Saturday, September 17, 2011

You Have To Read This One!

I was reading the op-ed section of the paper this morning with my morning coffee as I usually do and, as usual read both sides (The Palm Beach Post has two op-eds everyday. One from the "left" and one from the "right"). This morning's "from the right" was from Cal Thomas of Fox News fame. It was titled "Ron Paul was right" and was about Ron Paul's answer to Wolf Blitzer's hypothetical question about whether society should just let a young healthy thirty year old that opted out of health insurance and then fell into a coma just die. As most of you probably know this brought a few cheers of "yeah" from the audience. Mr. Thomas mentioned that they probably came from the previous debate where Rick Perry's pride in his lead in executions was wildly applauded. I would say that rather than try and tie that outburst to a simple answer it seems to me to be the prevailing ethic of  the day and for some time now is an "I got mine, screw you" attitude that has become more and more the norm. It is the basis for most of the  "ethical" differences that have brought governance to a screaming halt. (the obvious effect of money we'll just acknowledge as a major part of that ethic and move on.)

Where I had to stop and read what Cal Thomas wrote several times before I could even believe what I was reading was in a section where he was saying that he agreed with Ron Paul: that we should assume responsibility for ourselves and then went on to write about instances of people assuming responsibility for the needy. He said he was "intrigued by a story he read last month in London's Sunday Times. ........The headlines read "Tory Ministers to 'Adopt' Jobless Families. The ministers have pledged to set an example by volunteering to become "family champions" to the unemployed."

He went on to ask why this wouldn't work in the U.S. government? Why can't president Obama and his family, his cabinet members and agency heads each "adopt" an unemployed family and help them find meaningful employment. Then he asked the same about the Republican candidates, of course pointing out Bachman's experience in adoptions. Then he hit me with the WTF? Thus sayeth Cal Thomas of Fox News. "Warren Buffett and Bill Gates say they should pay more taxes. CAN'T THEY BE ASKED TO DO MORE TO HELP OTHERS? THEY WOULD SET A FINE EXAMPLE. " WTF? RIGHT?

How in the world could a person that writes for the public, works for the countries leading "news" organization not know about The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation? There has never been a better example in the history of the world than Bill Gates and Warren Buffett when it comes to "setting an example for helping others." You can ( and so can Cal Thomas) find out in all of thirty seconds by a fast Google search that so far they have donated over thirty billion with a B each to this foundation. They both have committed to adding greatly to that sum and eventually have pledged to give over 90% of their wealth to trying to help those that need it. They have also gotten a long list of very wealthy people to agree to join in. As Cal Thomas wrote, they also both agree that they should pay a greater share of the tax burden. Warren Buffett says he feels it is a sorry state of affairs when his secretary pays a larger percent of her income in taxes than he does.  Taxes in the USA are at an all time low. Especially for the wealthy. I'll repeat that: an all time low. When we are in a recession and so deep in debt I submit that this is not the time to have historically low taxes. Let's get the economy moving, pay down some debt and then have the debate on where taxes should be. I digress.

You have to wonder what makes it through the Fox News filters to have something this wrong come out of one of their guys. You also need to ask yourselves which side do you consider yourself to be on in the battle for America that is going on right now. Warren Buffett and Bill Gates or The Koch Brothers? It wasn't that long ago that there was no reason to even ask this question. What happened?

Again, thanks to my wife for the painting. In case you can't tell it's of me. :-)


  1. Having to listen to Cal Thomas on the radio while trapped in traffic on the way to work in DC every morning ranks just below waterboarding as a form of torture.

    I'm so happy to be retired and back in Florida again, sucking on the teats of Social Security and my VA disability pension. I suppose you've read by now that Ron Paul's former campaign manager, Kent Snyder, died while uninsured. Snyder died penniless of viral pneumonia at the age of 49, just after Paul ended his 2008 presidential campaign. A website was launched by friends to help his mother pay the $400,000 in medical bills he left behind. According to reports, they raised just $32,000. Obviously, Ron Paul failed to "adopt" his employee.

    Ironically, wingnuts that reject Darwin's Theory of Evolution readily accept the concept of Social Darwinism.

  2. One could ask the same thing about the repugnant journalist Paul Krugman of the NY Times..One person's wrong opinion does not a party make!

    Janine/Long Island NY

  3. Cool Painting...Great Job!!! That shits hard as hell to capture... (people) let alone the shading of light and shadows etc etc. I didn't particularly like the other painting but can clearly see through this one She is an excellent artist and knows what she's doing.
    (LMAO She even gave you Hair...LOL)

    Wow Butch.
    I'm shocked and having my own WTF moment here looking at the financial statements of this gates foundation posted on their website.
    For billionaires those numbers seem awfully low. (I saw a TV special on abc, cbs, nbc, forget which one ) couple years back on the Gates foundation. It was my intro to their organization (didn't know it existed before that, just that they were super rich)and they were portrayed as being much more generous and giving etc. (I was very impressed and admired them) but these numbers seem to contradict that and what your saying given the amount of there wealth.

    Butch, What are your thoughts on six sigma as a means and system of managing the government, reducing waste and fraud and balancing the budget?

  4. Comparing the Nobel Prize winning economist, Paul Krugman, to Cal Thomas is like comparing Albert Einstein to Howdy Doody. One can't say the same thing about him. If you find him repugnant that is your prerogative. But a writer with his bona fides would never make a mistake like Cal Thomas did and does on a pretty much daily basis. I mean guys, come on, how has stupid and wrong become so acceptable? Rick Perry for example.

  5. Ever since we elected Obama but thankfully that will be ending in 2012.

  6. Obama won a Nobel Prize also, Yet The Greater Depression keeps unfolding, propelled by the deliberate stupidity of the best leadership plutocracy could buy.

  7. Not comparing them, just disagreeing with Krugman on so many levels and the hateful speech he spews is insulting to me. I actually don't know the opinions of Cal Thomas at all. I did read the piece though after your post. Agreed that Gates gives mega money to charity although I'm sure Thomas was ignorantly not looking at it from that angle. It was stupid to say so yes. What I actually meant is that people say stupid things all the time but it does not speak for the entire right/left. Look at Michael Savage. Big time Right Wing jerk. I consider myself right and he offends me as well. Just pointing out that there are crazies on both sides of the isle.

    Janine/Long Island

    1. The point of Thomas's piece was that people with mneas should take care of the needy and indigent and not leave it up to the government and it's dependent making welfare programs (which by the way continues to not have enough money to pay for all the vote buying politicians need). I guess for Gates and Buffet... it's easier to give out of ones wealth than out of ones poverty... Love your drumming!

  8. Exactly how does Obama winning a Nobel have anything whatsoever to do with this recession and how could it? That prize had nothing to do with economics. It ain't his gig. We've got this dude on here that loves to spout things like Obama opens his mouth and the market drops 5%. Like Obama says has any effect at all on Wall Street and if it does why is it that the market is actually up over 30% since he became president? The market is very unstable and took that last nose dive because of what's going on in Europe. It's very likely to continue doing the same thing in the foreseeable future. Looks like Greece is toast. As to Paul Krugman can you give me an example of "hateful speech" from him? I read him as often as I can, even went to a forum he held in New York earlier this year. He talks in economic terms. He has never, that I know of, used "hateful speech." He may, at most, deride the economic acumen of someone that is trying to pursue a policy he feels is wrong. Paul Ryan's budget proposal comes to mind, but he is never "hateful." If you disagree please prove me wrong. Provide a quote from Krugman that you consider "hateful speech." I will also add that you will find a great deal more lies, half-truths and outright lack of knowledge of the facts coming from the right than the left. MSNBC is a liberal news channel. Fox is conservative. MSNBC will slant the news towards their view of how things should go but I challenge you to find them telling lies. Fox, on the other hand, says whatever it wants, the truth be damned. If you want some examples from Fox I will dig up as many as you like. I would also challenge you to do the same with MSNBC. Wanna take me on?

