Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Undeserving

How do you explain the "What's the Matter With Kansas?" phenomenon? This question, the title of the famous and insightful book, asked how it could be so many people vote against their own self interest, vote Republican, when the Republican party, clearly, is dedicated to keeping the rich rich and the poor in their place.

The two most likely explanations are: One, Joe Sixpack, who works hard to make $40,000 a year believes, has to believe, someday he will be rich. He believes he is only temporarily poor.. That is his pipe dream and he gets nasty and hostile when you try to disabuse him of this delusion.

The second explanation is the Republicans simply fool enough of the people enough of the time. They tell you you are not making it because the Democrats are spending your money, and it's not your fault: It's the Democrats robbing you blind.

Of course, the truth is just the opposite: it is the Republicans who are robbing you blind, who always have, who have stacked the tax code to keep the rich rich and the poor poor. It is the Republicans who want to destroy public education because they don't want to pay to educate the poor, especially if the poor might learn to be critical thinkers, in which case the Republican party is really cooked.

If the poor realized the Republican tax code means Warren Buffet pays less income tax than his own secretary, they might get pretty angry at the Republicans. But all the Republicans have to do is say, "No, it's the Democrats who have screwed you with taxes.

It's the old truth that a person often accuses others of the sin of which he himself is most guilty.

The Republicans can propose killing Medicare by turning it into Coupon Care, where you get a fixed amount, say $6,000 a year, to cover your medical expenses and then you find out your coronary by pass surgery will cost $250,000.

Tough luck, sucker.

But the real hard core of Joe Sixpack's resentment against the Democrats is his bitterness about how hard he works and how the Democrats are willing, and have always been willing, to give away money to slackers who simply will not work and who live on welfare, or depend on Medicare or Social Security.

Somehow, the message that Democrats, under President Clinton, and guided by Daniel Patrick Moynahan, changed welfare. There are no more welfare queens, driving Cadillacs, dripping in diamonds, sitting at home collecting welfare checks.

Actually, there never were such queens--the Welfare Queen was the most potent fictional character ever invented by the Republican party.

But there was, once, a very toxic welfare culture, a culture of dependency.

I saw it first hand in a clinic I did in Washington, DC, when a fourteen year old girl came in pregnant and I asked her how she intended to support this baby.

She shrugged her shoulders, looking at the floor and said, "Welfare."

It was a pattern I saw all the time in that clinic: Have the baby, hand it off to grandma, who was herself on welfare, sitting at home at age 40, taking care of her grand daughter's baby and taking care of her daughter's baby, and the daughter was working as a part time clerk and as a part time prostitute. The grand daughter went back to school,l where she got pregnant by three different boys, three more times before she finally left school. And all this depended on the arrival of the welfare checks.

That toxicity poisoned those it supported, but more important, it poisoned a generation of Joe Sixpacks who hated the Democrats for being so soft hearted as to give away the dollars Joe paid in payroll taxes and income taxes and gas taxes to these free loaders.

Democrats have to face this legacy of bitterness head on. We have to say, "We are against taking your money and giving it to people who don't deserve it."

On the other hand, when I asked people, "Suppose you had only two choices: Number One, you get all the healthcare and retirement money you need, but some people who are not working, who refuse to work will also get the same or, Number Two, you do not get any of that healthcare or retirement money, but the people who refuse to work get nothing."

Amazingly, there are people who chose number two.

That is a truth Democrats have to face.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Revelation


You can always learn something new.

I was so stunned by the pie graphs Paul Solman showed on the PBS News Hour (shown in pretty poor reproduction to the left)

I showed them around the office.

The top pie shows how wealth is distributed in Sweden, and the bottom pie shows the United States, with the yellow slice showing the proportion of all national wealth owned by the top 20% in the nation, the wealthiest 1/5 of the country; the blue slice is what the next most wealthy 20% owns; the magenta slice shows the next 20%'s slice of the pie and so on, down to the lowest 40%, which owns less than 1% of all the wealth in the USA, but in Sweden the poorest 40% owns roughly 25% of all the weath.

