Daring Depravity

News and Views of the Daring Depravity of our Times

To Look Skinny…

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In the Movie Back To School with Rodney Dangerfield, his character Thornton Mellon owns a series of “Tall and Fat” Stores, and his motto is “If you want to look thin, hang out with fat people”

Barak Obama is having a similar time right now, as he cruises to re-election.  No left wing challenges and no competent right wing challenger have left him along for the ride.  He is winning just by showing up and not sticking his foot so far in his mouth that he chokes on it.

He will never be called to account for punishing his left wing supporters, eroding civil rights, ignoring labor, the environment, and supporting indefinite detention mostly because Mitt Romney is so incompetent that Obama doesn’t really have to try.

I guess all it takes to look competent is to stand on a stage next to Mitt Romney and say, do you want some of this?

So, there is hope that he will accomplish some good for the country in his second term, but I for one am not holding my breath.  Instead we will get free trade, neoliberal policies, moderate war hawk international stances, and a continuation of where we are now.

Part of that blame lays at the feet of the Republicans, but really it is the Democrats fault.  They won’t push for good policies, just for their own re-election.

But, standing next to Romney, Obama looks like Einstein, Socrates, and George Clooney all rolled into one.

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September 27th, 2012 at 9:57 pm

“9/11 Liberals”

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This past week on Real time with Bill Maher (who I mostly enjoy) he premiered a new premise to justify racism, the “9/11 Liberals. Like usual Maher was very good on class politics, and straight up ridiculous and racist when it comes to Islam.

In his magical world where history and simple cause and effect do not exist, highly politicized and violent forms of Islam are representative of the entire religion, and have no context and backstory. There is no mention or credit given to the US government for igniting the now burning flames of violent Islamic extremism. Instead there is willful ignorance.

In many ways this sounds like the old question of “why do they hate us?”. The answer is both simple and known. “They” hate “us” because the US government for years brutally suppressed democratic movements and propped up dictators all over the world. Violent Islam’s power began with US foreign policy.

Take Iran, whose secular democratic government was overthrown by the US, due to a desire for natural resources for US business interests. This led to a resentment and a movement which culminated in the violent overthrow of the puppet government, and to the rise of a very violent, right wing form of Islam.

Instead, for these “9/11 Liberals” History began on 9/11/2001, the day the world changed.  Why were we attacked?  It was because one religion is particularly more violent than another.  They hate our freedom, our secular western society, and our ideas.

Hitchens, Maher, Rushdie, and other Liberal hawks ignore the history of over 50 years of the US arming Islamic warriors all over the world, and then ask why are all these people armed and mad?

The simple answer is that US foreign policy created the current situation that we are in.  These “Liberals” are far too informed to not know this, instead they are at best willfully ignorant and at worst use these trends to justify their blatant racism against Muslims and brown people.

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September 27th, 2012 at 9:43 pm

Romney’s even bad at cheating on his taxes

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In the Bizzaro wold that we live in, apparently Mitt Romney cheats on his taxes by not taking every deduction due to him so that his tax rate wasn’t super insulting.  So he paid more in taxes than he needed to.

Does Romney cheat at golf by giving himself a higher score?

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September 22nd, 2012 at 4:45 am

Seniors Boo Paul Ryan

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“I had a feeling there would be mixed reactions,” Ryan told the crowd.

http://news.yahoo.com/vp-candidate-ryan-heckled-booed-retiree-event-194856123.html

Also, from the same article, Democrats might have figured out how to explain the concept of social insurance they claim to be in favor of (yet seem to be eager to cut also):

“Given the conversations that have been out there in the political arena lately, I want to emphasize Medicare and Social Security are not handouts,” Obama said. “You’ve paid into these programs your whole life, you’ve earned them.”

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September 21st, 2012 at 11:09 pm

Romney Campaign Rewards Failure

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Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan like to use a lot of tough talk about cutting “entitlements”, debt crushing the country, and rewarding hard work, so wouldn’t they run their campaign based on these principles?

Apparently, not.  According to NPR and NRO, in August the Romney Campaign borrowed $20 Million against their future campaign receipts and is over $11 Million in Debt.  This seems to go against Romeny’s own stated “Cut, Cap and Balance” program that would allegedly force the USA to “live within its means” and only spend money that it currently has.

By Contrast the Romney campaign according to spokeswoman Andrea Saul raised $66.1 million in August and spent $61.2 million.

To top it off the campaign paid out bonuses to its staff after obtaining the nomination, to the tune of over $200,000 for the awesome performance of the convention.

So, in summary, super slick, smart business consultant Mitt Romney’s campaign organization spends more than it takes in, borrows against the future, and rewards failure.

This is how Mitt Romney would run the country, except the bonuses would be larger and the failures for the American people would be graver than Clint Eastwood  yelling at a chair.

