After Mattis’s Resignation, a President Unbound

[Response to an article in the New York Times.]

This is a good article as far as it goes, but to fully understand what is happening, you have to take a step back and look at the history of the Republican party and its connection to the evolving world situation. First of all, Republicans have never believed in democracy or that America is a democracy. They tell us we are a republic in the hands of our governing magistrates and not ruled by the will of the people. They have gerrymandered voting districts to tilt the voting in their favor and suppressed the vote in opposing districts to maintain control of the voting process regardless of the will of the people. But Republicans can also see a trend throughout the world toward authoritarian, one-party rule, and they see this as their chance to attain absolute political power in America. This is true in Russia, Turkey, China, Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Romania. Republicans would and always have wanted to see one-party rule in American, and they are now trying to ensure that they rule American and leave the Democrats to a suppressed minor role in politics. President Trump wishes to increase the power of the presidency and ensure that only a Republican can be elected president. To do this, Republicans have to control the news media and make it another arm of the Republican party. This they have had handed to them by Rupert Murdoch in the form of Fox News. American and the world is in deep, deep trouble. The American public better wake up to that fact.

Google Will Shut Down Google Plus After User Information Was Exposed

US Space Force

[The following is my comment to an article in the Washington Post titled, “The Space Force isn’t silly. Reshuffling the Pentagon might be.”]

I doubt that the idea for a new US Space Force came from Trump. He doesn’t have the mental capacity. The idea probably came from forward-thinking people from with the military, likely the US Air Force itself. As a life-long liberal, I was active-duty Air Force for eight years during the Vietnam War and was an astronautical engineer for 35 years working many NASA Space Shuttle projects, missions to the outer planets, as well as Star Wars projects. We have to look beyond Trump and think about American security far into the future. With the maturation of the global space industry, and particularly the quickly advancing space capability of China and its military expansion, we have to consider the strategic military implications of space. China, Russia and the EU are already doing this. To not do it is creating a suicidal future for America. The Chinese already have a presence at the lunar Lagrange point EM-L2 to provide Earth communications for their lunar prospecting and possible mining of Helium-3 on the far side of the moon in preparation for fusion power. We should be doing this also. As a matter of fact, we should be planning for a presence of all the militarily significant locations within the Earth-Moon system. In my opinion, the most militarily strategic spot in the Solar System is the south pole of the Moon that has 24 hour sunlight and visibility of Earth. We should also investigate the military significance of all five Earth-Moon Lagrange Points EM-L1 thru 5. We can’t be so absorbed with today’s problems that we neglect the future in a rapidly changing world. Human beings and nations will always be in conflict. Some other Trump or Hitler will come to power in another country in the future. This is an undeniable part of humanity, and we better plan for it. We should start a Space Force before it is too late. It will dramatically change thinking about space. This has nothing to do with Trump and everything to do with securing America’s future.

Zuckerberg’s Moral Depravity

The situation with Facebook, described in this NY Times article, is much worse than this article has led us to believe. Marketing to its users is one thing, but Facebook has monetized its users. That should be outlawed. Facebook has asked us for everything about us that makes us human insofar as it can be presented on the Internet. It does this under the pretext of connecting us with people and providing an online social life. But what is actually going on underneath the surface is that Facebook is selling that data so that it and others may engineer society to serve their commercial and clandestine purposes. No one at this early stage of social networking can fully understand the future social, psychological and political implications of what Facebook is doing. Because it is misrepresenting to its users what it is doing, Facebook is a criminal enterprise, and Zuckerberg is its creator and kingpin. I don’t know that it’s possible for him to understand the depths of his own moral depravity because it is in his intellectual DNA.

The Medical Money Pump: The Truth About Healthcare

So here is the way the American medical profession works, and let’s start from first principles.

If we have a population of human beings, and if no one ever gets sick or injured, the need for the medical profession doesn’t exist. So, it is that people getting sick or injured is in the interest of medical professionals — doctors, nurses, techs, pharmacists. It is also obvious that medical professionals should have some form of knowledge and skill that enables them to help these sick and/or injured people get well. This being true, the patient is then willing to pay the medical professionals for their services and seeks out their help when necessary. The number of doctors and hospitals serving a community rise and fall based on the needs of the population. Those who offer substandard services fall by the wayside, and those who are good at their profession prosper. It is a direct relationship: medical care costs paid by the patient directly to those providing it, the decisions about services and payment worked out directly by those providing the service and those using it.