So I did what Paul Solman did on the News Hour: I asked people in my office which country they would rather live in, Sweden where the wealth is distributed more evenly or the USA where they wealth is so uneven, where 84% of all the wealth is owned by just 20% of the people.

Of the three coworkers I asked, two said, immediately, they like the Swedish distribution, although not speaking Swedish they would not want to live there.

But one of my coworkers looked at it and said, "Well, to get that distribution, the Swedes had to tax their wealthy. It's a socialist system. I'd rather live here."

When I pressed her she said, she did not make enough money to pay taxes and she had a lot of relatives who don't want to work for a living and she doesn't want to pay taxes to support them.

Floored me.

But it does finally reveal why some people support the Tea Party, and the Republican Party.

There really are people who are offended by the idea of supporting their neighbors, even their relatives. They'd rather have less themselves, just to be sure the undeserving do not get a bigger share. The idea that the richest 1/5 of Americans own over 80% of all the wealth does not disturb these people. Even if the rich do not deserve their wealth, in the sense of not having earned it, that does not disturb my co worker.. What bothered her was not that the rich may not deserve their wealth; what bothered this lady is that someone who does not deserve a hand out may get that support.

One interesting thing about this woman: She is a devout Christian.


Where do you begin with this?

Wealth Re Distribution, Republican Style

This is a pretty dim photograph of a very vivid pie chart from Paul Solman's Public Broadcasting System website, (Google Paul Solman, PBS, Wealth Distribution).

But it's clear enough. The Yellow part of the pie is the wealth owned by the top 20% of Americans. The Blue slice is the wealth owned by the next most wealthy 20% and the Red and Orange slices show the wealth owned by the next three quintiels, i.e. the lower 60% of the country.

Even with the dim graphics, the effects of the Bush Tax Cuts which the Tea Party and the rest of the Republicans are so eager to preserve and defend are starkly visible.

See that tiny little wedge of the pie owned by 60% of our population? Not easy.

This is what the rich get richer plan of Republican voracity has got us.

Is there a more brutally honest way of seeing what these sanctimonious Americans have wrought?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Common Sense

President Barack Obama spoke to the good folks of Cannon Falls, Minnesota about the Republican opposition to raising taxes on billionaires, "Think about that. I mean, that's just not common sense."

Gee whiz, actually, it makes perfect sense.

As usual, President Obama did not name names, so the greedy and the guilty remain faceless, nameless abstractions. They are the guys at Wall Street firms and at banks who played with everyone's money but their own, took no personal risks but reaped huge personal benefits on security back mortgages and things called derivatives and on other financial arcanea and they walked off with millions in their bank accounts, while the rest of the country lost their homes, their jobs and their self respect. Obama said he did not want to go after these guys. He's just too polite to speak ill of anyone. He may be too polite to lead, for that matter.

The Republican party is bought and paid for by billionaires and millionaires and people who are deluded enough to think one day they may become billionaires and they do not want to pay taxes when that happens. These are the poor, deluded souls who in another age would have cried out lustily, "God save the King!" as if the welfare of the king had anything to do with their best interests.

As one great Republican President once said, "You can fool some of the people all of the time."

And the Republicans have taken that to heart.

So they create these phony Reischtag fires and they ride to power on them. You remember the Reischtag fire. Well, maybe not, but the Reischtag was the Capitol building of the German Parliament and the Nazis set it ablaze and blamed the Communists and Hitler, newly elected, used this attack on the parliament as an excuse to pass The Enabling Act which gave him a lock on power. The Nazis created a phony "emergency" to justify seizing power, to "save" the country.

Sound familiar?

And now, the Republicans (Mitch, John, Paul Ryan and Eric Cantor and all those who sail with them) are, as they always do, singing a song in chorus and it goes like this:

Oh, we are the saviors of the Republic,
We are the ones on whom the nation's life does depend.
We will save the country from the Deficit and from Bankruptcy,
From those nasty Democrats who want only to tax and spend!

