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Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

So, here we are at the beginning of the Thanksgiving Day week.  Wal-Mart, Kmart, Bass Pro Shop and others are all planning to open on Thanksgiving Day, denying their employees time with their families on this holiday.

It has been reported by several outlets, that these stores that plan on being open on Thanksgiving Day are threatening their employees with termination if they choose to stay home and celebrate the holiday.  Once again corporate greed is trumping our holidays.

Let’s take a minute to look at this holiday.  According to those wonderful patriotic conservatives, this is supposed to be a day when we give thanks to god, or whatever, for our blessings.  It is a day to celebrate our country and spend time with family and friends.  It is supposed to be a patriotic day.

Somewhere along the line, those sentiments went by the board.  Somewhere along the line, these very same ultra-conservatives have lost their zeal for family and patriotism.  Why would they be the least offended by this mass movement to ignore Thanksgiving Day celebrations?

Well, it could be that the ultra-conservatives simply aren’t paying attention to the degradation of our nation’s holiday.  It could be that they have forgotten about all of these things and got lost in the worship of manna.  But, I think that it is more likely that they simply don’t consider the rest of us worthy of being able to spend time with family and friends.  We aren’t worthy of an extra day off to celebrate a national holiday.

Why is it so important for a store like Kmart to open their doors for business on Thanksgiving Day at 6 AM?  I know that the holiday shopping season between Thanksgiving and Christmas makes up the bulk of the retail business.  I have heard estimates that between 40 and 50 percent of retail earnings are made during this one time of the year.  That is the reason stores usually extend shopping hours now.

But, the start of “Black Friday” has screwed up the entire shopping season.  At first, stores were opening as early at 4 AM on the Friday after Thanksgiving.  Since many people are off on that Friday, it made sense to get them out for early sales.  I have never really had a problem with that.  But, in the last few years, more and more stores have “extended” Black Friday to Thanksgiving Day.  I do have a problem with that.

I am sure we all have memories of sitting around the big dining room table with our families, in many cases extended families, and having a big turkey dinner.  We watched football on TV, or went outside for a friendly game of tag football with our parents and children.  It was a time of festive activities and good family fun.

Of course, there were some professions where people still had to work on Thanksgiving.  People like EMTs, Hospital Nurses, Police, Fire, and the Military were required to work.  But, very few other professions were required to work.

Now, Thanksgiving Day has lost its meaning.  Its meaning wasn’t lost because people stopped celebrating it.  It wasn’t lost because people became more secular.  It was lost because of the ever-present charge for the almighty dollar.  The dollar became more important than workers.  The dollar became more important than families.

The owners of these stores opening on Thanksgiving Day will certainly be home enjoying the time off.  They will certainly enjoy their big dinner in the company of their family and friends.  They will certainly be counting their blessings.  All the while, their employees will be forced to work so the owners can make more money.

It also strikes me that the vast majority of stores that are threatening employees with their jobs if they fail to go to work that day are the same companies who are fighting tooth-and-nail to keep the minimum wage low.  They are the same companies that are subsidizing their profits on the backs of the American Taxpayer by not providing health care coverage and/or a livable wage to their employees.

I ask Fox News why they haven’t manufactured a new story about Thanksgiving?  Why hasn’t Fox News campaigned against a “Corporate War on Thanksgiving” in their coverage?  Why hasn’t Rush Limbaugh railed against the unpatriotic behavior of these companies?  Why hasn’t Glenn Beck screamed into the microphone about how corporations are ruining Thanksgiving for the average people?

We are returning to the days when company’s are treating their employees like property and not people.  In the olden days of mining, the company owned everything.  They owned the houses around the mine that workers paid rent to live in.  They owned the stores where workers were forced to purchase their groceries, clothes and other items necessary.  They even charged the miners for their tools and explosives necessary to work in the mine.

The silence on the right is testimony to their total contempt of the “average person”.  It is testimony to their belief that workers are nothing more than property or tools for the wealthy to become more wealthy.  Then again, when you live in an oligarchy, this is what you should expect.

