RSSCategory: Spending priorities

New Harvard Business School Study: U.S. Federal Government Is Increasingly Good at Being Bad

September 15, 2017 | By | Reply More
New Harvard Business School Study: U.S. Federal Government Is Increasingly Good at Being Bad

Here’s how a new Harvard Business School study sums up our Federal Government:

America’s political system was long the envy of the world. It advanced the public interest and gave rise to a grand history of policy innovations that fostered both economic and social progress. Today, however, our political system has become the major barrier to solving nearly every important challenge our nation needs to address. . . In areas such as public education, health and wellness, personal safety, water and sanitation, environmental quality, and tolerance and inclusion, among others, U.S. progress has stalled or gone in reverse. In these areas, where America was often a pioneer and leader, the U.S. has fallen well down the list compared to other advanced countries.

The study concluded that the political system is not actually failing. It is working, but its function is different than the one taught in high school textbooks:

Most people think of politics as its own unique public institution governed by impartial laws dating back to the founders. Not so. Politics is, in fact, an industry—most of whose key players are private, gain-seeking organizations. The industry competes, just like other industries, to grow and accumulate resources and
influence for itself. The key players work to advance their self-interests, not necessarily the public interest. It’s important to recognize that much of what constitutes today’s political system has no basis in the Constitution.
As our system evolved, the parties—and a larger political industrial complex that surrounds them—established and optimized a set of rules and practices that enhanced their power and diminished our democracy.

The title to the study is: “WHY COMPETITION IN THE POLITICS INDUSTRY IS FAILING AMERICA Here is the full study.

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In Light of the GOP’s new Health Care Proposal, it’s Time to Rename the GOP as the “Social Darwinist Party.”

March 13, 2017 | By | Reply More

In light of the GOP’s “solution” to the “problem” of Obamacare, it’s time to simply and clearly declare that the GOP has become (and should be renamed) the “Social Darwinist Party.”

Addressing the cries of the Super Rich (“I want even more money”) is no solution at all to the medical crises many of us face. I realize and recognize the frustration of the GOP that people who are lazy and/or who repeatedly make bad decisions resulting in being poor should not be able to mooch off the rest of us. But what about those who have worked hard and have been laid off by downsizing, and now earn $10/hour? What about people who are doing their best after being raised by dysfunctional families and/or “taught” at dysfunctional schools? Should they really be told that health care is totally out of their reach?

I’m lucky that I am a 60 year old man who can afford to pay the market rate of $900/month for a $6,000 deductible (“Bronze”) health care policy with Anthem for me and my teenage daughter. It was the best deal I could find this year.

But there are good hearted hard-working people who are paid minimum wage, meaning that they gross about $1,500 a month for full time work. After Social Security taxes, if they were to pay $900/month for health insurance (and then all the co-pays and deductible) they would have NOTHING left on which to live. NOTHING.

The GOP solution, I assume, is to have these people (many of whom voted for Trump) begging for health care at hospital doors, with many of them eventually dying in the streets. Is the GOP then going offer block grants to cities to help clean up the bodies of sick and dying people on the sides of streets?

Obamacare was an flawed attempt to balance the many competing interests at play. But it was an attempt. It was far better than the GOP proposal, which is essentially, “If you can’t come up with a LOT more money than minimum wage will pay you, then into society’s scrap heap you go!”

We can do better than Obamacare. We can do a LOT better than the current GOP proposal. It’s time for single payor, a solution used by almost every other industrialized country.

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GOP can’t afford $75B/year to provide public college to everyone, but CAN afford handing $600B tax cuts to top 1%

March 12, 2017 | By | Reply More

When Bernie Sanders proposed that the US spend $75 Billion per year to eliminate tuition to those attending public colleges and universities, the GOP scoffed and said that this money wasn’t available and that Sanders’ plan was irresponsible. For example, see the criticisms by Betsy DeVos, President Trumps’s Head of the Department of Education.

