“The United States is not the greatest country in the world anymore”. The opening scene in the HBO series “The Newsroom” sets the stage for one of the best television series I’ve seen.
The criminal justice system in our country is a corrupt nightmare. “Time: The Kalief Browder Story” is just the tip of the iceberg. I spent one day in jail and witnessed firsthand the petty crimes of every individual in that cell with me. Then I witnessed the public defenders telling their clients to “cop a plea” even if they were not guilty. The US has the highest per-capita incarceration rate in the world to feed a system based on conviction rates. Reminds me of the Ken Burns Documentary “Vietnam” where our success was measured on enemy body counts. It didn’t matter how many Americans were killed or whether we won the battle. The public was told we were where winning because we killed a lot more of them. It seems to be the same scenario with DA. It doesn’t seem to matter if the citizen is innocent or guilty as long as you keep adding percentage points to your conviction rate. I am surprised that life in America is not far worst than it is considering the state of our political system, the justice system, and the massive decline in our education system. The U.S. tax code is approximately 3.7 million words in length. The list of Federal agencies and departments is difficult to process and we could probably shut down half of them and nobody would notice. It seems to be a system that keeps growing like cancer.
“The nearest thing to eternal life we will ever see on this earth is a government program”
One of the biggest political blunders was Prohibition, yet politicians seem to not learn from past mistakes. The “war on drugs” dwarfs that blunder. It was created by the man who lied to the American public for years. Almost five decades and trillions of dollars and the war is a total failure and has had no effect other than creating the highest per-capita incarceration rate on the planet. The data confirms that nonviolent drug convictions are a defining characteristic of the federal prison system. While most people in state and local facilities are not locked up for drug offenses, most states’ continued practice of arresting people for drug possession destabilizes individual lives and communities. Drug arrests give residents of an over-policed community criminal records, which then reduce employment prospects and increase the likelihood of longer sentences for any future offenses.
Why do we put people in jail for “using” drugs? The biggest drug problem in the US today is pharmaceutical drugs. Why do the police arrest and charge someone for giving homeless people a free haircut? Why do we have Swat Raids on milk companies that produce non-pasteurized milk? The list of ridiculous laws, and regulations is endless, in part due to the power of special interest groups.
“Government’s first duty is to protect the people, not run their lives”
“Give ME Liberty Or Give Me Death ”
On March 23, 1775, Patrick Henry sounded one of the most famous calls to arms in American history. During a meeting of the Second Virginia Convention at St. John’s Church in Richmond, the 38-year-old lawyer, and politician gave an impassioned plea urging the Old Dominion to form militias to defend itself against the British. Henry’s brief address—which closed with the incendiary line “Give me liberty or give me death!”— swayed the Convention in his favor, and his words became a rallying cry during the march to war that was soon to begin.
Prescription drugs are the third leading cause of death in the United States
In June 1971, President Nixon declared a “war on drugs.” He dramatically increased the size and presence of federal drug control agencies and pushed through measures such as mandatory sentencing and no-knock warrants.
A top Nixon aide, John Ehrlichman, later admitted: “You want to know what this was really all about. The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying. We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course, we did.”Nixon temporarily placed marijuana in Schedule One, the most restrictive category of drugs, pending review by a commission he appointed led by Republican Pennsylvania Governor Raymond Shafer.
In 1972, the commission unanimously recommended decriminalizing the possession and distribution of marijuana for personal use. Nixon ignored the report and rejected its recommendations.
Most of us know the war on drugs has been completely ineffective and has terrible intended and unintended consequences, just as prohibition did. There has not been one documented case of a human being dying from an overdose on marijuana.
If one truly wants to know how American students are doing in school, a look at the Nation’s Report Card might offer a better picture. Those numbers tell us that not even half of America’s high school seniors are proficient in any subject. The area they rank the worst in? U.S. History.
Rights precede government and are not something given to man by any political authority.
In the United States, the idea of “self-rule” originally had a different meaning.
The Sky Is Not Falling?
For more than ten years I have been telling everyone that the global warming crisis was created to make rich men richer… “special interest groups” ….. that is was the biggest scam perpetrated on the world public in history. Not many believed me. I said get back to me in 10-15 years after none of the prophecies come true.
It’s not a matter of being right or wrong… it’s about the lack of critical thinking, indoctrination, and propaganda !!!
