It would seem all is not as it appears in the Mitt Romney fairy tale about his “success” as CEO of the Salt Lake City Olympic Committee. Such a twisted yarn this has become; from his fictional exit as head of Bain Capital to his being the “savior” of the 2002 Salt Lake City Games.
Starting with his supposed exit from Bain to be CEO of the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Committee, how is it that the CEO of a successful company, who owned 100% of a venture capital firm, had nothing to do with the decision-making or policies of this firm? This same company which went from trying to help businesses succeed, to borrowing against assets to profiting from their failure. In addition, this firm actively looked to move manufacturing overseas to countries known for using slave and child labor, one can assume to cut costs and increase profits for its privateer profit-monger partners.
And then this CEO and Chairman of the Board was asked to ride to the “rescue” the 2002 Olympic games. This was in 1999. The “abrupt” departure from the venture capital firm did not allow this shrewd businessman or his many staff, partners, consultants, lawyers, managers, accountants and MBA’s to figure out a way to document his departure.
Evidently, their combined net worth, education and experience did not give them the ability to file a few simple documents correctly. Nor did their business knowledge and success allow them to understand the importance and legality of properly filing forms with the SEC.
Despite this utter lack of professionalism, Mr. Romney was asked to go to Salt Lake City to “rescue” the 2002 Olympic Games. According to many sources the “rescue” was actually a bail-out by our Federal government, as pointed out by Republican Senator John McCain in a speech on September 19, 2000, “However, as outlined, most of the money taken from taxpayers to foot the bill for the Salt Lake games is going to develop, build, and complete major highway and transit improvement projects – “especially those critical to the success of the Olympic Games.” This last phrase is vital to understanding the fleece game being played by cities like Salt Lake...$1.3 billion to Salt Lake City, this is preposterous, and it must stop.”
It would seem the real hero of the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics was President Bill Clinton and the Federal government, at least according to Senator Bill Bennett (R-UT), “In fact, most of the federal money was already in place before Mitt came on, “said Senator Bob Bennett, “The Clinton Administration was completely supportive in saying these are ‘America’s Games,’ we will do whatever we can to make sure they are successful. The one concern I had was whether we would get the same degree of support from the Bush administration, which we did.”
I wonder if a Romney Administration would be as willing to support such an effort. Evidently Mr. Romney thought government spending was a good thing before he thought it was a bad thing: “Recognizing that our government spends billions of dollars to maintain wartime capability, it is entirely appropriate to invest several hundred millions to promote peace,” this from an article on ABC.com.
The methods used by Romney the “rescuer” seem to resemble those of a long-time political hack and lobbyist; one might even call it “Chicago” style politics as usual. It would seem Mitt went to business leaders and offered a long-term strategic vision, better known in business terminology as “you scratch my back, and some day when I am elected, I will return the favor”.
Companies like Staples were offered preferential sponsor deals. But wait, wasn’t Staples one of the companies owned by Bain Capital? Would it not be considered insider trading and therefore not only unethical but illegal for the nominal head of Bain Capital to use his position as head of the 2002 Olympic Committee to offer a contract to a company he was heavily invested in personally to assist them in profiting due to his ability to direct business to them? Wait, what?
So here the tale becomes more convoluted. Did Mitt Romney use his dual CEO positions at Bain & the 2002 Olympics to personally and professionally profit? Did he leverage his future political aspirations to gain contributions to the games with promises of future legislative favors? Was his position as “savior” of the games the total fiction it appears to be, as described by two prominent Republican legislators? And finally, did Mitt Romney use insider knowledge to give his investment the inside track on sponsor and business contracts, in violation of SEC and other regulations?
Many accounts of the transition to Romney management of the 2002 games include numerous quotes from those involved who were disgusted by the heavy-handed egomaniacal management style Mr. Romney displayed. One example of such are the buttons Mr. Romney approved, one showing his image and sporting slogans such as, “Hey Mitt, we love you.”
As one former Salt Lake City council member was quoted as saying, “Mitt could have been a hero if he had just come in and been polite. What turned me sour was his demand to get all the credit and ignore everybody who had put in thousands of hours before he arrived.”
It would seem that this successful CEO used his private position to gain a public position to further his political aspirations, using his position to leverage favors and seemingly, coerce cooperation and contributions. Not quite the white knight or business leader we have been told about.
I don’t know about you, but in my mind, Mitt has earned himself a perfect 10, and he deserves a gold medal for being a liar.