Now we hear that we can make America great again by handing the highest earning taxpayers (mostly the top 1%) a giant tax cut of $600 Billion stretching into 2026. And that $600 Billion tax cut also buys the horror of throwing tens of millions of Americans into the status of lacking health insurance.

Therefore, we can’t afford $75 Billion per year to give young Americans a college education, but we can afford to threaten the health and lives of tens of millions of Americans in order to hand the 1% $600 Billion in tax cuts. It’s time to rename the GOP for what it is: The Social Darwinist Party.

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Chris Hedges warns of the illusion of freedom

August 14, 2016 | By | Reply More

Chris Hedges sizes things up. I wish I could disagree with him.

No vote we cast will alter the configurations of the corporate state. The wars will go on. Our national resources will continue to be diverted to militarism. The corporate fleecing of the country will get worse. Poor people of color will still be gunned down by militarized police in our streets. The eradication of our civil liberties will accelerate. The economic misery inflicted on over half the population will expand. Our environment will be ruthlessly exploited by fossil fuel and animal agriculture corporations and we will careen toward ecological collapse. We are “free” only as long as we play our assigned parts. Once we call out power for what it is, once we assert our rights and resist, the chimera of freedom will vanish. The iron fist of the most sophisticated security and surveillance apparatus in human history will assert itself with a terrifying fury.

The powerful web of interlocking corporate entities is beyond our control. Our priorities are not corporate priorities. The corporate state, whose sole aim is exploitation and imperial expansion for increased profit, sinks money into research and development of weapons and state surveillance systems while it starves technologies that address global warming and renewable energy. Universities are awash in defense money but cannot find funds for environmental studies. Our bridges, roads and levees are crumbling from neglect. Our schools are overcrowded, decaying and being transformed into for-profit vocational centers. Our elderly and poor are abandoned and impoverished. Young men and women are crippled by unemployment or underemployment and debt peonage. Our for-profit health care drives the sick into bankruptcy. Our wages are being suppressed and the power of government to regulate corporations is dramatically diminished by a triad of new trade agreements—the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and the Trade in Services Agreement. Government utilities and services, with the implementation of the Trade in Services Agreement, will see whole departments and services, from education to the Postal Service, dismantled and privatized. Our manufacturing jobs, sent overseas, are not coming back. And a corporate media ignores the decay to perpetuate the fiction of a functioning democracy, a reviving economy and a glorious empire.

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The real risk of terrorism – compared to other risks

June 11, 2015 | By | 3 Replies More

What is the real risk of an American dying of terrorism? This article presents numbers that put things in perspective. The numbers are based off these statistics offered by the CDC.

Comparing the CDC numbers to terrorism deaths means:

– You are 35,079 times more likely to die from heart disease than from a terrorist attack

– You are 33,842 times more likely to die from cancer than from a terrorist attack

– You are 4,311 times more likely to die from diabetes than from a terrorist attack

– You are 3,157 times more likely to die from flu or pneumonia than from a terrorist attack

– You are 2,091 times more likely to die from blood poisoning than from a terrorist attack

– You are 1,064 times more likely to die as your lungs swell up after your food or beverage goes down the wrong pipe.

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On the notion that Bernie Sanders in “unelectable.”

June 2, 2015 | By | Reply More

I agree with FAIR that it is outrageous that any news outlet could be announcing what candidates are “serious” or “electable” prior to any vote being cast. Bernie Sanders is being attacked whenever a media outlet concerns itself with money rather than a candidate’s ideas. FAIR considers Sanders’ views on many big issues, pointing out that his views are far more popular than those of conservative Republicans, whose “electability” is rarely questioned, merely because they have lots of wealthy supporters. Here are some examples from the FAIR article, “NYT Reports Large Crowds for Sanders in Iowa–but Isn’t He ‘Unelectable’?”:

It sounds like it’s the New York Times that’s hoping to persuade Democrats that Sanders is unelectable.