But what about climate change you may ask? No doubt…. the planet has gone through a kazillion climate change in the last 4.5 billion years. There will always be climate change some devastating like a global ice age. Right now the biggest threat is destroying the “lungs” of the planet, the deforestation of our rain forests!
GOP Should Seek Fraud Charges Against Al Gore
Corruption is Legal in America
Some of us pay up to 38% of our income to the Federal government. Unfortunately this money is not spent on our behalf. This percentage can actually be conservative when you add in sales tax, property tax, gasoline tax, capital gains tax, tax on savings interest, cell phone taxes and charges, liquor tax, cigarette tax, inheritance tax, gift tax, utility tax, and many, many more taxes and surplus charges.
What do they do with all this money? The government is inherently incompetent, and no matter what task it is assigned, it will do it in the most expensive and inefficient way possible. Billions every year are lost in Medicare and Medicaid fraud. Government programs and institutions have become outdated and completely obsolete, like the department of agriculture, the department of education, and no child left behind. If we closed 50% of the departments in government it wouldn’t be noticed by a single American with no perceived lack of services. We give away billions in obscure grants all over the world for absurd studies. We have a military presence all over the world that are unnecessary. We subsidize technologies, especially green technologies, that would not survive on their own because they don’t work. If they were good ideas the private sector would be doing it. But the subsidies keep ongoing.
Special interest groups, for the most part, get the bills passed they want, but we the people actually have no influence on congress. We will never see limited terms for congress in our lifetime, but we can vote incumbents out at every election. This should effectively reduce the power of special interest groups. It is a well-known fact that Senators and House Representatives are offered very lucrative jobs with special interest groups because of their influence. It’s no wonder that most of the men and women who supposedly represent we the people start out as middle-income earners and retire with a fair amount of wealth.
Stock Market fraud has been going on for quite a long time. When you add commercial and investment banking to the mix you have the ingredients for a global financial meltdown.
Bucket Shop is a term used in the early 1900’s. It is a fraudulent brokerage firm that uses aggressive telephone sales tactics to sell securities that the brokerage owns and wants to get rid of. The securities they sell are typically poor investment opportunities. The modern term is “Boiler Room”. In 1907 there was a financial panic that began with a stock manipulation scheme to corner the market in F. Augustus Heinze’s United Copper Company. The financial crisis took place over a three-week period starting in mid-October when the New York Stock Exchange fell almost 50%. Banks that had lent money to the cornering scheme suffered runs that later spread to affiliated banks and trusts, leading a week later to the downfall of the Knickerbocker Trust Company—New York City’s third-largest trust. The collapse of the Knickerbocker spread fear throughout the city’s trusts as regional banks withdrew reserves from New York City banks. Panic extended across the nation as vast numbers of people withdrew deposits from their regional banks. The infusion of private capital from wealthy Americans stopped a complete collapse of the stock exchange. As a result of the near-collapse of our financial institutions, Congress passed the Federal Reserve Act. President Woodrow Wilson signed the legislation immediately and the legislation was enacted on the same day, December 23, 1913, creating the Federal Reserve System.
On October 29, 1929, Black Tuesday hit Wall Street as investors traded some 16 million shares on the New York Stock Exchange in a single day. Billions of dollars were lost, wiping out thousands of investors. In the aftermath of Black Tuesday, America and the rest of the industrialized world spiraled downward into the Great Depression (1929-39), the deepest and longest-lasting economic downturn in the history of the Western industrialized world up to that time. Throughout the 1920’s a long boom took the stock price to peaks never seen before. From 1920 to 1929 stocks more than quadrupled in value. Many investors became convinced that stocks were a sure thing and borrowed heavily to invest more money in the market. In 1929 the bubble burst. By 1932 and 1933 they hit bottom, down about 80% from there highs in the late 1920’s. The most damaging effect was the chaos in the banking system as banks tried to collect on loans made to stock market investors whose holdings were now worth little or nothing at all. Worse, many banks had themselves invested depositor’s money in the market. When word spread that the banks’ assets contained huge un-collectible loans and almost worthless stock certificates, depositors rushed to withdraw their savings. Unable to raise funds from the Federal reserve system, banks began failing by the hundreds.
By the inauguration of Franklin D. Roosevelt as president in March 1933, the banking system of the United States had largely ceased to function. Depositors had seen $140 billion disappear when their banks failed. Businesses could not get credit for inventory. Checks could not be used for payments because no one knew which checks were worthless and which ones were sound.
