Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A Storm is Comming....Fast

Patriotism is a funny thing these days.  We have Tea-Party Patriots, we have Civil Patriots, we have Democratic Patriots, we even have high-crime patriots (Edward Snowden being one example).  Each of us is a patriot in our own way.  This is a shout-out to my good friend Kyle Wolfe, who, today, in solidarity with his other organizers was among one of the 120 people arrested in the North Carolina State Assembly for failing to disperse when ordered.  Today the North Carolina Legislature is considering several very controversial bills. A few of the most serious ones are SB 666 which would prohibit parents of dependent students from claiming said student if he votes in a jurisdiction outside the state where he or she is attending college or university.  Then there's the legislation that threatens to cut off unemployment benefits to over 71,000 families across the state, as well as laws about hydraulic fracturing, and a few other bills.  Today, the participants in these "Moral Monday" demonstrations have drawn over 3,000-5,000 protesters to the state capital and has put North Carolina in the national spotlight.  In speaking with Kyle, he told me "its weird I'm PROUD of being arrested."  

Like many other states in this legislative session, almost all the legislatures being picketed, demonstrated, and canvassed for their radical views and policies, most are from heavily Republican-controlled states.  Recently, Wisconsin saw it's own drama when the President of the State Senate shouted obscenely at Democratic Senators because they attempted to call attention back to the debate they desired on a highly controversial abortion bill requiring a vaginal ultrasound.  The speaker shouted at opponents of the bill whom, they believe rushed the bill to a vote shutting down all debate on the legislation abruptly.  In that instance, he broke his gavel while trying to maintain order in the chamber.

The Texas Legislature attempted to pull a fast one on the public by calling a special session of the Legislature to attempt to steamroll sweeping anti-abortion legislation through the House and Senate before anyone could blink.  But currently, at this time, Senator Wendy Davis is mounting a good old-fashioned, 13 hour filibuster of the original kind, standing without the right to a break or to lean on anything and speak until the time to vote on the bill expires as 12-Midnight, local time.  The move was spawned from a public-organized citizens' filibuster where hundreds of people piled into committee meetings to speak publically about the anti-abortion legislation that would essentially close 37 of the 40 abortion clinics in the state, leaving millions of women without access to women's health care services and abortion services, as well as cutting off all of Western Texas entirely.  We'll have to see of Ms. Davis is successful in her efforts at the end of the day.

Washington State has drawn it's own Republican backlash as Republicans, who make up 95% of the Majority Coalition Caucus, a bipartisan (used loosely) collaborative body of 24 Republicans and 2 renegade Democrats who have chosen to caucus together forming a majority even though Democrats technically have the most members present, are threatening a state-shutdown of government due to severe differences in taxation and spending...most of which revolves around the Estate Tax and education funding provisions.  Republicans are demanding that the money being invested in Education not go to teacher salaries, while Democrats are objecting fervently at the attempt to squelch teacher pay increases.  And recently, a member of the The People's House, Republican Liz Pike from the 18th Legislative District, came under harsh criticism for sounding off on her views regarding teachers on her Facebook page, by posting this Open Letter:

A life in the day of a WA State Representative...
I spent the morning answering emails from constituents. I receive a lot of emails from teachers complaining about their cost of living increases being suspended. 
Here's an open letter to public educators!
Congratulations on enjoying your last day of the school year. If I had the opportunity to choose my career all over, I would have opted to get the necessary degree and teaching certificate so that I too could enjoy summertime off with my children, spring break vacations, christmas break vacations, paid holidays, a generous pension and health insurance benefits.
Instead, I chose to work a career in private sector business so that I could be one of those tax payers who funds your salaries and benefits as a state employee in a local school district.
First, let me be clear, thank you for your service to our schools. I hope you are one of the excellent instructors who is inspiring our children to reach their full intellectual potential and learn the value of true leadership in our community. I hope you are one of the brightest and best in your teaching profession who is willing to raise the bar in our public education system that unfortunately continues to plummet when compared to worldwide education standards. The big difference between the U.S. public education system and others in the world is that we have unions that only care about the adults in the system. Since the rise of teachers' unions in this nation, our public education system has deteriorated. 
I always encourage folks to choose a job they love! If you are uninspired because of the lack of a cost of living increase, I encourage you to speak with your neighbors who work in the private sector. Ask them when was the last time they were guaranteed pay increases that were not based on performance standards. Furthermore, teachers who are dissatisfied with their pay and benefits should look for work elsewhere so that someone who is inspired to greatness can take their place in the classroom. Our children deserve an exceptional and inspired teacher in every classroom. Don't you agree?
If you look at all the possible things the state can do for its citizens, you will quickly realize there will never be enough money for all of the programs that some legislators want. Just like you and I do in our own household budgets, so must the legislature. For me, it's all about priorities and spending less money that the state takes in. If we do this, we will have a reserve for emergencies and economic downturns so that we can avoid raising yet more taxes.
I am a State Representative with core values in smaller, more efficient government, more personal responsibility and less reliance on government in our everyday lives. My positions were clearly stated in my year long campaign before I was elected and they should come as no surprise.
To every excellent teacher in Clark County. Thank you for the great work you are doing in our classrooms. Enjoy your summer!
Liz PikeWashington State House of Representatives18th Legislative District"Protecting life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness"
This unleashed a firestorm of responses from across the state about her indignation towards educators and the Education and Teaching unions who are constantly fighting with the legislature for more funding for the state's already impaired Education system.  This also following a Supreme Court Ordered increase in funding to meet the state's constitutional obligation to provide public education to it's citizens.

