Will Work For Food?

Friday, July 9, 2010

Oakland In Pain

Below is a comment I made to this in the Los Angeles Times:

"I could not be more appalled at the blatant racism I read in some of these comments. I confess I do miss some of the years pre-Reagan, where racism was at least out of fashion enough that the haters would keep some of the vitriol to themselves.

And I love the way some of the "don't-tax-me-I-should-get-it-for-free" types are suddenly the buddies of cops, when cops have confrontations with African-American citizens.

You don't want to pay for anything anymore that would help kids who are born into our inner cities be safe enough, and healthy enough, and educated enough to be able to help turn things around in their communities as adults. Every good thing that was beginning to bud in blighted areas was hacked to death by budget cut after budget cut, year after year, in response to whiners who just yelled "cut, cut, cut!" instead of taking the time and effort to see WHAT should be cut. But these days, you don't even want to pay for your cops!

And you're going to get your wish, in a governor who has no experience in anything but amassing wealth for herself. As she privatizes everything, costing you far more while giving you far less that you would have got if you'd just stopped pissing on your own government instead of working to fix it, and her rich buddies profit from the privatization, enjoy your pricey rent-a-cops. If you can afford them.

Cities like Oakland need more, not less security to make their citizens safe from violence, whether locally-grown or imported. But how can they trust police who have the kind of racist attitudes which have been blasted on this board?

There needs to be a new kind of security for citizens which screens out idiots, racists, power-mad-on-testosterone types, and sadists. And people who can't tell the difference between a gun and a taser. If they are so similar ,than why doesn't someone make the feel of them very different? Make one have a bumpy surface or something. Not rocket science. Or are things so bad that the gun needs a voice which will activate and say "This is your gun. Do you really want me right now?"

Whatever happens, our country is losing our place in the world and many of the blessings we always took for granted at home. We have to start pulling together to make things better and that is not going to happen while we point fingers and hate based on race, class, politics, religion, or anything else.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Oh NO! I have no right to be blogging here!

According to one economist, I should not be blogging about economics. Despite the fact that it affects day-to-day life. The reason? I don't have a Ph.D.

See Salon.com's "Economist to bloggers: Shut up, fools."

I wonder if it's even worse that I freely admit that I don't have a Ph.D. And that I never pursued my education beyond a B.A. due to (wait for it) ECONOMIC reasons!

Something I guess I have no right to talk about. Damn.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Social Insecurity

I personally don't believe we should all trust on our investing luck and skills to finance our retirement years. It's easy to be the one who picked the wrong investment, isn't it? Social Security has worked very well as a safety net for people who have worked hard and deserve to at the very least have food and shelter after they reach the age where it is often hard to work, or if you are still strong and able, even harder to get work than it is for people in their prime working years.

Social Security is also what keeps you from trying unsuccessfully to live in a cardboard box under a freeway overpass if you become disabled due to illness or accident. Not if you decide to just be lazy, radical right propaganda notwithstanding.

I remember a time when most politicians seemed to respect Social Security. Then I lived to see the GOP attack it strongly enough for anti-Social Security to be reported often in the media.

I did not expect a real zinger of a blow to come from a Democratic President...one who is, ironically, often accused of being "socialist" and a "radical liberal" by his opponents.

But the political world today truly is turned upside down and sideways.

An article which comes from The Nation brings the bad news. I read it on Michael Moore's website:

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Spill, Baby, Spill...

photo by Tom, at "A Pacific View." Used with permission.

It seems like just a blink of an eye ago the battle cry heard round the world was "Drill, baby, drill."

After Presidential candidate John McCain and Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin used that phrase as a slogan, chant and mantra in the 2008 U.S. electoral campaign, I certainly found myself encountering it over and over again, ad nauseam. Even while doing my best to ignore some offensive online commenters repulsively discussing drilling in a sexual manner with relation to Ms. Palin, the words gave me unease.

I was not comfortable with the concept of drilling for oil where it might harm environmentally sensitive areas. As a Santa Barbara County, California, resident, I had heard much about the disastrous oil spill which took place off of the coast Santa Barbara in 1969.

