Editor's Note: A quick post about the election. I haven't posted here much with Facebook to rant on and the immediacy that seems to provide but I got on board with Train Obama last year after he came around on Gay Marriage and basically after realizing a Romney Presidency would be a Third Term of Bush. So with that declaration out of the way, here's my commentary on the election aftermath and what it means about the beliefs the Conservative Movement carries.
They live and die on this phony set of beliefs but then they had to eat shit about a number of things the past few weeks...
Climate Change? Well Sandy sort of proved their anti-science attitude to be bullshit and over 70% of Americans now are on board with Climate Change as truth. Even mainstream media is finally reporting it as fact. Remember two weeks before Sandy, Fox was reporting that Climate Change was false and that Global Warming had ENDED. Oops!
Tax Cuts for Rich are Good Economic Policy? The Congressional Research Service did a non-partisan report that crushed that notion and Republicans had to scramble to try to kill the report before the election. They ended up with major egg on their face over that.
Polls are biased towards Democrats? Well they even tried to create a site to "unskew" the polls. Except if anyone was oversampled it was older, landline users. Most young people use cell phones and they weren't asked their opinion for the most part. Still the poll samples were steady enough for people like Nate Silver who used basic Math, another elitist institution of the Education snobs, to call all 50 states correct for the Presidential race and all but one Senate race.
The Majority of Americans Oppose Abortion Rights? You remember them saying this as they increasingly upped their attacks on George Tiller and other Abortion Doctors, the Kansas AG tried to make abortion records public to shame women, they went after Planned Parenthood funding and tried to make Abortion of any sort illegal everywhere they could? Well it turns out they were DEAD WRONG. They overreached with the rape comments but 60-70% of people that voted and were asked in exit polling, supported abortion rights. Turns out they have been wrong this entire time.
Most Americans oppose Gay Marriage? Well tell that to the three states that voted for Gay Marriage, the one state that voted to block a ban of it, the state that voted for the judge that declared it legal with his ruling and the country who via electoral and popular vote majorities voted for a President who came out in favor of gay marriage. Homophobia is a dying cause it seems.
Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, et al are truthtellers? It turns out everything they were telling their viewers was completely fabricated and they were wrong about pretty much everything. It's why so many Conservatives were and are STILL shell shocked by the results this past Tuesday.
And here's the big one: "America is a Conservative/Center-Right Nation". Well they now know: It's not. Even with Independents that broke for Romney, Democrats didn't even NEED them. They hold a Majority coalition where it counts most (ie not White Males) in the future and they are able to attract a broader base of voters. Even Fox is saying they are no longer the majority (they lament it, grumble about it and then say that these people are leeches, essentially).
This sort of set of revelations would usually get someone to think about their views and beliefs and do a little introspection about whether or not they have been listening to the correct sources. However I get the feeling that instead of self-correcting, they're going to insulate themselves further to protect their viewpoints.
I've already heard them blame the poor/minorities/women as people who want "stuff" so they haven't stopped their attacks. The Susan B. Anthony List fools said the Right was anti-abortion enough. Fox and the like are saying there was voter suppression (100% pure projection) and they aren't really soul searching anything over there. In fact they just plan to take more steps to obstruct and steal the next vote. McConnell and Boehner have made clear that they refuse to do any deals with Obama which isn't 100% based on what they want to do. They won't work with him on anything.
So that leads me to this question. If Conservatives keep following these people down this same path, knowing what they know now and after a barrage of facts just whooped their asses this past few weeks.... can we stop pretending these are serious people? Can we stop pretending that there are any smart, intellectual people on that side? Because for years people like Paul Ryan have been hailed as brilliant policy wonks when reality is we learned he has never done the math on his plans and really doesn't give a shit about how they would collapse the American economy. Ultimately he and his rich benefactors would get theirs.
It's time to call these people what they are: Thieves. They get elected to office to embezzle public funds via contracts and subsidies and then use their personal portfolios, future job prospects and campaigns and PAC funding as a money laundering operation to get money back on their investments. They don't care about anybody in the Middle Class. Fuck them. They don't line their pockets later.
Mitt Romney's 47% comment wasn't a slip. It was what they all believe. And so they use all of those lies I mentioned above to confuse the low information voters into thinking their cause is just and that most Americans agree with their premises. They've successfully conned these people into the voting booths for them a number of times. Last Tuesday should be a wake up call to the con that they have been played for, however I doubt these people are smart enough to come back to reality. Or some, will openly choose not to even with all of the facts in their plain view.
After all, for some people they really would rather take the Blue Pill. Ignorance is Bliss, it would seem.
Monday, November 12, 2012
Editor's Note: A quick post about the election. I haven't posted here much with Facebook to rant on and the immediacy that seems to provide but I got on board with Train Obama last year after he came around on Gay Marriage and basically after realizing a Romney Presidency would be a Third Term of Bush. So with that declaration out of the way, here's my commentary on the election aftermath and what it means about the beliefs the Conservative Movement carries.
Thursday, May 10, 2012
Look I am willing to admit I have been overly harsh with President Obama. I basically became a Liberal Independent when I felt like Obama's choices from his Right-Leaning Cabinet picks to his role in keeping liberals and advocates for Single Payer away from the table during the Health Care Reform Negotiations. Also his staffers openly mocked and attacked us while staying quiet on FOX for the most part.
I still don't think we got a great deal with Obamacare, but it's the best we can get for now and states that want to not implement it are doing so for political reasonings to hurt Obama. I still am not happy with the NDAA or the continuation of Bush policies on Domestic Terror. I'm still not looking to come back to the Democratic fold even. I will vote for the Democrats that deserve it and where I can, vote for Green Party and other Liberal Candidates down-ballot.
But I need to credit Obama for living up to his word on withdrawal in Iraq and then coming to his senses on Gay Marriage.
Wait, you didn't hear? Yes. A sitting President came out in favor of Gay Marriage. All I can see online are sites filled with people applauding the decision. Of course that's because I refuse to visit Conservative websites since they are totally batshit insane.
Read it and weep, Conservatives: http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/obama-comes-out-in-favor-of-same-sex-marriage/2012/05/09/gIQA1RPCEU_story.html
Don't Ask, Don't Tell? Gone. DOMA? Obama asked the DOJ not to prosecute it any further. FINALLY, we're heading in the right direction.
I'm not 100% sure I am voting for Obama in November but it's pretty close. Like 99.5% sure. Not just on one issue mind you but since late last year he seems like a different President. One that has finally had enough of the Republican games and obstructionism.
The Left and Dems in particular lost HUGE in 2010. We did that, I think, because the attitude towards liberal change was so lackadaisical by this Administration that Liberals stayed home during midterms. Maybe they finally took note of that.
Let's hope so.