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In a recent poll, it was reported that 57 percent of the American People believe in Climate Change and that man has a hand in causing it.  That same poll indicated that the majority of the American People wants Congress to do something about cleaning up our carbon emissions.

Speaker Boehner and Senate Minority Leader McConnell have said time and again that the Republicans only want to listen to the American People.  Congress has listened to the American People.  Not that they intend to act on the people’s wishes if they are in disagreement with the Republican agenda.

On Tuesday, while the Keystone XL Pipeline was going down to defeat in the Senate, Boehner and his Republican cronies were passing a law that would hamper the EPA in doing its mandated job of helping to clean up the environment and protecting public health.  The first law which was passed on Tuesday was framed by Republicans as a play for transparency.

H.R. 1422, which passed 229-191, would shake up the EPA’s Scientific Advisory Board, placing restrictions on those real troublesome scientists and creating room for experts with overt financial ties to the industries affected by EPA regulations.

Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas, argued that the board’s current structure is problematic because it  “excludes industry experts, but not officials for environmental advocacy groups.” The inclusion of industry experts, he said, would right this injustice.  Sounds reasonable, but…..

The part the Republicans like best is that the bill forbids scientific experts from participating in “advisory activities” that either directly or indirectly involve their own work.  In other words, experts would be forbidden from sharing their expertise in their own research – which was peer-reviewed.  The Republicans call that a conflict of interest.  But, the inclusion of industry “experts” is not a conflict of interest even though the industry experts are trying to block the EPA from instituting any regulations.

“In other words,” wrote Union of Concerned Scientists director Andrew A. Rosenberg in an editorial for RollCall, “academic scientists who know the most about a subject can’t weigh in, but experts paid by corporations who want to block regulations can.”  The White House has vowed to veto this bill if it ever reaches the President’s desk saying it would “negatively affect the appointment of experts and would weaken the scientific independence and integrity of the SAB.”

This is just the beginning.  There is another bill called “The Secret Science Reform Act” which would prohibit the EPA from proposing, finalizing or disseminating regulations or assessments based upon science that is not transparent or reproducible.”  As the Huffington Post reports:

While the bill’s language would not require the EPA to wait until its research was verified by an outside source to make recommendations, opponents say the bill’s requirements are murky.

“The bill attacks the mainstays of scientific investigation,” wrote Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.) in an email to The Huffington Post. “It would strip away the EPA’s authority to make any rules due to the stringency of the data disclosure requirements.

“The peer review process is the foundation of science inquiry in our society, and is a trusted evaluation of scientific evidence around the world,” he added. “This legislation attempts to dictate how the scientific method is employed,” he added. “The Secret Science Reform Act is an attempt by climate change deniers to stop the EPA from doing its job.”

The irony in all of this is that “industry studies” don’t seem to need the same “transparency” as government-funded studies.  Rep. Randy Weber (R-TX) asked why we think it’s okay to question the industry’s motives, but are more willing to trust government-funded studies, insisting that research with industry ties is a good thing.

Eileen Silbergeld, a professor at Johns Hopkins University, testified that the committee was going after the wrong people. “We need more information, and specifically we need more information disclosure from industry,” Silbergeld added. “I call on them to tear down every wall that hides critically important information that is generated and held by industry.”  There is nothing in this bill that would require industry to “tear down that wall” in industry studies.

Opponents argue that the trio of bills in the House are an attempt by  Republicans to effectively block the EPA from adopting any new rules to protect public health. Or as Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Texas, in an editorial for the Hill said these bills represent “the culmination of one of the most anti-science and anti-health campaigns I’ve witnessed in my 22 years as a member of Congress.”

So, as you can see, the Republicans have listened to the American People.  But, what the American People have failed to realize thus far, is when Boehner and McConnell talk about the American People, they really mean their corporate donors.  Not the American People.  They simply believe that the American People are just too stupid to have a real voice.

When they talk about “small government” what they are really saying is that the American People are small and insignificant so our opinions don’t count!