  9. Obama is going to release his Debt reduction plan. Watch the markets tank. Again the guy is clueless.

  10. Butch,

    Are you a financial expert? I doubt that because no one who understands finance would make the claim that the market is up over 30% since Obama took office and expect anyone in the financial community to take them seriously. Yes, it is up in terms of dollars but the dollar is losing value quickly. When the dollar drops, anything denominated in dollars goes up. So, your 30% increase is in inflated dollars.

    The only true measure of market performance is in terms of precious metals, like gold. The S&P 500 has lost 75% in value with respect to gold since Obama took office.

  11. Butch I'm afraid to take you on. You are obviously well read and I very much respect that. I will simply refer to the latest comments pertaining to the 911 anniversary that he's made. I define that as hateful. I actually prefer not to get into the "fox lies" debate because I've learned in my life that I can't change the minds of people left of me, I can just love them as if politics don't exist. I'm a right winger living in a world of friends and loved ones who are left. I love music and my beloved Brothers..So I just listen to what people have to say and try to see it from their view points. Also why I read your blog Butch I want to hear why you feel and think the way you do so keep it up. :)

    Janine/Long Island

  12. Here is what it takes to be a "financial expert" enough to make the statement that Wall Street is up 30% since Obama was elected. The day Obama was inaugurated the DOW Industrial Average stood at 7,949.09. As of this moment it is at 11,673.36. That is an increase of just over 30 percent. So I stand by my statement that the single most used metric to show the state of the market, the DOW, is up 30% since Obama was elected. Not in terms of "dollars" but in terms of stock value. Janine, I appreciate your position. I also appreciate the fact that you consider yourself a conservative. Many make the argument that smaller government and unregulated free enterprise is the way to go, a simple definition of conservatism and the the government creating programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid is not the direction in which we should be going in their view. Fair enough. When some of these same people do things like create the 2003 prescription drug act, an act that was not funded and over the long term will cost the generals funds over 7 trillion dollars, more than Social Security, which is paid for and then try and destroy Social Security and Medicare, which over 80% of us want to keep just the way it is, but refuse to even discuss that unfunded drug act because it was enacted by Republicans, I find that extremely hypocritical. I believe that I have grown up in a country that did great things and became a great country for doing them. We did these things as a country and the conservatism that is taking control right now will make it impossible for us to even remain mediocre, much less great. Our power grid was built under FDR and is old, antiquated and it will collapse; not if but when. Bridges are unsafe, our roads are a mess, our airports are some of the worst in the Western world. We sent men to the moon, now it is a neck breaking experience in some big cities to drive down the street. Our public education has gone from the best to close to the bottom of the developed world. I would like to have my children and grandchildren to be able to be a part of a society like the one I grew up in. One that does the basics better than anyone and occasionally does truly great things. The direction that conservatives are trying to take us will not allow this to happen, so call me a liberal.

  13. As far as "Fox lies." These are simple empirical truths. It has nothing to do with "changing minds." Like I said before MSNBC is a progressive (liberal) channel but they slant the news they do not lie about it. Fox does, blatantly and often. Anyone has a right to their own opinion, they do not have a right to their own facts. No matter how much you would like it otherwise the sun does not rise in the west and never will. Evolution is a fact, no matter how many times some say they "don't believe in it."

  14. Butch, Your On!!!
    And your wrong...
    Apparently according a Florida Appeals court decision On February 14, It is not illegal to lie.
    Fox Attorney's successfully argued the First Amendment gives broadcasters the right to lie or deliberately distort news reports on the public airwaves.

    Now as far as MSNBC go's...
    It appears they lie also...
    Here is what I found (with out spending a lot of time {just a basic Google and no research to validate the truthfulness of these claims})
    "President Bush never did one interview with the New York Times during his entire presidency."
    Fox News "said the New Black Panther Party decided the election for Barack Obama."
    "President Bush never did one interview with the New York Times during his entire presidency."
    MSNBC Lies about Warrentless Wiretapping
    MSNBC Admits: ‘Unable to Verify’ False Limbaugh Quote; No Retraction or Apology

    Read more:
    Under changes being debated, state employees in Wisconsin "who earn $30,000, $40,000, $50,000 a year might have 20 percent of their income just disappear overnight."
    With his decision on whether to fire Gen. Stanley McChrystal, President Obama "has to fix yet another problem he inherited from the Bush administration."
    "Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu received almost $1.8 million from BP over the last decade."
    "Despite what you may have heard about Wisconsin’s finances, Wisconsin is on track to have a budget surplus this year."

    Msnbc lies about white gunman at obama speech…

    Keith Olbermann lies about SIOA freedom rally against Islamic mega-mosque…

    Keith Olbermann lies, says Sarah Palin is a socialist and described Alaska that way…

    Rachel Maddow lies: Fox had absolutely nothing to do with the Shirley Sherrod story…

    In Exposing ACORN ‘Lies,’ Maddow Leaves Truth On the Cutting Room Floor…

    Keith Olbermann Lies About Kenneth Gladney Attack…
    Apparently it is all about the bottom line and ratings....

    The real issue here in my mind is the legality of this is...AKA...WTF???
    For example...
    If I made up a shit load of lies about you the ABB ya family etc. and posted them on my blog (so I thought anyway{and I think you can}) you would be able to sue my ass.
    So Why is it it that it is OK for a news organization....

    Now we Certainly can not take away or remove the first amendment...
    But WTF!!! Ya know what I mean? That just an't right that they (any media organization) can so that

    The other question I have about MSNBC is was this just these people or did they have permission from the upper level management as was/is the case with fox?...
    IDonno...Not sure I really care ether for that matter...but at any rate there you are...(if this info {links}are incorrect or false please let us know)but my biggest concern is with the Florida Appeals court decision.

  15. Almost forgot...Lost the link (closed the window but)
    The court case number is Case No. 2D01-529
    February of 2003
    the ruling was based on FCC rules stating they are not laws (or something to that tune)but the case had something to do with what was being injected in cows (thus affecting the milk children) and the anchors case was that parents had a right to know via the media etc etc Hope that helps anyone trying to check out the ruling and case

  16. Just one more quick comment on this issue of the media lies and propaganda before I log off here.
    I was just thinking….
    Ya know butch you talk a lot about our tri party system of government. And blame the conservatives way of thinking for many of our problems etc. and I guess to a point you are right. But that’s a no win argument for both sides as both are to blame. But ya know what…

    I think in all honesty, it is fair to say that the justice system has done an equally if not worse job on destroying our way of life and this great nation than both parties together.

    While the politicians can be voted out by the people the justices cannot.
    We are virtually powerless over the courts and this case involving the Florida appeals court and fox news is a classic example.

    I will give you one more case as an example (one local to where I live)

    An 82 year old man, spotless record not one arrest his whole life, and a Korean war veteran...
    Was arrested earlier this year and charged with assault with a deadly weapon and attempted murder after shooting two people that were trying to break into his house in the wee hours of the AM (It was the second time that day his house was broken into).
    No charges were brought against the two perps…..WTF???
    This is an 82 year old Man, defending his life and home.
    Where’s the justice in that?
    He had that right!!!
    Just as the people in Florida had the right to know about those hormone injections the cows were getting that are known and documented to be harm full to people (our children...
    Yet the FDA still approved them.

    Our society is so upside down and backward in so many areas.
    It’s disgusting!!!...It really is

  17. Wired, I really don't know what to say. I tried to follow all of the "lies" you posted. 90% of them go to a page that does not exist. One is about a story Rachel Maddow told about how "she" felt about Obama's trip to Copenhagen. She made zero "factual" statements. And as far as whether or not it's "illegal" to lie is so not the point it's absurd. Wouldn't it be nice if it were a law that the news we hear was required by law to be the truth? I'll get you a list from Fox and I promise you they will be for real. Weird post dude. Looks like a ton of stuff but when ya look at it there's not much there.

