Monday, October 31, 2011

Crazy Thoughts About Our Crazy World

Oh the insanity!   You may ask why I am slightly addled these days.  Could it be because of the news blurbs that cross my computer screen daily?   Some are so unbelievably stupid that it started me ruminating on why people think the way they do.  Common sense seems to have  no part of reasoning.  Critical thinking is woefully lacking in decision making.  And pragmatism has been replaced by ideology.

Some of the current stories in the news that confirm my worst fears about the direction the country is headed are:

  • The government is now contemplating spending more on nuclear weapons by constructing a new plutonium facility along a fault line and near an active volcano.

    The Republicans are introducing legislation that would take away each State's rights to regulate concealed weapons.  If Arizona says it's fine for any demented idiot to carry a hidden gun into a bar,  then all states have to abide by Arizona's imbecilic law.  Oh, the hypocrisy!!!!

    More prisons are being built to incarcerate minor felons for drug and alcohol abuse when it would be cheaper and more humane to sentence them to rehabilitation centers.  Prison is a breeding ground where minor felons become hardened criminals; later to be released on society.

    I am amazed at the craziness of a political party that will 'eat itself', and destroy the country in the process, to fire just one man named Obama.

    It disgusts me about the insanity of spending days, months, even years in studies on how to alter the name of a law, policy, or other government entity so that the meaning is obscure or changed.  Examples of current buzz words:  against abortion; becomes 'right to life' and for abortion becomes "right to choose'.  War becomes 'liberating a country.'   And then there's the most disgraceful one of all  'killing civilians' becomes 'collateral damage'.  You get the idea.  Mind altering phrases abound in our political system.    Of course it works because of the lack of critical thinking on the part of the public.   My point is that it leads to mass confusion and misguided governance.   A brainwashed electorate may be good for politicians, but it is definitely not good for the governed.

    Spending tax payer money on the military under the guise of creating jobs instead of creating jobs by spending that money on infrastructure, renewable energy, education, and the other many pressing needs in our country is just plain nuts.

    Allowing money in politics has corrupted our democratic system and our politicians.  (Well, that really wasn't very hard, was it?  Politicians are so gullible venal.)   Democracy  is collapsing.

    Religion belongs in the Church, Synagogue, Mosque, Ashram, Nature or your home and not in politics.   Separation of Church and State is no longer observed and by allowing it to creep into our political system we have perverted the framer's intent.  The idiocy of this is, that by  politicians introducing it into their speech and legislation they are in danger of opening the door for government to be able to interfere in their freedom of religion.  They never see beyond their noses, as the saying goes. Religion in politics is a two edged sword. 

     My favorite: Allowing the insurance companies to become obscenely wealthy at the expense of their policy holders when switching to a single payer system would give everyone affordable medical coverage and would save the government billions in tax payer dollars.   And all in the mislabeled  fake name of Socialism.  (See buzz words comment above).
    Then there's the deregulation of our financial system, unfair tax system, etc., etc, etc, ad nauseaum.

    Why do citizens subscribe to such lunacy?  Is it due to ideology, laziness, indifference, or sheer denial of facts? Maybe it's all of the above.  If someone can give me a valid reason for believing that any of the above actions are sensible I will listen.  Just don't tell me it's because you heard it on Fox, or from Rush, Sean, Bill O'R., Michelle or Rick.  That would mean you are incapable of thinking for yourself.

    By all measurable standards our country is rapidly falling behind the rest of the civilized world and we, the people, are aiding and abetting the decline.   Yes, I am very addled and getting more so as I see what used to be a great country sink into a third world nation.

    Sorry, I have to go now.  I just gave myself a massive headache.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Sins of Deregulation

It's too late to avert the financial catastrophe we find ourselves in, but to avoid a worse one in the near future we must regulate the banks and financial institutions.   Didn't we learn anything from the S & L crisis?  Apparently the Republicans in Congress learned nothing.  They not only do NOT want to re-instate the Glass Steagall Act, they want to further weaken the small regulations now in place.

The Occupy Wall Street would never have happened if the Republicans, starting with Ronald Reagan, had not chipped away at regulating the banks and other industries.   Yes, I am including President Clinton in with the Republicans on this disastrous path as it was on his watch that the Glass-Steagall Act was repealed.

I am really becoming angry at the stupidity of the Republican party.   They have been, and are now, bent on destroying what once was a productive and well run society.  They never learn - they keep on compounding the mistakes they made in the past.  History and facts teach them nothing.  They have repeated their mantra of "government being the problem and not the solution" so long they really believe it.   They are taking their party and the country down the tubes.  Idiots.

Am I mad?   You betcha'.  I'm mad as hell.  The economic disaster we are in is affecting my children in very real ways and you know what "she who has no name" said about mama bears.  I know that I should not lump a whole party into a label, but since the R's vote as a bloc it seems appropriate'

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Federal Reserve

I am unable to physically join the OWC movement but I was reminded that there are still things I can do to show solidarity with the protesters.  One way is to furnish food or blankets for the protesters .  Blogging, Tweeting, and Facebooking are others.  Call your local protest group and ask what they need.  I will write a blog. 