Across the nation, citizens and Republican-Controlled legislatures are either gridlocked or clashing horribly as unpopular, pro-business, anti-gay, anti-woman, anti-human measures are passed through these houses.  Only time will tell if this backlash will allow Republicans to survive the 2014 elections.

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Free Market and Libertarians

There was one thing that John Maynard Keynes understood about people is their nature.  Keynes was a keen observer of humans and often made remarks about them in his discourses with other people.  In particular, he had an affinity for hands.  It's weird, but, we all have our quirks that help to define us in some mild way.  But in the realm of understanding human nature, Keynes understood the instability of the human condition which, I believe, helped shape his views about government interventionism.  Keynes argued often that Capitalism was necessary but unstable, and required a hedge against severe shocks to the system.  This is where the ideal of government interventionism comes into play.  The government is the only entity large enough in the economy to affect any form of influential change to the market and the only investor large enough to stabilize supply shocks or credit shortages.

Libertarians would have you believe that we should turn over all our policing force to the private sector.  They argue that supply and demand can solve all problems and that markets will adjust themselves in time.  And on a micro-level I believe this to be true as well, however, on the macro-stage, the rules are different.  When a shock occurs to a region vs. a nation, the regional economy can seek resources out of state or out of region to help stabilize the markets that have been shocked.  A sudden drop in the supply of coffee in the area can cause a price increase, but, with the interstate markets like they are, obtaining a new supply of coffee is relatively easy.  However, when the entire national market is affected by a supply shock...say the price of oil spiking to unabsorbable levels like what happened in the 70s, the sudden shock on a macro-scale can be too much for the market to absorb and the government would need to take steps to stabilize the supply shock.  Government interventionism isn't about seizing control of the market, but taking steps to ensure that it doesn't collapse in on itself.  As Europe is finding out that the lack of public investment and stimulus spending, which is designed to give demand a crutch until the private sector can take over, is harming their economic growth substantially.  Many Euro-zone states are in recession because the ECB (European Central Bank) has been very tight-lipped with the money supply.  Partially responsible are the Germans because they're currently the nation who is in charge of the bloc's money supply.  Normally these nations in Europe would take their own currency, spend on public investment, run some short-term deficits, cause a smidge of inflation, and everybody would be back to full employment only after a few years.

Libertarians have another story.  It has been my observation that Libertarians tend to sharply moralize the market believing that any government involvement in their lives is immoral, and that the assertion that anyone should pay for anyone else is objectionable.  Now if I were to come up to you in the street, say to you "Give $10 to that guy in front of you and pay for his groceries or be jailed."  You'd look at me and say "get bent" or some variation of that.  I think most rational people would.  However, if I were to come up to you and everyone else in society and say "Please provide $10 so we can build a bridge for everybody to use."  You'd perhaps be a bit more sympathetic to that because the money is being used to build a good that everybody can use.  Or, sticking with the example of groceries, "Please provide $10 so that we can provide food to a family that's impoverished so they don't starve and end up on the streets."  Most people would find that to be at least reasonable on the premise that nobody believes anybody should starve.  Libertarians place an unreasonable amount of optimism and faith in people in business to provide for all our needs.  And while the sentiment may be noble or even somewhat rational to a limited degree, it's not logical.

By placing our faith in business and the private sector to provide our needs exclusively, including poverty services and charity, we are depending on a system that can change at a moment's notice.  The benevolence of an individual is dependent on that individual choosing to engage in an activity that is directly against his interest and being happy to do so.  And while we do have examples of individuals rising above their own wants and giving away vast amounts of money, it wouldn't provide the necessary stability to sustain and assist in rebuilding a person's life.  In the world today, there are dozens of individuals who have demonstrated great generosity.  But I fail to see examples of full-blown social poverty programs that are privately run that have been notable in helping people from rags to self-sufficiency.

Most Left-Liberals (which I identify as), argue that problems such as hunger, homelessness, and poverty affect society to a greater degree than asking for a little money to help those who have nothing.  The argument is that a starving person will follow their most basest instinct...to survive.  And to survive, most human beings will do whatever is necessary to preserve their corporeal existence.  Starvation, severe inequality, classist social mechanisms and severe injustice are the root causes of political uprisings, and, while I believe we're definitely not to that point, I do believe that if we continue on the course we're on now, specifically in regards to business and economics, we may reach that boiling point.