Posted by Robert Poole Jr. at 10:12 PM
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Wow. Says it all doesn't it? When sites like Google, Wikipedia, Reddit, Craigslist, Wordpress, Democratic Underground, etc all feel the need to protest a bill then you know it is serious.
The problem is, we have a group of idiots in Washington who always go too far and need to be kicked out on their asses immediately because their every action is always an over-reaction.
Terrorists attack America on 9/11 so what is their response?
1. Go to the country that harbored them and go after them. (Sounds good.)
2. Attack another country that had nothing to do with it. (Wait a second...)
3. Decide that the Constitution no longer applies and start arresting American Citizens without due process for indefinite detention in Guantanamo Bay where they are never charged and never given a chance to refute accusations made against them. (Holy Shit.)
4. Torture these detainees breaking every Geneva Convention law we signed onto back when we criticized the Germans and Japanese for their torture techniques during WWII. (Outrage is all that comes to mind.)
5. Pass The Patriot Act which now forces libraries to hand over a record of everything you ever checked out and allows for other civil liberty intrusions. Add on the erasure of FISA as a method to force law officials to use proper procedures and obtain warrants to wiretap your phone. Now EVERY CALL IN THE UNITED STATES IS TAPPED AND RECORDED. Oh and your internet, they own those records too. (Volcano, ready to erupt.)
All of this because a jackass chose not to interrupt his vacation in Crawford and care about a Presidential Daily Briefing on August 6, 2001.
That's not the only example of course. Every time this crew passes a law it takes a small issue and overblows it in the worst possible way. This crew feels that the best way to eradicate an ant problem in a small apartment is to NUKE THE ENTIRE COUNTRY. Sure, the ants are dead but everything goes with it.
The issue at hand for SOPA is "Online Piracy". A few easily bought and sold tools in Washington are pressing hard for this bill to hand over the entire internet to the Motion Picture Association of America because they were
paid handsomely, have ZERO knowledge of the inner workings of the internet. Senators tend to be old men with very little knowledge of things that matter to the 40 and under crowd. Remember when now deceased Senator Ted Stevens famously said the internet was a series of tubes? That was only a few years back and don't be all that shocked by this: most Senators think this way.
They don't see the internet as the most free flowing form of social networking ever created. Hell, I doubt they'd even care about the significance of that. To most of these guys, it's been a big silver spoon world where they only have to be social with other people just like them. Enclosed in giant money laden bubbles and free from the realities of the outside world.
The MPAA and RIAA also use the nuke them all approach. In the 1980s they made the claims that BETA and VHS machines would ruin the film industry. The RIAA said the same of cassette tapes. After all, the ability to copy movies or music meant surely nobody would ever BUY anything ever again. Except the exact opposite happened. The dubbed tapes were an intro to the movies and music a new viewer/listener might not have given a chance to before. Both industries took off with a massive boom that decade.
We heard the same whining and griping when recordable CDs and DVDs came out. Yet revenues didn't really come down for either until the RIAA continued to jack up the costs of CDs at a time when their use was declining. Not to mention the PR failures of suing kids and families for downloading music was idiotic at best. Think Metallica ever truly recovered from how they were viewed in the fight with Napster?
These anti-piracy measures have always been steps that have gone WAY too far. For decades they have had laws in place (quite visible on the beginning of videos) that will charge you with a Felony and a fine up to $250,000 just for showing the video in public. So gather some friends, grab a pizza and some popcorn and prepare for a sentence in prison. What moron came up with that? Does anyone even know where to apply for an exemption to that law? Or how much you have to pay to get "broadcast rights" in your own home?
When you buy a DVD you should own the DVD and have the right to show it where ever you want. I'm also a big proponent of the concept that if you aren't making profit on the viewing of the movie, whether it be with friends or sharing it with people in an online streaming environment like Justin TV or Ustream, then there is no reason to complain about damages. Make the caveat be that the streams can't be recorded for people to watch at any given point so that it's not a movie that can be just picked up later. Make another caveat be that the broadcaster must make an effort to promote the actual sale of the movie. Hell they can provide free commercials that provide order details for these streamers to use.
Of course that cuts into the licensing rights they care so much about. You know, the ones they try gouge HBO and Showtime for and are going overboard in overcharging Netflix for so that they have to raise rates and look like evil villains to you, the end user?
The problem is they view streamers or file sharers as if they are killing the business. This couldn't be more untrue. Read this. There are at least 5 links at the very top of the article that disprove this theory about music file sharing but the main crux of the article proves that people who share movies online, spend more on movies in general.
Read: Industry Suppressed Report Showing Users Of Shuttered 'Pirate' Site Probably Helped Movie Industry...
Of course their counterargument will be that ticket sales are down 10% over the past 17 years. The problem with that being it is a dishonest argument. There are more entertainment options than ever before. More Cable Channels, the Internet, more Sports Teams... and all tend to be considerably cheaper than movies when you factor in ticket prices that have far outpaced inflation costs in this country.
Ticket prices and how steep they are now play a major unspoken role in this as well (and as Jeff Katzenberg tried to cover for it in this article, they'll continue to cover for it as much as possible).
And I am not even going to begin to mention how horrendous their business decisions are. Year after year of sequels, prequels, remakes and comic book dreck. Original ideas are scrapped endlessly. I can't help but think if they had taken the $250 million used to finance that stupid Green Lantern movie and handed $10 million each to 25 hungry directors and screen writers to come up with something original, that 5-7 of those would have hit it big and made more money ultimately than that crap Lantern movie did.
Still these same content providers that are whining about piracy crushing them are not hurting. I see reports about Disney, Comcast/NBC Universal, Viacom, AMC, IMAX and on and on claiming huge profit increases. If piracy is an issue, it's not crushing their businesses in any way shape or form.
So let's pin this down to what it is. Greed. The MPAA and RIAA will never be happy until they have your every dollar. (The RIAA already has practically every dollar from the musicians but that's another story.)
You are not allowed to share, show clips of or hell, even talk about their products. My concern is, where will this leave the amateur Roger Eberts of the world? How about a Rotten Tomatoes? Are they next?
YouTube is chalk full of funny, smart, witty... and yes total dumbasses who review movies. They sometimes use short clips of movies to show what they are talking about. Under the recently changed rules of the FCC, this was okay. SOPA ends all of that fun. It gives the MPAA/RIAA Government Enforcement of their property in ways no other industry has ever received. It makes your tax dollar, their tax dollar essentially because you are now employing their online security team.
The major websites blacking out, shutting down or messaging you today are doing so because as a whole the rules in SOPA/PIPA would seriously change and possibly damage the infrastructure of the internet as we know it. It is not all completely virtual by nature, there are hardware issues involved as well. As suspicious as we tend to be towards corporations in general (and with good reason) this isn't just about their best interests either. Google has stood firm against the Government when the aforementioned Patriot Act overreaches tried to force them to hand over information on people. They have often erred on the side of caution when it comes to protecting internet privacy.
