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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Things that are weakening America


I got to thinking of things that are actually weakening America, as a nation and came up with a short but, I think, rather powerful list:

1)  The insanely, absurdly, obscenely, even immorally far-too-high costs of health care in our country and our inability to do anything about it. We pay more for health care in this country than any other people or nation, we have the worst health results of the top 17 industrialized nations and more of us go bankrupt from health costs than any other reason in our country. And one political party wants to do nothing whatever about it;

2) Internet neutrality.  Allowing corporations and the already-rich the ability to charge us--and charge us a great deal--for the availability or for faster speeds of the internet.  It keeps us from being informed, from being educated, ultimately from being more tech-savvy and from innovating, creating and being competitive;

3) Our insanely high and extremely wasteful defense budget.  We outspend the entire world, let alone individual countries, many, many times over. And for what?  So we can fight some imaginary World War II?  Or III?

4) Campaign contributions. They allow the, again, already-wealthy and corporations to buy our legislators, their legislation and so, our laws, our government and ultimately, us.  It's insane. We shouldn't allow it;

5) Our elections and the campaigns for those elections. The campaigns are far, far too lang. England made them only so long---one month. (See link, below). And no political party spends any money whatever on these campaigns.  Our campaigns take too much away from our economy, in investment, otherwise, and our representatives don't spend enough time on the issues. Instead, they have to focus on fund-raising (selling themselves to the wealthy and corporations) and to elections and re-elections.  We just aren't that bright. Yet, anyway;

6)  Our endless wars. Our endless wars are weakening the nation from within and without.  It weakens our troops, our military, heck, it even makes our adversaries stronger. How's that for weakening us?  This is the 12th year of our war in Afghanistan. And for what? So we can "weaken the Taliban"? Or al Qaeda? Or so we can build back up that country or what? Why are we there? Why are we still there? What have we--or the world--to gain from this lunacy? I'd love to know. What's our goal now? What's the mission? And does our military know? Do our troops know?

7) Finally, because I don't want to just go on and on and I also don't want to merely drone on negatively----the do-nothing Congress. Not only are we weaker because they are, in fact, doing nearly nothing, they weaken us by not proposing and passing a jobs/infrastructure bill so we can get our economy and nation and people working and working well again. This last Congress is estimated by historians to be the least-productive ever. And this coming year, an election year, mind you, where less gets done than usual, they are scheduled, at present, to only work 97 days, total. Out of the whole year.  And still get their entire $174,000/yr salary.

Folks, we gotta' get busy.

Links:  


Why does health care cost so much in America?






And who wins from all this?  The wealthy and corporations:

6 comments:

Sevesteen said...

1. the more government gets involved in health care, the more expensive it gets--we've got the worst features of both socialized and free market for-profit care, both before and after Obamacare. We need one or the other.

2. I make my living in networking. Extra speed costs the internet extra money to deliver. It costs my employer more, even for traffic that isn't going outside our company. Saying that internet companies shouldn't be allowed to charge more for more speed is like saying the electric company shouldn't be allowed to charge more for higher usage. Without the ability to charge more for more speed internet companies have no incentive to get more speed.

What network neutrality is supposed to cover is situations where internet companies degrade signals to competing products--Artificially increasing jitter and lag for streaming so only their phone service works for audio, or blocking/slowing traffic to Netflix, trying to make Google pay to keep from slowing traffic to their sites.

Education is a red herring--the lowest grade of service offered by almost all broadband ISP's is enough for 99% of educational use without even noticing the difference. The primary need for higher tiers of speed is entertainment.

3, 6: Won't argue with you on Defense spending--it is outrageously expensive. 40% of the entire world's defense budget is the US. Make many countries pay for their own defense rather than leaving it up to the US, and don't go invading.

4, 5:Campaign contributions and elections--There are severe free speech issues here. My biggest objection is that career incumbents are the problem, and campaign finance limits benefit them far more than challengers.

How do you decide what's campaigning and what's free speech or free press? Is "The Audacity of Hope" campaigning? How about Mayor Bloomberg's groups, Moms Demand Action or Mayors Against Illegal Guns? Do they have a different legal status than Greenpeace or the NRA?

England is a different case--they don't have a First Amendment equivalent, so they can restrict campaigning without worrying about whether it is constitutionally protected speech.

Without campaign spending, how do non-mainstream groups like Libertarians or Greens get traction? Ohio has recently passed a law that effectively limits elections to the major parties.

7.)More laws are the problem, not the solution. The government can't create jobs, except by taking part of the wages from people who have jobs. Washington doesn't know what my town needs. The salary of Congress isn't the problem--it's the staff and perqs. Pay them more, but make them pay for their own staff.



Mo Rage said...

First, great to hear from you again.

Your points:

Health care involvement by government is in no way responsible for the absurdly high rates we pay for it all in this country and it is now "government involvement", via this ACA, that is lowering insurance premiums' rise in the last year.

Don't get me wrong--or accuse me--of thinking government or their involvement is the answer to all of anyone's problems, I don't. That said, government is the one thing that keeps businesses and corporations and greedy people from eating you and me alive, frequently.

