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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Public Utilities

Public Utilities

PUBLIC UTILITIES


Just as a private corporation might repurchase its own stock, America should purchase, by means of eminent domain, all of the electric and water systems across the United States of America and unify and upgrade them for the safety and security of future generations.

The transfer of these resources should be accomplished over a reasonable period of time, after a national survey of the resources and infrastructure plans, with a national water main being a top priority. The absence of safe and affordable utilities is more of a national security threat than any of the political wars we have engaged in over the last 70 years.  Concepts like public utilities provide a solid basis for the capitalist equivalent of universal basic income.


Education

Education

EDUCATION




The Federal government should solicit our highest-rated teachers from around the country (by whatever measure) and then videotape their classes for an entire school year. There should be incentives for teachers to compete, just as we now incentivise teachers relocating to rural and other under-served areas.

The resulting videos would then be made available by Internet stream. Ideally, classes could be conducted in format would leave 30 minutes of a 55-minute class for direct interaction with the teacher onsite.

Any teacher nation-wide could incorporate the videos into their class if they are teaching that same subject. Whether they use them or not could be left up to the local school boards, but even if their use was not mandated by a local school board, the videos should be available, as they would be an awesome resource for teachers to use for strategies and peer review, as well as offering extra credit to students watching portions of them after school.

Children in school districts that did not use the videos could view them at home or the library, as could parents and generally, any under-educated adult. The classes should at least cover all classes in K-12, but including junior college would be better, as some of those classes are already available to high school students in the form of "advanced placement" offerings. This could make more subjects available to students nationwide.

Obviously, making English classes available worldwide would be particularly useful.

More to come...




Healthcare

Healthcare

HEALTHCARE



The answer to our current healthcare problem is Medicare for all.

Bernie Sanders said a lot about this, but, perhaps because he is up in years he assumed everyone knew what that would mean. Instead, it was characterized as ‘government-provided' health care like that in England.

The National Health Service in England is the biggest part of the system by far, catering to a population of 54.3 million and employing around 1.2 million people. Of those, the clinically qualified staff include 150,273 doctors, 40,584 general practitioners (GPs), 314,966 nurses and health visitors, 18,862 ambulance staff, and 111,127 hospital and community health service (HCHS) medical and dental staff.

However, the fact is, Medicare does not generally provide medical care at all - instead, it makes payments for medical care provided by professionals that do not work for the government, and in medical facilities that are not owned by the government. Obviously,  there are exceptions, like the Veterans Administration, but frankly, that should be eliminated and rolled into Medicare for all with 99% coverage instead of the usual 80%.

With regular Medicare, your coverage is 80% of the negotiated cost of the care received and the facilities utilized. The Medicare-covered individual that is receiving the care must pay the remaining 20% - which can be further offset by either a private sector supplement policy or participation in a private sector HMO which meets or exceeds the services provided under Medicare. Those often require care through a specific network of doctors and facilities, but a lot of people like the plans better because of the reduced cost.

The point is, "Medicare for All" is not "government healthcare" and it could save citizens billions over just a few years, as the buying power of 340 million customers allows Medicare to negotiate reasonable prices for products and servers that we have otherwise seen escalate into gouging.

Concepts like medicare for all are the capitalist equivalent of universal basic income.




The Modernization

The Modernization

MODERNIZATION IN STRUCTURE AND PRACTICE



Originally, there was one Representative for about every 33,000 citizens. That means that if a Representative spent an eight hour day speaking to each of their constituents for ONE MINUTE, it would have taken them sixty-nine (69) days.

Today, the average district size is approximately 700,000 and growing. That means that today if a Representative spent eight hours a day speaking to each of their constituents for the same ONE MINUTE, it would now take them FOUR YEARS!

That's eight hours a day, seven days a week for FOUR YEARS! That's their entire term! And since none of them will be working seven days a week, they'll barely have time to tell you to get lost. And THAT is why people have to beg for the attention of an aide they never voted for.

It's time to increase the number of Representatives and reduce the number of constituents being told to get lost. If we added enough Representatives to bring the number of constituents down to 50,000, that would require an additional 6,365 Representatives.

But so what? It's time to take this mess digital anyway. There's no reason that all Representatives need to go to Washington for every session. And trust me, if there were 6,800 Representative in the House, not only would you see an amazingly noticeable responsiveness from your Representative, it would devastate lobbyists and their corporate agendas. Imagine trying to buy off 6,800 Representatives. That's a lot of books and fundraisers.