Google Chairman Eric Schmidt said it best when he said that SOPA would 'criminalize the internet'. That's what those bought and sold fools in Washington will never understand.
How could they?
They're still hoping one of their Grandchildren will come over and program that pesky VCR clock that keeps flashing at them.
Take action by going here and contacting your local Congressperson or Senator. Make your voice heard, while we still have an internet to do such a thing.
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
In every town, you see these now. Once a thriving epicenter for commerce and labor to co-exist and thrive. America the manufacturing powerhouse that took the ingenuity of the Industrial Revolution and turned it into an economic bonanza. From the 1930s to the 1970s, the sweat, blood and muscle of the American worker represented the kind of society other countries dreamed of. Balanced with high taxes on the rich and corporations paying their fair share, society was a place of relatively low unemployment. It was a place with a middle class that could more than keep up with the cost of living and inflation. It was where the much ballyhooed 'American Dream' was born. Born of the ability to find a job, go to work, get a good education for your children, own a home and a car. Sure there were incredibly inequities towards racial minorities and women but in general terms, the way the middle class was build and sustained itself, off of in house labor, laws to protect the Unions and workers and taxes that made the top tier pay their fair share, society worked pretty darn well.
Since that point though, something happened. A loud cry from the nation's wealthiest of them all came about as their new poster boy, Actor Ronald Reagan, was ushered into office. Using his tremendous acting skills he tricked many of the same baby boomers that had been out protesting Vietnam and speaking of peace and love while smoking weed at Woodstock, to put down their signs and joints and start caring about themselves. Their strategy was to divide America into different groups. The haves, who knew better than you and owned the companies you needed in order to be employed at all... and the have-nots, those poor people who went on welfare and stole your hard earned tax money with no actual will to go to work for themselves. They attacked Unions as threats to companies' ability to hire. Made them villains for demanding such incredible things as health care benefits or higher pay. Used the potential for strikes as a way to prove that they didn't care whether you had a job or not. Used Union dues as a way to pretend you were being taxed for their political agenda.
When Reagan went after the Air Traffic Controllers he did so to make a point. Unions had no place in this new Right Wing America. Corporate donors didn't want it and their political appointees would work on their behalf.
From that point forward the American experience has worsened dramatically. The American Dream became more a dream than a reality, so distant a dream in fact that it was like the one where you're sleeping with a supermodel who in real life doesn't know your name and would likely send security guards to rough you up if you got too close.
The Wal-Marts and powerhouse corporations took advantage. Wal-Mart stopped buying USA only products and started to push their suppliers to have costs for their products so low that in order to be featured in the store it was a pre-requisite to move manufacturing overseas. Pennies for the worker makes for cheaper product.
They continued to lower corporate tax rates, taking them all the way down from the one time 90% rate to a much lower 34% under George W. Bush. It was pretty amazing that when Democrats discussed returning the rates to the 39% they were prior to Bush that the Republican party, bought wholesale by their corporate masters and the media which was owned almost entirely by corporate entities whined like this was the beginning of socialism. Of course there were a lot of Americans with zero grasp of History to know what the hell socialism was or the prosperity we as a nation have had with strong unions and with higher corporate tax rates.
All of this made no sense anyway since Republicans (and many corporate Democrats who might have been Republicans in the past but thanks to Reagan shifting the entire political spectrum, real moderates no longer existed) used their powers to give tax break and loopholes galore to companies. To the point where GE and many other corporations don't even have to pay a dime to the IRS on their billions of dollars in earnings.
The tax burden has been consistently shifted in a way where the poor and middle class are expected to shoulder a heavier burden than the top 1% than own practically everything in the country. It's been said far and wide with complete merit this year that 400 people own more wealth than the bottom 150,000,000 combined. That's a staggering statistic.
You'd think, hey they convinced Americans and even Democrats like Clinton and Obama to fall for the trickle down economic nonsense, they used work training tapes and propaganda in the media to make union membership practically non-existent. They stalled forever on raising minimum wages while inflation priced people out of society and were gleefully overjoyed when those people, out of money no matter how hard they worked had to turn to credit debt to make ends meet. But that was never enough. Nothing is never enough. Greed is a disease. It needs to be cut out like cancer. Forcibly and physically. It exists to devour all in its path and continues to grow no matter what may temporarily hinder it.
Even with all of that they wanted more. They pushed for free trade agreements and then got Government officials to approve of and give tax breaks for outsourcing, sending your jobs overseas to pay workers pennies... not just for Wal-Mart but for every industry. Now you were expendable. The Manufacturing industry is on very weak if not last legs in this country. The places where you would normally see textile plants, automotive plants, paper mills, etc... they're filled with unemployed workers and abandoned empty building space that the cities can't fill with new owners or new hope.
Free Trade Agreements were just the start. They spent the 1990s lobbying to get media consolidation so they could snap up every TV and Radio Station as well as every newspaper in every town. They now controlled the message. They owned what you heard and what perspectives you were going to be informed from. Everything you would learn from here on out was told with spin. Your kids also would fall prey to this as they bought up the textbook manufacturers and pushed their corporate backed candidates in races for school boards where textbooks were approved. They now could rewrite American History in classes. Whitewash any negativity associated with our past. A deluded American public is defiant and much more apt to defend the dysfunctional societal setup here than ever demand change. So The Revolutionary War was a war based on high taxes from the Government (corporations pet cause) and not because people were mighty upset about the tax breaks being given to the East India Tea Company nor actual representation in Congress. The Civil War was about States Rights, not slavery. Hell slavery wasn't so bad, cheap labor never is, according to our new history professors.
They got Congress to enact laws protecting loan schemes and hedgefund managers who made money off of you losing yours and set you up to fail. Then when they drove everyone into an abyss where the lack of jobs added to the impossible payment conditions of the loans meant everyone had to lose their homes to foreclosure, they went to the Government and put their hands out to take your taxpayer dollars again with little to no oversight on how to spend it... took those billions and turned them into hefty corporate bonuses. A reward for ripping you off.
They even made sure they were well compensated in other situations as well.
Want to start some wars? Great! Our corporations will be there to provide minimal services with zero accountability, just use money laundering, er, war appropriation bills to transfer those trillions of dollars into our bank accounts.
Oil spills? Sure we'll clean it up but expect us to bill you for our mess. Oh and we want further tax cuts and more drilling permits, since you know, we've shown such massive responsibility with the ones we're operating currently.
Health Care Crisis? Sure we drove rates on insurance premiums through the roof so badly that you needed a massive "reform" but give us 40 million mandated new customers and no controls on future premium prices. Sounds like a win to us.. oh but we're still going to demand its repeal because we still aren't cool with paying out any actual claims let alone for those sick pre-existing people.
It would be laughable if it wasn't so horrific.
Americans are unemployed at incredibly high rates. If you look up any job site you'll notice most the jobs pay very low wages and have little to no benefits. The corporate elite have already won, haven't they? What's possibly left for them to pillage?