(Originally posted in July 2012)
A Tale of Two Tax Cuts
“Tax cuts to the rich create jobs”. “Tax cuts for the working poor and middle class stimulate the economy”. Only one of these is true, and it is time to figure out which. And we can, using some basic math.
Is taxing the rich socialism? Is it “un-American” to ask the rich to pay more taxes? Or is income inequality at the root of our economic problem? And how can we know which is the “right” theory? On the one hand you have Democrats calling for an increase to the minimum wage, affordable health care for all and an increase in both the benefit and wage base of the Social Security system as a method of putting more money on “Main Street” to stimulate the economy. On the other side you have Republicans insisting we give more money to “Wall Street” and just saying no to everything until they get their way.
In order to decide who is really “right”, I decided to do some math. I find that when I can break an argument down to mathematical components it provides useful data to help me understand the issues better.
Here are some computations and assumptions for this problem:
An average family needs to make approximately $4,000 per month, net of taxes to cover all expenses. That comes to $23.08 per hour net, which is $27.69 gross for a base hourly wage if we assume average taxes paid equal 20%.
That is the minimum wage at which a person does not “need” any assistance to pay for living, insurance, food, transportation and health care. It does not include saving for retirement, vacations or other expenses that are “discretionary”, for example vacations, gifts, going out to dinner or the movies, buying clothes or getting your hair cut or nails done. And forget about getting sick and not being able to work, republicans don’t want paid sick leave either.
Now, let’s compare discretionary income and how taxes work, and how a tax cut or increase impacts different income levels:
What happens when we change those rates just slightly, say, reduce taxes 1% for the bottom three and increase taxes 3% on the top? Whoa, pretty amazing result. While very little goes to the bottom three as a result the additional tax revenue generated is pretty significant.
Wow, look at that, we just put more money in the pockets of those who “need” it and will spend it and still left the top earner with more than half a million in annual discretionary income. Pretty clear results don’t you think?
While it is true this is type of progressive taxation moves a larger share of the tax “burden” to the wealthy, and republicans will try to tell you that is socialism and “bad”, it is actually simple math. The “top” earner still has almost 45 times the discretionary income of the “lowest”. No one is suggesting we take “all” the wealth and redistribute it, the math simply proves that balancing the books on the backs of the poor does not make sense.
And asking the rich to pay a little more so we can protect our way life and improve our standard of living makes economic sense. And that is the role of government, to protect and provide for our national security, and that includes economic stability.
We as a society have decided to pay for certain common good items; roads, schools, military, parks, etc. The decision to be made is do we want to do this in a balanced way or an imbalanced way? Do we want to provide a living wage or do we want to provide massive social and corporate welfare? That is the question. If you look at this as a mathematical problem, the answer is clear the “minimum” wage would be the baseline at which anyone working full-time would not need any government assistance.
That is the essence of capitalism, operating within the “market” wages would be set by the cost of living. Simple isn’t it? Workers need to be able to afford to live and buy products or the economy does not work.
What we are currently doing is a perversion of the system of capitalism. We have socialized corporate operating costs and moved the risk, and the tax burden, from the company to the taxpayer. Republicans call this the “free” market. But it is not free. The cost to taxpayers is astronomical.
And in fact, the greatest redistribution of wealth has been under republican theories of economics. The scam known as “trickle down” economics is at its core tragically flawed. Where once workers were paid a fair wage and had lifetime benefits including pensions and healthcare, Ronnie Reagan and his democratization of money doctrine conned, I mean, convinced, American workers to give up their pensions. How? Well, they told workers they “deserved” to “invest their money, just like the rich”, and that all the billions corporations would save would just “trickle down” to workers.
How’d that work out so far?
I think the math pretty clearly shows that in this tale of two tax cuts, the correct tax cut are to the working poor and middle class not the rich. So the next time a conservative tries to tell you tax cuts to the rich are good for everyone because the benefit will “trickle down”, tell her to go do some math.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the world we’ve created. And I’ve come to the conclusion that it makes absolutely no sense. None. Not even a little. We have created a society based on a system of dichotomies and fallacies. And that is truly absurd. And there really wasn’t a name for what I was thinking. I needed a new phrase. And then it came to me, “civil dissonance”.
What is civil dissonance? It is the concept that we have allowed a system of government that is not beneficial to most humans, their welfare or life itself, and this dichotomous system has replaced the system we started with, you know, the one that allowed for “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”.
