|Posted by Tsach Gilboa on June 5, 2012 at 4:05 PM||comments (1)|
George Will and I don’t agree on much. As a matter of fact, we probably don’t agree on most things. However, I was feeling the love when I heard him refer to Donald Trump as the “Bloviating Ignoramus”. Overwhelmed by a sense of well being, albeit temporary, I rushed to the computer to share the good news and pay the love forward.
There is very little comfort available in today’s rude, mediocre, self-absorbed and voyeuristic culture. One cannot turn on the TV without being slapped in the face with some other idiotic “Reality” show. The unwashed have taken center stage and thinking people of maturity and self-awareness are better served running for the hills.
This milieu, however, provides the perfect platform for the army of Bloviating Ignoramuses that are out there, Donald Trump merely one of many. With another mediocre and unwatchable reality show of his own to fuel his already overinflated ego and a basement intelligence (yes I am being generous here!) small audience that cares to listen, Donald has resurrected the “critical and meaningful”, albeit false and infantile, argument that the President was not born here. I, for one, expected no better considering the source. What is of concern is the play this has been getting in the media and the fact that another mediocre individual, running for the highest office in the land, chose to partner with Trump for cash and “Fame”. Mitt Romney is an non-entity as one can get and exemplifies what is wrong and annoying about our culture where making money is an end in and of itself and the means to get there are all valid, regardless of consequences to others.
However, reality is a little different. There still is compassion and community out there. There are still random acts of kindness done for the doing and not for the expectation of rewards and self-promotion. People still seem to care about their fellow man and woman and will still go out of their way to help and make things better. The problem is money and its corrupting and corrosive nature, in the wrong hands. Big picture and culture wise, Gordon Gekko was wrong. Greed can be a motivating force and promote achievement and excellence, although still the wrong motivation, but this is far outweighed by the negative consequences and sheer volume of pain and destruction it usually creates. In the post Citizen’s United world, a handful of extremely wealthy people can fund any and all political campaign’s, put their drone of choice in office and influence those already in power for their personal benefit at the expense of the rest of us. And lets not forget the other big problem of the army of wealthy individuals and corporation funded lobbyist who have been corrupting our democracy for decades.
I am all for success and accomplishment and like living well like the next guy. However I do not believe it should be at the expense of and in creation of misery for others. There are rules of engagement in business and fairness and fair play must be the golden rule. You award hard work and excellence and make a best effort to provide a level playing field.
One or a few Bloviating Ignoramus’s is not the issue. It’s the “Good men that do nothing” which makes evil prosper and take our country down.
|Posted by Tsach Gilboa on February 16, 2012 at 8:55 PM||comments (0)|
Solution = Single Payer
The current contraceptives tempest in a teapot, left me no choice but to write a blog. The current year is 2012 and the vast majority of us (99%) use contraceptives. Important to note right here that this is not just a women issue. Most men are delighted not to have to wear a condom to prevent pregnancy when in a committed relationship, and no STD issues or the possibility of such is a consideration.
It’s bad enough that we have a ridiculous discourse over abortion in this country. An ignorant, religious belief based, dictatorial and imposing. But contraception? That issue is resolved and done with by all concerned of all faiths, beliefs,non-beliefs and persuasions. The only ones that seem to relish in creating an issue out of a non-issue are political opportunists from the right and a few Catholic bishops who are not part of society or real life. They do not have relations with women, don't marry, don’t father children and generally have no clue about real people living real lives.
This is clearly NOT a religious freedom issue. This is clearly a women health issue, simple and clear. We all have opinions and beliefs and causes we are for and against. As citizens we have our vote and freedom of speech to convey our positions. Those that are against war can protest, write letters, petition our government, but ultimately we have no control over our government defense and war spending. Healthcare is not and should not be the business of faith and that is the bottom line. The church should not be in the healthcare business. The church can preach its point of view and belief to its flock, who then can decide if they want to follow it or not. Healthcare has nothing to do with religion of religious beliefs. Contraception for women if not just for family planning and prevention of pregnancy. It is critical for a variety of conditions and prevention of some. And lets not forget a very critical issue: Preventing pregnancy via contraception eliminates the need for termination of said pregnancy for any reason, health and safety of the women included.