  18. Tell ya what, I'm just gonna make it easy on myself and give you this pointer:

    Feel free to go check it out. You can spend days reading about the lies that Fox tells. of course it perfectly legal.

  19. Another good site

  20. I'll be damned...your right...LOL 5 of the 13 don't work...(like I said I only did a quick Google and only opened a couple of them and scanned them quickly not to prove you wrong but because I was curious[like Janine I also respect your intelligence and only pick on you case your a liberal ...laughing]}) but then quickly got side tracked and began researching that court decision...
    Sorry about that...
    But for what ever its worth here the link I got that list of links from

    Now I have to go post my latest gibberish and thoughts...

  21. It has to be "Fox lies" and it has to be "conservatives are racists for opposing Obama" and it has to be "Republicans want senior citizens to starve" and it has to be "conservatives want to deny medical treatment to people" and all kinds of other ridiculous charges all because liberalism cannot compete in the marketplace of ideas.

  22. "The day Obama was inaugurated the DOW Industrial Average stood at 7,949.09. As of this moment it is at 11,673.36. That is an increase of just over 30 percent. So I stand by my statement that the single most used metric to show the state of the market, the DOW, is up 30% since Obama was elected. Not in terms of "dollars" but in terms of stock value."

    Well, according to my math the numbers you quote are a 47% increase but that is immaterial. The DJI is an index based on dollar values of the member companies so I disagree, the change is based on a change in dollar value.

    The problem is that the Federal Reserve prints money. As the money supply grows, the value of the dollar drops. Since the real estate crisis started, the Fed has instituted two rounds of money printing and that is the main reason the market has increased in dollar value. The dollar value of companies have increased but that doesn't mean their intrinsic value has increased. Their productive output could be the same but they increased in dollar value because the dollar is worth less than it was two years ago.

    A fairer comparison is gold since it's value is more constant and only varies based on the supply of the metal. The ETF symbol "DIA" tracks the DJI and the ETF symbol "GLD" tracks the value of gold. Assume you wanted to buy DIA and you had no money but you had shares of GLD, you could sell some of your GLD and purchase DIA with those proceeds.

    On Obama's inauguration day, DIA sold for about $74.05 and GLD sold for about $84.52. Assuming you could sell fractional shares, you would need to sell 0.88 of a GLD share to buy a share of DIA.

    On Sept 16, 2011, DIA closed at $114.86 and GLD closed at $176.03. You would need to sell only 0.66 of a GLD share to buy a share of DIA.

    So the price of the DIA actually drop with respect to a gold standard. In fact it dropped 53%.

    And this makes sense. We have high unemployment and it's not showing signs of improvement. And it's disingenuous for Obama to claim that the stock market has responded positively to his or Bernanke's actions.

  23. Okay..First I would love someone to tell me how I can change my comments from coming up anonymous I try to sign them all because I don't want to be mistaken for another person posting as anonymous. So help please..
    Butch, I watch fox news shows often. Not the ideologs though (hannity beck etc) I watch oreilly daily , enjoy the liberal commentators that are regularly on (Marc Hill, Leslie Marshall, Juan Williams) Chris Wallace's Show, Sheppard Smith, are fair smart people and I don't feel I'm getting fed a bunch of partisan crap. I'd be interested to see where you think the lies are coming from these folks. I can't point to lies from MSNBC because I don't watch that channel.
    I'm all for taxation for the infastructure needed and programs such as SS, Medicare, even unemployment and others even (safety nets for people that will need it at a time). Paying 35% is not something I'd ever strike out over even. But the constant solution that is suggested is tax increases. When is enough enough? When does unnecessary spending get looked at? Programs like grants of millions to companies that fail, or healthcare for everyone.
    I feel the answer is not what the right wants or what the left wants. What I know is that I'm 48 years old and I've worked since I'm 16. My husband runs a small business, also has worked since he's 16 years old. I have a child with autism. We fight and work our tails off for better things for our family...and the government keeps taking more and more from us.
    The latest, eliminating itemizing deductions. My head spins on a daily basis..

    Janine/Long Island

  24. Janine. I don't understand your position in the least. As of late there has been nothing but spending cuts and a continuation of the Bush tax cuts. Americans have always been at the lower end as far as how much of their earnings they spend in taxes and right now we are paying less of our income in taxes than at any time in the last 70 years. Especially the wealthy. As Warren Buffett keeps pointing out he paid 17.5% of his income in taxes last year while the 20 people that work in his office for him paid 35%. Bottom line is the economy needs help, jobs need to be created and we do need to stop borrowing from our grandchildren. It doesn't have to be Fox Lies, Republicans want senior citizens to starve or conservatives want to deny medical treatment to people. Liberalism can't compete in the marketplace of ideas? Give me a break. The country was soaring, the economy was roaring and everyone was working until Bush lowered the tax rate. Republicans continue to say that keeping taxes low on "the jobs creators' is necessary for job creation. The empirical evidence says otherwise. Fact: the lowest levels of unemployment since WWII have been when taxes were at their highest. Do you guys really think that it is fair to cut and cut and cut the budget for programs that help the middle and lower incomes while continuing to lower the amount that those that have been making a killing in the last two to three decades pay less and less? How can you possibly justify this? In the name of just being fair, how?

    Tying the market to the price of gold is really off the roof. Gold soars when there is fear of inflation and lately because of the global mess brought on by the collapse and its possible impact on the dollar. The main motivator for the rise in gold prices is simply supply and demand. It is a fact that that big oil, banks, Wall Street, etc are making more money and sitting on greater wealth right now than ever. This has happened while Obama was president. How much he has had to do with this is beside the point. It's disingenuous to say that he has made things worse for these people. Those at the top are doing great. The market, using almost any metric is doing very well. Using the price of gold as your measure just doesn't work. I lot of very wealthy people have a great deal of ready cash at the moment and they want to put a good deal of that cash into gold.

  25. Okay I could be completely misinformed but Warren Buffet pays 17.5% tax because he pays taxes on capital gains rather than income at 35%.
    I'm not against paying taxes. I want to pay my share but what is enough? 40% 50% 70% ?? Where does it end and who controls where the $ go? Who controls what is working and what is not? My position is that the money gets taken, and applied to things that do not make sense in a time of crisis. And then..never looked at again and poof money gone into thin air. No jobs created.

    I'd like to believe I fall somewhere in the middle of the argument.

    I don't believe that republicans want senior citizens to starve or not be treated for illness. I believe that to be propaganda.

    What is your position on a flat tax?

    Janine/Long Island

  26. "Wired, I really don't know what to say. I tried to follow all of the "lies" you posted. 90% of them go to a page that does not exist"

    A sterling example of a point made on an earlier post about the unreliablilty of information on the internet. There are "stats" and "facts" available to justify any point of view. If I wanted to "prove" that a giant octopus lived on the moon,I could probably find some stat or link online to back that up.


  27. I have been unemployed for the last year and a half. Yes, I have gotten unemployment compensation but it's not like I living on easy street. My family has had to cut back severely on everything in order to survive. The longer I stay unemployed, the more unemployable I become. I want a friggin job but there are none out there.

    I voted for Obama but now I'm sorry I did that. What is being done to improve this economy is obviously the wrong thing. But he is doing more of the same old crap. I think they call that insanity.

    Regarding this tax BS, if the Democrats wanted to raise taxes why didn't they do it when they had majorities in the House and Senate? I get the feeling that Obama had no intention of raising taxes because he feared what it would do to the economy. But instead, he wanted to have the "tax fight" during his re-election campaign to tar and feather Republicans. I can't accept this political maneuvering BS while there are a lot of us unemployed out here struggling.

  28. Brian I agree,
    but don’t waste your time doing any research.
    (according to Glen Beck) and the The Fools News channel…
    that commie M-Mess NBC network (owned by the devil Soros)
    have already reported,
    and proven that giant octopus
    (which Beck claims was actually a Giant Squid) is no longer on the moon.
    It was captured and brought back by Neil Armstrong and is now being interbred in the white house basement with a pink poker-doted flying purple conservative people eater and thousands them are scheduled to be set loose around election time to combat the hateful teabag racists and help secure the Marxist Messiah Obama’s victory in the nest election.

