Tag Archive | "socialism"

The Dark Horse

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Frequently dubbed the sport of Kings, horse racing provides the origin of the phrase “dark horse,” an unknown horse on which handicappers have difficulty in establishing betting odds.  Later, the term was broadened to apply to any unexpected winner.  In American politics, the term was first applied to James Polk who, in 1844, wrested the Democratic Party’s Presidential Nomination from a field of well-known candidates en route to winning the Presidency that year.


2012 is shaping up as a similar type of year – albeit, on the opposite side of the ledger – as Republicans seek a savior to help them recapture the Presidency, lead America back to its capitalist roots, and rescue the Grand Old Party (GOP) from its own historical proclivities.  Noted for its pattern of nominating the next person in line (i.e., the runner-up in the previous Presidential election cycle’s nominating process) – particularly when running against an incumbent President, the Party has nominated such lackluster candidates as Bob Dole and John McCain, candidates who were not really in step with the Party’s conservative mainstream.


This cycle, it appears to be Mitt Romney’s turn.  Lacking the passion and conservative chops that the Party’s faithful desire most, Romney has been challenged by a host of candidates whose primary credential for the Presidency is that each is not Mitt Romney.  And so, we have seen the rise and subsequent fall of Michelle Bachman, Rick Perry, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, and Ron Paul (whose fall is still in progress).  Thus, it appears likely that when the smoke clears, a bloodied Mitt Romney will prevail as the Republican Nominee.


But, something is different this time.  Hailed as among the most defining elections in our nation’s history, the 2012 Presidential Election – coming as it does at the conjunction of the Great Recession, jobless recovery, declining middle class, rising income inequality, worldwide financial crisis, international political and social unrest, exponential growth in healthcare costs, and growing class of senior citizens expecting to receive entitlements in the form of Social Security and Medicare to which they have been paying taxes their entire lives –  may well determine America’s future course.  Are we still going to be a country “of the people, by the people and for the people,” or will we go down the same road as previous republics such as the Roman Empire?


Some, many in the broadcast media included, want the United States to become a European-style social democracy.  Founded on the principles of personal liberty and economic freedom, America and its capitalistic system have been viewed by many as a “shining city on a hill.”  Yet, unfettered capitalism and its close relative, free trade can create a cold, cruel world for those who do not attain at least a middle class income – a class which, by the way, is ceding many of its members to poverty.  Capitalism and free trade care nothing about people, only about costs and profits.  And, our public policies, economic system, and the rise of multi-national corporations are among the most significant reasons why American jobs are being exported to other parts of the world.


Yet, not everyone in our society must adhere to the laws of competition.  As was evident during the economic crisis of 2008, we live in a country that practices Socialism for the wealthy and Capitalism for the working class.  Taxpayer dollars have been used to bailout corporations and financial institutions, despite the fact that these enterprises created the situations that bankrupted them and ultimately used bailout funds to reward their executives through lavish bonuses.  Social Security contributions are still being dumped into the general tax fund and used for projects other than that for which they were intended.  Whatever happened to the Social Security Lock Box?!?


Among the most tried and true paths to wealth in our country is by gaining elective office.  Our political leaders are all extremely well off financially.  They live by a different set of rules, have their own healthcare system, and exempt themselves from many of the laws that they pass (e.g., laws preventing those with insider knowledge from profiting by virtue of that knowledge).  Yet, absent a significant bankroll, the little guy seeking entry into the national political scene is largely shut out; unless, of course, he can secure the support of wealthy Godfathers to whom he will be indebted when he assumes office.  And, when it comes to running for the Presidency, outsiders are not welcome regardless of their financial status.  Remember Herman Cain.


Social programs that make life in America a little less harsh and cruel to the poor and working classes are deemed welfare.  Yet, subsidies to industries (like the now bankrupt Solyndra) are termed investment.


Charity is the balm of a capitalistic society, the salve that eases the consciences of today’s Ebenezer Scrooges – the one percenters like the members of Congress and the captains of industry enriching themselves on the blood, sweat, and tears of their underlings.  Like the unrepentant Scrooge at the beginning of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, they seek profits first, with their consciences and concerns for others running a distant second.


Home and property ownership, hailed as the American Dream and one of the pillars of our society, is a farce, because you never really own your property if you cannot afford the taxes.  Many seniors living on fixed incomes have become increasingly aware of this situation as their fixed incomes vanish before the tidal wave of increasing property taxes and costs of living.  What will become of the American Dream?


In this great struggle to reclaim the soul of America, we the people can only hope for the emergence of a dark horse who has the best interests of our citizens and country at heart.  Then, perhaps, we can create a new America where individual freedom is tempered by compassion, and we reclaim our place as the moral and economic beacon to the rest of the world.


Who’s Getting Hosed?

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An Open Letter to Bill O’Reilly (Fox News)


The burgeoning file of viewer responses to Bill O’Reilly’s recent “Who’s Getting Hosed” program, is about to gain another addition; namely, my considered opinion.  


In case you missed the program, Bill’s discussion with Ms. Sarah Palin touched upon entitlement reform.  As an 85-year-old survivor of the Great Depression and World War II — in other words, as someone who has seen “the best of times” and “the worst of times” — I believe that my perspective is both relevant and valid.


I remember when FDR (President Franklin Delano Roosevelt) mandated Social Security as part of the New Deal (National Recovery Act).  After the crash on Wall Street and the resultant demise of too many American banks, FDR also ushered in other safeguards to protect the American people from another financial disaster.  He based his actions upon the theory that the economy depended upon the purchasing power of its people.  It was a theory that seemed to make a lot of sense.


By implementing shovel ready jobs (the WPA) and restoring trust to financial institutions, our nation slowly moved forward.  FDR also encouraged the growth of the Labor Movement as a tool to compel industry to raise the wages of workers by 93%.  Whether the implementation of this plan would have accomplished recovery, we will never know, because WWII intervened.