This was the situation back in the 1940s and ’50s when I was kid growing up on a farm. We went into town when one of us came down either sick or injured. If hospitalization was necessary, we went to the hospital in the next town over. My parents paid all our medical bills out of pocket. The bills for both the doctor and/or the hospital were both reasonable and within a lower-middle-class budget. Even when my father had to have emergency medical surgery and spent several days in the hospital, he paid the bill without taking out a loan. It was the same when one of us kids had to have our tonsils removed or had to have a laceration stitched up.

It was not a broken system, but some of those who witnessed this process in action from afar wondered how they might stick a straw into this system and suck a few more bucks out of it. From purely a functional standpoint, the first thing that would bring more money into the system from a patient would be simply an increase in fees. Of course, this would require a loosening of ethics from the providers viewpoint, but it was certainly doable. Here is the inescapable fact that would allow this to occur. All you have to do from a provider’s standpoint is to ask how much the patient would be willing to pay for the services beyond a reasonable fee? Another way of saying this is, How much are you willing to pay for your health, your spouses health, or that of a child. How much are you willing to pay to keep a loved one alive?

When viewed in this way, it is difficult to put a monetary value on medical care. Ethics had always kept the medical professionals from putting so much monetary pressure on the system that such questions came into play, limiting them to how much is reasonable based on the wholesale price of the service, plus a reasonable salary. Once you get away from this ethical approach to medial care, the sky is the limit. Put in purely capitalist terms: How much will the marketplace bear? The patient then has to ask the doctor the following questions. You want my car? My house? Both? It is obvious that the ethical approach worked and this purely capitalistic, supply-and-demand approach wouldn’t. But morality is an outdated concept in the world of capitalism’s MBAs and finance officers.

Once ethical motivations are pushed aside in favor of capitalistic free-enterprise, prices can be raised to the breaking point, and that leaves open for patients to consider a communal approach to financing medical care, where everyone pays into a kitty based on a monthly fee, and then major medical expenses are paid out of it. This keeps families from going bankrupt when the more expensive procedures or even hospital care are needed.

Enter your friendly downtown insurance salesman. Emphasis on friendly.

But before we bring in these parasites, let’s take a more in-depth look at the conceptual mechanisms he will use to further his quest for money.

The Money Pump

A pump is a mechanism that, with an energy expenditure at its input, produces a needed quantity as an output. A simple input/output device. Water pumps were the most frequently used in days gone by. The user of the pump raised and lowered the handle and water came out the spigot.  In the case of medical care, the doctor provides some sort of knowledge or energy to the patient, and he offers up his wallet. Yes, in the case of the medical profession, the patient is the money pump. We can see from this analogy that the health of the patient isn’t a necessary outcome for him/her to be a money pump.

As a matter of fact, the patient’s recovery is counter productive to the generation of money. The patient ceases to perform a money pump.

So, the medical profession depends on people getting sick or injured, that they stay sick or injured, and remain as sick or injured as they can be and still stay alive. The medical profession is then economically robust. It has then become a money-making machine, and the people who benefit economically from it can do certain things to ensure the profession remains as healthy as possible. Notice I didn’t say that the patients remain as healthy as possible, but that the people who practice in the profession stay economically healthy as possible.

I know what you’re thinking. People go into the medical profession to help people live healthy, happy lives. And to a certain extent this is true. But the focus of the medical profession has gradually changed, particularly with the advent of HMOs, so that the focus is no longer the health of the patient but corporate financial health. One might even call them IMOs, Illness Maintenance Organizations. Even doctors themselves now tend to focus much more on the financial side of their businesses than they do the welfare of their patients. The MBAs have infiltrated the medical profession to the extent that practicing medicine has been pushed aside as the top priority. If you don’t believe this, just go anywhere, doctor or hospital, and try to get care, even emergency care, without insurance, a valid credit card. or a wad of greenbacks.