News Clearinghouse

News Clearinghouse


As an industry, corporate news is little more than a marketing campaign selling products and propaganda. It distracts citizens from many issues that matter in their daily lives. It fills our airwaves and cables with misinformation and discourages shaping the nation's policies in any way that may be in conflict with the currently-prevailing imperialist global view of international intellectual elites. It wastes the nation's mutually-owned assets and regularly addresses the public with a level of condescension that insults the intelligence.

At its core is a smorgasbord of cause and effect. Each reporter, journalist, and editor is driven by their own financial interest, a general sense of competition (including the race to be first); an internal perception of appropriate corporate loyalty, and of course; a personal bias. So if you add a healthy dose of influence (both natural and induced), some authoritative politics, unlimited anonymous sources, and a penchant for flair, before you know it, you don't know what to believe.

We now have an information environment where you may well see one bit of amazing reporting and literally dozens of different outlets that are 're-reporting' the facts (as established or implied from that original report) in a manner that is most easily consumed by their particular coveted targeted audience. The demand for content is ferocious and the time dedicated to context is minimal.

UnitedStatesofAmerica.com addresses this quagmire by leveraging those freedoms protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America. To do this, we minimize the cost and commitment required for citizens to become associated with 'an organization primarily concerned with the gathering, publishing, and otherwise distributing news and information', or in other words, become a member of 'the press.'

The New Party

The New Party



'New political party.' Three words that completely lose their original meaning when combined in that particular order. So instead of meaning the creation of a new organization to compete for the future direction of America, it has come to represent the cultification of individuals that have any meaningful success in promoting popular policy ideas - or the direct marketing and promotion of popular policy ideas that are ultimate consumed by of one of the two major parties (where they are co-opted in such a distorted manner it often conflicts with the original spirit of the effort).

Either way, the party's over before it really gets going.

What 'new political party' could mean is a group of congressmen and senators large enough in numbers to prevent any extreme laws from being passed by either of the two major parties. It could mean highlighting the contrast in new party policies and the positions of the establishment. And with only a long view of focusing on a presidential candidate, a new party could verify the intent of its strategy and generate victories in local, state, and Congressional races.

With any substantive opposition, the two major parties will merge into one formal establishment party - if not in fact, then certainly in perception - as they will increasingly combine votes to pass laws that further highlight the similarities in their corporatist views. And while that consolidation of resources by the two establishment parties would present one set of challenges, the vision of a viable alternative would motivate many, many more to become involved.


What 'new political party' could mean is a set of policies that recognizes the hybrid nature of our economic and political commitments and responsibilities. Understandably, citizens are uncomfortable with the idea of a purely socialist or purely capitalist system. Extrapolated to its logical extension, both socialism and capitalism create an undesirable outlook.

However, if we create a socialist platform to support a capitalist structure, then we have the best of both worlds. This is sort of what we are already doing, but because there is no common understanding of the partnership of the two, the political motivation has been to pit them against each other, as though it were a binary choice. So instead of understanding how best to have these two systems work together, we waste a massive amount of resources funding programs that are not created and were never evaluated for functional proficiency in a hybrid system.

A socialist/capitalist hybrid political system requires citizens to identify those things that we want to provide every member of the citizenry. Obviously, making that determination will not be without political disagreement, but we would at least have a framework where it was understood that those issues not established as Socialist fundamentals would be left to capitalism and the competitive innovations of free enterprise.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Context & Perspective

Context & Perspective

If James T. Hodgkinson was Muslim would he be a "terrorist" instead of a "shooter"?


It seems a criminal's motivation for a crime is critical in this regard. We saw how it can make a difference in whether a criminal's friends and family are intensely interrogated - or provided police protection. But it can be difficult to understand when a criminal act becomes a terrorist act. Unless the criminal yells out "Allahu akbar" or something, the knee-jerk, go-to test for terrorism consist of scanning the perpetrator's Facebook page.

In Hodgkinson's case, his Facebook pages showed someone who had a high interest in politics - whatever that means. It revealed that he had supported Bernie Sanders during the presidential primary election and was not fond of Hillary Clinton. The pages are gone now, but on some of them, he apparently expressed anger with President Donald Trump and Republicans.

