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Saturday, December 28, 2013

Welfare ruins nations?

We've heard it repeatedly, right? Welfare--for the people--makes them weaker?

And what countries also aren't outspending the rest of the world for war, bombs and planes, investing so much of their GDP on death and war?

Yeah, them, that's who.

And then there's this, added to it all:

I think it's all important to know.

And repeat.


Friday, December 27, 2013

Entertainment overnight -- holiday edition VI

Missouri makes a pretty disgusting list

According to a Kaiser Family Foundation  study, well, read it for yourself:

Living in a red state is hazardous to your health

The 12 states with the highest mortality rates:
1. Mississippi
2. Alabama
3. West Virginia
4. Oklahoma
5. Kentucky
6. Louisiana
7. Arkansas
8. Tennessee
9. South Carolina
10. Georgia
11. Indiana
12. Missouri
As the Daily Kos article states:
Of the 25 states above the national average, 19 are blue and just six are red. Of the 25 states below the national average, 17 are "red" and just eight are "blue."

Environmental policies, access to health insurance, workplace safety regulations ... these things matter.

So, congratulations, Jefferson City, Missouri legislators and Missourians. You're getting exactly what you're voting for and spending on.

And it isn't people's health or best interests.


On the coming new year, and the passing of the last


"Outside, pre-dawn: be still, be quiet; face the east; breathe slowly, calmly, and wait. When the sun rises, imagine the truth: the sun is not rising, the earth is turning.
You are riding the earth as it turns, and you are looking out at a giant nuclear furnace blazing 8 light minutes away, hanging in an unfathomable void.
Realize how special that is.
Love life.
Share this sense of wonder.
Repeat as desired."
--James Pomeroy, FB friend

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The meaning of a decent society (guest post)

It's the season to show concern for the less fortunate among us. We should also be concerned about the widening gap between the most fortunate and everyone else.

Although it's still possible to win the lottery (your chance of winning $636 million in the recent Mega Millions sweepstakes was one in 259 million), the biggest lottery of all is what family we're born into. Our life chances are now determined to an unprecedented degree by the wealth of our parents.
That's not always been the case. The faith that anyone could move from rags to riches -- with enough guts and gumption, hard work and nose to the grindstone -- was once at the core of the American Dream.

And equal opportunity was the heart of the American creed. Although imperfectly achieved, that ideal eventually propelled us to overcome legalized segregation by race, and to guarantee civil rights. It fueled efforts to improve all our schools and widen access to higher education. It pushed the nation to help the unemployed, raise the minimum wage, and provide pathways to good jobs. Much of this was financed by taxes on the most fortunate.

But for more than three decades we've been going backwards. It's far more difficult today for a child from a poor family to become a middle-class or wealthy adult. Or even for a middle-class child to become wealthy.

The major reason is widening inequality. The longer the ladder, the harder the climb. America is now more unequal that it's been for eighty or more years, with the most unequal distribution of income and wealth of all developed nations. Equal opportunity has become a pipe dream.

Rather than respond with policies to reverse the trend and get us back on the road to equal opportunity and widely-shared prosperity, we've spent much of the last three decades doing the opposite.

Taxes have been cut on the rich, public schools have deteriorated, higher education has become unaffordable for many, safety nets have been shredded, and the minimum wage has been allowed to drop 30 percent below where it was in 1968, adjusted for inflation.

Congress has just passed a tiny bipartisan budget agreement, and the Federal Reserve has decided to wean the economy off artificially low interest rates. Both decisions reflect Washington's (and Wall Street's) assumption that the economy is almost back on track.

But it's not at all back on the track it was on more than three decades ago.

It's certainly not on track for the record 4 million Americans now unemployed for more than six months, or for the unprecedented 20 million American children in poverty (we now have the highest rate of child poverty of all developed nations other than Romania), or for the third of all working Americans whose jobs are now part-time or temporary, or for the majority of Americans whose real wages continue to drop.

How can the economy be back on track when 95 percent of the economic gains since the recovery began in 2009 have gone to the richest 1 percent?

The underlying issue is a moral one: What do we owe one another as members of the same society?
Conservatives answer that question by saying it's a matter of personal choice -- of charitable works, philanthropy, and individual acts of kindness joined in "a thousand points of light."

But that leaves out what we could and should seek to accomplish together as a society. It neglects the organization of our economy, and its social consequences. It minimizes the potential role of democracy in determining the rules of the game, as well as the corruption of democracy by big money. It overlooks our strivings for social justice.

In short, it ducks the meaning of a decent society.

Last month Pope Francis wondered aloud whether "trickle-down theories, which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness," Rush Limbaugh accused the pope of being a Marxist for merely raising the issue.

But the question of how to bring about greater justice and inclusiveness is as American as apple pie. It has animated our efforts for more than a century -- during the Progressive Era, the New Deal, the Great Society, and beyond -- to make capitalism work for the betterment of all rather merely than the enrichment of a few.

The supply-side, trickle-down, market-fundamentalist views that took root in America in the early 1980s got us fundamentally off track.

To get back to the kind of shared prosperity and upward mobility we once considered normal will require another era of fundamental reform, of both our economy and our democracy.

ROBERT B. REICH, Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley, was Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration. Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the last century. He has written thirteen books, including the best sellers "Aftershock" and "The Work of Nations." His film, "Inequality for All," will be out in September. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine and chairman of Common Cause. Watch the trailer for his new film, Inequality for All:

A Christmas wish for America

"Last month Pope Francis asked whether “trickle-down theories, which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness…”.

