Monday, February 25, 2013

MINIMUM RAGE

The current minimum wage debate is another example of supply-side economics versus demand-side economics, and yet again, not many in the media seem to have a firm grasp of common sense.

John Boehner, Republican, Speaker of the House, when explaining his opposition to raising the minimum wage, stated, "When you raise the price of employment, guess what happens? You get less of it," and yet nobody with a microphone immediately shouted the logical follow up: "Wait, what?"

By extending John Boehner's reasoning: Slavery would be great for our economy.

Republicans are shoveling the idea that raising the minimum wage will hurt our economy because raising the cost of employment will cause a decrease in employment.

This argument is predicated upon the belief that employers hire employees because they have the money (supply) to do so.

This is the same type of claim as "tax cuts create jobs", and both claims are ridiculously false.

We do not have a supply-side economy, we have a demand-side economy: Employers do not hire employees because they HAVE money, employers hire employees because they WANT money.

Tax cuts don't create jobs, WORK creates job; and raising the minimum wage will not decrease employment because employment is not contingent upon wage (supply), employment is determined by work (demand).

A restaurant owner does not hire a server because he is getting a tax cut or because he HAS money, a restaurant owner hires a server because he WANTS money.

If a restaurant owner does not have enough servers to satisfy his customers (demand), then demand for his product (restaurant) is going to decrease; and if demand for his product decreases, then the restaurant owner is not going to make much money.

And just because a restaurant owner has a lot of money (supply), that doesn't mean that he is going to hire a lot of servers. Because if a restaurant owner hires too many servers, then there isn't going to be enough work (demand) for the servers, and if there isn't enough work for the servers, then the servers aren't going to make much money in tips.

And if a server can't make much money at a restaurant, then the good servers are not going to want to work at that restaurant. And if a restaurant cannot hire good servers then the restaurant is not going to have good service, and if the restaurant doesn't have good service, then it's not going to be able to satisfy its customers.

And if a restaurant owner cannot satisfy his customers (demand), then demand for his product (restaurant) is going to decrease; and if demand for his product decreases, then yadda yadda yadda...


Furthermore, a minimum wage increase will positively affect our economy because minimum wage earners are mostly poor people, and poor people are basically walking stimulus packages.

Since a poor person has more needs (demand) than he has money (supply) every cent that a poor person gets is almost immediately spent on goods & services, and therefore, quickly recycled back into the economy.

Poor people are not investing their income in 401(k) or stashing their earnings in offshore tax shelters. When a poor person gets a dollar, a poor person spends a dollar; and that dollar is going to other employers, such as restaurant owners, and to other employees, such as servers.

It's not rocket science!

In other news: 2 + 2 = 4

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Do You Remember 4 Years Ago? A Plea for Re-Electing Barack Obama

Do you remember 4 years ago when Republican Secretary of Treasury, Hank Paulson, submitted 2.5 pages of paper to Congress asking for $700 billion? Do you remember how he wanted $700 billion, to distribute as he saw fit, with no strings attached, and said that if he didn't get the money by Monday, the United States wouldn't have an economy?

Do you remember when the state of the economy was so drastic that John McCain "suspended" his Presidential campaign?

Do you remember when America was on the brink of another Great Depression, the economy was losing over 750,000 jobs per month, banks were failing, the housing market was collapsing, and the American automotive industry was on the verge of extinction?

Do you remember not having a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or a Credit Card Bill of Rights? Do you remember when Americans with pre-existing conditions couldn't get health insurance?

Do you remember when health insurance companies could place lifetime limits on care, rescind coverage whenever they wanted, and weren't required to disclose the reasons for rate increases or how much of a customer's premium actually went toward health care?

Do you remember when Americans could go bankrupt if they got sick?

Do you remember color-coded terror alert levels, "weapons of mass destruction", the "Coalition of the Willing", and the War in Iraq?

Do you remember waterboarding?

Do you remember when America was waging war against "Islamic extremism" instead of fighting a war against al-Qaeda? Do you remember when Americans traveling abroad were embarrassed to admit that they were Americans? Do you remember "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell"?

Do you remember 4 years ago? Do you remember how bad it was? Do you remember Osama Bin Laden?