Millions are unemployed, uninsured, and at their wits' end,
But we will save the billionaires first,
By slipping the knife into Medicare, and making the Democrats bend
And cutting Social Security at the jugular
So we can finally put the New Deal to an end!

And our pitiful President goes to the heart land and says, "It's jut not common sense."
Golly gee, fellas, act nice.

It makes perfectly good sense, to cut taxes for the millionaires, if they are the people who put you in office. We have the best Congress money can buy.

As a great Democratic President once said, "A conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs who has never learned to walk forward."

The same man observed, "Over ninety percent of all national deficits from 1921 to 1939 were caused by payments for past, present and future wars."

And, if he were alive today, that President would observe that our deficit today was caused by Republicans who got us into Iraq and Afghanistan and by the tax breaks they gave their rich patrons.

And it was this same Democratic President (not President Obama) who said, "Here is my principle: Taxes shall be levied according to the ability to pay. That is the only American principle."

So here's hoping our present day President will man up and give 'em hell, President Obama. It's only common sense.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Just the Simple Truth, Please

What I'm wondering is: Who really knows?
Mitt Romney says he knows, and he is a Presidential candidate.
Paul Krugman says he knows, and he is an economist, a Nobel prize winning economist at that.
Paul Ryan, John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, Rand and Ron Paul all know, and they sound very sure.
Rush Limbaugh, has always known, and he has been telling us about it ad nauseum for years.

Glenn Beck knows and he has been drawing it on his blackboard, but there really is something loony about his frenetic style, so even if he knows, I'm not sure I can believe him.

So, are we spending too much in Washington?

Are we spending too much in New Hampshire?

I mean, is government spending too much?

Actually, I haven't seen the numbers, and I'm pretty sure if I did see them, they'd be too big and in too many categories and contained in too many graphs for me to actually understand. So I just have to believe other people. But who to believe?

Mitt, Mitch, John, Paul, Rush, Glenn all say we are and they thunder it, like the word of God coming down from the mountain, so they must know.

But little Paul Krugman sits at his computer at Princeton University and looks at numbers and he says, actually, we the government is spending too little, says government spending is actually a smaller part of the overall economy than it has been in decades, says we should have spent way more in that stimulus package and if we had we would've actually pulled out of the recession, rather than just wallowing toward the shore.

Money, economy, deficits, debt payments, really Social Security and Medicare are all about the numbers, aren't they? Until they become about the people affected by the numbers, or the candidates trying to get elected by the numbers.

So we are told to look at numbers and apply them to the complex government numbers they are fighting over down in Washington.

We got more going out than coming in.
Maybe, maybe not. But, for the sake of argument let's say, yes, more going out than coming in.
So what should we do about that?

If I have too little to cover expenses, especially fixed expenses, I typically look for another job, a contract, some more income.

But for the government, that means taxes, fees, "income enhancement."
And for Mitt, Rand, Ron, Rush, Mitch and John, that "Tax" word is a four letter word they dare not speak.

Even closing "tax loop holes" is an anathema for these boys. Loop holes which allow you to deduct a corporate jet (because, as Mitt tells us corporations are people) or allows you to buy a Ford Expedition and deduct it as a business expense if you are a doctor--but you could not deduct your Honda Civic (go figure.)

So the Republicans are like those people who are starving but their religion forbids them to eat sacred cows, so they cannot take action to save themselves or their people. Except for the Republicans, it's sacred cows, chickens, hogs, corn, wheat, soy and fish. You just cannot touch anything to help save yourself if that anything is "Taxes."

Say It Ain't So

If you don't think too good, don't think too much.

--Ted Williams

If you are rich and others are not, whether you find yourself in the 17th century or the 21st, you find yourself faced with an eternal question, a question with which you will inevitably be challenged by your fellow man: Why should you have so much when the rest of us have so little?

