Category Archives: Society

I Should Belong . . .


My blog includes a small badge that says “I belong to Postaday 2012.” In reality that is untrue, because I haven’t been posting at all. I’ve been far to focused on politics and the upcoming election. I want to change that. There are many different stories throughout the world that deserve attention. Even locally I could talk about Rick Santorum’s victory in the Kansas Caucasus, or the recent shooting rampage that an American soldier had in Afghanistan. There are also more local issues like the redistricting process that will affect the next election. In Kansas this is important because the only district that has much of a chance of electing a Democrat, may have many of its democratic voters removed. There are many more things to talk about. I would like to include a section on food. I’ve been an amateur cook for a while and would love to share some recipes with all of you. I would also like to talk about society in general. Perhaps about my disdain for reality television, or my feelings about technology, which I can’t help but love and hate. Most of all, I should belong to “Postaday2012” because I have worthwhile opinions and experiences to share, just like most of you. I hope to read yours and I hope you will read mine. Whether it is a short quote, or an in-depth analysis, we all have something to share. It’s putting those feelings out there that helps all of us grow as people. I should belong to “Postaday2012” and so should you. Happy blogging.

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I Get Blogging and Rick Santorum Gets Some Love


So, I drifted past an email from WordPress just the other day and it came to my attention that I haven’t posted anything since November. It’s not like I quit having opinions and I’m always excited to share them. So after an extended hiatus, Independent Kansan is back. It’s good to see you all again. There is much to talk about as Republicans and Democrats bicker away. The President is running for reelection. Republicans are trying to pick his opponent, and I’m just trying to live my life like most of us. So here are some random observations I’ve been having lately.

1) Mitt Romney is more out of touch with the average american than anyone in the world. I swear he has no concept of what it’s like to be an average guy. I’m not saying it’s bad that he’s wealthy. I don’t even mind that he’s running for office because he appears to think its a cool thing to do. When he makes a quip about how he’s not worried about the extremely poor or when he breaks out his stump joke that he understands America because he’s, “unemployed too,” he just  comes across as totally detached. I’m amazed he was ever the front-runner.

2) Rick Santorum is finally getting some of the attention he deserves. Mr. Santorum and I don’t agree about anything but that’s fine. At least there is little in my mind that doubts his conviction. When comes out and says he’s against abortion, even in extreme circumstances, I don’t think he’s saying that for political reasons. I can respect that. When Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich says some of these things I’m pretty sure if I had the right poll numbers they would change their minds pretty quick. I’ve long said I thought Santorum would make a great VP candidate. He may be proving that VP is beneath him.

3)”Class Warfare” should be stricken from the English language. I’m so tired of hearing about how a 1% or 3%  raise in taxes on millionaires is “Class Warfare.” How is it not class warfare that wages for the middle and lower classes haven’t kept pace with inflation. Or that the rich do not pay social security or Medicare taxes on all of their income.  The rich in this country have it as good as they have in decades. After WWII people making over two hundred thousand dollars a year had that income taxed at 91%. We’re worried that currently millionaires might pay 34%, and that’s if most of their income doesn’t come from investments. I hat e to be the crazy liberal here, but taxing these people will not hurt them, and it won’t hurt you and me.

4)Republicans should continue to fight for the rights of the wealthy. They’ve started a trend here and every fight where they push back on unemployment and a tax cut for working people just to prevent 1% on millionaires. They are writing the campaign commercials that will lead to their demise.

Anyway, I’ve been needing to get that out for sometime. I gotta tell you it’s good to be back. I’m not optimistic, but I hope maybe we can have a real conversation in the coming months. To begin with I’m going to write about a series of electoral reforms I think we need in this country to help give democratic power to the people. I hope to see you there.

Kansas City Under Occupation


That’s right, the Occupy Wall Street movement is making noise in the heartland. According to the Kansas City Star, a group of around 300 protesters are camped out at Penn Valley Park across from the Kansas City Federal Reserve building. They had various signs and people speaking and all of that. The question still looms over this entire movement though. What do they want?

The answer doesn’t seem to be even remotely clear. I’ve heard various reports on these protests from different places in the country. To me it seems that people are just mad. The groups seem to have some diversity in political ideology, though it’s hard to tell how much. They seem to not like the idea of “corporate personhood” or the large amount of corporate influence in our elections.

I’ve yet to decide what I think of all of this. The footage I’ve seen looks like young people who want real change. Think of the beginnings of the Tea Party. It was a bunch of people who got upset over government bailouts of corporations and a ballooning deficit. They talked about fiscal responsibility and people from different sides of the political spectrum were involved. Then the ultra-right hijacked the movement using vast sums of money and turned it away from balancing the budget. Suddenly, The Tea Party was about cutting government spending and lowering regulations and taxes. Those who were not staunch conservatives left, and we had a national movement spouting talking points for billionaires and corporations. It is still to be seen if this movement will suffer the same fate from the right or the left.