I want to point out one other thing.  To discredit any uprising the opposition will create havoc and chaos (sometimes violently) and do it from within.  Thereby discrediting the peaceful aspect of the movement.  Beware of such news and be skeptical of it.

Before I posted on this subject knew I needed to inform myself.  One thing I discovered was just how little I knew about the Federal Reserve and how it works.

Alternet  had the following article by  Jake Blumgart on the subject.  I decided that I might not be the only one who is  uninformed about our central bank.  I am copying excerpts from the article.  It's rather 'wonky' but important to understand.   To read the entire article go here:

 1. “Ending the Fed” is a Terrible Idea

First, a quick primer on what the Fed is and what it does. The Federal Reserve is America’s central bank, which means that it supervises the banking system and controls the supply of money.  The Fed has a dual mandate “to promote effectively the goals of maximum employment, stable prices, and moderate long-term interest rates.”  

There are many legitimate reasons to critique the Fed and how it fulfills its mandate. But the “End the Fed” movement isn’t interested in reform. As one popular Youtube occupier/ranter puts it, “this is all because our government prints too much money...that's fake money that they printed out of thin air...there’s not going to be a middle class in ten years, end the federal reserve...get corporations out of our politics!”  

(My comment:  He's an idiot and even I can see that we need the Federal Reserve.  We need to fix it and not abolish it.  He doesn't understand how it works.  I am trying to.)

  “The United States used to have a gold standard instead of discretionary monetary policy. That meant that the value of a dollar would ebb and flow with the discovery of gold mines. The problem with [this] kind of that you can't respond to economic shocks, and when depressions happen they're really severe.”  

2. The Gold Standard is an Awful Idea 

We left the gold standard in the 1930s because it greatly exacerbated the Great Depression. As deficits ballooned, people feared the dollar would be worthless and began exchanging their cash for gold, which the government had to provide under the rules of the gold standard. The nation’s dwindling gold supply became policymakers’ first concern—instead of, say, unemployment levels of over 20 percent—and they decided to balance the budget to restore confidence. Taxes were raised, spending slashed, and the depression grew even worse. The dollar wasn’t able to react to the needs of the economy: It could only be responsive to the whims of the gold supply. 

3. The Good and Bad of Modest Inflation

Ron Paul and those who think like him hope the gold standard would serve as a hedge against inflation, -- right now America is suffering from the opposite problem. The problem isn’t inflation, it’s unemployment, crushing debt and stagnant growth: issues that can be assuaged through monetary stimulus. 

 -- core inflation levels—the kind that exclude food and energy—are currently at record lows and have been for quite some time.  In fact, one of the easiest ways to achieve the Occupy movement’s goals of lower unemployment and household debt would be to use monetary stimulus to mildly increase this measure inflation.  

“The Fed can target higher rates of inflation which would be very effective in lowering the real interest rate and reducing people’s debt burden,” says Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, a progressive think tank.

American corporations are currently sitting on massive cash reserves. If the Fed announced a higher inflation target those horded assets would soon be worth less, thus incentivizing spending. -- mild inflation would ease the debt loads crushing many Americans.

 Household debt is currently 90 percent of GDP. As nominal wages and incomes rise, debt amounts would remain stable (and drop in real value), easing the path to solvency for many and freeing up money for spending, and growth.  

inflation is good for debtors and bad for creditors.

4. Don’t End the Fed, Make it Accountable to the Needs of the 99 Percent

The Federal Reserve needs an Occupy Wall Street-shaped wake up call. Instead of waving nonsensical “End the Fed” signs and aping the talking points of a reactionary Republican, occupiers should demand that the Fed be made more democratically accountable and that policymakers seriously execute its dual mandate to maintain stable prices and full employment.  

One significant step toward these goals would be the democratizing of the Fed’s Open Market Committee (OPM), which controls interest rates, the nation’s money supply—the monetary policy side of the institution. There are 12 seats on the OPM: one for the Fed chairman, one for the vice-chairman, and five for the other Fed governors selected by the president and approved by Congress. Then there is the president of the New York Fed and a rotating cast of four of the 11 other regional Federal Reserves. Regional fed presidents are appointed, in large part, by representatives of the banking industry who want to keep inflation low to preserve the value of the debt it holds. True to form, many of the mostreactionary voices on the OPM are regional Fed presidents.  (My take: It's like putting the fox in charge of the hen house.) 

Barney Frank is working on legislation to remove the regional Fed presidents from the OPM and replace them with presidential appointees who would be more democratically accountable.

Part of the reason the Fed has been so subdued in its pursuit of monetary stimulus is that the right has been so fierce in fighting against it. (Remember when Rick Perry called Bernanke’s policies “almost treasonous”?) It is long past time that the left started taking an interest in the Federal Reserve and pushing for monetary stimulus to ease unemployment and the debt burden. Ignore the siren song of Ron Paul and other “End the Fed” types. Occupy Wall Street should fight to ensure that the Federal Reserve works for the many, not the few.  