To prevent similar disasters, the federal government set up the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, which eliminated the rationale for bank “runs”. Backed by the FDIC, the bank could fail and go out of business, but then the government would reimburse depositors. In 1933, two members of Congress put their names on what is known today as the Glass-Steagall Act. This act separated investment and commercial banking activities. At the time, “improper banking activity,” or what was considered overzealous commercial bank involvement in stock market investment, was deemed the main culprit of the financial crash. According to that reasoning, commercial banks took on too much risk with depositors’ money. As a collective reaction to one of the worst financial crises at the time, the GSA set up a regulatory firewall between commercial and investment bank activities, both of which were curbed and controlled. in 1956, Congress made another decision to regulate the banking sector. In an effort to prevent financial conglomerates from amassing too much power, the new Act focused on banks involved in the insurance sector. Congress agreed that bearing the high risks undertaken in underwriting insurance is not good banking practice. Thus, as an extension of the Glass-Steagall Act, the Bank Holding Company Act further separated financial activities by creating a wall between insurance and banking. Even though banks could, and still can, sell insurance and insurance products, underwriting insurance was forbidden.
After we came out of the great depression the United States had the largest sustained period of economic growth in economic history; a 60-year expansion of the middle class, the largest increase of productivity, and the largest increase in median income. We put a man on the moon and put a computer on everyone’s lap. In 1980 starting with the Reagen administration the deregulation era began culminating in the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act in 1999 and the implementation of the Financial Services Modernization Act and the Commodity Futures Modernization Act in 2000.
The Commodity Futures Modernization of 2000 deregulated and clarified the law so that most over-the-counter (OTC) derivatives transactions between sophisticated parties” would not be regulated as “futures” under the Commodity Exchange Act of 1936. Unregulated gaming laws, and immunity from state gambling laws. This bill was voted on unanimously on the last day, of the last vote of the last session of the 106th Congress by the Senate. This bill was fully endorsed by President Bill Clinton and Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan. Greenspan was quoted in saying this may have been a “grave” error in judgment.
Screw-ups by congress since the early 1980’s concerning bills passed to allow banks and Wall Street to operate in an unregulated environment led to the inevitable outcome of 2008.
The 2008 financial meltdown was created in similar ways to the 1929 stock market crash. As a result of deregulation, greed, and fraud, the housing market collapsed. It cost us the loss of eleven trillion dollars and a loss of ten million jobs, and lead to a global financial crisis. So how did it happen? Well here’s the condensed story:
Markets rely on Standard & Poor’s to objectively rate debt. But the companies that want a favorable debt rating are the same companies that pay Standard & Poor’s. Banks wrote a ton of bad mortgages to people they knew were going to default. It’s called predatory lending and then hid bad mortgages inside of good mortgages to shine the books for S&P, which gave them triple-A ratings. Then they bundle the whole thing and sell the debt to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac which is owned by you and me. Then the banks bet on those loans defaulting. It’s like fixing a ball game to win a bet. The people who have now all lost their savings can’t buy things anymore so businesses start going out of business and more people are broke When you start eliminating consumers, you start eliminating jobs, and that starts the cycle of a financial meltdown.
IT’S TIME FOR AMERICA TO GROW UP
We have become a nation of laws, rules, regulations, and taxation without representation. The big picture is to take responsibility for the way things are. We want to be taken care of like children so we allow the grown-ups… the politicians, special interest groups, world leaders, and the community that controls the money to make a mess out of everything because of their self-interest. I want to start this thing out slowly so let’s look at relatively easy fixes. It’s time for America to grow up:
Taking or abusing medication that has been prescribed for you, even if the medications are extremely addictive like Oxycontin is not against the law. The use of pain-killing medications often leads to addiction and death from overdose The CDC reported that each day, 44 people in the United States die from an overdose of prescription painkillers….. It’s not against the law.
Marijuana has been shown to be a much better and safer way to deal with pain and sports injuries. It’s against the law. For the life of me, I could never understand the moronic logic that put people in jail for smoking marijuana.
I can’t understand the stupidity of making it illegal for me to drink a bottle of beer in public. A few ounces of alcohol each day is very healthy for you. Drinking a couple of cans of soda loaded with sugar is not. Should we make it illegal to drink a bottle of Pepsi?
Smoking cigarettes is not against the law.