After reading the piece on the Star’s website I took a look at some of the comments. One guy tried to somehow make an argument using Abraham Lincoln. I’m not sure why. Anyway, I came across this comment by playon266:

“as they all celebrate by making calls, taking pictures, and sending texts on their smart phones (made by big corporations, on carriers that are big corporations)… and then while driving home in their car or truck or hybrid (all made by big corporations), they’ll stop at Wal-Mart (a HUGE corporation) and buy cheap food (from corporate food producers) and cheap imported products (from big FOREIGN corporations)… and they’ll think they made an impact. Interesting…”

He makes a point. Corporations exist because we support them. If no one  went to Wal-mart, we would not complain about the evils of Wal-Mart. Playon662 misses the point however. These protesters don’t want corporations to be eliminated, they want them to get the same treatment we do. They want them to pay taxes. They want them to have less influence in our political system. They want the everyday citizen to pay less in taxes than the corporation with a multi-billion dollar profit margin.

Two pieces were written at the Kansas Free Press, about the Occupy Wall Street protests. One, by Christina Stein, celebrates the activism and drive of the protesters. The other, by Ken Poland, questions whether these protesters have the knowledge and ability to exact change. You should read them both.

It is too early to know what these protests will accomplish, if anything. One thing seems sure; the protests are spreading. The coming days will show if Americans are truly angry, and if they are, will politicians listen?

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Andy Rooney Says Goodbye


It is said that all things come to an end. Television journalism just had one of those moments that proves it. Just a few minutes ago, Andy Rooney finished his last regular commentary piece and the CBS news show “60 minutes.” It’s a sad moment in many ways. For over 30 years, every sunday night, Mr. Rooney would spend a few minutes telling people what was on his mind. You may have liked it, or you may not have. Rooney didn’t really care, he was going to tell you what he thought and that’s how it was. I always enjoyed listening to Andy Rooney. I think he had the greatest job in the world. Face it, he was blogging’s inspiration. He didn’t report the news like a journalist. He didn’t just talk about politics and current events like a coloumnist. He was unlike any other coloumnist or journalist, because he just talked about what was bugging him that particular week.I hope they don’t try to replace him, because you really can’t. TV’s grumpy old man can’t be replicated. Rooney’s segment wasn’t great because it was some guy talking about whatever was on his mind. It was great because it was Andy Rooney talking about whatever was on his mind.

Prior to his segment he was interviewed by Morley Saffer. It was interesting to see Andy in a casual setting, becuase you realized that Andy Rooney on TV was also Andy Rooney in life. He said some interesting things. He believed he was more of a Democrat than a Republican, although he would object to being called either. Looking back, he really enjoyed covering World War II as an Army reporter. At the same time you could see the sadness in his eyes when he talked about friends he lost in the war. He doesn’t give autographs, because “what kind of idiot what’s my name on a piece of paper.” You got the sense that if you met him in public you’d think he was a jerk, but he’s not. He’s just a famous guy, that isn’t comfortable being famous.

All in all, Andy Rooney was a television icon. Through the years he contributed so much to television and journalism. It was an inevitable day. So there is nothing left to do but say “Thank you Mr. Rooney.” At least you inspired me, and I promise if I ever have the chance I won’t ask for your autograph.

A Constitutional Question


I’ve done a pretty bad job of posting lately. My interest in politics has been tested throughly. I’m just tired of the same arguments coming from either side over government spending and taxation. The Tea Party has thoroughly destroyed my faith in Congress, and the American public. I will talk more about that in a later post. Today, I want to pose a question. It’s a question I thought of a long time ago, but never got around to asking. First, a little reminder of our recent history.

Back in March, all the talk was about Wisconsin. Governor Scott Walker was trying to push a bill that stripped the collective bargaining rights of public employees. State Senate Democrats fled in an effort to obstruct him. In the end the bill was passed, but not without gaining significant national attention and a repeated FOXNews claim that was completely wrong. In the last six months, I’ve been mulling this issue over in my head. Education is very important to me. I’ve been a public school system employee. I have strong views about the issue. Personally, I don’t believe that public school teachers have the awesome, easy job that conservative talking heads say they do. I also believe that we should be encouraging people to become teachers not discouraging it. Having the smartest people want to be teachers is good. Education in the cornerstone of everything we do.

All that aside, I thought of an argument that makes the repeal of public employee’s collective bargaining rights is unconstitutional. This argument maybe crazy. It may have been addressed already. I would genuinely like to know what you think. So please leave comments below. As long as their civil and honest of course.