I love to swim. And so I always found it very upsetting to have to plan on cleaning my feet with turpentine and my hair with cold cream in order to get oil "tar" off of me after a dip in the ocean. I was told the presence of this tar was due to natural oil seepage, nothing to do with the 1969 spill--and that could be true, for all I know. But it was a constant reminder that oil can be very, very messy, difficult to clean up, and not very compatible with the biology of Earth's life forms.

So I was personally dismayed every time a new oil platform appeared off of the Santa Barbara coast. For years they had been kept to a minimum, but then it seemed that they reached some sort of jumping-off point--was it in the '80s? when they began to multiply more rapidly, like some sort of fecund sea monsters. Sometime in which memories of oil spill damage began to fade in the national consciousness, local protests began to be ignored, as the nation's voracious appetite for oil continued to average out to a rapidly upward course--and the beast had to somehow be fed.

I've been waiting since President Jimmy Carter spoke to the nation, in the summer of 1979, regarding the U.S.'s problem with dependence on foreign oil, to see some truly powerful political momentum going towards getting this nation to create some significant alternatives to oil. But Carter's warning was mocked, and dubbed "the malaise speech." Presidential candidate Ronald Reagan benefited by characterizing himself as a more positive, upbeat choice.

At the time, as is seen in Carter's speech, one of the biggest concerns for those who were actually worried about U.S. oil dependence were the (correct) predictions that we would end up getting more than half of our oil from countries in unstable parts of the world. Places where anti-Americanism became rampant. And that this could become a threat to national security.

But many of us hoped, as the years went on and more was learned about what some of the unanticipated consequences of an oil-based economy might be, that there would also eventually be serious attention given to ALL of the looming oil-based disasters. These would include the national security problem, but also the potential dangers of spillage, of the possibility that the theory of peak oil is correct, and of the currently debated climate crisis.

The oil platforms off of the coast of the Santa Barbara area can look beautiful when lit up in the dark, as in the photo above. But I think these lights are more like the lures of duplicitous sirens of the sea, than lamps leading the way to President Reagan's oft-quoted "shining city."

As for spilling, baby...

we've had a lot more spillin' goin' on since Santa Barbara, CA, 1969. Although there have been many larger oil spills around the world, we in the U.S. probably heard the most about the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989. Ironically, this took place off of the coast of Alaska, the home state of "drill baby" Sarah Palin.

Now we are watching what happens as a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico breaks against coastlines in the south. There are news updates every day, so at least some of the links below could be soon outdated. But no matter what the outcome, this spill has been big news and has sparked discussion about the safety of drilling for oil off of coastlines as well as in deep water.

However, since we haven't exactly been working feverishly on safe alternatives to oil since the days of the prescient Jimmy Carter (unfortunately), it would be quite a challenge to quickly find a replacement for oil. We could certainly do a lot better than we are doing now on conservation, but that would be only a stopgap (no pun intended...) What we have to remember is that we put ourselves into this quagmire and so it truly is up to us to find a solution that works, not only for us, but for the habitat we need for our long-term survival. A habitat which we share with Earth's other residents, and on whom our lives also depend.

US Oil Spill Explained, Al Jazeera (animated)

The Science Of Spills, IncidentNews

Underwater Footage Of Oil Spill In Gulf Of Mexico, BBC

Louisiana Oil Spill 2010 Photos, Huffington Post

Oil Spill Reaches Wildlife Refuge, BBC

Gulf Oil Spill: More Fishing Areas Closed, Los Angeles Times

Gulf Oil Spill Could Threaten Human Health, Healthday

BP Sends Giant Box To Contain Gulf Of Mexico Oil Spill, BBC

Special Report: Will The Cleanup Make The BP Oil Spill Worse? Reuters

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Lions and Tigers and Bears...Oh My!

Everyone who has known, or even just sensed, that the same economy which determines whether or not we get a new iPad or just food on the table or an eviction notice for unpaid rent (or my personal favorite, thousands of dollars of medical costs on a credit card to pay off) is actually based on a whole lot of behind-the-scenes shell games is, of course, totally correct.

