The False Promise Of Privatization.

Since Ronald Reagan, Republicans have promoted the privatization of government services as the solution to all economic problems. They have long wanted to privatize Social Security and Medicare as a method of killing these so-called entitlements. They would like to privatize the postal service. Under Republican administrations, they have already privatized prisons, much of the military, even intelligence-gathering operations. And, at the state level, they propose to privatize highway rest stops and state parks.

The belief is that corporations are always able to do things better, and for less cost, than the government.

Well, let’s examine the concept. Had Social Security been privatized in 2008, most people would have lost large portions of their investments with the crash of the stock markets. Private contractors for the military have bilked taxpayers out of hundreds of billions of dollars in Afghanistan and Iraq. And the recent escape by three murderers in Arizona occurred due to negligence at a for-profit prison.

Want more?

Then how would you feel about the sale of naming rights for the Grand Canyon or Yosemite? The sponsoring corporation could place its logo at the base of the canyon or the base of the falls. And why stop there? All park attendants could wear logos on their backs. There could be billboards for the corporate sponsors everywhere within the park borders. All highways and roads could become toll roads with a series of corporate logos replacing the white dotted center lines. Interstate rest stops could be turned over to fast food corporations and gas stations with pay toilets. All police squad cars could have corporate logos replacing the shields on the doors. And all 911 calls could be routed to call centers in India or the Philippines where the caller is put on hold for 20 minutes.

And once the corporations realize they have control of the business, prices will go up to pay six-or-seven-figure bonuses to the executives and dividends to shareholders.

The point is, corporations are in business to make money and they’re only responsible to their shareholders while government entities are non-profit and report to you. And, as for the claim that corporations are less bureaucratic than government, anyone who has ever worked for a large corporation or tried to get a claim paid by a large insurance company can tell you that’s simply not true.

Republicans Offer Dirty Tricks Instead Of Ideas.

Ever since Tricky Dick Nixon and his Watergate crew, the Republican Party has seemed fascinated with gaining unfair advantage through political stunts. For many years, the party and its allies have created a series of shadow groups as a way of getting around campaign finance laws. Such shadowy organizations as the Cato Institute, the Goldwater Group, American FreedomWorks, 60-Plus, American Enterprise Foundation, etc., etc. have all spent millions to attack Democratic candidates.

In 2004, Republicans used just such a group to put together the so-called “Swift Boat” commercial questioning Sen. John Kerry’s status as a bona fide war hero. In 2008, with the help of Fox Noise, they trotted out a series of accusations and false controversies about then-Senator Obama to upset his election chances. And, in this election cycle, Republicans have resorted to vilifying minorities such as Latinos and Muslims in an attempt to frighten voters.

The same kinds of tricks occur on the state and local levels, too. For instance, in Arizona, Republicans recruited homeless streetpeople to run as Green Party candidates in hopes of splitting the progressive vote. And, in my small community, Republicans placed signs next to the Democratic Election Headquarters, took photos of their juvenile handiwork (with apologies to juveniles) then removed the signs themselves and, accompanied by police and a reporter, accused Democrats of stealing them.

Although I’m sure there are a few, I can think of no such instances of Democratic tomfoolery.

If Republican candidates are so great for our nation, why do they have to resort to chicanery to win? Shouldn’t they be able to win elections based on ideas, instead?

Beware The “Pledge To America”

Republicans have just announced their new “Pledge to America” in an attempt to persuade independent voters to put them back in power.

Among other things, they promise to repeal “Obamacare” (leaving 33 million Americans without access to health care), reduce the deficit (which was largely created by Bush and Reagan), cut taxes (for corporations and the wealthy) and cut the size of government (so more Republican-led corporations can get government contracts to provide services at higher cost). They also pledge to cut all government funding for abortions (as if such a thing still existed).

What they fail to mention is that they also intend to privatize or eliminate Social Security (because homeless seniors are so entertaining), eliminate Medicare (because funding health care for those who are 65-plus is obviously a waste of money), eliminate unemployment insurance (if workers were any good, they wouldn’t be laid off), and ban gay marriage (only heterosexual Christian Americans should enjoy the full privileges of citizenship).

Before you join Republicans in taking the pledge, remember what happened the last time they were in charge. They immersed the nation in an unnecessary war costing more than $3 trillion.  And their policies of deregulation led to massive deficits, a run-up in oil prices, an ecological disaster in the Gulf, and the collapse of financial institutions which created the worst economy since the 1930s.

Based on those facts alone, I suggest we all take a different pledge – to never vote for a Republican again!

Tax Cuts As An Economic Stimulus.

It’s one of the most important issues that will be debated in the coming months. Democrats, including President Obama, want to let the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest two percent of our population expire. They claim that we can no longer afford these tax cuts and letting them expire would reduce the deficit and create more fairness for the middle class.

Republicans, on the other hand, claim that the majority of those making $250,000 or more per year are small business owners and that raising their taxes would cost us thousands of jobs. Indeed, they would not only make the Bush tax cuts permanent. They would cut taxes even further as a stimulus for creating jobs.

There are a couple of things I find troubling with the Republican logic. Most small business owners make far less than $250,000 per year. And those who make more than $250,000 likely won’t spend the extra money on their businesses. As a small business owner, I know that’s just not how things work. While some will put the extra money back into their business, most will invest the money in securities, save it or spend it on themselves.

