Category Archives: American Government & Institutions (state & federal)

Wide ranging discussions around state and federal government & institutions.

Consistency vs. Flip-flopping In Our Political World


Alexandra Petting Melody

It's okay Melody, a brain-washed opinion will be a consistent opinion

Consistency is important to me, but so is a willingness to reverse a decision once new information is learned which wasn’t available before.

How this looks in practice:

After careful thought and review of ALL available information, a decision is made and direction initiated. New information is evaluated as to whether it supports and counters this decision.

If new info counters the decision, you don’t immediately change your mind, but instead spend sufficient time to comb all new and past info to understand if the truth lies in the original decision, or if a minor tweak or full reversal is required. Be mature enough to change your mind if needed. This is educated growth and maturation, not flip-flopping.

Flip-flopping, or inconsistency, describes a person who often returns to a previous decision, and might even reverse again. This suggests careless thinking or the mind of a chameleon.

Chameleons are not good leaders. Good leaders thoughtfully grow with new information and don’t change their minds often. If you mostly agreed with them when you voted for them, they’ll likely change their minds and make new decisions consistent with how you’d likely grow if you’re not closed-minded.

2004 Election and Now

In the 2004 Presidential race, opponents labeled John Kerry as a flip-flopper by providing evidence he changed his mind from 20-30 years ago, and provided little evidence he changed his mind on major issues over the campaign season. They used bumper-sticker sound bites against him as though that’s all the reasoning a President must use to make worldly decisions. However, a President must make some changes or adjustments to remain relevant in a changing world, and a new President will certainly make some changes after entering office based on information only available once in office. This is not flip-flopping; it demonstrates educated confidence based on available facts and the best derivative information from a country’s top experts.

Our Current Presidential Campaign Season

Through our current Presidential race, I hope our electorate bases their voting decisions on issues relevant to our current population and environment and not on some man’s 1,500 year-old writings of his interpretations of another man’s beliefs from another 500 years before that. Consistency over a 2k year period is a bit ridiculous considering this world is nothing like it was then. Even if the world’s churches changed their minds on certain attitudes, it would not be flip-flopping or inconsistent.

Is it relevant today to say sex is only for procreation and never for pleasure? No. Having multiple wives and 50 children are not required for today’s man to ensure his mark on the survivability of mankind. Most couples have only 1-3 children, and I find it hard to believe many happily married couples stop all sex after they have the last child they want or when they want a year or more between children. Also, I challenge anyone to find 5 honest people among their surrounding population who’ll profess they’ve never had sex for pleasure unless they suffered genital mutilation. Additionally, if you could return to 2k years ago, I doubt you could find a majority who didn’t enjoy sex for pleasure.

Is it blasphemous to not praise Jesus Christ? Only if it is correct to kill American and NATO soldiers for accidentally burning copies of the Quran while cleaning out a building. This is where consistency is important. If you’re opposed to countries like Egypt enacting any form of Sharia law, then you have to fight to keep Christian law out of American law as well.

Is it okay to gun down a physician outside an abortion clinic in the name of saving unborn fertilized eggs and fetuses? Only if it is correct for condemning God for all the babies he let die in miscarriages and eggs which never attached. It is not consistent to say you’re pro-life, then go kill someone. In the modern day, we can all agree that murder is wrong and almost nobody wants that done to them. However, many of us disagree on the religion and spirituality of life and when life begins. You can’t force your religion and spirituality on others just because you think your god tells you it’s right. What if their god tells them you’re wrong?

Is it okay to tell someone who they can or cannot love? Only if you believe it is and has always been right to ban inter-racial marriages and if you accept my decision on who you’re allowed to marry.

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Filed under American Government & Institutions (state & federal), Political Parties & Partisan Politics

Everyone Benefits from Taxes


American MadeTax funds going to the government don’t go to $16 cupcakes as  a FOX NotNEWS story recently pounded.  CNN and network news looked into the claim and found the cost per government meeting attendee averaged $16, but that cost went for the conference room, beverages, other food, paid the servers, and yes, there were some cupcakes.  Part of that $16 paid for several jobs that day.  FOX did not report that because that is reality which they don’t typically report.

Tax money pays for many things which benefit all citizens and companies, and all these things pay for jobs.  Tax money pays for:  an educated population, roads to move company goods to market and their employees to and from work, police and fire precincts to maintain public safety, maintaining all land records for everyone from major corporations to small business and to and every couple hoping to retire off the value of their property, a military which buys massively expensive goods from many of our country’s companies, regulators protecting our retirement savings from the greedy, and on and on and on.  All of these government expenses require jobs to fulfill them.