Parasites

Insurance

Insurance is an interesting phenomenon, and to fully understand the implications and function of insurance, we again need to go back to first principles. Insurance is a communal phenomenon. People band together to share medical expenses so that medical bills never exceed the ability of a patient to pay. Communal fund take care of the bill. Also inherent in this communal concept of medical care is the proposition that those who pay into it have no say in how the funds are administered, or even how much of the fund that are paid in by participants are available for medical-bill dispersal. All this is determined by those administrating the insurance. And this really starts to sound like communism, yes, the political form of government, because the insurance company is owned and its policies are administered, not by patients who pay the medical fees, but by the owners of the company, whether public or private.

How can a patient become a money pump even if they are never sick? This is where medical insurance comes in. In theory, this is a communal system where no patient actually pays the doctor or hospital performing the medical service. Everyone who has the insurance pays a monthly fee, the insurance company holds the money in a community pot until a claim is made, and then the insurance pays the bill instead of the individual.

as many people as possible get sick and/or injured and need — or at least have been convinced they need — their help to get well. This is an indisputable fact, and no fair person would argue with it.

We can build a model of the medical profession that now depicts its nature and explains what has happened, is now happening, and will continue happen into the foreseeable future. Yes, this model will give us an intellectual handle on understanding the future of healthcare.

When medical costs got so high that a patient couldn’t afford medical care, insurance providers saw an opening and stepped in with monthly fees in leu of real-time payments. Theoretically, a patient could buy insurance, pay a little each month and have the insurance company pay for the medical bills when the patient did become ill or injured. This had the added advantage of spreading medical costs over a large population, so that high bills could be spread among the entire ecosystem. When patients seemingly took unfair advantage of the situation, the insurance company invented a copay policy, where patients not only paid the monthly insurance premium but also a portion of the real-time doctor and/or hospital charges to keep the patient from going too often. This also provided an easy mechanism for deferring costs for the insurance company and to increase monthly payments and copays to increase profits and particularly salaries for executives who managed the insurance programs.

But the situation for the patient was even worse than that. Turns out, the medical insurance company doesn’t accept charges for just any old medical problem. The patient was asked to sign a contract, the fine print of which, excluded many types of illnesses that it didn’t want to pay for.

Pharmaceuticals

This article in the Washington Post, illustrates how patients are considered to be money pumps by pharmaceutical companies, and it also demonstrates how their moral authority has degraded to the point where they are willing to kill the patients who take their medication to make money as quickly as possible. It also illustrates how government can be used as a tool of the drug companies to milk patients even to their death. Of course, death is a violation of first principles of moral-less economics. You are not supposed to kill your target consumer, just keep them chronically ill, but when you have such a large population as that of America, this really isn’t much of a financial risk.

What Is to Come

Medical care is being integrated with pharmaceutical and insurance. To get medical care you will have to have insurance. When insurance takes over medical care, when a doctor prescribes medication, the patient has to take it or the insurance for the condition becomes void. They may even have access to your bank account as a condition of accepting you for medical insurance, and they can prescribe treatment and medication and deduct the costs from your account whenever they wish. You will have no choice concerning the medication or treatment.

Fake News Via Fox News

I don’t know how many people realize how sophisticated and widespread the phenomenon of fake news really is. It has been obvious ever since Fox News first hit the airwaves that its journalists and management were complicit along with conservative talk radio and blog sphere in generating and perpetuating false news. Fox would either pick up or generate a false news story, feed it into radio and blogs, perpetuate it for a time and then withdraw the story, with or without apology, and go on to the next false news story. These are the tactics of tabloid journalism that has been around for many, many decades and epitomize the holdings of Rupert Murdoch throughout the world. That effort is now being turned over to his sons who although they seem to have a more liberal bent have the same affinity for dishonest, deceit and deception as their father. I believe we could get beyond this family’s shortcomings if it wasn’t for the cowardliness of conservative politicians when it comes to facing up to the facts. For example, all Republican politicians knew that Obama was in fact born in the US. But with few exceptions they perpetuated the lie that he wasn’t born in the US. Republicans also know that Obamacare is a good first attempt at health care. They also know that it didn’t use death panels. And yet they perpetuated the lie. These are the breeding grounds for discontent, division and the eventual election of a sociopath like that we now have in the presidency.

Is Russia Blackmailing Trump?

