Sunday, September 28, 2014

THE RICH HAVE WON THE CLASS WAR*

The title of this piece is the famous Warren Buffet line given in 2011.*  A recent article shows just how dramatic winning the class war has been.**


The figure is the result of a study by Paulina Tcherneva .
An examination of average income growth [in the U.S.] during every postwar expansion (from trough to peak) and its distribution between the wealthiest 10% and bottom 90% of households reveals that income growth becomes more inequitably distributed with every subsequent expansion during the entire postwar period.  ***

Though Reaganomics didn't initiate the war by the rich, you will note the unusually large drop in 1982-1990.  After a small recovery for the bottom 90% during the Clinton years (coupled with a small drop by the rich), there is another huge drop in 2001-2007 during the Bush-43 years followed by yet another large drop during and since the Great Recession.  It must be said that some of the rich are beginning to be concerned about income disparity.

Obama has gotten though some tax reforms (e.g. increasing the top level back to where it was under Clinton.), but I don't know the effect yet.

By the way, the upper 10% in 2012 began at $77,500!****

* Warren buffet, CNN September 30, 2011: http://money.cnn.com/video/news/2011/09/30/n_buffett_class_warfare.cnnmoney/
** http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2014/09/25/this-depressing-chart-shows-that-the-rich-arent-just-grabbing-a-bigger-slice-of-the-income-pie-theyre-taking-all-of-it/?wpisrc=nl-wonkbk&wpmm=1
*** Tcherneva, Pavlina R., Reorienting Fiscal Policy: A Critical Assessment of Fiscal Fine-Tuning (August 1, 2013). Levy Economics Institute Working Paper No. 772. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2318045 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2318045 
**** http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Affluence_in_the_United_States

Friday, September 26, 2014

OBAMACARE: THE YOUNG AND THE POOR


Is it time to change the name of Obamacare now that it seems to be a success.  Remember when it was said that young people wouldn't sign up?  Well they have, dramatically so.*
"The uninsured rate for people ages 19 to 64 declined from 20 percent in the July-to-September 2013 period to 15 percent in the April-to-June 2014 period. An estimated 9.5 million fewer adults were uninsured. Young men and women drove a large part of the decline: the uninsured rate for 19-to-34-year-olds declined from 28 percent to 18 percent, with an estimated 5.7 million fewer young adults uninsured. By June, 60 percent of adults with new coverage through the marketplaces or Medicaid reported they had visited a doctor or hospital or filled a prescription; of these, 62 percent said they could not have accessed or afforded this care previously."**

"The findings suggest that the Affordable Care Act is beginning to achieve its central goal—reducing the number of Americans who are uninsured, and improving access to health care," [Commonwealth Fund Vice President] Collins  said. "Adults who are being helped the most are those who historically have had the greatest difficulty affording health insurance and getting the care they need."**

*Obamacare and the poor: http://www.cnbc.com/id/101823365; Medicaid expansion: http://www.cnbc.com/id/101715324
** http://www.commonwealthfund.org/publications/issue-briefs/2014/jul/Health-Coverage-Access-ACA

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

I'M SITTING OUT THIS ONE

I've decided I'll sit out the ISIS (ISIL if you prefer) War.  I usually record news programs like Morning Joe so I fast forward through the ISIS parts.  I may miss something else, but so be it.  If the news program is not recorded, I toggle between Soundscapes and the news program to avoid the ISIS War.

I went along with al Qaeda being very bad.  After all they actually killed nearly 3,000 people in this country.  Maybe more if you count those who are delayed in dying from smoke inhalation.  I felt we had to do something and invading Afghanistan to get al Qaeda was fine (remember Afghanistan tribes provided the first "boots on the ground.").  Now we are told that ISIS is even worse.  And the other day I heard of yet another organization that is considered even worse than ISIS in that their aim is to destroy the U.S.(Khorasan).*  And there are also those who say that Hamas is just as bad as ISIS.**

Now during most of my life (and I'm 83) the standard was to say that a group or individual was"worse than the Nazi's."  It is interesting that this analogy is no longer used.  After all, the Nazi's were defeated almost 70 yrs ago.  We've had two or three generations grow up since then.  I guess there is a feeling that ISIS is worse than the Russians.  Remember when it was Assad that had to go?  For the minute we'll ignore him, but I'm sure we'll get back to him some year.