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September 21st, 2012 at 10:46 pm

End Corporate Feudalism with Industrial Pensions

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Private Pensions in Crisis

Over the past 2 years of economic crisis the system of workplace benefits in the United States has been under attack from greedy executives as well as prevailing capitalist economics.  Pensions have been devalued and many of the funds have failed.  Health benefits have become increasingly more expensive, with many companies forcing workers to pay more for their healthcare or refusing to offer it at all.

Through this all, the blame for these problems has been placed squarely on the shoulders of the workers themselves.  The myth of the auto worker who makes $70.00 per hour is probably the most popular example, with the capitalist press and government blaming the Unions and the workers for the inability of the Big Three automakers to compete with other companies.  If only the company did not have to abide by the Union Wage and benefit scale, they claim, the companies would be free to compete with Japanese and other auto makers who built their factories in right-to-work states where they would not have to worry about unions.

After the union’s formation in the 1930s, the UAW and other CIO unions of the time were very militant and their sit down strikes set the bar for establishing unions in auto plants.  However, during World War II, the Federal Government moved towards a government-planned war-time economy, and many unions were forced to accept a no strike pledge and a wage freeze to produce for the war.

Despite the wage freeze, many workers continued to agitate and strike and employers needed to find a way to placate thems.  The solution employers found, with the help of the unions, was complimentary benefits, namely pensions and healthcare.  Pensions were supposed to be simple.  Bosses and workers both pay into a fund, and when workers reach a retirement age they receive a monthly payment from the fund, with the amount based on the number of years of service to the company.

When these plans began, there were far more workers than retirees.  So, if a worker was 64 when the pension was created, and they retired at 65, they would receive a full pension despite only paying in for one years worth of benefits.  This creates a shortfall, because current workers are paying in and benefits go to the current retirees.  Companies promised to make up this difference with a lump sum payment sometime in the future.  Instead, the Employers tried to close the gap by investing pension funds for profit and hoping that there would always be more workers than retirees, so the shortfall could be put on the back of the workers, not the company.

During this same time period, the Capitalists worked to find ways to shift production towards highly mechanized factories which needed fewer and fewer workers.  This technological change led to higher profits and efficiency and less workers to pay for all of the retirees.  Eventually, the capitalist system took its toll and the situation reversed.  Now retirees vastly out-number the active work-force and for each person working in the auto industry, there are several retirees collecting pensions.  The system is short a great deal of money, and the companies claim that they don’t have to make up the difference.

The companies that once masqueraded as benevolent patriarchs are now looking for ways to skip out on the check after years of dining at the worker’s table.  Hundreds of thousands of retirees and workers are wholly dependent on these Corporate behemoths, who for years sold the lie that “we are all in this together” and of collaboration between workers and bosses for the benefit of both.  Now the companies want to cut them off and destroy their retirement income as well as their access to affordable healthcare.

Putting Worker’s wealth toward the benefit of the Working Class

This privatized benefit system creates what Wobblies at the time called Corporate Feudalism.  Corporate Feudalism confuses the interests of the working class with those of the employing class and workers and retirees become wholly dependent on the survival of a single corporation.  Corporate failure is tied to the current and future success of working people, and the rhetoric of “we are all in this together” takes hold.  Like the serfs in Feudalism, workers produce all for the company, and when they are too old to work anymore, workers are dependent on the benevolent kings of industry to care for them.

Under the capitalist system of wage labor, workers are forced to work for a wage that is far less than the value of what they produce and the Bosses keep the surplus value.  This is one of the primary relationships of Capitalism.  Under Feudalism, however, there was no currency.  In exchange for labor, workers received food, housing, healthcare, and retirement care.  Corporate Feudalism mixes these systems, with workers generating greater surplus value for their bosses in exchange for benefits instead of higher wages.  If you dare leave the Industrial Plantation, however, your benefits evaporate.

With corporate managed pension funds, this situation gets even worse.  Bosses use the workers’ pension money to support other anti-union enterprises and increase class oppression.  In addition to the surplus value, workers turn over a portion of their wages to the Boss, who then invests it at their whim, sometimes losing money, and always to the detriment of the workers.

Many workers have greatly benefited from these programs; retirees have lived out their lives without having to work and with expansive medical coverage that is very affordable or free.  But now with the system crushing under its own weight and the pyramid turning upside down, it is time to return to the alternative visions that were offered in the 1930s.  Wobblies at that time had ideas for regional-based benefit pools, or pools that covered entire industries, with control of the funds resting in a democratic organization based in local communities.  As a compliment to the struggle for Industrial Unionism, this would be a struggle for Industrial Pensions, a Pension that moved with you from job to job in a fund that is managed by workers and not bosses.