Similar to cognitive dissonance, which, according to Merriam-Webster is the “…psychological conflict resulting from simultaneously held incongruous beliefs and attitudes (as a fondness for smoking and a belief that it is harmful)”; civil dissonance is the societal conflict resulting from simultaneously held incongruous beliefs and attitudes, such as a belief in improving the standard of living for all but refusing to increase the minimum wage and lift millions out of poverty, or the inability to provide health care for all because that is too expensive while providing billions in tax welfare to the already rich and corporations.
Civil dissonance is the recognition that we are no longer acting in our own best interest. It is acknowledging we’ve allowed a system of entitlement for those who don’t need it, while those who do need it are demonized or ignored.
Civil dissonance is the conflict that results from creating a government and laws which work against our very survival and self-interest. It is allowing a wage that creates poverty while saying poverty is bad. It is creating a need for more social welfare programs, which create higher taxes while people continue to vote for “small government less taxes” and at the same time refuse to increase wages and therefore reduce social welfare programs which reduces taxes. It is electing people who don’t believe in government to run our government. It is taking our public funds, which once created good paying middle class jobs and allowing outsourcing and privatization to convert them into low wage jobs that create a need for higher taxes by creating poverty and a need for social welfare.
Why is a dollar spent on social programs bad, but that same dollar given to private enterprise somehow good? People say that it is competition which lowers prices, but the profit motive isn’t about lowering prices, it is about making money. It has always been the public sector, not the private, that has been most concerned with keeping costs low because of the fiduciary duty to taxpayers.
We’ve been convinced that regulation is bad and government worse. It makes no sense. Our society is actually based on the regulation and creation of capital and self –governance, you know that whole government for, by and of the people. Capitalism isn’t the absence of regulation and Democracy isn’t the absence of government.
Civil dissonance is related to cognitive dissonance, but while one is a private and personal issue, the other is a very public and societal issue, and it is ruining our world.
There is a solution to this conflict. We can stop electing people who want to dismantle our government and defund education, social welfare and environmental protections. We can insist on income equality and social justice for all. We can create a world that provides for the care and security of us all. You know, not only the whole love your neighbor, care for the weak, sick and elderly, but provide for our national security and preservation of our way of life.
Also known as being a patriot.
The first step is to increase the minimum wage. In a truly free market economy no one would work for less than basic subsistence required. A wage that creates poverty is not acceptable, it is not patriotic and it is certainly not good for our economy. A wage that creates poverty also creates human suffering as well as creating a need for higher taxes, that is not patriotic, that is not sustainable, that is not beneficial to our society. That is civil dissonance.
Copyright 2015 Lisa Longo All rights reserved
Who me? Really. Absolutely. I am all for a balanced budget and enhanced national security. I think we need to absolutely balance our budget, by passing legislation, for example the Fair and Balance Budget Act: for every dollar we gift a corporation as a subsidy, one dollar to education. For every dollar to defense, one to health & welfare. Every dollar to fossil fuel companies, one to renewable energy companies. And every dollar to animal based agriculture, one to plant-based. Now that is a balanced budegt.
And that is why I believe the only true conservative and responsible national policy is health care reform that will be self-funding. How? First, we must resolve ourselves to the reality of a national health care system. And we must accept the need for federal guidelines on wages for all public service employees, including teachers, police, firefighters, doctors, nurses, hospital staff & technicians, and most importantly, congressional members and their staff. Same pay, same benefits. Except combat troops, who would be paid double when in harm’s way.
That’s right, let’s use the same pay scale, based upon education, experience and performance for all public employees. I’d also add a phase out for anyone with a certain amount of passive income. They would opt out of all publicly funded pensions, and receive nominal compensation, based upon the amount of annual passive income they receive.
Second, change Social Security to the Social Security, Health and Education fund. Simple changes to our current social security funding mechanism will allow us to fully fund Social Security, health care and education. First, raise the wage base for the payroll tax to $5,000,000, or do away with the wage base altogether. This has the added benefit of taking away the tax welfare incentive for excessive executive compensation. We create the Social Security, Health & Education fund, establishing an endowment that will self-fund the administrative costs, and allow for cost increases over time. The fund will not be managed by an Investment Bank per se, but by a public non-profit that will invest the funds for the public good and manage returns in the public interest.
Third, we will ensure the balanced budget is resolved by utilizing current tax law and not by establishing any new taxes. First, we will limit tax deductions for executive compensation & benefits to average employee compensation and tax the excess as a dividend. Next, we will limit tax deductions for travel & entertainment to federal per diem, again taxing the excess as a dividend.