But don’t just take my word for it. Let’s look at how most economists view tax cuts as a form of stimulus: They estimate that tax cuts have a return of 32 cents of economic growth for every dollar spent. On the other hand, programs like food stamps (which many Republicans oppose) have much higher rates of return. It’s estimated that such programs generate $1.71 of economic growth for every dollar spent. And, according to Mark Zandi, John McCain’s economic adviser during the 2008 presidential campaign, those unemployment benefits that Republican teabaggers so oppose are estimated to generate $1.61 in economic growth for each dollar spent.

As the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center put it: ” The tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 provided much less stimulus to the economy than other policies of equal cost would have. The underlying reason is that although the tax cuts were well-timed to provide a short-run economic stimulus, they were poorly designed for this task.”

They did, however, provide a nice windfall for the wealthiest Americans while adding billions to our deficit.

The Politics of Fear.

Following World War II, Gustave Gilbert, a German-speaking intelligence officer and psychologist, was granted access to all of the prisoners held in the Nuremberg jail. During one of his conversations with Nazi leader, Hermann Goering, Gustave said, “I did not think that the common people are very thankful for leaders who bring them war and destruction.”

“Why, of course, the people don’t want war,” Goering responded. “Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? It is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship.”

Gustave countered, “There is one difference. In a democracy the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars.” “Oh, that is all well and good,” said Goering, “But, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.”

You could easily see this philosophy at work in Bush’s run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq when those opposed to the war were questioned for their patriotism, and our long-time ally, France, was vilified for not participating in the war.

And today, in the midst of mid-term elections, we can see Goering’s principle at work again. Despite much evidence to the contrary, Republicans like John “McNasty” McCain and Jan “Clueless” Brewer have focused anger on Mexican immigrants, blaming them for everything from crime to unemployment to our budget woes.

Led by Fox Noise Channel, Republicans have created a similar right wing outcry against Muslims for daring to propose a community center near Ground Zero. The ensuing “debate” has fueled anti-Muslim fervor across the nation, resulting in the arson of a Tennessee mosque and wingnuts calling for an “exception” to our Constitutional right to freedom of religion.

Conservatives have fueled anti-Obama hatred with vile emails accusing him of being an un-American-Socialist-Communist-Nazi-racist-Muslim. They have falsely accused him of banning prayer in military academies, of forcing the removal of crosses from military cemetaries, of promoting Muslim holidays…the list is too lengthy to continue.

As a result of this nonsense, it appears that Republicans are poised to win many more seats in Congress despite policies that led to two wars, an economic collapse and the raping of the middle class by the wealthiest two percent of this nation. I guess the lesson is that it’s easy to win elections by creating hatred toward minorities. It’s much more difficult to win elections on ideas and relevant issues.

If Democrats Renew Bush Tax Cuts, They Deserve To Lose Congress!

Yesterday, on the McClatchy website, there was a story that many Democrats are leaning against repealing the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. The reason? Despite the fact that renewing the tax cuts will add billions to the deficit, some Democrats are worried that it will make their re-election more difficult.

So they’d rather cause long-term damage to our nation than risk losing their seats in Congress? Really?

If that’s how they feel, it’s time for them to go! Their attitude only proves what many progressives have thought for some time. A large number of Democrats are gutless wimps who cower at the first challenge from a Republican. Yet these same Democrats speak in general terms about the damage conservative Republicans are doing to this nation.

Personally, I’m sick of it! I’m sick and tired of the Grand Old Party of Liars who represent big business. I’m sick of the Fox Noise machine. I’m sick of the “I’ve got mine, you can’t have yours” whiners otherwise known as the tea party movement. I’m tired of the greed and influence of large corporations. I’m tired of obscenely wealthy conservative puppet masters like the Koch brothers who attempt to control our elections through donations to “think” tanks like the American Enterprise Institute, Americans for Prsoperity, the Cato Institute, FreedomWorks, etc.

But most of all, I’m sick of the cowards who give the Democratic Party a bad name.

More Email Lies About Obama.

I know. This is sort of like announcing “dog bites man.” But the concerted effort by the right to discredit President Obama needs to be addressed. For more than two years, emails have circulated blaming Obama for a variety of unpatriotic and even sacreligious acts. Of course, they’re not true. But that’s never stopped the wingnuts.

The real problem is that intelligent, well-meaning individuals receive the emails, read them and, like sheep, follow the email instructions to pass the email along to everyone they know.

The most recent example I’ve received is an email entitled “Snopes Confirms.” It contains a message that President Obama has directed the U.S. Postal Service to remember and honor the EID Muslim holiday season with a new commemorative 44 cent first class holiday postage stamp.” And it encourages readers to boycott the stamp and to “pass this along to every patriotic American you know to get the word out.” Of course, some of my friends did just that.

The problem with the email is that it is only partially true. There is a stamp honoring the Muslim holidays but President Obama had absolutely nothing to do with it. If any of the readers had been curious enough to check Snopes or, they would have discovered that the stamp was first issued in 2001, and that President Bush encouraged Americans to purchase the stamp in order to reach out to the patriotic American Muslim community and let them know that we don’t hold them responsible for the actions of a few extremists.

Of course, that didn’t make news.

But the mere fact that the stamp was re-issued while President Obama is in office is used by the right as “proof” that Obama is a Christian-hating, anti-American Muslim. This sort of thing has to stop. Americans who receive this trash must take the time to check the validity of such emails and respond to the sender with the truth as I did. Now doing so may have cost me a friend. But if so, I don’t care. After all, what kind of friends mindlessly pass along information that isn’t true? Or worse yet, what kind of friends assume you believe as they do and share such evil, hate-filled messages as this?