The Ten Biggest Lies in America

You’ve heard all of them.

This is not a conspiracy theory. I don’t think “the government”, “mainstream media”, and “corporate America” have teamed up against us. I do know that spreading these lies benefits many agencies, companies, banks, organizations, and people. Sometimes, they work together, sometimes independently.

Many people who spread these lies believe them. They don’t know any better because the republicans who control our schools work hard to produce politically, economically, and socially ignorant citizens. Those citizens get jobs in business, industry, government, and the media. And many of them vote.

First, let’s define our term.   Fallacies and lies are different. It’s a fallacy that the U.S. Constitution guarantees a “jury of our peers” when we are charged with a crime. It does not. It guarantees an impartial jury. The legend of the welfare queen is a blatant lie.

We can distinguish between fallacies and lies by examining their surroundings. A fallacy can be widely-held, but it does no real damage, and no one profits from it. A lie travels widely, causes harm, and benefits those who spread it.

So here are the lies, listed in increasing order of significance.

10.    Our Constitution requires a small, limited government, and permits us to overthrow that government at will

It does not.   Any constitution’s purpose is to establish and define the government. Of course they’re limited, but that doesn’t mean they’re small. The Pacific Ocean, Milky Way, and Bill Gates’ fortune are all very large. But they are limited.

The founders clearly stated their six purposes in the Preamble:
We the People of the United States, in Order to

  • form a more perfect Union,
  • establish Justice,
  • insure domestic Tranquility,
  • provide for the common defense,
  • promote the general Welfare, and
  • secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity,

 

do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Those are big things. They don’t lend themselves to small government.

The Constitution doesn’t contain a single word permitting armed overthrow of the United States government. In fact, it specifically forbids it in two places.

  • Article I, Section 8, Clause 15 gives Congress the power to provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions
  • Article III, Section 3, Clause 1: Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.

 

Read the Constitution.

9.   Congress Does Little Work for Excessive Pay

Members of Congress work more hours in every week than most Americans ever thought of working. Whether you like them or not, they do show up for work. Yet politically ignorant Americans think that the members aren’t working if they’re not on the voting floors every minute. That is not the way Congress works.

Working Hours
A professional football player has a full-time job. Yet the players spend only a fraction of their work time on the playing field – about four hours a week. Otherwise, they watch game films; have practices, team meetings, medical treatments, public appearances, and more. All of that comprises their work week. Movie actors appear in a film for about two hours. In order to create those two hours, they read and approve scripts, negotiate contracts, train and research for their roles, rehearse, rehearse, rehearse, and then make public appearances to promote their movies. Even when they’re not on the game-day playing field or the screen, they’re still working.

Congress works that way, too. You’ve seen news reports of Congressional committee hearings, town hall meetings, interviews, and fundraising events. Members read and develop legislation, reams of letters, reports, and briefings. They meet with constituents, lobbyists, bureaucrats, each other, and their staffs. Sometimes, they even meet with the president. Their phones never stop ringing. And they are assaulted all day, every day, everywhere they go, by people who only want “one minute” of their time.  That’s where they are when the House and Senate chambers are empty.

When they do break, it’s usually around a federal holiday, and can last from a few days to a week or more. But even then, they’re still working. While on “break”, they meet with constituents in their home districts – in their offices and in town hall meetings. They have staff meetings, phone meetings, and all of the same things they do in Washington.

In even-numbered years, like this one, every House member and one-third of the Senators face re-election campaigns. That adds even more to their schedules, with campaign and fundraising events.

This year, the August recess extends into September because it’s a presidential election year, and both parties will hold their national conventions during the recess.

Salaries and Pensions
Since 1992, the 27th Amendment to our Constitution adjusts congressional salaries automatically according to the Consumer Price Index, unless Congress votes not to implement it.  People gripe about their pay because Congress can raise their own salaries. But if it were up to the voters, today’s members would still be making the same $6.00 a day that they earned in 1790. Congress has not accepted its raise since 2009.

Members of Congress do participate in Social Security and do not collect their full paychecks for life after serving only a single term in Congress. They have exactly the same pension as all other federal employees. That’s right. VA hospital nurses, national park rangers, and your mail carrier have the same pension as Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell. And they all do pay into that pension. Like most pensions, it’s financed through a combination of employee and employer contributions. Also like private pension plans, benefits are calculated through a formula that considers both length of service and age at retirement.

According to a 2007 Congressional Research Service report:

“Under both CSRS and FERS, Members of Congress are eligible for a pension at age 62 if they have completed at least five years of service. Members are eligible for a pension at age 50 if they have completed 20 years of service, or at any age after completing 25 years of service. The amount of the pension depends on years of service and the average of the highest three years of salary. By law, the starting amount of a Member’s retirement annuity may not exceed 80% of his or her final salary.”

Pay and Perquisites of Members of Congress, Including A History of House and Senate Salaries

8.   Nothing is more important than business.

Business should never be regulated.
Laws and regulations are the rules by which society operates. Without rules, we have chaos. America’s founding philosophy is that rules are essential and that no one is above the law.

 Can you imagine the National Football League permitting two teams, with 22 players and a football, to play a game with no referees or rules at all? Like it or not, nearly every aspect of our lives has rules. Yet capitalists think they should be exempt.