This is how our system worked for decades, until Reagan and his “democratization of money”, that was the beginning of the end. (See my earlier essay, How Trickle Down Theory Is Ruining Our Schools And Closing Our Libraries, Thank You Ronald Reagan)
Last, each of us must resolve to contribute not only financially via taxes, but intellectually to our political system. We must fight to add civics, ethics, government, economics and public policy classes as requirements at every level of education.
We need to ensure participation in our democratic process by addressing low voter turnout and working to increase the number of voters at every level. We need to become a citizen lobby and remember, this country was founded by community organizers. We need to draft legislation to protect our rights, for example, in order to protect our civil rights and constitutionally mandated 2nd amendment rights, we need to ensure adherence to the spirit of the law, and ensure the right to bear arms is equated with an educated and registered “militia,” by insisting gun owners register as a part of an actual militia, like the National Guard for training and annual license.
There is not a dichotomy in my stance as a socially liberal progressive fiscal conservative feminist. So go ahead, call me a fiscal conservative. I welcome it.
How does the economy work and what does the minimum wage have to do with anything? Well, it is a very simple, and a very complicated, question.
Let’s start with the simple part.
I’ve done a talk called “The True Cost of Cheap Sh$t”, and in it, I use the example of socks.
You can buy a bag of a dozen socks at a big box store like a Wal-Mart, for $11.64. That is less than $1 per pair. Now, to maintain those low, low prices, Wal-Mart has to have some basic policies so they can afford to profit while selling such cheap socks. The people who work at Wal-Mart therefore can’t make very much, many make just above minimum wage and many don’t have health care, sick or vacation days, pensions or other benefits.
So how do they do it? And how do their employees live on that low wage? Well, this is where it gets a little complicated, the cost for the low wages, and those low, low prices, are paid by taxpayers, to the tune of $6.2 BILLION a year. (http://www.forbes.com/sites/clareoconnor/2014/04/15/report-walmart-workers-cost-taxpayers-6-2-billion-in-public-assistance/)
So wow, those socks just got pretty expensive didn’t they?
Now let’s look at the alternative. A pair of organic cotton socks made in the USA, and let’s say they are $6.00 per pair. (http://www.ameliasorganic.com/products/5-x-2-marl-crew). They are likely of a much better quality, and will last longer, so you really don’t need to buy 12, you might be able to get buy with just 6, making the total $36.
Now, the employees who work for a company like this likely make more than the minimum wage, would have medical and other benefits and save taxpayers those billions we have to pay for the low, low prices at Wal-Mart. So, no $6.2 billion in annual welfare needed here.
Let’s figure out the true cost of those cheap socks. Each of the estimated 138 million US taxpayers has to pay an annual tax of $44.93 to cover just the costs we subsidize Wal-Mart for welfare to its workers. And by some estimates various forms of corporate welfare entitlement s cost taxpayers $3,000 to $4,000 each per year. So those socks you thought were less than a dollar? They don’t seem so cheap now do they?
Even those of us who don’t shop at Wal-Mart pay the price for their low prices. So, tell me what is the true cost of cheap sh$t? We haven’t even begun to factor in the societal costs, loss of dignity, lower standard of living, decreased longevity, raging income inequality. That is going to take a much longer blog. But just in the loss of human dignity and humanity, I’d say the cost of cheap sh$t is actually incalculable and much too expensive.
Another pipeline is leaking and people are being evacuated. More land is being contaminated.
Meanwhile, the Scotland Independence vote of course has drilling & extraction at its core. And the money I bet that is fueling that most, is right from the fossil fuel fools.
Here at home we have kids without books, winter coming and they don't have coats. We have Vets killing themselves and the mentally ill allowed to buy guns and unlimited ammo.
Meanwhile our friends on the right keep telling us the problem is poor people, never mind that they created the great vast poverty that engulfs us. Never mind that the poverty wage they bestow upon their corporate sponsors is costing taxpayers trillions and creating an inequality that is killing the American dream. Never mind that they refuse to lower interest rates, forgive debt or help the people, they are too busy helping the rich, they need another tax break or they won't not create any jobs.
They don't care, because the election comes and people everywhere say, oh, but that's politics. What do I care? The game is coming on, be quiet. Or I have to work. I'm too busy. I don't care. My vote doesn't matter. The system is broken. Its all corrupt. Why should I bother?