In the 17th century, the working argument was, "Obviously, I was born into this wealth, and God selected my parents and meant for me to be rich." So, in a time when God was the answer to every question which confounded people, that worked.

Not so much in the 21st century.

Now, in the 21st century we have a similar problem for the Republican party. One percent of the country owns 70% of the wealth and we have to figure out why that should be a good idea.

If we can do that and kill the two things which have justified Democrats for decades, Social Security and Medicare, well, that would be a master stroke.

So first we create a crisis. This is a great tactic and worked well throughout history: The Nazis burned down the Reishtag, the parliament building, created a sense of impending doom and rode to power as the strong force of law and order. So this works well.


And why? ENTITLEMENT PROGRAMS, namely, you guessed it, Medicare and Social Security.
We Republicans have been telling you for the last 50 years these government tax and spend giveaway programs would bankrupt us all. Now it's happening.

The escape from this impending disaster is of course, PRIVATE ENTERPRISE.

So, here's our fool proof plan:

1/ No more taxes.
2/ This will empower small business to create jobs, once they don't have to worry about paying taxes or taking time to deal with regulators and regulations.
3/ This will put more money in the hands of people who already have a lot of money, so they will now have enough to spare a little for the little guy, and they'll hire more little guys.

Once you unleash the horses of competition and individual incentive, the economy will come roaring back.

Problem is, small businesses and big businesses alike are swimming in cash, but they are not hiring, for the very good reason, there are not a lot of customers out there.

There are not a lot of customers because people who don't have jobs tend to not spend a lot.

So, the Democrats have said, if business is failing to hire and if private enterprise is failing to put people to work, people who will spend, then we, the people of the government will do it. Once people have jobs, businesses will have customers and we'll have tax payers and the economy will come roaring back, just the way it's done throughout history.

The Democrats have said, if the patient is bleeding out on the emergency room table, let's stop the bleeding, start the intravenous lines, infuse some blood and we'll worry about how the patient will pay for it once he's back on his feet.

Dead patients don't pay bills.

But nobody hears the Democrats because the Republicans are always big, loud and angry, so angry and so sure of themselves they can say the most transparently stupid things, like spending is the problem, lack of income is not a problem, and that stupidity gets accepted as conventional wisdom.

The next stage of battle for the Republicans is the Obamacare bill. They will argue in the Supreme Court that the government cannot be allowed to compel a citizen to buy health insurance. This is the end of liberty, if a man has to buy health insurance even though he believes he will never need it, will never get ill or injured and even if that means all the rest of us will have to pay for his heedlessness.

We know that argument in New Hampshire, where you can ride a motorcycle without a helmet and when you are found brain damaged on the roadside and wind up quadraplegic in a hospital for the rest of your life, the taxpayers have to pay for your care--but it was your Constitutional right to live free or die (or linger) and not have to pay for the risk you were taking.

In fact, if you cannot compel a citizen to buy health insurance, then what have we been doing all these years compelling people to buy health insurance in the form of Medicare? And we've been making people by unemployment insurance against their will all these years, and we've been calling it social security.

We've played the role of uber parent, forcing people to put aside money for a future they may never live.

But now, we'll have our day in court, and, you heard it here first: Justices Thomas, Scalia, Alieto and Roberts will all agree, Obamacare and by extension, Social Security and Medicare are unconstitutional intrusion of government into private lives; Thomas Jefferson and John Adams and Jame Madison never said we could have these programs where the government steps in and forces citizens to plan for the future. We have no such text in the original good book we call The Constitution.

Ah, a Republican paradise, a clean sweep.

Sunday, August 7, 2011


Remember that wonderful scene from the Godfather where Michael assigns missions to each of his men and Tom Hagen finds himself standing alone,without an assignment and asks, "Mike, I'm out? Why am I out?"

And Michael smiles and says, "Tom, you have always a great advisor but this is war and I need a war consigliorere."

Almost since his inauguration I've felt President Obama needed a war time adviser, for whatever reason.

