Sunday, October 27, 2013

Who Made That?

Most of us can't even imagine the size of Container Ships they make nowadays, suffice it to say, they will not go through the Panama Canal.  International trade is very big business and we are the largest customer.  Almost everything we buy from art paint to toothpaste is "made in China".  I am protesting this in my house.  Over 600 dogs are dead now and those are just the ones who made it to the vet!  They still skin dogs alive there because it is too much trouble to kill them first.  If you buy a furry toy for Christmas the odds are pretty good that it came from a dog skinned alive in China!  That is just disgusting!
   It is sort of fun finding things made in America and we still make a few things.  Tom's Toothpaste is made in Maine!!!  Crest and all the "other brands" will NOT tell you where they are made!  Dog food and the poisonous dog treats will say "distributed" by some American Company (like Purina!!!) but will NOT say where it is made or from where they got the ingredients!  Doesn't say?  I won't buy it.
   Last year I mostly bought everyone American Made socks for Christmas!  Oh yeah, they weren't ten for ten bucks but they were Great Socks and a year and 50 washes later, they are still great socks!
It is really easier than you think to find items "made in USA", especially over the Internet.  There is Amazon where I buy almost everything now and lots of other places.  Just search for what you want and specify "made in USA".
   Just NOW the FDA is saying, yeah, maybe we should look into what is put in dog food!  Canada is way ahead of us and has the highest standards in the world (according to Petsmart) on what is allowed in pet food.
   I have always been careful and aware of what I add to my garden soil.  Basically, the plants eat the soil and I eat the plants!  I am eating what is in the soil.  No poisons, not even "mild" ones, no sprays, no chemical fertilizers, no magic potions!   Big Agriculture has destroyed the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico with the chemical run offs.  I don't want to do that to my garden and what I eat.
    Food should be healthy, even for my dog!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Where is it made?

I have written about Dog Food before but it is worth one more post.  On CNN News last night there was a story about the death of over 500 dogs and over 3,000 getting sick.  Probably far more that went unreported.  The culprit this time was chicken jerky made in China with god knows what in it.  Something sweet and deadly, destroying the kidneys and shutting down the system.
   It is difficult to find Dog Food made locally and hard to find made in USA dog food.  Canada has an even higher standard for the ingredients than we do.  China apparently has none.  Even Brands you think you could trust, like Purina are sourced from China.  Most dog food will not mention where it was made or from where they found their ingredients.
   Interesting, toothpaste is the same way, doesn't say where it was made for most brands!  I wonder what we are putting in our mouth?  One company in China was known to put antifreeze in  their toothpaste because it tastes sweeter!
   We are what we eat, huh?  and if we eat poison or give it to our pets, they die.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Now What Do We Do?

