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February 17, 2017

Proving Plutocracy

A "plutocracy" is one form of an "oligarchy" wherein the small group of people who run things is made up of the wealthy. While many have been sidetracked by the current administration's hyperbole and lies, the Republicans in Congress have been destroying the work of decades. And why are they doing it? Because their corporate, wealthy, billionaire masters pull their strings and tell them to.

The Republicans in Congress have started to destroy EPA rules and laws to protect endangered species and environments. What is most curious is that, in a representative democracy such as America, those in Congress are supposed to enact the will of the people they represent. And stats show that well over 80% of all people, regardless of politics, are in favor of protecting the environment and animals. So, why would Congress do these things?

Because big business finds it inconvenient. Big business wants to be able to log anywhere, to mine anywhere, to drill anywhere. They don't like having to submit EPA forms proving they won't hurt animals or the environment. They hate looking at all that potential in National Parks and Monuments and not being allowed to move in with big machinery and destroy it. They hate having to spend a little extra to make sure there is clean water to drink and fresh air to breathe.

And big business is who pays for the Republicans' to get into office. They are the ones who write the bills for Republicans and ask them to turn those bills into law. Big Business is the one pulling the strings. (This is not to say that Democrats don't get money from big business and the super-wealthy; however, the Republicans have a much tighter, pro-business/anti-regulation stance fundamentally, and big business can pull those strings much more easily for Republicans than for Democrats, who traditionally have a pro-environment, pro-regulation stance.)

The richest few, I think, believe that they will always have drinkable water and clean air to breathe. Of course, history shows otherwise; you may hurt the poorest first, then the middle classes next, but, sooner or later, the effects of unrestrained business will hurt even those who can afford the best, afford the necessities even as they sky-rocket in price and scarcity.

Clean water is good for everybody. Clean air is good for everybody. Protecting animal and plant species and environments is good for everybody. And here's why: most medications, including new discoveries, come from plants and animals. And, sometimes, those plants and animals are only found in the most delicate of environments. How many cures have we destroyed in the Amazon rain forest already, that we will never know about?

Did you know that without customers, most business fail? So, if the poor and the middle class don't have clean water and clean air, they die or move away and cannot buy your goods or services. Your business dies, just as your customers and customer base dies. It is actually in your best interest to be regulated.

Did you know that the regulation business employs thousands of people? By forcing existing businesses to regulate, the government created a ton of jobs and more economic wealth. By doing away with those regulations, business is killing other business and putting people out of work, weakening the economy and hurting their own customer base.

Republican leaders are going back to their constituents and finding them angry. They are being attack on health care, the environment, and regulations by members of their own party because they are not doing what their people want them to do. They are not listening. These leaders are fleeing from their own constituents, ducking out of meetings, and "needing" police escorts because they refuse to do the will of the people they serve.

The people have to take back control of Congress. If over 80% of people like the environment and want to regulate whether businesses can drill, mine, or pollute there, contact your representative by phone or (snail) mail/postcard. They cannot ignore a ton of phone calls and mail arriving at their offices. Be polite, courteous, and consistent in your message. And, if they don't listen, DO NOT VOTE FOR THEM IN THE NEXT ELECTION!


February 15, 2017

Where We Are

One of the things that frustrates me the most about this Nationalistic movement is that it is predicated on things that President Obama actually tried to do. He wanted to put a bunch of people to work on infrastructure. He wanted to get people training so that they could go from coal and gas to solar and wind (and others). He wanted to do a lot of things within the borders to get people working, get people spending money, and get people happy again.

And the Republicans blocked him every step of the way. They blocked his works bill for infrastructure every single time the Democrats put it forth... while refusing to bring forth their own works bill or work with Dems to make a bill they would pass. They blocked his bills for putting money toward re-educating people. They blocked nearly ever piece of legislation that the Dems put forth toward 'making America great again' and refused to help on bills that the Dems pleaded with them for bipartisanship. President Obama even put forth a moderate Supreme Court nominee nearly a year before leaving office, a person that many Repubs openly stated was a good choice and someone they would consider, and then the Repubs refused to do their job and, at the least, vet the candidate.