And so we all dig deep in our pockets to help the poor, the hungry, the ill and the aged. Keeping our own economies unequal, never mind the right shoveling our cash to the rich, they have to have tax breaks they tell us, to create jobs, as we watch the middle class disappear.
My feelings turn to despair, which in turn creates in me an anger and I begin to despise the superficial arrogance of the many for ignoring what the few are doing right in front of them. Because make no mistake, this is going on RIGHT in front of you.
When all of you are really as sick of this as you say, you will rise up and take back what is yours. Your money, your homes, your savings, your children's futures. Our land, water and air.
The real revolution happens every year on election day. And one day, I'm going to see millions of American's finally realize that we had the power all along and act accordingly.
What a wonderful day that will be.
What if we all let go of hate and fear? What if we embraced kindness and compassion? What if today we found our inner hero and we were all brave enough to stand our ground for what we know what is right? What if we all decided to change the world? What if right now, as you read this, you realize that you have the power to change everything? What if we come together and develop a strategy to create the world we want to see? What if we realize we are the heroes of this story, not the victims?
What does that look like? What would we do? How do we get started? We have to ask some hard questions of ourselves. What is right? What is moral? How do we want to live? And what are we willing to do to create the world we want? Are we willing to do the work it will take? Are we willing to fight for what we know is right? I’m sick of doing the same things and expecting a different result. That is the definition of insanity. We’ve let the old, rich white men have their turn, and frankly, their way sucks. It is time to try a new way.
And I’m not going to ask what you are willing to die for, death is inevitable, the goal is to prolong life not take it away.
What are some other goals we can agree on? And how do we make them reality? It is time to not only think and talk about these ideas, it is time to make them reality. The old ways of guns and bombs don’t work. We have to change that paradigm. And I think it starts by us taking the high road. It is basing our actions and policy on kindness and compassion, not hate and fear. It is acting, regardless of race or religion, party or politics, on common values. It is time to have a war on ignorance, fear and hate.
What are our common values? Can we start with life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? Can we all agree that caring for the poor, sick, aged and children is morally correct and a common good? Can we agree that preserving life is important?
Because here is the thing, our time on this planet in this incarnation is limited. We are all going to die. There is no doubt, and yet we are wasting our time, our lives, spinning our wheels just surviving instead of living. We are allowing our time to be constrained and constricted, our days to be numbered. Why are we still worried about making ends meet when we know we are all going to meet our end at some unspecified date that is not far enough away for any of us?
It may well be that the meaning of life is figuring this out: how to live. Could it really be that simple? Have we been overlooking the obvious answer to this age old question? The meaning of life is to live. Not to exist. And certainly not to allow existence to be only about subsistence. The meaning of life is to improve the lives of everyone.
Wow. That felt like an epiphany.
Now for the hard part. What is stopping us? What is keeping us from creating the world we know is possible? What does that world look like? And what are the forces working against us?
What is stopping us? Fear. Apathy. And the people who have invested heavily in the current system. Those would be mostly the rich, old white men who have amassed great fortunes and who are cackling with mad glee as they fly their private jets or sail on their yachts to their offshore tax havens while they convince people it is all for their own good, anything else is communism, socialism, class warfare and you are not a patriot if you question the status quo. It is whatever their spinmasters cook up that day to convince people that this system of income inequality is inevitable.
There is more than enough money in the world for everyone to live above poverty levels. That is a fact. Our motive power created that. And now it is time for us to remember, this is all ours. Life itself is our most precious commodity, not their oil or guns, we aren’t here to protect their way of life. We have to let go of outmoded thinking and outdated policy. Guns and bombs, tax breaks for billionaires, fracturing our planet for profit. Those are the old way. And it is time to retire them.
What are the forces working against us? I think the most powerful force stopping us is us. This feeling that we are victims of some great “other”. That this is being done to us, but not by us. The mistaken belief that our actions have no meaning. The constant refrain that you “can’t beat City Hall”. Well yes, we can. And we must. But first we have to overcome the fear and apathy. That is the real weapon that is destroying us.
“We have nothing to fear but fear itself”. Aren’t we ready to be done with that?
And guess what? We have the one thing that no money can buy, our votes. This is the weapon we have that can destroy the old paradigm. This is how we fund our schools and care for our Veteran’s. It is how we honor our aged and care for our children.
We can create a world based on kindness and respect, compassion and caring, or we can continue to allow the old guard to plunder our world to protect their way of life while taking ours. It is time to let that go. Just let it go.
I’m ready to make my stand. Are you? Are you ready to let it go?
