Where are truth and love?
Where are we now? Where has America gone? Where are we now? Is this the swan song? Where have the morals gone? Taught from above? Where are the morals now? Where are truth and love? Where are the Christians now? Since lies are King? Where are the Christians now? Does money mean everything? Where are the brains now? That death and ignorance reign? Where are the brains now? They took the chump train. They took the chump train. They took the chump train. They took the chump train.
Lots of bluster and fear mongering from the White House these days over immigration while the nation passes the potato chips and gazes mindlessly at videos of kids in cages, a few possibly sold to white slavers after their paperwork was lost under the current administration’s “supervision.”
Ironically, a natural event at our house recently spun a new perspective on this issue.
Squirrels are diurnal, but one interrupted us last week after dinner, retrieving nuts from the attic, we thought.
Completing a house project a couple of years ago, workers stepped all over the aluminum ventilation slats, so now they don’t fit the triangular space at the roof-crown where the air circulates. So we called the local rodent-remover, a friendly guy who put up a tube-trap after covering all the vents with wire.
I noticed a fat squirrel sitting in the yard watching the entire operation, so I wasn’t surprised to see the trigger torn off the next morning while the apparent perpetrator smiled from the bushes.
But a little nighttime noise turned into dismantle-the-house cacophony.
Sounded like a three-man wrecking crew with pry bars out there, and the morning light revealed all the aluminum around the wire torn up or off, and a hole bitten through.
Furthermore, several pieces of siding were torn free from the side of the house, and a hole dug through insulation.
“Looks like she got the babies out,” said my wife, her pinched face revealing battle fatigue after a sleepless night worrying about the innocent.
I wondered what kind of nuclear-powered squirrel could accomplish this?
Was it raised atop the transformer on the pole behind the house and unknowingly gene-altered into a super-charged Electro-Squirrel?
The mystery uncloaked the following evening when a 20+ pound matronly raccoon climbed the porch pole, lumbered onto the roof, and headed straight to the entry hole where the wire was destroyed.
As it happens, my Anheuser-Busch-fueled paternal grandfather owned a blue clay farm in the 1960’s that became Mark Twain State Park (Florida, Missouri), and he took my brother and I on midnight hunts. Those indelible images include:
A raccoon family -- back-lit by a full moon -- bawling at the top of an ancient oak. Baying blue tic hounds swarming under the tree, howls piercing my eardrums. Spurious white male "buddies" in holey overalls spitting tobacco juice and fingering triggers on loaded rifles while taking frequent hits off Mason jars.
The old Missouri law prescribing the death penalty for the proven killing of a man’s coon dog was recently replaced by large monetary settlements.
After retrieving my .410 pistol from the safe, loading it, chasing off mom raccoon with two scatter shots from forty-feet that didn’t appear to harm her much, and chasing her into the bushes, I heard the neighbor yell:
“What the hell you doing out there! Coon hunting?”
We reside in the center of a mid-sized East Tennessee city. Thirty-three years ago, when we moved in, I took a photograph of a black bear in the driveway. It crossed a double railroad track and a two-lane highway to get there.
How can anyone stop millions of mothers from doing whatever it takes to protect their children?
Oddly, many of these migrant haters are pro-lifers; for example, one of our local state representatives — who poses with his AR15 rifle on his web site — recently drafted a “heartbeat bill” that will effectively end legal abortions in the state.
A few weeks later, he signed his name to legislation that would eliminate healthcare insurance for 280,000 poor Tennessee children.
I hate abortion as much as anyone, but simultaneously wonder what’s to become of all the crack, heroin, alcohol-fetal-syndrome, and opioid addicted babies?
When I asked my right-wing friends this question, a few went dark in the face, snarled, then defamed me as a baby killer. For simply wondering what their plan may be. After making clear to them that abortion is abhorrent.
