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Thu Dec 19, 2013 at 01:10 PM PST

Who are the Real Takers?

by Shawke

We have all heard it again and again. That the job creators are the backbone of the U.S. economy. That the individuals on welfare or employment insurance are the takers, the leeches of society that are the reason for our budget deficit. The horrible 47% that are just looking for a free ride.

We have also heard the term "Make your money work for you." Isn't it great that if you are fortunate enough to have money, that you can forego that whole "putting in a hard days work" and just let your electronic digits go to work, so you can go to the golf course and shoot a few holes while your money tirelessly slaves away to earn you your rightfully earned money.

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I grew up poor. Not homeless poor, or in the third world making Nike shoes at a sweatshop poor. But poor none the less. My father worked, usually as a janitor. He often worked a second job to make ends meet.

My mother worked occasionally. But they didn't have money for a babysitter or daycare. The extra money she earned would hardly pay for the babysitter which made it pointless and gave her less time to spend with us, which mattered a lot to her.

My parents never did drugs, my mother didn't drink at all, and my father drank so infrequently that it really had no effect on our lives. My father was a staunch Republican and would never dream of accepting any sort of assistance, whether we needed it or not.

It was extremely important to my mother that my brother and I ate properly. She scoured the grocery stores for meat and vegetables that were on sale so she could cook us a proper meal. She clipped coupons and was very careful with portions to try to make it last.

Sometimes it did not last. I remember one winter that was extremely cold. North Dakota was a deep freeze. The gas bills were way higher than normal and my parents fell behind on their bills. The cut off notice eventually came and my parents had to make one of the most unenviable decisions they could be asked to make...."Do we eat, or do we heat the house."
They begged the gas company to let them make a small payment that month and to not cut them off. I remember my mother pleading with the man on the phone that she had two small children to feed. That was not their problem as far as they were concerned.

After about a week we ran out of food. Part way through the second week, I asked my mother "Why don't we have enough food?" My mother responded "Because we don't have enough money." This made no sense to me. I said "But we don't need money, we need food." She tried to explain to me that the only way to get food was with money. I then said "Can't we go to the person who makes money and ask him for more so we can get food?"

It was a fair enough question and shows just how little our economy makes sense. Even a toddler can see that.

It was when I was a young teenager that I read Douglas Adams books. To this day I think one of the first lines in Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy best sums up the ridiculousness of our current system:

"This planet has - or rather had - a problem, which was this: most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movements of small green pieces of paper, which is odd because on the whole it wasn't the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy."

So what do we do about it? People complain constantly about our current system and about individual problems. But we seldom see real solutions. We may get broad generalizations of what needs to happen. Or fixes for small aspects. But in some ways, one small problem can be insurmountable to fix with a system so entrenched in the status quo.

So are there real solutions?

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Canadian politician James Moore.

I lived in Canada for a few years. I still follow the news there from time to time.

I thought this little tidbit had to be passed along.

James Moore, the Industry minister with the ruling federal Conservative Party had this to say during a radio interview: "Is it the government's job — my job to feed my neighbour's child? I don't think so," The full story can be seen here

I realize this isn't even in the ballpark of agreeing to cut employment insurance to millions of our citizens just in time for the holidays.

But it sure is a Scroogeworthy statement none the less.

While this statement would be less shocking for a Republican to make, and less surprising, it has not gone over so well in Canada, where they tend to think it kind of is the government's job to help people, especially children, when they need it.

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Tue Dec 10, 2013 at 11:45 AM PST

GM Appoints Female CEO

by Shawke

GM has just appointed Mary Barra as it's CEO. This is the first time GM has appointed a female to this position.
While I can't say I am particularly endeared to GM, and they have done several things over the years I detest, I have to say I am quite happy with this move.

This story is being heavily reported within financial news, but is so far not within the regular mainstream media outside of the business sections.

Here is a link to a Washington post article.

Follow below the fold for why this is a big deal.

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Mon Dec 09, 2013 at 04:23 PM PST

What does it Mean to be Progressive?

by Shawke

I wrote a diary on Saturday entitled "An Atheist's Perspective on the Pope's Writings". It received a fair amount of comments and recommends which I was happy about.

Better than the diary itself, was the discourse that took place in the comments section afterward.

I was quite impressed with the range of views, separate discussions, and at times good humor that took place. I have read several diaries where there is more to be learned in the comments than in the diaries.

A comment that  stuck with me for a while after though was from a person that disagreed with not only the the content of my diary, but the fact that it had been written at all.