Despite all the Bush era tax breaks, what were most of the companies doing in the new stories you read the past few years?  They were reorganizing for cost savings.  In other words, they were cutting jobs or moving them overseas so their investors would maintain higher profits.  CEOs are not job creators.  Their job is to run each company with high output from the lowest possible employee and cost base.  Job cutting creates higher unemployment which means there are fewer people able to buy a company’s goods and services.  With fewer people buying a company’s goods, that company eventually needs to cut a few more jobs.  As this predicament inevitably approaches the extreme, the only Americans making money are those rich enough to buy 100,000 widgets from China to sell to the few Americans able to afford them.  Also, there will be some low wage American jobs to distribute these Chinese goods.

An excellent NPR article based on an interview of Nick Hanauer, an author and venture capitalist, can be found at Just What Do the Rich Have That’s Taxable.  Nick is nearly a billionaire and explains most of the rich pay 11% and often lower in taxes.  For example, he explains some actual examples where people made over $250 million and paid no tax on the income.

Consider this:  Who benefits more from a widely educated work force, good roads to ships products across the country, and fire and police precincts to protect their money and property, a maintenance worker making $35,ooo/year, or a CEO and board members of a large, profitable company?  Both benefit from those government services, and it’s possible none of those people would have their jobs without those services.  The difference is, without those services, the maintenance worker might lose up to $35,000, but the CEO might lose $500,000 or $500 million that year.  If you were the CEO, wouldn’t it be worth paying $100k or more toward schools, roads, public safety, and land record maintenance to protect the rest of your huge salary instead of demanding the lower income person from paying $5,000 more which might make your products too costly for them?  You can still afford your caviar and French wine.  In fact, the government might be spending money on your company to build the roads or create the materials.

If the republicans demand small government at a small cost, and then mostly campaign on platforms requiring bigger government in our bodies and bedrooms (anti-gay, anti-pot legalization, anti-abortion even when raped and under aged, etc.), then they need to leave government.  Why elect people to government who don’t believe government is a benefit?  Let people lead us who know government spending buys American made goods and materials, and builds our middle class which can then also afford to buy American made goods and services.  A strong American government also leads world foreign policy which ideally creates stabilization in the world which is good for everyone, rich or poor.

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Filed under Government Taxes, Spending, and Deficits, Political Parties & Partisan Politics

World Leaders Say Global War on Drugs Has Failed


Report of the Global Commission on Drug PolicyThe Global Commission on Drug Policy released its comprehensive report on the global drug war, and its effects on people and nations.  This group is comprised of former heads of state and several current and former world leaders such as George Schultz, Paul Volker, Kofi Annan, former Presidents of Mexico, Columbia, Brazil, and Switzerland, and many other former and present top government officials and business leaders.  This report plainly states, “The global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world.”

The report recommends experimentation with drug legalization programs designed to undermine the power of organized crime, and to end, “the criminalization, marginalization and stigmatization of people who use drugs but who do no harm to others.”  The executive summary at the beginning of the report linked above quickly provides the headline information you need for a basic understanding of the commission’s findings.  Additionally, click NPR and CNN International for their articles on this report.

This report shows agreement with many points I’ve made for years.  For example, over the past 4 years, more than 40,000 people were murdered in drug cartel related violence in Mexico alone.  Thousands of lives are taken each year in drug related violence in the U.S. as well.  Many people losing their lives aren’t even related to drug trade.  Of the illegal drugs with overdose potential, more users suffer or die from complications from impurities than from the actual drug.  Also, problems occur when someone receives a purer drug than expected so they administer a larger dose than they wanted or more than they might survive.  Basically, the vast majority of people suffering drug related deaths die because of organized crime and drug enforcement violence, not from drug use.

The drug war also affects everyday lives of many other innocent people.  Children suffer when their parent(s) are arrested for possession, low end distribution, or growing personal amounts of cannabis.  Not only do these children lose their parents for some period of time, when parents are released from prison, they have a brutal time finding employment.  They can’t afford enough food, maybe lose their homes or ability to pay for an apartment, and these stresses wreak havoc on the children at school and throughout their lives.  Their parent’s choices are not their problems.

Drug use and distribution is a choice.  Arguably, some drug use helps people be successful in their lives just like taking medications they could be prescribed, or the couple beers that help them relax after a ragged day.  Many people believe if they don’t participate in what they truly believe in, then laws never change, and pain and suffering continue in this way forever.  So, despite the dangers, they use or trade in drugs.  For others, it’s purely financial, and they’ll do whatever they can to protect the financial gains they reap from the drug trade.  These people even vote against legalization.