    The point is that they all slant twist and lie to one degree or another

  29. OK all pun aside…
    I have a serious question…
    I’m really trying hard to understand all this and am totally confused
    Butch you said
    Taxes in the USA are at an all time low. Especially for the wealthy. I'll repeat that: an all time low. When we are in a recession and so deep in debt I submit that this is not the time to have historically low taxes. Let's get the economy moving, pay down some debt and then have the debate on where taxes should be. I digress.

    OK Now…
    I heard Newt Gingrich say in a video I watched the other day that…
    The Banks are sitting on approximately 2 trillion dollars that they will not lend out even to those putting up a fair amount of collateral
    And likewise Corporations are also sitting on close to that amount but are not investing it…
    If taxes are at an all time low How will raising taxes create job growth? Especially where (according to these numbers…
    “Top earners are the target for new tax increases, but the U.S. tax system is already highly progressive. The top 1 percent of income earners paid 38 percent of all federal income taxes in 2008, while the bottom 50 percent paid only 3 percent. Forty-nine percent of U.S. households paid no federal income tax at all” )
    Is this article says true or false about the effects of Obama’s plan

    I also herd Newt say(and I agree) that yes we need to increase revenue to help pay sown the debt but we need to do it through job creation not higher taxes etc.)
    I really need/want help understanding this. Can someone at least post some credible links I can go to that will help me better this shit.

  30. Dam I'm scattered today...(zillion typos and missing words above...Sheesh {hope you all can read typonise})
    I forgot the main question I was going to ask...
    Is this Heritage plan Good or Bad?

  31. Janine,
    "I don't believe that republicans want senior citizens to starve or not be treated for illness. I believe that to be propaganda."

    Your quote may be an example of cognitive dissonance. When confronted with facts that conflict with deeply held beliefs, the mind refuses to accept the facts.

    I could also describe it as an example of hegemony. Wanting people to die rubs against all that we are taught about the "American Dream". Some forget that we gave Native Americans blankets infected with smallpox as gifts at one time in our history.

    The fact is, policies like those in Ryan's plan will cause deaths. Repealing Obamacare will cause deaths. Cutting social services will cause deaths. To think that those who propose these fucked up ideas are not aware that they will kill people is not critical thinking. Informing folks that the inevitable will happen is not propaganda.

  32. "To think that those who propose these fucked up ideas are not aware that they will kill people is not critical thinking."

    We're running out of money. Either we do something about or we'll all be in a world of hurt. How's that for critical thinking?

  33. Mr Lizard,
    Can you please provide some info to back up these claims? (or at lest some links) as to why these things will cause deaths so I can read up on this shit.

    The fact is, policies like those in Ryan's plan will cause deaths. Repealing Obamacare will cause deaths. Cutting social services will cause deaths. To think that those who propose these fucked up ideas are not aware that they will kill people is not critical thinking. Informing folks that the inevitable will happen is not propaganda.

  34. Wired,

    Sure. Try this one from Harvard.

    New study finds 45,000 deaths annually linked to lack of health coverage

  35. Janine,
    "How's that for critical thinking? "

    It's not. It is based on the fallacy that we are "running out of money".

    In reality, we are not. The problem is that the money is not circulating as it should. As Butch has mentioned, corporations and billionaires are sitting on mountains of money. Banks are not lending.

    Obama has the right idea. Tax them, but offer credits for new start ups, hiring the unemployed, and hiring veterans. Make them earn their subsidies.

    Also, as it is now, if money is saved on the backs of seniors, the ill, children, and the poor, the same billionaires and corporations will end up with that money as well. It's what they do.

  36. 'It's not. It is based on the fallacy that we are "running out of money".'

    You go ahead and believe that. The warning signs are in Europe. Be thankful that you're here.

    I would argue that you don't have the first clue about wealth in America. Take a look at the US debt clock here:

    Take note that US national debt is $14.7T and our GDP is $14.9T. The debt to GDP ratio is 98.7 and rising. When it reaches 100%, we'll be at the point where we don't create enough wealth to pay our debts.

  37. Janine,

    Then what is your solution if you understand wealth so well?

  38. Mr Lizard thanks for that link it was an interesting read.
    But I got to be honest with you here…
    The use of that article…
    (which mentions little to nothing about the methodology used to conduct the study let alone gives any cites or references to the actual study results other than a few general links to the CDC Etc which in itself is an extremely piss poor example of journalism {given the fact that it’s a renowned Ivy league school newspaper[Ya I got issues with Harvard]} )
    but anyway…
    That’s a bogus argument when it comes to claiming people will die if Obama care is repealed. It just has no legs to stand on… people are not going to die just because Obama care is repealed.
    Yes people have a right and need to have access to affordable health insurance but the government does not have the right or power under the constitution to mandate or dictate to people that they must have insurance or face penalties and I don’t feel they have the right to dictate and force business’s to do that ether….
    My issues and struggles are trying to understand and sort out the economics and what will work and what needs to be done to get the economy moving again and pay off the debt etc etc (whos plan is right vs. whos is wrong etc.)
    Nough said!!!
    Thanks again

  39. Mr Lizard
    Please don't confuse me with the posting of anonymous. Unsure who that is exactly but know that I would sign my posts and I certainly wouldn't curse in them. I've got to figure how to post another way.....
    I don't know the answers believe me. However, I would certainly love a candidate who could figure out the mess we are curently in. Where I could work as hard as I do for what I have to provide for my family and live the life I deserve, as well as pay my FAIR share of taxes, giving generously to causes that are near and dear to myself, helping those who are unfortunate or in need but deserving. I don't have the answers or even begin to know what is the right way but I certainly don't think uncontrolable taxation is the answer. I've seen first hand what a private sector business has to offer as well as provide for others. We will continue to follow that path. Most likely get screwed a little bit in the process but know that that is the way to go rather than have our hands out for something that we did in fact not work for.

    Janine/ Long Island NY

    I'm now going to try to figure out how to post as myself without it appearing as anonymous in the future after this post..

    Janine/Long Island

  40. This all started with the poor being adopted by the rich. Which will never happen. The rich aren't interested in the poor. The unemployed want jobs but the job creators want tax breaks in order to create jobs. So far none of those creators have stepped up to the plate. And Bill Gates hasn't given enough? Does he know this?

    Then you all went off on whose healthcare is going to kill more. I work in healthcare. It's like being on the Titanic because we simply don't deal with health, we deal with catastrophic disease whether it is uncontrolled diabetes in the homeless or a costly cancer "cure " funded by insurance for those that have it or keeping 90 year olds alive in the ICU because they never told anybody what their advanced directives were before they got the dementia.

    Then it was some debate about who lies more or better. What the fuck does it matter if we are conservative or liberal? We are all this together. and we've got to get out of it together but working together is like some foreign concept.

    Then there was a lot of economic hooey (sorry to all of you, I simply couldn't absorb it) trying to prove that Obama is the cause/cure of all/nothing.

    We, America, are in a sorry state because we are a greedy lot who believe anything said in the media and the infallible INTERNET. We don't want to do the hard stuff like work together.

    Paying taxes to support a infrastructure repair, education or healthcare is patriotic because it benefits America. Would you all support your parents, bring them into your home if they had no Social Security? Would your children support you? Not if they have no jobs or die from catastrophic disease because they have no healthcare.

    So getting back to Cal Thomas, individuals are not going to help each other. Government needs to take charge of this important aspect because we can't count on each other.

  41. Wired,

    I have to admire your tenacity in seeking citations. The article I linked to was not the study, but a news story. I hope you weren't trying to shoot the messenger because you have issues with Harvard. I do too; they gave George W. a degree.

    Here is more information on the study...