Does that surprise you? Did you think slavery was abolished hundreds of years ago when the Civil War ended? Really? Why? Because the history books told you so? But is that what you see? Do you see a free and equal society? A land of opportunity for all? A land of the free and home of the brave as the Founders foresaw? Have we created a society where “ALL men are created equal”? Really? Do you see a world that our Founders would be proud of? Because I don’t.
What I see is a system based on inequality. I see inequality growing with the creation of institutions like for-profit prisons and privatized for-profit public schools. I see inequality growing from corporate subsidies and tax gifts to private companies while we cut and gut public programs like education. And I see this growing inequality as a form of institutionalized modern slavery.
Why? How did we get here? Was this what the Founders intended? I doubt it. So how did this happen? How, and why, have we allowed institutionalized slavery in our modern society?
I believe it is apathy. Too many people giving up, that is the problem. I think we need to fight for our freedom now, just as we did then. And the war now is the funding of our schools and the education of our children. It is being fought in legislative battles to increase the minimum wage and protect our environment. And it is being fought by those of us trying to stop the tax gifts and tax welfare entitlements to the wealthy, to corporations, and on a local level, to private real estate developers.
I am going to pose some questions to you today, some may be difficult to answer and some may be unpleasant to ponder, but I am going to ask you to do this all the same, and I am going to ask you to take action. I’m going to ask you to remember why this country was founded. And I am going to ask you to stand up for our principles of freedom and democracy. Safeguarding our system and providing a better future is part of the deal the Founders expected of us, and I believe it is our moral responsibility to fight this battle.
So here goes, let’s get started with a few questions, first, how is our current system different from the Plantation Economy of years ago? How are the lives of students indebted for decades or those of the tens of millions living in poverty while a few control the wealth of the world any different from the slave economy from those long ago days? Haven’t we simply created a new class of slaves?
We may no longer be chattel, but I have no illusions, for most people on this planet, our lives are owned and controlled by a few hundred very rich men who have no intention of giving up their wealth and power just so the rest of us can have life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Why would they? Less than 30% of us show up on most Election Days, so those in power feel pretty secure in the system of corporate slavery they have created. Locally that percentage is even lower, and few people pay attention when our tax dollars are gifted to private profiteers in the name of “progress”.
So what if a local Council votes to give a private developer a tax gift of millions? (See What is LERTA?) They know people won’t blame the future increase in real estate and school taxes on that reality. Oh no, “they” will blame “out of control” spending, greedy teachers and public pensions. What a scam.
And the fact that corporations are gifted billions of our tax dollars every day while our national debt increases? Who pays for that? And why? From the fossil fuel industry to Wal-mart, they are allowed to pay wages that create poverty and endanger public health, and yet millions of people continue to support these corporations, spending billions every year on their slave made products, war supplied oil, and earth fracturing gas.
Why should these corporations change their ways when they have our means? Who is paying attention? They take our motive power and our money and convert both into more wealth for themselves. Millions of people are sitting home, convinced the system is broken, so they don’t bother to vote. They know something is wrong, but they don’t know how to fix it. And why don’t they? Where would they get that knowledge? Well, wouldn’t you think teaching Civics and Public Policy would be the job of our schools? And why aren’t schools teaching this?
Ask yourself this, who benefits from defunding education? Why do we spend millions of our tax dollars on athletics for the few while gutting academic programs for the many? Who is more likely to speak out and create change, the captain of the debate team or the captain of the basketball team? And yes, I know there are plenty of civically minded athletes, I am trying to make a larger point about how we fund programs. Do you really think the Founders thought football was more important than Philosophy?
Oh, the mad men in charge are laughing all the way to their offshore banks because their children go to the best colleges, many of which are now “tuition-free” or offer large grants from their “endowments”. Their kids aren’t graduating saddled with debt, starting their adult lives already indentured to the banks. Oh no, their kids either have trust funds (which we subsidized), scholarships (also subsidized) or get “free” tuition (yes, we subsidize that too).
Oh, you didn’t know that? This is a big part of the scam, college debt. Our kids are forced into a life of indebtedness or told that going to college isn’t “necessary”, while the best schools are offering “free” educations to the children of the rich and powerful. Why do you think that is? Why are subsidizing the slave wages and environmental degradation their excessive profits require but not the education of all our children?
I’ll tell you why, apathy. While you sit home and bitch but refuse to vote or go to meetings, the rich are sending their children to college and flying their private jets to their private islands to hide the profits made with our public tax dollars, all subsidized by your slave labor and condoned by your apathy.
