Tag Archives: truth

Mercy, Mercy…Us

23 Apr

Image result for global warming

It’s the day after Earth day, 2019. Earth Day has become an annual event, celebrated every April 22, when events are held to demonstrate the support for environmental protection. It was first celebrated in 1970, and is now coordinated globally and celebrated in more than 192 countries each year.

In 1971 Marvin Gaye wrote a song entitled Mercy, Mercy Me and subtitled (The Ecology Song) in which he sang about the sad state of affairs that the Earth and the human condition found themselves in and how, on the Earth of 1971, “Things ain’t what they used to be”.

That was 48 years ago and after 50 Earth Day observances in which the world has come together to support and rally for environmental protection across the planet… how is the Earth doing?

In his song Marvin Gaye asked the question: Where did all the blue skies go? Today in China the sun hardly even shines and in its largest cities the morning sunrise is broadcast over giant televisions in efforts to cheer the population as they begin another workday. Smog alerts and air quality announcements are common in all major cities throughout the world and who among us can say that allergies and breathing ailments are not known to exist within ourselves or our families.

Mr. Gaye next lamented the oil slicks that could be found in the oceans of 1971 along with the fish contaminated with mercury. Today, in 2019, oil slicks and oil spills are still a common occurrence and when they occur they occur in amounts greater and greater each time and 49 years later we are still using oil and fossil fuels in increasing, not decreasing, amounts, while new and more imaginative ways for digging, sucking and fracking these substances from the planet’s very core are being pioneered each year and even as debate continues over whether or not we should invade our national parks and coastlines in the search for more and more.

As for fish and the oceans? Temperatures are rising, corral reefs are dieing, the ice caps are melting and fish are disappearing while plastic debris and garbage is replacing plankton within the fish food chain. Mercury continues to be a problem contaminant and tuna, perhaps the world’s most famous fish, are so contaminated with mercury that the FDA recommends no more than 1 can be ingested per person each week. And now many scientists predict that the oceans may be without fish all together by the middle of this century.

Radiation and air, water and ground contamination from nuclear power plants was a worry and concern back in the 70s and the subject of Mercy Mercy Me‘s next refrain, but back then the nuclear industry was promising safer standards and designs and yet years after this song was produced the very real scare of a melt down at 3 Mile Island occurred in 1979 in Pennsylvania. Then a real melt down happened at Chernobyl in the Ukraine in 1986 and then again in Fukashima, Japan in 2011. Radioactive debris from that disaster is still in our oceans today yet many of our politicians are still championing nuclear energy as the panacea for our future…and safer… energy needs.

Mr. Gaye then concluded his song with lyrics that discussed the over population of the world in 1971, a year that would see the greatest percentage of population increase in the world’s history, and the great strain that mankind was putting on the planet Earth with a world population of almost 3 billion 800 million inhabitants… Today, we have more than doubled that number and the Earth now has Over 7 billion 700 million human residents with a total world population of 12 billion predicted by 2050…we should reach 8 billion by 2022.

So, what have we accomplished with our 48 Earth Day celebrations since the debut of Marvin Gaye’s ecology anthem, almost 5 decades ago? Have these Earth Days been rallies to help raise awareness of the Earth’s plight and our complicity in its demise along with the sharing of a process for us to change our ways… or have they simply been a series of going away parties? A way to pay lip service to ourselves and our late, great planet Earth while we continue to pursue our ever more increasingly decadent and deadly ways?

Well, the only thing we can say for sure is that the most prophetic line of Mr. Gaye’s song was it’s first and it still rings true for each and every year that passes into the next…

Things sure ain’t what they used to be!

In fact, they are decidedly worse…In 2017, President Trump disbanded a federal climate panel whose task was to evaluate the National Climate Assessment. In 2018, he created a wildlife protection panel composed mostly of trophy hunters and politically connected donors to hunting groups. And the Trump administration has rewritten the mission statement of Department of the Interior, and has promoted the deregulation of fossil fuels through the Environmental Protection Agency.

But just to brighten your spirits, I will leave you with a bit of 1971 trivia that is perhaps even more prophetic and of greater irony than Marvin Gaye’s Mercy Mercy Me, the Hot Soul Number 1 Single on Billboard’s charts that summer… for what song did it replace at the top of the charts?…And you climate change deniers will just love this…

James Brown’s… Hot Pants!

Hey-uh!                                                                                                                                                      Ooooh! Bring it home!
One more! Hit me! Aaay!
Bring it home! Bring it home!
Oh uh! Bring it on home
Bring it on home…

Hot Pants!