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The last twelve months have exposed a lot of problems in our society.  I am not talking about our political problems either.  In the last twelve months, we have seen certain people in our society get away with just about everything including vehicular homicide.

A drunk rich kid driving under the influence was involved in an accident that resulted in the death of someone.  His lawyer argued that he was suffering from a made-up infection called “affluenza” and was therefore not responsible for his actions.  The judge actually fell for this nonsense and he is spending no jail time for killing a human being while he was driving drunk.

At the end of last year when a football player (the star quarterback of the team) at a university had been accused of raping a student nothing was done about it.  Reports even stated that local police told the woman that her life would be hell if she went ahead with the charges because of whom she was accusing.

Then there was a rash of NFL players who were accused of domestic violence.  One of the players pled “no contest” to child abuse charges in order to avoid a trial that might have put him in jail.  The NFL announced that he would be suspended for the remainder the season.  He announced that he would immediately appeal the suspension since he has missed all of the season so far.  But, he has been paid for his time off.

A star NBA player was recently accused of child abuse but Florida decided not to do anything even though the doctor who examined the child stated that there was bruising on the child because he was beaten with the buckle end of a belt.  The player’s lawyer immediately accused the players estranged spouse of “making it all up” because of a very ugly custody battle.  In the meantime, the state of Georgia has announced it will look into the matter.

A New Jersey High School suspended the entire football season over allegations of abuse by some players on others.  Normally, this is called hazing.  But, the hazing went way beyond the lines of decency and some of the players are now facing criminal charges.  Yet, many in the community say the High School went too far, not the players.

Recently two more football players (both starters on the same team as the rape accusation) were reportedly involved in a traffic accident.  The accident resulted in the totaling of both vehicles involved, and reports indicate the accident was the fault of the football player.  Reportedly the player was driving on a suspended license and fled the scene on foot.  Instead of being charged with “hit and run” he was simply given two tickets and was never tested or even asked if he had used drugs or alcohol.

Bill Cosby has been accused by 14 women of being a serial rapist.  All of the women accused him of drugging them and raping them.  The first accusation came out about 20 years ago.  Again, nothing was done.  In one case, Mr. Cosby settled out of court so nothing else came of it.

The one thing all of these cases have in common is that the accused is a “personality” in public life.  Most of them are sports stars and one is a TV/Movie star.  In all cases, the victims involved are the ones who are being questioned about their “honesty”.  In the Cosby case, even Whoopi Goldberg said she has a lot of questions for the accuser.  Why doesn’t she have a lot of questions for Cosby instead?

In rape cases, victim blaming is a simple game that the accused plays all of the time.  Now, as we see, victim blaming is something that goes even beyond rape.  It has infected our justice system to a point where victims are becoming more and more afraid to come out with their story.

Or, in some cases we see where law enforcement is willing to turn a blind eye to the behavior just because the person being accused is some sort of celebrity.  You will probably tell me that this type of thing has been going on for years.  That may be true.  But, isn’t it time for it to stop?

Quite frankly, I never read the “entertainment” section of newspapers.  I really don’t care about the lives of celebrities.  I don’t care how rich people, movie stars, sports stars, or any other celebrity lives.  They can afford to live however they want.  But, I do care when they are involved in criminal activity and get away with it simply because they are celebrities.

I get even more irritated when people defend their behavior and put blame on the victims.  Or try to brush it off as “boys will be boys” stupidity.  The over-militarization of our police forces is a real problem that has led to tragedy across the nation.  However, the complicity of law enforcement in helping these celebrities get away with crimes is even more troublesome.

We have seen way too many times when law enforcement has turned a blind eye to celebrity misbehavior.  The victims have been hurt.  In some cases people have died.  Yet, they seem to get away with whatever they have been accused of doing.

With this kind of reaction whenever someone with a public name gets in trouble we have to ask ourselves just how balanced our justice system really is.  In some states if you are caught with a bag of marijuana you get at least 10 years in jail.  If you are a college football player who flees from the scene of an accident, you get “well that’s okay”.