Some economists claim that any regulation stifles the “free market”. That’s true, just as speed limits stifle speeders, and seat belts stifle death. And it’s a good thing. We’ve seen what happens when we don’t regulate business:

  • Slavery, sweatshops, and child labor with no workplace health or safety requirements
  • Long and short-term environmental disasters
  • Poverty, homelessness, unemployment, mortgage foreclosures, predatory loans, and outright fraud caused by financial institutions

Corporate and business leaders have caused enough poverty, pain, and destruction.
Can you imagine what they could do if we eliminated all regulations?

Government should operate like a business.
The purpose of business is to make a profit. The purpose of government is to provide services for the public. While government should be efficient and economical, profit should never be its motive. The states of Kansas and Michigan, especially Flint, are perfect examples of what happens when government is run like a business.

Trickle-down economics will save our economy.
The Laffer Curve and trickle-down economics is the notion that large tax cuts for corporations and extremely wealthy people will cause them to create jobs, and those benefits would “trickle down” to working families. It was soundly discredited decades ago.  We’ve been cutting those taxes for 35 years now, and it hasn’t happened yet.  Exactly when is this miracle going to start?

Cheneybush brought us the largest tax cuts in history.  According to AmericanProgress.org, its job growth record from 2001 to 2007 was the worst since the Great Depression and those cuts cost us more than seven million jobs from 2007 to 2009.

Republicans have been cutting taxes for 35 years.  If tax cuts created jobs, we would all have five great jobs by now.   They don’t believe any of this stuff.  But they sure want you to fall for it. They insist that tax cuts generate revenue.  Actually, the cheneybush tax cuts added $1.7 trillion to the national debt.  According to U.S Treasury reports, those cuts generated only one dollar for each ten dollars cut.  They are directly responsible for our current economic situation.

The only way to create jobs is to create demand for goods and services. We do that by creating a massive infrastructure program, increasing wages, and increasing public assistance benefits. It’s a very simple concept. When people have money, they spend it. And the businesses that provide those goods and services spend their revenue on more goods and services. That spending creates jobs. It’s the trickle-UP effect.

7.   Labor Unions Have Outlived Their Usefulness

Some say that unions were necessary a century ago, but are now obsolete. Actually, labor unions benefit every working person in America every day, whether they belong to a union or not. You can trace the rise and fall of the American middle class with the rise and fall of labor union membership. They brought you the eight-hour day, and the five-day week. They gave you weekends. We take these things for granted, but none of them existed before the rise of the unions.

Corporatists celebrate when business owners stick together to support their interests, but are outraged when employees want to bargain collectively with their employer for wages, benefits, and working conditions.

Chambers of commerce, business owners’ associations, and trade associations. actively promote business interests to the government and the public. Yet they refuse to acknowledge workers’ rights and often break the law to break the unions. Economics courses and business schools teach that workers’ labor is a product to be bought, sold, and treated no better than livestock. Unions represent the common interests of their members – and all workers – to the business owners, the government, and the public.

According to the AFL-CIO:
Union members earn better wages and benefits than workers who aren’t union members. On average, union workers’ wages are 27 percent higher than their nonunion counterparts.
Unionized workers are 60 percent more likely to have employer-provided pensions.
More than 79 percent of union workers have jobs that provide health insurance benefits, but less than half of nonunion workers do. Unions help employers create a more stable, productive workforce—where workers have a say in improving their jobs.
Unions help bring workers out of poverty and into the middle class. In fact, in states where workers don’t have union rights, workers’ incomes are lower.

Working conditions are vital to any union contract. Our labor unions fought for every workplace health and safety measure that you enjoy today. And employers fought against every one of them, including workers’ compensation benefits.

Today, our unions still fight to keep these benefits while organized business tries to destroy them – and all working families. Republithugs and their corporate bosses want to return to the good old days without health and safety protection, but with unrestricted child labor, sweatshops, and robber barons. Unions created the middle class. If you want to keep it, then support our unions.

If unions want to survive, they must educate their own members. We know our schools won’t do it.

Labor Unions: Myths and Facts

6.  The Unemployment Rate

While changing numbers can show a trend in rising or falling unemployment, the rate itself is always wrong. In June, 1984, Ronald Reagan’s White House instructed the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to change the way it measures the unemployment rate.

We used to count everyone looking for work as unemployed.  Then BLS declared that ONLY people who are actively collecting unemployment checks would be counted.  That’s right.  If your benefits have expired, you are not counted as unemployed, no matter how hard you’re looking for work.

This stunt cut the reported unemployment rate in half overnight.       But no one found work because of it. And the BLS still uses this method to calculate the unemployment rate, 32 years later.

Self-employed people, independent contractors, elected officials voted out of office, teachers and school employees on summer break, and those working “under the table” cannot collect benefits, and are never counted. Children under age 16, retired, unemployable disabled, incarcerated, those just entering the workforce, and people not looking for work are not counted.

People who want full-time jobs, but can’t find them, and those working at jobs below their skill and education levels, are under-employed. But the BLS counts them as fully employed.

 

When discussing the subject, Republicans wave a hand in the air and mumble something vague about people who “left the work force”.  You know as well as I that unless you somehow acquire independent wealth, you never leave the work force.  You always have to work, somehow, somewhere, in order to survive.

But that doesn’t matter, as long as the numbers look good.

How the Government Measures Unemployment

5.   Most Cops are Good Cops

There is no such thing as a good cop.