As we’ve noted (FAIR Blog, 4/20/15), the idea of raising the taxes of the rich is quite popular with the US public. Gallup has been asking folks since 1992 how they feel about how much “upper-income people” pay in taxes, and 18 times in a row a solid majority has said the rich pay too little. For the past four years, either 61 or 62 percent have said the wealthy don’t pay enough; it’s hard to figure why Iowans would conclude that Sanders is “unelectable” because he takes the same position on tax hikes for the wealthy as three out of every five Americans.

Meanwhile, the position that upper-income people pay too little in taxes has never been endorsed by more than 15 percent of Gallup respondents—and it’s usually 10 percent or less. Yet you won’t see the New York Times declaring Republican candidates “unelectable” for advocating tax cuts for the wealthy.

Cutting the military budget isn’t as popular as taxing the rich, but it’s by no means unpopular. It’s not a question pollsters often ask about—almost as if levels of military spending aren’t seen as a fit subject for public debate—but in 2013 Pew asked which was more important, “taking steps to reduce the budget deficit or keeping military spending at current levels.” Fifty-one percent said reducing the deficit; only 40 percent chose maintaining the military budget.

In February 2014, the last time Gallup polled on whether spending “for national defense and military purposes” was “too little, about the right amount, or too much,” a plurality of 37 percent picked “too much.” Only 28 percent said “too little”–but again, you’re never going to see the New York Times declare a candidate to be “unelectable” for proposing to raise the Pentagon’s budget.

As long as the commercial news media keeps focusing on money instead of a candidate’s ideas, the claim of “inelectability” will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. The failure to cover a candidates ideas, exploring them seriously, and instead trying to harpoon a candidacy based on how much money they’ve accrued is journalistic malpractice at the best. I am convinced it is FAR WORSE than that, however, and it is strong evidence that the media is taking sides based on where rich people are putting their money.

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National Priorities Project offers voter guide regarding national budget

September 11, 2014 | By | Reply More
National Priorities Project offers voter guide regarding national budget

The National Priorities Project offers voter guide regarding national budget. You can get clear information at this site.

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Looking Forward?

November 7, 2012 | By | 2 Replies More
Looking Forward?

As usual, Florida is still undecided, a mess. According to NPR, though, it is leaning heavily toward Obama, despite the shenanigans of the state GOP in suppressing the vote.

I didn’t watch last night. Couldn’t. We went to bed early.

But then Donna got up around midnight and woke me by a whoop of joy that I briefly mistook for anguish.

To my small surprise and relief, Obama won.

I will not miss the constant electioneering, the radio ads, the tv spots, the slick mailers. I will not miss keeping still in mixed groups about my politics (something I am not good at, but this election cycle it feels more like holy war than an election). I will not miss wincing every time some politician opens his or her mouth and nonsense spills out. (This is, of course, normal, but during presidential years it feels much, much worse.) I will not miss…

Anyway, the election came out partially the way I expected, in those moments when I felt calm enough to think rationally. Rationality seemed in short supply this year and mine was sorely tasked. So now, I sit here sorting through my reactions, trying to come up with something cogent to say.

I am disappointed the House is still Republican, but it seems a number of the Tea Party robots from 2010 lost their seats, so maybe the temperature in chambers will drop a degree or two and some business may get done.

Gary Johnson, running as a Libertarian, pulled 350,000 votes as of nine last night. Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate, got around 100,000. (Randall Terry received 8700 votes, a fact that both reassures me and gives me shivers—there are people who will actually vote for him?)

Combined, the independent candidates made virtually no difference nationally. Which is a shame, really. I’ve read both Stein’s and Johnson’s platforms and both of them are willing to address the problems in the system. Johnson is the least realistic of the two and I like a lot of the Green Party platform.

More . . .

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Are The Debates Even Relevant?

October 4, 2012 | By | Reply More
Are The Debates Even Relevant?

Okay, I confess, I did not watch the debate between Obama and Romney. In my opinion, it doesn’t count for much. I’ve been listening to both sides now since last spring and I’ve made my decision, so exactly what good would listening to the debate do me? Or for a committed Romney supporter, for that matter? None to speak of.

So, observation number one: I’ve never known anyone who changed their vote because of something in the debates. [More . . . ]

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