The battle over contraception is so far removed from relevance and reason; it would be laughable if it were not so critical. But there is a very easy solution here and it is as obvious as sunrise, sunset and the nose on our faces. Single Payer healthcare, where choices of coverage are made by individuals based on scientific prevention and health reasons and not faith or partisan-political reasons made out of ignorance, misogyny and simple lack of self esteem, self confidence and most important, selfawareness. And yes, lets not forget stupidity.
|Posted by Tsach Gilboa on November 23, 2011 at 4:10 PM||comments (0)|
Fairness and the American Way
With 25-40 million American looking for jobs and/or a full time job, the issue here is simple: Where are the jobs?
Taking the Republican premise of lower taxes to the “Job Creators” will result in the jobs at face value, the obvious issue and problem is: where are those jobs after 10 years of lower taxes? It is peculiar that during the Clinton years with higher taxes for the upper brackets, 23 million jobs were created, the economy was booming and the federal government had a surplus, while under the Bush W. administration, taxes were cut, approximately 0 to 1 million jobs were created (depending on who you talk to) and we went into a financial meltdown and recession due to unregulated financial institutions that went Wild Wild West with our money, with disastrous results.
Yesterday NYC Mayor and billionaire Blumberg presented a solution to our economic problems. Blumberg suggested that President Obama should declare that he will veto any attempt to renew the Bush tax cuts, which are scheduled to expire at the end of the year (another decade of those cuts for the top 5% will cost the US treasury 2 trillion dollars). He went on to say that we should not worry about responsibility on this issue but that we should move forward from that point, and let bygones be bygones (kind of a reconciliation process without the apology and come the Jesus part).
Now, that kind of sounds like a good “Turn the other cheek” kind of a plan, doesn’t it? However, there is a small problem with it, and that is, accountability and consequences for ones actions, or more accurately, the lack there of. After years of a rigged system that made sure wealth flowed up and did not trickle down, now we want to forget the recent past and the sacrifice the majority of the US population made and start anew, leaving wealthy individuals and corporations, and specifically the financial investment and banking industry, that was the major cause of this crisis and misery, to enjoy the fruits of their poisonous actions with impunity. And what kind of a message does this send to young people who plan to get into the financial industry?
And lets not forget the contribution of our representatives in the congress and senate (sitting pretty with good pay and great health benefits and pensions) as well as the previous administration, and to a certain lesser extent, the current administration, to this crisis. Agai, the issue is that without consequences and accountability there is no motivation to change–simple human nature –and the reason and need for a penal system, albeit a reformed and modified one from the current unfair and broken one we have.
To Mr. Blumberg, all I can say is, it is easy for the billionaire to call for forgetting the transgressions and corruptions of Wall Street investment bankers and others who participated and profited for years from a system rigged in their favor, at the expense of the middle and lower economic classes, although I applaud his efforts and contribution to coming up with a fair solution. To make it a fair solution, shared sacrifice as the guiding principle has to include the existing sacrifice of the middle and lower economic classes and the accountability of and payment by those who have profited from the current system, as the opening move to changing and improving the system to make it fair for all. People should be rewarded for their hard work and contribution and given the opportunity to improve and join a prosperous again middle class and not just those who are connected and close to the troth. Government has an important, albeit limited, role to play in making our country competitive again as well as restoring it to being the world’s most coveted destination. That requires and demands a big and bold jobs plan that will get Americans back to work and restore the US position as a manufacturer of goods and services for export to the rest of the world, in addition to, being the cradle of innovation (The deficit, a worthy and important issue that MUST be resolved, needs to take a back seat to our critical unemployment and recession challenge).
To accomplish those goals requires specifically, revamping our education system to graduate the best and brightest, as well as all others, to be able to compete in this global economy, a revamped immigration policy that provides foreign graduates the ability and motivation to stay and contribute here in the US after they benefited from our higher education institutes, as well as, providing a path to citizenship to those who qualify, a fixed and improved infrastructure across the nation to facilitate commerce and innovation and a revamped tax system that does away with loopholes and provides for a fair sharing of the tax burden across the whole US population.