And all the trolls ready to screech and type in all caps that I am a SOCIALIST. That our Founding Fathers would shoot me on the spot. That I am some liberal, feminazi, communist, ignorant, low information voter. Get a grip. Read what the Founders really thought about funding public education.
So what can you do? You can show up. You can question what is going on. You can understand that this country was founded on the expectation of citizen engagement. You can remember that our Founders were community organizers and rabble-rousers, and that they didn’t guarantee us freedom, they gave us the right to pursue it.
Isn’t it time for us to insist on our right to education for all? Let’s get started. Let’s insist on FREE public education. Right through college as the Founders intended.
Please review the petition on Moveon.org to insist on free education for all. As the Founders intended. Sign on here, and please share.
Does anyone actually still believe the words “trickle-down theory” have any valid meaning? Is anyone buying into this fiction that increasing the minimum wage would ruin our economy but multi-million dollar executive salaries don’t increase prices at all? Has any republican ever truly explained why the free marketeer “job creators” had a decade of “small government less taxes” that nearly pushed our economy into collapse but failed to create a single job? Have they ever been able to explain why their hawkish, bullish insistence on bombing and invading countries has never actually provided increased national security? Or how extreme extraction and export of fossil fuels will never lead to energy independence?
I’ll tell you why they won’t, because they can’t. Why not? Because it is all a con. A scheme. A grifters game. It is a sham. And one I don’t think even republicans believe in anymore. I believe it is deliberate, well planned and strategic. This isn’t just bad policy, it is a scam.
And that is why it is time to call conservatives what they truly are – cons. Cons as in con artists. Grifters, scammers. This isn’t a difference between two ideologies. This is a fight between those who want to protect our way of life and those who want to hoard it for a few hundred rich people while the rest of us struggle to get by.
It is woefully apparent what conservatives are up to now. They use convoluted reasoning to contest every reasonable idea. They try to control the conversation and lead us down the garden path of conservative ideology, which often just leads to empty space, much like an empty concrete lot, or a bridge to nowhere. The cons have nothing constructive to add. They won’t consider another point of view and they certainly aren’t going to contribute toward compromise.
They have invested considerable time, money and angst into this scam, and they aren’t going to give it up without a fight. Enter the “tea” “party” “darlings”, the Koch funded, ALEC scripted, NRA protected experts at convoluted thinking and absolute obstructionists.
Their end game is to force their ideology on the rest of. And they do it by convincing people that this is really a good thing, that somehow, someway, someday, despite all evidence to the contrary, eventually, their con policy will bring them considerable rewards and wealth. It is your basic Ponzi scheme. It is a long con.
What is the long con? It is a long term strategy that can be kept in place over a period of time to convince a mark, or in this case taxpayers, that a scam, for example “small government less taxes”, is beneficial to them, when in fact, it is not.
According to Leverage Wiki:
The long con refers to any of a variety of cons which require more planning, preparation, a longer window of interaction with the con's target and a longer period of time to execute. The long con may also require a large crew or a larger number of involved people to pull off the deception needed to relieve the mark of their cash or other valuables. Unlike a short con, the long con requires time to slowly draw the mark or marks into the con, but often results in very large pay-outs. Because of the difficulty in organization and execution, long cons are considered to be for experts, not the province of new, young con men.
This long con has been in place for about 30 years according to my research and really came to fruition during the Reagan Administration.
What are the specific aspects of the long con ideology:
- Rich people paying less taxes will put more money into the pockets of the working poor and middle class.
- Less taxes on corporations will create jobs
- Welfare costs more than defense spending and poverty is not a problem.
- There is not enough money to fund public education.
- Protecting the environment is bad for the economy.
- Republicans are better at national security.
- Republicans are better at economic policy.
- Increasing the minimum wage will hurt business, but excessive executive compensation does not.
- Republicans have a right to inspect our uterus but we don’t have a right to inspect their guns.
- Government is bad and therefore we are going to elect the worst people we can find to convince you of that.
Seriously? Does anyone buy this into this crap?
We are seeing some real change. Seattle for instance, increasing the minimum wage to $15 per hour. That is going to really test the con theory. Because basic math tells me that more money in the hands of those who will spend it is a good thing. What will happen is there will be more incentive for workers, creating a demand for a highly skilled and motivated work force. It will also put a lot more money into the local economy creating a demand for more products and services, creating more jobs, creating more opportunity. Which creates more demand, more jobs, more opportunity, see how that works?
