Election Woes

Confusing Voters

We are 18 days out from the 2018 midterm election with Democrats and Republicans locked in a desperate struggle to control the Legislative branch of our Federal government. Things start to get very confusing for voters right about now. The Democrats might be turning into Socialists. The Republicans are now claiming that they are the protectors of health care in America, although they voted at least 60 times to overturn the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). We are apparently thick as thieves with Saudi Arabia right now and may be inclined to ignore the assassination of journalists by other dictatorships or “illiberal democracies” if we have advantageous economic arrangements with these nations. Apparently sword dances are also very helpful in this regard. Voter suppression is rampant because Democrats encourage voter fraud (what?). Democrats are a violent mob paid to resist by a Jewish billionaire (George Soros). And thousands of immigrants are on the way to violate our southern border and create mayhem. If all of this is true I say how could 45 allow our nation to get in such bad shape?

Health Care

Ask yourself, who is likely to offer Americans the best health care for the least amount of money, the Democrats or the Republicans? Well, first there is the evidence available for all voters to see in the various health plans that have been offered during the Obama administration and the Trump administration. Obama’s plan was demonized by Republicans for allowing “death panels” to decide who lives and who die (which never came to pass), and was declared unconstitutional by courts that skew to the right because of the individual mandate (you cannot force Americans to buy something or pay a penalty for not buying it even if it would accomplish a larger goal of bringing down the cost of health care for everyone). The Republicans ripped all the teeth out of the ACA and backed the private health insurers (so unfair to billionaires, who are considered sacred even if they are making enormous profits from people’s pain, because they provide jobs and have generous lobbyists). Red states proved their bona fides to the party by refusing the Medicaid expansion, making their poorest citizens do without to keep a greedy party in power. And yet the ACA still worked pretty well and it has provided health care for millions of Americans who never had it.

We also saw what was on offer from Republicans in the Better Care plan which was in no way better than the ACA, and would cause millions to lose coverage. The “skinny repeal” was not their finest hour either. Republicans know insurance companies do not want to cover preexisting condition without being paid big bucks (and who will pay those big bucks, government or individuals). Since all Republicans really care about is the bottom line and backing corporations/businesses, they are trying to help out the insurance companies, not the American people. We have also been learning that almost anything can be classified as a preexisting condition. And yet I hear Republicans telling voters in commercial after commercial that it is Democrats who plan to take away coverage of preexisting conditions and, incidentally, also end Medicare.

Democrats Will End Medicare (what?)

Their claim is based on a cynical argument about linguistics, I guess. They argue that if everyone has “single-payer” health insurance then seniors will lose their Medicare and coverage for preexisting conditions will prove either skimpy or outrageously expensive. Of course if we call “single-payer” Medicare-for-all their argument falls apart. Republicans think that Americans will accept a “catastrophic coverage fund” that people contribute to separately from their health care plan. That will mean that health care only covers people who are healthy. People who are sick will be covered by the catastrophic plan if there is enough money in it. I am guessing that limits will be set on how much help people can expect from this catastrophic plan and then they will be on the hook for the balance, which still may be enough to wipe out their personal finances.

Why Democrats Should Have the Con in 2018 (and beyond)

Does your head hurt? Mine does. But I am not fooled by Republican obfuscation ( in plain language; lies, truth twisting). I know that in the matter of health care the Democrats need to have the con. I don’t care if Republicans keep referring to the idea of single-payer health care as socialism. A label will not kill you; inadequate health care, or health care that excludes because it is too expensive will put many people’s lives or lifestyles at risk. Republicans do not like the government to contribute to any programs that benefit citizens. They truly believe this is not the province of government. However, as world populations increase and climate change (which is real) affects things like food supplies and clean water and rising rates of disease, the government (our taxes) may need to contribute more to our comfort and protection rather than less.

Republicans are Bipartisan (what?)

As for the nonsense in some ads that claims our Republican representatives in Congress are bipartisan it is all I can do not to throw something weighty at my TV. There are many people in America and in my community who believe that these claims are accurate. If you followed the votes on Countable or listened to any news channel other than Fox or the local channels now owned by Sinclair then you know the facts. Once in a while, when Republicans had enough votes to pass legislation without requiring everyone to vote yes they excused some congress people in contested districts to allow them to vote no so they could later claim to be bipartisan. But voting with Trump 90% of the time is hardly a valid claim to bipartisanship. In this case this is just lying. Aren’t we sick of such blatant lying? Is bald-faced lying more honest than less-obvious lying? Can lying come out of a President’s mouth and be classified as “just a game”?

Which Party Actually Serves We the People?