Do you remember the Valerie Plame scandal, the lack of preparation for Hurricane Katrina, and the firing of U.S. Attorneys for strictly political reasons? Do you remember George W. Bush?

When voting this election, please remember how, in the midst of all these national crises, Republicans placed party politics above governance, and were merely obstructionists who, not only opposed but, filibustered almost all of President Obama's legislation. Please remember that Republican Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell, said his top priority was to make Barack Obama a one-term president. Please remember that Mitt Romney's policy proposals are no different than George W. Bush's except that Romney has actually said he's not concerned about the poor, likes firing people, and that his job is not to worry about 47% of Americans. Please remember how bad it was when these Republicans were in charge, please remember how much better off the country is than it was 4 years ago, and please remember to vote for President Barack Obama.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Silver Platter for Silver-Tongued, Silver Spoon gets Silver Medal: Barack Obama's Atrocious First Debate Performance

President Obama's first debate performance was the equivalent of lighting his donors' campaign contributions on fire right in front of them.

President Obama didn't lose the first debate because Mitt Romney lied. President Obama didn't lose the first debate because he was too polite. And President Obama didn't lose the first debate because of Jim Lehrer or because he's a sitting president and all sitting presidents lose the first debate.

President Obama lost the first debate because he's running to be in charge of the country yet wasn't even in charge of the stage. President Obama lost the first debate because he's been defending his record while campaigning and talking tough about Mitt Romney while on the stump, but didn't defend his record when challenged by his opponent or talk tough when the guy was right there in front of him.
President Obama lost the first debate because out of the 70 million people who watched the debate, 25 million think they could have done a better job than him.

President Obama lost the debate because he didn't enthusiastically remind Americans of how much better off the country is than it was 4 years ago, and how significant the choice is between him and Mitt Romney. Remember 4 years ago when we weren't even sure if there were going to be Presidential debates because the economy was so bad that John McCain "suspended" his campaign?

Remember how Bill Clinton's economic policies left this country with a budget surplus and how George W. Bush's Republican economic policies left this country with a record deficit and on the verge of another Great Depression? Remember how Republicans opposed President Clinton's economic policies just like they're opposing President Obama's? Remember how Republicans in congress said their top priority was to make Obama a one-term president, opposed the payroll tax deduction, and even walked away from legislation that they had previously supported? Remember where Republicans stand on women's issues and the veterans' jobs bill?

Remember what "severely conservative" Mitt Romney said about the "47%"? Remember how "Cayman Islands" Mitt Romney won't even release his tax returns? Remember how "Bain Capital" Mitt Romney said "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt", was pro-choice and anti-gun before he was anti-choice and pro-gun, and always seems to say one thing in public and another thing behind closed doors?

It's very simple: Even with an intransigent congress, Obama's economic policies have resulted in 31 consecutive months of job growth, over 5 million new private sector jobs, and a thriving auto industry. Home foreclosures are down, bankruptcies are down, mortgage rates are down, and credit card debt is down while manufacturing is up, the stock market is up, and housing values are up.

The country isn't there yet, but it's going in the right direction; and America cannot afford to elect "George W. Bush 2.0" and return to the type of Republican policies that got us into this mess in the first place.

Yes, last week, President Obama might have been shook by Mitt Romney's "Etch-A-Sketch" performance, but that's no excuse for entering the debate with such a terrible game plan. Barack Obama was a pussy who got ran over by a spoiled brat; and Mitt Romney came off as likeable while Obama's failure to adapt left many questioning his intellectual capacity.

If the President, with his constant onslaught of emails, is going to continue to expect hard-earned money, precious time, and boundless energy from his supporters, the least he can do is act like he wants to be President... because it's awfully hard to defend a man who won't defend himself.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Carolina-Style Rib

South Carolina Republican Congressman Joe Wilson's heckling of President Obama during an address to a joint session of Congress should not have surprised anyone, but the media still can't seem to get it right.

The issue regarding Joe Wilson's outburst has nothing to do with illegal immigrants, health care reform, or whether he or Obama are lying. What Joe Wilson's heckling, Texas Congressman Louis Gohmert's "What Plan?" and "What Bill?" hand-made posters, and Minority Whip Eric Cantor's playing on his cell phone during a Presidential Address to a joint session of the United States Congress reveals is that the current Republican Party is not mature enough to participate in a democracy.