I would imagine many Republicans are getting that sinking feeling as they did during Watergate. Many of Trump’s actions would seem to substantiate elements of former MI6 agent Christopher Steele’s dossier saying that Trump was filmed with Russian prostitutes during a trip to Russia in 2013 and also suggesting that he conspired with Russian intelligence to compromise Hillary Clinton’s campaign for President. Not only does Trump act like a man who has something to hide, he also acts as if he is being blackmailed. I cannot imagine why he would fire FBI director Comey on the eve of a visit from the Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, who is at the center of the allegations that Russia interfered in the US Presidential election. Was Trump trying to satisfy Putin that he, Trump, was actively trying to squash the investigation and protect Russia from a major international incident? If Trump doesn’t try to shield Putin, will Putin upload the video showing Trump with the prostitutes? Such an event could not only get him impeached but also end Trump’s marriage and the support of his family, e.g. Ivanka Trump, etc. As the old saying goes, in politics there is no such thing as a coincidence. The reason for such unimaginable actions is that the consequences of doing nothing are greater than those for doing something outrageous and possibly illegal such as firing Comey. In situations like this, the press talks about the coverup being worse than the crime but that’s not true when the crime is betraying America’s constitution.

Trump’s Descent into Political Hell

Several revelations yesterday and this morning are helping track President Trump’s descent into political hell. First is the op-ed article by Nicholas Kristof, “There’s a Smell of Treason in the Air.” It seems that members of Trump’s campaign may have colluded with the Russians to keep Hillary Clinton out of the White House and get Trump elected. Kristof believes if this were true, which appears likely, it would constitute treason.

And then there’s a day-old article on the Associated Press website, AP Exclusive: Trump campaign chief linked to Putin interests, that further complicates the situation:

…Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, secretly worked for a Russian billionaire to advance the interests of Russian President Vladimir Putin a decade ago and proposed an ambitious political strategy to undermine anti-Russian opposition across former Soviet republics…

This Russian billionaire is aluminum magnate Oleg Deripaska, a close ally of Vladimir Putin. Since Trump has been and is an admirer of Putin and has in some ways been financially dependent on Russian oligarchs, it seems that Russia may have a certain amount of control over Trump. Remember that one of the reasons that Trump’s National Security Advisor Michael Flynn resigned was because of his undisclosed associations with Russian diplomats and the possibility that the Russians may, or in the future could, blackmail him.

We don’t know the full extent of President Trump’s ties to Russia, but they do appear to be more extensive than Trump has led us to believe. Perhaps that’s the reason he has refused to release his tax returns.

Finally, there’s the story on NPR, “Former Russian Lawmaker Is Shot To Death Outside Hotel In Kiev,” which for anyone who has been following Russian news the last few years, would seem to be the latest in a long line of Putin murders of people who have criticized him. This type of thuggery is one of the reasons Donald Trump thinks of Putin as a strong leader. Trump has defended this type of Putin activity before. Makes you wonder if Trump will try it himself. The more things heat up, the more we’ll find out about the character of Pussy-Grabber in Chief Donald Trump.

State of Emergency

After several years of blogging about current issues, Idiot Politics remained quiet about the political situation over the last year and a half, but the time has come to sharpen the pencils and get back to work. Political events both here in America and abroad threaten the freedom of all people throughout the world. The rise of Donald Trump and the alt-right is a threat like no other since the Constitution was ratified June 21, 1788.

But the situation is actually worse than that. The scientific evidence for global warming, its projected catastrophic consequences and humanity’s part in it has reached a point where questioning  is no longer something a reasonable person can do. Even the political situation must be a secondary consideration when discussing the fate of planet Earth. Global warming is not a political issue. It is a human survival issue.

The good news is that the mainstream media seems to have realized that one of our political parties, the Republicans, has lost its collective mind and has started treating it as such, except of course for Fox News. This Republican descent into intellectual decadence happened long before the inauguration of Donald Trump. Of course, the bad news is that the irrational conservative media is still at it. By this I mean Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Fox News, and all the so-called conservative radio talk shows around America, as well as conspiracy theorists like Alex Jones.

In the days and weeks to come, “we” at Idiot Politics hope to provide a unique perspective on the issues and the nature of the problems, as well as a look at reasonable ways forward.

Previous Posts

[Sixteen months ago when Idiot Politics went off the air, so to speak, all content was deleted. With the recent decision to reactivate the blog, an effort was made to retrieve as many of the previous posts as possible through the Internet Archive. Only the latest post were available, and they have been provided below.]

