Tag Archives: money

Welcome to 1984!

18 May

I think that President Obama has done a good job as President of the United States. I know that not everyone agrees with me and even though I don’t agree with everything that President O. has done, our 44th elected President is about to do something that no other president in the history of the United States has ever accomplished.

He is about to become the only president who has been at war during all 8 years of his presidency! And when you consider that President G.W. Bush had the nation at war for the last 6 years of his presidency then the United States has been at war for the past 14 years, non stop…with no stopping in sight.

Hillary Clinton, should she become our next president, is well known in Washington for being a “war hawk” herself… and Donald trump, should he become our next Commander in Chief, has vowed to “Bomb the shit out of them!” Whoever “they” may be…but does that matter anymore? Who they are?

Does anyone know why we fight everywhere and for always these days? We’ve been at war now 7 times as long as we were involved in WWI and almost 4 times as long as we were involved in WWII. And Vietnam, our longest war, was a matinee short compared to our current involvements in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Even President Lincoln was able to bring about the conclusion of our very own Civil War in one third of the time that it has taken for our present day armed forces to secure the fighting “Over There”against nations that don’t even have governments, let alone, armies.

So why do we fight so long and so hard and at such great expense to our nation and our citizens? We are currently over 19 trillion dollars in debt and a 2011 Brown University study concluded that the cost of war since 2001 will reach 5 trillion dollars, or $16,000 per American; $64,000 for a family of four…by 2020. And that was a 2011, Pre-ISIS, estimate!

If you are voting this year for a political party or person who you think will reduce our national debt…good luck with that! Unless you are hoping that our government will trade Social Security and Medicare spending for a reduction in the debt, it will just never happen. And even then the ever increasing costs of our never ending wars will simply chew up that savings and add more debt to our society anyway.

And then what would we be left with… but war, debt and absolutely no societal programs for our society that we have been fighting to protect? What does it avail a nation to spend a fortune and lose it’s soul?

But now, at 19 trillion dollars in debt and rising by the minute, how will we, without war, keep the peace… and the economy? Our dollars now remain strong because we back them up not with gold (we ran out of that in the 1970s) but with guns instead.

In 1960 President Eisenhower admonished us to “beware the military-industrial complex”, and we apparently have not, for it seems to me that war has now become peace in the minds of many if not most Americans. So shall our ignorance become our strength too?

 

 

 

 

Old Macdonald Had a Farm?

25 Mar

Just something I saw and found interesting…

According to the USDA’s 2014 farm bill policies 79.55% of U.S. government farm subsidies go to corn, grains and soy oil. 13% goes to cotton. 3% to dairy. 2% to livestock. 2% to tobacco and .45% to fruits and vegetables.

That would make for a yummy meal of 1 loaf of bread fried in soy oil, 1 meat slider with a brush of catsup (vegetable) washed down with a sip of milk, while smoking a cigarette with a yummy bag of cotton candy for desert! (not really, because cotton candy isn’t cotton) but you could wipe your mouth with a nice soft napkin afterwards, I guess.

Why, in a free market capitalist society, we subsidize food that is not particularly good for us, let alone food that the very same USDA that subsidizes it recommends that we don’t eat very much of…is a mystery to me. Doesn’t sound very capitalistic, free or democratic does it?

With a diet like that no wonder some folks think it’s a waste to spend money subsidizing healthcare…That would be some kind of socialism wouldn’t it?!

Anyway, that’s what’s for dinner in the United States, USDA Farm Bill style. Bon appetit!

 

 

The American Dream is Dead! (mostly)

26 Feb

 

 

According to a recent Harvard poll, just about half of all American millennials say that the American dream is dead! Actually 48% said it was dead and 49% said it was still alive… with 3% left among the undead I suppose?

For those who don’t do a lot of dreaming anymore the American Dream is the age old belief that in a society of freedom and opportunity (like here in the USA)  every US citizen should be equal in their ability to achieve success and prosperity through hard work, determination, and initiative…regardless of ones social class or circumstances of birth.

But today in the 21st century Millennials owe over 1 trillion dollars in unpaid student loans, a far cry from their grandparents who went to college for free under the GI Bill and their parents who could pay their tuition with a summer job.

And they owe it mostly to a  U.S. government that owes 18 trillion dollars itself! Neither of which are very good signs that the “Dream” will be awakening from its coma and coming off life support any time soon.