There is nothing wrong with calling the President a liar, even when the President isn't lying – that's politics, but to shout such vitriol during a Presidential Address to a joint session of Congress, (ESPECIALLY when the President ISN'T lying), is juvenile and unacceptable.

The current GOP thinks that the United States Government is nothing more than the WWE and I would not be shocked if Minority Leader John Boehner showed up to a State of the Union Address wearing a rainbow-colored afro and waving a giant red foam finger.

Luckily the current Republican Party's lack of character and dignity are equivalent to their lack of political relevance.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

***BREAKING NEWS***

POLITICS. WASHINGTON, D.C.
AP is reporting that the first draft of Dick Cheney's memoirs have been rejected. Anonymous sources claim an editor was heard yelling, "I wanted to read about his time in the White House, not another novel defending the virtues of Mephistopheles!"

SPORTS. OHIO DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS.
Former Ohio State running back, Maurice Clarrett, has filed another lawsuit against the NFL. According to lawyers familiar with the case, Clarrett is now claiming that he should have been allowed to enter the draft early since the Minnesota Vikings were just allowed to sign a baby!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Inalienable Right

The pro-health care reformers' inability to counter even the most obviously irrational arguments is absolutely infuriating.

I have no problem with Republicans and the insurance industry being against health care reform – it's their duty. Politicians have donors and constituents to appease, and corporations have employees with families to feed along with share holders who expect a return on their investments – to not whole-heartedly fight to maintain the status quo would be irresponsible. But the most popular anti-health care reform arguments are so remedial that it is the equivalent of fighting an uphill battle without ammunition, yet they are winning; and even the most competent of journalists and political analysts are missing the lyrics for the music.

Lately, the most ire arousing is the failure to instantly shoot down the "Obama says 'if you like your coverage then you can keep it,' but if there is a government option available then employers are going to stop providing that coverage" argument.

So let me get this straight, the fact that businesses will jump at not providing their workers with health insurance the second that they are given the opportunity to do so is why we DON'T need reform?

This argument is ludicrous and proves the opposite of what the arguer is claiming, yet I still have not heard one person with a microphone immediately call "bullshit!"

Yes, because providing employees with health insurance is so financially straining, businesses would welcome the chance to stop paying for coverage, but that is a major reason why we need health care reform. And if the existence of public health care leads to a company discontinuing health coverage for its employees, the money that that business used to allot for workers' insurance is not going to evaporate – It would just mean that instead of letting an insurance company put that money into a pool that the workers disproportionately, or may never, have access to, those dollars will be directly passed on to the employees in the form of a wage or salary increase, thus giving the workers the power to spend the money that they earned instead of some corporate bureaucrat.

Also, a public plan would give businesses AND employees more leverage when it comes to negotiating health care benefits. It's basic economics – supply versus demand. If companies en masse start dropping health care coverage, then insurance companies are going to start losing business. If insurance companies start losing business, then they are going to have to try harder in order to entice companies into purchasing coverage. Those enticements would most likely be providing better coverage at a lesser price which would benefit both business owners AND employees. And if not all businesses offered medical insurance to their employees, then health care benefits would become a greater tool for both a company to use when trying to attract the most talented workforce, AND for the employee to use when deciding where to work.

Another blatantly contradictory statement is the "government can't run anything, and a public option would put the private sector out of business" argument.

Ugggh! I'm sure it is not their intent but what these people are basically saying is either "the government plan would be so terrible that everybody would choose it over private insurance" or "the government program would be so good that we shouldn't have it."

There are a number of ways to expose the stupidity of this claim with the first being to merely repeat what was just said.

Either the government CAN run an organization or it can't – Which is it? Either the government is NASA and our Armed Forces, or it's the line at the DMV.

Now, obviously, Republicans know first hand that the government can't run anything, (e.g. the past 8 years), but an inept government health care program would simply mean that the private sector would flourish. And the private sector flourishing is supposedly what Republicans are for, correct? Yes, a failed public program would cost the federal government billions, (kind of like the war in Iraq), and "How are we going to pay for it?" is a legitimate concern, (more on that later), but, being that our country is a popular democracy, I guarantee if a government program doesn't work, then we won't keep it, (e.g. slavery, prohibition, women's and Blacks' right to vote, etc.).