It is perplexing and sad to see the Washington DC debate still not focused on the critical issue of jobs and instead concentrating on the deficit, partisan politics and the usual social issues red herrings.
|Posted by Tsach Gilboa on November 21, 2011 at 7:10 PM||comments (0)|
“Super” Committee – Really?
Surprise, surprise the Super Committee created by Congress and the Senate to reach a deficit reduction plan, has failed to reach agreement and put forth a plan. And as the game blame is in full swing, the bottom line is that they failed, as did Congress as a whole, to get to a deal, any deal. The pitiful fact is that we, the American people, would be delighted to see any plan or proposal for us to look at. Guess it was too much to ask for and that fact simply accounts for the dismal approval rating congress has.
If this does not compute to you, dear reader, it is because it simply does not. After ten years of tax cuts, we are in the midst of a grave recession, and a good 25-40 million Americans are looking for a job or a full time job and are unable to find one (I know since I am part of that group and have been daily looking for over a year).
Lets not forget that after Congress decided to create this committee, the President sent them his deficit cutting plan, that included revenue increases–God forbid (lets also not forget that although Republicans are refusing to raise taxes, they actually are raising them by refusing to extend the payroll tax holiday).
The public, on the other hand, has spoken very clearly. Raise the top tax bracket and close tax loopholes and make sure those of very large means–be it individuals o rcorporations–pay their fare share of taxes. It is also important for some in congress to understand that pledges–especially idiotic ones like the Grover Norquist one–are not binding and best reserved for fraternities and sororities. Grow up and realize that your duty as a representative is to represent the best interests of the American population and not wealthy donors and Washington lobbyists.
And the best interests of America, country and public, is a prosperous economy, people working and building lives producing goods and services we then market around the world. To get there we need to fix education (takes $), fix infrastructure–physical and virtual–(takes $), invest in R&D (takes $), and provide a springboard for people to get within a reasonable distance of the “American dream”. This requires a partnership between government and private interests and an adult mature understanding of economic and social forces, something currently in very low supply in our capital and our culture.
The big issue here is lack of participation. People take their tax cuts and stay home. We send other people’s children to die in made up wars that benefit large corporations and the military industrial complex and borrow money to pay for them. And as our economy spiraled out of control, mainly due to Wall Street paper pushers, who while neither supervised nor regulated, played fraternity games with people’s life savings and lost them and then went on their merry way with no accountability or consequence.
Being a citizen of a country–especially a democratic one like ours–carries with it a grave responsibility. That responsibility is one of participation in the political process, joint sacrifice in the bad times and fairly sharing in the prosperity in the good times based on opportunity and hard work. Accountability and consequences are a critical part of the process as well as full participation by all, burden as well as rewards.
Critical part of the democratic ingredients is peaceful protest. The Tea Party movement, the Occupy movement are both part of that democratic process with a big difference. The tea party is the brainchild of the right wing billionaires, the Koch brothers, while the Occupy movement is a middle class and student popular protest movement fed up with the control of the wealthy over our power structure in Washington DC, as well as, their confiscation of most of the wealth while refusing to share in the tax obligation. While clearly in favor of the latter, both are part of our political democratic process and should be allowed to prosper or fail based on their merits
The images from UC Davis campus of peaceful studentde monstrators being pepper sprayed by Campus Police nonchalantly walking back and forth over the sitting students while spray flooding them with military grade pepper spray for no rime or reason, are very disturbing.
Most telling is the reaction by the republican presidential hopefuls. The current weekly flavor–Newt Gingrich–“Get a job after you take a bath” ("Clearly" in touch with the reality of 40 million Americans) and his solution for income disparity “Get rid of all union janitors in schools in the poor areas and have students perform these duties for payment”( Did you ever hear of child labor laws Newt?). If this is the great intellect the right has to offer, we are in serious trouble in this country. We are facing great and grave problems and the solutions are complex and difficult and require leadership, wisdom and sacrifice. Wisdom is what is needed most and not demagoguery, fear and meanness, and that my friends is in very short supply indeed. What we hear is “Lead not read” (courtesy of the Simpsons and Herman Cain) and the rebirth of the George W. Bush philosophy that the American President does not have to be smart or well informed cause ”he has advisors and experts for that”. What is being missed here–due to intellectual deficiencies–is that a President needs to be very smart to lead and to be able to navigate the waters of domestic and international affairs as well as be able to choose the right advisors and accept the wise advice while rejecting the not-so-wise advice.