Perhaps people migrate for reasons we won’t admit, or care to comprehend. I read a wonderfully-written piece in the New Yorker a few years ago that explained how scientists took core samples from the bottom of the Red Sea, analyzed the sediment and matched them to migration timelines, and discovered that mass migrations occur during droughts.
Previously, scientists and historians believed invasions by outside forces (think Mongols), wars, or pestilence caused massive populations shifts. But this new evidence showed that people don’t stick around long when there’s no water.
After hiking down to the river, we found several dozen school kids happily splashing. Four hours later we began to ascend the trail back to the car and they were still swimming.
“Don’t they want to see the rest of this fabulous scenery?” I asked their teacher.
“We’re from southern New Mexico,” he said. “We drive two hours just to see ‘The Tree’. They will be in the river all afternoon and the driver and I will have to drag them onto the bus.”
Our current president cuts off aid to Central America, backs the coal industry while simultaneously snubbing the solar juggernaut, sword dances with oil-heavy 9/11 perpetrators, denies climate change, then wonders why streams of people head north to the much cooler, much wetter, more fertile land of opportunity.
Looking back at the raccoon attack, I now realize that we'd just spent an outrageous sum eliminating huge trees in our yard -- trees threatening the safety of our house -- but simultaneously holding the livelihoods and homes of our squirrel and raccoon friends. Stumped?
So it turns out I shot a migrant mother for looking after her babies … one week after cutting down her home and grinding it into sawdust.
The realization that I’m just as careless and stupid as President Trump is a bitter pill to swallow, indeed.
In fact, I feel like dying my hair orange, golfing four days a week, eating cheeseburgers for breakfast, then spending my little remaining “executive time” tweeting unfiltered brain-poop to gullible semi-literates happily spooning it down with silver (the winking super rich) or plastic (the gullible poor).
We refuse to view the whole picture because then we’d have to change our behavior.
We watch white cops on the nightly news thrusting knees onto Hispanic necks, but refuse to acknowledge the boardroom boys thrusting coke up their noses. They created the pusher, and sacrifice one now and then to keep their noses sharp.
We avert our eyes from whale bellies bursting with plastic while grabbing a handful of straws to toss out the window on the way home from work so our families will never know we’re gnawing burgers between meals.
We avert our eyes from caged kids while cashing government vouchers enabling us to wall off our children from those smelly Puerto Ricans with the gall to want electricity, or those nasty Flint-water folks.
We avert our eyes from brown children torn from their mothers’ arms while penning heartbeat bills to “protect” the unborn.
We avert our eyes from the poor and hungry living in our midst, while pouring wrath upon mothers leading children to better, more secure lives.
There is no end to the raccoon parable; she’ll follow my dreams into the child-fraught future, images of her kids chilling my spine, exposing my thoughtlessness, shining light upon my shame, for God-knows how long.
Raccoons migrate when we destroy their environment and threaten their babies.
People migrate when we destroy their livelihoods, deaden croplands, and divert their water.
I’m not overlooking the bad elements trying to enter illegally, and neither are the Democrats. They gave Trump everything he wanted plus more — and he turned it down, though his base seems unable to process this simple fact.
The president’s moral inability to stand for all Americans — as he swore to do upon taking the office — magnifies the need for better screening at the border. The rich and the powerful appear to be his only concern when it comes to aid. The constant fear mongering serves no other purpose but to keep the lightly-educated agitated.
Send criminals and drug purveyors back where they came from, permanently.
I’m all for it, and perhaps more conservative about eliminating them than you are. But the major cause of mass migration is climate change and lost jobs.
Until we pull back, look at the whole picture, and work together as a global team to improve the environment — which is certainly compatible with capitalism — well.
Pass the cheeseburgers. Wash them down with orange Kool-Aid while listening to the Fearless Leader’s mantra on how mamma raccoons, mamma squirrels, and mamma humans should protect their young.
You can’t make up this sort of thing.
People would laugh and throw disgusting objects at you for inserting blatant — although natural — irony into fiction.