Democrats may not be able to deliver on their promise of “single-payer” health care right away, or family leave, or guaranteed employment programs that cover people when jobs are scarce, but they will govern in such a way as to begin to move our federal government in directions that offer more to we the people and that stop pandering to the wealthiest among us. I really have nothing against wealth but I have a real problem with stacking the deck, with the rich legislating in favor of the rich, and with hoarding. Do people not hear the vastly overconfident Mitch McConnell daring to talk about cutting Medicare and Social Security right before an important midterm election? Doesn’t it get you riled up enough to vote this old man right out of his position at the head of the majority in the Senate. Vote in a new majority, get a new majority leader and end the drumbeat against programs we pay for.

Don’t let these ads confuse you. Vote anyway. Vote wisely.

Graphic: From a Google Image Search, Phys.org

Government, Economics, Not Flawed: We Are

If you have read any of my stuff you may be convinced that I
am a Communist or a Socialist because I always seem to be “bad mouthing”
Capitalism. But I actually have nothing against any of these business models. I
do have a problem, however, when a way to conduct economic activity gets mixed up with a
way to govern.
If a nation’s government is not the same as a nation’s economy
then Communism and Socialism seem to be in trouble because both combine the two
spheres. Capitalism also becomes problematic in this regard as we have seen,
because it allows individuals to amass wealth which in turn seems to confer
power on them which they can then abuse to interfere in government.
There is nothing inherently wrong in any of these economic
models of course. The flaws, as usual, are in us. We are basically animals,
competitive and “red in tooth and claw”. We are still wired to be hunters and
gatherers and perhaps that conquer-all nature is the only way we survive.
But we are also no longer primitives. We are civilized
(although sometimes it doesn’t seem so). We live in societies which originally were
formed also for survival and still function that way. We have learned, but don’t
all admit, that societies call for some communism, some socialism, and some
free enterprise or capitalism. Societies function best when all members are
educated, all share certain basic amenities, and when they incorporate some
tolerance for individual differences. We also see societies that have survived
for centuries that do not require that all individuals are educated and share
the basic amenities. These societies often do not tolerate much or any deviant
behavior. But if I had to choose between the two I know which one I would
choose.
It is impossible, I think we must all agree, to have a perfect
government, a perfect economy, a perfect society because these are all human
innovations, human constructs run by humans who we all seem to understand are
imperfect. Every religion or culture I know of encompasses an acknowledgement
of our flawed nature. The seven deadly sins as currently enumerated are: pride,
greed, envy, gluttony, wrath, and sloth and are alive and well the world over.
Our intimate familiarity with our failings is perhaps one
reason humans have come to realize that totalitarian governments are
problematic for everyone but the leader. There is no way to place any check on
whatever flaws the leader may possess. We know that no matter how infallible
the head of state claims to be infallibility is not a trait humans possess.
Communism, rule by the people, arrived at in bottom-up
fashion, was not structured to succeed, and perhaps never could be. Leadership
is spread among too many without sufficient scaffolding to keep people from
constant power struggles and, in addition, offers no useful structures to
untangle those struggles fairly. The Communist governments we have seen seemed
to produce a suppression of rights for most members of the society that turned
life into a gray, grim existence without producing the promised worker’s
paradise of equality for all.
Capitalism (not a system of government contrary to the current
popular beliefs of some) is not able to produce a perfect society where all
prosper either. Capitalism depends on the business relationships of us – people
– imperfect people. America has almost slipped over the edge into total
Oligarchy and therefore can teach us (before it is too late) what Capitalism in
the hands of humans can do to a society when it becomes too entwined with
government.
Our wealthy citizens are destroying our Democracy, bending it
to their will. What they don’t seem to see is that they are just headed in a
direction that will take us back to somewhere human societies have already
been, the old aristocracy and serf model, with perhaps a small merchant class
able to survive. And while the wealthy may want to go there – after all things
seemed pretty hunky dory for those at the top (although they had to pay for all
the wars), things in this antique model should not look too appealing to the
rest of us. These Capitalists have brought the American people low by showing
us that their patronage is portable. They can simply remove their largesse and
apply it elsewhere.
Now we have to prove that we are not mere factory fodder. We
must not let wealthy people take away our rights and our privileges and our
civil progress. Living materialistically simpler lives would help the planet
but how we do this should be a choice Americans make together, not a series of
decisions of a wealthy few at the top who would amend our government so that it
maintains their economic advantage even if it must be at the expense of the
rest of us.
The Americans who want to keep the economic scales tipped
their way, who are turning our Democracy into a Corporatocracy (owned by
corporations we no longer work for) are not the only citizens trying to adjust
the design of our government. We also have the Evangelicals who are trying
to convince us that America is immoral and that only a Theocracy that keeps our
laws acceptable to their God can keep America from the fate of Greece and Rome –
“decline and fall”.
All governments are flawed because they are made by flawed
beings. All economies are equally prone to excess for the same reason. Our
government was created with built-in checks and balances to overcome these
excesses our natures are prone to. What we are experiencing right now is that
familiarity with how government actually works has allowed these checks and
balances to be short-circuited or muffled. This is what Republicans have been
doing. They have been playing with fine-tuning aspects of governance, doing
things like drawing skewed voting districts, suppressing non-Republican votes,
buying state governments, using the Hastert rule and the filibuster to block
legislation, stuffing the courts with Conservatives and then not allowing new
positions to be filled with Liberals, and holding the Presidency hostage until
they gain control of the entire system of checks and balances, which finally
will happen if they are able to get us to elect a Republican President.
It makes me very unhappy to see these folks disrespect our
Democracy like this and it does great harm. It teaches the rest of the world
that Democracy can be vulnerable to the same human flaws as any other form of
government. That does not just affect my mood and make me blue, it scares me,
because if Democracy cannot help us hold a middle line, cannot help us
guarantee rights and benefits to all, cannot enforce a degree of tolerance for
a range of “normal” behavior, then no government can. I had hoped that
Democracy would serve as a model for governance on our entire planet, but if
bad human behavior is allowed to twist Democracy away from its ideals then we
are left with no governmental model with which to face the future.
I ask the Republicans, the capitalists, the wealthy, and the
religious to stop messing with our Democracy. You have made your point. You can
possible take over the whole nation and have your way but only if you change
our government so much that it is no longer a Democracy at all. You get your
way in the now, but you turn the future into chaos. Please take the long view
and stop all your machinations. 
By Nancy Brisson
 