Every cop who stops a car for a bogus excuse, and then searches the car without cause or a warrant, is a bad cop. And every cop who sees it and doesn’t report it is a bad cop.

Every cop who plants marijuana on kids when called to a house for a teenage drinking party, is a bad cop. And every cop who sees it and doesn’t report it is a bad cop.

Every cop who beats, molests, rapes, harasses, shoots, or threatens an innocent civilian for his own entertainment is a bad cop. And every cop who sees it and doesn’t report it is a bad cop.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were approximately 780,000 cops in the U.S. in 2012. If most of them are “good cops”, then at least 390,001 of those “good cops” would be condemning these atrocities. Where are they? Why aren’t they as outraged as the rest of us? Why haven’t we heard from them? How many “good cops” are there now?

The Fraternal Order of Police is the largest police union in the U.S. According to the FOP website, the union represents 325,000 cops. FOP national president Chuck Canterbury released a statement on the prosecution of the six Baltimore cops who killed Freddie Gray. Part of that statement says: “We can only hope and pray that these officers are afforded due process and that the judicial proceedings going forward will be open and fair.” Why doesn’t he think that Freddie Gray deserved due process and fair proceedings?

This is not a police training issue. This is a hiring issue. At the very least, we must DEMAND that our cops not be criminals. Nothing will change until we demand that our petty local officials stop hiring jackasses, bullies, crybabies, and sociopaths to be cops.

But we must stand up and say this in public. When you hire defective people to be cops, you get defective cops. It’s not rocket science. You can’t train the jackass out of people.

The cops will keep getting away with murder as long as you let them get away with it.

There is no such thing as a good cop.

4.   We can eliminate abortions by making them illegal.

No, we can’t. Bribery of public officials is illegal. But it happens.
There will be abortions as long as there are pregnant women.

If you want the smallest possible number of abortions, then you FUND and provide REAL sex education, contraceptive education, birth control, and support services for poor women.
The right to life doesn’t end at the cervix.

  • Women who can’t get sex education and birth control CAN get abortions.
  • Rich women will travel to places where abortion is legal, safe, and available.
  • Poor women will use coat hangers. Or vacuum cleaner hoses. Or they will douche with bleach. Ammonia. Drain cleaner. Or gasoline. Whatever works.
  • That is how poor women get abortions.
  • That is how they die.

Republicans want to kill poor people.
Stop helping them.

3.   The Welfare Queen

Many Americans believe that the “welfare rolls” overflow with lazy parasites, exploiting public generosity. Actually, the average monthly participation in the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program (TANF, or basic “welfare”) was only 3,030,871 in 2015. That’s an average of 965 people for each of the 3,141 counties in the United States each month. The 718,252 adult recipients compose slightly more than two-tenths of one percent of the U.S. population at any given time. *

They claim that “welfare queens” give birth to many children just to get more money. In fact, the average family size is less than 2 ½ people. That’s usually one mother and one or two children. There were 2,312,619 children in those families in the average month. *

TANF and SNAP (Food Stamp) rolls are very fluid. Most families collect benefits for only a few months at a time. They move in and out of poverty as their circumstances change. Most adult SNAP recipients do work, and nearly all adult TANF recipients have a work history. All states require able-bodied adult recipients to work, search for work, or be enrolled in job training courses in order to obtain benefits.

That brings us to my favorite myth – that families collect welfare benefits for their entire lives, and for multiple generations. That is not, and has never been, true. Families headed by able-bodied adults can collect TANF benefits for only 60 months –a total of five years – in their lifetimes. Yes, really.

Nationwide, only about two percent of TANF families reach that limit and lose their benefits each year. *

Applicants must verify every single piece of information on the TANF application. They must produce identification, Social Security cards for every household member, rent receipts, utility bills, bank records, employment records, and every other record you can imagine.

Every segment of society includes some drug addicts and criminals. But they are far fewer in our social service system than anywhere else. To date, 15 states have instituted drug testing for TANF and SNAP participants. Every one of them has found that testing costs far more than it saves. But so many of our neighbors delight in pronouncing that anyone who needs help is morally inferior.

Illegal immigrants do not receive TANF or SNAP. In fact, most legal immigrants can’t get it until they reside in the U.S. for at least five years. 98.6 percent of recipients are American citizens.

In federal fiscal year 2009, the states spent a total of $13,022,958,260 of federal funds on cash, childcare, and transportation assistance to TANF recipients. That’s a whopping $7,541.68 per family – for the entire year – or $628.47 per month.

According to White House reports, in 2012, a taxpayer who earned $50,000 per year paid $43.78 per year in taxes to support SNAP and TANF. That taxpayer paid more than $4,000 per year to support corporate welfare programs.   Yeah. You know. Sports stadiums for billionaires who own teams.   But we don’t drug test them.

Public assistance programs benefit the US economy because they put cash into people’s hands. People use that cash to pay rent and utilities, and to buy food, clothing, toiletries, and other necessities that would ordinarily go without. And that creates jobs for the businesses that produce those goods and services. Although no retailer is required to participate in SNAP, more than 246,000 stores, farmers’ markets, direct marketing farmers, homeless meal providers, treatment centers, and group homes accepted SNAP in 2012. They wouldn’t participate if they weren’t making a profit.

No state is required to participate in these programs, but they all do because they know it benefits their own economies. They enable low-income people to rise from poverty and maintain their health so that they can participate in school and work.