If this were a war, our city would be destroyed from firebombing raids, the last remaining structures still ablaze, a few survivors covered in soot roam the area listlessly unaware of what to do next. There is a class war in America but it's been waged by the ultra rich and it represents the conflict in Israel. The Israelis have missiles and planes and nukes and the Palestinians have rocks, sticks and the occasional suicide bomber. Not a fair fight and we've been annihilated in similar fashion.
What else could they want? They have everything already.
My ex-boss once said this about one of my accounts: "I never want you to be happy. If you make $1 million tomorrow in sales on that account, work for $1.5 million the next day and $2 million the day after that. Being happy means you're complacent and have given up trying in my opinion." Now he said this when at that point the account had never broke $55k in a single day. It let me know how vast his greed was and greed is an animal that never stops eating because it's never not hungry.
To me when is enough, enough? If I own at a company that isn't #1 in the world but is in the top ten, makes really good money to support me and my family and my workers. It shows some growth but doesn't always light the world on fire. Isn't it good enough to be comfortable? Do I have to keep that company growing bigger and bigger, taking on debt and risk to my own personal finances as well as the job security of my workforce? For whom am I doing this for? I imagine if you get into the stock market game you've already declared: "I am never going to be happy! I want to own it all and be a billionaire!" Giving away that sort of autonomy with your company means you don't mind having the influx of cash nor the masters whom you now must answer to. Myself, I see things differently.
You have to understand where these people are coming from. Their intense need for power and control allows them to take risks and have their companies obtain cash for the purpose of expansion and growth. They're cool with having to meet huge goals for their financial benefactors because they too want that growth. It increases their own pocketbook size. Step by step they use this as their ladder to power. They become more and more rich and they use that financial status to gain access to the politicians whom might have never given them a listen before. You realize really quickly that these people aren't there for their constituents, they're there for you. You can offer them a nice above the board $5k donation for their primary and general campaigns and another $25k, $50k, hell even $100k for some outside group that will advertise on their behalf.
Now the world is your oyster. Having zoning issues? Not anymore! Worried about getting a tax break for something? Have no fear! Want to gut the rights of labor so that you can make America a place of low cost slave labor like China or India and line your pockets with the profits reaped from not paying regular wages? Well now, we can do that...
And that my friends, is endgame.
That's what they want.
They want it all. The only way to get it all is to decimate the American workforce and their rights to the point of making us like China. They need no environmental regulations, no safety regulations, elimination of paying social security taxes or paying into Medical Benefits... and then they need to gut minimum wage.. to say, "stay competitive in the marketplace with other major industrialized countries"... since China and India are definitely industrialized at this point.
They go after Public Service Unions partially to break the last bastion of Democratic Party Support after their bought and paid for US Supreme Court gave them the Citizen United Ruling and allowed them to advertise with unlimited dollars to buy any election they wanted, this just whittles down their opposition quite a bit. Also though they did it because with those unions out of the way their Republican friends can bring in corporate low paid workers from private firms to do these jobs. The CEOs will negotiate a hefty fee for this out of your tax dollar but don't expect that to be reflected in these workers' pay or benefits.
Also by taking out teachers, they can work to force kids into corporately funded private schools which will double as a propaganda factory, telling children only what they want them to know and making them feel it's okay to be trained to work at their slave labor camp like jobs.
Going after schools and teachers is the last real hurdle to the total revising of the American Education System in a way that will lead kids to accept and understand the importance of corporate overlords and why critical thinking is dangerous.
They want it all and they have a few well outlined goals to take it.
Once they achieve endgame, that is the systematic destruction of the middle class and the regulations which protect them in the workforce, they can begin to institute their dream scenario. Jobs might return to America but it won't resemble previous American Industrialism.
For some companies overseas, they already see America the way we see China and India. Honda and Toyota and many of the German Auto Manufacturers have invested huge in building auto plants in Mississippi and Tennessee and Ohio. Why here? Non-union states run by Republicans that gave them sweetheart tax breaks. They can pay their workers rather low wages compared to the going rate of their profession and not have to deal with any of the usual "headaches" that having a strong financially balanced society might have. Being a good corporate citizen with a conscience costs money after all.
Look at what IKEA has done. In Sweden their workers would make $19 an hour and get 5 weeks paid vacation. Sweden's economy thrives, unemployment levels are reasonable and they have a government run health care system. Things are good for the Swedes. You'd think IKEA would say, "we've done very well here, let's continue to have great jobs in these conditions". But greed doesn't allow them to think that way. They want to make more money than they know what to do with.
So they come to a downtrodden town like Danville, VA. This town has been run ragged by other manufacturers bolting from their city for similar outsourcing reasoning. Greed killed them. Yet it seems by some sheer magic, they would be spared from the same fate as many dead towns now face, when IKEA came to open a plant. And then they did. Low wages near the minimum wage, only 12 days of vacation, most of which were dates picked by the company not by you, a horrible morale and just not a good environment.
They are but another symptom of what America is becoming. The endgame is near. Corporate lackeys like Scott Walker and the like, they are willing to fight this war (even stealing elections to make sure of it) this time whereas their predecessors may have balked in the face of overwhelming anger. The John Kasich's, Rick Scott's, Rick Snyder's, Mitch Daniels... they all feel emboldened to finally drive the final nails in the coffin of union existence on state levels. The Paul Ryans and Eric Cantors feel emboldened to make the attempts to go after Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid in Washington. This is it, they've wanted it all for years and now they're finally going after it.
We wander down a completely uncharted path. They've never been this close before. Not even in 1927 or during the Great Depression. It's up to us to fight them off.
Court battles, mass protests, civil disobedience, general strikes, the greatest get out the vote effort ever... The term "keep your powder dry" has never been so appropriate.
Are you ready to fight for the soul of America?
Friday, January 28, 2011
First Tunisia, then Egypt... it's been a crazy couple of days in the Middle East. That's not to say things aren't generally crazy but these are two places in which dictators have kept things relatively quiet for a very long time.
The Egypt situation really has similarities to what could happen here if Americans finally got sick and tired of their pro-corporate government screwing with them and decided to force change via revolution. Now that's not me being extreme in the least. After all similar financial settings sent our friends in Greece to the brink and their people rose up against austerity measures.
There are two major takeaways that I get from these protests in Egypt.
1. It proves that American meddling in the Middle East is creating waves of future enemies... those enemies are the regular citizens of the region who see us as a force of evil there, keeping the dictators who are oppressing them in place just so we keep a foothold in the area to keep the oil pumping along. The Egyptian people believe us to be the problem and US Vice President Joe Biden only proves their point by stating he doesn't believe Mubarak to be a dictator at all. Why not? We prop up the brutal Saudi royal family, give weapons to an increasingly violent right wing Israeli government, keep our military in Afghanistan to prop up a puppet government who scammed their own elections George W. Bush style.