Obama picked Janet Yellen to lead the nation out of the an economic depression caused primarily by greed, which the present Orange Tweeter drinks with a ladle.
Regulations continue to die by the handfuls as we drive the economy right back into the 2008 hole hedge fund managers drove us into, a hole now ready for a second suck since we’ve already forgotten the purpose those regulations had in the first place.
Janet Yellen, first female federal reserve director and the leader of the rebound, lost her title to a Trump appointee despite the fact that previous presidents — who exhibited real patriotism — retained successful federal reserve chairman regardless of party. She’s declining her seat on the reserve now that a sacred white male wears the crown. If it ain’t broke, Trump’s bound to fix it.
Trash talkers assailed Michele Obama because she’s healthy and eats well, yanking veggies from school cafeterias in a fit of misplaced revenge — who needs health care? — while their corpulent spawn returned to the trough, happily sucking pizza and inhaling grease to their diseased hearts’ content. At least they can’t talk trash with their mouths full.
Trash talkers so lazy and greedy they couldn’t drive to their fabulous oaisis, paying Amtrak to haul their sorry butts over to the Greenbrier, lying just a day’s drive from Washington, all transportation and lavish opulence foisted onto the backs of Everyman tax payers.
Enter trash truck.
Note: it was nice to see Republican office holders attempting to revive (unionized?) trash truck employees forking over payroll taxes for fully-subsidized Congressional health care and luxury trips.
This writer salutes all manual laborers across America run over by the government train in uncountable ways each and every day, just as I mourn those lost in the tragedy.
Which is one more reason this monstrous irony requires a spotlight.
You have to hand it to the Grand Old Popinjays.
Democrats remain rudderless because they lack a true leader.
Democratic Congressmen make “suggestions.”
Here's how weak Democrats are at the root level: one of the first things President Obama did after his inauguration was speak to all the school children of America. At the time I taught black and Hispanic high schoolers, so I projected the speech on the big screen and said when it was over: "I know it's not a level playing field yet, but this has to be encouraging." After a short pause, one of the black males in the back yelled in reply: "He ain't black!"
The reason Republicans dominate? They have a simple plan and they are entirely unified around it.
Destroy anything Obama ever did.
(Regardless of the needs of fellow citizens).
It’s something small, and completely contrary to their own perception of patriotism, but at least it’s a semblance of organization, a mighty weapon in the face of none.
Have you ever noticed that Trump-Era right wing American gun toters desiring a continuing global military presence are often the same folks wailing for limited government?
Ike warned us fifty-six years ago about the burgeoning military-industrial complex, the Orange Tweeter ran his presidential campaign on “draining the swamp”, the supposed budget-minded Republicans are now in charge, yet the national debt is projected to grow 10 trillion in the next decade.
Benjamin Franklin had his faults — ask most conspiracy theorists — and it was a known fact that he admired young women.
But when it comes to having a clear vision on accruing wealth, Poor Richard nailed it:
There are two ways of being happy: We may either diminish our wants or augment our means -- either will do -- the result in the same; and it is for each man to decide for himself, and do that which happens to be the easiest. If you are idle or sick or poor, however hard it may be to diminish your wants, it will be harder to augment your means. If you are active and prosperous or young and in good health, it may be easier for you to augment your means than to diminish your wants. But if you are wise, you will do both at the same time, young or old, rich or poor, sick or well; and if you are very wise you will do both in such a way as to augment the general happiness of society. -- Benjamin Franklin, statesman, author, and inventor (1706-1790)
First, Franklin starts the “American myth” that happiness is tied to the pursuit of property. We have more stuff therefore we win begins here. But it is true that we decide our own financial fates, and Americans differ widely on their pursuit of savings.
Franklin’s second paragraph thrusts a stick in the eye of the lazy man, but through today’s lens the idle appear to be on the same plane as the sick and poor, with 95 million able-bodied-men and women currently not seeking employment. They augment their means in various ways, but the underground economy / drug market is staggering, and recent consumer spending shows that the shadow economy is a beast.
