Monthly Archives: August 2012


I may have accidentally taken a hallucinogen last night. I was watching what I thought was a really long infomercial for some kind of Amway/get rich quick/pyramid scheme and then I saw Clint Eastwood come out to shill, only instead of giving his “It made me rich” testimonial, he started yelling at an empty chair.

Non-Political Prose Poem

Glancing across the platform
I spotted myself sitting on a bench thirty years ago
waiting for a downtown train,
fleeing some boy because because I realized I wasn’t who he thought I was,
or maybe I was,
but he was no longer interested.
Present me wanted to shout, “Get on with things. Stop fucking around.
You need a PLAN.”
But if I could’ve heard, I wouldn’t have listened.
I was too busy gathering material.

Republicans: People Who Earn Salaries are “Taking the Easy Way Out”

Republican spokes-curmudgeon John Sununu does it again.  What a feisty old crock.  His M.O. seems to be to bait the reporters by questioning their allegiances and implying they’re in the tank for Obama when they ask him other than fawning questions.  This doesn’t completely work.  That is, the rules of Fox News don’t universally apply and no one tells him to shut up or stomps off.  However, it does help him run out the clock on the interview.  On August 15th, he demonstrated this technique in a chat with CNN’s Soledad O’Brien in which O’Brien vigorously questioned him on his charge that Obama is cutting Medicare benefits.  When confronted with facts that he can’t wiggle out of, he tells her “Put an Obama bumper sticker on your head when you do this.”

Last night at the Republican Convention Sununu did it again.  In an interview with Brian Lehrer of WNYC (New York’s NPR station), Sununu talked about how Obama’s regulations have “choked” businesses with over-regulation. He repeated his infamous charge that Obama doesn’t understand how business works in America.  Despite, Sununu’s increasing tone of annoyance, Lehrer soldiered on.

When questioned about the increase in income inequity since Reagan’s days, leading the US to more and more resemble Latin American oligarchies, and the fairness of allowing a lower tax rate for those who live on capital gains, Sununu replied:

“Inherent in the question you ask is the snide disdain that the President displays towards those who want to create a successful business and profit on the capital gains side and enjoy the fact that there is an incentive for them to do so with a low capital gains tax.”

In case, Lehrer didn’t get the “snide disdain” part the first time, Sununu repeated it, this time in a manner that would have made Ayn Rand proud:

“It is unbelievable to me how inherently snide those comments are from people who want to suggest there is something wrong when people have that kind of success. There isn’t something wrong. That is, in fact, the most important single ingredient to get America back on the right track and there shouldn’t be this level of envy to those who have been successful in that direction.”

Lehrer, followed up. He asked whether their paying the same rate as people making the same money from going to work would provide such a strong disincentive.

Sununu answered briskly, “Investment carries a risk and you have to encourage people to take that risk otherwise they’ll take the easy way out and just start earning a salary ….  When you have to compensate for a risk, you have to provide an extra incentive.”

In other words, we all owe those great ones, presumably even if they started by risking other people’s money, as Bain did. Earning a salary, whether it’s in business, or as a teacher, firefighter, police officer, doctor, nurse or Wal-Mart greeter is always second rate. No matter what you do, you aren’t taking “risks” and don’t deserve to reap the rewards.

Thanks, Mr. Sununu for clarifying the Republican Party’s stand on this and announcing that objectivism is now the official philosophy of the Republican Party. Now everything makes sense, including of course Romney’s embrace of Paul Ryan’s tax reform plan that would lower Romney’s rate to below 1% while putting home mortgage deductions and state income tax deductions for working people on the table.  Because after all, the Romneys of the world don’t even benefit from most of our cushy entitlements, and we must keep these true leaders incentivized.   We owe them that much!

Romney/Ryan to the Elderly, “Drop Dead”

“Although few of us want to admit it, once we (or our parents) become old and chronically ill, we (or they) will likely end up in a nursing home with care paid for by Medicaid.

— Tom Curry, NBC News national affairs writer

The above quote comes from Tom Curry, NBC News national affairs writer in a blog-post published 8/17/2012 on NBC Politics on Ryan’s plan for releasing Medicaid from federal protections and regulations and turning it over to the states, allowing them to set their own agendas for who qualifies because that’s worked so well for them with voter suppression.