After I posted this RonW commented on the ownership of the Federal Reserve.  This information took me to Fact Check on the Federal Reserve and this is what I found:

Federal Reserve Board: As the nation’s central bank, the Federal Reserve derives its authority from the U.S. Congress. It is considered an independent central bank because its decisions do not have to be ratified by the President or anyone else in the executive or legislative branch of government, it does not receive funding appropriated by Congress, and the terms of the members of the Board of Governors span multiple presidential and congressional terms. However, the Federal Reserve is subject to oversight by Congress, which periodically reviews its activities and can alter its responsibilities by statute. Also, the Federal Reserve must work within the framework of the overall objectives of economic and financial policy established by the government. Therefore, the Federal Reserve can be more accurately described as "independent within the government."
The twelve regional Federal Reserve Banks, which were established by Congress as the operating arms of the nation’s central banking system, are organized much like private corporations–possibly leading to some confusion about "ownership." For example, the Reserve Banks issue shares of stock to member banks. However, owning Reserve Bank stock is quite different from owning stock in a private company. The Reserve Banks are not operated for profit, and ownership of a certain amount of stock is, by law, a condition of membership in the System. The stock may not be sold, traded, or pledged as security for a loan; dividends are, by law, 6 percent per year.

Listen to Representative DeFazio.  It's short and worth your time.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Dead DoDo Bird - My PC

Life is never simple, is it?  That's especially true in this electronic age.  I just had my 5th computer crash with my old Gateway PC.  It died for good this time.  It has been back to the factory twice, had a new hard drive installed once and was restored with just doing a full restore once.   Each time I lost some, or all, of my records.  I am obviously either a very slow learner or a glutton for punishment.  Take your pick.   Each time I vowed to buy external storage and then put it off.  When I buy another computer I will add external storage to my purchase.  I may be slow, but I do learn eventually.

I do not have time to spend on the computer now.  If I have to reprogram a new machine with all of the things I consider essential to my computer viewing it will take days.

This came at a very bad time for me as I recently purchased a VHS/DVD recorder and I have stacks of old tapes to put on disks.  I found the learning curve to record on this frustrating machine to be very difficult.  I have spent one whole week ruining disk after disk thinking I was recording, only to find that I recorded a blank screen.  Much of my wasted time has been with Tech support and with tearing my old white hair out.
I have yet to record a disk on my own, but my guru came over last evening and managed to make the stupid machine work.  I plan on repeating the steps he used and get started with this project. I had hoped to make disks of old movies for my children and grandchildren for Christmas presents. It takes hours to record each disk so I may not accomplish the task at hand, but if I do I will not have any time to spend on the computer.  Incidentally, I will not be shopping for a new one soon.  

Meanwhile I am able to use my laptop and I will try to keep up with what is happening in the wide world as well as with your world.  Please forgive me if I do not comment often or write a post in a timely fashion.
If you hear a loud scream you will know that I am still having trouble recording.  Do not worry if you do not hear from me after that.    I will either have thrown the recorder out the window or someone will have shipped me off to the asylum where all of the Tea Party candidates running for the Republican nomination belong.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Health Care Reform Enemies

They're at it again.  The Republican party is spreading lies about Obama's health care reform and vow to repeal it.  States are suing to have parts of it repealed now and it's headed for the Supreme Court.  Before the liars undo the best legislation since Social Security I want everyone to take a deep breath and know the facts.  Once you know how it works, please contact your legislators and tell them that you do NOT want this act to be repealed or have the benefits chipped away piece by piece. 

It isn't perfect by a long shot, but it's a 'foot in the door' piece of legislation that will be improved on once people see how successfully it impacts on their lives.  The ultimate goal is to get the insurance industry out of health care.  That means that the powerful insurance industry (aided and abetted by 'big pharma' and the wealthy industrialists) is going to throw billions of dollars at those in Congress to get them to repeal it.  Since it will be the first step into moving into the 21st Century and joining all the other industrialized nations that have health care for all, we must fight them with all our might to keep what meager reforms we will have.  

If this act is undone it will take a generation to have it brought up again.  No politician will want to touch it.  Health care should be as much of a right as food.  Without either, people die.  

We need an American Fall to stop the ideologues from destroying Obama Care.  Otherwise, the bloated insurance and pharmaceutical industries will continue to raise prices way above and beyond the cost of living index and more people will be unable to afford it.  Without this act, the insurance creeps will continue to kick people off when they get sick; often after they have paid the premium for years.  Insurance greed will continue using pre-existing conditions to refuse to insure the sick and only take the healthy.  The only thing the insurance company exists for is to make as big a profit as possible for the shareholders.  Do you really want them to continue these outrageous practices? 

The following video simplifies the complex law of the health care reform act  and if you don't know what it entails I urge you to take the time to view it.

Thanks to Nancy for a tip on the video that became the focus of this post.