The clear silver lining here is the fact that people of all ages and walks of life are getting involved and they are changing the national discourse to the urgent issues of economy, infrastructure, education, healthcare and ending the wars. This is what free speach, freedom of assembly and democracy are all about. And to Newt, the parks and public facilities being used for protests are part of public property we all pay for, and as long as they are used in peaceful protest, they are being used appropriately, strengthenin our democracy and country.
Clearly the established power structure is overreacting, as they always do, to challenges to their supremacy and authority. That is a good sign since it means that the protests are working and change is here. Unfortunatel, due to our broken system of politics and governance in the congress, meaningful or any forward movement will have to wait till 2012.
|Posted by Tsach Gilboa on November 20, 2011 at 4:10 PM||comments (0)|
Having heard that the unthinkable but predictable has indeed happened and Ricky Gervaise was, yet again, invited to host the Golden Globes, I decided to post the following blog I wrote last year the day after the 2011 Golden Globes,but never posted. Although this choice to go for crass, mean spirited and mediocre “Comedy” fits in nicely with the general malaise and mediocrity of American culture at the moment, needless to say, I for one will not be watching the show in 2012. And while I’m sure that I will not be missed by the Foreign Press, I am equally sure that I will be far from the only one not tuning in. (11.20.11)
Golden Globes – Enough of Gervaise (written Januray 2011)
Sunday we watched the Golden Globe Awards. For those in the entertainment industry or for those (many more) simply interested in Movies and TV, the Golden Globes can be an enjoyable experience, as well as a nice predictor for the Oscars. The big question for me was: why after the less than exciting and tasteless performance by Ricky Gervaise as host of the 2009 and 2010 Golden Globes, was he asked back in 2011?
Gervaise, not exactly my cup of tea in the best of times–I for one never found him funny or entertaining–was somewhat funnier when he was chubbier and had some humility, probably due to a better awareness of the limits of his talent. As he’s gone more “Hollywood” and apparently got a little more “Successful”–a testament to the escalating mediocrity and declining taste and demands of his viewing public, whoever they might be–Gervaise increasingly made up for lack of depth and talent by dialing up the crass and mean in his jokes (And no Ricky, loosing a little weight and growing a little stubble does not make you more attractive or manly or a stud).
His 2009 Golden Globe performance was bad enough but has gone substantially down hill in 2010, and just when we thought it was safe to go back in the water, came his 2011 performance last night, which was simply dull and boring with a deep overriding lining of mean (the last resort of the less than exceptional comedic minds).
As one who enjoys watching the Golden Globes and as one with a very high tolerance for comedy of all varieties, I was close to switching channel a few times, while Gravaise was spewing his boring poison–key word here being boring. For me the issue was simply that he was Not Funny and Not Smart (two key and required ingredients for great comedy). Thankfully, his involvement post apredictable, uninspired and forgettable opening monologue, was limited and brief. Also thankfully, various award recipients and presenters were not shy about responding to him and expressing their views about his unacceptable and criminally unfunny performance.
The blame is clearly with the organizers of the show who do not seem to learn that history is the best predictor of future performance. I hope they finally learned their lesson and will find a smart and funny host for next year (If I was to recommend, I would consider both well known people like Steve Martin or Jon Stewart as well as less known ones like Katherine Tate, or Graham Norton),which would be befitting of the show and of our attention and time.
Considering that Gervaise is coming back in 2012 (kind of like the Termiator), clearly the Hollywood Foreign Press Association did not/cannot learn from past experience in 2009, 2010 and 2011, or they might simply just have no taste.
|Posted by Tsach Gilboa on November 5, 2011 at 1:40 PM||comments (0)|
Just how low is the bar?
We are clearly in Presidential election mod in the midst of the Republican primary season. One can’t help but be dismayed by the group of Republican presidential hopefuls. They seem to be all suffering from mediocrity and one or more of the following ailments and deficiencies:
1. Don’t believe in Evolution (oblivious to the fact that it is not a question of belief but of factual science).
2. Don’t believe in Climate Change/Global Warming, human contribution to it and the catastrophic disaster to humanity if action is not taken to slow it down (oblivious to the fact that, again, it is not aquestion of belief but of factual science).