Plus, home ownership in America, (another staple of the American Dream) is down, especially for Millennials,…And the median American household income, when a Baby Boomer is the head of household, is 20 times greater than when the household is headed by a Millennial…and the promise of doing better than the generation before you (also part of the dream) is now more hope than promise.

So achieving the American dream still involves one’s self achievement, determination and initiative and while Millennials are still graduating from college and still determined to be successful and still believe in family and home ownership, just like the generations of Americans before them,  it’s now costing a lot more and being financed with debt and not income.

But money is the stuff dreams are made of and debt is definitely not dreamy!… Unless one dreams of not having to pay it back…So where did all of the money go? And who’s responsible for killing the American Dream and why are they doing it? Or is life just the stuff dreams are made of…all hope and little promise?

As the new millennium continues, I guess we shall see…but so far many Millennials are not looking forward to what may be a rude awakening.

 

It’s Good To Be Rich…and Getting Better All the Time!

18 Feb

New medical studies show that being in the top 10% of income earners means that you will live on average 15 years longer than folks who are in the bottom 10%… and that gap is growing in leaps and bounds! 30 years ago the difference in life expectancy between the very rich and very poor was only 6 years.

But there have been big advances in medicine, technology and education, in the United States in the past 30 years…available for all people…no? So how come the longevity gap between high-income and low-income Americans has been widening? Public health researchers say that they are still investigating the causes for such a large gap in life expectancy between the rich and poor?

Gee, could it be that the rich are rich?… and in our society money buys whatever is for sale?… and although we all hate to admit it, health care, like all things American, is for sale. If you can’t pay for it, then all of the advances of the modern age might just as well be imaginary…N’es pas? Or French for that matter, I guess.

500 years ago there were 500 million humans on Earth. Today there are over 7 billion thanks in no small part and perhaps ironically, to advances in medicine, technology and education. Yet here we sit, in a free and modern country still openly debating whether or not all citizens should have access to affordable health care. And those who are opposed to that proposition can honestly only site one objection. It might cost too much.

And so at the dawn of this new age of longer life…and most probably, with continued medical and technological advances, even immortality… we are faced with the question: What will it avail a man to live long if he is to live long and be poor rather than prosper?

And what might those who prosper now want to save their money for in the future rather than share it in the present by making medicines and medical advances affordable and available to all their brethren? Well, if you only have billions today and are planning on living forever then you very well might need every penny of it for spending in your never ending future. Life I’m sure will be pretty expensive then too.

So let them eat cake and drink poisoned water and let their pensions run dry. For the rich  have got a lot of living to do!

 

Debtor’s Prison

14 Jan

This just in! Total student loan debt in the US has reached 1. 3 TRILLION dollars…and that starts with T, which rhymes with P and that stands for Payments you’ll never finish Paying.

Because according to the Associated Press Americans who are between the ages of 35 to 50 still owe as much money on their student loan debt as new graduates do! Thanks to interest… and not the kind that the bank pays you but rather the kind that you pay to the bank when the bank loans you money from the pile of depositors money that they are not paying interest on to depositors… a college loan is the gift that you keep on paying for!

There is even a website that you can go to now to watch the U.S. student debt rise as it happens in real time… at a rate of $2,726.27 per second!

But Huzzah! The Federal government is stepping in with a plan to cap student borrowers monthly loan payments at 10% of their discretionary income. And since discretionary income is the money you have left after deducting taxes, other mandatory charges, and expenditure on necessary items. (loan payments are now even surpassing groceries as the biggest monthly expense for many households) Which begs the question: Are groceries necessary?

So in any event…you should be repaying that loan…forever! Or at least until you check into that nursing home, at which time the Nursing home and your Alma Mater will have to duke it out to see whose debt trumps whose. Or is that whom? Which rhymes with tomb…

College debt is becoming a veritable debtor’s prison, where you get to stay at home, but only if you can afford one, that is.

So parents, when your kids grow up and start to inquire about college you might want to trot out a new twist on an old phrase…”Ignorance is cheap. ‘Tis folly to be wise!”

 

 

 

 

Some Sobering Facts

13 Jan

Here’s something new that I just learned. In Iran the drinking of alcohol is prohibited. As a result Iranians drink an average of 60 million liters of alcohol every year. That’s 16 million gallons of booze to us here in the States.