Republican Whine Over Debate Questions

Looks like the Republican whine over the format and questions of their debates is falling flat in puff of pixie dust. Republicans are ever viewing themselves as victims of something or someone. They like to complain about the “liberal” media. What they are actually experiencing is that they are constantly running up against the truth and don’t like it. The media isn’t liberal. It is generally impartial, with outlays of liberal tainted opinion columns (New York Times is an example), but it does frequently kowtow to Republican intimidation, particularly CNN. On the other hand, Fox News is little more than an extension of the Republican party.

This victimization of themselves has not always been a characteristic of mainstream Republicans. In the days of Dwight Eisenhower and later Barry Goldwater and Gerald Ford, they at least had intellectual integrity and political honesty, even if I didn’t always care for their stances on the issues. Of course, Richard Nixon was an exception. Rush Limbaugh changed all that when he essentially took over the philosophical leadership of the party. It seems that people don’t really take a hard look at who he is — an uneducated drug addict who was never in uniform, and four times divorced. Doesn’t really sound like much of a conservative. Perhaps someday a new group of Republic prophets will take the stage and serve the party better.

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Pope Francis and Climate Change

This article in The Guardian is really good news. The Pope really is showing his sincerity on many issues. Global warming is the biggest problem humanity has ever faced. And it is our fault. Failure to act to reduce carbon emissions is a moral failing of epic proportions. The Republicans are little more than an arm of the big oil companies, and their moral disregard for the health of the planet should destroy the party.

Perhaps their sense of fatalism and their wish for an apocalypse is driving their beliefs and actions. I believe they really do wish to bring on the end of the world. Hopefully this will be reflected in the polls in 2016. Can’t imagine why anyone would vote for a Republican candidate anymore.

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Wired: Apple’s Support of Ad Blocking May Upend How the Web Works

Articles like this one on Wired don’t address the real problem. Ads are ruining the culture. They are everywhere, screaming at you to look at them. Good for Apple blocking them. Marketers won’t let you alone while you focus on the content that you are there for. They may pay the bills for publishing houses, but they destroy more than the experience. They don’t allow you to function on the website. When I go to CNN website, they always start an ad video that precedes a video about the story. But I don’t want to see either video. I want to read the story. The video that duplicates the story isn’t there to add content. It’s there to get you to watch the video ad first. I always shut it off and read the story. Articles like this in Wired don’t get to the heart of the issue. Marketing is everywhere and destroying everything.

Yesterday a woman from AT&T came to our door to tell us that they were going to be in the neighborhood working on their lines. She said that she was just there to let us know what they were doing, upgrading and fixing lines and to not be concerned. But she wasn’t there to inform us. She had come to our door as a form of covert marketing. She wanted to know what AT&T products we use.

Marketing is everywhere and in everything. They do not know when to stop. Marketers are destroying culture. They are screaming at us on the television, ringing our landline phones off the hook, flashing at us on our cellphones, packing garbage into our mailboxes, and destroying our online experience.

I don’t know where all this is headed, but if marketers had some sense about what they do, customers wouldn’t mind advertising. but marketers want to consume everything within our culture. We’re just fighting back.

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Brian Williams’s Troubles

This should have been over days ago. It had to do with the personal side of Brian Williams and not the way he does his job as anchor of the evening news. He apologized. Get over it. We’re coming down on him for these trivialities while we have Fox News and that band of political and journalistic gutter trash spouting lies, distorting reality and ripping apart America every minute they are on the air. Brian Williams is good at his job. Let’s create a groundswell of support for bringing him back. Grow a backbone, NBC. Take the hit, move on and don’t look back.

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Comcast Views Customer as Asshole

Interesting story on CNN about Comcast. Comcast sent out a bill to a customer, and since he cancelled his cable service because he could no longer afford it, Comcast called him “Asshole”. Comcast has apologized, but what this gives us is a quick look into the culture at Comcast and the attitude from above that creates an environment where this could happen. Comcast has notoriously bad customer service. We have Comcast and can testify that Comcast support is about as bad as it gets. We used to have a Comcast support center here in Healdsburg. It was always crowded with customers and had truly helpful people behind the counter. So Comcast closed this support center and now Healdsburg customers have to drive to Santa Rosa. What a despicable company. One might say that Comcast is an Asshole Company.