The war, as it turned out, solved the unemployment problem; by 1942, the New Deal had been repealed, with one exception.  That exception was Social Security.  In the years that followed the war, our economy grew by leaps and bounds. Enterprising homebuilders, such as Levitt, launched a campaign to supply modest dwellings in suburbia.


The housing boom gave birth to increased sales of household goods and automobiles.  The advent of television and televised commercials elevated consumer demand for these products and thus, further heightened the employment rate.  Wall Street experienced phenomenal growth in the decade spanning 1950 to 1960.  The economy was humming along nicely.  Could it be that FDR was correct in his assumption about the spending power of our citizens?


The Cold War with Russia and the resultant Race to Space added to our economic growth.  Larger paychecks produced record sales.  Merchants invested in shopping malls and thus was coined the phrase, “Shop til you drop.”  It seemed as if, to paraphrase an old song, happy days were here again.


In the midst of this explosive growth, labor unions were riding high.  Collective bargaining agreements produced wage increases that did not translate in terms of dollars in the workers’ paychecks for their 40-hour workweek.   However, these increases paid for fringe benefits: time and a half or double time for working weekends and/or holidays, healthcare insurance, paid sick leave, paid vacations, and paid holidays as well as paid time off for a death in the family.  These benefits were agreed upon by both employer and unions.   Might you call this, “Sharing the wealth?”


Today, these fringe benefits have been removed from the bargaining table.  Unions find themselves giving back hard-won gains in order to keep their members employed.  Through automation and outsourcing, American industry has created the atmosphere ripe to kill the goose that laid the golden egg (Social Security).


Personally, I feel that President Roosevelt was on the right path to national recovery by increasing the purchasing power of our people.  But, his dream died as we decided to become involved in a global society; the same society that has outsourced manufacturing, IT, and so many other jobs overseas.   Social Security emerged from the need to address the American worker once he or she left the workforce.  Call it Socialism or Social Engineering, the bottom line now is, how, as a nation, do we address this problem?


In listening to some of the proposed plans, I have to wonder about the pitch coming from former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich.  He wants to have the credit card companies invent a foolproof Green Card for guest workers.  I have to wonder what planet he lives on, given the fact that consumers are in the throes of the greatest period of unemployment since the Great Depression.


As I listen to the rhetoric about reforming Social Security by grandfathering a portion of the recipients and offering bailouts to those that do not qualify, I cannot help but feel that this is a most callous approach proposed by our leaders.   To put this into perspective, how do you think the average person would feel if the insurance provider he endorsed welched on him?  Suppose that provider announced that it could no longer afford to pay out settlements genuinely due him?


Social Security funds have been used and abused by our government to balance budgets and wage wars.  The so-called “lock box” brought to light by the global warming expert, Al Gore, is filled with IOUs.


As our concerned leaders of this nation and representatives of media continue to expound upon the dire straits of our economy, I have not and probably will not hear that similar reforms be enacted upon the endowments/entitlements of our elected officials.  With their hefty pensions, terrific healthcare coverage, and campaign war chests, no wonder our governmental officials die in office.  It doesn’t pay, literally, to die anywhere else!


There is a message circulating on the Internet via Representative Ted Poe (Republican, Texas).  It concerns the squandering of American taxpayers’ money and how the squandering was authorized by the Congress of the United States.  A picture paints a thousand words.  So if you want to see your government in action, play the video below:



 


In answer to Mr. O’Reilly’s question, “Who is getting hosed?”, the answer is, “We the people!


Isolationism: The Ism for Me

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Isolated Island

In America, we practice capitalism, the economic system in which the means of production and distribution are privately owned and operated for profit.  Other countries follow socialism. Under this system (I understand this is a gross oversimplification), all members of a society share in the work, products, and earnings.

 

One difference between our nation and others is our Constitution drafted by our forefathers, guaranteeing our citizens unalienable rights.  Chief among these is, “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”  In a capitalist society, this may be interpreted to mean that there are no limits to what one may achieve, within the boundaries of the law.

 

Under capitalism, America became the world’s most prosperous country; yet, with socialist tendencies.  For example, after America emerged victorious from World War II, the U.S. did not seize lands or wealth from the defeated nations of Europe.  Instead, it rebuilt Europe, “sharing the wealth” so that The Continent could become a viable member of the global community.  Sixty-four years after World War II ended, America finds herself on a changing course.  The new administration has browbeaten us with promises of “Change. ”  By aiming to redistribute wealth to all, including the indigent and illegal aliens, America is becoming more socialist with each Presidential edict.

 

When the dust settles, will American stand on the side of capitalism or socialism?   If this question makes your head spin, may I offer an alternative?   I suggest that we adopt isolationism, a system that trucks not in foreign affairs.

 

Under isolationism, we can lose the United Nations, now camped cozily in The Big Apple and enjoying splendid perks at the expense of our taxpayers.   The money saved in booting the U.N. can begin to furnish hard-working Americans with a national healthcare plan (another bow to socialism).  As isolationists, we would stop sending money to foreign nations in order to secure their friendship.   We would cease pulling foreign chestnuts out of fires and allow other countries to solve their own problems (my, what a refreshing change).   By closing our borders and circling our wagons, we would halt outsourcing of manufacturing and restore this industry to its former, U.S. glory.   Thus, we would create jobs and make a major dent in the unemployment rate.  

 

With its abundance of natural resources and advanced technology, our nation can afford to be aloof, especially at this juncture in history.  We have always been a nation of consumers seeking the best for our families and ourselves.  An isolationist government would enable us to return to capitalism while still providing socialist programs for our people.  With the best of both worlds, how can we go wrong?

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