The truth is that the VA and Medicare programs offer strong evidence that the government CAN run a health care system; and the existence of the US Postal Service and FedEx, and the proximity of UC Berkeley to Stanford are proof that a public system CAN coexist with the private sector.

The "socialized-medicine would stop innovation" argument is usually made by people without an understanding of basic human psychology. We are "America" – Our culture is to strive to be the best, and we are always going to be at the forefront of science and technology. We are not going to stop being "America" just because everybody can afford to go to a doctor. And if a highly qualified individual doesn't pursue a career in medicine just because the paycheck isn't as big as it used to be then that is a good thing – I don't want a guy who is purely motivated by money to be treating my child, anyways.

The "death panels" argument is plain stupid, and shouldn't even be justified with a rebuttal, but financially, I'm against "death panels" because it doesn't make sense for the government to spend billions of dollars on making sure all our citizens can live to a ripe old age to then just kill them when they get to that ripe old age. Our current system is much more cost efficient when it comes to killing people. And politically it doesn't make sense for politicians to pass a law that kills the people who voted for them, (do you realize how easy it will be to run for office against "the guy who killed Grandma"?). Besides, Saint Peter is the only "death panel" that I need, dag gummit!

The "rationing" argument: Rationing is what we have now, and a reason why we need reform – Anyone who is against "rationing" should be FOR health care reform. To think that a not-for-profit government program would "ration" care more than a profit-motivated private corporation does, is idiotic.

The "bureaucracy" argument: Bureaucracy is what we have now, and a reason why we need reform – Anyone who is against "bureaucracy" should be FOR health care reform. A fun health care bureaucracy game that I like to play is called: "call the insurance company when they are wrong." It's a rather simple game – all one needs is to be billed for a service that the insurance company was supposed to cover. First, call the insurance company and explain the reason for the call, then simply multiply the number of times that the call is transferred by the number of minutes that are spent on hold, and then pull out an encyclopedia to see if that number is greater than the age of the universe.

The "Obama is Hitler!" argument: Hmmm, the guy pushing for inclusiveness and "bi-partisanship" is like Adolf Hitler? What's really pissing off these white supremacists is that now we a have a Black president and the only way that they can put him down is by denouncing their idol. President Obama is not comparable to Hitler and a government health care program has nothing to do with Nazism – I have yet to see one World War II-set movie in which there is a plot to kill Hitler because he was FOR socialized medicine!

The "tort reform/medical malpractice" argument: Yes, frivolous lawsuits and malpractice coverage are a major reason for the exorbitant price of health care, but the need for tort reform has been a problem for decades, and it is not just a coincidence that the "tort reform/medical malpractice" argument only surfaces whenever there is a push for actual health care reform. The "tort reform/medical malpractice" argument is a distraction technique. If the people who are bringing it up now were honestly concerned with the strain that malpractice claims place on our health care system, then they would have been passionately lobbying for reform throughout the Bush presidency.

The "When has the government ever taken away power and given it back?" argument: I would love to address this whiny/paranoid argument but I have to go remove a micro-chip that some dudes who repelled from a black helicopter inserted into me.
Again, the United States of America is a popular democracy which means WE are the government. When have WE ever taken power and given it back – Other than slavery, prohibition, women's and Blacks' right to vote? How about school desegregation, internment camps, and recently, Mohammed Jawad?

The "How are we going to pay for it?" argument is a legitimate dispute, but it usually takes having all of their other absurd statements shot down before the anti-health care reformers make this claim.

Being concerned with our nation's rising debt is a major reason to be FOR healthcare reform because not reforming our healthcare system will be much more costly. Yes, health care reform will be expensive, but THAT IS WHY WE NEED IT! Health care spending is nearing 20% of our GDP and to not address this problem will be fiscally devastating. Health care reform will reduce bankruptcies, reduce economic strain on small-business owners, reduce the financial burden that the uninsured place on private insurance companies, and reduce the overall cost of health care. Not having health care reform will be much more expensive.

But if cost were truly a concern for these people, they would have been protesting throughout the Bush administration and they would oppose national parks, all foreign aid for disaster relief, and the war in Iraq.