He was respectful and I did not feel hurt by it in any way. The part that stuck with me though was the following:

"What I feel we really need around these Daily Kos "ain't the pope a nice guy"  diaries is a frank discussion on what the terms "social justice" ,  "equality" and "progressive" really mean."

I don't completely agree that Daily Kos should exist for such a narrow range of topics. I feel it should be a place for the exchange of ideas on a wide range of topics from a large group of, at least relatively like minded individuals.

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I'm not completely sure if atheist is the way I describe myself. It would likely be more along the lines of a Teacup Agnostic. But if you say that to people, they just stare at you blankly.
I don't believe there is a god. For me it defies logic. I also do not deny it's possible one exists. It seems highly unlikely. It seems no more likely than the existence of Zeus, Loki, Vishnu, or any other number of gods that have been worshipped.

Having said that, I have always been fascinated by mythologies. Whether they were a part of one of the big religions or a more obscure pagan belief system, the metaphors and archetypes (The term coined by Jung) are to me a fascinating exploration of humankind's psyche. (Although usually only from the male perspective).

The other aspect of religion that interests me is the moral aspects. I do not believe religion holds a monopoly on morality. I think a person who needs religion to tell them that they shouldn't kill people has some serious issues that religion is not going to fix.

But I see good moral lessons with scripture. I also see scripture more related to maintaining authority and subduing unrest amongst the population. I see long dead principles that have no place in modern society. This is were the pope comes into my discussion.

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Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 03:12 PM PST

Rob Ford....why should we care?

by Shawke

It's interesting that a Canadian politician should have captured the incredible amount of attention he has in the U.S. and around the world. He has made front page coverage, and often the lead story in CNN, ABC, Fox, and many other outlets.

In some ways it's easy to see why it's such a media circus. Based purely on Ford's actions, he seems to add something ridiculous to the story every day. If a new allegation of drunken or drug induced stupor isn't being raised, he's using profanity about oral sex or some other insane rant.

Another reason we've been hanging on every word is our perception of Canadians. This just doesn't seem to meld with our idea of a society that you would accidentally bump into on the street only to have them apologize to you.

But aside from the pure entertainment of this man's public meltdown, and his almost comedic attempts to break the Canadian stereotype, there are other reasons we should care.

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We live in oddly paradoxical times. People from all walks of life consistently vote and act in ways that are not in their own best interests. We all face the question of why low and middle class wage earners would vote republican. They are essentially voting for the party that cares least for their needs. The party that will always put the needs of the wealthy above any concerns for their wellbeing.

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Tue Oct 15, 2013 at 05:37 PM PDT

GOP Honest Advertising

by Shawke

Todays developments were frightening on many levels. There was a definite feeling of optimism over the weekend. It seemed like senate republicans were willing to make a deal with few concessions in return. There seemed to be a sense in the media that the house republicans would let it pass.

Then today, reality came crashing down. The tea party republicans have no less hold on the house than they did when this whole thing started. They still will not let a bill pass without the Democrats giving up the farm in return.

For me, if there is any positive to be found, it's that today, the house republicans came back to a place of honesty to the American people. For the last week, they have tried to do all they can to lay the blame on the Democrats for the shutdown. But by taking the same reckless action as they did that started this whole shutdown in the first place, it's hard for a rational human being to place blame for this anywhere other than at their feet.

This whole episode reminded me of humorous "Honest Advertising" posters I've seen on the internet, and on T-shirts.

Go below the fold for more.

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This may be common knowledge for most at Daily Kos. But our country's deficit as a percentage of GDP is falling like a rock. Provided the GOP doesn't continue it's path toward destroying the economy, it will continue to fall. The deficit is smaller now than it was when Obama was first elected.

During this shutdown we are hearing the repetitive mantra of how our spending is out of control. That we have to rein in the deficit.

It's important for us all to correct our republican friends and colleagues on this. It's amazing how few people realize that the deficit has been shrinking, not getting worse.

To see information on this, you can forward non-believers to this link: What People (Don’t) Know About The Deficit. Unfortunately as soon as you say the name "Paul Krugman" you likely will have been discounted before you get halfway through his last name.  

If they are somewhat logical with numbers, you can instead steer them towards the CBO's (Congressional Budget Office) website.  

Looking at the CBO website, you need to remind them that the deficit is the difference between revenue and outlays. Looking at that graph, it's also interesting to point out to them that every time on the graph outlays spiked, and revenues dropped, it was when a republican was in the white house. They sure have been sound fiscal managers.

Both of these links are a couple of months old. But outside of recent political drama, the picture hasn't changed.

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