Why Wealthy Folks don’t need tax Breaks!

2 Apr

Image result for Why wealthy folks don't need tax breaks!

Actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin were among dozens of people recently charged by the FBI in an elite college admission scheme…Surprise! Surprise! Rich people use their excess wealth to bribe and influence people to get what they want! Who would have thunk it?

 

The Hollywood stars joined CEOs of private and public companies, real estate professionals and a fashion designer in paying up to 6 million dollars in bribes to ensure that their children were accepted to schools such as Yale and Georgetown. Most of the parents paid $250,000 to $400,000 per student.

Imagine being able to spend all of that money sending your kids to schools that they are really not going to attend anyway! Couldn’t you think of a much better way to spend that kind of money on your children…or yourself…or your family? And do you remember how hard it was to put yourself or your children or to have your family pay to put you through school? You might even still be paying for it…and at 8% interest! (Thank you Congress!)

 

The scheme, which the FBI called a “nationwide conspiracy,” allowed parents to pay for their children to cheat on exams and apply to elite schools as student athletes, regardless of their actual skills. Top college coaches at the schools are also among those charged, but authorities said they are not investigating the schools themselves.

Of course not! Why investigate the schools? We wouldn’t want to put schools out of the “rich family schooling business” would we? Even if they qualify and sanction ne’re-do-well rich kids as bonafide scholars, it’s still great business…and an education for us all. Money Talks! It really, really does. It talks so much that even our U.S. Supreme Court, a fine collection of 9 “scholars” themselves, has declared money to be free speech…just like the kind of speech that we humans invented and which sets us apart from the lower animals.

But I digress because The bribery ring got its start several years ago when William Rick Singer founded a for-profit college admissions company in Newport Beach, California, that masqueraded as a not-for-profit group. This “sham charity” allowed him to conceal the nature of the payments made by parents, who could then take a tax write-off at the end of the year!

So the rich parents not only paid millions of dollars to get their children into colleges in which they didn’t belong and had no qualifications to attend but they were then able to write off the expense as a charitable one for a charity that didn’t exist! (unless of course you consider yourself to be a charity case) Holy Catholic sex offender restitution program, Batman!!! …This is what the wealthy do with their money!

And we thought they used it to help the poor! Instead they use it to trickle down on the likes of : Yale, Stanford, the University of Texas, USC, UCLA, the University of San Diego and Wake Forest University…to name a few of the struggling institutions that these wealthy parents sought to help…  and Some parents even paid for someone to pose as their child during entrance exams ― and even during classes ― with those scores submitted as part of the college application…and Other cases involved exam administrators allegedly providing students with answers during the tests or correcting wrong answers afterward. 

 

And it gets even worse because some parents also falsely claimed that their children had learning disabilities, requiring extra time on the exams, and that those claims were bolstered by notes from therapists! Holy Tax Reform, Bat Girl! Is there no end to what rich people will do to get even richer?

According to one witness in the scam, the one rationale that most parents accepted as they prepared to cheat their children’s way into a “good school” was

“Everybody’s doing it” …and… “The whole world is scamming the system!” Oops! That’s 2 rationales!…but whoever paid attention in school anyway?

Which brings us full circle and back to our own current United States Secretary of Education, Betsy Devos, who believes that our public schools are “a dead end” and who has said that her education advocacy would “advance God’s kingdom.” And that “my generation hasn’t done a great job when it comes to dealing with one another in grace.”

What she wants to gracefully do is cut overall federal funding to public education for the third year in a row (7 billion dollars)…and she wants to cut the entire budget for the Special Olympics, which is about 18 million dollars. Ms. Devos and her family have a net worth of 5.4 billion dollars of which 18 million dollars would constitute less than 1% or .0033 to be exact. To put that in perspective, if you earned a minimum wage of $15 per hour (a wage that rich folks think is far too much for poor folks to earn by the way) then you could save the Special Olympics by donating $102.96 of your salary.

Would you spend that kind of money to save the Special Olympics? I bet you would. But an incredibly wealthy (and devoutly Christian) person like Betsy Devos wouldn’t because she has 10 yachts and 2 helicopters to feed. (besides her mortal soul)

And that is why we should never give tax breaks to wealthy people! That and because they will never show you their tax returns… nor their college grades neither!… And yet we still wonder why? (Hint: It’s not because they are being audited…by anyone)

 

Truth In Advertising?