Yes, your life and mine are routinely gambled with by our good friends The Masters of the Universe.

Here's a good description of some of the mortgage shenanigans -- just for some light reading! Put on your detective hat to follow these trails of fraud and other low-ethics kinds of dubious financial practice.

Shocking Fraud from Financial Scum

Friday, March 26, 2010

Promoting Excellence in California State Parks

Our parks need your help--please take the time to take this survey!

Promoting Excellence in California State Parks

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Roundup: This Week's Historic Legislation On Health Care

I haven't written a post of my own yet about the bill because I'm still researching it. I don't want to be talking about provisions that aren't there any longer or make other easily avoidable mistakes. I'm sure I'll be able to come up with my own personal set of mistakes AFTER researching the bill! ;)

One thing that I truly believe, though, is that any problems with the bill are the fault of both the Democratic and the Republican parties, for a number of reasons. I can hear the Republicans screaming from here :) But refusing to negotiate in good faith, and being unwilling to consider compromise, has consequences, just as does authoring and passing legislation.

The party A vs. party B situation is especially odd in this case. A significant segment of the Democratic base is angry about the bill precisely because it incorporates so many proposals and practices endorsed by Republicans in the past, at the expense of even serious consideration of what these Democrats were advocating. Those who wanted to see Medicare For All but were persuaded to accept some kind of "public option" as a compromise, didn't get a compromise (yet), so are unmoved by angry Republicans who seemingly got so much of what they had once asked for and yet didn't cough up a single vote.

A bitterly divided government may not govern all that well, and a bitterly divided nation can conquer and destroy itself.
Both parties. BOTH of you are responsible... for what gets done, and for what fails to get done.

Anyway, reaction to the bill is pouring in, and with it comes some information about the bill. I've posted links to some articles of interest below.

Btw, one major reaction, by the Republican Party, was to send the bill back for amendments.

The amended bill, however, did go through:
Congress Passes Amended Health-Care Law

And just fyi, a source of info on the health reform right from the White House is at HealthReform.gov


Christian Science Monitor: What Obama's New Health Care Bill Means For Us

Fact Check dot Org: A Final Weekend of

Huffington Post: Health Care Bill Passes: What You Need To Know

CNN: Health Care Reform Anger Takes A Nasty, Violent Turn

The Guardian: Democrats face death threats and vandalism over new health care bill

New York Times: Going To Extreme, by Paul Krugman

economicprincipals.com: The Hidden History of the Health Care Bill

The Economist: the health care squeeze

Esquire: What President Obama didn't say, by Dennis Kucinich

Huffington Post: Jodi Jacobson, The Health Care Bill And Women's Health: Wins, Losses, And Challenges

NOW: Health Care Reform Victory Comes With Tragic Setback To Women's Rights, by NOW President Terry O'Neill

Huffington Post: Fact Sheet, The Truth About The Health Care Bill, by Jane Hamsher

From The Network Of Spiritual Progressives
Reaction To The Health Care Debate


Not meant to be an exhaustive list. It is I who am exhausted! More will have to come later.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

So What Did We End Up With?

In the coming days and weeks I know that more information will be forthcoming regarding the details of the historic health care bill which President Obama signed and which Republicans, none of whom voted for the bill, already oppose.

I can certainly understand anyone's concern about this bill, as it is most certainly imperfect. My problems with the Republican opposition are:

1. This bill happens to include many provisions which were originally proposed by Republicans. It can even be looked upon as a huge effort to compromise with Republican interests, in its rejection of Progressive proposals such as Medicare For All and in the sweeteners it gives to private insurance companies.

2. If there is a Republican plan which would help more Americans get access to health care than this bill will, I have yet to see it.

That said, I, like many people, have questions about the bill. A few of mine are:

Does the bill truly eliminate the life-threatening "doughnut hole" gap in coverage in Medicare Part D (prescription drug plan for seniors/disabled; many disabled have no other choice but this plan) ? If so, how does it do this, and when?

What is the actual amount of the much-discussed fine for people who do not purchase health insurance (for whatever reason) ?