Now he has one, in the form of Drew Westen, a professor at Emory, who writes in the Sunday New York Times.

He notes Obama has not realized, as Michael did, that he is locked in combat with people who are not going to be reasonable, who will not negotiate or accommodate, so he has to go to war.

He does not say, "In times like these, the rich should be giving to charity, not getting charity."

Obama fails to identify the villains. He does not say, "This disaster was not a natural disaster but was created by conservative extremists who told us if we just eliminated regulations and rewarded greed and recklessness, it would all work out. And it didn't work out 80 years ago, when the same people sold our grandparents the same bill of goods, with the same disastrous results."

If Westen and Paul Krugman were Obama's advisors, the President would be saying, "You elected me to fix the mess the Republicans and Wall Street have made of the economy. The deficit didn't' exist until George W. Bush and his war Republicans gave 2 trillion dollars in tax breaks to the wealthy and squander $1 trillion in two wars, at least one of which was a total waste."

FDR said he welcomed the hatred of the forces of greed and selfishness and Obama could have said the same, and he could have named names, Fox, Murdoch, Limbaugh.

We needed an FDR, not a Ghandi, in this country in 2008. Ghandi was successful because he was opp posing the British. Had Ghandi been up against Hilter or Stalin, he would have been an unknown dead man, just another statistic. Same for Martin Luther King. To be successful with negotiation and appeals to conscience, you have to place faith in a certain level of integrity and conscience in those you oppose. But Obama is dealing with Mitch McConnell, who has publicly said his only first goal is to prevent Obama's re election That comes ahead fo any national interest, ahead of an improved economy, which would only help Obama.

But Obama compromised, accepted an ineffectual stimulus package and then had to live with the Republicans crowing that stimulus packages don't work. It was like the diabetic who takes a trivial amount of insulin an sees no improvement in his blood sugars and then complains, "This insulin stuff doesn't work!" You need to say, "Insulin always works, if you take enough."

Same with health care reform. Obama accepted a watered down insurance company reform when what was needed was a Medicare for all alternative. That would have made the insurance companies compete.

He never explained why saving the banks was so important, or why no bankers issuing bizarre and reckless loans did not and should not have wound up in jail.

Westen goes on to speculate about why President Obama cannot be the president we "know" is inside. And he is not afraid to list all the possibilities: The first is that he is simply not the guy we hoped he was. He was, after all, inexperienced and we didn't know much about him. "Those of us who were bewitched by his eloquence...chose to ignore some disquieting aspects of his biography: that he had accomplished very little before he ran for president." He just might not be up to the task.

Westen notes Obama's narratives always lack one vital element every charismatic leader needs: The villain. "Who is always left out, described in passive voice, as if the cause of other's misery has no agency and hence no culpability."

So we have a problem. We may have a President who is simply not up to the task.

The sad thing is we just got through 8 years of George W. who was so obviously not up to the task, and we are faced with alternatives from the GOP who are worse than useless.

Where that leaves us, I do not know. But I'm not smiling.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Republican Anarchists

When you get right down to the core beliefs of the Tea Party and Ron Paul, and even Rush/Glenn/Sean, the essential element is not just anti government but anti social.

They are the evolved "Off the grid" people. They hate the idea the idea no man is an island. They hate the idea anything has been given to them. They insist they are completely self made, sprung forth in adult form having never had any nurturing from a greater society.

Maybe they had trouble with their mothers.

Sartre said, "L'enver est les autres,"--Hell, is other people. And Rand and Ron Paul, Sarah Palin, Rush/Glenn/Sean, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, the whole lot of them, much as they may deny it, really do, on some level, believe this. They are the acolytes of that lyric, "The Lord above made man to help his neighbors, no matter where on land or sea or foam, but, with a little bit o' luck, when he comes around, you won't be home."