The 1st Amendment to the Constitution says:

     “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

We’re going to focus on the last part of that amendment. The government cannot abridge our “right to peacefully assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”  The way I read that is that collective bargaining is a right of public employees. Collective bargaining is people assembling (as a union) and petitioning the government over grievances (such as pay, working conditions and so on.)

I know that a strict constructionist view of the Constitution would not allow this, because it doesn’t talk specifically about collective bargaining, but collective bargaining didn’t exist. I believe we have to view the Constitution in the era it was written in, and decide for ourselves what is right and wrong. Let me know what you think.

Okay, Let’s Talk About Jobs


Well, as I mentioned in my last post Bank of America is planning to lay-off thirty thousand employees over the next couple of years. This news was announced with stunning irony, on the same day that President Obama sent his recently announced “American Jobs Act” to Congress. So, the talk in politics is all about jobs. What can Congress, or the President really do to create jobs in this country? The answer is. . . not much.

All the talk is about the record of job creation a person has. Rick Perry is touting the economic success “he’s had” in Texas. Mitt Romney is taking shots at him about it, and all the Republicans are blaming President Obama for the economy. John Boehner gave a speech today in Detroit basically outlining the fact that congressional Republicans aren’t going to work with the President. Unless, of course, he does whatever they want. Their ideas are the same tired ideas they’ve had for years, but I will deal with that later.

There is an idea that is more broad and it needs addressed. The American public has a huge misconception about the role of government in the economy. We talk about a President’s record of creating job, but the truth is that president’s don’t create jobs. Unless, they require the government to hire more people. George W. Bush, for example, created the job of Secretary of Homeland Security. President’s can only provide incentives, like tax credits and tax cuts, for employers to hire more people, but that won’t work.

Take a look at it this way. I’m CEO of the Worldwide Widget Corporation, J. Pierpont Finch. We sell two million widgets a year that are produced in two factories employing 100 people. The accountants come to me and say if we build a new factory and hire 50 more people, we’ll get a tax credit. What would you do? If your smart you’d go to the sales team and ask, “If we build a new factory how many more widgets can we sell?” If they say there is no more demand for widgets, you would be crazy to spend the money on a factory and employees that you don’t need. You would be throwing money away. Yes, the government is going to reimburse you for some of it but then your stuck with a factory that is a drain on your profit.

Now, if the sales team comes to you and says, “If we build a factory and hire some people we can sell one million more widgets and our profit will grow 50%.” What would you do? You’d build the factory, and I bet you would do it even if you weren’t getting a tax credit. You’d build it because it is good for Worldwide Widgets.

The President and Congress have no actual role in that decision. Only one thing does, and that is demand. The economy isn’t a physical thing. It is the compilation of all of the uncountable transactions that take place between people and business every day. The mood of the masses drives the economy. President Bush issued rebate checks to American taxpayers. If you filed a tax return you got a $600 check if you were a single person and a $1200 check if you filed jointly. That could stimulate the economy, but only if people spend that money. If the public puts it in their savings for another day, it doesn’t do anything until that other day.

That means that people are the economy. We make it succeed or fail, grow or retract. Capitalism is built on people spending money. That’s why consumer confidence is so important. If we believe the economy is going well and we can afford to spend money, then things will be okay. Christina Stein wrote an interesting article about this at the Kansas Free Press.

I’ve said before that the best way to stimulate the economy would be to eliminate taxes on the poorest people. Poor people are unique in that they are the only group of people who spend every dollar they have. The middle-class, and the wealthy don’t do that. They can afford to have a savings or a retirement account. If you give poor people more of their paycheck, a lot of money will immediately be returned into the economy.

The real truth about the economy is that it hinges on the behavior of people. Presidents don’t control that. Congress doesn’t control that. If you vote on the state of things now, you are voting for the wrong reasons. We need to be voting for the person who is thinking about the future. We need to look at a candidates vision, intellect, and drive. We need to take our eyes off of today and think about tomorrow, and pick the right person to lead us there.

I Feel Better, For Awhile At Least


I gotta tell you, it was tough the past few weeks. This whole debt ceiling “debate” was really dragging me down.  I may talk about it in the future, but for now I just wanted to say that I’m glad it’s over. Unfortunately, we’re just going to go through it again in a few months. However, it’s done. I hope maybe we can talk more rationally for now.

So going forward, I’m going to make a few more lists. I’m working on a list of 5 movies from five great filmmakers that I believe people should see. Also by request, I’m going to add a food section where I intend to document and review a recipe every once in a while. In essence, Independent Kansan is going to be broadening its horizons. Hopefully that will give me something to write about when the politics start depressing me. So here’s to the future. Enjoy blogging.