The goal of these funds would be to ensure that workers do not turn over one dollar more of their money than necessary to the capitalists, and to ensure that workers pension money is used to advance the cause of the working class, not the employing class.  Instead, this money could be used to build schools, to make loans to construction projects that use union labor, offer low APR mortgages to union members, or to supply low cost medical treatment in our communities.  The most important principle has to be that if the fund will be used for investment, then workers’ money must benefit the working class and not the employing class.

There are potential pitfalls with these models.  Managing large sums of money can leads to corruption and bitter arguments.  The craft business unions, such as the Carpenters and the Teamsters give us a vision of what that could look like.  The answer to these problems, however, is transparency, democracy, and education.  If workers will manage their own retirement funds, everyone must know what the fund is being used for, how this will benefit all involved, and most of all, have a democratic say in the process.  These other funds lack these elements, and that has lead to drastic problems.

Nonetheless, as we reflect on workers struggle this May Day with the current Corporate Feudalism system collapsing under its own weight, we have an opportunity to look to the future.  We can all imagine a world where all workers are able to retire, live in a home, get enough nutritious food to eat, and have access to healthcare and education.  But only the destruction of the Capitalist system can ensure the end of instability in all workers’ lives.

Destroying this system of Corporate Feudalism will not, in and of itself,  end the capitalist exploitation of workers, but taking back the workers’ wealth and putting it to the benefit of the working class would deal a devastating blow to the capitalist bosses who have profited off of this terrible and manipulative system for so long.  We will never destroy Capitalism unless we also destroy Corporate Feudalism!

Two other interesting articles about Pensions:

http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2006/08/28/060828fa_fact

http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2009/03/gms-problems-are-50-years-in-making.html

Written by Walt

April 5th, 2010 at 11:13 pm

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Lessons to Learn from Republicans: Too Much is Never Enough

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This past week has been a pretty volatile one in American Politics.  Democrats finally passed their Health Care reform package, and President signed it into law; according to the Vice President this is a “Big Deal”.  Ok, so Democrats passed the reform that they have been trying to accomplish since the 60s.  Carter couldn’t do it, Clinton Couldn’t do it, and Obama pulled it off.

That said, this reform is far from any radical reshaping of the health care system that is needed in this country.  This is not the Single Payer system that would lower costs, and take the control of our very living or death away from the private sector; in fact this bill just reinforces the private sectors control of Health Care, and if anything, it should be called the Health Care Bailout of 2010.  Insurance companies will now receive mandatory customers, with government subsidy for those that can’t afford to buy their inferior products.  They will continue to make huge profits, while finding new ways to deny care to citizens, thereby sentencing them to death.

This is not the system that Progressives in the country wanted; its not even the system that Democrats, or President Obama campaigned on.  This bill is a REPUBLICAN BILL!

With President Obama dead set on catering to the minority in both houses of government, he decided to shift the bill as far to the right as his party could take it, and call it a success.  This was clearly a tactic to bring on Republican Support, since this Individual Mandate was proposed as an alternative to Single Payer in the 1990s.  Then, the Republicans taught President Obama and the Democrats a lesson: Too Much is NEVER enough for the Republicans.

Having successfully shifted the entire healthcare debate to the right, so far right that Liberals were now championing the ideas that they walked away from in the 90s, do you think the Republicans were satisfied?  Of course not!  Now that they had shifted the debate to the right, center right wasn’t enough, they needed crazy HARD RIGHT in order to be satisfied.

Instead of starting from the bargaining point of Single Payer, and working it down to a broad Public Option, the Democrats started from the position of a weak Public Option, and traded that away for a Pro-Insurance Company, Pro-Capitalist Health Care Bill, right of center like the one signed by Mitt Romney as Governor of Massachusetts.  Logically it makes sense, if you incude ideas from your opponents, then some of them will have to support this Bill, after all it includes ideas that some of them have been championing for almost 20 years now.

WRONG!  Now, that moderate, center right health care bill is full blown SOCIALISM, COMMUNISM, and an AFFRONT TO GOD!  Anyone who votes in favor of it will be honorarily buried in the Kremlin Wall with Stalin and Lenin, where they belong!

So, there is a lesson here for Progressives who want actual change in this country, and there is a lesson for Liberal Democrats as well.  Republicans are never satisfied, because the interests that they serve, ALWAYS WANT MORE.  More land, more profits, more of everything.  Just doing as much as you did last year is not enough, you have to do better or you are on the CURB.  The Republicans serve Capitalism efficiently, and they always demand more from their represetatives.

Progressives and Liberals, however, are all about Fell Good Compromise, moving progress a long a little bit, inching the ball forward.  The truth is, however, as soon as Obama and the Democrats announced that there would be no Single Payer, there should have been an occupation of every Democratic Senator and Congress Person’s office in favor of Single Payer Health Care.  When they all got together, and claimed that only the Public Option was possible, Primary candidates should have been drafted to run on the Single Payer Platform in every district of every supposedly liberal Democrat in the country.