They are not at all worried about one percent of the nation's people owning 70% of the entire wealth of the nation. Those rich owners, after all, deserve their success. They earned it. They played the game by the rules and got rich, because they were brave enough to take risks and smart enough to see opportunities and nimble enough to act. And those other 80%, well, they just haven't worked hard enough. Those non owners are undeserving, just like all those free loading types who depend on Medicare and Social Security and other government hand outs.

You can hear these deep thoughts expressed as they ride down the roads built by government (of course, those roads could have been built better by private companies) in their tax deductible company Mercedes, on their way to their offices at the oil company, or the towers they inherited from their fathers.

Their saint is Ronald Reagan, who thought the only legitimate business of government is the national defense, and while he busily tripled our national deficit with his trickle down economics, he sowed the seeds of out sourcing much of the national defense to McDonald's and Halburton, in the great tradition of war profit erring dating back to at least the Civil War.

So Donald Trump worked hard for all he got, and so did all the other rich.

And why should we build roads for the undeserving public, or run an air traffic control system for the paying but ungrateful public, or have a Coast Guard to rescue idiotic fishermen who do not work for conglomerates but own their own boats and really do live by the work of their own hands, or pay for health care for the elderly--what do we need elderly for anyway?

And really, what about veterans? I mean if they were more industrious, those former soldiers, sailors and airmen could have been working for big companies, but no, it was "Join the Army if you fail," and they got blown to pieces, so they deserve it. Why should I be taxed to help those losers?

Why should we help anybody who won't pay us to help them?

What do we need a government for, anyway?

All we need is our family, our church and our chosen friends (at the country club.)

As Sonny Corleone said in one of those Godfather films: "Why would you want to fight for strangers?"

That's what we Republicans believe: There's just us and everyone else is a stranger.

When you think about it, it really is unfathomable, this idea of patriotism, of sacrificing yourself, or more difficult, your children for an idea--the idea of country. And none of these Republicans really like other people. They hold most other people in contempt.

Contempt. That's what is dripping from the lips of Rush Limbaugh every day. Contempt for his fellow citizens. And contempt is really just one form of hate.

Sad to say, Republicans have become the party of hate. Comp tempt and hate.

President Obama doesn't want to admit this to himself. He wants to think we have decent human beings in the opposition party with whom you can reason.

He is wrong.

How long would the Republican party, any of them, Ron Paul, Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, Mitch McConnell last in a British parliamentary system, where they had to answer questions, debate in a back and forth. What the Republicans depend upon is being able to rant and rave uninterrupted with nobody questioning their premises. That's Rush in a nutshell--nobody is allowed to question him.

Because if you start asking them questions, if you start challenging them--e.g., well you say we must live within our means; then why not improve our means with taxes?--when you do that, they are exposed for the frauds they are. And they cannot take that chance.

Republicans are not about all of us. They are about only some of us.

That's where the Republicans would take us: Back to the 13th century and a world of tribalism.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Guinta and Ayotte Show: Let Them Eat Cake

Congressman Guinta, representing the First District of New Hampshire got out of Washington yesterday. So did Senator Ayotte.

They left town without voting money to fund the FAA, and that means the Federal Treasury is losing more every three days than it would take to fund the FAA for an entire year.

Their failure to vote FAA funding will cost, literally, billions, before September. The airlines, bless them, will pocket the cash, which, given the hard times the airlines have add, may not be such a bad thing, but if you are worried about the federal budget or the deficit or the jobs of all those construction workers who would have ha d work building control towers and what not, you would want to do your job and vote for the FAA funding.

But for Mr. Guinta and Ms. Ayotte, well, they get paid whether or not they do their jobs.

Or maybe they just refuse to vote for any bill which has taxes (even airplane ticket taxes) in it, even if that tax not being collected simply means the money goes into a different account (the airline companies' account) but it certainly does not save the individual flier or the greater public on cent.