3. General lack of belief on Science – need I say more?
4. Lack of basic understanding of how the economy works and what steps will get us out of this mess vs. what steps have been tried and failed abysmally–like tax cuts–over the past 10 years.
5. Lack of understanding of the issues and foreign affairs–like the fact that China has had nuclear weapons since 1964...
6. Claiming “God” chose them to be president!
7. Preoccupation with social issues, like a woman’s right to choose and gay marriage and affirming an aleady existing law that our US motto is "In God we trust", instead of solving the critical unemployment problem and working on jobs, jobs, jobs.
8. Calling for a fence, preferably electrified, on the border with Mexico as a way to solve our illegal immigration problem.
9. Flip-flopping on any and all issues over and over again.
10. Refusing to address the revenue side of fixing our economy but more-than-happy to engage in draconian budget cuts that will stop the growth, slow as it is, that we are experiencing and hurt the dwindling middle class and the poor.
11. Infavor of additional tax cuts to those who do not need them and subsidies to the most profitable industries in America like oil and gas.
12. Calling for the abolition of the EPA, which after all just tries to make sure we have clean air, clear water and clean food, and holding the Corporations that pollute our environment accountable.
13. Against the affordable healthcare act which will go a long way to solving our escalatinghealthcare costs and extend healthcare protection to millions of Americans who do not have it.
14. Gut the working Social Security and Medicare/Medicade programs, which lifted and still liftmillions out of poverty, and can be easily made solvent for the long run with simple measures like lifting contribution caps, streamlining operations and instituting a single payer program that works well in the rest of the industrialized world, a world that left us far behind in this critical human right to great affordable and preventative focused healthcare.
15. Declaring that we should “Let foreclosures run their course” and have people of means buy these properties and rent them to the previous owners. All this while the bankers who created this mess out of greed and stupidity, keep their jobs and huge bonuses and avoid any consequences for their actions (maybe this new effort by stare Attorney General’s like Beau Bidden,will correct that).
16. Accused and admitted to being accused of sexual Harassment of young women while leading the organizations they worked for, and then settling with them for large sums of money and then claiming that the reporting of these stories by the media is “Racist”.
17. Coming up with regressive flat tax proposals that substantially reduce taxes for the rich and shift the burden to the middle class and poor while shortchanging much needed revenues.
And the band played on and on and on…
The bottom line here is that we are truly living in an age where ignorance and mediocrity by those who are running for office and positions of great authority and power–including the Presidency of the United States of America–is not only flaunted, but also actually presented with great pride as a badge of honor. Makes one wonder just how far we’ve fallen and how much farther do we have left to fall, as the Empire continues on its decline. With people being taken in by the likes of Perry, Bachmanand Cain, building on the equally ridiculous rational for liking and voting for George W Bush since “He’s a guy I can have a beer with!”, once cannot help but feel somewhat disheartened.
However, there is still hope. The “Occupy” movement is showing us that Democracy is still alive and kicking in this country. People still care and feel motivated to get involved and go out and protest what is clearly a dismal state of play. Building on that and making sure voices of reason, fairness and well informed intelligent and factual positions are put to bear on the challenges we face, might just bring about a better future for all.
|Posted by Tsach Gilboa on October 25, 2011 at 8:05 PM||comments (0)|
Not Thinking It Through!
One would expect that people who run for the US Presidency-highest office in the land and possibly the world-would think things through. However, in this age of rudeness and mediocrity, nothing can be further from the truth. Months ago, when discussing politics with a republican friend, I was somewhat surprised to hear this smart and attractive woman seriously argue that the “President does not need to be smart, just have smart people around him”.
The obvious question, of course, is how would a person that is not smart able to choose and attract smart people to work for him, and then is also smart enough to listen to them and follow their advice, when it is good? Equally clear is that the last republican president failed on both counts, resulting in disastrous results (two unpaid for wars, unpaid for drug prescription bill, financial meltdown etc.) we are all, the few at the top excepted, suffering the consequences and probably will for the foreseeable future.