If you are a star running back in the NFL and beat your then fiancé you get paid 5 million dollars to sit out a season and then cry foul when an actual suspension comes down for your behavior.  And, you get the union to back you up on the matter.

If you are a star quarterback on a college football team and get accused of rape, the police tell the victim that she will go through hell if she continues with the complaint.  Then, when there is a scheduled hearing to determine if you broke university conduct policy, you get the hearing put off until after the football season so you can continue to play.

If you are a star comedian who is accused of being a serial rapist over the last 20 years by as many as 14 women, your friends “have questions for the accuser” instead of you.  Forget the large number of women accusing you, they must all be liars.

I don’t know if everyone who has been involved in these cases are guilty or not.  I am not making an assumption of guilt.  I am questioning how these cases have been handled.  These cases show clearly that our judicial system may indeed be broken.  In most of them it clearly shows a lack of interest by law enforcement to fully investigate cases involving “celebrities”.

Cynics have claimed for years that guilt and innocence is determined more by how much money you have rather than the actual facts of the case.  When we continuously see these kinds of behavior towards celebrities, maybe the cynics are correct.  As a result maybe the Statue of Justice should not be blind folded and holding a scale, maybe she should have one eye open looking at the bag of money she is holding.

But then, we are all to blame for this mess.  If we continue to believe the accused simply because they are celebrities, nothing will change for the better.

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Laura Ingraham has said that we should repeal “birthright” citizenship.  She believes that millions of immigrants are simply coming to America to have their babies so those babies can become legal citizens and therefore “game” the system for welfare benefits.  Her answer to this “problem” is to take away citizenship rights upon birth.

Birthright citizenship simply states that if you are born within the territorial boundaries of the U.S. and your parents are not in the service of a foreign government (i.e., diplomats, soldiers, etc.), then you are a citizen of the United States. Your parents don’t have to be citizens, nor do they have to be legal residents.

This came about with the passage of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. It has enjoyed Supreme Court affirmation stretching all the way back to 1898.  If you’re born here, you’re afforded the same rights and privileges as anyone else, regardless of who your parents are.

But that is a huge problem for Conservatives like Ingraham.  See, they don’t want people who come here and have babies to have their children given the same rights as everyone else.  This may seem like a logical thing to do in many people’s minds.  And, a lot of people may be asking why a non-citizen who has a child in the U.S. automatically gains citizenship for that child.

But, there is a lot more to all of this than first meets the eye.  You all know that I rarely use the term “slippery slope”.  But, this is one time I think it is appropriate to do so.  The real thing that Ingraham wants to avoid is to let undocumented people have babies and then their babies automatically become citizens by simply being born here.  However, as usual, conservatives are not thinking this thing completely through.

They are using the phrase in the 14th Amendment that states:   “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”  It is the “and subject to the jurisdiction thereof,” that they are arguing takes away the citizenship of someone who is born to non-citizens.  But, the Supreme Court and even the framers of the Amendment said it means that anyone working for a foreign government.  Meaning that people like diplomats are not subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, therefore, their children are not citizens.

Conservatives argue that phrase means if you are not a citizen, you are not subject to the jurisdiction of the U.S. and therefore your children born here are not citizens.  That is total nonsense.  Everyone in the U.S. who is not an employee of a foreign government is subject to the jurisdiction of the U.S.

Their argument opens up way too many doors.  What about non-citizens who are legally living in the U.S. with a “green card.”  Are their children who are born in the U.S. citizens under the birthright clause?  Even though their parents are legally in the country, they are not citizens.  According to the conservatives argument, their children should not attain citizenship just by birth.

If they were to change the constitution, how far back do we go on this matter?  Many Europeans and other groups who immigrated to the country through at least the 1970s were not given “green cards”.  They were not forced to seek citizenship either.  I remember going to the Post Office to get my grandfather an “Alien Registration Card” to be submitted.  In those days, way back in the 1960s any non-citizen had to send in an alien registration card every January.  That was the “green card” of the day.