Being an alcoholic, or drinking alcohol until you are totally intoxicated is not against the law.
So let’s grow up America and strike down every law that makes the personal use of ANY drug illegal. People who “use” drugs do not belong in jail any more than people who drive race cars, smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol take prescription drugs or do anything that risks one’s own life. I dislike the term “legalize” drugs because humans have been using mind-altering natural plants for many thousands of years. It should have never been illegal in the first place.
You can make yourself sick, injure yourself or kill yourself in thousands of ways without putting another person in harm’s way that is not against the law.
While we’re at it let’s stop the war on drugs… forty years, fifty billion a year, and nothing has changed. “Illegal” drugs are easier to purchase than ever. Why is it that government continues programs that either don’t work or does more harm than good?
States are perfectly fine with gambling as long as they are either running it, like a lottery or making lots of money from it, like Las Vegas. In NY State it’s actually illegal to have a private polka game for money in your own home. How stupid is that? Gambling should not be illegal.
The same goes for prostitution. It’s like prohibition. You can’t stop people from getting what they want. But you can make it safer for all concerned by regulating it. And I don’t mean taxing the hell out of it.
Some people are in the business of trying to save people from themselves. It doesn’t work. If you want to make the world a better place change yourself… leave me alone.
This, of course, is the tip of the iceberg. “WE THE PEOPLE” have so many tougher problems to tackle.
A COMMON MYTH: There is not enough food production to end world hunger.
Last summer I saw an episode of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver on HBO. The topic was food waste. I have been aware for a long time ending hunger was not a problem with not enough food. But I wasn’t aware of just how much perfectly good food is not eaten and literally thrown away in the United States alone. It is quite staggering. I am going to post the seventeen-minute and fifty-second segment instead of listing the information he provides. Besides he is sometimes quite funny and entertaining even when delivering important subjects. This is just a small portion of why our inability to end hunger is not a problem of the “not enough to go around” myth. Remember this is just about food waste only in the US. There are more arguments concerning this myth.
“If one suffers we all suffer”
Why America Is Not The Greatest Country in the World Anymore
The Newsroom: The best HBO series ever speaks to the problems with public media, politics, and a uniformed public. A public that lacks independent critical thinking.
“In this modern political climate, the consent of “the people” is being lost to the influence of bankers, lawyers, lobbyists, and corporations, who are running our country like an oligarchy. The will of the people should be the basis of all authority of government, and, fundamentally, this is the principle we have lost.” – Andy Ostrowski
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
“Educate and inform the whole mass of the people…
They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.”
“If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, it expects what never was and never can be.”
– Thomas Jefferson-
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
“Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth”
“If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough,
it will be believed”
Consent of the governed is a phrase from the Declaration of Independence. It means that our government’s legitimacy and moral right to exercise power is only justified and legal when derived from the people over whom that political power is exercised. This theory of consent is to be contrasted to the divine right of kings, which is the fundamental principle from which our founders were seeking separation.
“If we falter and lose our freedoms,
it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”
“Experience hath shown, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have,
in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.”
“America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed it ourselves.”
I have been thinking about how organizations and political systems take on a “life of their own”. My first inclination was to answer the question from a psychological paradigm. I realized that this may be better explained through a biological/evolutionary perspective.
Let’s start with a relatively small organization and look at how it evolved. We The People decided to declare our independence from Great Britain. A group of brilliant people designed The Declaration of Independence. After we gained our independence the existing states ratified the Constitution of the United States of America.
“There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty.”
“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”
We The People who were citizens of a particular city in various states decided they needed local laws and local services. Two of these services were a justice system, and a police department to ensure that our local laws and rules regulations were being enforced.
Let’s fast forward to the present. We The People created our local justice system and police force to serve us. We pay taxes in order to support these services. The citizens who work in the departments of justice and law enforcement are hired by and work for We The People.
“Government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases:
If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.” – Ronald Reagan-
“The political and commercial morals of the United States are not merely food for laughter, they are an entire banquet.”-Mark Twain-
After a while, something interesting happened along the way. This is where biology and evolution come to mind. Every living organism’s primary goal is to survive and reproduce. I believe that organizations, businesses, public school systems, Federal, State, and City governments morph into an independent self-perpetuating organism that’s primary goal is its own survival. It becomes an entity that in order to survive it must grow, and become more powerful in the same way nation-states do. When this metamorphosis occurs it becomes more important to serve itself than to serve the host that created it, us….. “We The People”
“The nearest thing to eternal life we will ever see on this earth is a government program.”