Now we have the Republican primaries and it is a scary sight indeed. Setting aside those that will never be King, including the only one that actually has the experience and smarts to do it (Huntsman) we are left with the trio at the top of this pitiful heap–Romney, Perry and Cain.
Romney, who has been campaigning for the Republican nomination since 2008, lost to McCain and is now running again. With a built in handicap in conservative and evangelical circles of being a Mormon, Romney also suffers from the reputation of being bland, boring, and a flip-flopper on the issues. His very successful healthcare reform in Massachusetts while Governor there, while an asset in the general election, is a serious obstacle to getting the Republican nomination due to the inexplicable and frankly insane position that party has on this critical issue.
Perry and Cain are in a class by themselves. On the one hand we have Cain with his 9-9-9 tax plan–the most regressive unfair concept favoring of those who have plenty and can afford to give more to the detriment of those who have little and can’t afford any more, to his electrified fence immigration policy, to his general lack of experience and understanding of any meaningful issue of importance domestic or foreign.
On the other hand, we have Perry with a disastrous record as Texas governor (Highest rate of residents without healthcare insurance, $27 Billion budget shortfall Texas–one of the worst in the nation, short fund Medicare by $5 Billion, cut education by $4 Billion–Texas ranks last in the nation in High School diplomas), to his equally superficial and regressive flat tax plan which with substantial tax reduction to the wealthy would substantially increase the deficit by further decreasing revenue. One “Highlight” is his proposal to shift to a territorial system of corporate taxation which would allow corporations to repatriate profits parked overseas at a 5.25 percent rate, providing an even greater incentive fo rcorporations to move more of their operations and jobs overseas. And then there is the call for Texas to succeed from the union, his religious calling to run for office, draconian antiabortion stance (requires all women who seek an abortion to have a sonogram),call for Texas to opt out of Medicare and Social Security, suing the federal government for disapproving the State’s air quality standards since Texas is the countries biggest polluter, and the list goes on.
The truth is that there is no substitute for intelligence,especially when the culture of government requires and values decisive actions that involve substantial impact on the standard and quality of our lives as well as great expenditure of treasure and potentially lives. We need smart people as leaders on all levels of government, local, state and national. Our world, Micro and Macro, is very challenging and complicated and does not lend itself to catch phrases and half-baked concepts. We are in an economic, environmental and social crisis and we need serious and smart people to lead us to a better and more prosperous near and long-term future. In a country of over 300 million people, surely we can do better than the current present and proposed Washington crowd, specific select few (list availableupon request) excepted.
|Posted by Tsach Gilboa on October 21, 2011 at 12:45 PM||comments (0)|
Teacher/First Responder Bill Fails – Surprise!
With the filibuster by Republicans looming, the Senate voted50/50 with all Republicans against–joined in their negative act by three Democrats–falling short of the 60 votes needs to overcome a filibuster. What a surprise. For the second time in as many weeks, every single Republican voted against a jobs bill that would put Americans back to work.
Setting aside the asinine, irresponsible, undemocratic and unnecessary filibuster concept, that should be put out of our collective misery immediately, we are again faced with the disconnect from reality and lack of wisdom so prevalent in the Senate, especially on the right.
With a simple and painless funding solution of ½% tax on income over $1 Million, for the portion past $1.1 Million, this bill would have put teachers, police and firefighters back to work to support our communities and our country. It would alsom have generated more consunption and more badly needed revenue. In a clearly political vote the right, yet again, decided to do their best to sink the economy further and to make sure most American’s feel the pain with no relief in sight to hope for.
Senator Marco Rubio, R-Florida, summed up this “Brilliantand insightful philosoph" as follows: “We cannot afford to be bailing out local governments, and we can’t afford stimulus 2.0”. One can clearly see why there is talk in Republican circles of nominating this fountain of smarts and economic prowess to the 2012 Republican ticke, as potential Vice President.
