How Are We Gonna Pay For This?

There are so many arguments from the right and the Clintonistas that Bernie Sanders’ plan is too expensive to implement and I have to say this about Bernie, he could be doing a better job of explaining it.

But consider this; right now, between the tax havens of the top 10% of our country and the off-shore accounts of major corporations, which allow them to pay zero in taxes, tens and possibly hundreds of billions of dollars are kept out of the pool of tax dollars. On the other end of the spectrum, some 10% of our country’s workforce is unemployed and maybe 20% are working part-time or for minimum wage or both. Every time we put someone back to work, expand their hours and raise their minimum wage, those folks contribute not just to their own families, but to the country in terms of tax dollars withheld.

It moves money from the rich and big corporations back through the system and skims some off for taxes for the programs which could benefit all of us. Combine this with a raise in income tax on the top earners in the country, closing certain loopholes on the taxing of dividend income, and making corporations pay their taxes instead of hiding in the Cayman Islands, and there would be more than enough in the tax coffers to make a single payer system work.


“The Cause is Right and the Time is Now”

We can go back and forth indefinitely as we try to decide who should be the next President of the United States and we are each entitled to our opinions and our favorites. In the end, Bernie Sanders may or may not become the next President. We may or we may not need Bernie Sanders, the person. But undoubtedly, we need what Bernie Sanders stands for and has stood for and acted upon his entire life. Our politics ARE a reflection of our humanity and sadly, in the last thirty some years those politics have been anything but humane (from either party). If not now, when? As Nina Turner says in the clip below, “the cause is right and the time is now.” Those of us who lived through the tail end of the 1960’s and saw the promise for America that was embodied by Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. know too well of the opportunity that was missed.


Not a Ringing Endorsement for Hillary

What interests me here starts with the apologist tone of the article. It is as if the author is saying, “Surrender all hope, ye who enter here, and just vote for Hillary so we can get this over with.” I don’t sense much enthusiasm for Ms. Clinton and, I think, with good reason. She is an establishment candidate, just like Cruz and Rubio on the other side of the fence. And a vote for an establishment candidate remains a vote to give the establishment carte blanche to keep doing what they have been doing to us since the late 1950’s.

If there is one thing on which we all (both sides of the political hedge) seem to be able to agree, it is that there are still a lot of problems in this country, be they the sorry state of the economy as regards the poor, working and middle classes, the spiraling costs of health care and college education, the extrication from and payment for two decades of pointless war in the middle east, our staggering national debt, the penury in which many Americans are held by the banking and lending practices of Wall Street, and a political gulf between the parties that has rendered Washington all but useless. At this point, an establishment candidate, an establishment solution, is just not going to cut it.

My mantra comes from Albert Einstein, who once said that “problems could not be solved at the same level of awareness that created them.” But here, the author is asking us to solve the problems by electing one of the key individuals who influenced their very creation. Is Dr. Frankenstein the one to kill the monster? Or do the townspeople rise up, grab their torches and set things right?

If Donald Trump gains the nomination of the Republican party, as it seems now he must, he will defeat Hillary Clinton handily in a general election. Look at how he wages his clownish campaign. His attacks on Rubio and Cruz will be turned on Hillary with claims that she is a liar, that she is dishonest, that she used the State Department to feather her own nest, and that her voting record and policies in government speak to her poor judgement and level of failure as an administrator. He will go on the offensive, day one, and will not let up. And, right or wrong, Hillary does have a problem in that a majority of Americans believe that she is a liar, that she is dishonest, and that she is a part of creating the problems that have escalated the mess that is the middle east. Trump will only play to that underlying sensibility and, with the help of the Koch brothers and Republican Super Pacs, he will slam dunk poor Hillary.