Finally our little revolution is over!  No one was shot, no snipers in the street and no one in jail.  Yes, this is a great country and although we move slowly we don't shoot each other in the streets.  Pretty scary and pretty stupid and costing at least 24 Billion Dollars.  Why did it have to be this way?
Mostly because we don't listen and we don't really understand our own Political System.
What would have happened if a few Teabaggers in the Republican controlled House had gotten their way?  It would have established a horrible precedent.  Next time it could be a Democratically controlled House and a Republican President and a few members could demand a 20% increase in Corporate Taxes in return for raising the debt ceiling.  Hijacking the government this way is not a good idea.
Now maybe we could have a real discussion?  with no threats? and with an agreed upon vocabulary? and an understanding that what is good for the Nation might not be good for a particular person?  It is not or should not be a difficult process.  It requires a vision and some hard work.  How do you want the USA to be in ten or twenty years and what can we afford?  How can we make improvements along the way?  A lot of it is simple math.  At the moment Health Care is our country costs 18% of the GNP.  The GOAL of the Affordable Care Act (let's call it that) is to reduce this percentage to 14% and expand the system to more people.  It will work or it won't.  We can improve upon it or we can hinder it but the goal itself is admirable.  Other countries can do it, maybe we should look into that more?
About The National Debt.  It totals now about the same as all the goods and services we create (our GNP) in ONE year.  Compared to other countries it is a low percentage.  The National Debt is not just the money we owe, it is also the money we are obligated by law to pay.  It is lent to us at less than 1% interest.  It is a pretty good deal even if we don't like it.  It is pretty cheap money, especially if we used it to grow and not to just survive.  It would be worth it to rebuild our infrastructure and industry.  Clearly when you borrow money you need a plan to pay it back.  At the moment we do not have that kind of tax structure.  Federal Taxes are the lowest they have been in 60 years!  We need to return to the Reagan Tax base.  We did most of our infrastructure building when Eisenhower was President and had then a tax system that went as high as 90%.  General Motors paid taxes then.  They do not now.
I have a problem with people who take both sides.  Accepting Medicare and against National Health.
Accepting Social Security and against a Government "Safety Net".  Accepting Unemployment, food stamps, housing assistance, free Medical at the emergency room and against Government.
It should  not be a difficult process to make our lives better and those of our neighbors, inclusive rather than exclusive.
I think members of Congress should lose their Party Affiliations when they step into office.  Leave the hat at the door and work for the American People.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Sometimes I Wonder...

...What would happen if we turned this whole mess of governing this country over to Walmart?
Walmart is Big Business, Huge Business in fact and not all bad at all.  In fact they have single handedly brought down the price of prescription drugs and other pharmaceuticals had to match their prices.  They have low cost health clinics in many of their stores and they employ millions of people, even sourcing locally wherever they can.  They have helped many small businesses expand their production to become suppliers for Walmart.  They know how to get things done.
   It couldn't be much worse than the system we have now.  We have people in Congress who haven't a clue and let's face it, we don't have a strong dynamic leader who is good at manipulation.  We are going nowhere fast or maybe even back in time.  We have lost 30 Billion Dollars so far with this Government Shutdown and that will be nothing compared to not raising the National Debt.  It is clear to most people that raising this National Debt does NOT increase what we owe.  It only allows us to pay what we have signed on to pay.  It is NOT more bills.  It is money to pay existing bills.  Congress can't seem to get it right.  Without raising the debt there could be a 30% across the board cut in everything, including Social Security, Medicare and our Military.  
   I doubt if Walmart works that way.  I would think they borrow Billions and allow their increased sales to pay their bills.  That is how most businesses work.  In fact money is pretty cheap these days and we should consider borrowing an extra Trillion or more and seriously bring us into this 21st Century  Serious expansion of our infrastructure and industry.  Now would be a good time.
Walmart would do that.
   Just the threat of default has hurt our economy and that of the rest of the world.   The Stock Market is falling every day.  The last time this happened we lost our AAAA+ credit rating and it will be lowered
again.  Like a personal credit rating, easy to lose and difficult to build back again.  Funny, Walmart has a better credit rating that USA!  and we all know that Apple Computer has more money!
   Maybe it is time to give up and turn this mess over to private industry?  I know if we did that at least a lot of people would be fired!  That is the first thing that Private Industry does:  trim the fat, the unproductive, people who can't play well on the team.
   It is all nuts!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Why is Big Business in Favor of Socialism?