People who believe in or profit from these myths propose punishments for anyone who dares to ask for help. They want to require drug tests and sterilization, forbid them from voting, and control how they spend their money. And most of them have the audacity to call themselves “christian”.

*   US Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Family Assistance

TANF Cash Benefits Have Fallen by More Than 20 Percent in Most States and Continue to Erode

Food Stamp Program: Myths, Facts, and History The Food Stamp Program Benefits the US Economy and Creates Jobs

Welfare in America: Myths and Facts Everything you think you know about welfare is wrong.

2.   America Values Education

If that was true, the other lies wouldn’t exist, because Americans would know how to change those situations. Countless studies show that American kids lag far behind the rest of the world in reading, math, and science. And no one even bothers to research their knowledge of social studies or the arts.

We fund our schools through the one method that ensures their inequality – property taxes. By declaring that rich people will have rich schools, and poor people will have poor schools, we guarantee inferior education for the poor. And education always tops the list when we must cut expenses.

But money is not the only problem. Radical conservatives are America’s Boko Haram. We claim to value education, and then we insert roadblock after roadblock to obstruct school success. We create useless programs with fancy names. We let Texas, of all places, control the content of history books. And those books contain lies. We don’t teach grammar, spelling, math, or reading properly. We refuse to teach anything that makes anyone uncomfortable. We baby our kids. They live down to our expectations. Yet we can’t figure out why they don’t learn.

We push all students to enter traditional four-year college programs, even though they aren’t a good fit for everyone. And then we demand that our kids spend the rest of their lives repaying those exorbitant loans at immoral interest rates. We demean every other type of education – trade school, union apprenticeships, community colleges, military training, etc. Yet those options consistently provide good quality education and training that leads to good jobs and productive lives.

And people can’t fix these problems, because they don’t know how, because the schools don’t teach them how.

  1. Lobbying is a Corrupt Activity and Should Be Illegal

 

Lobbying is not what the politicians and media tell you it is.

“Giving buckets of money to legislators” is not lobbying. Lobbying is the act of trying to convince elected officials to support or oppose legislation and policies that you care about. Lobbying is the ONLY thing that can restore our democracy. Our schools are supposed to teach this stuff, but they don’t want you to know that YOU have the power to influence your government. Every victory that occurs is the direct result of lobbying. Nothing moves in government unless someone pushes it. Legislators listen to corporate lobbyists BECAUSE THEY ARE THE ONLY ONES DOING THE TALKING. If you want your representatives to listen to you, then START TALKING TO THEM.

If the 99% would do more lobbying, the 1% would have less power.

 

LOBBYING IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN VOTING.
Everyone can do it. And it doesn’t cost a dime.

 

PLEASE talk to the people in your life, especially the young people of voting age.
Teach them how to protect themselves. Each one teach one.

 

Learn when, where, why, and how to lobby.

 

 

And More
There are plenty of other lies – Executive orders are unconstitutional, our troops fight for our freedom, atheism is a religion, only teenagers work minimum wage jobs, Republicans want to abolish the U.S. Postal Service, widespread gun use makes us safe, and more. Popular topics come and go, but radical conservatives will always try to obstruct social justice.

 

Why Does This Matter?

A lot of people benefit from spreading these lies. They’ve convinced most Americans that:

  • Congress doesn’t want or need to hear from them.
  • If we stifle business in any way, all of our jobs will disappear.
  • You have no recourse but to submit to their will.
  • There’s nothing wrong with the economy; if you’re unemployed, there’s something wrong with you.
  • If a cop kills you, it’s your own fault.
  • They don’t have to pay taxes, but you do.
  • They have the right to interfere in your private life at any time, in any way, they please.
  • Anyone who asks for help is a lazy, stupid, immoral criminal.
  • We all have the right to berate, chastise, and denigrate those who do ask for help.
  • They want us to hate and fear education and educated people.
  • And they tell us that the very thing that can change all of these conditions is corrupt and must be banned.

 

Corporations make $trillions$ by selling guns, ammunition, drug testing equipment, prison space, and more. They save $trillions$ more by not paying taxes and living wages, by operating irresponsibly, and because too few of us fight back. We all suffer because our country, our home, is much less than what it can be, much less than we deserve, much less than what our founders intended.

 

What Happens Next?

We fight back. Think about how these lies affect you and your family. Stop watching stupid stuff on TV. Share this information with everyone. Learn how to lobby. Vote. Attend school board meetings and city council meetings. Read. Learn. Speak up.   Teach your kids.

 

Read Community Matters to learn how your government works, how it’s supposed to work, and how to influence it.

 

Contact Pat to get email notice of all new Community Matters articles.

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Obama to Visit Pittsburgh for American Jobs Act

I’ll be covering President Obama’s event at IBEW Local 5, Pittsburgh, for his American Jobs Act tomorrow in South Side. Watch my column for the story.

http://contributor.yahoo.com/user/933068/pat_omalley.html

President Obama’s American Jobs Act

Two weeks ago, President Obama sent his American Jobs Act to Congress. Eleven House committees are currently considering H.R. 12: Ways and Means; Small Business; Transportation and Infrastructure; Education and the Workforce; Energy and Commerce; Financial Services; House Administration; the Judiciary; Oversight and Government Reform; Rules; and Science, Space, and Technology.

The bill has not yet been sent to any Senate committees. At 412 pages, the bill is complicated but manageable. Given the politics, it will not move quickly. Congress just isn’t interested because it affects your life, not theirs.

