There are two reasons George Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin; Trayvon Martin looks different and George Zimmerman is a coward. We are all different from each other. The greater the appearance of difference, the greater attention will be drawn. I remember as a teenager being in a department store with my father. My father pointed out the security guards to me because the security guards were watching. The reason they were watching he said was because I was big and wearing different clothes from their point of view. I was different. Every black person in America is different by virtue of skin color. While I could change my clothes and appear more similar to other people, there is nothing that a black person can do to change his skin color. Until we as a society learn that being different is insufficient reason to draw attention to some, individuals will have unwarranted attention.
Not too long ago I read a diary that claimed Pres. Obama was playing chess while the Republicans were playing checkers. Not only was Pres. Obama playing the game, but, he was winning. I jokingly commented that he should be playing the game of go. For those of you not familiar with the game of go, the game is much simpler than chess or checkers to explain while being much more complex to win.
Today everyone is talking about gun control. I agree that gun-control is an important issue that needs to be dealt with. However, the debt ceiling is not just important; but, potentially disastrous. I just learned that the Huffington Post is reporting that the Obama Administration Rejects Platinum Coin Debt-Ceiling Solution. Now I wonder as Paul Krugman does in the conscience of a liberal.
As I said, if we didn’t have some history here I might be confident that the administration knows what it’s doing. But we do have that history, and you have to fear the worst.So I ask the chess players out there "what is the next move?"
I have repeatedly heard two arguments in the national gun control discussion we are having. One is that if we could only keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill then there would be fewer killings. The second is if only our culture was less violent then we would have fewer killings. I believe that both arguments are fallacious.
Mental illness is a serious problem. There is no question in my mind that the perpetrator of the elementary school killings was mentally ill. What is less clear in my mind is whether or not he had been diagnosed with a mental illness. I also believe that mere diagnosis that a person has mental health problems is insufficient to warrant them being treated differently than everyone else. The real issue is not mental illness but is the judgment that they are likely to do harm to themselves or to others. When a person who has been so judged then that person should of course be treated and prevented from doing harm. When the treatment is successful then there is no need to treat the person any differently than everyone else.
The more important question than restricting people with mental illness from having possession of guns is the question of how to provide diagnosis and treatment for all the people who have a mental illness. Treating people who have a mental illness is somehow different than treating those with a physiological illness. This is bad medicine and encourages people with mental problems not to seek diagnosis and treatment. I still remember the adverse publicity Sen. Eagleton received for seeking treatment for depression. I wonder how many people who should have sought treatment failed to do so because so many viewed Sen. Eagleton so poorly for seeking treatment. We need to encourage people to get help for their problems and not discourage them. Compiling lists of people with mental health problems to prevent them from having the same rights as everyone else will discourage the very people who need help from getting that help. Hence, the fallacy in compiling a list of people with mental illness to prevent them from buying guns.
The next argument people raise is if only we had a more peaceful culture then there would be less violence. The argument continues that violence in our games, our movies, our television shows, our books, our plays, our musicals, and on and on is responsible for the shootings that we have. We can start by getting rid of many stories in the Christian Bible. The story of Cain and Abel would be a good place to start. And then there is the whole torture thing with nailing Jesus Christ to the cross. And then of course we might then get rid of movies such as “the lion King.” I cannot think of a time when violence was not a part of Western culture. Yes, technology has changed. Yes, the images on television and computers are sharper and clearer than ever before. I do not believe that the images in the brain are any different today than they were 100 years ago. Yes, playing war games on the computer is worse than playing war games in your backyard. The reason though is because there is less exercise involved not that the game is any less violent. Yes, we have a culture of violence problem; but, that problem does not come from our games, music, stories, and so on.
The culture problem we have comes from how we actually treat each other. Some people are viewed as lesser and other people are viewed as greater. The people who are viewed as lesser strike out against themselves as well as those who are viewed as greater. The people who are greater strike out against those who are lesser to keep the people who are lesser in their place. A classic case of this is men who commit violence against women. The refusal by Congress to pass the violent against women act may be seen as the greater, “white Republican male,” keeping the lesser, women, in their place. We must change our culture so that all are treated with respect and generosity of spirit. This is not an easy task. The ultra wealthy easily find treating those who are not as wealthy with less respect. This was a mistake that Gov. Romney made in his run for the presidency.