Ultimately it won't matter when our military leaves, the US Government has already created the anger and uproar to potentially drive a new wave of anti-American terrorists into the next few decades.
2. Here's the bigger one. Mubarak used the internet killswitch to try to quell protests. He figured he could shut down communications and prevent people from organizing so he had all the normal internet pathways shut down and then shortly after they shut down cell phone internet access as well.
Obviously all this did was further enrage the protesters and made the mess worse (coupled of course with the idiotic use of force by Egyptian police and of course arresting protesters left and right).
So why does this matter? How could it possibly affect us here?
Well that's not as hard to piece together as one might think. First the conditions are right for anger. We just had a midterm wave election built off of it. Americans are truly upset that jobs are disappearing, their wages are dropping, their mortgages were a sham and they are being foreclosed on. The anger is legitimate and deserved when you track how the very people who perpetrated this mess onto them and the economy got all of the bailouts with hundreds of billions of their tax dollars.
Now to be honest, the right wingers used it as a con game. They turned what should be legitimate anger at that situation into a way to bring in more corporatist Congresspeople who are extremists and the only thing they truly have in common with the angry citizenry is they wanted to get Democrats out of power. That was it. Michelle Bachmann and the tea party officials are even more pro corporate scam artist than the right-leaning Democrats they replaced.
Ultimately though that anger still exists and that could boil over if the unemployment rate stays near 10%. Plus Obama's State of the Union did no favors to anyone but the very ultra rich as he offered them corporate tax rate reductions and practically every incentive to keep outsourcing jobs with more free trade agreements.
That's not enough though. See, in modern day America nothing really mobilizes people to a great extent. When Bush was about to start an illegal war and tens of millions of people marched all over the nation and in Europe combined on Valentine's Day 2003, the media mocked them. They never bothered to cover it. This uprising would have to be huge for the corporate elite to worry.
In this version of America, where we are so used to technology that we have become complacent and lazy, it would take a miracle to get us off the couch for anything. Economic collapse itself is probably not enough. Not when you have Fox News and other cable news outlets telling you daily that this is all okay as long as the rich have all of your money.
The brainwashing here is rather effective. Unlike Pravda where it was obvious that they were state run television, these channels offer slightly counter views and convince the viewers that they are making up their own minds and that this is being broadcast as completely free speech rather than political talking points being regurgitated from the top down in Government by hired stooge pundits.
So what the hell would get people up and off their seats? I mean they can't even break 60% turnout on election day when they might have a chance to do something about the mess they are angry about.
I've always said just one thing would do it. Take away people's internet and/or television. It's their main form of entertainment and socializing these days. Face to face chats are second or third in line to facebooking, twittering, emailing, texting, etc.
So what Mubarak did in Egypt would probably be enough to spur all those people that think of themselves as politically agnostic and get their asses out to say something. It would create a groundswell and maybe even unify the right and the left. It would be the moment in which pitchforks and torches (figuratively) would be acceptable again and people would want to storm their government.
Now we have had our every phone call recorded for quite some time and had the government decide to attempt to record our every browsing move on the web. That never seemed to be enough, so why would this? Because while we SHOULD be outraged over those breaches of privacy and the obvious dismemberment of the Searches and Seizures element of the Constitution, we still have the internet and the phone. Yes, they are tapping our every move but we still have it.
Now imagine a day where your President said he was going to shut down your every internet communication to stop you from dissenting against the Government's plans.
Seems unlikely that would ever happen here right? Could it even happen here?
As it turns out the US Senate has been working on giving the President this power for quite some time (dating back to mid-2009). A Senate Panel approved a 4-month shut down that would not be able to be reviewed by the courts (the only place an ISP could appeal their shutdown to would be the head of the Department of Homeland Security) back in June of 2010.
That moved it into the full bill which stalled due to partisan bickering pre-midterm elections.
Well guess what came back this week in of course timely fashion considering what their buddy Mubarak did?
You guessed it, the Senate is renewing the push to get the bill passed so the President could obtain the kill switch powers. How nice of them.
So they are setting the stage for everything that is happening in the Middle East to happen here. Americans may be lazier and not as used to fighting for what we want these days (it's been a very, very long time since the Revolutionary and Civil Wars), but I'll say this: Any President that dares to flip that switch should forget about re-election or what polls say or any of that nonsense. They should be looking for protection because I honestly think, that's the one singular thing that would get Americans angry enough to storm Washington D.C.
I'm not advocating anything at all but rather making an observation about how the American people would react to that. I'd imagine Egypt would look like a Rolling Stones concert in comparison.
Sunday, January 9, 2011
I am 33 years old. I don't know what this is like. A politically charged assassination attempt on a current elected official in my home country. None of my generation of American Youth has ever gone through this. Yes, Reagan was shot but that still is before many young people can remember and John Hinckley was just crazy, not politically motivated.
What happened yesterday, I've only read about it in books. The 1960s in particular seems like such a crazy time period. I close my eyes and remember what I have seen in old video clips and from old newscasts. I remember what I read about. Something seems eerily similar.
A group of people fighting for their civil rights and another group of people steadfastly holding out against them for fear that the America they grew up and in always known was changing rapidly. It was a time period where a young charismatic President was in office. He was a Catholic which at the time was a pretty scary thing for so many Americans. Not unlike that of a purported Muslim being in office (even if he's not).
Talks of peace when there was clearly still lingering war going on with the Communists scared the Right Wing at a time when the beginning of social change at home was already driving them into a frenzied fear. After two World Wars and Korea, war was all these people knew. Now we were talking about pulling our boys out of Vietnam, not invading Cuba and god forbid brokering a deal with the Russians?
I imagine the culmination of all of this combined with the fear that blacks were going to run rampant and take over was scaring the right wing white male into a frenzy. The difference is there weren't as many television outlets then and they still bought into the concept of legitimate news. Not completely unbiased mind you because Edward R. Murrow sort of broke that barrier. Rather it was fact driven using serious sources and strong journalistic practices and because of this it wasn't working off of talking points or purposely catering to a specific ideology.
Back then, instead of having Fox News peddle their causes to a much larger, easier to lead audience they used back room techniques. They joined the John Birch Society (somewhat representative of the tea party today) and used such groups to help spread their propaganda.
I look at America today and I see similar shades of a totally unbalanced, scary time period.
People can look back now and see the 60s with hindsight. We made progress and broke through on Civil Rights. Woodstock occurred. The Vietnam War resistance began and eventually helped end the war, even if it was many years later. All of that required struggle and even the sacrifice of blood and lives of leaders.
I can't imagine watching the television on November 22nd, 1963 and seeing Walter Cronkite read off a bulletin that my President had been shot and murdered. Or to hear the same about his brother Robert or Martin Luther King, Jr. in such a short timeframe.