    Methods. We conducted a survival analysis with data from the Third National
    Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. We analyzed participants aged 17 to
    64 years to determine whether uninsurance at the time of interview predicted

    Results. Among all participants, 3.1% (95% confidence interval [CI]=2.5%,
    3.7%) died. The hazard ratio for mortality among the uninsured compared with
    the insured, with adjustment for age and gender only, was 1.80 (95% CI=1.44,
    2.26). After additional adjustment for race/ethnicity, income, education, self- and
    physician-rated health status, body mass index, leisure exercise, smoking, and
    regular alcohol use, the uninsured were more likely to die (hazard ratio=1.40;
    95% CI=1.06, 1.84) than those with insurance.

    Conclusions. Uninsurance is associated with mortality. The strength of that
    association appears similar to that from a study that evaluated data from the
    mid-1980s, despite changes in medical therapeutics and the demography of the
    uninsured since that time. (Am J Public Health. 2009;99:jjj–jjj. doi:10.2105/

    ...and here is the link,

  42. Janine,

    I agree we should all pay our fair share. My tax rates (and yours)are at the lowest since the 1950s while high-income earners are at their lowest since 1960. (, 2001)

    Unfortunately, Obama has not been able to get this fact across to the American people. This is especially true of viewers of Fox News who are bombarded with mis-information about taxes 24/7.

    You mentioned propaganda earlier. As a student and teacher of communication for many years, I can assure you that Fox News is the propaganda wing of the far right plutocracy. I also lived and worked in China from 2004-2008 and know propaganda when I see it.

    As for "uncontrolable taxation", if you look at little closer at Obama's plan, you will see that it is targeted, which is to say that groups that haven't paid their "fair share" will be asked to sacrifice like the rest of us. You will also notice that Obama offers generous tax breaks for businesses that hire or start new ventures.

    PolitiFact: Truth-o-meter Fact check...
    "When Obama said that "if you're a … wealthy CEO or a … hedge fund manager in America right now, your taxes are … lower than they've been since the 1950s," he's close: Their tax rates are at or near the lows for the years elapsed since then.

    The top marginal income tax rates were lower between 1988 and 1992 than they are today, but otherwise, Obama is right. They were higher for the other years. Meanwhile, the rates that are used to tax carried interest for hedge-fund managers have been at historical lows since 2003. And effective tax rates for high-income earners were either at their lowest since 1960 or very close to their lowest (at least according to the most recent data available). On balance, we rate Obama’s statement Mostly True.


    Barack Obama says tax rates are lowest since 1950s for CEOs, hedge fund managers, 6/2011). Retrieved from

  43. Lizard, you state that Fox news is biased and then you use PolitiFact as your source? Just because they use the words "fact" and "truth" in their descriptions doesn't mean they identify facts or truths. This is a site created by left-wing biased news sources.

    And it's not just Lizard who uses these types of sites. Butch refers to Media Matters which is a site set up by Hillary Clinton and funded heavily by George Soros. If you guys expect me to believe in what you post, you need unbiased sources of information.

    And Butch, you have no problem that MSNBC is, as you state, left biased? That is OK to you? Come on dude.

  44. Of course I have a problem with MSNBC being "left biased." Unfortunately the days of CBS, NBC and ABC being the countries main source of news and all three of those networks agreeing to allow their news departments to be "loss leaders" and make their money off of "I Love Lucie" is long gone. When I was a kid the country knew that if Walter Cronkite or Chet Huntley and David Brinkley reported something then you had faith that what they were telling you had been vetted thoroughly and what you were being told was as unbiased and truthful as possible. Then along came Ted Turner and CNN and the news became entertainment. I, like all of us, have no choice but to choose from what we feel is the lesser of all the evils available to us. I will not abide Fox, CNN has taken a hard right so I watch MSCBC because I find it the least repulsive. I guess I am lucky enough to have some free time to do my own research on matters that I consider important for me. I guess I'm having a bad morning but I sure am tired of all of this shit. When did it get so difficult to decide what is "right or wrong, fair or unbalanced?" I know this sounds like just another jab at the right but isn't it obvious which side is fighting for those in need and which is fighting for those that have the most? The first rejoinder from the GOP to "The Jobs Act" is it is class warfare. It has been class genocide for decades now and the rich have won.

  45. Lizard,

    Gave Bush a degree LOL...Too funny(Mine is partly them giving Ted Kennedy one (he got kicked out for cheating and they still gave him one)...
    No I wasn't aiming to shoot the messenger (just your statement people will die.
    I was tired and frustrated I couldn't find any info on the study after digging through all the links of the sites connected through the article even went into my college library and check out the academic journals and databases. And that was all after spending hours trying to read through the jobs bill and frank dodd bill. OMG what a dam cluster F of gibberish, no wonder politicians don't read the dam bills they pass.
    But at any rate I will check out the pdf on the study
    Thanks again!!!

  46. An Anecdote. Not long ago I went to dinner with a very wealthy friend. He had been a strong supporter of Bush and this was about the first time we had spent time together since Obama's election. (not close friends). After the mess that Bush left behind I asked him how he felt about how he felt about his man's handling of term as president. His response his so indicative of those I know around Palm Beach. He simply stated: "I got what I wanted."

  47. The rich always win, you are a winner as you have a multi million dollar home an income. If you want to give it away please do so. Obama is rich, Bush is rich, Romney is rich, Perry is rich. Every one of them is and neither of them really cares about anything other than getting elected or re-elected. Nobody acts like a good CEO looking forward decades from now on what the right thing to do is. It is critical at this moment to reign in the debt, like most people to do this you need to spend less. Lets get Obama out of their as quickly as possible and get on with it.

  48. "The rich always win, you are a winner as you have a multi million dollar home an income.'

    Very nice post! Short and to the point.

  49. Butch,

    It's very simple IMHO:

    1. The best thing you can do to help the poor in society is get them a job. For those who can not work, the government must and does provide support. But note that this is a tiny percentage of the population yet it's always used as the excuse to expand entitlements beyond what is needed.

    2. The richest among us create jobs either by creating companies or through some economic activity or other means (like the Allman Brothers performing a concert).

    3. If you penalize the rich, then the poorest are also hurt as a result of 1 and 2 above. Expanding government entitlement programs does not help people find jobs. At the same time, no one wants grandma to starve.

    Now, I've made 3 points here. If anyone disagrees with any of these points, tell me. You don't have to call me a name or use foul language to get your point across. You don't have to reference a FOX News or MSNBC personality to make a point. I'd prefer you voice your own opinion. Then, if your point is valid, maybe you'll change my thinking on this topic.

  50. Asking all segments of our society to contribute equally is not "penalizing the rich". It's rather obvious that the wealthy have benefited immensely from the Bush tax cuts. At the same time it is not difficult to see that very few jobs were created as a result of these cuts. The Bush experiment failed miserably. During his presidency there was a net gain of only 141,000 jobs and the loss of our budget surplus from the previous administration. The loss of our surplus can be partially attributed to the wars started during the Bush administration as well as the tax cuts. America cannot fight wars and lower taxes at the same time.

    So, what is the solution. We only have to look back to a time when the economy was hitting on all cylinders. In my opinion this would be a return to the tax rates of the Clinton administration. Under Clinton, jobs were created and corporations prospered.

    Even with a return to a more equitable tax code, there is still a fly in the ointment. We must end the Iraq and Afghanistan wars immediately. People seem to overlook the fact that these wars, not social security or other social safety nets, have dragged us down.

    So, there it is. End the wars, end Bush's corporate welfare, and reward "the job creators" only if they create jobs. By creating jobs, demand will increase which will increase government revenue and corporate profits.

    Our problem is not a deficit problem, it's a revenue problem.

  51. No our problem under Bush was not the tax cuts but that they added to the deficit, the problem under Obama he spends like a drunken sailor and he has mad the deficit worse ten times over. Fix the spending the economy improves over time and our children's children are better off.