Thomas Jefferson once said, “If people let government decide what foods to eat and what medicines to take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny.”  Many conservatives tell us they strive to lead the government according to our constitution and in the way our founding fathers intended, yet, they don’t actually read what these founding fathers wrote.  Conservatives say they’re for small government to keep government out of our lives, yet they only mean that for themselves and their ilke.  However, many of them are caught doing exactly what they say not to do.  Basically, people like them, enjoy putting people down to make themselves look good, but most of them are no better than the people they continue to throw in jail.

It’s time to let people’s actions in our communities show who they are, and not judge them for what they do at home.

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Filed under American Corrections System, American Government & Institutions (state & federal), Drugs & Alcohol, Individual Rights & Equality, Marijuana Legalization

Open Primary Elections


Voters In Line
Voters In Line in Troy, MI – Photo by Nick Morgowicz

I’m increasingly disheartened watching our political environment becoming more and more dominated by party extremism.  It seems when politicians act or vote toward the middle, their party’s base gets angry, leaders of the other party(s) still throw rhetoric against the moderate moves so only the moderates of one party are pleased, but not all of them.  Basically, it takes a very skilled politician to successfully negotiate the dance of moderation, so many gravitate toward their bases.

People taking their time to vote in this country actually want the best leadership.  I believe the best leadership strives to do the most good for the most people without hurting other groups.  With most politicians uncomfortable voting toward the middle, how do we get more of them to act on the behalf of the broader citizenship?

I propose all states allow citizens to vote in multiple party primaries.  If this happens, politicians won’t simply pander toward their base, they’ll have to learn what the broader citizenship wants and act on that perspective.

In the current political environment, the republicans will never nominate a candidate I’d support, and it’s possible democrats could nominate future candidates I also wouldn’t support.  It’s happened before, and I don’t want that to happen again.  Open primaries are more likely to provide candidates I can support, and fewer candidates feared by large portions of our society.

Detractors to this idea have said members of one party will vote for the worst candidate in other parties to sabotage a party, but I challenge anyone to support that idea.  A public campaign demonstrating such behavior could end in the election to office of the candidate such voters fear the most would convince enough voters against the idea who otherwise might consider it.

As an independent, I don’t have the right to vote in any primary.  This is wrong.  The idea of being an independent is that I’m looking for the best candidate in all parties to choose from in the November elections, not simply candidates representing a party’s extreme.

Independents deserve a say in multiple party primaries so they can vote for the best candidate with broad support and not be forced to vote for the least of all evils.

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Economic Growth Goes to Top Management


The term “jobless growth” has been thrown around quite a bit in the last year to describe an increase in GDP and other economic indicators, but little growth in jobs.  How can this be?  If the country’s product continues to grow, and stocks continue their increase, how can there be so little hiring?

I see two things happening:  1) Many people have gained employment who were unemployed long enough to fall off job-seeker status.  2) A look at the earnings (salary, benefits, and bonuses) of top management of publicly traded companies shows most have increased their income, some with record setting incomes for the company or industry, even if they signed pink-slips in the past year.

Tax Cuts vs Benefits Comic

Tax cuts given to America's richest without promise for job creation

U.S. republicans demanded extending the Bush tax cuts for the countries richest people saying they’d put the money into job creation, but the opposite has happened.  The same republicans also argued the U.S. government can’t create jobs, but the government employs hundreds of thousands of workers (jobs), directly increased hiring the past year, indirectly increased hiring through hiring contractors for new work, and the government buys vast amount of materials to repair roads and other infrastructure which was produced by working people.  Luckily for us, a large amount of stimulus funds remain to continue government-led job creation.

A very recent example is the situation in Wisconsin where Governor Walker (R) called a special legislative session after being sworn in.  they passed drastic tax cuts for corporations.  Soon afterwards, the governor and state republicans forced legislation to cut salaries, benefits, and bargaining rights of citizens paid 1,000% less than the leaders of the corporations which were just gifted tax breaks.  When democratic senators left the state in an attempt to thwart that legislation, the governor threatened layoffs even though these public workers accepted every fiscal demand from the governor.  Clearly, saving the state money wasn’t Governor Walker’s idea, nor was it to save or create jobs.  His plan was to gift his rich donors at the expense of public employees, state jobs, and the union members who didn’t support him in his race for governor.

Governor Walker had no problem laying off people (losing jobs) to give his supporters, who are paid millions of dollars every year even without promise from their companies to increase hiring.  Regardless of which party people associate with, they need to start voting the interest of their communities and not only the richest people in our nation who donate a large amount of the tax-cut money they save to continue secrative PACs and organizations to continue their gravy train.