Rebutting Mr. Peterfly

Thomas Peterfly has an ad on TV which is also available as a video on the internet. He is associated with Interactive Brokers and Freedom to Succeed. He accepts responsibility for the contents of the ad which is all about how America is on the slippery slope to becoming a Socialist nation because so many people are becoming dependent on the government for assistance. This is clearly a page from the book the Republicans have been writing because rich people are feeling put upon. They are contributing far more to taxes that our budget relies on, they say, than the other 99% of Americans, and their monies are paying for other Americans to be idle.
Mr. Peterfly tells us that he grew up in a Socialist nation and that this is why he can see what is happening when we cannot. However, it is just possible that he is focusing on fears from his own experience that are not appropriate in America. It is a good thing for people to be ambitious and to strive for the American Dream and if some have given up on this perhaps it is because they have found it too hard, or they have already failed at a few attempts to be successful. Making them jump in the deep end without water wings may produce a eureka moment and turn them into successful little engines of Capitalism, but they could just as easily drown.
I don’t believe that it is honest to pass off a man full of fears that he acquired in a different culture, and who has every reason to believe the “bogey” man has followed him to America, as someone with a realistic view of America. We are not a Socialist nation. Big government has not turned us into a Socialist nation. We are not going to be a nation where unregulated Capitalism is the order of the day either. If the American people choose to spend the money of the American people to help the poorest among us then that is our right in a Democracy. If a majority of people say they no longer want to spend money this way, then that will also have to pertain.
 But in this case, the people at the top, who are clearly a minority of citizens want to have a say proportional to the amount of money they feel that they contribute. This is not how America works, although if they really are paying so much then adjustments may have to be made. And while they may be paying more money, they are not paying a larger percentage of their money. Perhaps they are paying so much and the rest of us are paying so little because the economics of Capitalism and taxation and loopholes have gotten out of kilter in America. When all the wealth of a nation collects in the hands of a few it opens the door to hunger, disease, and unrest. It is also the exact recipe for revolution. (I am not making a threat, just an observation based on history.) It gives an advantage to a culture when the rich are willing to contribute to civil society. If we have too many “freeloaders” at the bottom then our government or our private sector needs to study why that is so and come up with ways to reverse the trend. As to whether or not we are becoming a Socialist nation, don’t ask a man who grew up in a Socialist society. He will see his worst fears everywhere he goes. I like your ad Mr. Peterfly; it is well done but it is not necessarily true and just repeating it over and over does not make it so. I am sorry you have nightmares, but, America is in far more danger of becoming an oligarchy than it of becoming a Socialist state. Don’t worry, Mr. Peterfly, we’ll protect you. The love of freedom runs deep in America.

Note:   Mr. Peterfly got very wealthy in America. On the left at the top is a photo of Mr. Peterfly in full riding regalia. On the right is a picture of a blue collar Peterfly as he appears in his ad against Socialism. He is a member of the 1%.

In case you have not seen this ad, here’s the link:

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