The advertising industry raises its ugly head in paragraph three, making stuff a “need” in the hearts of North Americans and fanning the fire of want. Ironically, one of Franklin’s many nicknames was The Patron Saint of Advertising, which he mastered early on.
Apply the last paragraph to your life and its ongoing change of circumstances and good things will happen. The Millionaire Next Door hit home with many who’ve since reaped the benefits of Franklin’s (and Stanley’s) advice. There are now more than twice as many millionaire households than there were in 1996, and 10.1 million US households now report a million dollars worth of assets.
But the typical Trump voter is not the millionaire next door: cultural anxiety, not economic anxiety, drove lower-income voters toward Trump.
Here’s how to apply Franklin’s commonsense rules to runaway government spending.
It’s obvious that our military wants exceed our taxpaying grasp, especially with new cuts about to favor billionaires and corporations. But does the average American really want to police the globe?
Since endless wars come at such a high cost, shouldn’t we fall back, assess the hot spots, employ better technology — in terms of rooting out evil, not nuking the earth into oblivion — and emasculate the bad guys with focused strikes?
Are all the big toys effective military assets in the fight against global extremism?
How can a $730 million B-2 Spirit keep a hothead from renting a truck and running over bicyclists?
I’m all for rooting out the bad guys, both foreign and domestic. But instead of spending on R&D for pinpoint technology, we’re filling our docks with billion dollar warships and our airfields with million dollar airplanes to fight conventional wars that no longer exist.
On the Other Hand
Here’s how we relate to a few other countries when it comes to saving cash:
What’s made America uniquely bad at saving? Perhaps America’s mix of wealth and diversity, the very staple of the American identity, is the culprit of its spending habits. In 2008, several researchers studied the stereotype that minorities spend more than whites on “visible goods”—like clothes, shoes, jewelry, watches, salons, health clubs, and car parts. They discovered that, even after controlling for income, minorities save less than whites and spend more on such conspicuous consumption goods. But the story wasn’t just about race. White people in poor U.S. states spent more of their income on visible goods than whites in higher income states. The Atlantic, 2016
Let’s look at that again: ” White people in poor U.S. states spent more of their income on visible goods than whites in higher income states.”
Benjamin Franklin trusted neither the elite nor the rabble.
The sitting president, however, is all about lifting up the elite at the expense of the rabble.
The Orange Tweeter, exhibiting bouts of sociopathy mixed with narcissism, seems incapable of focusing on any issue longer than a nano-second, and his sinking popularity now represents roughly 31% of the electorate.
Draw your own conclusions on what percent of this group falls into the “rabble” category (those still smarting from the deplorable slap), and what percent of Trump supporters are billionaires wanting to rake in more loot in the short term.
My personal guess is that moderate Republicans hoping to work across the aisle to solve the many pressing issues of the day would be a minority within that 31%.
Just a guess.
Yet the nation continues to treat world and domestic affairs like a football game — we win, you lose — without considering the simple fact that we’re actually all on the same team.
Yes, we can nuke any nation on earth into oblivion. Then the fallout blows over on us.
Yes, we have conventionally bombed nations into near-oblivion, but then they thrive after we go home, though most of the cash ends up in the hands of the upper-class.
You can’t enjoy small government and big military simultaneously.
But Trump voters aren’t interested in logic. The rabble still believes they’ll grow fat on the scraps tossed down from the elite’s tall table of big tax cuts and military-industrial-complex stock-and-bond windfalls.
They’re throwing commonsense to the wind, these lower-middle-class lovers of commonsense.
Just like their morals.
We can do better by providing excellent health care to all Americans while lowering the overall cost, though it may slightly burden the wealthy and middle-class folks in order to reach the prize of truly affordable health care for all.