Yes, there are some anti-health care reformers who are against all government spending, but these people, like Ron Paul, are not practical and most likely have Asperger's syndrome. Most people who are making the "How are we going to pay for it?" argument are hypocrites who had no problem with Dubya running up the deficit. They are "us versus themmers," and are simply obstructionists who think our government is merely a team sport. Yes, these "town hallers" are honestly pissed off, but they are not angry for the reasons that they say they are. They are either, by definition, "conservatives" which means they want to conserve the way things are regardless of the alternative, or they are just mad because they are sore losers, stupid, crazy, and/or racist. And they are without credibility because the past 8 years were an experiment that unequivocally proved, (with the culmination of "bailouts" and being on the verge of a global economic collapse), that conservatives' economic policies do not work. (Thankfully, when it comes to governing our nation, Republicans are currently irrelevant.)


I have always been a free market capitalist, but I am also a realist. I, like the conservatives, do not want the United States to turn into France, but unlike many conservatives, I am actually aware of history and would prefer avoiding a class-warfare, French-style, revolution. Yes, public health care is a form of socialism, but so are farm subsidies, interstate highways, and the local fire department.

The current health care debate is really about "unalienable rights" and whether medicine is necessary for "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Should the citizenry's access to health care be a stipulation in the social contract from which our Government derives its power?

Health care is increasingly becoming something that the poor, unemployed, working/middle class, small business owners, and everybody with "pre-existing" conditions cannot attain on their own, and since the government footing the bill for our federal court system, public education, and national defense, are not causing these "town hallers" to weep, "I want my country back," then neither should the government providing health care.

I have faith in President Obama, and I am sure we will have meaningful health care reform soon but, unfortunately, due to the media's inability to present a logical debate, America will most likely have to wait until a health care bill can be passed in memory of Ted Kennedy.


(...And to this lady at Arlen Specter's town hall the other day who shouted about awakening "a sleeping giant": Really? Now that the federal government is attempting to stabilize medical costs, provide health care coverage to the poor and uninsured, and make corporate illness profiteers more accountable to their customers, now you've become interested in our government? The Supreme Court deciding a presidential election with a 5-4, "burn after reading" decision didn't do it, 9/11 didn't do it, being lied into an unnecessary war didn't do it, the Valerie Plame scandal, the handling of Katrina, the firing of US attorneys for strictly political reasons, waterboarding, wiretapping, deregulation nearly causing another great depression didn't do it, but trying to make sure that citizens with a "pre-existing condition" can have access to affordable health care did it? You're stupid, crazy, and/or lying! Please shut up and let the adults with consciences do the decision making!)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Race Card Driver

The current Skip Gates situation has nothing to do with race, but it has a lot to do with acting stupidly!

Skip Gates is an asshole! He is uncompromising and views everything through the lens of race. But being an asshole shouldn't be an arrestable offense...especially when within one's own home.

One reason that I don't have a problem with calling Mr. Gates an asshole is because I am rather familiar with him – During my African-American Studies courses at UCLA I was exposed to Professor Gates' work and his views on race relations within the United States; but the main reason that I don't have a problem with calling Mr. Gates an asshole is because I, myself, am an asshole. And that is the main issue here.

Regardless of the exact order of events, and exactly what was said, the pertinent facts are clear: Somebody called the cops and reported a break-in at Henry Louis Gates Jr.'s address. The Cambridge Police responded. Mr. Gates was there, it was his house, there was not a break-in, and there wasn't any need for police assistance yet Gates' behavior led to a middle-aged Black man, who walks with a cane, and was in his own home, being placed in handcuffs and arrested for a charge that was immediately dropped.

Skip Gates AND the Cambridge Police acted stupidly!

The police responded to a non-situation yet arrested a highly-renowned Black scholar because he just couldn't resist being "uppity" in his own house. That's stupid! It's stupid legally, it's stupid behaviorally, and it's stupid public relations wise!

But the controversy surrounding this case was not spawned because Gates and the Cambridge Police acted stupidly – the controversy arose because Gates and the Cambridge Police couldn't handle their stupidity being pointed out.