Curry misses the mark on what most people fear or even what’s “likely” to happen to most people.  Dying in a nursing home on Medicaid is not the fate of most people. Many people in the middle-class have worked hard to keep that from being their fate.  My mother worked hard, not only raising her children, but also as a teacher (in the union) and had a decent pension as well as a combination of health insurance from her job and Medicare (managed care).   Her savings and the sale of her home helped pay the rent after my father died and she moved into an apartment in a senior living facility.  That facility wasn’t technically “assisted living” but offered her the services she needed to remain independent.  Facilities like that are private and for the most part fees are not covered by insurance, Medicare or Medicaid. Her managed care helped when she had a fall or other health crisis and needed hospitalization, physical rehabilitation and/or temporary nursing home care.  In a sense she was racing the clock, trying to remain as healthy as she could for as long as she could so that whatever happened would be covered by the managed care she had.  All the rules around what is covered and what isn’t in terms of nursing home care, home attendant services, etc are very complex.  In the current system, the issue is when people’s long-term needs exceed what is covered by managed care.  That’s when savings are needed and after they are depleted or transferred, Medicaid kicks in.

In my mother’s case, her savings paid her “rent” and her “rent” increased when she needed more services that weren’t covered by managed care such as having the facility hand her her meds instead of having her self-manage that.  At the end, she had a stroke and died in the hospital a few days later.  Had she lived, and needed full time, long-term care, I don’t know how much managed care would have covered, and because she still held most of her money, it would have been a while before she would have been eligible for Medicaid. If we imagine a scenario where Medicaid is out or unreliable altogether, then we are imagining a time when people die when they run out of money, period.  In my mother’s case, in addition to life-long thrift, she benefitted enormously from her pure luck in having bought and held onto a home whose value had increased greatly by the time she sold it at the peak of a housing boom.

If she hadn’t had the savings to afford her “rent,” then I’m not sure how we would have coped. She was frail for the last few years of her life, and once my father — who had been the stronger one — passed away, she could not have lived on her own. She would have required family care that would have kept at least one of her adult children or other relatives from working full time for a number of years, as not only would shopping, cooking, cleaning and ferrying her to doctors have been required, but also keeping an eye out to make sure she was safe.  While she would not have needed to be in a nursing home, she would have needed to live somewhere with modifications such as stair-lifts and other safety modifications.

Most people’s fate is not the nuclear meltdown of depleting all their resources, needing Medicaid and dying in a nursing home. People may fear that because under the current system it’s certainly a possibility, but it’s not the most likely one.  Most people fear the erosion of protections for the middle class that would keep all that from happening.  This includes the destruction of unions that help negotiate for decent health care plans, the destruction of things like home mortgage deductions that help make home ownership (the biggest and best investment for most of us) possible, the erosion of Medicare, and the overhaul of the Affordable Care Act which will help us keep the insurance we have and keep the insurance companies from throwing us off plans.  In short, most people (at least in the middle class) fear or have reason to fear, the entire Republican agenda.

This is not to say the current system is perfect. Most people, even in the middle class, are already losing what they had a few years ago.  Benefits, like the ones my mother had, have already been slashed, and the nuclear scenario is still real when long-term care is needed and managed care benefits have been exceeded.  What’s needed isn’t simply keeping Medicaid available, what’s needed is more healthcare reform that will help us with preventative care so more of us will stay healthier longer. What’s needed is more reform, including cost-control, so if long-term care is needed people don’t need to become virtual wards of the state to pay for it.

Super-Rich to Middle Class — No More Free Ride You Lazy Bums

Today’s guest blog post has been submitted by a “friend” writing under the nom de plume, Mr. Richie Moneybags Rich:

Once upon a time, back in the 1920’s, there was a lot of new stuff, telephones, movies. A small group of people Everyone was getting cars.  Good times.  Then the stock-market crashed.  Party over for widows, orphans, unemployed all those bums who hadn’t sufficiently diversified their portfolios or got swindled carried away buying on margin.  There are always winners and losers, and generally people get what they inherit deserve.

Then that brash, traitor, FDR got elected and declared class-warfare started the New Deal.  Suddenly it was freebies for everyone!  Even the elderly, people who hadn’t worked in years, could get in social security.  Immigrants?  Give us your poor,except not too many Jews etc.

To be fair, if he’d done nothing, the commies might have stepped in, but surely the Pinkertons could have dealt with that!   Did he have to take things that far?   Granted, roads needed to be built, and dams needed to be constructed, but couldn’t he just have handed out nice big juicy contracts to my grandfather’s company negotiated with the private sector?  We all know how much more efficient private industry is when it comes to building things and it was, after all,  the slaves job-creators who built this country.