Then we have to answer the question concerning those who were born outside the country, even if their parents are citizens.  Should we grant citizenship to children born to parents who voluntarily left the country for work or other reasons?  What about people who come here under political asylum status?  Should their children be granted automatic citizenship?  Can we trust everyone who claims political asylum status as really being loyal to the U.S.?

What about the Native Americans?  They didn’t gain citizenship until the 1900s.  Should we strip their citizenship too?  Especially those who live on the reservations with their own tribal councils.  Hell, if we strip them of their citizenship, we can deport them too.  Forget the fact they were here first.  That is just how sticky this whole “repeal birthright citizenship” can get.

My grandfather never became a citizen.  I wonder if, in the eyes of conservatives, that makes my mother a non-citizen or half citizen.  If she is a half citizen, does that make me a three-quarter citizen?  How big of a percentage makes a “full” citizen?  If all of this percentage talk sounds familiar, it is.  It was tried once over a different issue in 1930s Germany.  We all know what the results of that were.

Of course, Ingraham and the other conservatives are really after something completely different.  What they want is to strip citizenship from children whose parents may have come here illegally so they can be deported with their parents.  As it stands, children who are citizens cannot be deported.  That is one of the major issues in the current fight about immigration reform.  The President wants illegal immigrants who have children born in the country, thereby citizens, not to be deported which breaks up families.

The conservatives want them all out regardless if the children are citizens by law.  Since they are citizens by law, the simple answer is to change the law so they are no longer citizens.  That seems to them to be the best way to keep America as homogenized as possible.  Hispanics are not the only group of people who have come here “illegally”, but they are the ones who are being targeted by conservatives like Ingraham.

Ingraham and her conservative wackos really do want a homogenized country without all those non-whites.  By stripping non-white people of their citizenship, it won’t be possible for them to vote in future elections.  And we all know how Republicans feel about non-white people voting in our elections.

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In the past six years, we have seen President Obama called everything from being a socialist, communist, fascist, and lawless.  The opposing side has continuously said they are only trying to pass legislation that the American People want.  Although they refuse to pass Universal Background Checks for Gun Purchases, Raise the Minimum Wage, or Immigration Reform which are all supported by over 70 percent of the American People.

The favorite name calling of the right-wing is communist.  I have been called a communist more times than I care to count.  If I had a dollar for every time I was called a communist, my retirement would be a lot more comfortable than it is.  So, I thought I might take a look at who are the real communists in America today.

The first thing you must consider is what is the definition of a communist.  Everyone, especially those of us who lived through the cold war look at communism as the form of government in the Soviet Union and China.  That is what we were taught was communism.  But is that really communism?

Karl Marx wrote the book on communism.  However, in his view of a communist world, there are no governments.  He wrote about a utopian society where governments were no longer needed.  He based his view on the concept that people are naturally good and therefore society would naturally look after the less fortunate, the sick, the disabled, and the elderly.  No government was necessary for these actions, people would just embrace that it was the right thing to do.

I know that is an oversimplification of his writings, but I do believe that is the gist of his book.  What Marx failed to take into account is the opposite of good, which is evil.  For, you cannot have good without evil.  Natural law says there is an opposite to every trait.  That is what makes us human.  As a result, the communism espoused by Marx is a fantasy with no real possibility of actually coming true.  Still, that doesn’t mean that any steps we take in that direction is not a good step.

But, now we get the heart of the matter.  The Soviet Union was the first country to embrace communism.  But, in realty, the use of the word was just as much a fantasy as Marx’s world view.  Basically, communism was hijacked by Lenin who had no intention of creating a utopian society.  He only used the term to gain support for his own version of a dictatorship.

If it hadn’t been for WWI the Leninist form of communism may not have happened.  The Germans sent Lenin to Russia from exile, and gave him millions to start a revolution so they could get Russia out of the war and fight on just one front.  It worked, and Lenin soon pulled Russia out of the war.