I imagine that the person that I am now would have felt hopeless that America could and would never change or be allowed to change. Of course the case can be made that certain elements of the Government were behind each killing and of course one can clearly look at the elements of Government that would have been involved in pulling such a trigger and would see such right leaning elements as those John Birchers I mentioned before. To them and to the unelected and fearful, any progress at all was a threat to a group of people who had irrationally built up fear inside of them to believe that if they did not arm themselves and fight back.
So they did.
Imagine the feeling of those people that lived through that. Every day wandering around a world of political hopelessness and helplessness where you know you don't count in America. Your voices will be silenced.
Yet knowing this, they fought on and protested more. They stopped a damn war.
The dates may have changed but is anything really that different? We have our insidious fascist groups thinking they are arguing for political power but using fear to whip up the troops. They are preying on a group of people afraid of Blacks, Muslims, Mexicans and now Gays from taking over their world. They fear the President who looks different than them. They fear the changes to the Government in the form of Health Care regardless of what it might offer them in terms of positives.
The bullhorn is louder now. Fox News, Conservative Radio, the corporately owned Mainstream Media... they shout from the rooftops and are much more effective than the old backdoor whisper campaigns. The genius of this is they don't need insiders in the Government to do their dirty work. They can call for the armed uprisings against politicians all they want and wait for their sheep to do their dirty work and they can scream first amendment all day long. They know they can call the person a fringe nut and absolve themselves of their responsibility. They know nobody has the guts to call them out for what they've done. They'll never face charges, never be publicly shamed. And when tomorrow comes and they hit the airwaves, they'll move their target and start anew. They succeeded in taking out their enemy without having to lift a finger. It's all so perfect now.
I don't want to live in the 1960s. That time period is one of lost innocence. One where all the history books about how good America was started to show how inaccurate they were. Any real historian would laugh at the irony that we taught our kids how great our country was, by lying to them.
What we knew about America had been tied together with pretty wrapping paper and a shiny red bow. The bow was perfectly proportioned and you almost wondered how it got that way without a machine. Human hands can mold things into wondrous shapes if they are diligent at changing the form to fit their needs after all.
When we started unwrapping America: The Gift we start to see things we don't want to see. A murderous enterprise engaging in exactly what President Eisenhower warned us about. War for Profit. Killing to enrich military and corporate contractors.
Was there ever a legitimate target? Not so much. A vague threat of potential communism in Vietnam. A weak and moronic enemy in Iraq. A pretty pathetic government in Afghanistan and a leader of a terrorist group we never fully intended to capture (See: Nov. 2001 - Troops stand down in Tora Bora and Bin Laden escapes).
Lies. All of it.
Their job. To keep you scared.
We need war or they'll get us. Now let us loot your tax dollars and social security funds so we can redistribute money to our connected wealthy friends.
We need tax cuts or else more of you will lose their jobs or they won't create new ones. And these rich people need zero estate taxes or their heirs can't employ you either. Don't worry though, we'll make sure when our rich friends get that money that there is no regulation forcing reinvestment. Oh and you better believe we're not going to stand for closing any foreign loopholes that prevent our friends from paying the little bit of tax money they still might owe.
They kept people scared in the 1960s about everything and ultimately it was about money. They needed endless war. They're better at the game now and a tad bit hungrier. War is not the only way they figured out that loots the American Treasury. It's still the best way but not the only way.
So to keep you distracted they make you look at the changes in your life.
High Unemployment? It's not the corporate greed downsizing or outsourcing your jobs away, it's Mexicans taking your job.
Gay Rights? A new group of people that want to ruin YOUR marriage.
Welfare and Unemployment Benefits? Robbing from the hard working middle class and giving to the lazy poor people that want to leech off of the sweat and effort you put in every day. Oh and hey, they're almost always lazy drug addicted minorities that would rather collect welfare than work.
An attack 10 years ago? That could happen to anyone at any time, regardless of what we're doing to them overseas. So give up your constitutional rights about unreasonable search and seizure and we'll tap and record your every phone call and internet movement without a warrant. Oh and hey, those evil Muslims hate you and your religion and will force you to wear a burqa.
Christmas? Atheists and other non-religious people HATE your holiday and want to destroy it and while they're at it they want to eliminate the Baby Jesus from every being a part of anyone's life.
Whip up this internal terror in people and they'll do whatever you want. Including murder Democrats on your behalf.
So when you tell people that you constantly at rallies whip into a frenzy with eliminationist rhetoric that they need to reload and put target crosshairs on a Representative's district basically sicking the dogs on them, you're calling for a hit on that person. (Below: the images Palin tried to scrub from her website immediately after the attack)
Everyone called out this nonsense when she did it originally. The View denounced it back in March of 2010. Yet here we are.
My heart and thoughts go out to Rep. Giffords and to the families of each and every family member that either lost a loved one in that attack yesterday or had a friend or family member be senselessly wounded in it.
Regardless of what the media chooses to do with this info now, it's clear that the blood is on Sarah Palin's hands for this. Just as it should have been on Bill O'Reilly's hands when Dr. Tiller was murdered after he labeled the man, "Tiller the Killer" and aired the man's address.
But let's not kid ourselves here. These people know what they're doing and what results their actions are creating. They need to be held publicly responsible for what they have done and be shamed from the spotlight for good.
I don't want to experience the 1960s. Yet, yesterday sure felt like a small bitter taste of it.
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Imagine this. It's the cold of December. Winter has hit. Blustery winds outside of 15-20 mph. Temperatures in the teens but made worse by wind chills in the low single digits (or worse). A good amount of snow outside and definitely more on the way. Just going outside to start your car means breathing in the chill and watching the steam of your warm breath fog up the windshield from the inside. Your fingertips redden quickly and sting from the touch of the freezing cold steering wheel.
Ah yes, it's the dead of winter already. The holidays are over and clearly this is time for these temperatures and the snow to become less and less enjoyable.
Now add this to your imaginary stroll through the winter wonderland in your mind. Instead of just starting the car, you're going inside of it - to live there.
It's happening more and more these days and the worst part is there appears to be no end in sight.
Someone close to me had a predicament come up where they were put in a situation by an unsavory family member who decided to kick them out of their place to live right after Christmas had passed just based on a mood swing. This left these people in a bit of a predicament. Being homeless in the winter, when the conditions are more dangerous than at any point of the year, should invoke a perking up of the consciences in all of us to try to prevent such things. As I have mentioned here before, part of our social structure as children at least in the stories we are read, the movies we watch, who we are as people should be encased in empathy for others.
In America it seems, most of our concerns are for ourselves. The Tea Partiers and Anti-tax crew rode into Washington thanks to a wave of electoral anger from the public in general on the very promise to cut social services that helped the people most in need.