  52. Many of the truly wealthy among us do not create jobs on any meaningful level. They, for the most part, inherit their fortune and live off of the money earned from that fortune. They do not work. I know of many examples and am or rather was friends with several including one of the Wriglys. That person is now a tea partier, feels that they should pay no taxes, nor have the government involved in their lives in any way. Sound right to you? These people live here and benefit from the infrastructure that we all must pay for. BTW, I live in a rented apartment and, thanks to the less than generous ways of the music business, records companies in particular, I am in no way a wealthy man. let's stop throwing that fantasy around. to be honest, after my time on Palm Beach I am not sure I would want to be very wealthy. they are some miserable, idle, parasitic people. Back to the point. A great many of the ultra-wealthy simply live off of wealth that they had little or nothing to do with the earning of. They pay much less than regular income on what they earn and feel that paying anything is too much. They don't even seem to understand that they benefit from so many areas of society. From air traffic controllers to the electric grid to railways and local, state and federal highway systems that they should do so and not pay their fair share is so not right. Like I said parasites.

  53. Butch,

    If you haven't seen this yet, give it a read. Humorous and poignant.


    sorry to hear you are not filthy rich, you should be. I'm not either but, let me say that you and ABB have made my life richer. Thanks.

  54. Butch,

    You're talking about trust fund babies. I don't think that they constitute a huge percentage of the rich.


  55. Lets be real here.

    Allman Brothers' Drummer Asks $3 Million in Florida
    A Palm Beach, Fla., home owned by Butch Trucks, the drummer for the Allman Brothers Band, is now asking $3 million, down from the original price of $3.3 million earlier this year.

    The 1954-built home is less than a five-minute walk from the beach. The 5,600-square-foot Mediterranean-style home has six bedrooms, 6½ bathrooms and a grand library. The home also has a swimming pool with a fountain.

    Mr. Trucks purchased the home in 1999. He says he's selling because his children have grown and he and his wife are planning to retire in the south of France.

    Christian J. Angle of Christian Angle Real Estate in Palm Beach has the listing

  56. Ok Jerk I'll get real. We sold the house for two million and we had $2,800,000 in debt. That's called an $800,000 short sale. I, like many Americans made the mistake of putting far too much of my retirement into my home. When times got tough I had to use the equity I had to survive and saw the $3,000,000 in equity that I was counting on for retirement go up in smoke. Continue your fuckin research and you will find the closing statements. They are public record. You want to keep trying to make me a hypocritical "rich man?" You have no idea how tough times have been with the housing market and the ABB not doing summer tours three of the last four years. I did buy a small 14th century farm house in the Languedoc region of France (the region just west of Provence). I do hope that things will turn around and that my wife and I can retire to that beautiful spot. That area, by the way, is not what people think of when they talk about "the South of France." It is a far cry from Nice and that region. It's wine and farmers. It is peaceful and beautiful. I hope to be able to settle there more than anything. We will have a field of solar panels, we already have put in a 300 ft well and geo-thermal heating and air. We have about 3/4 acre for a garden and we fully plan to never watch a news program again, my wife will paint, I will write books about many things, ride my horse and ,as Voltaire said so eloquently at the end of Candide, Tend my own garden. I am not and will not be a part of the wealthy class that hangs in the Southwestern part of France.

  57. Dammit, I'm just gonna have to quit writing this blog. I should know better than to let an asshole like you get to me like that. make you feel better?

  58. "Let's Be Real Here"

    WOW...if you're a fan of Butch's why would you disrespect him in that way.

    Janine/Long Island

  59. Butch,

    Don't let that beandick force you to retreat. What an asswipe.

    Hey, anonymous, post your fucking real name and address here and let us have a go at you if you are going to play it that way.

  60. Me again...

    There are paid trolls out there that do shit like this to prevent the free exchange of ideas.

    I'm working toward my Master's in New Media Journalism and if you need any help with this blog, just ask.

  61. The biggest problem with internet is not google, microsoft, commersialism, big brother or censorship. No, it's ordinary(?), stupid people writing comments on forums, blogs and news sites.

  62. Ya I agree...
    Stick around Butch, while the sale of your house may be Public record your personal finances and what you owe made lost etc.are not.
    Now back to the topic at hand...
    media (and politicians) lies...
    Here is something to research and sink ya teeth into...
    My understanding is that Ryan's plan (also this is similar to what the Heritage plan says )about medicare reform is not privatization this article says that it is

    Simple question...

    Yes or no...
    Is it privatization or not

  63. Butch,

    I'm a conservative. I realize you're a liberal. I have no problem with that. I enjoy debating on this thread about politics. The dickhead who brought up your house is, well, a dickhead. You're always going to get someone like that commenting on your blog.

    Even though we disagree politically, I still enjoy the back and forth conversation. Please don't kill this blog. You have facilitated a discussion amongst us ABB fans and I think it's great.

    Jim G.

    p.s: Sorry to hear about your house problems. I hope over time things will get better for you.

    p.s.s: If you got residuals on every time I listened to ABB albums on my iPod, you'd be rich. Put it this way. If you come back to my home town to perform, I'll pay any price to see you!

    Short and sweet, no matter what your financial situation, you and the ABB created the greatest band in my lifetime.

  64. Mr. Tucks,

    Speaking as the loyal opposition I implore you not to stop blogging. We need a discourse and you facilitate that. You seem to be learned and can construct a sentence. Both traits I struggle with.

    I am not going to comment on the public disclosure of your person life as I have mixed feelings about it.

    Back to taxes, if the tax-loving uber-rich love taxes and the government so much why do they give millions and billions to private charities instead of sending it to the Government? Like I said before if Buffett (Warren, don’t know about Jimmy) wants to pay more taxes, send it in the IRS will accept it. But don’t make that decision for me. Make it for your own wealth, or in my case lack thereof.

    While on the "Right" on things politically I might be persuaded to pay more taxes if the extra was going to reduce the deficient and not going to be used to increase spending. But then I can defeat my own argument because the people who run things are going to borrow the money if they don’t have it coming in as taxes. The Debt-Ceiling is joke, there is no ceiling to it. Spending cuts (see my blog ( are another government 3 Card Monte Act.

    I would like to give you my assessment of the major difference between the Right and Left in this country as far as taxes are concerned. The Left “thinks” with the heart, the Right tries to use the brain, sometimes in vain. When we talk about Welfare the Left sees a poor homeless mother and child the Right sees a balance sheet. Neither side is totally correct or totally wrong. Also please keep in mind it is so very easy to spend someone else’s money. Ask the $16 apiece muffin eaters.

    Respectfully, Bob

  65. Mr TRUCKS..sorry I misspelled your name above. My error.

  66. Hi Butch and greetings from London!

    Very much enjoying the blog and may I say how refreshing it is to hear a sane US voice during the Republican nomination process.

    Anyway, I just wanted to follow up your comment in which you cite Cal Thomas and the article he read in the UK's Sunday Times.

    The proposal for better-off families to "adopt" jobless families very much ties in with the Conservative Party's "Big Society" policy centrepiece. Essentially this is about increasing the amount of voluntary and unpaid work done by UK citizens, particularly in the welfare sector. A laudable enough aim on the face of it but it is meeting considerable opposition here because many people believe that it is simply a vehicle to get citizens to do for nothing what the state should be doing, thereby saving a lot of money.

    Most centre and left-of-centre people here, including myself, are ideologically committed to the UK's welfare state and see the "Big Society" idea as a way of dismantling it by stealth. Speaking personally, I have nothing against increasing the amount of volunteer work but it should be alongside the support offered by the state, not in place of it.

    Anyway, please keep posting. Thoroughly enjoying your stuff.



  67. Hi Dan,

    I wanted to comment on your post about the welfare state. A welfare program is a necessary part of society. There will always be a percentage of the population that needs to depend on welfare.

    The problem arises when welfare becomes a way of life. Most people are compassionate and are thankful that they are employed and able to pay their own bills. Politicians con their way into office using the compassionate nature of people. They then grow the welfare state till it's of Marxist proportions (in others words toward a full communist society). The politicians, by being elected, become part of an elite society that never touched by the problems of a Marxist society. They get better healthcare, a generous pension, write themselves a higher than average salary, get better police protection, never subjected to material shortages, ... The list goes on.