“In the first place, God made idiots. This was for practice. Then he made school boards.”
We are born into a world with many countries and borders. The advent of modern technology has made the world a much smaller place. In a matter of minutes, we have the ability to know what’s going on in just about any part of our planet. Have you ever stopped for a moment to ask a few simple questions? “Why are things the way they are?” “How did we get to now?” “Why is there so much conflict in the world?” “What purpose does it serve?” Why do we have an almost fanatical sense of nationalism, that can lead to wars and horrible conflicts? Well… there are answers to these questions. The answers lie hidden in history and science. If we are willing to lift the cloud of prevailing ignorance can it change our entire perspective of life as we perceive it now?
“Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.”
At the moment It seems that we must work in the opposite direction that might seem logical. Changing it from the top down….. start with the Federal Government Term limits of some form…. the objective is to eliminate career politicians, eliminate powerful special interest groups that influence the entire political system. Eliminate all public contributions for elections and use our tax money for qualified candidates. Seek out highly skilled professional objective candidates who think critically about government intervention and spending. Pay these people a big salary equal to or more than they can get in the private sector. But no special privileges or benefits.
“No man’s life, liberty, or property is safe when a legislative
body is in session”
– Mark Twain-
By most accounts, deforestation in tropical rain forests adds more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere than the sum total of cars and trucks on the world’s roads. According to the Environmental Defense Fund, a leading green group, 32 million acres of tropical rain forest were cut down each year between 2000 and 2009—and the pace of deforestation is only increasing. “Unless we change the present system that rewards forest destruction, forest clearing will put another 200 billion tons of carbon into the atmosphere in the coming decades…” says the Environmental Defense Fund.
The Earth is 4.5 billion years old. The planet has been bombarded with millions of meteors and asteroids, radiation, continental shifts due to plate tectonics, worldwide volcanic eruptions, drastic climate changes including ice ages, and several mass extinctions!
Sixty-five million years ago an asteroid hit the earth. The energy equivalent of the explosion was more than a billion times more than the atom bombs that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki. As of the mid-1990s, the combined nuclear firepower of the nations of the Earth added up to an estimated 20 gig a-tons a tiny fraction of the asteroid’s energy.
If we look at our planet today we would never know that any of this occurred. Our planet is capable of self-healing and will always be going through various cycles, incidents, and climate change. It is also interesting to note that life flourished during warming periods. One of the greatest increases in life species occurred about 245 million years ago when the greatest animals evolved and roamed the earth, the dinosaurs. Lush vegetation, resembling the profuse growth in today’s rain forests covered much of the Earth’s surface. Evidence of abundant plant life can be found in the extensive coal fields that date from this period. It was a warming period after the last ice age that contributed to the evolution of the human species.
So what’s the point of this information. There may be no doubt that there is an increase in carbon in the atmosphere. But there is no supportable science that it will lead them to “The Sky Is Falling” alarmists, claims of catastrophic results. I am not interested in addressing the debate on global warming because it is politically motivated. Billions of dollars are being funded to special interest groups for many alternative energy sources that don’t have any merit and would not survive on their own. I believe we should do everything possible to make our environment clean and safe for all life on earth not just our own self-interests. Unfortunately, the path that we are taking is misguided as a result of bad science, bad ideas, and propaganda by governments and special interest groups that have their own personal agendas. If we focus on the relevant problems, which are abundant and extremely diverse like poverty, world hunger, environmental issues, deforestation, wars, genocide, political corruption, and many other problems, the planet will take care of itself.
During the twentieth century over a hundred million people have been killed or murdered by just two regimes during peacetime conditions; The Stalinist Era in the USSR (1929-1953), and The Great Leap Forward, and Cultural Revolution in China (1949-1976). The century included two World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, and several other civil wars; ethnic cleansing, genocides, massacres, conflicts of all sorts in the middle east, central and south America, worldwide economic collapses, human trafficking, slavery, domestic violence, worldwide poverty and hunger and currently a crisis in Syria which includes a refugee problem and worldwide terrorism.
And…. what do I hear the UN and governments more concerned about? Global Warming. Let’s put things in perspective, something politicians have never been able to do.
Perspective: Making Sense Of It All