Changing the culture so that everyone respects each other involves more than just teaching respect. One must reduce the economic inequality between people. Some call this redistribution of wealth which it is. Lower paying jobs should have their pay increased. Jobs at the extreme end of high pay should have their pay greatly reduced. We should further implement a national tax on property, otherwise known as wealth. This needs to be combined with providing a better education for everyone. Only when people’s physiological needs, safety needs, and community needs are met can our culture change so that all are respected and violence is reduced. I doubt that violence can ever be eliminated. I do believe that violence can be reduced so that less than 10 people will be killed by intentional violent acts a year in the United States. This is effectively eliminating the violence that we have today. The fallacy of the cultural issue is that we are looking to the wrong place. The problem lies not in the objects as it does in ourselves.
Contrary to my opening paragraph there are mental health problems and culture problems we need to address. However, the solutions offered by people do not address those problems. Instead, the solutions aggravate the problems. Instead of keeping lists of people with mental health problems we need to offer better diagnosis, better treatment, and to stop denigrating people with mental health problems. To change our culture we should not focus on games, movies, stories, … Instead we should focus on reducing economic inequality, education, and respecting each other.
The next item on the agenda is filibuster reform. The filibuster rule must change. Hopefully Democrats will insist on a rule where a senator must talk in order to filibuster anything. Only if the filibuster seen in “Mr. Smith goes to Washington” is implemented will the filibuster truly be reformed.
Following filibuster reform one comes to the debt ceiling – sequester issues. I hope that Pres. Obama takes action to deal with the debt ceiling immediately. The action I recommend is to start deciding what parts of the executive branch will be shut down once the debt ceiling is reached. For example, he could shut down funding for research including our national laboratories, NIH. NIST, NSF, . . . The executive branch should also shut down the passport service. Next the executive branch should release all illegal aliens waiting for deportation and stop deporting illegal aliens. The drug enforcement agency should be shut down. The weather service should be shut down. The departments of education and interior should be shut down. Gitmo should be shut down. Non-violent criminals should be released from federal prison. . .. The safety net should continue to be funded including food stamps Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. The debt ceiling gives the president tremendous power to decide what will remain open and what will be closed. He should use that power. In order to get a bargain the president should inform the public how he is going to use that power. The Pres. should insist that the debt ceiling be raised for the entire four years of his term in office.
So how should the president deal with the sequester? First, the president should remove Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid from the discussion. Second, the president needs to make clear that the current deficit problem is due to high unemployment and people dropping off the unemployment rolls because they cannot find jobs. The lack of jobs is due to a lack of demand. The lack of demand is fueled by austerity measures in state and local governments as well as working force income not keeping up with increases in productivity. To deal with unemployment the president should ask for $1 trillion. 500 billion of the dollars will be given to the states to pay for state and local government employees such as teachers and firefighters. Some of the money may be used to pay for state infrastructure. The other $500 billion should be used to pay for national infrastructure including subways, road repair, electrical grid, universities, and research centers.
The president should acknowledge that there is a salary problem in the US. To deal with this we need legislation getting rid of right to work laws in the states and enabling workers to form unions more easily. Further, we must modify trade agreements so that workers are paid more in foreign countries. Next, we must deal with, countries that artificially deflate the value of their currency. Finally, we must pass a law increasing the taxes on companies that do not increase worker salaries in proportion to increases in productivity.
The president should acknowledge that there is a long term deficit problem. He should propose to deal with the deficit caused by Social Security by removing the payroll tax cap. Once this is done we can increase the amount given for Social Security and lower the age for receiving the maximum amount of Social Security. The president should acknowledge the long-term deficit problem with Medicare and Medicaid. He should make clear that those problems are due to a general problem of rising healthcare costs. To deal with this problem he should offer two solutions. First, a private insurance solution consisting of 1) low administrative costs of less than 10%; 2) a fixed profit rate no higher than 2% above the prime interest rate; and 3) an option to join the federal employees health insurance program. Second, the president should offer a single payer or Medicare for all solution. As VP Biden would say this would truly be “a big fucking deal.”
Finally, the president should acknowledge that there is a tax problem. He should propose that capital gains and dividends be taxed at the same rate as other income. He should propose that the marginal rate for income between $250,000 and $500,000 be increased to 40%. The marginal rate on income between $500,000 and $1 million should be increased to 45%. The marginal rate on income between the million dollars and $10 million should be increased to 50%. The marginal rate on income above $10 million should be set at 55%. Alternatively the president should offer a wealth tax on wealth above $10 million. That tax would be 1%. Such a tax structure combined with reducing defense spending would guarantee surpluses to pay down the debt for the foreseeable future.