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Greece — And What They Are Up Against

I am not an economist, but I have been following Greece closely for the last 22 years, ever since I traveled about the country for 10 weeks in 1993, and I spent more time there in 2009. I do have some opinions about what is going on with the Greek economy and the new government that has just taken over. As a part of the Eurozone, Greece no longer has its own money, the drachma, but is on the euro. The Eurozone is dominated by Germany, Europe’s largest economy, and the single individual with the most influence is Angela Merkel, Germany’s chancellor since 2005 and the de facto leader of the European Union. Merkel has been adamant about Greece incorporating harsh austerity measures that have brought Greece’s economy to its knees. Greece has a lot of problems because of corruption and nepotism as well as a business structure that is certainly outdate for our time.

But the new government has vowed to put the country on a different course to provide a brighter economic future. The new Greek Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, has vowed to be aggressive with his new policies.

Click here to see what is new cabinet looks like.

Click here to see what Tsipras is doing already.

The economist who seems to have the best record in predicting what is going on in economies throughout the world is Nobel laureate Paul Krugman who writes an op-ed column for the New York Times and also has a blog there. Click here for his opinion of what Greece should be doing. Here’s a link to his latest op-ed column on “Ending Greece’s Nightmare.”

This is a difficult time for Greece as well as the Eurozone. I’m hoping this new government can pull it off and return Greece to a country where the people are not suffering as they have the last few years. Unemployment is around 25 percent. I do believe Germans have a tendency to be overly ethnocentric. Greece will never be German, and Angela Merkel should wake up to the fact that her policies have not been good for Greece, and they have also not good for Europe in the current economic situation. The Eurozone could unravel.

Here’s how The Guardian sees the different scenarios playing out:

“Greece’s debts: what happens next?

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Cowardly Democrats

It seems that the world is beginning to wake up to the economic situation. Mario Draghi at the European Central Bank (ECB) has finally decided to act, and act forcefully, by introducing quantitative (QE) to help prevent a downward spiral in the EuroZone. It may be too late, but at least we’re finally starting to see some movement toward a more sensible monetary policy. Paul Krugman, the Nobel laureate economist, has been screaming for this and other expansionary policies for years to prevent a meltdown world wide. Of course, the Germans, ever looking out for their own interests, are bellyaching about it.

President Obama has held America steady by ensuring that we have someone at the Federal Reserve who understands this and doesn’t let us slip into the same downward spiral being experience by European economies. The Fed has been using QE as an economic stimulus, over the shrill objections of Republicans, having been started by Ben Bernanke while he was the head of the Fed (2006-2014) and continued by Janet Yellen who took over from him in 2014. Republicans said that Obama was debasing the dollar and that QE would cause runaway inflation, which of course never happened. Deflation and a downward spiral into a depression was the real worry, and President Obama’s policies prevented that from happening in America and may well have prevented the world economy from collapsing. He would have done more to strengthen our economy if the Republicans in Congress would have let him.

Republicans haven’t want President Obama to succeed. When he first took office, the economy was in a downward spiral, and it appeared that it was possible that nothing could be done to prevent a complete collapse. This was the situation in 2008, just before Obama took office. Of course, Republicans have their “values” and one of them is abhorring all intervention by the Federal Government in the American economy. Obama also held as much ground as he could against damaging austerity programs Republicans wanted instituted. Obama saved us, but he didn’t get any credit for it.

And now the American economic recovery has set an example for the world to follow and that’s what Shinzo Abe is doing in Japan and Mario Draghi at the ECB by introducing QE in the EuroZone. Also, Greece, as a part of the EuroZone, has been subject to brutal austerity policies, but today Greece has a national election, and it appears that they may elect the leftwing anti-austerity Syriza party. The world is waking up to the fact that these conservative economic policies are on the verge of ruining the world economy.

All this being true, you might think that President Obama would be seen as our savior, that Democrats would be reveling in the president’s successes. But the Democrats are a cowardly bunch and have refused to support their own president, and even during the election just two months gone, stayed away from Obama. Republicans had convinced the American electorate that the president had ruined the economy and crippled America. It is the cowardliness of the Democrats that has let this happen. But President Obama is beginning to show more initiative and combativeness himself, and his popularity in the polls is increasing, so perhaps all is not lost.