It seems the "welfare queen" narratives of Ronald Reagan have taken shape and thus the poor are vilified for supposedly stealing the money of the hard workers in the middle class. Reality shows that corporate welfare is where there money is really being stolen but hey never let facts get in the way of a good rant against the downtrodden who can do nothing to combat you on it.
In conversations I have had with conservatives personally I have found very much of the same mindset that Fox News host Bill O'Reilly employed during Christmas week (and was promptly crushed in rebuttal by Stephen Colbert on). O'Reilly tried to use the infamous (and found nowhere in the bible) quote about God not helping someone that doesn't help themselves. That is self-justification to hoard your money and not give to others. In fact, Jesus... you know the guy they built the entire CHRISTIAN religion around, had other ideas about holding on to your precious belongings:
Jesus looked at him and loved him. "One thing you lack," he said. "Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."
Here's a few more for good measure: http://encouragingbiblequotes.com/versesmercya.html
To conservatives/right wingers it's not their problem. They have no obligation to help the poor or to help people in need. They can if they choose to but ultimately it is these people's belief that many of these people (if not all in their minds) "did it to themselves". The conversations I have personally had have been shocking and eye opening. They make blanketed claims of all homeless and exceptionally poor people being "too lazy to work" or "alcoholics" or "drug addicts". So this is their lot in life. Their penance in a world filled with punishments from their angry God.
To them they have been trained that being taxed is stealing from them. Liberals and most Democrats believe that it is a good thing to be taxed more to pay for public services and to provide a social safety net in case of worst case scenarios.
The rich approach every tax increase, no matter how minuscule, as if they were Mr. Potter - the warped frustrated old man in "It's a Wonderful Life" who basically stole an $8,000 deposit from the Bailey Savings & Loan to try to railroad them and their poor customers out of business for his own personal gain. Our government as it turns out, sided with Mr. Potter back then and would do the same now. They called such themes in a movie, "advancing communism" and "attacking capitalism". Our government has not changed one bit since then.
It's protect the rich and the bankers at all costs these days as well. When TARP and the bailouts came about they were put in place to prop up the banks, not help the people they scammed out of their houses with shady mortgages. Those CEOs who had helped run their companies and the American economy into the ground got bigger bonuses than ever... some even got bonuses just for procuring the TARP funds.
And of course to shore up unemployment extensions for 2 million of the 6 million people that need them, for a whopping 13 weeks, they gave the rich another $700-800 billion in extended tax breaks as well. President Obama, always looking out for the little guy (with as little of a fight as he can muster).
Still getting the tax breaks that have crippled America and helped foster the environment of greed that has collapsed the economy, outsourced millions of jobs (and entire industries) overseas should have been enough to quiet this group of thieves down. Unfortunately it's not. They're now passing around the 'Social Security is broke' meme to eliminate that "entitlement" which is just another way of saying, "Rich people have no problem with their retirements and don't want to contribute to society anymore".
This mentality is prevalent amongst that community of people and their brainwashed political allies on the lower income half of the scale.
The conservatives will pass around the information they find in a few various articles that they, not liberals, are more charitable to dispute my commentary here. ABC News had an interesting little article on this some time back in which they try to dispel myths but sort of avoid the obvious overarching themes to how these "myths" came into existence. A couple assertions they make (with my observations in parenthesis):
-Rich people give more in overall dollars than the poor but the poor give more in total percentage of income. (Well no kidding since the poor have far less to work with in total and anything they give to causes, bills, etc is going to have a greater impact on their total working capital.)
-People going to church give far more than those who don't and not just to their own church. (The reason is that churches are collecting for their church every single week - be that for food pantry/shelter services or just to use to advertise the church or whatever that may be for, as it seems this is not quantifiable in these reports as to where the donations are going to, so their parishioners are a bit more trained to give for the good of their church. Also they give to other churches - mostly other Christian churches - because many churches have networks in which their faith is practiced regionally in different locations with the same basic tenets of their faith. I doubt very seriously these Christian people are donating to Muslim, Jewish or other faiths' charities for the most part and a lot of times if they donate to non-affiliated Christian charities they do so just seeing the "Christian" label and with a large amount of ignorance as to what that sect stands for.)
There is apparently more overall giving to charity from conservatives than from liberals but we also must take a look into the pervasive mindset that makes that so. A larger portion of liberals are poorer than conservatives are, thus as noted above the dollar amounts will be disproportionate in favor of conservatives. Also, and this is based solely on my personal observations, conservatives will give more to charities to assuage their pesky consciences (for those who have such a thing) because they hope that in doing so it will be enough to allow others to perceive them as good people. Rarely do they research or care about whether a charity is actually doling that money out to the people they profess to help. They just do it hoping for the best and washing their hands of it.
While they give money to charity there are also other nefarious reasons for such that are discounted. Such as: tax benefits. Rich people receive hefty tax breaks for being charitable. Many times the only reason they are being charitable at all is to be compensated for it. Also never figured into this is how much this same cast of characters have spent lobbying Congress or local state governments to do away with social safety net programs. If a person gives $100,000 to charity, if they get a tax benefit for it and spent say $1-2 million lobbying against Unemployment Benefits, against Social Security Benefits, against financial regulation to keep people in their homes and prevent shady mortgages and did all of this while their donation went to say, Sean Hannity's charity - one of the most corrupt out there, should we applaud them for being so "charitable"? Can we figure out a net negative charity figure for them?
On the flip side, while liberals aren't as charitable dollar for dollar, they're usually the ones that attempt to go to Washington to help others. We have ridiculous amounts of money going into tax coffers every year and while tax breaks (especially for the poor and middle class) are valid, the ones for the richest of the rich are overly excessive. Also if we cut off a large majority of our military expenditures, stopped handing out corporate welfare and used the government regulatory commissions in a way where they were law enforcement and not racquetball buddies with the companies they oversee, there would be ample money left for the most generous of charitable expenses: Single Payer Health Care for All, Better Social Security Benefits, Expanded Section 8 Housing and more funding for homeless shelters/food pantries across the country, improved public education with repaired inner city schools and better teachers/class sizes, fully paid college education grants.
All of that is not only doable, but easily so if we stopped giving corporations the money to buy a big shiny knife to stab us in the back with.
So back to the topic at hand, these people that were close to me called around to find a place to stay. I don't live in the same state as them and am not an option for them to get to. They called the local shelter and found out there is a lengthy waiting list to get in. It seems they are full and there is nowhere for most of these people to go. In the dead of winter.
Now if this were an isolated problem I would chalk it up to them being in a smaller community (around 100,000 people) but it's not. In fact it's an epidemic and has been for a couple of years.
Providence, RI: R.I.’s homeless shelters overrun as weather, recession take toll
Dover, DE: No room at the inn this year: Area shelters are full up during the holidays
Omaha, NE: No Room At Homeless Shelters - Micah House, Open Door Mission report higher numbers
Lakeland, FL: Homeless Shelters Maxed
Minneapolis, MN: Homeless in Minneapolis
There are way more articles out there. Some are just byproducts of the people that tough it out normally coming in for the abnormally harsh weather condition days but ultimately that doesn't change much. These people are all still homeless.