Now rgua would be a place to start negotiating.
Deal, no deal, or lousy deal? One problem of the giving hostage takers what they want is that the next time hostage takers want something they will take hostages. I wonder when will Pres. Obama ever learn? Yogi Berra once said “it is like déjà vu all over again.”
I predicted that at the last minute a lousy grand bargain would have been signed into law by Pres. Obama. Never in my wildest imagination did I ever think that such a poor deal would be negotiated.
I watched “Meet the Press” yesterday. David Gregory and all the other pundits with the exception of Doris Kearns Goodwin are damn fools. When one pundit suggested that a salary of $250,000 a year is not that much, I had to wonder to whom? I would love to see him or her live on a median income of less than $50,000 a year.
I was flabbergasted when the pundits started discussing Pres. Obama’s remark about “lazy” pundits. Of course none of the pundits considered themselves lazy. Reporting the truth was not important to them. After all what is more important than a good food fight. The truth be damned. They further agreed that doing what is “right” is less important than agreeing to something.
The pundits discussed “entitlement” reform. They neglected to mention that future issues with Social Security can easily be solved by removing the cap on the payroll tax. They acted as if the Social Security trust fund was empty. With respect to Medicare, the pundits failed to recognize that the problems with Medicare are a part of a larger problem of healthcare in the nation. We need to solve the underlying problem of rising healthcare costs. Once that problem is solved; the problems with Medicare will be minor compared to what they are today. The easiest way to solve rising healthcare costs is to move to a “single payer” system; otherwise known as Medicare for all. But the pundits refused to even consider such “truths.”
Moving on to the show “This Week with George Stephanopoulos,” I was utterly amazed that none of the pundits seem to think that unemployment was a problem. For me former Gov. Howard Dean was a terrible pundit. He argued that going over the “fiscal cliff” and staying over was good for the nation. In his mind the deficit was the problem. In my mind his thoughts on economics were prehistoric. The only redeeming factor for the show was that Jake Tapper was not substituting for George Stephanopoulos. But, the replacement offered no relief.
What is the world coming to? There is a great deal of work to do. There are many people willing to do the work. Greed is holding us back. While I am not a Christian, I agree with the sentiment “throw the money changers out.” I am sick and tired of hearing the words “shared sacrifice.” People who earning over $250,000 a year are not sacrificing anything by pain a slightly larger marginal tax rate on income above $250,000 a year. I further argue that we need a wealth tax. Article 1 Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution states that
The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States; but all duties, imposts and excises shall be uniform throughout the United States.Amendment 16 states that
The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several states, and without regard to any census or enumeration.I believe this clearly gives Congress the right to levy a wealth tax. I believe that a 1% wealth tax on wealth above $100 million will go a long way towards fixing the deficit problem of the future.
Happy new year.
Pres. Obama recently asked us to make our voices heard to our elected representatives. I agree with him. Everyone should call their elected representatives as soon as possible. Everyone should send their elected representatives email. We are at an impasse. Contact information for Senators can be found at www.Senate.gov. Contact information for representatives can be found at www.house.gov. Contact them today, tomorrow, Christmas, between Christmas and New Year's New Year's and after New Year's.
Below the fold you can see what I tell my elected representatives.
If you vote in favor of any bill with cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, or any program considered part of the social safety net then I will never vote for you. If Pres. Obama should sign such a bill into law then I will never vote for any Democrat until the cuts are restored. If such program cuts are made then I believe the the losses Democrats incurred in 2010 will be minor compared to the losses in 2014.
People who know me consider me to be a liberal’s liberal. Yes I am a progressive; but, I am foremost a liberal. To me being a liberal means that I am always searching for the truth. Being a liberal means I know that I do not know everything. Being a liberal means and I know that no entity is going to give me the answer. I am forever searching for new knowledge, for a better way, for a better understanding of the truth, for a better life for myself and my family, and for a better life in the world for all the citizens of the world.
Nobody wants cuts in government services. Nobody wants increased taxes. Nobody wants to see the debt increase. Nobody wants deficits.
Put simply nobody wants to deal with the reality with which we are faced. The real problem is we are attempting to make difficult choices without asking the proper questions. The question we are not ask is how can we best provide for the needs of all of our citizens and all the people of the world?