So have a nice summer, Mr. Guinta and Ms. Ayotte. We'll look forward to reading your how I spent my summer essay in September.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Republicans: The Big Scare

Looking at Frank Guinta, I have this creepy feeling he reminds me of someone, and then the black and white photos from the early 1950's crystallize and I realize it's Tailgunner Joseph McCarthy, the Wisconsin senator who scared all those nice Midwestern ladies in their print dresses and their bow tie wearing husbands right out of their wits, talking about the horrible disaster percolating up from right inside our own country, the creeping menace which would steal our children's prosperity and freedom if we didn't purge the nation of all the bad actors, RIGHT NOW.

McCarthy was the master of the bogey man. He saw Communists and subversives everywhere he looked.

Our very own Congressman Frank Guinta is McCarthy's spiritual grandson, and his fraternal twin, Kelly Ayotte.

They warn of that looming disaster, that approaching tsunami which will crush us all and will sweep away everything we've worked for since this great nation was founded, doncha know.
And what is that horror, sweeping our way? THE DEFICIT.

And all the little spawn of the deficit, taxes, out of control spending, all the work of BIG GOVERNMENT, which spends and spends our money and money we haven't even made yet.
This made Senator Ayotte vote against the recent budget bill, because it hadn't cut enough--it left Medicare on life support, and she wanted to pull the plug RIGHT NOW, and expressed dread at the idea of leaving that decision until another day, because as she pointed out, if you put things off in Washington, they often don't get done.

And Medicare is one of those things Senator Ayotte wants to kill right away. Of course, she says she loves Medicare and only wants to save it. She wants to save it the way those American generals wanted to save Vietnamese villages, which, as they said, you had to destroy to save. She wants Medicare to become Couponcare. That'll save it.

As for Congressman Guinta, he has made a big show of rejecting his own Congressional healthcare package, which is very brave and unselfish of him, setting such a good example for the rest of us and for our parents, who he wants to be just as brave as he is, giving up a great health insurance program for the program of Congressman Guinta's wife.

The really cool thing is how very deeply Mr. Guinta and Ms. Ayotte feel about not spending money we don't have.

Of course, we don't have the money because the twins Frank and Kelly will not allow us to tax their rich friends who write the checks for their campaigns--you got to give it to Republicans, you right them a check and you can count on them to vote your way. Frank and Kelly will not allow President Obama or any of those tax and spend Democrats to tax corporate jet owners or the owners of three and four homes or people who make a billion dollars because that would be WRONG.
It would be wrong because: A/ It's not fair to ask people who earned their money fair and square to give some of it to the undeserving middle class slackers B/ If we get those rich people who own things like companies angry they won't spend their money and the economy will suffer and worse yet, they won't hire anyone to work in their factories, which of course they haven't done for years because all their factories are now in China.

So we are spending money we don't have because Frank and Kelly won't let us have any money, if that means TAXES.

There, I said the word. Can't say it in polite company in New Hampshire. It's "balance," or "revenue enhancement." Heaven forbid we have TAXES in New Hampshire--the state where people pay fewer taxes than any other state than Idaho and Montana, and because of this we are able to attract lots of rich people to live here among us and pay no taxes. And having those rich people right next door helps all of us, somehow, I forget how exactly.

Certainly doesn't help us pay for our schools, so our kids can go anywhere in the country or world after they graduate. Doesn't pay for paving the roads or for healthcare in the state having all these rich people who will pull up stakes the moment we mention TAXES.

We are spending more than we have in New Hampshire for the same reason we are spending more than we have in Washington--because we choose, or rather the Tea Party and the Republican Party and Frank and Kelly choose for us to not have more money, that is, taxes to support all the things BIG GOVERNMENT wants to do--like sending kids to college, sending veterans to college, taking care of wounded veterans, sending the Coast Guard out to rescue our kids off shore, paving roads, fixing bridges, creating little innovative things like the internet, paying for medical care for our parents (so they don't go broke paying medical bills and move in with us), defending us against the next homicidal terrorist, (and finally finding Osama), providing a safety net (Social Security) for us when we get old, keeping airplanes from flying into each other.