18 Mar

Image result for stress free ambulance nj

I know that one of the major side affects of living in a capitalist society is that the individual citizen is constantly bombarded by advertising…and if there is one thing that Americans have become very good at it’s advertising…both sending and receiving.

Here, I’ll prove it: “Like a good neighbor….. (Did you sing the ending too?) And how about: “It takes a tough man to make a… (And did you remember his name also?… But I digress because as I was on my way home from a medical center in new Jersey today,  I saw this vehicle advertising “Stress Free” ambulance services!

A stress free ambulance? Is that even possible? Who could possibly be stress free in an ambulance? The patient? The loved one who gets to ride along? The paramedics and driver? I certainly would hope that they are all experiencing some stress while attempting to: save my life…or keep me alive…or get me to the hospital on time!?

And what about picking me up? How fast would a stress free ambulance go while on their way to my emergency? I don’t want anyone(else) to get into any accidents but a little stressful driving just might be what saves my life!

Unless of course, I’m being transported after I’m already dead!? Then I’d be in a hearse wouldn’t I? A stress free hearse I could understand…maybe. But a stress free ambulance? Do I really want to get into one of those?

How about you?

 

Only In America…

13 Mar

Can a guy from anywhere go to a Superbowl party with the former owner of a chain of Florida massage parlors, eventually patronized by one of his best friends and The owner of the most prolific NFL football franchise, who both contribute thousands of dollars to his campaign… and grow up to be President!

And of course they all employ illegal immigrants…which they encourage to come here so they can exploit them at slave wages, even though they publicly hate them and do their best to stir up anger and resentment among the common masses, all for political and personal gain.

It’s America after all! Where anything is possible…as long as you can imagine it and have the money to create it… And where at the same time nothing can be accomplished, as long as you have the money to obfuscate, lawyer up or make it go away.

If you really want to stop immigrants from coming to this country illegally you could pass laws that make it a crime to aid and abet them by hiring them for any job at all…but of course that would upset wealthy employers…and cost them money.

If you wanted to catch immigrants who have come here illegally you could look for them in all of the places where they can be found…like the homes, gardens, nurseries and grounds of wealthy folks and wealthy farms and wealthy corporations…instead of building walls or stopping motorists or inspecting those who need emergency assistance and medical care…that’s the hard way!

But even if you were really serious about catching and removing immigrants who have come to this country illegally, there are already about 12 million of them here now. So if you were identifying and capturing and expelling said persons at 1 thousand per day or 365 thousand per year (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) removed approximately 226,000 people from the country in 2017) it would take 3 years to deport 1 million illegal aliens!

So at that rate it would be 36 years before the USA was Illegal Immigrant free! But don’t forget, immigrants come to America every year. More than likely that’s how you got here…and many if not most or all of the illegal immigrants that are here are not here to rape and kill and join gangs but rather they are imported or employed by the likes of the 3 people mentioned at the top of this blog.

so we might just as well stop chasing our tales. Look at the smiles of all of those people at that Mar-a-Lago Superbowl party in the photo above. Do they look worried or upset or outraged about anything? And yet they’ve got the rest of us frothing at the mouth and at each others proverbial throats over the 3% of the countries population that they use and abuse and make money from with impunity.

So now we are going to cut food stamps and healthcare so we can have more money to waste on a symbolic wall that won’t keep one wealthy “entrepreneur” from exploiting, using, abusing or hiring as many illegal aliens as they want.

Of course we could try to solve our citizenship problems by treating all human beings, no matter who they are or where they live or where they come from, with humanity, kindness and compassion…but I ask you…where’s the profit, opportunism and…angst… in that?

 

Do Earthlings Know Science?

15 Feb

Well, at least American Earthlings…Do they know science? Duh, Is the globe warming? And of course your answer to that probably depends upon how you answer these questions on the National Science Foundation Exam. I first posted this blog in 2014 under the title Galileo Gali…fianakis? and even though the NSF re-issues this survey to Americans every 2 years, and it is now 4 years later…the results haven’t changed! So here it is again. If you’d like you can take the survey at the end and see how you do.

Galileo Gali…fianakis?

1.Does the Earth go around the Sun, or the Sun go around the Earth; and how long does this journey take?

2.Did Zack Galifianakis appear in the movie The Hangover; and did he appear in a sequel to that movie?

Odds are that if these questions were asked as part of a national survey, question #2 would receive more correct responses than question #1, because in a recent survey conducted by the National Science Foundation only 73% of those surveyed knew that the Earth revolves around the sun…and of those only 71% also knew that it takes 1 year for the Earth to complete said journey.