Wealth inequality will continue to have a toxic effect on our society as long as it remains an unsolved problem.  The fear that many progressives had during the 1890s is that the corporate machine would exceed government power, and impose itself on the citizenry as the defacto true government.  The Mr. Monopoly Cartoon is a perfect example, shown above.  This sparked the Sherman and Anti-Trust acts of the early 1900s, and has been the basis for government regulating wealth distribution and concentrations of political, economic and monetary power.  The Sherman and Anti-Trust acts were responsible for the breakup of Standard Oil, Ma Bell, and several other super-large firms which threatened to unseat the duly elected government of the people.  Maybe not through revolutionary means, but by way of becoming so large that their departure from the economic stage would cause a severe disruption to society, therefore making their presence more important and their needs more important than that of the people.

There is no evidence historically or even anecdotally that the Free Market as Libertarians contend it to be have any interest in furthering the interests of anyone except those that consume their products, buy their stock, and seek their company for employment.  There has been no notable private interest that has taken the initiative to care for the poor in any great capacity that would be necessary to abolish the social safety net.  And what few private interests are present are too small to carry the entire burden by themselves.  Government-assistance programs are necessary to help move people out of the cycle of poverty and into a position where they can meet their basic needs then move to greater levels of need hierarchies.  The Libertarian view of society is an idealism, unrealistic, and naive.  The only real solution is a blending of private market forces with government oversight managing and responsibly regulating the activities of business to protect the interests of the people, and to ensure that government of the people is the only government present.


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

State Senator Mary Lazich Is Using “Lack of Education” excuse to restrict abortion while voting for those measures which cut those requirements from WI's Sex-ed laws.

Today the Wisconsin State Senate passed SB206 requiring women to obtain an ultrasound when seeking a pregnancy termination procedure.  State Senator Mary Lazich argued fervently on the senate floor that such procedures are necessary and proper because they fully educate the woman about her body, her pregnancy, and her developing fetus…giving the mother a “last chance” moment before she proceeds with her termination.  She remarked often that patients are told “you're doing the right thing” and “it’s just a cluster of cells.” 

However, there is some severe hypocrisy regarding Ms. Lazich statements and her voting record.  While Ms. Lazich is pushing for more education about human development so that mothers can make informed decisions about their bodies, she actively opposed such education by voting for SB 237 which did the following things to Wisconsin’s Sex education framework, including removing provisions which required medically accurate information regarding topics such as pregnancy, puberty, parenting, body image, sexuality, and sexual behavior. 

Ms. Lazich has repeatedly sought to take money from public education and divert it to vouchers which further the cycle of sex education ignorance as most private religious schools teach abstinence-only education and do not properly educate women about how their bodies function.  In the 2011-2013 budget passed by the Republican-dominated House and Senate, and signed by the Administration, the Administration took $1.6 Billion dollars from public and charter school education and diverted it to vouchers for kids to attend private religious schools.  Her voting yes for AB 40, the 2011-2013 budget, we again see Ms. Lazich is using the “ignorance of women about pregnancy” excuse while at the same time gutting public education and passing archaic provisions regarding the sex education requirements and mandates which include pregnancy education; requirements that Ms. Lazich is so profoundly concerned about suddenly now that she has a chance to trample on other women’s abortion rights.

Ms. Lazich is a political opportunist who’ll take advantage of every option she has to push her regressive and oppressive agenda regarding women’s health and medicine.  Her actions today speak profoundly to her character and cold-heartedness.  In her attempt to limit women’s healthcare access, she has turned herself into a flip-flopper and has blamed, what she perceives to be, the problem on an issue that she herself has caused and further perpetuated.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Bigoted Prayers are not Prayers

I am an LGBT Christian, and while I appreciate prayers as much as the next person. I like encouragement and positive reinforcement as well as sympathy and empathy. However, what I do not want is your prayers that I "get fixed" or that I "find the right girl." I do not want prayers about ridding the "evil" within me or "cleansing me of my unrighteous perversion." If you pray for me for those things...just stop...seriously. I don't want those kinds of prayers on my behalf, I don't want your prayers rooted in fear and bigotry, and I don't want your prayers about my alleged, what you view as, perversion. I am perfectly content with who I am. Nothing in this world, The Bible, or my thoroughly well-grounded understandings of scripture will convince me that I am "living in sin" because I want to spend the rest of my corporeal existence with a man. Please take your bigoted, hateful, ignorant, and thoroughly unChristian prayers, and shove them somewhere dark, dank and dreary so they rot into nothingness. Whatever happens in my life is mine to deal with. All I want is your love unconditionally...and nothing more. PERIOD. I'm growing VERY tired of walking on eggshells around people because they get upset by me talking about what is my very genuine and personal feelings about MY life. And I hate being made to feel that my feelings and desires are this facade that is influenced by Evil. I will not have my life, feelings, and experiences judged by you, or anybody else. YOU ARE NOT QUALIFIED! IT IS ABOVE YOUR PAYGRADE! Christians
I've never personally been to "anti-gay" therapy, and I never will go.
who judge are like hourly supervisors flexing their pitiful excuse of an existence to make themselves feel superior. I'd rather hold out for word from a higher-level manager...so if you seek to judge me...take a long walk of a short pier, cau
se I'm done with you.

Yes, my thoughts are rather harsh, and direct, and blunt...but you know what else...I want to feel like a human being. And I do not feel like one because I fear every day that something will happen that will severely disrupt my current life