There is a great deal of work necessary to provide for everyone's needs. Unfortunately, instead of worrying about what that work is and how to accomplish it, we are concerned about petty issues such as debt, deficits, taxes, restricting services provided, and so forth and so forth.
In the short term President Obama has proposed modest tax increases and modest spending cuts. I say the tax increases are modest because I would increase taxes much more. I would make marginal tax rate on money above $250,000 40 percent. I would make the marginal tax rate on money above $500,000 45 percent. I would make the marginal tax rate on money above $1 million 50%. I would remove the cap on the payroll tax, making the payroll tax a flat tax on all earned income. I would tax capital gains, dividends and inheritane at the same rate as other income.
I would not consider cuts to services. However, we can dramatically cut defense spending without cutting any service provided by the Defense Department. Some cuts can be made to Medicare and Medicaid spending by reducing fraud and abuse.
However, we need dramatic increases in spending to reduce global warming, to provide inexpensive energy, to provide better K-12 education, to provide free college education for all who who want a college education, to build a more cost-effective infrastructure, and on and on and on.
Unfortunately, our politicians including Pres. Obama lack vision. Not only do Republicans lack vision; but, they have their heads up their asses. Extraction is very painful not just for Republicans; but, for the nation.
Before Democrats make a deal with Republicans, Republicans must show their hand. When Republicans have shown their hand, will the public be able to reject that hand. Republicans know that rejection will be harsh and painful for them. Pres. Obama needs to demand that Republicans place a detailed proposal on the table for everyone to read.
Only when Republicans see that their plan has been firmly rejected by voters, will they be able to compromise with Democrats.
I often hear pundits say: “what does XXX want?” XXX refers to some group of people such as plutocrats, Latinos, Catholics, union workers, etc. etc. etc. More broadly question is what do people need? Years ago Maslow answered that question with his hierarchy of needs. So the question of what does XXX want can be easily answered with XXX wants her/his needs satisfied. The argument is not about “what” but, “how.” Different groups have different beliefs about how to satisfy their needs.
By confusing “what” with “how” politicians and pundits have confused what we want to achieve and how we want to achieve. For example, consider the current discussion about the deficit. Does anyone really need the deficit to be larger or smaller? The answer is no. What people want is to have food, shelter, security, health, and on and on. But, politicians do not want to talk about these wants. Politicians prefer to talk about whether or not people want a particular deficit. This is an artificial want. The fiscal cliff is an artificial construct made up entirely by men and only exists in the mind.
How do we change the conversation from the artificial to the real? How do we get politicians to talk about how to satisfy people’s needs rather than how to avoid jumping off the fiscal cliff? This is a complex problem. The answer is simple; ask politicians questions about how they would satisfy our real needs. For example, how does cutting the deficit meet our physiological needs? Put more simply how does cutting the deficit meet our needs for food, water, sex, and on and on? How does cutting the deficit meet our need for safety? How does cutting the deficit meet our need for love? How does cutting the deficit meet our need for self-esteem? How does cutting deficit meet our need for self-actualization? These are the real questions we should be asking. These are the questions we need answers to.
Unfortunately, the pundits and the politicians refuse to ask these questions. They continue to ask what does XXX want? When the answer comes back at XXX wants the deficit reduced and then the deficit is reduced; we discover that people’s basic needs are not satisfied. We need to recognize as a society that some needs such as food, shelter, security, and healthcare are best met with government assistance. Other needs such as the need for sex the need for love and need for self-esteem are best met through one’s self with minimal government assistance. Minimal government assistance may include such things as receiving an education, receiving a means of communicating with others such as the Internet, and on and on. The drive, however, must come from within.
The question “how do we satisfy our needs,” remains. What we want is irrelevant.
I have been gone from Daily Kos for over a year now.I nearly lost my foot. However I was very fortunate and only lost my heel. I am walking and using my computer now. I got Dragon Naturally speaking so that I can communicate better. I am no longer typing because I don't have a keyboard that is satisfactory for me to type on. To those of you who are my friends I deeply miss you. I plan on participating more now that I can communicate using Dragon read.
I am pleased that Pres. Obama won the election. I'm pleased that he is fighting hard for good fiscal policy. I plan to read many diaries and leave many replies and messages on those diaries in the near future.
I hope that the house Republicans see the light and change their ways. I hope that Sen. Reid moves for filibuster reform and that we will see an end to the current drive in the Senate of filibusters where nobody has to say anything.
Have a great day and I am back!!!
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