Lenin’s form of communism was no better than any other form of dictatorial government.  Yes, he took property away from some of the rich but he didn’t give it to the peasants, he formed collective farms that the peasants were forced to work.  He also maintained the industrialists and their positions to run his now government seized industries.  As a result, the average Russian did not gain significantly in economic status.  There was never an intention to let the average Russian people grow economically.

After WWII, Mao followed Lenin’s philosophy and was able to overthrow the government of China.  There too, a dictatorship under the guise of communism was formed.  It was no more communist than Lenin’s Russia, but what the hell, it worked in Russia so it would work in China.  The funny thing is that the Chinese and the Russians never really liked each other.  Dictators never really do like each other.  At some point one of them will try to take over the other.

The government set wages that were a bit higher than before the revolution, but not significantly higher.  Yet, the bureaucrats and industry leaders lived in luxury.  If you want to talk about income inequality at its worse, you just need to look at Russia under Lenin’s communist regime.

Under Lenin and then Stalin, the dictatorial regime masquerading as communism became even stronger.  Purges of political opponents made sure these people stayed in power.  All the while they were consolidating their power, they were dictating policy that affected the people of Russia.

There was a lot of talk about redistributing wealth in these communist countries.  But what really happened was that the wealth was redistributed to the government bureaucrats and industrialists not the people.  Right after the fall of the Soviet Union, there sure were a lot of suddenly rich multi-millionaires in Russia.  Where did they suddenly get their wealth?

So, what does all of this have to do with America?  Since the right-wing does not want to let go of the cold war, we continuously hear about communists trying to bring down our country.  And, there are a lot of similarities going on in our country right now.

Under Leninist communism, industries received large government subsidies to maintain productivity.  Yes, they were supposedly “government-owned”, but the money still came from the government.  In our country today, many companies receive large government subsidies as well.  Companies like oil and gas companies and chemical companies receive large government subsidies at taxpayer expense.

Other companies like Wal-Mart, McDonald’s, Burger King, and other minimum wage employers receive billions of dollars in government subsidies in the form of government safety nets for their employees.  Things like food stamps and WIC and health care subsidies for their employees so they don’t have to pay a livable wage.

In Lenin’s Russia, industrialists and government bureaucrats paid little or no taxes.  Today, politicians are still trying to keep taxes very low for the rich and corporations.  One in four corporations in America today do not pay any corporate taxes.  Yet, many of them still receive government subsidies on top of not paying taxes.

Lenin’s Russia forced the people to practice a religion known as the state.  The state was the only thing that mattered.  Although they did not directly outlaw people from practicing their religion, it was very strongly discouraged.  Today we have people who are attempting to force everyone to believe in one form of religion.  If you disagree with them, they complain that you are waging war on their beliefs.

In these communist regimes, the state dictated every aspect of a normal life.  They forced people to follow a strict living style whether they believed in it or not.  Today, we have similar people trying to force a particular living style on everyone else.  They even have introduced legislation in some states that would make it legal to discriminate against anyone who doesn’t believe what they believe.

As in all dictatorships, the number one goal of women was to have babies.  It is necessary to keep the population growing so more “workers” or “soldiers” are available to help the state.  We have similar beliefs running rampant today in our country.  Everything from denying equal pay for equal work to outlawing abortion and birth control are all aimed at keeping women in their place and having babies.

Non-Russian minorities were hugely discriminated against in the Soviet Union.  These minorities did not enjoy the same “rights” as Russians.  The Soviet Union was Russia’s empire after all.  Today we see civil rights under attack again in America.  Voter Suppression Laws and attempts to codify discrimination are just a couple of examples.

So, when you look at the name calling, especially the communist tagline, who are the real communists in American politics?  Is it the people who want to ensure equal treatment for our citizens or people who want to suppress the vote to minorities?

Is it the people who want to ensure equal protection under the law for everyone regardless of beliefs, or those who want to dictate which lifestyles are acceptable and be able to discriminate against anyone who doesn’t agree with their dictates?

