I woke up this morning and turned on the TV. As usual Morning Joe was on and the speculation meter was running at 98%. I listened for a little news and learned the conversation was dominated by two things, the virus, and the plunging Dow Jones.
Apparently, the viral threat continues to grow and there is talk of closing down Congress to help protect the mostly old white men who comprise its membership, Ted Cruz and some dude from Arizona are going into self-isolation to help keep their constituents back home from catching the bug. I’m guessing the real reason is to help keep their asses at least six feet away from anyone they may need to bump elbows with.
I’ve started this blog several times. My goal each time was to provide a simple definition and explanation of America’s mixed economic system and where socialism has always played a part. My motivation came from a meme that a friend posted on Facebook and that a friend of theirs took to task.
Every time I began writing, however, I ended up with something the size of War and Peace and may be as confusing as Frank Herbert’s, Dune.
The Ohio presidential primary is about a month away and I’ve begun the process of trying to decide which candidate will get my vote. Since most Americans claim that healthcare is the most important issue for them, that’s where I began my study.
Healthcare is not an easy thing to understand for someone like me. I don’t consider myself a bean counter and I’m driven more by idealism than reality. For example, in my heart of hearts, I want a single-payer, universal system where healthcare is a human right and not a single American has to live without it. You have a sore toe and think it needs professional attention, you go to the doc, get it looked at, and it doesn’t cost you a penny.
Trump raves about his economy and his die-hard consumers of sugary artificially flavored fruit beverage followers joyfully accept his ravings. Yes, unemployment rates are low and the stock market is high. But if one really stares at the emperor’s new suit one might see that the claimed stable genius in the White House is actually naked. That over the long-haul, things really aren’t that good for an awful lot of Americans. Just study this simple graphic below and give some thought as to where you really stand.
Some years ago I had a ham radio acquaintance who lived in West Virginia and worked in a Radio Shack. Anytime someone asked him what he did he very proudly said, “I work in retail.”
I never really understood how someone who sold capacitors and 7-transistor portable radios could swell up with such pride as he displayed. Maybe jobs that didn’t require working underground and breathing bad air were just that rare in the Mountain State.
Over the holidays I watched the Netflix documentary, The American Factory. It’s about the closure of a GM factory in Dayton and its subsequent purchase by a Chines billionaire. His company invested lots of money, got lots of tax abatements, and created hundreds of jobs. They brought in an army of Chinese managers and tried to convince American workers they should succumb to Chinese work ethics and blind loyalty to the company.
It wasn’t long before an attempt to organize arose and not much longer before that attempt was crushed and those responsible were shown the door. When it was a GM plant the wage was $29 an hour plus benefits. After a couple of years, the starting wage under the Chinese was still only $14 an hour with far fewer benefits. The workers are mostly overworked, under-paid, underrepresented, and safety-wise, under-protected.
I was talking with a couple of younger people who have both been employed in the field of higher education and can speak with some authority. I was surprised when both spoke about how traditional colleges and universities were losing students by the droves.
We went over some of the possible reasons and I think we agreed that there were multiple reasons. There was some agreement that part of it may have to do with the populist’s idea that colleges are elite liberal institutions and are part of some deep state plot to suppress the common man. While that is basically nonsense it is mostly true that people with college educations do tend to become a part of the elite establishment. After all, aren’t degrees supposed to result in better paying and important jobs? Isn’t that what we parents hope to see our children accomplish when they leave the nest for academia? Another reality about higher education is that exposure to a variety of ideas (otherwise known as education) should make more likely to challenge the status quo. Maybe that’s what populist confuse with liberalism.
Who do you consider the greater threat to American democracy, Mitch McConnell or Donald Trump? I was just asked that question and replied that it was probably a toss-up but it could be argued that Moscow Mitch could be the greater threat. After all, it would be far more difficult for Bone Spur to be Bone Spur without the unbending support of Moscow’s iron grip on the US Senate.
Mitch is up for reelection in Kentucky next year and his retaining his seat is not a certainty. There’s a very capable woman clawing at his backsides and with just a little financial help from a lot of us who care about the future of America, Amy McGrath may just unseat another of Putin’s, “useful idiots.”
I don’t always agree with Robert Reich but I do always enjoy listening to his points of view. Simply put, he makes me think and that’s what so many Americans need, to be forced to think.
While I don’t have a clue as to who I’ll vote for in Ohio’s Democratic Primary it does help to hear all the sides. Spending six-minutes listening to an informed and experienced voice like Riech’s will help me when decision time comes.
As the old radio news reporter, Gabriel Heatter used to say, “There’s good news tonight.” Just as fast as things went bad for Lordstown, OH, things suddenly got brighter. General Motors has announced it is joining with the Sout Korean company LG to build a new lithium battery factory in Lordstown to pave the way for the companies near future plans for Electric Vehicles (EVs).
While it will take a while the joint effort plans to hire 1,100 new workers but GM refused to address whether any of these would be rehired from the 1,600 laid-off workers from the closure of their auto manufacturing plant in that city.
According to the Wall Street Journal, there are now over 234,000 women truck drivers in America and the number is growing. While women few than 10 percent of truckers are women there doesn’t seem to exist any disparity of pay between men and women drivers.
It might be noted, however, that the trucking industry is currently witnessing a growing number of layoffs. Long ago the industry became a prime indicator of economic health. Full employment in the trucking industry indicates that people are spending their money, factories are operating at capacity, and the cash registers at retail shops are ka-chinging!
For as long as there has been an American “war on drugs” the nation of Columbia has been a target. Sitting at the top of South America, Columbia has been a major supplier of illegal marijuana and cocaine for decades. Arguably, no one knows more about growing pot and coke than Columbia.
Well, according to National Public Radio Columbia is putting all this experience into legal business opportunities, supplying the world’s needs for medical marijuana. NPR says:
“Colombia is on track to become a medical marijuana powerhouse. The South American country now has more than two dozen legal cannabis companies that have invested more than $600 million in building new facilities. The government legalized medical marijuana in 2016 and the country now exports products to Canada and the U.K.”
People love to talk about how great things used to be and in many ways, I’m no different. Several conversations recently have me thinking about those good old days. So, I decided to make a list of what we used to pay for things. Feel free to add to it.
Medicare for all is a hot topic with progressive Democrats pushing for it and conservative Republicans falsely referring to it as communism and claiming it will bankrupt the nation.
Well, back in the fight over Obamacare days I did some checking and read a book or two about comparative health care systems. While I don’t remember much of the details I do remember the general knowledge I acquired. Lesson learned number one is that lots of countries have far better systems than America. Number two is that withing America the most efficient systems are the VA and Medicare. Both of which, by the way, are socialists systems and extremely popular.
Do you ever wonder when wealth becomes, obscene wealth? Well, consider this.
“$70,000 per minute. According to Bloomberg, that’s how much money the Walmart-owning Walton family has made in the year since Bloomberg’s previous list of the world’s richest families. The Waltons top that list this year, with wealth of $190.5 billion. The Mars, Koch, Al Saud, and Wertheimer (of the Chanel fashion house) families round out a top five. The 25 richest families in the world