Saturday, September 01, 2012

You Didn't Build That

My parents' lives (born 1916 and 1918) were significantly better than their parents (rural and poor) due to 3 things: technology, the government and unions.

Technology improvements included the car and improvements in agricultural production that led to the need for fewer farm workers. This opened opportunities for other kinds of work and careers in the growing cities and post-war suburbs.

Government helped through Social Security, the GI Bill (led to college educations for many), FHA backed home loans, and the interstate highway system. Oh, and Medicare.

Unions helped by creating work rules and raising the standard of living for everyone.

I must also note that these things benefited white Americans while excluding non-white Americans. The initial versions of Social Security excluded occupations held primarily by black Americans, and black GIs were excluded from the GI Bill and the FHA discriminated against black Americans, too. These exclusions were a sop to get the votes of Southern legislators in order to pass these innovative and helpful government programs that basically created the middle class (for whites).  You might even call government action in the '30s, '40s and '50s affirmative action for whites.

So guess what white America? YOU DIDN'T BUILD THAT without technology, the government and unions.

Friday, July 15, 2011

What Makes Us Human?

What makes humans so different from other animals on Earth? I was wondering the other day if it is because we do not accept our limitations. Most if not all other animals are well adapted to what they do best, but they don't enhance their own capabilities. This goes beyond tool making, which we know some other animals do. Humans observe other animals capabilities that we don't have, and figure out how to get that ability. We can't fly but we can invent planes, etc. We can't run as fast as some animals, but we can invent motorized vehicles so we can go faster than any land animal. We can't stay underwater like sea mammals or fish, but we come up with scuba gear and submarines. Our evolutionary advantage is clearly our big brains, which allow us to think up this stuff. Other "smart" animals -- elephants, dolphins, etc. -- don't self-adapt in this way. So -- is that what really distinguishes us from other animals? Humans as inventors? And to think I used to think it was humor that made us human!

Monday, July 04, 2011

Down the Rabbit Hole

...over the past ten years...Republicans got the tax cuts...the financial deregulation...the wars...the unfunded spending increases they wanted. And the results were completely, unrelentingly disastrous. A decade of sluggish growth and near-zero wage increases. A massive housing bubble. Trillions of dollars in war spending and thousands of American lives lost. A financial collapse. A soaring long-term deficit. Sky-high unemployment. All on their watch and all due to policies they eagerly supported. And worse: ever since the predictable results of their recklessness came crashing down, they've rabidly and nearly unanimously opposed every single attempt to dig ourselves out of the hole they created for us. -- Kevin Drum

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Faux News Propoganda

Tell the old folks:

Monday, March 21, 2011

Palin's Pakistani Word Salad

“We can’t go back to that hyphenated days of, no we need to and can work together in working with Pakistan, and we have our issues there, too, and in a sense we do, but we need to work with Pakistan, but that’s one of those issues that we need to work on, as we strengthen our allies, there…”

Sunday, May 30, 2010


People born the year I was:
Howard Stern
Anthony Minghella
Oprah Winfrey (Orpah!)
Matt Groenig
John Travolta
Patty Hearst
Ron Howard
Catherine O'Hara
Jackie Chan
Jerry Seinfeld
Amy Heckerling
Hugo Chavez
Mark Fidrych
James Cameron
Al Roker
Elvis Costello
Stevie Ray Vaughn
David Lee Roth
Scott Bakula
Ang Lee
Chris Noth
Joel Coen
Chris Evert
Annie Lennox
Denzel Washington


Things that happened the year I was born:
Marilyn Monroe married Joe DiMaggio
The first mass vaccination of children against polio began.
Roger Bannister ran the first 4 minute mile.
The Boeing 707 was released.
The Supreme Court ruled that segregated schools were unconstitutional in Brown v. Board of Education.
The first issue of Sports Illustrated was published.
Joseph Welch lashes out at Sen. Joe McCarthy: "Have you, at long last, no decency?." (Later that year, the Senate voted to condemn McCarthy.)
The Viet Minh took control of North Vietnam.
Godzilla premiered in Tokyo.
The first Burger King opened.
The TV dinner was introduced.
The novel The Lord of the Flies was published.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Fixing the Economy

I have long believed that the economic policies of conservatives which have been supported by way too many Democrats would destroy America. Democracy only works when people have not only political freedom but economic freedom. However, the policies of the past 30 years have created a haves and have-nots society.

By dramatically lowering the tax rate on the highest earners, two things happened. One is that enormous amounts of wealth went up to the top one percent of earners. Who paid the price for this? The middle class, which has not seen real wages increase in those 30 years. We essentially have a flat tax now, instead of a progressive one.

A second consequence of lowering the tax rate on the highest earners, I believe, is the huge fluctuations that our economy has gone through -- the repeated booms and busts. When top earners have so much money, they can afford to lose a lot in market booms and busts. We in the middle class can't.

Other factors have also played into this. Globalization meant cheap products from emerging markets and cheap credit kept middle class buying power up which allowed the middle class to think they were doing OK when they were actually losing ground. Anti-union movements had huge negative impacts on the middle class. Empowering Wall Street way beyond their due and -- and this is huge -- deregulation of the financial industry really screwed things up.

Without the wealthy paying their fair share, without the middle class seeing its income and savings ability growing, we are doomed. We will not be able to support our aging population, repair infrastructure, expand education and compete on a global scale.

This is not the America I expected to live in as I grew old. I call again for revolution -- we need major changes in how we think about taxes, government benefits (health care, Social Security, aid to cities/towns, infrastructure, education, etc); unions; and corporate regulation. That is the change we can believe in.