Oh, and while we're talking about money we don't have: The Republicans, Frank and Kelly, went on vacation and refused to vote money for the FAA so the federal government loses more in a week in FAA airplane ticket taxes than it would cost to fund the FAA for a year, and in the process puts constructions worker all around the country out of work, because, don't you know, the FAA is GOVERNMENT, BIG GOVERNMENT.

So what Frank and Kelly got us was no BIG GOVERNMENT. In its place they gave us BAD GOVERNMENT.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Farewell, Democrats

Writing in the Sunday New York Times (7/31/11), Stanley Greenberg, a pollster, noted "There is popular support for the policies of the Democratic Party, but little trust in its ability to execute them."

This brings to mind a conversation I had with a patient the other day, a man who is a roofer, who has a health insurance policy which costs him $100 a month and it has a $6,000 deductible. He had resisted getting some lab work I wanted because his prior lab bill was $490, all of which he had to pay. And this guy is a roofer; that was big money to him.

I asked if he was going to benefit from the recent health care legislation the Democrats had passed.

He said, without hesitation, "No. I will probably be even worse."

I cannot say for sure, but I'd be surprised if he had read through that massive law, all 2,000 pages. I know I haven't. But his prejudice was no law borne of government would help him.

Had I pressed him, I suspect he would have said what I hear all the time in New Hampshire: Government is good for nothing. Nothing good comes out of the government. Government is not the solution; it is the problem.

When you press people about, well what about Medicare, Social Security, the roads, the bridges, the internet, the armed forces, the air traffic control system, the FBI, the CIA, the fire fighters, the police, the rescue squad, the public school system, they have complaints about all of them.

If they have been steady listeners to Rush and Glenn and Sean, they will tell you all these things would be better run and would work if only they were private companies.

Personally, I don't buy that sentiment. I think government is for what we cannot do better for ourselves and what is done worse if there is a profit motive driving it--like health care.

People will tell you if government ran the healthcare system, you'd have doctors and nurses sitting around, unwilling to see patients because they get paid whether or not they see patients, so they fight adding patients to their schedules and the waiting lists grow into year long affairs and nothing happens. If you want customer service, you need the fire in the belly only private enterprise gets you.

But consider this: Somewhere in the range of 88% of all practicing physicians in the USA have become employees. This is a slippery number but it sure fits with what I've seen. Doctors are voting with their feet in a huge stampede away from hanging up a shingle and doing private practice and they are looking for a W-2 form, not a series of 1099's.

Ask them why and they'll tell you they are sick to death of thinking about money all the time, about money before patient care. They may have hustlted to get out to see that patient in the waiting room a bit faster when they first started practice, but once they got established, got busy, they were running away from patients, the old incentive of an extra few bucks for an extra few patients disappeared.

As for private insurance, ask any 50 year old whether or not he'd rather have Medicare or Aetna or Blue Cross, and you'll see a flood of people who would prefer the government poison to the private sector poison any day.

But, have the Democrats managed to sell this proposition?: "The problem is not government; the problem is not even Big Government; the problem is bad governement. And bad government, or no government (in the case of the Tea Party) is what Republicans are all about."


President Obama accepted a budget without forcing the Republicans to cave on taxing the rich, closing loop holes for corporate jets, for second and third homes, for yachts and for corporate luxury boxes at stadiums

Paul Ryan handed Obama and the Democrats a loaded gun with which they could have blown away the Republican bandits. They passed a law which would have killed Medicare and put in its place Coupon Care.

And what did the Democrats do? I can't remember. All I can remember is seeing Harry Reid, with that whispery little voice of his and that stooped shoulder Casper Milquetoast look, saying the Republicans are not playing nice.

That is the really disturbing part of this. The world will always have bullies and people who try to suck in every bit of wealth and largess they can-- the rest of the world be damned. The disgusting part is when the champions of the people just let these Orwellian pigs win.

If you have a dragon, you need a knight to slay it.

Clearly, sadly, Obama ain't that.