Rush Limbaugh accused the Pope of being a Marxist for merely raising the issue. But the question of how to bring about greater justice and inclusiveness is as American as apple pie. It animated our efforts for more than a century –- during the Progressive Era, the New Deal, the war on poverty, the struggle for civil rights, and beyond — to make capitalism work for the betterment of all rather merely than the enrichment of a few.

The trickle-down market fundamentalism that took root in America in the early 1980s got us fundamentally off track. It is time to recommit ourselves to the shared prosperity and upward mobility that were once the heart of the American dream.

I wish you and yours a Merry Christmas."  

--Robert Reich, American political economist, professor, author, and political commentator

Links:  Robert Reich - Wikipedia

Robert Reich | Facebook

The Meaning of a Decent Society

This lazy Congress' gift to the nation

Email your Senators and Representative.
Let's tell them enough.
We need a jobs/infrastructure bill from this next Congress.
And as soon as possible.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Entertainment overnight--holiday edition V

Well-known, sure, but still fun.

Fun to me, anyway.

Happy holidays, y'all.

How cool is this?

I just found it on a friend's page on Facebook.

Santa's elves are busy right now, but this is one ELF that works it year round. ELF is a sun-powered trike featuring bike pedals and solar electric assist to make your ride fun and easy, clean and green… and fast.
Some stats on it:
1,800 MPG
  • Total weight 150 lbs
  • Load capacity 350 lbs
  • Electric motor 750 watt
  • Electric power 20 mph
  • Electric range 14+ miles
  • Charge via outlet 1 1/2 hours
  • Charge via sunlight~ 7 hours
    And made in the USA.
 · Dec 16, 2013
    Dean of Duke's Nicholas School
 · December 16, 2013
    Montana...thinking ahead. · Dec. 16, 2013
    Free 24/7 roadside assistance

    The Republican agenda

    Displaying .facebook_1618690057.jpg
    How is any of that good for America?

    Thursday, December 19, 2013

    Entertainment overnight--holiday edition IV

    A great effort and foundation

    You're familiar with the Playing For Change group maybe?

    This organization has their own foundation and with it, they finance scholarships for young people's education, across the world.

    If you're thinking about helping any organization this holiday season, you might consider them.

    Happy holidays.

    Links:   Playing for Change - Wikipedia

    Playing for Change Foundation

    Playing For Change Foundation - YouTube

    On that "Duck Dynasty" brouhaha

    First, yesterday, there was this:

    'Duck Dynasty's' Phil Robertson suspended for comments about gays

    Then, in the same interview, this little jewel was discovered:

    'Duck Dynasty' Star Phil Robertson Claims Black People Were 'Happy' Pre-Civil Rights

    So this came up today, on FB:

    oh my, the similarities are a bit uncomfortable …just saying
    I'd think he'd be upset--maybe plenty so--at this comparison but, come on, it seems extremely accurate and fair.

    Wednesday, December 18, 2013

    Entertainment overnight--holiday edition III

    Entertainment overnight--holiday edition II

    Rep. Vickie Hartzler tries to shame the President, backfires


    Poor Vickie Hartzler.

    The poor thing did get elected to a Missouri government office.  She just isn't that bright. This from the Columbia Tribune yesterday:

    Hartzler moves flag for press conference to avoid image with Obama

    So instead of somehow shaming the President--her President and ours--she ends up doing that very thing to herself.  Worse, she ends up shaming the very people who elected her. In fact, she ends up shaming the state, all Missourians.

    And naturally, it went out nationally.  Here it is from ABC News:

    Here's another:

    So, yeah, poor Vickie Hartzler.

    Worse, poor Cass County.

    And poor Missouri.

    Whatever you do, just don't think she is--or her followers are--racist.

    Heaven forbid.

    Friday, December 13, 2013

    Entertainment overnight--holiday edition II

    Happy holidays to all

    Happy holidays?

    From the looks of it, some of us will be getting some terrific gifts this holiday season, if even just in the way of holiday movies.

    They aren't about beautiful, functioning, happy families, without doubt, but it looks like a whole lotta' great acting and cinematography going on.

    First there's Meryl Streep's new movie:

    She just doesn't look like the quiet, soft-spoken, beautiful, intelligent,sophisticated Meryl we know but it surely does look like some great acting, as usual, from her.  And check out that cast--besides Ms. Streep, there's Julia Roberts, Ewan McGregor (who I couldn't even recognize), Sam Shepard, Chris Cooper, Juliette Lewis, Dermot Mulroney and more. It's loaded with talent.

    Then there's the very Bruce Dern-looking, new Bruce Dern movie, "Nebraska."

    I read an interview of Mr. Dern and he said he didn't like being typecast as the crazy, old coot in movies yet he chose this role and movie and pursued it doggedly.

    Sorry, Mr. Dern, your sure come across very much the crazy old coot, for sure, as this seems to show.

    And as for the state of Nebraska, it's as I said a week or so ago on, when I first saw the trailer for this film, it's surely not going to do anything good for their tourism, that much seems true.

    I think it's interesting that both these films, so full of promise, are apparently about extremely dysfunctional families.

    I wonder what that says about us?

    So there you go, folks.  Some possible great movie viewing for us this Christmas.

    May you have very happy holidays.