Wow, that seems like such a contradictory question but I am afraid it is true!  In the "old days", the '50's and '60's and for hundreds of years before that when society didn't have much of a safety net, business, big and small had to foot the entire bill.  There was no public housing or food stamps and if you hired someone you had to pay them enough to live or they would simply die or move on.  The meanest businesses might have had barracks for their workers and pay barely enough to get by but the really successful businesses paid more than that.  The best, of course was Henry Ford who was famous for paying his workers enough that they could afford to buy the cars they were making.  Somewhere along the line, maybe beginning with Walmart, "Big Business" discovered that they could pay less than a living wage if society would make up for the difference.  "Society" is us, the taxpayer and Big Business loves subsidized housing and food stamps and other government hand outs.  Keeping the workers happy and business doesn't even have to pay them enough to live on!  There are three costs of doing business:
materials, labor and taxes.  The way to reduce your labor costs is to let the government pick up the slack.  Don't ever accuse Big Business of not being smart!
   Under our present system, most Americans who have Health Insurance (over 25 Million have none!)
get it through their place of employment.   This has become a horrible burden for business and puts us at a competitive disadvantage with the economics of the rest of the world.  It adds over $1,300 to the price of an American Automobile.  Many smaller businesses simply can't afford it at all.  Over the past several years they have been dealing with this problem by reducing benefits, increasing co-pays, increasing deductibles or, when they can get away with it, simply by dropping out of providing insurance entirely.   Now, if you were "Big Business" what would YOU want to do?
   Like any good mystery novel, sometimes you can get to the truth by following the money and that doesn't mean it's "bad".  Sometimes it is the reasonable thing to do.
   Clearly you cannot open the Government by funding the laws you approve of and declining those you disagree with as our House seems to think.  Yes, it is in the Constitution that they control the purse but it is also in the Constitution that they are to enforce the laws.  The "power of funding" is over Policy, not laws!  and was Intended to prevent International shenanigans single handedly placed upon us by the White House.  It was never, this law I like and that law I don't.  What a horrible precedent that would be!
   Big Business, a lot of Small Businesses, even The Chamber of Commerce are jumping the ship!  For the last hundred years these organizations have supported the Republican Position and now they are bailing out!  I am glad they have sense but  feel sorry about what has become of the Republican Party, hijacked as it were by The Teabaggers!  It was under Republican Administration, under Eisenhower when we had a massive infrastructure building in this country, under President Nixon that we opened the doors to China and the Environmental Protection Agency was created and while Reagan was President taxes were raised, the debt ceiling was raised six times, the Berlin Wall came down and the "Cold War" ended!  Those are the Republicans I want.  Where did they go?

Saturday, October 12, 2013

I've Got Mine!

So far I have not collected a dime off Medicare although I have been on their rolls for about two years.
We have had this National Health for older people since 1965 and I have paid more into this system than Social Security.  Can you imagine the price of Private Insurance at an older age with all the aches and pains and the pre existing conditions of just having grown older?  It is about $1,200 per month, if you can get it.  Most Americans are happy to have Medicare, finally to retire and get out of paying such high prices for medical insurance.  It is a great system.  Although as a whole the USA ranks low for quality health care in the world, after we reach 65 and get on National Health, we rank #1.
   I, personally, have no need for it.  Now at least.  I am glad it is there.  It is reassuring that it will be there for when I need it.  I have been to foreign countries where the older people are pretty much thrown to the streets, beggars in rags.  They say a society can be judged by how well they treat their elders and the children, the very young, the old, the weakest among them.
   I sense a certain meanness to people who would not expand our National Health.  We have proof that it works for those using Medicare, so "it won't work" is not much of an argument.  We know it works for Veterans.  I don't understand the apprehension of expanding this system.
   The system we have is broken.  Businesses can not afford to provide health insurances for their workers.  Hospitals can not afford to provide free medical emergency services for those who drop in and use the hospitals are their primary care.  Health care in USA is 18% of our Gross Domestic Product, the highest of any nation.
   "Obamacare" is far from perfect and the policies that are being offered are not very good.  In fact, for this first year, I have advised my own daughters to pay the fine rather than to sign up for a nonfunctional insurance policy, but I am glad there is a fine to pay.  I am glad we have started this process.  It is the Law now and I am glad of that.  The issue now should be how to improve it.
    There is a huge Philosophical Issue here:  Individual Freedom Vs Societal Responsibility and it is OK to take a stand on this issue but you can't go back and forth.  If you are against National Health you should burn your Medicare card!  Do not go to the emergency room without cash in hand or a private insurance card.  Do not take prescription drugs that were developed with Government funding.  Go live on the pond like a hermit and I will respect that position.  To accept aid from living in a society and not wanting to share this with others is just plain mean.
   I wouldn't mind the other extreme, seriously.  I have never received food stamps, unemployment, housing assistance, free medical care or any other government service.  I would have to give up my monthly Social Security Check and that would be difficult.  After just four years I am receiving more than I have ever put in.  You are too, that is the way it works.  It would be a harsh world.  Beggars and cripples and the ill on the streets.  I would probably become a gun advocate and live in fear.  I've got mine and have to live out my days worrying about someone taking it away from me.  That wouldn't be nice.  I can imagine a better world.  Why not work in that direction?