    The opposite of that is conservatism which says that the welfare program should exist to help those who truly need help but that it should never be something that the average person would want to subsist on for the rest of their lives.

    It takes a brave politician to campaign on those ideals because it's so easy for the left wing politician to demagogue them as being heartless (read "Rules for Radicals" by Saul Alinsky).

    And speaking of stealth, the left has been stealthily changing society for years in order to achieve their goals. They erode the culture and have infiltrated the education system in order to mold young minds into their way of thinking.

    Leftism, Marxism, Socialism, Statism; they're all the same thing. It's also called big government. We are getting a good look at what the big government states of Europe have brought on their people. Soon, Greece will have bread lines and this will spread across Europe and to your UK. The world is getting a good look at what these governing styles produce. Nothing but misery.

    Jim G.

  68. Hi Jim

    Thanks for your comments; I appreciate you taking the time to reply to my post.

    I would say, first of all, that I agree with you - as I am sure most people would - that a welfare system should exist to help those who need it. There will always be those who abuse the system for their own profit but that's true of virtually any system (e.g. the stock market). The government has to do what it can to weed out and punish the system abusers while maintaining support to the needy. What it shouldn't do is cut the system back for all merely because some people abuse it.

    Second, I don't accept your link between the existence of a welfare system and growth into a full communist society. The UK has had a proper welfare system since just after WW2 and at no time in the subsequent 60-odd years has it ever remotely threatened to become a communist society. Indeed, the welfare state has abided through periods of Conservative, Labour and coalition governments. The National Health Service, which provides free health care to anyone and everyone in the UK, is something of which we are justifiably proud. We pay our taxes and part of what we get in return is the guarantee of free health care. And I would happily pay more tax to drive up standards.

    I would also argue that it is not socialism or big government that has led to the current global economic crisis. On the contrary it is rampant capitalism, unregulated banking, and the greed and general selfishness which they promote, that has driven us to this point. What the last twenty or thirty years (if not longer) have demonstrated is that capitalism serves only to enrich the rich; there is no 'trickle down'. The poor stay poor and the rich get richer.

    What the US, the UK and most of the world needs is a much better distribution of wealth. The world doesn't need to be creating more millionaires; it needs to be moving people up from below the poverty line. And if that redistribution of wealth means I have to be slightly worse off in order to help those with less than me be better off then so be it. Now *that's* compassion.

    I say this with the greatest of respect but it seems to me that it is an almost uniquely American view to regard anything left-of-centre - whether mildly leftist, socialist or Marxist - as one and the same thing. They're not; just as not everyone on the right is a foaming-at-the-mouth, homophobic, religious nutjob.

    Speaking of which, that stuff about the left 'infiltrating the education system and molding young minds' is something I'd expect to hear coming from Michele Bachmann. That 'Invasion of the Body Snatchers' mentality - that a bunch of unfeeling automaton Marxists are slowly trying to cheat you out of your chance of becoming a billionaire - is ludicrous but, staggeringly, has been the driving force behind much domestic and foreign US policy for as long as I can remember.

    Hope all this is taken in the spirit in which it is intended, namely good-humoured but deeply felt political discussion; just as I'm sure we would if we were shooting the breeze over a beer.



  69. Hi Bob,

    Thanks for commenting and being very civil. You mention a lot of things in this post. Let's do one at a time.

    The National Health Service. You say its free. Not really. All health care must be paid for somehow. Perhaps that is just semantics since you do mention that as part of your taxes you get health care in return. No being a resident of the UK, I don't know if that means income taxes or some other kind of taxes like real estate taxes. Either way, there will always be people who cannot afford those taxes or maybe they don;t work so you will have to pay for your own health care and part of someone else's health care.

    Add to that the problem that when I government runs any entity, they usually don't do a good job. We here in the US hear all kinds of horror stories about the NHS. But it's probably not fair for me to use rumor as fact so I will use a UK paper as a source of info about the NHS.

    This article is pretty damning. Receptionists with no clinical training assessed new arrivals. Patients waited hours for emergency treatment, and when thirsty had to drink water from flower vases. The pressure to meet arbitrary targets encouraged doctors and nurses to ignore seriously ill patients in order to attend minor, quicker to treat, cases. One senior doctor admitted to leaving a patient with an arm broken so badly that the bone stuck through the skin with no pain relief for four hours. The hospital’s board ignored a threatening rise in cross-patient infections. When surveyed, only 27% of the hospital’s own staff was happy with the care they provided. All in all, investigators estimate that the hospital killed between 400 and 1,200 patients in a three year period.

    What is not seen is what contribution the UK makes to the advancement of medicine globally. When you experiment with a program like this, there are seen consequences and unseen consequences. I think the unseen consequences are that innovative new medical advances don't really come from the UK. Instead, they come from places like the US where people are paying for premium medical services. But where does that leave the poor. In the US, they can walk into any emergency ward and get free medical care. No one is turned away. They may not get gold plated care but it's still free.

    The NHS doesn't sound like something I would be proud of. But I believe in my heart that this is what you get when you put government in charge of something.

  70. Sorry Dan, I accidentally called you Bob.

  71. Hi Jim

    No worries!

    I think what you've done there is highlight an individual instance of an under-performing hospital. While I'm certain there are others of similarly low quality, I'm equally certain there are far more that provide exemplary service often under less than conducive conditions.

    The solution to this is to improve standards, not throw the baby out with the bathwater and take it as a sign that the whole principle of free health care should be scrapped.

    I'm not surprised that in the US you get a jaundiced view of the UK's NHS, for the simple reason that for years it has been a concept which as a nation you have been strongly against. Equally, in our country we hear stories of US citizens having to pay before an ambulance will take them to a hospital and so on. It sounds pretty inhuman to us.

    I don't have a problem with some of my taxes being spent on services which I may not use but that others do. I see that as part of one's duty to society. As I said before, I'd happily pay more tax to improve standards, particularly in the health service and education, even though I'm no longer in the education system and even though I may never get ill for years.

    We've had enough of the selfish society where everyone takes but doesn't give. It's time for a selfless society.



  72. Dan, Jim,
    You have an excellent discussion going here I hope you don't mind me jumping in here.
    Lets take health care (Obama Care)Now I can speak for your European system but here is the problem here in the US the reality and crux of it anyway and why so many Americans are against it...
    Obamacare is a disaster, unconstitutional, unaffordable, unworkable, and stunningly unfair. Its so-called "individual mandate" is blatantly unconstitutional and an unprecedented expansion of federal power. If the federal government can coerce individuals—by threat of fines—to buy health insurance, there is no stopping the federal government from forcing Americans to buy any good or service.
    In addition to the unconstitutional nature of individual and employer mandates, we are learning that they simply don’t work.
    Their intractable problem is this: once you have a mandate, the government has to specify exactly what coverage must be included in insurance for it to qualify. This introduces political considerations into determining these minimum standards, guaranteeing that nothing desired by the special interests will be left out.
    And once the government mandates such expensive insurance, the government becomes responsible for its costs. It has to adopt expensive subsidies to help people pay for the expensive plans that it is requiring. The resulting cost to the taxpayer and strain on the budget leads the government to try and control healthcare costs by limiting healthcare services. The inevitable result is rationing by a nameless, faceless, unaccountable board of government bureaucrats.
    The Obamacare law also creates one thousand, nine hundred and sixty eight separate grants of power to bureaucrats, most of them to the Secretary of Health and Human Services and her bureaucracy. It creates 159 new boards, agencies and other government entities to administer health decisions that should be up to the individual in consultation with their doctor. This unprecedented grant of discretionary power to unelected bureaucrats guarantees the rise in arbitrary and corrupted decision-making by the federal government.
    We must either limit government or we will have government limit us.