Police officers deserve our respect and admiration but they are not ENTITLED to our respect and admiration. A lot of us who went to school with kids who became cops realize that they were idiots and/or assholes when they were young and now they are just grown-up idiots and/or assholes with a gun and a badge.

But police officers are human beings and they have a very dangerous job. Like my Mom always used to tell me, "Every time they put on that uniform it's like putting a bulls-eye on their chests."
Their lives are on the line nearly every second that they are on duty, and if they allow one citizen to be unruly and challenge their authority, it will lead to other citizens being unruly and challenging their authority, and so on, until the "ultimate punishment" will be the only method available to maintain order.

Skip Gates was unruly, and he challenged the cops' authority, so he got arrested. He was quickly released and, since he didn't get ass-raped or shanked while he was locked up, "no harm, no foul."

But the arresting officer in this case, Sgt. James Crowley, chose to be a police officer and with his authority comes responsibility; and, again, like my Mom always used to tell me, "If you can't stand the heat, then get out of the kitchen."

Please do not misunderstand me – just because Gates and the Cambridge Police acted stupidly, it doesn't mean that they are stupid – it just means that they acted stupidly. I act stupidly every day. That doesn't mean that I am stupid it just means that I am really good at it – and there is nothing wrong with that. The problem isn't acting stupidly – the problem is lacking necessary self-awareness and/or being so thin-skinned that even the slightest criticism is devastating to one's ego.

Gates did not appreciate a White cop giving him directions in his own home, and Sgt. Crowley did not appreciate Gates being defiant. Both Gates' and Crowley's egos were threatened and, since Crowley had a gun and a badge, it led to Gates being arrested. That's it, that's all – a man was arrested for no reason other than because he could be. And that's stupid! Professor Gates' and Sgt. Crowley's fragile sense of self are why Gates was arrested; and the Cambridge Police Department's necessity to project infallibility in order to maintain order are why they are so offended by President Obama's widely-publicized assertion that they "acted stupidly."

The reason that this is being debated as a "racial" issue, (other than because Professor Gates is adamant that it is), is because instances like this, of police abusing their power, happen everyday, especially to minorities.

Inadequate individuals do not attack the strong, they attack the weaker. And when it comes to our justice system, the poor and uneducated are the weaker; and the majority of the poor and uneducated are minorities.

10 years ago I was pulled over while driving with my Black roommate in the car. Our only crime was driving late at night while being young, (and him being Black).

I was Pre-Law at Cal State San Marcos, (1 of 8 majors at 1 of 4 schools – my 4 years of college were the best 8 years of my life), so I knew a little more than most about the 4th amendment. Almost immediately upon approaching my vehicle they asked my roommate for his ID. I told my roommate and the cops that he did not have to show them anything – He was a passenger, I was the driver, and we were (supposedly) pulled over for a moving violation. But they persisted and kept asking him questions. I repeatedly told him not to say anything, and repeatedly told them that he didn't have to answer their questions – Again, I was the driver, and we were (supposedly) pulled over for a moving violation. They did not like my attitude, and I could tell, but it was the night before my Mom's funeral and I didn't want to get held for 24 hours just because, so I shut my mouth and we were soon on our way without any citation or warning.

Had I continued being an asshole I would have been taken into custody simply because they were the cops, and I was not. Race was the reason that I was pulled over, but giving the officers no avenue to demonstrate their power other than to arrest me would have been the reason that I spent the night in jail.

But Professor Gates is not poor and uneducated, and race did not play a role in his arrest, (other than it being the motivation for his agitation).

Yes, racial profiling exists, but the problem is not elevated arrest rates among certain demographics, the problem is law enforcement abusing its power.

I remember quite fondly when, during my "Malcolm X and the History of the Black Liberation" course at UCLA, after Professor Wolfenstein read statistics contrasting the ethnic makeup of our prison population with the general population, he and the rest of the class agreed that the statistics revealed that minorities were unfairly prosecuted, I, (one of 3 Whites in the class), raised my hand and stated that, "the numbers reveal that a higher percentage of minorities commit crimes."
I’m an asshole. But the reality is – we were all right.

Skip Gates and Sgt. Crowley are assholes, but they, and President Obama, are all right – It was stupid that Professor Gates was arrested, and it had nothing to do with race.