Friday, October 11, 2013

I am Against "The Affordable Care Act"

Yes, I really am!  Not because it is forced upon us, many good things are forced upon us because it is the price of living in a society.  I don't want the independence and isolation of failed States like Somalia.  The Affordable Care Act is a health system instigated and supported by the Insurance Companies of America and it is purely for their benefit.  Have you read any of the Policies that are being offered?  They are all bad policies, no wonder our Congress wants to be excluded!  Most of them have a $5,000 deductible (or even more!) and 20% or more copay!  This means they won't pay a dime until you come up with five thousand dollars FIRST! and 20% each time!  Lots of people can't do this and if you don't it won't cost the insurance company a dime!
   I have Private Insurance and it costs $1,200 per month!  That is a lot of money and I don't pay it all.
Lucky me, the company where my wife works pays $1,000 per month and we pay the $200.  But someone is still paying and many companies simply can't afford the thousand or so each month for their employees.  my wife's company charges higher prices for their services so in reality, YOU are paying for my insurance and I thank you for that!
   I had Cancer about four years ago, stage "4" and gone now but at a total cost of $130,000!  20% of that would have cost me $26,000 which I didn't have.  Without this $26,000, under The Affordable Care Act, the insurance companies would pay nothing.  I had good insurance, paid a total of $1,000 and they paid the rest.
   That is what we should all have.   Maybe the Affordable Care Act is a step in the right direction but it is a baby step indeed.  I have many Canadian Cousins and they have real National Health Care there.
One cousin had major back surgery and another had serious cancer treatment and neither had any medical bills to pay!   I would like a system like that.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Sen. Warren on the Shutdown and Why Government Matters

We Are Number 18!

Well, somewhere between 14 and 18 depending on the category.   Right behind Botswana in knowledge of World Events, seriously lacking is Science, Math, History and even Technology.
We might be #1 in Apathy, we really don't give a crap.  We don't read newspapers anymore.  We use News as entertainment and only follow up on what reinforces our beliefs.  We have zero knowledge  of why we believe what we do believe and no curiosity.  Everything is just too much trouble.  We don't even cook any more!
   Do you think there will ever be a "Judgement Day"? and will "I didn't know that"? be a sufficient excuse?
   I am appalled by some people who are against "Big Government", these same people who take advantage of Big Government every single day!  Happy to collect their Unemployment checks, happy to get their primary medical care through the Emergency Room, Happy to collect the monthly Social Security Checks, grateful for subsidized housing and food stamps, eagerly sending their kids to State subsidized schools, flying here and there to Government built airports and on and on using services and benefits we have never paid in full from.  That is a benefit for living in a society.  "Small Government"
is for small dreamers or places like Somalia with no government at all.
   We are being held hostage by a minority and if the debt ceiling is not raised it will be disastrous.  It would establish a horrible precedent, allowing for minority hostile takeovers in the future and it would absolutely destroy the faith in America.  Our money, the dollar is as valuable as the world believes it to be.  It is based on faith and our word, as good as our promise.  It does not have to be the world premiere currency and there are some in the world that would like to see it destroyed.  The Russians,   the oil producing countries, the Teabaggers!
   I wonder whether there is a connection to our being #18 in an information test score throughout the World and the apathy we find ourselves in now?  We don't know enough to give a shit and we just plain can't be bothered.  Heck, we don't even cook any more!  Maybe our time is over?  The Great American Experiment, our exploration of Democracy and being a World leader may be finished.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

All in the Red!