--What the internet supply companies are doing to us is cleaning our collective financial clocks by charging us so much for internet, period, and for faster speeds, additionally. As a country, we can't afford to have them extort us like this.

For someone otherwise young---my perception of you---you surely do back and make excuses for big business and the wealthy a lot. A LOT. And it's not an accusation. It's just an observation.

---Yes, our defense spending is insane. and it's weakening us, overall, from within and without, both. We have to rein it in. Look what it did to the former Soviet Union, not that we, as a people, learn lessons very well or often.

---No one's Free Speech rights would be trampled on. They could still talk all they want. We've talked about this before, you and I. They could talk and talk. They just couldn't buy any representative. Or their legislation.

And England? Ok, they don't have our formal, written Constitution but they do have its predecessor, the Magna Carta and their usage of what we call Constitutional rights, over the centuries, at least equals our rights, even if they aren't more formally written. Bad comparison.

--Finally, while I agree no country can legislate themselves to Utopia, with new situations, whether due to guns or technology or whatever, there always, always arises the need for new laws. People evolve, time evolves, certainly, as I said, technology evolves. There is bound to always be a need for new laws, like it or not.

By having a jobs/infrastructure bill now, the government can/could, in fact, "create jobs." And we need both the jobs AND the work done on that infrastructure. Surely you agree to that? That we need our roads and bridges, etc., worked on.FDR created jobs in the 30's whether you agree on that or not. It's history. We need to do something similar now.

Sevesteen said...

It's way too early to see if Obamacare is lowering premiums or making insurance more available. Much of the final impact has been delayed,

We need far more competition in internet providers, and adding more regulation hinders startup providers. (I've got more to say, I'll try to get to that on your standalone post on Net Neutrality)

If you and I found a political candidate we could agree on, wanted to chip in $10 each to set up a website, that could trigger campaign disclosure laws. If we failed to file or got the details wrong, we could go to jail. Speech often costs money.

England has a different set of rights, and their government has always had more latitude in restricting speech.

There is often need for new laws--but too many laws are knee jerk reactions that don't help or make things worse. Sometimes politicians KNOW that what they propose won't help, but it will further other goals.

FDR didn't create jobs, he moved jobs from the private sector to the public. Every dollar in wages for a government project is at least a dollar or more that can't be spent in the private sector. Sure, he took credit for all those programs--but from money that should have been available in the private sector to hire and produce--Do you want the efficiency of the License Bureau or of Walmart or Amazon?

Mo Rage said...

Too early to see if Obamacare is lowering premiums?

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/29/opinion/krugman-obamacares-secret-success.html?_r=0

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-health-care-laws-success-story-slowing-down-medical-costs/2013/11/08/e08cc52a-47c1-11e3-b6f8-3782ff6cb769_story.html

And from very business friendly Forbes Magazine: Lowering costs and adding jobs to the economy: http://www.forbes.com/sites/dandiamond/2014/01/09/health-cares-biggest-paradox-slowing-spending-rising-jobs/

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/11/20/health-care-spending-growth/3650243/

http://thehill.com/blogs/healthwatch/health-reform-implementation/194062-five-states-where-obamacare-has-been-a-success

http://articles.latimes.com/2013/nov/25/business/la-fi-mh-obamacare-success-20131125

And not only is Obamacare good for the people and for cutting the costs of health care in this country, it's also proving to be good--very good--for business, too. This from very Right Wing, Red state Arkansas:

http://www.arktimes.com/ArkansasBlog/archives/2013/10/11/obamacare-is-good-for-small-business

It's also good, if not great, for state government expenses. Again, a Deep South, Republican, Right Wing state:

http://www.ajc.com/news/news/local/atlanta-to-trim-32-million-from-health-care-premiu/nSCwt/

And good for small, start-up businesses in Georgia, too:

http://majicatl.com/1976876/is-obamacare-inspiring-startup-businesses/

And for the internet, needing competition? Agreed, wholeheartedly so if we leave our internet only up to the cable companies and the big communications companies, we're tied only to them and they can do what they're doing now. That is, gouge us with ridiculously high prices because we don't have enough choices.

"FDR didn't create jobs"?

Holy cow. Way to rewrite history. You need to write all the historians, living and dead, who have written and shown otherwise. Does the CCC mean nothing to you? The bridges they built? The roads they worked? A lot of those men got those jobs where there were no other jobs to be had:

http://www.u-s-history.com/pages/h1586.html

Sevesteen said...

If 100,000 people are hired to work in government programs but that harms the economy enough that 100,001 jobs are lost in the private sector, does that still count as 100,000 jobs created?

There was unprecedented meddling in the economy during the Great Depression...and the severity of the depression was unprecedented as well. That's not a coincidence. Without the meddling, the recovery would have been much faster.

Mo Rage said...

I know you have your--these--opinions but where is your data, the statistics, the research that proves what your opinion is?

I don't believe it exists.

Here's from an economist:

http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/04/25/american-austerity/

Same economist, on government spending but the article is from, again, business-friendly Forbes magazine:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/ycharts/2012/06/06/jobs-growth-and-govt-spending-krugman-may-piss-you-off-but-hes-making-sense/