Actually, Presidents do not introduce bills to Congress and they don’t pass laws. As in all occupations, those involved develop a shorthand way of speaking about their work. The U.S. Constitution gives legislative power only to Congress. Sometimes even popular books, TV programs, and movies get it wrong. That annoys me. This is how it really works.

The president, the cabinet and other advisors, and Democratic Congressional leaders outline the contents of the bill. They decide what they want and don’t want it to contain, its parameters, and other details. White House, cabinet, and Congressional staff members write the actual language. No, members of Congress don’t write legislation. They don’t have time. Depending on the subject matter, bills can be very complex. Nearly all include references to already existing legislation which must be clearly spelled out. Go to the Congressional legislative website and browse through a few.

Once the president approves the final version, he must ask a member of Congress to introduce it.  A member introduces a bill merely by placing it in the wooden box, called the hopper, on the clerk’s desk. That’s where we get the phrase that something is “in the hopper”. If no one agrees to do so, the bill cannot reach Congress and they will never consider it. I don’t know of a case where that’s ever been a problem. The clerk numbers the bills in the order they are introduced, unless a member reserves a particular number beforehand.

The president has no control over which committees consider the bill, whether the committees hold hearings, or whether it ever goes to the House and Senate floors for full votes. Learn about where our laws come from here.

Senate by Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV introduced President Obama’s American Jobs Act in the Senate as S. 1549. Rep. John Larsen, D-CT introduced the identical bill in the House as H.R. 12. You can read the full text and follow its progress on  Thomas, the Congressional legislation website. A summary and more details are available on the White House website.

The bill contains plans to improve the American economy in five categories:

TAX CUTS TO HELP AMERICA’S SMALL BUSINESSES HIRE AND GROW

  • tax cuts for 98 percent of businesses
  • a payroll tax holiday for businesses that hire new workers or increase employees’ wages
  • expanding Small Business Administration loan limits, cutting red tape, and improving the patent system

 PUTTING WORKERS BACK ON THE JOB WHILE REBUILDING AND MODERNIZING AMERICA

  • Offering tax credits to encourage businesses to hire unemployed veterans.
  • Preventing up to 280,000 teacher layoffs, and keeping first responders including firefighters and police officers on the job.
  • Modernizing at least 35,000 public schools across the country.
  • Making immediate investments in infrastructure, modernizing our roads, railways and airports, putting hundreds of thousands of workers back on the job.
  • Project Rebuild: an effort to put people back to work rehabilitating homes and businesses and stabilizing communities, leveraging private capital and scaling up successful models of public-private collaboration.
  • Expanding wireless internet access to 98 percent of Americans and first responders by freeing up the nation’s spectrum.

PATHWAYS BACK TO WORK FOR AMERICANS LOOKING FOR JOBS

  • Extensive reform to the unemployment compensation system.
  • A $4,000 tax credit to employers for hiring long-term unemployed workers.
  • Prohibiting employers from discriminating against unemployed workers when hiring.
  • Expanding job opportunities for low-income youth and adults by investing in promising and proven strategies and programs like summer jobs and sector-based training programs.

TAX RELIEF FOR EVERY AMERICAN WORKER AND FAMILY

  • Cutting payroll taxes in half for 160 million workers next year.
  • Allowing more Americans to refinance their mortgages at today’s near 4 percent interest rates.

 The White House claims that the plan is fully paid for as part of the president’s long-term deficit reduction plan. Frankly, I think it relies far too much on tax cuts. Tax cuts do not create jobs. They create votes.

 The best thing about the plan is its heavy emphasis on infrastructure improvements. Infrastructure spending does not benefit only the construction industry. It creates jobs for every type of business, and the finished products will benefit all of those companies. You can read how that works here. And we desperately need to fix our infrastructure.

 Some ridicule it by calling it a “second stimulus”. That’s just fine with me; maybe it’ll work this time. The republithugs hijacked the original stimulus for their rich folks’ tax cuts, proving yet again that tax cuts do not create jobs.

 In his address to Congress on September 8, Obama urged them to pass the bill with “No games. No politics. No delays.” Yeah. I’d pay money to see that. Some have criticized Republicans for not wanting to sacrifice to solve America’s problems. Sure they are. They’re willing to sacrifice your life, your health, and your safety. They’re sacrificing the sound infrastructure, good schools, educated workforce, safe and healthy air, water, medicines, food, and workplaces that will improve all of our lives and protect all of us, all so they can have more money.

 And our esteemed leaders will keep right on handing it to them.

 For More Information:

Library of Congress site for legislative information: H.R. 12 and S. 1549

White House: American Jobs Act of 2011

Infrastructure Spending Stimulates the Entire Economy

Find out where the original stimulus funding went

 

America’s Liberal Roots, Shunning, and Other Random Thoughts

John Boehner is right in forcing President Obama to justify U.S. military involvement in Libya, as per the 1973 War Powers Act. However, we all know that he would never do it if Obama was a Republican.

Herman Cain is just one more tired example of a dimwit Republican. He’s been saying that he would require Muslims to take a loyalty oath to work in the administration if he were elected president. This violates not only the First Amendment, but also the Constitution’s Article VI, Clause 3: “The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

Why are so many who claim to worship the Constitution eversomuch just too lazy to read it?

