Reading all the criticism from the conservative, Tea Party, and Republican commentators (or all those the same thing?), is enough to make one dizzy. On one hand all the protestors are all jobless, lazy bums who are unwashed with long hair, and on the other hand all the protestors are union workers who are getting paid to protest…come on guys they can’t be both of those things!! And in reality of course they are neither.

But it occurred to me today, why the Tea Party protestors were the darlings of the right-wing media, and the 99% folks who are protesting corporate control of our society are not — the 99%-ers don’t carry guns. Of course that’s because the 99%-ers are mostly non-violent, pacificist types, so they’re not going to cotton to my suggestion. But dang it guys, you could get some really solid support here from the NRA if you’d all just openly carry rifles! The Tea Partiers proved that you could do that legally in public during demonstrations.

The 99%-ers just need to look for a Second Amendment Solution to this. They don’t have to fire the weapons, just carry hunting rifles openly. Just think of all the Republicans that would suddenly have to support them — because my gosh, arresting them if they were openly carrying guns would be an assault of the Second Amendment, and no conservative who wishes to get re-elected (or have the support of the NRA) could allow that to happen.

Just saying….

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There are an alarming number of folks on the right in American Politics who are willing to fail to raise the debt ceiling because they believe that the vast majority of what government does is unnecessary and indeed “evil.” These are people many of whom do think that it would be a good thing for government to disappear, and that nothing seriously bad will happen if the August 2 deadline passes and the debt ceiling is not raised. They (wrongly) believe that a capitalist economy works best without government involvement, and so they apparently believe that rather than destroying our economy, crippling government by failing to raise the debt ceiling will free it to soar.

I have come to believe in recent days that it is necessary for those of us on the left to let them have their way. Let it fail. Let all those freshman, Tea Party Republicans have their way, let them block the raising of the debt ceiling. I believe it is time that the American people learn how much they really need government, how bad things can get if government is starved of funding.

The American people have been fed so much crap about the evils of government since 1980, that its time for a very serious, deadly object lesson; a lesson that is unmistakable in its dire consequences.

Once the lesson has sunk in, the debt ceiling can always be raised again. Yes, that will still result in the down grading of U.S. credit ratings, and that will cause some pain in increased interest rates among other things. But I’m beginning to think that it would be a small price to pay for the American electorate to learn that government is very necessary to the survival of the economic system of which they are so enamored.

Let it fail.

Better to let it fail, that to sacrifice bit by bit the programs like social security, medicare and medicaid that have provided a small bulwark against the complete disintegration of the American Middle Class.

Both right-wing and left-wing extremes (I’m part of the latter) do agree on one thing, we’re “on the wrong track” and going “to hell in a handbasket” if we don’t make some serious changes. Other than that basic agreement these two ends of the political continuum fail to agree on anything else — such as what the wrong track is, why it is wrong, and who is responsible for us being on that mistaken track, and what we should do about it. This is why the typical opinion poll which simply asks the bald question “is America on the right track?” gives us such a deceptively high percentage of people (64 percent in a March Ipsos’s poll) saying that we’re on the wrong track.

As a left winger, I think we’re on the wrong track because: 1) we keep reducing taxes on the rich and corporations when we ought to be increasing them, 2) we keep cutting programs for the poor, disabled, elderly, students and children, when we ought to be increasing them, 3) we keep giving subsidies to gas, oil and coal companies when we should be eliminating them and investing heavily in hydro, wind, solar, and everything else renewable, 4) the rich are getting richer while the poor (and the middle class and, well, everybody except the very rich) keep getting relatively poorer, 5) we’re not closing the Guantanamo Bay prison, and we’re not getting out of Afghanistan, and 6) we’re letting evangelical Christians impose their version of Biblical law on us. And the cause of all these problems is unrestrained, unregulated capitalism, and unfettered capitalism is beginning to collapse from its own internal contradictions, just like Marx said it would (he was only wrong about the timing).

Anyone with half a brain knows that the right-wing version of we’re going down the wrong track is almost exactly the opposite of every point on my list.

On a blog I read occasionally I saw this proposal for moving the country to more sustainable energy use:

My proposal is that electric utility companies currently heavily invested in their own coal-fired generation consider adopting the model used by Bell Telephone in the 1950’s. In exchange for a modest installation fee (say a few hundred dollars that could be prorated over a period of time) well within the budgets of middle and working class families with “green values,” the utility company would deliver and install solar panels on the consumers home — but, and here’s what I think is a new idea (at least as applied to electricity generation) the utility company would retain ownership of those panels in perpetuity, and charge the consumer a monthly fee for the electricity consumed from those panels.

Here’s the details — the one’s that I think would make this idea appealing to both the consumer and to the utility company. The individual solar installations would 1) be large enough to provide for ordinary, peak daylight hours electricity use and 2) would be tied into the grid allowing for both inflow and outflow. The utility company would benefit, because all excess electricity generated would flow into the grid for use by other customers (and unlike the situation where a household customer owns the solar installation, the utility company would own that excess flow outright and not be paying the customer with the installation for it). With each household or business that added solar generation, the electricity generating capacity of the entire grid would be expanded. The capitalization costs would be spread out over time — no huge up-front investment in generation capacity years before any new power can be generated. Moreover, following current phone company and cable company practices, the utility company could charge a very small (a few dollars) monthly maintenance fee to consumers, to cover costs of periodic maintenance and repair.