So here come the Republicans again, and if they can get their man or woman in the White House, we could well see a complete collapse in the world economy that we have narrowly averted in recent years.

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NYT Post

NY Times has an article on the comments to Tom Hanks article on his experience with community colleges. I had a problem with some of the readers’ observations, so I commented again:

First, their comment: “Some readers questioned the $60 billion price tag of the president’s proposal over 10 years, and whether free tuition is the appropriate goal.”

My response: This is such a short-sighted observation. Educated people pay much more in taxes, and this fact alone means that it doesn’t cost anything in the long run. They create companies, do research for new products, invent new technologies, make movies, write plays, paint, sketch, become doctors, lawyers. Educated people are the culture and the business community. They rule the world. Truth be known, there isn’t a nickel’s worth of difference in any two human beings on this planet. Mostly it’s opportunity, self-confidence, preparation and persistence. I’m a perfect example. Raised on a farm, graduated in the lowest quarter of my high school class, and yet I got an MS from Stanford university in astronaurical engineering. Let’s give everyone the opportunity. Let’s take the education monopoly away from the rich. The question isn’t if we can afford to educate everyone. The statement is that we as a government of the people can’t afford not to. Knowing that anyone can get a college education in itself will change students’ attitudes at every grade level, just knowing they have an academic future. To me all college education should be free, even graduate school. This isn’t a trickle-down effect. It’s trickle-up. Actually, it’s not a trickle, it’s a gusher.

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New York Times Op-Ed by David Brooks

Some things really get me riled up. One of them is people writing about something they don’t know anything about. It’s even worse when they are writing for a major publication like the New York Times. David Brooks at times makes a lot of sense, but not his most recent article. I made this comment to his “Support Our Students” article.

I just simply do not understand how someone who seems honest and sincere could write an article that is so completely wrong. Unlike you, David Brooks, my parents were not well-educated, and I did not initially attend a well-known university. I graduated in the lowest quarter of my high school class and went off to a community college, which at the time was free in California. If it wasn’t, I wouldn’t have been able to attend. I struggled through, graduated with an AA degree, and a few years later, I went on to a BS in engineering and then to Stanford where I received an MS, also in engineering. So I know how important it was that my community college was tuition free, and also how important it was to my classmates. You don’t.

After I retired from my aerospace career, I joined the staff at a community college, worked in the library, and I also taught astronomy, novel writing and Greek mythology for a time. I worked a lot with students and saw them struggle with the bills, mostly problems paying tuition because times had changed, and tuition was no longer free. President Obama is really on to something with his free-tuition proposal.

You don’t know what you’re talking about, David Brooks, you and your cherry-picked statistics. You haven’t been there, and you don’t have a clue.

Of course, he proposes a lot of things instead of the free tuition, which is the President’s proposal. But it is all obfuscation and a dilution of effort that requires many laws that would never get through Congress. The President’s proposal is simple and right to the point.

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How to Change Your Life for the Better

Today I posted a comment to an article by Tara Parker-Pope titled “Writing Your Way to Happiness.” Here’s my comment:

I graduated in the lowest quarter of my high school class, so I went off to a two year community college instead of a university. Yet, just two weeks into classes, I was totally demoralized, didn’t know what I was doing there, knew I wasn’t cut out for college, and had decided to quit. One evening I sat down at my desk and wrote a long letter to my parents explaining why I was going to quit and come home. I poured everything I had into that letter. The next morning I realized that none of it was true. I tore up the letter and went to class. I never looked back. I didn’t do well, but I did graduate with a two-year degree and a few years later went on to a university where I got a BS in mechanical engineer, then went on to graduate school at Stanford University and got an MS in astronautical engineering. Decades later, I worked for a while on a second undergraduate degree in literature. I have now written nine books. But everything, my entire academic future and who I became, hinged on the one night when I wrote that letter of total defeat to my parents.

I didn’t have space to get into it, but I’ve written a book on storytelling, titled Story Alchemy, that describes the process by which an author comes to terms with him/herself. It’s based on the psychologist Carl Jung’s Active Imagination. If you’re interested, you can pick up a free digital copy just about anywhere online. Here it is on Amazon. It’s also available on a website I created here: http://Story-Alchemy.com.

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