In the 90’s I taught at a local community college and one of my students – who was abused as a child and neither fully-supported nor fully-educated – struggled her entire life with health issues, racking up hundreds of thousands of tax-payer-swallowed medical bills over the course of her too-short life.
Multiply this situation by millions – many citizens are now hooked on opiates – and one can see how this particular demographic could force a single-payer Medicare expansion into near-future reality.
The benefits of a healthy society are astounding.
But we’re a capitalistic society and the dollar reigns supreme.
Furthermore, the concept of personal responsibility never gets addressed. That fact coupled with the current opioid epidemic begs the question:
Is the practice of medicine really about health?
While I was researching this article, it was obvious that
the “facts” coming from sites linked – in one way or another – to private insurance companies were quite different from those emanating from neutral sources.
The insurance-linked information sites apprised the cost at $32 trillion while the neutral sites announced it would actually lower costs. The truth often lies at the midpoint, a hefty sum indeed. But our current direction, and the soon-to-be-announced Obamacare Lite are simply untenable.
Limiting Congressional health-care benefits to their own
plan for the rest of us would be a start. But don’t expect a sitting Congressman to write that bill. And now Republicans are replicating the major mistake Obama committed in his first term, which was to push a secret backroom inviable bill into law while briefly holding the majority and babbling they’d better pass it first so “you can see what’s in it” later.
Fast forward to today and it turns out that the ACA is actually a step above what the current Trumpcare plan offers the truly needy, a plan that boils down to “the rich get richer”.
An alternate path – leading away from the debacle of Obamacare/ Trumpcare – is fairly simple and workable: expand Medicare using a single payer plan while dropping Medicaid altogether.
Drew Richardson, a columnist for The News Leader explains the concept:
“So what is single-payer health care? Essentially it involves expanding the present Medicare system to cover everyone and eliminating private insurance (with the claimed accompanying savings of hundreds of billions of dollars). "Additional features would include the absence of means testing, no concern for pre-existing conditions, the restoration of independent doctors and hospitals who negotiate with Medicare and would be chosen freely by consumers and one public agency processing and paying bills. “Because it would be unneeded with this system in place, the present Medicaid program for the indigent and its associated administrative costs would be eliminated. Proponents suggest that costs could be contained and quality maintained through more efficient review by the single insurer. Costs would be financed through a progressive income tax.”
Sounds good, aye? Well, unless you’re a millionaire and break in to a cold sweat at the clause “costs would be financed through a progressive income tax”.
Like me, you’re probably reading between the lines here. When “eliminating private insurance” pops out, one’s mind – if the slightest bit of pragmatism is embedded there – questions the odds of cash actually drying up in the UnitedHealth, Kaiser, Humana, Aetna, and Cigna Rivers.
That’s doubtful. Why?
According to the non-partisan, independent, and non-profit Center for Responsive Politics:
“In the 2012 election cycle, the insurance industry contributed a record $58.7 million to federal parties and candidates as well as outside spending groups. Of the nearly $55 million that went to parties and candidates, 68 percent went to Republicans, who have long been the recipients of most of this category's giving.”
Admittedly, private insurance companies may suffer at first with a single-payer plan, but people with cash would buy supplemental insurance beyond Medicare basics and sustain the industry; jobs would shift to government positions aimed at administrating the new system and would therefore mitigate unemployment.
With the GOP in power, we’ll likely get Obamacare Light if they can scrape up the Senate votes, which fattens the coffers of the already-wealthy while neglecting the truly needy.
However, the worm may turn in 2018, and if a new Congress actually functions, we’ll be able to bring down costs and increase quality with a single-payer Medicare expansion while simultaneously closing the income gap.
The average citizen thinks the U.S. should turn to Medicare expansion: 58% back the idea, as well as most physicians.
A moral victory, indeed, if we hang tough and remain vigilant a few months while champagne flows from above and the neglected search for cake in the green dumpster marked US HEALTHCARE.