To begin with, we won't put "boots on the ground" though special forces or the CIA don't count.  President Obama wants other Arabs or Muslims to do this.  I have to wonder why they haven't already done this?  They don't seem to worry about ISIS being a threat to them.  We always seem to align ourselves with a group of people that don't want to fight for their land.  Remember Vietnam and the Iraqi military divisions that collapsed when they were first threatened and armed ISIS by abandoning all their equipment?  How many years did we train Iraqi troops - 8 yrs at least, I think.  Who trained the North Koreans (well maybe the Soviets), North Vietnamese, Taliban and ISIS forces?   They seem to be self trained and better than all our training of their opponents    Hey the Americans will do it for us, calm down!

I don't remember the Korean War very well (though I was of age to be called up with the draft), but before we entered the Korean War, it seemed like the North had almost pushed the Southern forces into the sea.**  It used to be that the first thing we would do was send in 5,000 Marines and then regretfully build up from there.  It is interesting, however, that since we were kicked out of Vietnam, they want to be our trading partners, and we have no residual forces there.  Can you imagine that?  And Indonesia is still a non-Communist country.  Remember the Domino Theory where if South Vietnam would fall to the communist North, then the other SE Asian countries would fall, including Indonesia.

Of course the big focus on the Middle East concerns oil.  I had supported oil exploration of ANWR on the north slopes of Alaska and fracking, and the Keystone XL Pipeline to make us independent of  Middle East oil  and allow us to withdraw from there, but it hasn't worked.  Importing some oil from Canada, Mexico, and Valenzuela would be OK.

I yearn for the good old days of Carter and Reagan and Clinton when all we had to worry about were Embassy kidnappings, war with the island nation of Grenada, and fly by shooting of Iraqi radar posts.****  I'm going to sit out this latest war.

* http://www.businessinsider.com/what-is-the-khorasan-group-airstrikes-isis-islamic-state-2014-9
**  http://mondoweiss.net/2014/09/israeli-government-propaganda
***  http://www.history.com/topics/korean-war
**** http://stopcontinentaldrift.blogspot.com/2014/09/good-old-days.html

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A TOAST TO PATRICIA (Poem)

May all your days be happy.

May your dreams be soothing.

May your family give you much love.

May your friendships be satisfying.

May you experience good health.

May there be many more such years.

Monday, September 15, 2014

TOTAL RAY RICE JULY 31 INTERVIEW

Though Ray Rice* never says exactly what domestic abuse went on in the elevator on the night of February 14, 2014 (He says he does not intend to look backward.), he publicly apologies to his wife on TV at the end of July and says he let her down, along with his daughter, in-laws, mother, teammates, etc.  He does say he and his wife will become emissaries against domestic violence and try to help people when the time is right.  I agree it is not something he should just jump into.  At any rate, you can see his statement and most of the question and answer period yourself (18 Minutes) at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M2ZM2O2ht9I).

One interesting point is that he says in the interview he would not appeal his punishment by the NFL although now (some six weeks later) he says he will appeal because he never lied to the NFL as he says they are now saying he did.

Being suspended for a year by the NFL will cost him something like $7 million assuming he is reinstated after a year, but he has been in the league for six years so he should be a very wealthy young man.  It is clear from his TV interview that he is totally unprepared for life without football

* Also see my previous piece "Videos Are Worth More Than A Thousand Words:" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M2ZM2O2ht9I

Friday, September 12, 2014

"GOOD OLD DAYS"

I sort of miss the "good old days" of Presidents Ford who ended U.S. occupation of Vietnam, Carter with only the American embassy hostages.  Called by Democrats a "Warmonger," President Reagan stubbornly refused to go to war over three major Embassy attacks (twice in Beirut and one in Kuwait) plus the Marine barracks disaster, and at least when he went to war, he at least picked someone we could beat - Granada. President Bush (41), of course, did have Desert Storm (Iraq I) and his "invasion" of Panama to capture Noriega, but the things calmed down again with President Clinton with his drive by shooting in Iraq from American military airplanes.  Clinton, who had several terrorist attacks, also is distinguished by winning the only war won without "boots on the ground" - Kosovo - won by air power alone.  Those are about the years closest to peace I have seen in my 83 years since Japan invaded China in 1937.