One of the greatest tools republican donorship has is Fox News.  When the Bush tax cuts for earners over $250k were up for vote, Fox news anchor Gretchen Carlson of “Fox and Friends” said “$250k is just above the poverty line for many people.”  Is it really?  During the protests in Wisconsin, Gretchen and Fox’s Bill O’Reilly complained about the annual average salary plus benefits of $51k was part of the “lavish salaries and lifestyle enjoyed by Wisconsin teachers.”

How can Fox News make people believe that $250k (salary only, benefits not included) is just above the poverty line, and show great concern for these “poor people” just hanging on by a thread, then 2 months later make the same viewers believe Wisconsin teachers live lavishly on a combined salary AND benefits of $51k?  It has to do with people listening to sound bites fed to them in the present without stepping back to think about the picture as a whole.

I’m asking you and everyone else to pause, step back, and think about the entire picture before forming decisions, and then keep reevaluating those decisions.  Don’t stop thinking or become a drone for the sound bites you hear.  Don’t take what I say without looking into other news sources either.  Never rely on any one news source.  Look around and take it all in.

If most of the economic growth goes to the richest, and those people and corporations don’t create the jobs they never promised to create when they received all this money, then our economy will have fewer people able to buy what Americans make, and we’ll continue to buy the cheapest products from other countries.  A vote against the lower and middle classes is a vote against the United States.

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Filed under American Government & Institutions (state & federal), Government Taxes, Spending, and Deficits, Political Parties & Partisan Politics

WI Budget Surplus Before Governor Walker


Governor Scott Walker

Proud Look for a Bait and Switch

In November last year, during the end of a democratic Governor Jim Doyle’s term, Wisconsin had a budget surplus.  Incoming republican Governor Scott Walker called a special session for his newly republican controlled congress to pass new tax-cuts and a conservative healthcare reform innitiative.  The state government’s finance committee had to revise budget estimates in their report from surplus to large deficit after Walker and his republican congress passed these tax cuts.  Page 1 of the report connects this shortfall to the specific bills creating the defict.

After Governor Walker engineered budget deficits for the benefit of his supporters, he’s now demanding unions pay for his deficit if they supported his democratic opponent, Tom Barrett.  This is anti-democratic and all about awarding republican supporters and punishing democratic supporters.

As mentioned in my previous article, Union Busting as Political Punishment, much of the savings in Governor Walker’s budget hinges on refinancing the states debt.  Walker’s office says the bill must be passed by this Friday (2/25/2011) or the realized savings will be greatly delayed.  The only issue preventing the passage of this budget is Walker’s refusal to remove the union busting clause that saves no money.

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Filed under American Government & Institutions (state & federal), Education, Government Taxes, Spending, and Deficits

Union Busting as Political Punishment


WI Protests - Fox News Will Lie About ThisOver recent years, and during the current budget discussion, various unions representing Wisconsin teachers gave into cuts demanded by the governor or legislature because of state fiscal shortfalls.  Despite the acceptance of his fiscal cuts, Governor Walker is now threatening hundreds of layoffs if his union busting clause isn’t accepted.

This clause does not save any money, yet Walker is threatening the layoffs to help make up the budget shortfall.  If his new threat is true, then he was going to make these layoffs even if his full bill was accepted, and it highlights the fact that he is punishing unions that didn’t support his election, rewarding unions that did, and he’s sending a message to all unions to support him, or he’ll try to kill them if they don’t.

Walker’s spin machine is trying to tell the public the union workers are over-payed at the expense of all these poor citizens.  However, the union members are paid less than their counterparts in the private sector, and they’re accepting more cuts.  This low compensation has continued shortfalls in quality teachers available to work even while unemployment plagues the higher paid private sector.  Additionally, as teachers take more and more cuts, large businesses are complaining about increasingly fewer qualified employees to hire for innovative positions.

Basically, continuing cuts in education are creating continuing shortfalls in a qualified work force.  Maybe we should put more money into education to increase the output of a qualified pool of workers.  This is not the immediate issue at hand, but it is the long-term issue which the unions need to exist to get back the conceded cuts when the fiscal deficits are gone.

According to an NPR article, part of the governor’s deficit cutting plan is to refinance the state’s budget at lower interest.  This must be completed by this Friday in order for savings to start when planned.  For this bill to be passed by Friday, Walker only needs to concede one thing – remove the union busting clause.

If Walker does not remove this clause by Friday in order to get this bill passed, then it will be the governor who will have lost millions of dollars, not the unions.

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Filed under American Government & Institutions (state & federal), Education, Government Taxes, Spending, and Deficits