In these morally and intellectually bankrupt political circles of our country, this actually makes perfect sense. We seem to have fallen victim to the mediocre, narrowminded, regressive and superficial. Smarts and thinking-it- through seem to hold little attraction to those in power, especially on the right. To Marco Rubio there is not much I can say. Experience dictates that when there is no one to talk to,one should refrain from talking. If, however, there was a chance to get through here, one can only mention two unpaid for wars, prescription drugs, subsidies to the most profitable US industries, lowest taxes in 80 years, a decade of slack regulation and low taxes which got us this charming recession and the Senate and House unable to get anything done, courtesy of people in office like Mr.Rubio, who should not be in office, not if they do not have what it takes intellectually to understand the issues, and the social and political compromise skills to get agreements with the other side for the best result for all Americans, not just the wealthy and privileged.
Again, I am thankful to the Occupy movement for bringing these issues to the forefront and for steering the conversation to the real issues of jobs, jobs, jobs and the resulting growth. And yes, government has a critical role to play in these times of dire need and pain. Clearly those that don’t/can’t understand these truths should not be in public service or at least should have their compensation and benefits contingent on the results they produce. No bills, no work, no good results for the American people =no pay!
|Posted by Tsach Gilboa on October 20, 2011 at 11:35 PM||comments (0)|
It is about time! With the economic collapse, the recession that followed and demonstrations all over the world, with the much spoken of“Arab Spring”, an American protest movement was inevitable and long overdue. We are after all a Democratic country, and participation in the process is the corner stone of any Democracy. No longer will people vote against their economic interest, we hope. No longer will there be those that are “More equal” in a country that is supposed to be equal for everyone. It is up to all of us to make it happen. and the peaceful Occupy movement is the way to go and win the hearts and minds of the American people.
There is no doubt that money–although cannot and does not buy happiness–does makes life much much easier for those who have a lot of it. Money, however, should not make the one that has a lot of it–their issues, life and vote–worth more then those who don’t, although in real life America 2011, it certainly does, as it did for the past 200 plus years. The critical question is the degree to which money endows the haves with power and a much larger share of the national pie then is reasonable or fair.
This issue now is not dissimilar from the issue that prompted the city elders of Lyon, France to create the first primitive welfare system. Faced with a poor, hungry and angry mob that dared to leave their dilapidated part of town and violently come calling to the rich and civilized part of town, leaving mayhem and damage in their wake, they knew they had to do something. That something turned out to be a very simple idea. Let's give those people enough to make sure they stay in their neighborhood. Put it down to the cost of doing business. After all, we are all benefiting from those people. Their cheap labor and sweat, their small buying power, and how great it is to have them to feel superior to!
The American people are very forgiving and reasonable. It seems that most people still believe that everyone in America can become rich. Herman Cain clearly stated that if one is unemployed or poor, they have only themselves to blame to cheers from the Republican crowd. As such, we the people respect and admire those who are successful and do well and we want them to keep a large chunk of it. However, and in the wise words of Elizabeth Warren, those that are wealthy got to be that way not only due to hard work and luck. They got wealthy because America afforded them those opportunities via infrastructure, financing, skilled labor force, skilled professional services, large consumer market and use of national resources and sometimes generous subsidies, all paid for by the American taxpayer. Those that make it should keep a large chunk of it, but they should also pay their fare share to support the country that made their wealth possible. It's simply the cost of doing business and getting so much from the country and its people.
The gap between the rich and soon to be ex-middle class has gotten obscenely large. American’s were happy to have the rich be the rich, with special privileges and power, as long as the rest of us could maintain a reasonable standard of living, a good steady job,a home, a vacation a year, a car, college for the kids, a comfortable retirement, good affordable health care…
All we ask is to be able to work for that and keep it and we have no problem with your lavish, albeit decadent and empty, money "Culture". The kind we can see in “The real housewives of…”, but one example of many depictions on TV of the “Rich and Famous lifestyle”.
The occupy movement would never have started–nor would it have become the global phenomena that it is–if average hard working middle class people did not find themselves unemployed through no fault of their own, unable to find a new job, loosing their homes, their savings/investments and college funds for their kids, while those that went to college and graduated have to move in with them since they can’t find jobs either and are burdened with large college loans they can’t pay. And while all of this pain is happening to millions and millions of people, the financial institutions executives responsible for this mess are doing well and collecting huge multi million dollar bonuses with no accountability for the mess they made. The rich coprporations and their executives are laying off many thousands of people to maiontain a profit margin and keep getting large bonuses and great perks, including a fully paid for healthcare, pension and retirement benefits, and lets not forget, the tax incentive for the private jets. And lets also not forget our elected officials and representatives who seem completely disconnected from reality and unable to get their heads in the game and approvea jobs program and revenue bills to get us all out of this mess.