If you read pretty much any news that is not American news over the last 8 years, you would see that President Obama overcame the negative perception of the country built up over the previous 8 years of President Bush and got the world looking at America as a leader and innovator. The rest of the world praised Obama with his policies of sanctions against Syria, Russia, and others. The rest of the world saw those sanctions working and forcing the sanctioned countries to do things differently. You would read about how world leaders liked, praised, and enjoyed working with Obama, trusted him and his stance on things.

Now, those same leaders and news organizations openly mock the current American administration. They fear the isolationism and nationalism that the current administration states is its goal. They worry about the nationalists in their own countries as they surge because of the results of "BRexit" and the American presidential election. After America leading the way out of the recent economic collapse, the world fears that America's isolationism will stall that same economic recovery and even reverse it. Basically, the world is scared.

The current administration lies. It claims that Obama didn't try to do the many, many things he tried. It lies about who is at fault for where we are now. It lied about cleaning out the muck of Washington DC. It lied about cracking down on Wall Street (who it called liars more than once). The current administration uses executive orders when it doesn't need to. It threatens temper tantrums if it doesn't get its way, and seems to not understand how government actually works. The current administration is in constant attack mode against a press that is simply pointing out the many, obvious, provable facts that are out there. If they will lie about those things, what else are they lying about?

I can't help but imagine where we would be today if the Republican party had actually taken President Obama's many requests to work with him to heart and done it. Imagine how much better the ACA (Obamacare) would be today. Imagine if they had worked with him on his works bills and then helped pass it... we would be 8 years ahead on fixing old bridges, repairing old dams, maintaining old sewers, and fixing streets (among many other things). Imagine how the historically low murder rates and unemployment rates would be even lower if any one of Obama's retraining/education bills had been allowed to pass by the Repubs.

There comes a point where you have to set aside your differences, realize that things are failing, and work with the opposition to make it right. You have to realize that your constituents need you to lead, compromise, and do what is best for as many different people as possible, instead of needless throwing rancor and aspersions at the other party.

That, by itself, in today's political world, is a pretty revolutionary thought, isn't it?

February 7, 2017

Executive Orders

When you have both houses of Congress decidedly on your side, you shouldn't need to enact very many Executive Orders (EO). You can introduce actual legislation that Congress can pass through the two houses and make law. Whether you liked him or not, Obama passed legislation in the first two years of his presidency because most of Congress was Democrat. He didn't need EOs to go around a hostile Congress.

So, why is Trump going the route of EOs? Why is he trying to circumvent the law creation and enactment system in place? He should, like Obama, be taking advantage of the Congress being "on his side" while it is (historically, the Congress will change to Democrat control at the two-year mark). Is it because not all Republicans are behind him? Maybe they are seeing cracks in the visage?

One of the best parts of going through the legal process of law creation is that many eyes see the legislation and, often, they can find the loopholes and unclear sections, point them out, and it can be rewritten. The EOs are not currently going through that process. Instead, Steve Bannon is writing them late at night, doesn't understand legalese, and is making very poorly worded orders that are hard to follow and will likely be overturned in Federal court.

Everything about Trump's first few weeks in office smells fishy. Hell, it appears he is not even reading the EOs he is signing. The constant leaks from the White House indicate a house in disarray, where Trump doesn't even know the contents of the EOs he's signing. In one case, he apparently became upset after learning that Bannon made himself a part of the NSC in an EO. But Trump didn't read it before signing it, so didn't know that was part of the EO? If you were President, and signing something that would, effectively, become a law, wouldn't you read it before signing it? (one of many sources) There are even some who question whether or not Trump can read. Here's one video where the gentleman makes a pretty convincing, if circumstantial argument.

Also, the literal number one item on Trump's "First 100 Days" document was getting term limits for Congress in place using a Constitutional Amendment. Yet that hasn't happened. It hasn't, to my knowledge, even been discussed. Yet, this might be the most effective thing Trump could do, getting turnover of the many 60+ year old, male, white Congresspeople for younger people of various ethnicities, backgrounds, and sexes. People who actually understand things like the social media, the immediacy of news and information today, the Internet (remember the Senator who didn't know what he was talking about and thought the Internet was made up of tubes?), how science works, and what's really happening to real people in the real world. I mean, if you are in Congress for decades, making $250k+ a year, with free healthcare for life, and all the other perks of Congress, you may just lose sight of how an average American, making less than $50k a year, who has to buy his own healthcare (or risk going without), and doesn't get the other perks has to live.

These are, indeed, interesting times. It remains to be seen how long they will last or how they will end.