Wow! And why do we suppose that is?

Is it because only 74% of America’s science teachers in America’s public schools have ever mentioned or illustrated this amazing fact to America’s students?

Is it because only 74% of America’s parents have ever had “that talk” with their children about where the sun goes at night?

Is it because we are a Christian country and as such only 74 of us will ever believe in both god and science?

There must be an answer because the National Science Foundation has been conducting this survey with these exact same questions every two years over the past 20 years as part of a report that the National Science Board presents to the President and Congress and guess what?…According to their own report, “Generally speaking, the percentages have had little variation over the past twenty years.”

So 20 years ago one quarter of those surveyed did not know that the Earth revolves around the sun…and 20 years later one quarter of the U.S. population still doesn’t know this simple and basic fact…nor have any of the other questions received any significant increase in the number of correct responses.

What gives? 25% of Americans just can’t learn? Ever? Or is there something uniquely American when it comes to taking tests? I taught high school students for 33 years and every year I would meet children who could recite countless hip-hop songs from memory yet couldn’t remember 2 words on a vocabulary test. I had students who could surf their way through the internet on the newest computers with the greatest of ease but could not master the basics of Algebra I, even after 4 years in Freshman level Algebra! There were classes filled with young adults who could program and operate through their complicated cell phone menus and send and receive text messages using just their thumbs on a keypad smaller than Thumbelina’s purse and yet they could not write a coherent introductory paragraph for an essay question while using a pen and notebook, no matter how hard they tried…

And no matter how many standardized tests we gave them…and no matter how important we told them these tests were…and no matter how many times we revised the curriculum…and no matter how many times we developed new and improved learning strategies…and no matter how many times we replaced the Superintendent and Principal or revamped the teaching staff or asked the parents to please get involved or threatened the students with failure and the withholding of diplomas…or declared nationally that we would “Leave No Child Behind”…their test scores little improved.

I’m willing to bet that just about every American knows that the Earth goes around the sun. It’s just that a certain percentage of us just don’t see the importance of remembering that fact or in paying attention to someone who wants to ask us such a stupid question to see if we know it. Does the Earth or Sun care? They’re still going to be doing their thing whether I answer that question correctly or not, right? And don’t you have something better to do than ask me that?

We’re Americans after all…and we’re busy! We’re a nation of seriously professional consumers who have been trained literally from birth to buy and sell and entertain and be entertained and consume and waste and innovate and reinvent and get bored if all of that takes too long.

The question and answer test, especially in pencil. paper and booklet form, is just no longer relevant to the 21st century world and I believe that we 20th century minded educators are the ones who have to get out of the way and stop worrying about numbers on tests as the only way to discern and/or prove whether or not learning is taking place.

Here’s the National Science Foundation’s test. Take it and see how well you score. Then ask yourself how many times these answers were given to you over the course of your lifetime by your teachers and parents and how many times these topics were probably covered during your schooling or lifetime… And then ask yourself if how well you did or did not just score on this test has any bearing or relevance to your present life or living conditions, even if it once did. When you’re playing on your X-Box do you really need to still be tested on your Atari skills? If you score better than a 7 on the following test then…you’re not average…and maybe even not American?

Physical Science

  1. True or False: The center of the Earth is very hot.
  2. True or False: The continents on which we live have been moving their locations for millions of years and will continue to move in the future.
  3. Does the Earth go around the Sun, or the Sun go around the Earth; and how long does this journey take?
  4. True or False: All radioactivity is man-made.
  5. True or False: Electrons are smaller than atoms.
  6. True or False: Lasers work by focusing sound waves.
  7. True or False: The universe began with a huge explosion.

Biological Science

  1. True or False: It is the father’s gene that decides whether the baby is a boy or a girl.
  2. True or False: Antibiotics kill viruses as well as bacteria.
  3. True or False: Human beings, as we know them today, developed from earlier species of animals.

That’s How We Do: Juxta-Posers

7 Feb

Just thought I’d repost this from a few years ago after listening to Lawrence O’Donnell today and The POTUS yesterday speak about Socialism and how we (The USA) will never, ever be a socialist country in any way shape or form…

Today I took a drive to the Philadelphia airport and on the drive home, thanks to major construction and the worn out, pot-holed, crumbly highway, I was forced to a crawl just as I passed the relatively new South Philadelphia Stadium Complex. Where the Philadelphia Phillies, Eagles and Flyers play.