America’s political roots are decidedly liberal. Committing treason, seceding from the British Empire, acknowledging the inherent equality of all MEN, and fighting a revolution for independence were very liberal, radical actions. It is highly unlikely that such liberal founders would write an ultra-conservative document.

The First Amendment’s establishment clause creates the separation of church and state.

I’m very disappointed in Rep. Anthony Weiner for putting himself into such a position. I wish him well and I hope he gets his life back on track. We need people with his ideals in Congress. But I can’t imagine what makes so many men think that any woman wants to get messages like those.

I’m also disappointed in Obama for not closing Guantanamo, not prosecuting the cheneybushers for war crimes, not appointing Elizabeth Warren to the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, renewing the “patriot” act, and appeasing the republithugs at every opportunity. Will I vote for him again? You bet.

For 30 years, presidents and Congresses bought Alan Greenspan’s delusion that corporate executives will behave in something resembling a moral fashion, and thus don’t need to be regulated. This inspired our leaders to abdicate their constitutional duty to regulate commerce, leading to massive greed, corruption, and recession. Greenspan personally caused more damage to America and Americans than any other human being.

The Amish have a tradition of shunning community members who break their rules. I thought the practice was barbaric, but now I’m not so sure. Perhaps we should explore this option for conduct unbecoming a human being. I nominate Greenspan for the first spot.

The politically illiterate complain about “big government” controlling everything because they think it really does.

A section of the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of American History honors the heroism, bravery, sacrifice, and camaraderie of US military throughout the centuries and the world. Their Iraq war display appears in the same section with the September 11 display. The description says: “Because of concern about Saddam Hussein’s regime, in March 2003 the United States and its allies launched preemptive strikes in Iraq.” They actually have the audacity to post that lie on the wall. The U.S. went into Iraq because littledick cheney wants more money. And he got it. It’s despicable that so many died for so little.

Your parents, teachers, and counselors lied to you. There is no permanent record that follows you throughout your life. No one knows or cares how many times you had detention in high school. Grow up.

Republithugs have created voter ID laws to solve a problem that doesn’t exist. The United States does not have a problem with unauthorized voting, or people voting multiple times, or illegal immigrants voting. It’s hard enough to get people to vote at all. This is about the republithugs trying, yet again, to SUPPRESS the vote. They’re trying to scare poor people and uneducated people into staying home. THINK ABOUT THIS, PEOPLE. Who benefits from low voter turnout, and keeping these folks away from the polls?

The republithugs claim that Congressional bills are not available for reading. They are liars. You can read every Congressional action at the Library of Congress site since 1996.

I don’t mind an honest difference of opinion, or a different philosophy of life. I do mind it when people flat out lie and make stuff up.

Peace is not the absence of war, but the presence of justice. (Martin Luther King, Jr.)

Sloganeering signage has probably put more dents in fenders than in voter opinion.  (From a Larry Evans email, 10/26/10)

America doesn’t just happen. The founders did not create a nation to have its citizens abandon it. America doesn’t work unless we all pay attention to it.

Why does the boss deserve to make 500 times more pay than the workers do?

Think back to when you were a kid. Remember the one in the crowd who always whiiiiiiiiined “It’s not fair!” when stuff didn’t go his way. That kid is now a Republican.

Employers can legally refuse to hire people who have red hair, or beards, or who wear blue shirts.  Yes, it is discrimination.  It is also legal. The only illegal forms of discrimination involve race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age over 40, and disability.

Judging by the way that most people write these days, they should sue their third grade English teachers for malpractice.

Children who are babied grow up to be idiots, or victims, or worse.

The American Medical Association should expel from its membership any “doctor” who works for a health insurance company.  It’s a conflict of interest and a violation of the Hippocratic Oath.  Doctors are supposed to provide health care.  Health insurance companies prevent people from getting health care.  I don’t care how many medical schools you went to.  If you work for a health insurance company, you are not a doctor.

Real life is not like your TV.  Stuff takes time.

WE ARE ONE

For more information

Read the U.S. Constitution

Read a newspaper. Yes, really. Go to a store. Buy a newspaper. Read it.

We Are All Welfare Recipients

At the Conservative Political Action Conference in February, Congressman Ron Paul declared that every conservative who objects to government spending should “. . . take care of yourself, don’t ask the government for anything”. (Source, Paragraph 17) Sure. I’d pay money to see that happen.

The republithugs love to squawk that they adore the Constitution and chastise, belittle, and whine about “welfare recipients”. They won’t admit, even to themselves, that we are all welfare recipients and that every “welfare program” is constitutional.

The government’s six specific purposes, stated the Constitution, are: “ . . . to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity . . . .”

Those six tasks outline an enormous responsibility. Pretty much anything can fit into that list. It doesn’t lend itself to “small government”. The phrase “promote the general welfare” does not refer only to public assistance programs. It means that Congress has the power and duty to act in the nation’s best interest. We can always debate what’s in our best interest, but Congress and the states have enacted many programs, projects, and public works throughout America’s history.  Every American, including you, benefits from them. They are all public assistance programs.

The Constitution requires Congress to establish and maintain post offices, roads, bankruptcy laws, and trademark, patent, and copyright protections. At various times, Congress decided that cash assistance, SNAP (food stamps), WIC and other food assistance programs, public housing, Medicaid, subsidized childcare, and energy assistance are in our best interest.