You don't have to believe me when I say how bad it will be to default on our obligations and not raise the debt ceiling.  Look at the Stock Market and don't just look at the Dow Jones Industrial Average, have a look at any other country's stock market.  They are all falling.  The OLD Republican Party, the "Party of Business" would never allow this to happen!  I am beginning to wonder?  If Iran or China or North Korea wanted to really get at us, really destroy us completely, why wouldn't they create the "Tea
Party"?  Are we really so dumb so as to be doing this to ourselves?  These are the White Folk from Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and other Southern States who are doing this to this country.  Not California and illegal immigrants.  Specifically, it is the White People from the Slave States, States which receive the most in Federal Assistance!  There is a downside to Universal Suffrage.  Some people should just not be allowed to vote.  Sometimes what "sounds right" can have horrible consequences.  We have become too lazy and maybe deserving of what is yet to happen. 

Nine Days!

And held hostage by the Southern States!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

It will be exciting!

Wow, Ted Cruz really is out to destroy us and it will be exciting!  Watch the Stock Market Crash!  That will be exciting too!  The 401's and retirement will be worth zip!  Social Security, no those checks won't come and without a budget, no medicare.  No almost nothing!  Think our devalued credit rating can't get lower?  Yes, it can!  If God isn't ready for Armageddon, we will just have to do it ourselves!
Just the THOUGHT of not paying our bills will make the economy grind to a halt!  This is brilliant!  No other nation can defeat us but we will allow Ted Cruz to do it for us!
He is right, you know!  People shouldn't be able to get insurance with preexisting conditions!  and 26 year olds on their parents policy are just plain lazy!  I am against all government interference with our lives!  I vote for an end to Social Security!  an END to Veterans Benefits, and end to medicare and end food stamps and an end to the government building roads and bridges!  Just end government period!
Absolutely NO unemployment!  Paid not to work?  That's crazy!  No government at all.  Period!
Wouldn't that be great?  October 17th will be here sooner than you think!  If you don't express your opinion, someone else will do it for you. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

No Comments Please!

About this shutdown of our Government, we won't have an opinion until it directly affect us personally.
So far it is pretty mild unless you are one of the 800,000 or so government workers told to stay home.
I am reminded of that story "they came for the Jews and I wasn't a Jew so I did nothing".  The Government attempts to make this shutdown as pleasant as possible with few real interruptions.  We still have our military, the police work, the banks are open and, thank God, the Social Security checks still arrive.  At least for now.  This showdown is costing $300 MILLION a day! A Billion Bucks every three days.  But our representatives still get their checks and I still get mine.
   There really should be rules on how to run a government.  Maybe this wouldn't happen with a little foresight.  The arguments will continue until it becomes painful for more people.  That is not likely to happen for another six weeks with the issue of raising the debt ceiling.  That will be the interesting battle.  That is when the checks could stop being printed.  THEN, will you have an opinion?
    Personally, I think this all comes to a head because we have lost the art of negotiation.  In these modern "Twitter times" we have lost the ability to speak to each other. The age of non-reason.
When Ronald Reagan was President the Debt Ceiling was raised SIX times AND taxes were increased.  I want to go back to those Republican Days or the "Clinton Era" when the National Debt was on its way to being erased completely.  Both better times than now.
   The "blame game" is easy to play but clearly it is a game of self destruction.  We can blame the Democrats or the Republicans or the Teaparty, but I really think, "we have met the enemy and he is us".  We don't talk on our front porches any more.