Truman tried to continue down the road to creating a stable middle-class socialism with his crazy health-care schemes, but fortunately, Congress could be bought off see his plan could have been designed by the Rosenbergs themselves..  Then that damn LBJ came in and got that garbage Medicare signed, and gave us the Great Society.  What’s so great about paying someone else’s bills?

The rich have gotten fed up with all those give aways.  Like  Alan Simpson said, social security is “a milk cow with 310 million tits.”  Who needs it?  Not people making millions every year off their investments and paying less than 1% 14% in taxes, that’s for sure.  Ditto public education.  I mean really, what kind of concerned parent would send his child to a public school in the first place?  Why should I pay for someone else’s child to get a sub-standard education?  Besides, do you know what they teach in those places? It’s all science evolution and global warming, not to mention their stand on the War of Northern Aggression. Plus, that means I’m paying the salary for some strangers’ kids’ teachers, and we all know how high on the hog those lazy-asses live.  If you’re going to resent somebody, it’s those gosh darn teachers, police, and firefighters municipal workers  that you should look to. And don’t even get me started on Pell grants and low interest student loans.  Sheesh, get a job!

And that’s not all.   Even public transportation is supported through taxes!  Public transportation!  As though I’d be caught dead on bus.  Amirite?  Bastards even get “special” lanes.

And of course there’s Romneycare the Affordable Care Act Obamacare!  Naturally, people are outraged to be paying for equitable healthcare for women some slut’s contraception, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.  Do you have any idea how much it costs when sick people with no insurance just “show up” in an emergency room?  How could someone be so irresponsible to choose feeding your child and paying rent over preventive care not to plan for emergencies?  Really, there should be a law! Why not just allow people inadequate vouchers  to benefit companies I have stock in or pay out of pocket sell their homes?  Some total loon nice lady politician out West had a plan for bartering for healthcare and just got derided for it by every news outlet except Fox the lamestream media.  And if they can’t possibly refuse to pay for medical care, why treat them at all? If they’d rather die let them do it and decrease the surplus population.  I mean it’s not like you can just walk into a supermarket, say “I’m hungry” and get a bunch of free food unless of course you’re on food stamps, IMHO.

To top it off, these “middle income” slackers get tax breaks!  Mortgage deductions.  What’s that about?  Sure if they lose it, so do I, but I’m willing to find other shelters make the sacrifice.  Deductions for college savings.  Since when did college become something minorities, women, the poor, not our kind of people everyone should have the opportunity is forced to go to?  What kind of elitist b.s is that?  It’s not like you can’t get a minimum wage or lower off-the-books job without a degree.

Plus there’s even a deduction for state taxes.  Why should you get a tax break because you live in a state where you can still find a job with union protection that offers better schools and services?  That’s your choice, not mine, buddy.

You can see how all this is patently unfair to those of us who inherited worked hard  to get our money.  As a job creator in Thailand and China who has saved for a rainy day in the Cayman Islands, I deeply resent paying for programs I personally don’t need and will never use.

I mean, it’s not like I get to deduct for my recreational activities like that horse I took to the Olympics.

What makes it worse is all this petty emphasis on “percentages.”  They don’t tell you what it really means.  Here’s what it comes down to —  if you are supporting a family and I can’t imagine how on a taxable income of $50,000 a year, you’re going to pay about $7,274 in federal income tax.  That’s 14.5% of your income, not counting what they take out of your paycheck for social security.  And what do you get for it?  All those goodies I mentioned earlier.  But I don’t need any of that.  You, the middle class, are in effect taking money out of my pocket to get services I’ll never use.  What if you won 100 million dollars in the lottery tomorrow?  Is that what it would take for you to have a little bit of empathy?

Meantime, do you have any idea of what I pay to support your “lifestyle”? No, and I pay people good money to keep it that way.  Let’s say, I’m paying the same percentage as you, .085% 14.5% on a taxable  income of a modest  50 7 million a year.  I’d be paying over a million dollars in taxes if I paid taxes. Can you even imagine what a million dollars looks like? Believe me, it’s very pretty, and in the right denominations can be packed in a carry-on bag if heaven forbid you ever fly commercial. I’m already paying 140 times as much as you are.  140 times!  I mean what’s “progressive” about a system where one person pays 140 times what someone else pays?

Sure, some people might argue that a strong middle class creates a stronger market like what happened in America after World War II or all that growth during the Clinton years, and that America is falling behind because we don’t have a first rate educational system and they’d be right, but those are the type of  Democrats and anyone even slightly left of Ronald Reagan latte-drinking elitists  that forget that America isn’t exceptional because of our entitlements, but rather America  is exceptional because we have  a very high rate of income inequality compared to other developed countries our Constitution.