Okay, well, that puts him in a group of at least 13 million people, so not much help there in discovering a motive. But according to other reports, after the DNC corrupted the Democratic primary process, Hodgkinson voted for Jill Stein in the General Election. And while that does narrow it down to less than one and a half million, it's difficult to see how any of this might reveal a motive for what he did.


So what was it that made a 66-year-old man - self-employed for almost 40 years and married for almost 30 years - move to Virginia and start shooting at Republicans?

There is extensive research on shooters who kill multiple victims - which you have to assume was Hodgkinson's intention. In a 2015 report, the Congressional Research Service concluded that most mass killers suffered from some form of mental instability, "at least temporarily." This may support the idea that Hodgkinson was suffering from undiagnosed mental issues, as some have suggested. And while it's pretty obvious his ability to reason had been affected (at least temporarily), sweeping it under the mental illness rug seems a bit too handy.

Ultimately, the true motive for Hodgkinson's attack may never be known, but from all accounts, Hodgkinson was more or less "a regular guy" and the whole thing was "out of the blue."

This is perplexing and raises a curiosity; what if Hodgkinson's ability to reason was not affected by mental illness, but by some desperate attempt to make a difference in the world? He apparently had no children of his own, so there was no next generation to hand the torch. But then we would have to examine the possibility that it is indeed utter madness for a regular guy or gal to believe he or she can make a real difference in the world today.

No matter how that particular theoretical debate plays out, the fact that there wasn't a clear motive seems to rule out a message-based action. Not only did those closest to Hodgkinson not have a clue what was going on, he didn't have a manifesto, didn't send anything to the press; didn't live-stream it on Facebook, and; as far as we know, he didn't even have a note in his pocket.

Really, unfortunately, as terrifying as his actions were and as devastating as they must be for those involved, Hodgkinson was just another blip on the world stage. How could he have believed his actions could make a difference in any way?

Maybe he didn't.

What if it simply boils down to the old English proverb, "it is the last straw that breaks the camel's back." Indeed, the most viable motive may be no particular motive at all. Let us consider the possibility that some seemingly minor or routine action caused an unpredictable large and sudden reaction due to the cumulative effect of events in his lifetime. In other words, James Hodgkinson just "lost it." If so, this introduces a new question: "What events could have accumulated in such a manner as to cause a regular guy to go off on government officials?"

Well, Hodgkinson wasn't identified as an Indian-American, African-American, or a Japanese-American, so he wasn't born in a country where the government had murdered, enslaved, or interned his relatives or ancestors. He didn't seem to be a religious extremist, a right-to-lifer, or an anti-government militia member.

He did protest about taxes, but not like the people that say the IRS is illegal and should be abolished. Hodgkinson was on about the lack of progression in the tax brackets. It's a real issue, but it's not one of the most popular ones out there. And besides, he didn't go after the IRS or Treasury when he snapped. So maybe the U.S.'s unfair tax bracket racket was just one straw.

But how many straws must it have taken? It's impossible to know for sure, but at his age, there were plenty of straws out there.



One of Hodgkinson's first exposures to the Federal government was very likely the assassination of President Kennedy, which he would eventually come to understand - as all children of that era came to understand - that it was a magic bullet and there was no one on the grassy knoll.

There were also the assassinations of Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., and Robert Kennedy - all before Hodgkinson turned 18 years old. And what has followed is a constant flow of activities that have undermined the ability of Americans to exercise self-rule and pressured citizens into accepting or ignoring actions and facts instinctively known to be wrong or harmful to the country.