This comparatively "sleepy" period from 1974 through the 1990s was preceded by WW-II of President Roosevelt, Korea of President Truman, and Vietnam of Presidents Kennedy,Johnson, and Nixon and succeeded by the Afghanistan and Iraq II wars of President Bush (43).  Now we can add the Iraq III/Syria war of our "peace" President Obama.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

VIDEOS ARE WORTH MORE THAN A 1000 WORDS!

So we have the highly covered Raymell "Ray" Rice debacle with his fiance and now wife, the former Janay Palmer.  Rice was a running back for the Baltimore Raven's football team in the National Football League. Once he ran for 412 yrds in A SINGLE high school football game!*  We all saw the video by security cameras of Rice dragging his fiance out of an elevator.  He is a nice looking young man.  It is hard to believe he hit his future wife, but he said he did and profusely apologized and said he would work on doing better.  Apparently she believed him, and they still got married.  But he is going to have to rewire a part of his brain, just as stroke victims have to do to make up for the lost part of the brain due to the stroke.  Let's hope his violence button is not hard wired.

Now if you are a young athlete of talent, you are coddled starting in childhood.  Who knows how many thefts, drunk driving and speeding violations, assaults, date rapes, etc. they are let off of because they are a rising athletic talent?  I don't know, but I have to wish that this violence was Rice's first offense, but probably wasn't.

So he was given a two game suspension.**  People and the media were not happy with this but, well, sort of accepted it.  Then after a couple of weeks the video appeared showing him actually hitting his fiance twice and knocking her out.  Now we all knew he knocked his wife out, but once the media and the people actually saw the blurry video, they thought he should be out of the NFL, maybe forever, and in the aftermath he was given an indefinite suspension to replace the two game suspension.  Well, who knows, in the end, this may be good for the two of them.

If Rice is smart he will devote his year of suspension to addressing the question of domestic violence.  Some will never forgive him, but Christians like a redemption story.   So this is a story that will unfold over the coming year.  Rice's wife hopes people will let them alone to work this thing out by themselves, although there are those that think she should ditch the bum.  And before this is over, the commissioner of the NFL may have to resign.  I don't know about the coach of the Ravens.

As for me, I learned long ago that a lot of people, maybe most, live messy lives, and I have to just accept that (I'm not sure mine has been all that clean, either.).  The fewer details I know, the better.  I don't know about you, but I have this sneaking desire to know what it was that pushed his button.  Did she say, "You are going to eat broccoli for dinner whether you like it or not." or "I've been sleeping with your best friend."  I have this secret wish to know but can resist it.  I don't want to know.

But and even BIGGER bigger story involves videos, that I have not seen, of an apparently Islamic British subject beheading a couple of Americans in front of a war weary nation unless we stop bothering ISIS.  Well, if anyone really thought that beheading Americans would cause them to withdraw from attacks on ISIS, they were badly mistaken, and the polls show Americans are ready for a new war.  We don't understand Muslims and no doubt they don't understand us.  If they wanted to suck America into a new war, they couldn't have done anything better.  Our peace President affirmed that in a speech last night (September 10).

Yes, tens of thousands of Americans are killed every year in automobile accidents and many times that are victims of life changing injuries.  Around ten thousand people every year die from gun related murders and even more from gun related suicides.  We accept these without question.  But a death from beheading motivates us.  In fact any death from terrorism motivates us - even one.

Of course there are those who want to relive our exit from Iraq as being the cause of ISIS, but we left 10,000 to 20,000 troops in Afghanistan and the Taliban recovered strongly.  Personally, I doubt if it would have made much difference.  But the fact is " Here we are" just as "here we are." was the case when candidate Obama became President.  So it is war again.  What more can you say about a country that treasures a game of war - football.  It is difficult being on top.

* http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ray_Rice
** Note added 12 September 2014: The two game suspension for domestic violence was actually more severe than normal, which is to do nothing, but then there was the video of him dragging his then fiance out of an elevator.  For example, defensive end Greg Hardy of the Carolina Panthers actually has been convicted of domestic violence and received NO penalty from the NFL.  Hardy is appealing the conviction.  Then there is defensive tackle Ray MacDonald of the San Francisco 49ers who is was arrested for "felony suspicion of domestic abuse" with his pregnant fiance who had bruises on her arm and is still playing. (http://thinkprogress.org/sports/2014/09/09/3565086/here-are-the-two-other-domestic-violence-cases-facing-nfl-players-right-now/)