older (perhaps wiser) people not only pay for their own insurance, but in the process, end up paying for those without insurance.

    But the real shame is the bill does nothing to reduce the rising cost of healthcare and was a windfall for private insurance companies. So where are we now?

    In typical Republican fashion, they want to repeal the entire bill WITHOUT an alternative bill that will truly reform out of control rising health costs. It is a lot easier to complain and find fault than it is to be constructive and find solutions.

    Why not shore up Medicare, have higher fraud penalties and better fraud prevention measures… then open Medicare to everyone – for a premium. This would be optional opt-in insurance. It would be basic coverage. It would be affordable. If you want private insurance – get it. If you want a private insurance supplement – get it. But everyone MUST get health insurance. At the very least, get the basic Medicare coverage plan.

    Socialized medicine?  Not really. You still have choices of plans – private or government. The government will be filling the gap that private insurers are unwilling to fill; low cost basic coverage, portable insurance, available to all. Would this be the first step to socialized healthcare? Only if private insurers fall short in providing alternatives that appeal to the majority. Will private insurers have to compete with the Government? Yes – and vice-versa. There is no perfect solution. But if we do nothing (as many want to do), we will continue to slide into the abyss of the growing number of uninsured that are denied life saving medical care because they have no insurance or can not afford insurance. Then what kind of society have we become.

  • The Demise of Capitalism (0)

    Ever play the game Monopoly? That is capitalism in a nutshell.

    There is a bank that holds the money, a banker that handles the money, and players that spend the money. There is a finite amount of money… in other words, unless you print more, all you have is what comes with the game. Everyone starts with the same amount of money. As you move around the board, you have the opportunity to purchase real estate (property), utilities, or transportation (railroads). Part of the game is luck, part is being smart in what you buy and what you spend your money on. Buy and spend too much too soon, you could go bankrupt if you run out of money. Never take a chance and not buy anything, you will eventually go bankrupt by paying rent to others.

    As the game progresses, you will soon have the rich and the poor…. the rich have made good investments and built houses and hotels, while the poor spend more and more money paying the rich rents for using their property and paying taxes. Eventually, the poor go bankrupt (lose the game) as the rich battle it out until there is only one winner.

    Capitalism is exactly like monopoly. We are at a point in time where the rich (top 1%) end up controlling most of the assets. The poor are getting poorer because rents are up and pay is down. The middle class are players that thought they were playing the game well, but are now finding out that they can’t hold on to their positions because the rich have lowered the middle classes’ incomes (wage freezes, cut benefits, higher healthcare, lower 401ks), so the middle class are slipping into the poor class. After all, there is a finite amount of money in the game… and as the capitalist game goes on, more of that finite supply of money goes to the rich.

    The rich perpetuate this by controlling the rules of the game (Congress & Lobbyists). They raise taxes, give the rich tax breaks, make laws benefiting their interests, take away programs that help the poor and middle class, and control the banks. As income shifts at higher rates than ever before from the lower 99% to the top 1% the game of capitalism is nearing its end.

    Homelessness has increased exponentially, more middle class have entered into lower class (poor) status. The gap between middle and high classes have widened. Once the social programs get canceled (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid), and healthcare made unaffordable for most (repeal Obamacare), the capitalist game will be over. Just like the game of Monopoly.

    Then what game do we play next? The Hunger Games?

  • Mortgage Bailout Misses Mark (2)

    As details emerge, it looks like the much touted Mortgage Bailout missed the mark. I had high hopes for finally a program that would actually help homeowners that got trapped in high interest mortgages. Not only are just a small percentage of distressed homeowners covered by the bill, it provides reduction of principle which I do not agree with. What many millions of homeowners on the brink of losing their home need is an equitable refinance package that would lower their interest rate, thus lowering their payments. To lower interest rate to current market rates is not asking a lot.

    I personally know of a homeowner, single mom, with a high mortgage and a high interest rate of 9%. She has equity in her home but can not get to it due to her now lower income from employment. She can’t sell the house because the lender took back the title. Her lender will not negotiate a lower rate, which would bring her payments to a level she can afford. With several hundred thousand in equity, it looks like the lender would rather foreclose and pocket the money instead of working with the homeowner.

    It is not fair for this bill to lower the principle on loans that are under water (borrower owes more than home is worth). What message does that send to the millions of homeowners that are not in default and honoring their commitments? We should not be giving homeowners money because they made a poor financial investment… but we should be helping them out with low interest refinancing so they can stay in their home. You only have a loss on your home if you sell it. It is all just a paper loss up until that point. 9%, 10%, 11% or higher loans are just wrong.