I’ll bet you don’t know that every child who eats meals in school receives welfare benefits. School meals fall into three categories: free, reduced-price, and “full-price”. The federal government subsidizes every meal, including part of the “full-price” meals. So, if you or your children have ever eaten lunch in school, you benefitted from a “welfare program”, because Congress decided that it was in our national best interest.

They also decided that . . .

clean water, clean food, and safe medications,

mental health and substance abuse research, information, and services,

public schools, community colleges, vocational and adult education programs, state universities, public libraries, and Sesame Street,

workplace health and safety regulations, car seatbelts and air bags,

public utility and nuclear facility regulation and toxic dump cleanup,

railroad, highway, maritime, and airline safety,

public defenders and refugee resettlement services,

farm subsidies, crop insurance, and agricultural information and support,

G.I. Bill benefits, veterans’ disability benefits, hospitals, and cemeteries,

public accommodations for the disabled, senior citizen centers, home delivered meals, and senior/disabled transportation services,

free tax preparation services, college loans, and insured bank accounts,

federal disaster aid, oil subsidies, bank bailouts, and guaranteed mortgages,

national, state, and local parks, museums, historical centers, and sports stadiums,

interstate highways, a national passenger train system, and major airports,

public roads, bridges, tunnels, sewers, and dams,

the National Weather Service, and reclaimed abandoned mines,

civil rights, equal rights, and human rights enforcement,

and a national internet system connecting the public with every facet of our government and with educational, cultural, charitable, and commercial resources

. . . are also in our best interest.

We all have personally benefited from many of these “welfare programs’. Yes, you too. A nation is only as strong as its people. These benefits make our people stronger and our nation better. So it might be a good idea to stop chastising, belittling, and whining about “welfare recipients”. People always gripe about BIG GOVERNMENT. Right up until they need it.

WE ARE ONE.

For more information:

A Day in the Life of Joe – Middle Class Republican

Read the U.S. Constitution

Connect to your government online

Who Should Pay Taxes?

We can debate whether government should be involved in this or that, or whether a program is necessary or appropriate. But at its barest minimum, government has expenses: salaries, buildings, furnishings, supplies, infrastructure, equipment, construction, and maintenance. So government needs money. Government gets its money from taxes.

The U.S. Constitution specifically gives Congress the power “. . . to lay and collect taxes”, and to make all laws necessary to execute that power. Congress established the Internal Revenue Service in 1862 to serve as the nation’s tax collector.

American taxes fall into three broad categories: individual, corporate, and excise. Employers withhold income taxes from employees’ paychecks throughout the year. We file our tax returns early in the following year to calculate our total tax bill. If we owe less than the amount withheld, we get a refund. If too little was withheld, we owe taxes. Corporations make estimated tax payments on their profits each quarter, but there are many more loopholes and deductions and the process is much more complex. Excise taxes are collected on the sale of certain goods such as gasoline, cigarettes, alcohol, and utilities. Even the poorest Americans pay excise and sales taxes. The merchants who sell those products file the paperwork and send those tax dollars to the IRS. Revenue is the sum of all taxes collected.

When revenue exceeds spending, we have a surplus. When spending exceeds revenue, we have a deficit. The total of all U.S. deficits throughout our history is called the national debt. The first deficit occurred in 1792. Since 1901, the federal budget has run surpluses in 27 years and deficits in 84 years. Our last surpluses, from 1998 to 2001, totaled $559 billion. In 2010, the federal government collected $2.1 trillion and spent $3.4 trillion for a deficit of $1.3 trillion.

The republithugs’ favorite claim, that President Obama tripled the deficit in his first year in office, is a lie. Cheneybush spent a trillion dollars, that’s $1,000,000,000,000, on its war in Iraq from 2001 to 2008. They hid those expenses by never listing a penny of those costs on the federal budget.They lied to you. Obama merely listed the money where it belonged. He didn’t spend the money. He corrected their fraudulent bookkeeping.

Now certainly no one enjoys paying taxes, but most of us accept the responsibility and do pay them. It’s part of being a grownup. Some people, primarily Republicans, teapartiers, and corporatists, operate under the bizarre notion that they shouldn’t have to pay taxes. They expect the rest of us to pay the government’s bills.

They love to rant about “personal responsibility” right up until it reaches their front doors. Many corporations exploit the tax code so that they pay no taxes at all. Yet they don’t hesitate to take advantage of our interstate highway system to transport their products. They use our airports for their business travel, our emergency services to protect their facilities, our elected representatives to enact their tax cuts, and our schools to recruit their employees. Wealthy individuals use streets, parks, libraries, museums, airports, stadiums, sewers, roads, bridges, and schools just like the rest of us. Yet they pay $$millions$$ to hotshot lawyers to avoid paying for those privileges.

They whine that corporations and gazillionaires need tax cuts because they might create jobs. Microsoft Corporation does not base its business plans on the level of Bill Gates’ personal taxes. They don’t fire people when Gates’ taxes increase. They don’t hire people when Gates’ taxes decrease. No company does it . Only an imbecile would believe that. There is no incentive for corporations and the wealthy to invest in industry and create jobs when the government hands them buckets of money for nothing.

Cheneybush brought us the largest tax cuts in history. Its job growth record from 2001 to 2007 was the worst since the Great Depression and those cuts cost us more than seven million jobs from 2007 to 2009.^ Republicans have been cutting taxes for 30 years. If tax cuts created jobs, we would all have five great jobs by now. I don’t. Do you? They don’t believe any of this stuff. But they sure want you to fall for it.