And if the final bill was only a strong Public Option, a well organized Left Wing Movement would have called every “Liberal” who voted for this fake reform out for the fake, insurance company shill that they are.

This is what the Republicans would have done; its what they are doing now.  Even though it is flatly impossible, the Republicans are swearing revenge on anyone who voted in favor of the Right Wing Healthcare bill for not being right wing enough.  They are promising its repeal in November!

While progressive hang their heads, look at their shoes, and try to figure out how to live with the Right Wing Health Care Bailout of 2010, Republicans are still making noise!  Sure, now that the Bill is passed, there is room for the Democrats and progressives on the local and state level to work within its framework and make it better, but better is a relative term.

Until the day comes when Democratic *legislators are looking over their shoulders for progressives, scared to make a vote for a right wing bill because they will be fired, then the debate in this country will continue its rightward shift of the past 20-30 years.

Its time for Progressive to Learn from Republicans, and never be satisfied with any Liberal piece of crap that gets passed, and just be happy that it did.  Its time for the Liberal to fear the Left as much as they do the Right.

Written by Walt

March 28th, 2010 at 10:16 am

Posted in Healthcare

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Good Work New Jersey

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Governor Christie is riding into town on a new white horse, vowing to cut spending during the recession.  According to the New York Times, how will this affect the state?

On Tuesday, he made clear that what he had in mind was a U-turn.

Upending the priorities of his Democratic predecessors, Governor Christie unveiled a budget that would hit the poor, elderly, schoolchildren, college students and inner-city residents hardest, while largely sparing the wealthy and businesses.

Great!  Lets balance the budget on the backs of the working people, and give the wealth and businesses a free pass.  I’m so glad that New Jersey residents voted out that slimeball, former head of Goldman Sachs governor in favor of this awesome populist who’s goal is to spare the Wealthy and the Corporations from making any sacrifice .

This is going to be a long 4 years for the residents of the Garden State, as long as you are not super rich or a major corporation.  If you are one of those, then you are golden.

Written by Walt

March 16th, 2010 at 11:11 am

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Scott Brown’s Truck – Reality Check

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So, Senator Scott Brown is bringing his big, manly, regular guy who happens to be a real estate lawyer and former nude fashion model – self to Washington.  He bought it for hauling lumber, and doing manly stuff, which makes him a regular guy.  Except thats not what it is for at all, according to his interview in New York Times Magazine:

“It’s a regular truck.” Yes and no. As Arianna, the younger of his two daughters, told me, he originally purchased it not so he could haul lumber but so he could attach it to a trailer bearing her horse. He soon abandoned that plan. “It’s scary pulling a trailer,”

What a regular guy, you know, driving your daughter to her equestrian events on the weekends, while you are off work as a lawyer, but then getting scared from pulling a trailer?  This is the manly, regular man that the GOP claims is a populist destined to set Washington straight?

Well, certainly he does other activities that the GOP would get behind, like being a fashion model, who wears expensive pink leather shorts?

Arianna told me that he showed up for his first real date with her mother, Gail Huff, a TV newscaster to whom he has been married for more than 23 years, in pink leather shorts. It’s family lore.

The pinkish color drained from his face when I asked him about it during a conversation in his campaign office just before we took off in the truck. He clarified that the shorts weren’t something that he went out and purchased — it wasn’t like that at all. “I did the couture shows, and instead of paying in cash, they paid in clothes,” he said. “And one of the things I had to wear were leather shorts. And these happened to be pink.”

As he told the story, he seemed, almost in spite of himself, to get into it. “If I wore these now,” he said, “I’d get shot. But it was the ’80s. Pastels were in. It was all pastel-y.” The shorts went with his tan at the time and a pair of white shoes that he owned, so he gave them a whirl. “Gail comes out and she’s like, ‘Those are pink shorts.’ I said: ‘Yeah, you like them? They’re great. Comfortable. Feel this leather.’ ” With this last phrase, he slowly stroked the side of one of his thighs, apparently miming the gesture he made in front of her.

He emphasized: “This isn’t cheap leather. This is, like, $750 shorts back then.”

Ok, so he’s a rich guy, who was a fashion model, he’s a lawyer, and he’s scared to pull a trailer with his truck.  He wears $750.00 (circa 1980′s) leather shorts, and works for clothing instead of money.  This is the populist rebuttal to the elitism of President Obama?

On one more note, his wife starred in an awesome music video from the 80s.  Just watch it, its amazing.

Written by Walt

February 28th, 2010 at 12:51 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Hawaiian Health Care

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Hawaii’s employer mandate health care system has many of its citizens covered by a reasonable healthcare system.  There’s just one thing that can undermine it: National “Reform”?

Written by Walt

February 28th, 2010 at 12:37 pm

Posted in Healthcare

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