Any word from the cons on how supply side economics works? No? I didn’t think so.
This is a major and very important difference between the economic theory that Democrats believe and that which the cons put their faith in. We believe that demand creates prosperity, jobs and opportunity, as has been proven time and time again and is documented in economic data. We can prove our point with facts and historical documentation. Cons on the other hand believe supply creates wealth. How, they can't tell us, why it would work against all logic they don't know and how long it takes they can't say, but they are sure it will eventually "trickle-down" to create jobs and wealth. Just don’t ask them for any details, because if you do, you obviously are not a “patriot”.
So far the only thing the cons have been partially successful at is privatization. I mean, for-profit prisons are profitable. And for-profit charter schools. All that school testing is creating lots of profit. Two wars created trillions in profit for all those subcontractors. Just no money for our Vets or to secure our embassies.
All we have to do is allow the cons to launder our public funds into private profit, and viola, trickle –down profits, well, for their corporate persons, there is still no money for schools or welfare. And I know, that is not what the cons promised, but well, don’t blame them, they never promised us a rose garden. That was Obama. All that hope & change. The cons just want more of the same. And if you aren’t on board with that, well then obviously you are a communist. Or is it a socialist? The cons are never really clear on which, but obviously, we’re not good corporate persons like the ones who pay their bills. And really if you just stop asking so many pesky questions and go watch the World Cup or Stanley Cup or some other sport it will all make more sense because you will stop asking questions the cons simply won’t answer.
So what is the long con? It is convincing you that our schools are broken, “they” hate us for our freedom, drilling is a reasonable solution to climate change, banks are important but schools are not, bombs are the way to peace and climate change is a hoax. It is saying taxes are bad but corporate tax subsidies are good. It is the claim that corporations are people and the death penalty is a sensible solution to prison overcrowding, and guns can’t be inspected but a woman’s uterus must be.
The long con is all the lies, the privatization of our post offices, prisons and schools. It is arresting the poor while the rich laugh all the way to their offshore banks. It is buying into this greed mentality and the stupidity that intellectualism is bad and education unnecessary. And if you don’t believe me, just ask a con for some context. And then sit back for the long con.
My mom told me the news that Maya Angelou had died and immediately my mind flew to her most well know title, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings. Why did this poem resonate with so many of us?
Why? Because we felt like caged birds. The 1% caged us, kept us in debt, in poverty, and in ignorance. They did this by forcing upon us a lifestyle that lacked many things. A lack of health care, a lack of food, lack of security, lack of birth control, lack of disposable income, lack of child care, a lack of options, a lack of affordable, quality public education, a lack of mobility and a lack of civility. We are not only the have nots, we are now a nation of lackers.
We are not slackers. We are not lazy, or stupid, fat, ignorant or dependent. We have been lied to, manipulated, marginalized and manhandled. And we should all be livid.
We should be that bird with the fearful trill, making noise and escaping that cage to soar. Instead too many seem to relish the cage, or ignore it. But I am going to expose those bars. I am going to force you to acknowledge they exist, to honor this woman who made me see, living in a cage is not a life worth living.
We are on the edge of being caged no more, of taking that leap to freedom, and I want to be free. And I want you to be free. I want my daughter to be free. I want us all to be free.
I am sick and tired of all those who shrug and say, oh well, this is just the way the world is.
NO. No it is not. This is the way the world has been disfigured and manipulated. The way we have been forced to work against our own best interest. I don't accept it. I won't be quiet so others can feel better about their own caged existence.
When children die from starvation or gun violence, when girls are raped and kidnapped, shot and held captive. When our boys think the only way out is to play violent games either on the sports field or on the video screen, we have done it all wrong. Our boys are both captive and captor, while our girls are both victimized and traumatized; too afraid to leave the comfort of the cage they created, or trading it in for another one made for them by someone else.
It is time to stop accepting the caged life created by others, and start defending our way of life, the one we want for ourselves, our children, and our freedom. We aren't here to provide consumers to corporations or money to the rich. We are here to live.
I invite you to join me in breaking the bars of these cages. Join me in refusing to live in this constructed contemptible cage created by the craven cowards while they hide in their mansions and yachts, hoarding their money in offshore accounts.
Join me in song. Join me in celebration. Join me in revolution. Farewell Ms. Angelou, and thank you for this call to action. For I too know why the caged bird sings, she sings to bring awareness. She sings to give courage and she sings to be change.