They insist that tax cuts generate revenue. Actually, the cheneybush tax cuts added $1.7 trillion to the national debt. According to U.S Treasury reports, those cuts generated only one dollar for each ten dollars cut. They are directly responsible for our current economic situation. Yet, President Obama appeased the republithugs AGAIN and extended those cuts for two more years.

We can talk about spending all day, but the government needs more money. The only way to increase revenue is to increase taxes.

The idea that you should not have to pay for the things you use today because you might do something, someday is laughable. No rational human being would fall for that line. Try telling Sears that they should give you a free lawnmower today because you might hire a local kid to cut your grass tomorrow. See how that works out for you.

To answer the question, everyone should pay taxes. We all must contribute to the society that we enjoy. Just who do these people think they are? And why didn’t their parents bother to teach them any sense of personal responsibility?

WE ARE ONE.

For More Information:

Tax Cuts: Myths and Realities
Policy Basics: The 2001 and 2003 Tax Cuts
* Tax Cuts for the Wealthy DO NOT Create Jobs
^ Before the Bush Recession: Supply Side Tax Cuts Failed to Deliver Jobs and Income Growth between 2001 and 2007
The Bush Tax Cuts Are the Disaster that Keeps on Giving
Tax Returns: A Comprehensive Assessment of the Bush Administration’s Record on Cutting Taxes

Rally for a Responsible Budget Was a Huge Success

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Completely Missed the Point

On Tuesday, nearly 7,000 Pennsylvanians rode in more than 100 buses, cars, and trains to Harrisburg with a single purpose in mind – to demand a responsible budget from our state legislators. The atmosphere was friendly and hopeful, as it always is at these events, with lots of hugs, high fives, and good conversations with total strangers. Even the weather cooperated. On the capitol plaza, state employees, some of them legislators, rushed past the crowds on their way to lunch, studiously avoiding eye contact.

Members of dozens of groups attended together, including

Pennsylvania State Education Association, Service Employees International Union, Working America

United MineWorkers of America, National Education Association, United Steelworkers Union

United Food and Commercial Workers, American Transit Union, American Federation of Teachers International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, United Home Care Workers

American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, United Electrical Workers

UniteHERE (Hotel and Restaurant Employees), National Association of Letter Carriers

Keystone Progress, Pittsburgh United, American Federation of Government Employees

Communications Workers of America, Mon Valley Unemployed Committee, Sheet Metal Workers

Pennsylvanians United for Single-Payer Health Care, and of course, the AFL-CIO.

Many other church, community, and student groups organized their own members to attend.

Unfortunately, the only Ironworker that I saw in the crowd was my husband.  WAKE UP, GUYS. THIS STUFF IS IMPORTANT.

The CLEAR Coalition (Coalition for Labor Engagement and Accountable Revenues) did an excellent job of promoting the event, arranging free buses, free box lunches, and shepherding the crowd throughout the day. Buses arrived in the city between 10:00 and 11:00 a.m. Participants had ample time to lobby their individual state legislators before the rally began at 1:00.

The participants belong to many different organizations, but united in their single purpose – to convince state legislators to adopt a budget that reflects Pennsylvanians’ priorities, not one that punishes working people and children. Pennsylvanians need and deserve a responsible budget. We want Marcellus Shale drillers and other corporations to be regulated and to pay their fair share of taxes. Governor Tom Corbett’s budget proposal is just one more event in the organized Republican attack on America’s middle class. It cuts more than a billion dollars from education alone, and about a quarter billion from social services, while giving ever more tax breaks to his corporate masters. My favorite sign of the day said “Tax the Fracking Gasholes”.

As usual, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s report didn’t do justice to the event. Reporter Tracie Mauriello called it “Dueling groups of private-school boosters and labor supporters demand to be heard at the state Capitol”. I guess she didn’t notice the title “Rally for a Responsible Budget” emblazoned on the bright orange T-shirts of the hundreds of rally organizers posted throughout the crowd. A single message on the thousands of signs, T-shirts, and 7,000 people shouting, “WE ARE ONE” should have been a clue. The tiniest bit of background research might have been useful. There were not “competing rallies”, dear.

The only picture published in the PG will elicit derision from the Republican crowd that they want to draw away from the Tribune-Review. The TR didn’t cover it at all, but at least they didn’t lie about it. Maybe our next event should be a rally for responsible journalism.

There will be more events like this. You don’t have to belong to a union to participate. For information and updates, contact the CLEAR Coalition or Working America.

If you want a responsible state budget, then say so. Right now. Click this link. It will take you to the Pennsylvania General Assembly page where you can find out who your state legislators are. They all have email contact forms. Contact them. Tell them what’s important to you. Tell them what you want. Spend five minutes to give your kids a better life.

Okay, Post-Gazette. Are you ready?  Pay attention this time.

WE ARE ONE

For More Information

CLEAR Coalition

Working America

AFL-CIO

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Article

Pennsylvania’s Corbett Continues GOP Attack on the Middle Class

WATCH OUT AMERICA! They’re Coming for You Next

Pennsylvania General Assembly

Read the U.S. Constitution

On May 4m, 1970, Ohio National Guardsmen fired 67 bullets into a crowd of Kent State University student protesting the Vietnam War. Four students were killed. The struggle continues.