I, for one, am delighted that the Occupy Movement is here. It has already changed the conversation in the country. When one talks to the protestors, it is refreshing and energizing to hear them discuss the economy, jobs and fairness and NOT making abortion and gay marriage illegal, defunding Planned Parenthood, repealing the Affordable Health Care Act and making sure Obama is a “One Term President”.
This movement has given all of us hope. Hope that America can get back on track and be the kind of country we all deserve and can be proud of, as well as one rest of the world can respect if not try and emulate.
|Posted by Tsach Gilboa on September 20, 2011 at 6:25 PM||comments (0)|
The Marie Antoinette Syndrome
In response to President Obama’s jobs and deficit reduction plan,including streamlining the tax code and requiring millionaires and up to pay about the same tax rate as the people that work for them, Tea Party Representative John Fleming (R-LA). argues that out of a business income of $6.3 Million, he only has about $600,000 left net leaving him for “Feeding my family” only $200,000, and only $400,000 to invest in his businesses!
Let me try and put this in perspective for the congressman (I also want to take the opportunity to offer my services to help him streamline his business, make it more effecient it and make it more profitable–call me to discuss congressman). Last week the US Census Bureau released new 2010 data on poverty. Due to the Great Recession 46.2 million Americans now live below the poverty line–defined as less than $22,314 per year for a family of four–Leaving Mr. Fleming 8.9 times that amount for his food budget. A record 20 million Americans now live in deep poverty–defined as les than $11,000 or a family of four–Leaving Mr., Fleming a mere 18.1 times that amount for his food budget. And we're not sure where the Congressman's $174,000 salary and federally paid health insurance and pension fits into this? (is $374,000 a year enough to eat on?) And also lets not forget that the proposal is to raise the top tax bracket from 35% to 39.6%–the same rate which under President Clinton created a huge boom in the economy–a small margin Mr. Fleming would hardly miss.
What is most pathetic and disturbing here is the fact that a US Congressman can actually get on a television news program and make this ridiculous argument with a straight face. It reminds me of a story from his childhood my Dad told me many years ago about a teacher that was discussing poverty with her class. When she asked the students for their stories, one student described her family of four living in two rooms with their grandparents, all sharing one outhouse etc., another little girl jumped up to share, and she passionately explained that her family was actually poorer since their maid is poor, and their cook is poor, and their chauffer is poor etc.
Although life is subjective to a certain extent, reasonable mature and intelligent adults do agree on a basic reality. Claiming that his low effective tax rate–the lowest in numerous decades–cannot be adjusted, as was always done,because he only has “$200,000 left to feed his family" makes no sense. We already have a progressive tax code to make sure people pay their fair share depending on their income.Unfortunately with Bush 43 tax cuts and numerous deductions and loopholes, the wealthy pay less effective tax than their secretaries. President Reagan raised taxes up to a top tax bracket of 50%; President Clinton raised taxes and created 23.1million jobs. President George W. Bush cut taxes, only created 3 million jobs,got us into 2 not-paid-for wars and an unpaid for prescription drug policy that with the lax regulation of wall street, got us into this depression.
Even before the President’s jobs speech, the Republican’s were crying “Class warfare”, which would be hysterically funny if not so predictable and pathetic. Coming from a group of people that have spent great amounts of wealth and human resources, combined with spinning, lies and deceit to try and dismantle the middle class and further enrich the rich (top 400 American families have more wealth than 50% of Americans and have seen their taxes cut by 40% since1999).
If it looks life the middle ages in Europe, it is because it is. What we need is a modern day Robin Hood, not to take from the rich andgive to the poor, but to fairly and equitably distribute the burden and costs of this great country and to structure a healthy and positive partnership between smart and efficient government and smart, innovative and efficient private sector, to heal the economy and move the country forwards. Other countries have done and are doing so very successfully (think Germany as but one example). There is absolutely no reason we can’t do it, and do it much, much better.