Is the expansion of Medicaid now to cover people whose incomes are 133% of the poverty level? What happens if a state does not go along with this, since Medicaid is a federal/state program?

Do the promised achievements in lowering the deficit come at the expense of Medicare? taxes?

What does this bill and/or an executive order signed by the President do to women's rights to an abortion?

How does it (supposedly) eliminate discrimination re pre-existing conditions? What is the exact mechanism of this? What if the policies offered are unaffordable?

What goes into effect immediately?

Ok admittedly I have a lot more questions! But I'm researching a few at a time. After all, I'm ill myself, and right now in a huge mess because I can't afford my Medicare copays (a problem I do not think this bill addresses is the lack of access of the disabled under age 65 to Medigap policies.)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Support The Medicare You Can Buy Into Act

The health care bill? Well...it's complicated. I hope to get some sort of compilation of info up on this blog today. In the meantime. for the legally educated or the simply courageous: you can read the bill here.

And I'm hoping Congressman Grayson won't mind me copying a mass mailing I received from him which makes an appeal for expansion of Medicare:

In 1968, a ten-year-old boy had to go to the hospital four times a week for treatment. Without that treatment, he had trouble breathing, and he felt like he was suffocating. Because he was suffocating.

His health care was covered by his parents' health insurance. But then they lost their jobs. They were worried about how they would pay the rent. He was worried about whether he would live or die.

How can we let a 10-year-old think about such things? Whether you are Democratic or Republican, left-wing or right-wing, liberal or libertarian, you know in your heart that that's wrong. And it's what you know in your heart, your empathy, that makes you human.

I was that 10-year-old boy. And I haven't forgotten.

That's why I support universal, comprehensive and affordable health care for all American. For you. For me. And for sure, for my five young children, and yours, too. The supposed "sins" of joblessness, homelessness and poverty, those "sins" of the parents, should never descend on the children.

I'm fighting for a decent life for all, especially our children. That's why I voted yes on today's health care reform bill. It's an historic first step. Historic.

But we're not done. The framework for a comprehensive health care system is in place. Now we must finish the job.

Our Medicare You Can Buy Into Act now has over 80 cosponsors in the House and over 40,000 citizen cosponsors at WeWantMedicare.com. It's a simple bill, to let you and me buy into Medicare. You want it, you buy it, you got it.


Let's do it,

Rep. Alan Grayson

[ Paid For By The Committee To Elect Alan Grayson
http://www.graysonforcongress.com ]

Friday, March 12, 2010

Calling All Californians Tired Of Endless State Budget Crises

It is now too easy for a minority to hold up passage of budget/revenue bills. The wasted time results in enormous costs to the taxpayer as well as bringing chaos to the state economy. Majority rule is normal, fair, and efficient. Requiring 2/3 to agree for budget passage is a burden shared by only a very few other states (Arkansas and Rhode Island), states whose budgets are nowhere near the size and complexity of California's.

Go HERE, to Californians For Democracy, to help get budgeting sanity on the ballot.

We have one of the highest-paid legislatures in the nation. It's time we have them doing more than bicker and stalemate.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

How The Other Half, Oops I Mean The Top 400, Live

Their income goes way up while their taxes go way down. What I don't understand is why about half of the U.S. is cheering this ripoff and begging for more. Frankly, I don't think a lot of people know about this and other economic indications of their being trampled upon. It's not on Fox News--Rupert Murdoch isn't hurting for $ so why should he care?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

"Move Your Money"

Many years ago, my father worked in a bank. After he died, my mother worked in banks for many years. So I didn't grow up seeing bankers as evil...and certainly not necessarily wealthy! The greedy overpaid mess that Wall Street became was pretty far removed from our middle class life, which started to become struggling middle class when the savings and loan crisis hit in the '80s.

Anyway, this was an interesting discussion regarding banks of today and I thought I would post it here.

About Me

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An undergrad economics degree was all I could afford. Alas and alack, it did not guarantee me regular meals.

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Except where individually noted, photos for this blog were taken by xbeepx .