Some an examples of possible "straws" are:
  • the senseless Viet Nam war that cost 58,000 American lives and many billions of dollars;
  • the Kent State massacre that killed four students and wounded nine;
  • Nixon buddying-up to Communist China;
  • Spiro Agnew's involvement in tax fraud and bribery;
  • Nixon resigning for his role in the Watergate break-in/cover-up;
  • the pardon of Nixon by Gerald Ford;
  • the conviction of six Congressmen and a Senator in the FBI "Abscam" sting;
  • the secret collusion with the Iranians by Ronald Reagan's 1980 presidential campaign prevent the release of American hostages until after the election;
  • the "Star Wars" boondoggle; 
  • the CIA using cocaine to fund the Contras;
  • the 80s tax cut/"trickle-down" lie that brought the highest unemployment rate since 1940;
  • the Savings & Loan deregulation and subsequent $400 billion fraud;
  • the Keating Five / Lincoln Savings and Loan Association;
  • the amnesty for 1.4 million illegal aliens;
  • the Bank of Credit and Commerce International fraud;
  • the US funding and supporting the Mujahideen, Al Quaeda, and Osama bin Laden;
  • the Siege of Ruby Ridge by United States Marshals;
  • the World Trade Organization (WTO)
  • the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA);
  • the Supreme Court of the United States and the 2000 Presidential election;
  • the treasonous false flag acts of 9/11 (scientifically impossible);
  • the "weapons of mass destruction" lie-for-war in Iraq;
  • the open-ended 9/11 war authorization that purportedly allows the President to bomb essentially any country in the world without further consultation of Congress;
  • the rights- and privacy-crushing Patriot Act;
  • the black hole of waste at the Pentagon;
  • the raiding of the US Treasury during the 2008 "bailout";
  • the completely ignored and un-investigated DNC rigging of the Democratic primary;
  • the Russian "interference" and "collusion" investigation; 
  • the deadly force that has become standard practice in civilian policing;
There are myriad possibilities. That list is just the larger public ones that instantly come to mind (add the ones I forgot in the comments), there are probably just as many horror stories of individual issues. Losing their home or farm over some shifting government policy, from FEMA scams to Flint's water, there's plenty of straws to go around. And when you see them in a list like that, I guess you get a better idea of the volume of bullshit older Americans have seen over the past few decades

In pretty much every one of those cases, the government either lied about something, knowingly misled, and/or failed to act in the best interest of the citizenry at large. And what about living with the underlying knowledge that your country is an arms dealer that is dropping bombs in more countries than its leaders can even keep up with? That's not a good thought for me on any level.



Down deep, the American people know they are unable to stop the wars being fought in their name. There's just too much machinery in place and running, and there's too much money being made. The average person is helpless in addressing the matter. No matter what your particular ideology, philosophy, religion or other belief structure, war is happening in your name and there's nothing you can do about it - and that seems wrong.

The fact is, there's so much money in war they have to ship it on pallets. In just one incident that was reported publicly, the US flew nearly $12 billion in shrink-wrapped $100 bills into Iraq, then distributed the cash with no real control over who was receiving it or how it was being spent. Note that 12 billion dollars is the equivalent of the median annual household income ($51,939) multiplied by 231,040 American families.

The United States has spent more than $7.6 trillion on defense and homeland security since the attacks of September 11, 2001. And now it seems the government is assuming all citizens are potential targets of law enforcement, going so far as to make it illegal to smile on your identification. That way, facial recognition software can match you to the surveillance takes from the crime scene of the crime you haven't yet committed. Same thing with all your calls, emails, and Internet searches. They're saving all of those in case they need to look into you later. Well, how's that for a straw?

And how about this; the day after the Hodgkinson attack, the Speaker of the House said this: "An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us." Yet it seems clear that he must have been talking about that select group of elitists known as Congress. What else can one believe when under Ryan's leadership the House just passed a health care bill that would result in 24 million Americans losing their health insurance.



Moreover, in a study, Harvard researchers found that a lack of health insurance had a mortality hazard ratio of 1.40. Or in other words, they concluded that Americans without health insurance were 40% more likely to die than those with it, even after taking into account the individual’s "gender, age, race/ethnicity, poverty income ratio, education, unemployment, smoking, regular alcohol use, self-rated health, physician-rated health and body mass index."

Prior to the Affordable Care Act, the American Journal of Public Health found that nearly 45,000 Americans died each year as a direct result of being uninsured. And if we can find this information, you know they had had to have it. So what else could that mean besides they just don't care?

Who knows if any of this had anything to do with James T. Hodgkinson losing it, but it seems reasonable to believe the continued cycle of government actions and events certainly contributed to it or he wouldn't have been going after Senators. One thing is all but certain, life-changing difficulties are being experienced by millions of "regular" people every day, and the things people are going through seem a lot bigger to them than they do to their "representatives" in Congress.

There has to be some toll taken for years and years of ignoring the truth - or even worse, being required by society to pretend to believe obvious lies. Who knows what goes through people's minds after long-term exposure to all of that - especially when it just continues on and on.

Perhaps America is experiencing some form of cumulative Mass PTSD? That may sound far-fetched, but then so does millions of Americans periodically - and sometimes randomly - being harmed by the effects of their own government's actions.