Day 587 Wednesday August 29, 2018 991 Days to Go
Well, we are rapidly counting down to the mid-term elections. In Florida, a really neat soft spoken man won the Democratic primary for Governor, upsetting the party pick. He’s a Bernie guy. It will be interesting to see how he does against a Trump picked Republican. The Rep is already calling the Dem a left wing socialist and “we can’t stop the progress we’ve made” blah blah blah. To which I ask, “What progress?”
There’s a new book out called “Winners Take All” which talks about now “the global elite” try to solve the problems they created and in fact just preserve the status quo.
This in a nutshell is what Trump and his lackeys are doing. Progress? For whom? Not the regular folk (ie the 99%). Since Reagan wages have stagnated. Why? There’s been some global changes like automation, but the biggest factor in the U.S. has been the continued harassment of people trying to bargain collectively (ie unions).
Trump and many Republicans in Congress and running for office are either not paying attention to the facts or they are envisioning “the good old days.” The problem with the former is it’ hard to solve problems when you don’t know what’s happening. The problem with the latter is that the mind forgets the bad and remembers the good stuff. People look at houses built a hundred years ago and remark, “they don’t build them like they use to.” That’s not entirely true. The crappy stuff fell apart. All you have left is the good stuff, that lasted.
Trump held a rally in West Virginia a week back (seems an eternity.) He said he was for coal and he’d bring jobs back, etc. He ignores the fact that automation will mean far fewer jobs than “the good old days.” The coal industry talks about “clean coal.” Let me tell you about clean coal. I worked at Western Electric, the supplier to Bell Telephone of most of their equipment. In the factory where I was a supervisor we made stuff that dated back to the 1920s. Much of it was based on two pieces of carbon set with a specific gap between them. The idea was that an excessive electric current could be bled off from a phone line that way. Where the carbon pieces were made was black with soot. The men working there had black soot in their pores. It was filthy. They got paid top dollar. More than almost anyone in the factory. The job didn’t seem all that hard. In fact, most of the time they sat around while the machines did the work.
I wondered why they got paid so much. I pulled the job description sheet. These sheets had scoring on the front for skill and difficulty. I looked at their sheet. It wasn’t scored high on difficulty. So why did they get such a high job grade? I turned the sheet over. On the back side were other factors. There it was: “Exposure can cause death.” That is clean coal in nutshell. Maybe, you can put in better filters and scrubbers and wear masks etc. but the stuff is filthy and “can cause death.”
So where’s the progress?
Let’s talk about helping people. How could we help people? Better health care? Yeah. Better working conditions and pay? Yeah. Better education options? Yeah.
Could we figure out a way to do some of those things? Yeah. So why have the Republicans stood in the way and blocked each and every one of those things?
The current Republican Party acts more like a mafia family than a political party and it’s not me who says this. It’s former Republicans who are commentators.
Let’s look at a proposal in each of the three areas I’ve mentioned:
Health Care – Let The VA, Medicare, and big insurers negotiate directly with the drug companies to decrease the cost of drugs. This is currently not allowed by law. This is crazy. The savings would be 30-40% easy.
Better Working Conditions – Increase the minimum wage, peg the lowest paid person’s wage to the CEO’s wage in the company or industry. What would be reasonable? The CEO can’t make more the one hundred times the lowest paid person? 200?
Better Education – Get rid of the student debt restrictions. Currently students can’t renegotiate their debt. That’s crazy. Drop the costs of public college education. It could be done if we had politicians who cared.
Fair Share Taxation – If everyone paid their fair share we could do a lot. You know what this would mean? Yeah. The rich would have to pay. They aren’t now.
There are a number of much more specific and reasonable things in a bill that is in the Senate, but of course Mitch McConnell won’t do anything because it has Democrats signed on as well as Republicans, and he’s been so paid off by special interests that this bill would hurt that he won’t budge.
In other news, a thirty year old Russian who hacked Dropbox and Linkedin has been extradited to the U.S. for trial. I mean it was no big deal, right? 68 million accounts or more from Dropbox and 117 million from Linkedin. This was back in 2012 and has nothing to do with the current Russian hacking … Or does it? … Why have officials from the Russian government visited him on several occasions without his lawyer present? There are rumors that he knows something about Russian hacking of elections here. Nine counts – $1M in fines – 32 years in prison. He’ll be out in time to retire.
Meanwhile the woman who blew the whistle on Russian hacking back in 2017 gets five years in prison. The intelligence community memo this woman printed out and passed to the Intercept showed that the intelligence community knew the Russians were hacking our election system back in 2016. And she’s going to prison for trying to get the word out. What I could never figure our was why Michael Hayden, under oath, lied to Congress and he never got in trouble.
Michael Steele warned the FBI and other folks about the Russians and they did nothing. When he went to other sources to reveal what was going on the FBI cut him off.
Now we have another terrible situation: two actually. The FBI’s expert on Russia counterespionage has been fired. The FBI’s expert on the Russian mafia is now being grilled by Congress. Why? Oh he knew Michael Steele.
Meanwhile the House had had someone come talk to them about Hillary’s emails. Great. Any concern about Russia and hacking? Nope. What about passing that bill to have states keep paper ballots as backup to the electronic systems so audits can be performed? Stopped that sucker.
So tell me why would we want to continue this “progress”?
991 Days to Go