I couldn’t help but notice how shiny and new and spectacular the stadiums looked…however I also couldn’t help but notice that the names on the stadiums were Citizens Bank Park Stadium, Lincoln Financial Field and The Wells Fargo Center. And I also couldn’t help but notice that the surrounding neighborhoods were about as shiny and new and spectacular as the interstate highway  that I was traveling on.

And that got me to wondering…Why do we almost always put sports stadiums in the worst parts of big cities where then millions of people have to travel from the suburbs to spend millions of dollars to watch millionaires play? Probably you’ll say it’s so we can get all of that money that is being spent back into the cities…but that’s just not the case

Most if not all of these stadiums are financed by the crumbling cities themselves rather than by the wealthy teams and owners and financial institutions that have their names on them. And even though banks like Wells Fargo and  Citizens bank and Lincoln Financial pay millions for the naming rights, when you consider the recent trillions of dollars spent by the federal government in bailing out these banks then just about all of the money spent on these ballparks comes from…the citizens…not banks.

 That’s just plain crazy.

Many politicians and proponents of these publicly financed stadiums argue that new stadiums bring new jobs and economic expansion but when new sport stadiums are financed with public money, all research has shown that the population is actually worse off economically than before the stadium.

In fact arenas and stadiums rarely live up to the promises teams, owners, and city politicians use to justify their construction. Cities are often left holding unsustainable amounts of debt because the economic development that is promised never shows up, and as a result, other services that provide more benefit to taxpayers like new roads and bridges and jobs and boring things like that are slashed to pay the bills.

Which when you think about it is insane.

Almost 40 years ago my home state of New Jersey borrowed $302 million to  construct  the Meadowlands and was supposed  to pay off the bonds in 25 years. Today because of refinancing, and redirecting funds for other stadiums the authority that runs the Meadowlands owes $830 million…on a stadium that was just torn down.

That’s nuts!

Did you know that according to a new study from Harvard: when public-private partnerships are used to build such stadiums, taxpayers finance more than three-quarters of the investment, with teams and owners picking up just 22 percent of the tab…And every NFL franchise is today worth over 1 billion dollars!

It’s so ridiculous that it’s unbelievable!

And while our cities and infrastructures are crumbling around us we are cheering ourselves up by yelling, screaming and cavorting in the midst of abject poverty on urban oases as green as the piles of cash we spend there, named after banks that wouldn’t lend us a dollar under the very same deals and interest rates that they broker to build these coliseums.

Shouldn’t we  really be building these monuments to fame and fortune in the places where they belong like Beverly Hills, Wall Street and Fort Knox?

It’s so ridiculous that it defies explanation…

But after all…that’s just how we do…isn’t it?

 

New Jersey: Most Millionaires! Most Stressed?

5 Feb

Image result for rich and poor

Here’s something interesting… According to Phoenix Marketing International, New Jersey now has more rich people percentage-wise than anybody after nudging out the State of Maryland in 2018 as the state with the most per capita millionaires.

New Jersey now has 293,992 millionaire households, for a ratio of just about 1 in 11 NJ households with a net worth of over 1 million dollars. Jersey was ranked second in 2017, when it had only 258,988 millionaire households, so that’s a 13% increase over last year. And you thought Snookie was just a dumb Jersey Girl.

The report found that nationwide 7.7 million U.S. households had more than 1 million dollars in assets, which is an increase of more than 2 million households since the financial crisis of 2008.

So how is your household doing? I know that my household has not recouped our loses from the 2008 financial disaster nor have many of my NJ neighbors who have since moved away after losing their homes because of their mortgages going underwater…and later drowning as a result. Remember when that happened?

But for at least 2 million NJ families, after dozens of major companies failed and America landed in one of the worst recessions in its history, one family’s crisis was another family’s fortune…I guess?

Because according to Wellness.com and a recent in-depth study by real estate blog Movoto. which ranked states based on unemployment rates, population density, how many held health insurance, total cost of living, and how many hours people worked per week to “survive”, New Jersey was ranked the 3rd most “stressed” state in the nation!

Go figure! New Jersey has the most wealthy and the third most financially stressed residents in the nation! It’s now the Have Most and the Have Not State! Hmmmmmm…so does this mean that as the rich get richer the poor really do get poorer? Gee who would have thunk it?!

At least the economy is doing great whether you are or not…So, Hey New Jersians! Are you working hard or hardly working? And here in the 21st Century does that necessarily mean what we think it means?

 

 

 

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