Not everyone that is homeless is there because of drugs or alcohol yet the implication is there and made by right wing blowhards that this is their plight.
Nobody wants to talk about the real reasons for most of these situations. The greed of the wealthy. To make more money they step on more people. Massive sectors of the manufacturing industry were shipped to China and Taiwan and anywhere they could send the jobs for exceptionally cheap labor. If they couldn't send the jobs elsewhere because of the required geography for the job, they recruited illegal immigrants (ironically while attending Republican events and angrily yelling against those immigrant workers "taking our jobs"). They then took all the service industry jobs they can like call centers and such and sent those to India. No need for American workers making the American money they need us to spend right?
You can't talk about it because it shines the spotlight on who they are. When the real light shines down the roaches start running. In their protected little circles they can be hateful and spiteful of the poor. They can be bigots and make condescending jokes about those that they rip off and squash. When it's out in the open, they look like assholes and thus they try to turn their anger on you for shining such a light rather than discuss why they feel the way they do at all.
The income gap between the rich and the poor has been growing for a decade. Right now it's wider than it was during the Great Depression (strange how the media doesn't want to mention exactly WHY we had a Great Depression considering the direction we've been taken in the past 30 years).
According to the census:
The income gap between the richest and poorest Americans grew last year to its widest amount on record as young adults and children in particular struggled to stay afloat in the recession.
The top-earning 20 percent of Americans — those making more than $100,000 each year — received 49.4 percent of all income generated in the U.S., compared with the 3.4 percent earned by those below the poverty line, according to newly released census figures. That ratio of 14.5-to-1 was an increase from 13.6 in 2008 and nearly double a low of 7.69 in 1968.
A different measure, the international Gini index, found U.S. income inequality at its highest level since the Census Bureau began tracking household income in 1967. The U.S. also has the greatest disparity among Western industrialized nations.
At the top, the wealthiest 5 percent of Americans, who earn more than $180,000, added slightly to their annual incomes last year, census data show. Families at the $50,000 median level slipped lower.
Add on top of that the indisputable fact that the poverty number is the highest it has been since 1994 AND that the total number of people in poverty is the highest it has been in 51 years and we're talking about a tidal wave of people requiring the social safety net Republicans and corporate Democrats want to gouge.
So when homeless shelters are out of room at a time when people can easily freeze to death what are they to do? The lack of temporary shelters means gathering together, starting a fire and wait for it, drinking alcohol to increase body heat. Hmm, maybe they're not all listless drunks after all. I suppose if you had to choose between some completely disconnected fool labeling you an alcoholic or staying alive because that same person voted for someone who cut off funding to your shelter or center while propping up the company that laid you off and the company that screwed you with a bad mortgage it would be an easy choice wouldn't it?
What's worse is, it's not just shelters that are strained. It's food pantries across the country that are running out of food. It's low income housing in various communities.
Charities, the ones that operate on the level (and try to use charitynavigator.org to help decipher how much of your money is actually going to program expenses so you get the best bang for your buck) are important pieces in helping to strengthen a community and providing a helping hand for those in need. However charity is not enough. We need to be a better society and we need our government policies to reflect this.
If you consider yourself a Christian I ask you this: What would Jesus do? According to scripture, not according to the way ideologues in your church or others might manipulate his words. Would Jesus allow his fellow man to die freezing in the cold? Would he allow people to go hungry and starve to death? Would he ask people to stay sick and not provide them with the health care they need? Especially ask yourself this: Would he do it for a couple extra tax dollars back on his paycheck to use for material things like extra DVDs, a TV set, a snuggie?
Outside of Christians I ask the same of you? Is this the type of society you want to partake in? One where the filthy rich on the top of the ladder control all the wealth and you fear for your job every day because to make that much more money, shipping your life away is but a minor inconvenience to them?
What makes you so different than those who are on the streets right now? Most of them were laid off from their jobs and were hard workers just like you are. Very few of them are the lazy stereotype that Reagan and his Neo-Conservatives wanted you to hate and demonize. Most caught a bad break. 20+ years at a manufacturing plant, laid off... weakened unions thanks to years of Republican demonization prevented a very strong severance package from being negotiated on your behalf. Trying to find work is rough especially when other CEOs for other plants in the area did the same exact thing. Move the jobs to China or Mexico to increase their bottom line and fatten their wallet with huge bonuses. You're nothing but a pawn in their game.
The months out of work eat up your savings. No college for your kids. No money for the bills or the mortgage. No place to work soon means no money and no place to live. Just like that you have slipped from one station in life to another. Middle Class Blue Collar worker, The Pride of America, to homeless bum who probably deserves it and is probably a junkie.
Sure, they could have gone back to school. Amassed a ton of school loans they couldn't pay off. Retrain themselves for a new workforce. Of course then when they finally get out of school they'll notice the stark reality that what they went for has now also been outsourced. Computer related jobs? Hope you can relocate to India pal. The piece of paper you thrust yourself into debt for is now but a window dressing to the failure your life appears to be. College Grads with Masters degrees are flipping burgers at Fast Food joints or checking people out at the local big box retailer. They're young and still struggling. Who wants to hire a 40 year old who worked in a now obsolete field in the American workplace and then went to school to train for another obsolete field in the American workplace?
This is not an exaggeration. This is the current landscape. The American experience.
The people I know personally and mentioned above, they're working on various options and may not end up on the street at all. However we know what they're facing if it happens to get that bad.
We need our policies, our politics to be one where we're not just looking out for ourselves right now. Our tax dollars need to be directed in ways that prevent companies from shipping jobs overseas in such a laissez-faire manner. One that protects our money by closing corporate loopholes and regulates companies the way they are supposed to be. One that doesn't waste incredible amounts of money on military boondoggles. One that then redirects that money towards the welfare of the people to give the American people the bailout they deserve.
Protecting Americans from the greediest among us and providing us with the help that charities can't possibly try to provide at every turn.
Aside from politics, find your local shelter or pantry. Donate money or time if you can and try to help. It's rewarding in ways that cannot even be described. I brought my 11 year old son with me to help with last year's Salvation Army Thanksgiving Dinner and honestly I think it helped shape him as a person and probably helped in attempting to make his a better citizen and greater part of society in the future. All of us need to have such an experience. These are our fellow men, women and children. We all live a shared life experience here on this planet and we should do whatever it takes to make that experience one where we look out for one another as well as ourselves.
In Washington with our policies and in our neighborhoods with our deeds, we can prevent more people from having to venture out into the winter cold for good. We can help people from having to worry if every morning they inhale the cold breeze under a blanket, will be their last.
The question is: Who's side are you on? George Bailey or Mr. Potter?