From my perspective, only Bernie Sanders can demonstrate that he has been a long time success as an outsider in government. His record in the House and Senate is one which will galvanize the left and appeal to the moderate voters of both parties. His track record of true accomplishment, human decency and the fidelity with which he has expressed and acted upon his beliefs over the entirety of his political career show Trump for just what he is, a loudmouth buffoon and ignoramus (Trump still wins the loudmouth buffoon and ignoramus vote).

And all of the paid for pundits, perhaps including the author of this article, who claim that Bernie’s proposals are not workable, are doing so because they understand that those proposals are workable if we make some fundamental changes to how our country does business. If we would stop being the world’s policeman, make large corporations and the wealthy elite pay their fair share of taxes, break the stranglehold of Wall Street and big Pharma / big Healthcare, more money would be in circulation among more people with better paying jobs, also then paying more taxes. An economic equilibrium would be reached (and yes, the rich would still be rich) and most worrying to the far right and the establishment in general, the voting American would see that we could have had this all along. Bernie is the FDR of his generation, willing and able to jump start the economy, put people back to work, and spread the wealth around in a manner that allows all of us to make our contribution. That approach pulled us out of the Great Depression and will do the same now. And the entrenched “powers that be” on both sides of the aisle will be out looking for work.


Branding Bernie Points To Limitations of Republican Thought

Lately, the Republicans and, to some extent, the Clinton camp, have taken great pains to opine negatively about Bernie Sanders and his brand of Democratic Socialism.  Their rather ham-handed approach is to call him a Socialist but paint him as a Communist.

One problem that the right, in particular, seems to have with this issue is that they believe that a political system is an all or nothing choice. That “either / or,” “black / white” mentality is something philosophically that dominates the thought process of the western world. We have many socialist programs in this country on which we depend, social security, medicare, public schools, and the interstate highway system to name just four of them.

The idea that the government’s task is to implement policies that benefit all of us at a fair cost to all of us, is the core of Democratic Socialism. That is a very different state from Communism, where the state owns and apportions out everything. Shall we abandon our socialist programs entirely, absolve corporate America from any shred of obligation to paying their share and elect a leadership whose sole function is to find ways to legalize the rape of our economy by the wealthiest class? If so, go on and vote for a Republican, either a fascist (Trump) or an Evangelical imbecile (Cruz). I do not envy your choice.



Disabusing the Disinformants

The disinformation crowd is at it again, spreading a lot of nonsense about Bernie Sanders’ health plan for America.  Gotta look a little deeper folks. Bernie Sanders’ plan has been published, complete with the scale of tax increases.

Remember, there is a huge difference from the ACA, which started its life as a single payer system concept, but was changed due to pressure in the House and Senate to preserve the Health Insurance companies. So, the ACA really became a subsidized health insurance platform which did not prohibit the insurance companies from raising rates (or deductibles and out of pocket costs). Now, everyone is obligated to pay for insurance and the costs continue to rise.

Based on the numbers released by Bernie Sanders’ camp, the smallest tax increase will be on families earning 200,000 dollars or less, two percent. Two percent of 200,000 is $4000 in tax increases, but you would no longer pay for private health insurance at all.  In my case, I have a wife and two kids and our combined health insurance premiums for a basic HMO come to just over $12,000 a year. So, my family would be looking at an $8000 savings.

Here is one thing I’d hope you all take careful note of and it is a little language related gimmick that often goes unnoticed. The Republicans and Hilary Clinton continue to say that what we all need is affordable health insurance. Only Bernie Sanders says that we need affordable health CARE. When you are sick or injured and need to go to a doctor, you need health care, not the card in your wallet. If health CARE was affordable, you would not need health INSURANCE. When I was younger, we all had catastrophic health insurance and paid doctors out of pocket. It was manageable. Today, due to the political clout of the health insurance and big pharma companies, costs have skyrocketed, allowing for such whopping profits, that those same companies can afford top shelf lobbyists to keep the ball rolling. Isn’t it time that WE stood up to these thieves and ran them out of town and out of government?