The consumer would benefit in two ways: they would have the assurance that in the absence of sunlight they would still have electricity, and conversely, during widespread power outages due to downed transmission lines they would also still have their locally generated power. Indeed, if several households in a neighborhood had contracted with the utility for solar panels, the entire neighborhood circuit might be protected from electricity loss during a widespread outage….From the utility company’s perspective, they are able to gradually expand their generating capacity, using “green” sources, with small, periodic expenditures of capital that can be partially charged to the customer (installation fees), and also recouped by feeding all excess electricity generated into the grid. Customers without the panels who depended solely on the grid would pay the standard rate for their electricity. By dispersing solar generation through out the households served by a utility, there would be a substantial increase in efficiency, as electricity would be consumed closer to where it was generated, reducing the losses to long distance transmission. Most of all this idea allows utility companies to make the transition to renewable electricity generation gradual and incremental, and thus less painful and more acceptable.

Intriguing idea, particularly since it lays the ground work for a far more radical shift. Once solar installations had penetrated a significant percentage of housing units, the citizens could stage a take-over of power-generation. Instead of “nationalizing” the power industry, we could “communitize” the power industry. Okay, I made that term-up by what I mean is transferring ownership of means of production to community or neighborhood groups. So even though this proposal, on the surface seems to expand the power and reach of utility companies, it does have within it the seeds for a more radical, decentralized energy economy.

Saw this data on another blog and checked out the data myself at the Bureau of Labor Statistics, where you can choose any range of years to examine.

Under Reagan unemployment rates rose higher and stayed there for longer than under Obama. Here’s the data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Ronald Reagan, President
Recession of 1982-83



Year
Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug

Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec
1982
8.6
8.9
9.0
9.3
9.4
9.6
9.8
9.8
10.110.410.810.8
198310.410.410.310.210.110.1
9.4
9.5
9.2
8.8
8.5
8.3

Total number of months unemployment was above 9% under Reagan was 19, number of months unemployment was above 10% under Reagan was 10 months.


Barack Obama, President
Recession of 2008-2010

YearJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
20097.78.28.68.99.49.59.49.79.810.110.010.0
20109.79.79.79.99.79.5

Total number of months unemployment was above 9% under Obama so far has been 14, number of months unemployment was above 10% under Obama was only 3 months, less than one-third the number of months above 10% under Reagan.


So my question is, why isn’t anyone reporting on this? Who’s conspiracy of silence is this? Even the Obama administration themselves aren’t making enough of this information. Yeah, I know, no one should be bragging about unemployment rates of 9.5%, but still, this is far better than the Reagan record on unemployment.

The longer that the oil continues to gush from the Deepwater horizon well, the more oil that contaminates the gulf, the greater the destruction of the Gulf, the better it is for the oil industry. Seriously.

What does the oil industry hate the most — all those safety and environmental regulations. Even when they don’t really follow them, they still have to waste the time of paid employees to go through the motions of complying with environmental and safety regulations, of regulatory visits and all those forms to fill out.

So, what if the gulf is so polluted, so toxic that all marine life is just gone. No dolphins, no whales, no fish, no fishing industry, no shrimp, no shrimpers. All the beaches contaminated, all the tourist industry gone elsewhere. If it’s all destroyed then protecting it becomes moot. No more need for all those troublesome regulations. The oil industry will then be able to drill where ever and when ever they wish in the gulf. No one will care (at least politically) if the wells leak because the damage is already done.

A toxic swamp gulf is exactly what the oil industry needs.

The right wing seems to think that the political climate in the U.S. is ripe at the present moment for getting rid or at least drastically scaling back unemployment insurance. I hope they are wrong and that general public sentiment is not represented by the Tea Party types who so dominant the news coverage by both those who approve (fox news) and those who disapprove (msnbc left of center prime time).

Stopping the extension of unemployment insurance payments for the long term unemployed is all upside for the republicans and conservatives.

First it throws 1.2 million people into dire straits that will help put even more downward pressure on wages, not only for those forced to take poverty level jobs in lieu of unemployment, but also for those still in jobs, whose position becomes just that much more tenuous and thus vulnerable to employer pressure.

But even more importantly, throwing long term unemployed off unemployment in really bad economic times will appear to “work” as a tactic for reducing unemployment. Those receiving unemployment must actively seek work to receive their checks, by actively seeking work they fit the labor department’s official definition of unemployment. But once the checks stop and the pressure from unemployment offices to seek work, within weeks, those in areas where there are no jobs (which is most of the country right now), will soon become discouraged. People don’t keep on actively seeking work when there is no work to be had, unless they are required to do so to get unemployment. When their active work search stops, they don’t have a job, but they also no longer fit the official definition of unemployed, and by magic the unemployment rate will decline. Of course the number of people employed doesn’t rise, and the labor force declines, but most people don’t understand the way in which unemployment numbers are created.

Within months the republicans will be able to point to the declining unemployment numbers and say “see our strategy of cutting people off of unemployment insurance works — unemployment has declined.” Democrats will of course, try to educated the public, explaining about discouraged workers and declining size of the labor force, but it will be for nought. That strategy didn’t work well in 1985-86 when official unemployment under Ronald Reagan finally began to drop below 10 percent. The average person doesn’t want to know that official unemployment numbers are really not a very good indicator of the economic health of society.