Is it the people who want fair and equal pay for their labors, or those who fight against a livable wage and equal pay for equal work regardless of the sex of the worker?  Is it those who want to see everyone with health care, or those who believe that if you are poor you don’t deserve any health care and if you die, you die?

Is it the people who want to decrease the huge income inequality to help grow our economy, or those who want to make that inequality even bigger so the rich get richer at the expense of the labor force?  Is it the people who think that the poor, disabled and elderly should be protected by social safety nets, or those who believe they should be cut loose while increasing subsidies to large corporations?

If you want to see who could reasonably be called a communist based on the cold war definition of communism, you just have to look at the platforms of the two political parties.  I know whom I believe are the communists, you will have to make up your own mind.

 

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The other day President Obama said that the FCC should enforce strict net neutrality rules on the Internet.  Obviously, the internet providers like Comcast went nuts.  They were seconded by the Canadian Senator Ted Cruz.  To show just how stupid Cruz really is, he tweeted that the “internet should not operate at the speed of government.”  But, for the vast majority of internet users, that is exactly what ending net neutrality will do.

The ISP providers have a practice of charging companies for where they show up on search engines.  I have some first hand experience with that.  Back in the 90s, I started a small one-man consulting business.  I had my own web site.  If I wanted to have my company show up on search engines’ first page, I had to pay hundreds of dollars to the provider.

If I wanted my company to show up in those little boxes at the top, I would have had to pay thousands of dollars.  That is bad enough.  But, now ISP providers want to establish “fast lanes” and “slow lanes” all based on how much you are willing to pay them.

It works this way.  If you pay the exorbitant fees, you can have your information put in the high-speed “fast lanes” so people can access your information quicker.  If you cannot afford to pay those high fees, your content will be placed in the “slow lanes”.  Or, as Cruz would put it “operating at the speed of government.”

We are already faced with the ISP companies enjoying monopoly status.  Most people in the country only have a couple of providers to choose from to get their service.  Local laws have made competition for the internet providers almost non-existent in their communities just like cable.  That has already allowed the providers to charge high fees just to get on the internet.  Now, they want to “target” what we can research through their new rip-off.

But why all the fuss?  The fuss is over dollars.  The internet turned out to be something that is actually democratic.  Anyone with information they wish to share can put it on the internet and millions of people can access that information.  The internet has actually become a necessary part of our infrastructure.  It allows research for homework, business, and entertainment.

The plutocrats see it as a money-maker.  By segregating the internet content into “fast” and “slow” lanes, they can make huge profits.  Companies like Wal-Mart and the Koch Brothers, are not too concerned about paying those fees.  They can afford them (and take a tax deduction for them as well).  But start-up companies and most small businesses cannot afford such high fees.

So, the providers would:

  • Rather than having one big broadband “freeway” open for transporting everyone’s Internet content, the ISP giants intend to create a special system of lanes for high-speed traffic.
  • This express lane will be made available to those who want to rush their information/view points/programs/etc. to the public and to get greater visibility for their content by having it separated from the mass clutter of the freeway.
  • The ISPs will charge a premium price to those who want their content transported via this special Internet toll-lane system.

I have not heard one single Republican talk in favor of net neutrality.  Everyone who has talked about it calls it more government regulation.  I guess if you have the government tell companies they cannot “rig the system” in their favor, that is called regulation.  If these same companies are allowed to regulate what you can see at high-speed, that is called the “free marketplace”.

But, don’t kid yourselves.  This is all about money.  It is about companies using their monopolies to garner more profit at your expense.  The larger the company selling something on the internet, the more they will be exposed by this policy of charging for “fast” lanes.  It will cripple small businesses which the Republicans say they are totally in favor of protecting.

As usual, we are faced with monopolies determining what information you can view at high speeds and what you cannot.  If your company is forced into the “slow” lanes, it will undoubtedly be subject to even slower transfer of information.  Which means people will get tired of waiting for your site to load and go to the high-speed sites instead.