    Put that $26 billion homeowner bailout into low interest, no-fee, refinancing. Not principle reduction. Create a sliding scale so the bulk of the money goes to lower income families and not multi-million dollar homes or 2nd or 3rd homes. Taking the rate from 9% to 4% will cut the payment in half. Re-adjust the rate after 5 years to a slightly higher rate tied to prime rate.

    Once again, it looks like what started as a good idea is turning into a poorly thought out solution that only benefits a small number of homeowners – including those who purchased multi-million dollar homes.

  • The Oil Myth (1)

    Myth: We have so much oil here in US, if only we drilled for it, gas prices would come down.

    If we have 100 years of oil underground and start drilling now, what happens in 100 yrs. assuming we still need oil for some things? Why not let Arab countries deplete their supplies first, then we will be in the driver’s seat. We talk about future generations straddled with debts of today… what do we tell them when we have no oil left because we wanted to have low gas prices today?

    If a for-profit company drills oil here and can sell it for $150/barrel overseas, how much do you think they will sell it to the US for? Unless we nationalize oil production in the US, don’t look for prices to come down anytime in the near future whether we drill or not. Capitalism is a supply and demand business. The higher the demand, the higher the price. Don’t be fooled to think that just because BP or Exxon drill for oil here in the US that we will see low oil prices.

    The only way out of the oil game is to come up with alternative sources of energy. To jump start this endeavor, there should be deep tax incentives for both the developers and users of alternative energy. There should be added incentives for homeowners in sunshine states to install solar panels. At current solar panel costs – with current rebates – there is a 15+ year payback (length of time to recoup your investment and start to see low electric bills not offset by solar panel payments). We need to get that payback time down to 5-7 yrs. We also need to have all new homes fitted with solar panels. If all new homes were required to have a minimum 30% of energy needs provided by solar panels, I guarantee you will see a huge increase in solar panel production with a decrease in per panel cost.

    Unless the public is willing to pay the price today for alternative energy exploration and use, we will remain a slave to oil — whether it is drilled here or overseas. Do you agree?

  • Bombing Syria – Bad Idea (0)

    I am so glad John McCain is not our president. At one point in the 2008 elections I even thought about voting for him. I see now, he and many other Republicans still have the caveman mentality…. swing the club, ask questions later. I feel terrible for the Syrians and what is going on there. Bashar al-Assad, Syrian’s dictator, has to go… no question. The killing has to stop. This is genocide. The world needs to unite against any country that uses this type of behaviour to quell dissidents. And that is the point… the World needs to unite against Syria. This can not be OUR war (again). If we go in as McCain wants, we can easily destroy the Syrian dynasty, but what then? That was Bush’s problem when he decided to do Shock & Awe in Iraq. Yes, we can swing our club… but then what?

    As leaders of the Free World, I would hope our leaders have learned from past mistakes and understand we need a united coalition which includes other Arab nations to take action against Syria. We need to properly assess the aftermath of a regime change. Who will fill the void when al-Assad is toppled? We need to assess the rebuilding of a country. Who will pay for rebuilding? It is not as simple as swinging our club, beating our chests, and showing all how powerful we are. There is nothing wrong with assisting others in stopping al-Assad. But lets not use the caveman mentality that because we have the biggest club, that we have to do it all. The smart leader convinces others to do the dirty work.

    I have yet to hear Santorum or Romney give a clear answer on how they would be handling Syria today. From what I have heard, they lean toward McCain’s approach of send in the planes and bombs… or was that Bush’s approach? I get confused.

  • Stupid Emails from Smart People (0)

    My big pet peeve is receiving blatantly untrue emails from supposedly intelligent people, most of which depict Obama as evil. I don’t mind differing opinions from my own, but I don’t like the propaganda of emails spreading lies as if they were true. We all have received our share of emails depicting Obama as a Muslim without a US birth certificate, intent on destroying America. One I received today was titled “HR4646 (Bad News)” about Obama wanting to charge a 1% tax on all deposits made to banks, and that is why they now only have direct deposit of SS checks. Most of these type emails take a little truth and spin it into a fabricated lie.

    Another received last week is a video link entitled “This will knock your socks off!” and the video talks about the healthcare bill (ObamaCare) with blatant lies about the bill presented as absolute fact. When will this stop and intelligent conversation begin?

    I don’t know how to get through to these senders to at least do a quick fact check before forwarding these ridiculous emails. I told them it is a reflection of their intelligence sending out such propaganda. Didn’t help. I called them bigots and racists. Didn’t help. I told them the KKK originated most of these racist based emails. Didn’t stop them from coming.

    So all I can conclude when I receive a blatant lying email that has not been fact checked via a quick Google search, that the sender is an ignorant, racist, and KKK sympathizer. So please take me off your political mailing list.

    How do you feel about these nonfactual emails? Do you just delete? Do you do your own fact check? Do you find them informational? Do you send them?