Which is roughly the amount that Wisconsin drinks in a year…not the state but the people in it…and we have 49 other states, many of which I do believe are thirstier than Wisconsin! So I wonder, is it freedom or religion (or lack thereof?) that makes us such booze hounds?

Also, did you know that as far as internet speeds go (and we do love our internet here in the U.S.) the United States is 16th in internet speed! Latvia is 9th! Latvia??? And it costs us Americans about 50 dollars per month to use our 16th fastest internet. So you can just imagine how much it must cost in Latvia!

Okay, stop imagining. It costs 12 bucks over there. South Korea is first in internet speed at almost twice our speed…and you guessed it…at less than half the cost. And why is that?

Probably because we drink so much… I guess?

The Hunger Games

22 Nov

https://i2.wp.com/www.usnews.com/cmsmedia/a7/c9/45d2a46241f2975e225e2bbb3643/150116-lowincome-graphic.JPG

As I was reading one of the blogs that I follow, I came across a statistic that claimed that over half our public school students here in the United States qualify for free and reduced lunches because they are poor.

And I thought to myself, is that possible? The wealthiest, most powerful country in the world sends one half of its public school students to school hungry? And so I did some research on my own and discovered that in this school year, most public school students are racial minorities, and more than half come from low-income backgrounds, living in or near poverty…and that’s according to the latest federal data!

The Southern Education Foundation found that on average 51 percent of students across the country were low-income, with more than half of the students in 21 states qualifying for free or reduced-price lunches. In fact More than 31 million children participated in the National School Lunch program in 2012, with the majority qualifying for free lunches.

More than 16 million children or 22% of all children under the age of 18 in the United States are living in poverty! And most go to school hungry and what are we doing for them? We are testing them! To try and find out why their scores in math, science and language aren’t competitive with the children of Finland or with other children living in the developed world…when we are the last out of 35 developed countries in our child poverty rate. (and not last in a good way, but rather as in the worst)

But the truth of the matter is our students already are competitive! And in most cases our students score better then children in the rest of the world…when you read the data correctly and notice that comparing all of the students in Finland where the child poverty rate is 4% to all of the children in the United States, where the child poverty rate is 22%…just isn’t fair.

When you remove our poor, hungry and tired students’ scores from the comparison, and only compare students of like socioeconomic backgrounds… and nourishment… our students out perform Finland! But if you want to compare all of America’s students to the students living in countries with poverty levels similar to our own then you need to compare us to countries like Romania, Latvia or Bulgaria, because, believe it or not, those are the countries that we most resemble!

And guess what? When it comes to the Hunger Games…our students score better than those countries too!

So we don’t need to test our children more! We need to feed them more! We need to provide them with better housing, better clothing, better opportunities, better living conditions. What we lack here in the United States and what we don’t provide to 22% of our children is EQUALITY! and that’s what sets us apart from comparing ourselves to places like Finland and Sweden and France. They are countries of equality. We are a country of INequality.

We are firing administrators. Laying off school teachers. Slashing budgets. Cutting salaries. Closing schools, eliminating programs and cutting supplies all in what we say is an effort to provoke, prod, motivate, hound, badger, goad, inspire and frighten our schools into “doing better”, “scoring better”, and “catching up to”, the Asians and Europeans when what our children and our schools really need is to be lifted out of poverty, relieved of hunger and properly housed.

But instead poverty, our country’s greatest problem, is the one problem that is always most ignored. Case in point: In the findings of a previous report from the foundation, the number of America’s low-income students in the last decade has grown at a rate three to four times greater than the increase of per-student spending in most of the country. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in October found that 30 of 47 states analyzed were spending less per student this year…than they did before the recession! And while America’s measured wealth has grown by 30 trillion dollars in the past 6 years!

And in fact the number of public school students from low-income backgrounds, has steadily grown from less than 32 percent in 1989, to over 50% today. So regardless of how you and your family live in today’s America, the reality is that in the year 2015, America’s children are mostly poor…hungry…tired…homeless…or soon to be all of the above. How’s that for a multiple choice questionnaire?

And testing them six ways to Sunday is a sad, sick, misdirected strategy that won’t solve the problem, make it any less true nor make it go away.

 

 

 

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