Then, after this has given the ISP providers more money, they will suddenly come up with a third lane and charge a premium for that as well.  Instead of fast lanes and slow lanes, they will come up with medium lanes.  Of course the price between slow lanes and medium lanes will double and small business will be further limited in their reach to the market.

The FCC needs to enforce rules that ensures net neutrality.  By fighting against net neutrality, Republicans are helping to shut down small businesses.  Then again, they don’t get as much in donation money from small business as they do from giant conglomerates.  Just like the ISP companies, for Republicans it is all about how much money they get.

 

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The economy, according to the “experts”, is recovering from our Great Recession.  The stock market is booming again.  Gas prices are falling, almost to a point where these experts are getting scared.  Productivity has increased.  Even the housing market is beginning to recover in most parts of the country.  But, are we really in a “recovery”?

In past economic downturns and recoveries, the middle-class were both hurt by the downturn and benefitted from the recovery.  Can we really say that this recovery is benefitting the middle-class?  Government figures show that unemployment is down to under 7%.  That is the lowest it has been in 12 years.  Yet, those same figures state that about one-quarter of the unemployed are classified as “long-term” unemployed.  Meaning they have been out of work for several months, if not years.

Anyone who has watched the economy, or has been put out of work, knows that the longer you are unemployed, the lower your chances of getting a job.  If you are out of work for say 12 months, companies are less likely to hire you over someone who has been out of work for say 2 months.  This type of secret discrimination is common in the world.  I have heard a lot of different reasons why companies won’t hire long-term unemployed, and frankly none of them made any sense to me.

Then there is the fact that over 7 million workers are currently holding part-time jobs even though they want to work full-time.  Part-time work generally pays less and offer no benefits to the worker.  Many of these part-time workers simply took the job while they searched for a full-time job.  They are still in their part-time position.

One item that is talked about a lot is that fact that the top 1% captured 95 percent of the post crisis growth.  While the bottom 90 percent became poorer.  To showcase this point even further since 1979, productivity in the country has grown by a whopping 65 percent.  In that same 33 years, the average worker saw their pay increase a mere 8 percent.  Even worse, since 2007 the median U.S. income dropped every year and when adjusted for inflation was the lowest since 1995.

Corporations are playing accounting games to make sure they pay less or no corporate income taxes.  Approximately one-quarter of American corporations pay ZERO dollars in corporate income taxes.  Other companies are cheating the tax man by hiding money offshore.  When they hide money offshore, they can claim their “profits” are hurting and thus be able to cry for larger tax cuts to help offset this phony shortfall of profits.

Some states have gone ahead and raised the minimum wage.  Republicans, mostly conservatives, have shouted that this raise will cost jobs.  But, so far the proof says otherwise.  In states that raised the minimum wage, more jobs have been created.  Their economies are improving at a faster rate.  And people are coming off the Federal Social Safety Net.  Yet, there is a very large front against raising the minimum wage.  This front is funded by the very corporations who are hiding money offshore and paying no corporate income taxes.

I have seen recessions come and go in the past.  I witnessed the growth of the economy before and I witnessed everyone gaining from that recovery.  This is the first time I have seen where 90% of the population, the part that does the actual labor for these companies, are falling further and further behind during the recovery!

Problem is that as long as politicians and their “talking heads” ignore these simple truths, the American People will continue to suffer and lose economic ground.  The income inequality is already at its highest since the great Robber Baron days.  Conservatives say that the country is going to rack and ruin.  They are correct.  But, the culprits are not immigrants, minorities, women, or unions.  It is the very donors that keep them in power while hiding money offshore.

In the 2012 elections we constantly heard the cry “we built this” from Republicans the their corporate donors.  As long as the people allow that lie to continue, those 1 percenters will continue to grab all the benefits of any recovery.  The truth is that the workers “built it”.  Without their toil, none of these companies would prosper.  As a result, the workers deserve a larger piece of the pie.  Only then can we truly say the economy has recovered.

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