Observations from the Democratic Debate

A few observations from last night’s debate. First, there was a very telling moment when Hillary Clinton said (and I paraphrase) that her plan would be to fix the problems in the country from within the existing system. As we know, Bernie comes from a point of view that there is far too much corruption in the system (campaign financing, health care debacle, economic disintegration of the middle and working classes) to fix it properly from within. In his view, we must make significant changes to the system that IS, his “political revolution.”

I think he might make that position clearer through the analogy of fixing a car (the car being the country, moving forward). Hillary wants to fix the car with parts that are known to be broken, while Bernie is calling for new parts. What is the evidence that the parts are broken? The economic disintegration of the middle and working classes is the evidence that the government is not and has not been working for ALL of us for quite a long time. The influence of billionaires on the political process is evidence as well.

I often quote Albert Einstein who once said that “problems can not be solved at the same level of awareness that created them.” Hillary (and the rest of Washington’s establishment) is content with that same level of awareness and, as a result, no progress is ever made in terms of solving our problems.

Second, we should take notice that Hillary makes many assertions that she will stand up to Wall Street, that she will strive to fix the broken health care system, that she will work to make college more affordable for our young people. But talk is cheap. She has been a figure in the public eye since the 1990’s and has had ample opportunity to actually achieve some results. I don’t see any major legislation with her name attached to it. I only see a series of political scandals following her family.

Third, I am beginning to think that the Washington establishment looks on the country as if from the walls of the Bastille, and we are the rabble attempting to break in. Their thinking is that if they throw us a bone, we’ll quiet down and they can get back to pillaging our economy from within. Hillary is a liberal, probably a moderate, doubtfully a progressive. But most significantly, she is as establishment as establishment gets, she is another broken part on the car.

Back in the 60’s, we used to say, “If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.” She is part of the problem and her assertions that she is better qualified to lead us because of her “insider” experience of Washington, only confirms this.

Lastly, a point of difference between Hillary and Bernie with which Bernie has been hitting home, has to do with the money that Hillary has been taking in speakers fees and in contributions from Wall Street. One point he could be making is this, not only has Goldman Sachs contributed heavily to Hillary’s campaign, they are also one of Ted Cruz’s largest contributors. Think about that. If Goldman Sachs believed that Hillary was the best candidate to run our government, that same belief would exclude Ted Cruz, a very different candidate from Ms. Clinton. If they believed that Ted was the man, Hillary would not merit their contributions. The only way to understand this is that Goldman Sachs does not care who wins the election. They only care that they own a piece of that candidate. Taking large sums of money from institutions that are playing both sides against the middle, strikes me as a form of political prostitution. There is something inherently evil in this.


Pulling No Punches

Bernie does not pull any punches. He names names. In this case, 18 CEO’s who were signees to a letter to the Wall Street Journal lecturing America about deficit reduction and the need to cut Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security are identified as the culprits behind the economic collapse and the recipients of trillions of dollars in bail-outs and hundreds of billions in tax refunds when they paid no corporate taxes whatsoever. And note, three of the eighteen CEO’s are the heads of Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase and Time Warner, all three of which are to be found in the top seven contributors to Hilary Clinton’s campaign. Read this for yourself and follow the money. Then, pass your knowledge on.


Casting my lot with Bernie


From a lifelong Republican who has officially given up on his party and changed his affiliation last week, Bernie has my vote. Albert Einstein once said that problems could not be solved at the same level of awareness that they were created. In a way, that is similar to saying that insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome. Regardless of our party affiliation and socio-political bent, I don’t think it is a stretch to say that we all see the need for change (unless we are among that 1/10th of the wealthiest 1%). Other than Bernie Sanders, I do not see a viable candidate from either party who represents any real hope of change to the politics as usual of Washington. I would ask of all my countrymen to do their homework, search their hearts, hold the would be candidates feet to the fire of truth, and do what you can, one vote at a time, to change the direction in which our country is headed.