  73. OOPs sorry dam typos...
    I meant to say... I ("can't") speak for your European system

  74. Hi Dan,

    Your comments regarding the selfish society make me think.

    Isn't it selfish for someone to let someone else pay for things they need to live?

    Our society embraces compassion. It's natural to feel compassion for those who don't have basic needs. There will always be a part of society that want to take advantage of that compassion.

    If I'm out of a job and I'm getting paid an unemployment compensation, why would I want to look for a job. This is especially true if you hated the job you were just laid off from. I know this feeling because I've lived it. Also maybe I need a job because I need to pay for health insurance. That's a good motivator.

    Because health care is "free" people will always take advantage of it. Your mention of ambulance rides and we in the US having to pay for it. If it's free am I going to ask myself "Is my condition bad enough to warrant an ambulance ride?" No, the average person will say he's entitled to it because they paid their taxes. But having that ambulance come to your aid is removing it's ability to service someone else who may need it more than you.

    The problem with "free" health care is that the system will eventually implode under it's own weight. Expenses will always exceed revenue requiring additional taxes or the cutting back of services (as Wired pointed out). And this is a never ending cycle until taxes are so high and services are so poor that the people revolt.

    This may take 50 years or 100 years but I'm convinced it will happen.

  75. Jim, there is an obvious answer to your assertion that a single payer system will implode. The USA is the only country in the Western World that does NOT have it. We are paying roughly twice as much for our health care. We have 52,000,000 uninsured and 10's of millions under insured yet we rank at the very bottom in almost all categories regarding health. We have shorter life spans, higher infant mortality, you name it we're are at or near the bottom. All of these other countries have had health coverage for all citizens for many years and none have "imploded." This is one of the insurance industries favorite arguments to keep us paying $.40 out of every dollar that we spend on "health care' for private medical insurance. During this recession private hospitals are making all time high profits. The insurance companies, like wise, are making more money now than ever before. Sorry, but your reasoning just doesn't agree with reality.

  76. Butch,

    My assertion is based on history. Soviet Russia lasted about 70 years. It imploded mainly because in a socialist society, you have have more takers than producers. That fact that it lasted that long is odd to me but it eventually imploded under it's own weight. They were communist which is radical socialism with it's dictatorial regimes and repressive society which is different than socialist western Europe so maybe it will take Europe longer to see the same results.

    But we are starting to see the struggles of the socialist societies in Europe -- namely Greece, Portugal, Spain, Ireland, and Italy. Even here in the US, we are getting predictions that Social Security will run out of money some time in the future.

    Regarding your statistics, I have no idea if they are true or made up by some politician. I believe the health rankings come from the UN which has never been favorable to the US. If the health rankings were as bad as they say, I would see it first hand but I don't. (If you want to provide links to that info, I'd be happy to read it)

    We are described as having an obesity problem in the US. I do see that very clearly. But that is not a problem of a society that is faltering. Quite the opposite, it's a society that has made abundant supplies of food available at cheap prices. (Please people, lets not get into a discussion of food companies and what they do to food. That's a different debate.)

    Regarding the insurance companies making lots of money, I once got into a debate with someone over this topic. People often generalize about this like your doing here which makes me feel uncomfortable. I'm not willing to accept this so I did a study of United Healthcare's balance sheet. People were saying that they were making billions on people through health insurance. Sounds bad. But the problem was that they were insuring a hell of a lot of people. When I did the math, I was surprised to find that they were making about $100/year on each subscriber. I expected it to be much higher than that.

    Jim G
    p.s.: Thanks for responding to my post. Even though we disagree, I enjoy the discussion.

  77. Your "assertion" is based on a comparison between a system based on complete socialism and communism with a health care system. I don't think I really need to point out your fallacy in logic here. This is the exact argument used when social security was passed. Has the social security system turned the USA into an economic or political system that even resembles the USSR? That is what the opponents of social security warned that would most surely happen. On the contrary, this country in 2011 has far less government regulation than it did at the time that social security was implemented in 1935. We were given the exact same argument when medicare was passed in 1965. Putting into place a system that provides basic health care for all citizens is the norm in the free world. The USA is the exception. You think that we should feel good that private health companies "only" make $100 per person from their services? First, what "service" do they provide? 2nd if the USA has 50,000,000 uninsured then 250,000,000 have some insurance. That means that private health companies "only" make 25,000,000,000 a year in profit. In other words if private companies were removed from the system there would be more than enough to cover everyone and lower the costs. You pay a small increase in your taxes and you no longer have to pay exorbitant health insurance premiums to companies that, by their very nature, must place shareholder profits at the top of their list of priorities. Lastly, The Commonwealth Fund, in its annual survey, "Mirror, Mirror on the Wall", compares the performance of the health care systems in Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada and the U.S. Its 2007 study found that, although the U.S. system is the most expensive, it consistently under-performs compared to the other countries.[5] One difference between the U.S. and the other countries in the study is that the U.S. is the only country without universal health insurance coverage. Since 2007 premiums have soared as have the number of the uninsured. This country CANNOT survive with our current medical system. If not the Affordable Health Care Act then what? I'll finish with this quote from ABC News: In the midst of a deep economic recession, America's health insurance companies increased their profits by 56 percent in 2009, a year that saw 2.7 million people lose their private coverage. We are being sold a bill of goods built on myths that have been perpetuated by the bilking and misery of the average American. A Universal Health Care System would NOT turn the USA i9nto the USSR any more than it has any other country in the free world. Bro, wake up.

  78. The problems in Europe right now have nothing to do with any of their "socialist" programs. They are mired in the same pit that the rest of the world is in. Most of it courtesy of the USA, unregulated traders and over consumption. The trillions of bucks form OTC derivatives that were spewing from all over back to Wall Street as far back as The Clinton years became the plague that is now eating away at Greece, Portugal, Spain and all the rest of us. Greece is in worse shape than the rest because it made matters worse by running up massive public and private debt. They would, however, not have run into the kind of trouble they have now if they hadn't bought so freely into the OTC derivatives and, like all the rest of us, their housing market had not gone bust. Germany, on the other hand, kept a far tighter control on these types of transactions (that is they actually acted more in a socialist manner and did not allow unregulated free trading). At the moment Germany is doing just fine and if not for them and France bailing them out Greece would have already defaulted. In fact this is what caused our markets to dive in the recent past. The real shit has likely not hit the fan yet, however. Greece is still headed toward default with a couple of other countries right behind them. None from any "socialist" activities. All from over spending with worthless crap that originated right here in the good old USA from our obsession with an unregulated "free market" and some very smart, unscrupulous and now extremely rich Wall Streeters. It's Gorden Gecko type greed and our government's lack of any oversight that has brought this on. Would that more socialist systems would have reigned them in. We would all be much better off.

  79. Keep the faith, BT- great stuff, I'm truly impressed.

    What always strikes me about the adherents of the "I got mine/screw you" ethic, as you put it, is the way they try to get Jesus C. all mixed up in it. Or at least a heavily customized Jesus C., who wants tax breaks for the very rich, lots of deregulation, more military spending, lots of invasions, more executions, less environmental protection, less compassion for animal rights, and doesn't like poor people or a lot of other types of folks who don't look like him. Not big on forgiveness, either. Oh, and guns- He REALLY likes guns.

    Call him the "I got mine/screw you" Jesus. He's waiting for you to give him your heart.

    If the guy from the Bible showed up, though, they couldn't get him nailed to the cross fast enough.

  80. Let's look at the sequence of events that got us here.

    Congress creates the community reinvestment act in 1977 that forces banks to give home loans to those who cannot afford to repay them. The act does not get any real teeth until the 90's when several banks are sued for violating the act.

    At the same time, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac tell banks they will assume mortgages in the secondary market so long as originator bank lends according to the GSE's standards. Banks see opportunity to make money originating loans and selling them to the GSE a month after closing. Their risk is low.

    Fannie and Freddie along with top investment bankers devise insurance like scheme to lower risk of homeowner defaulting on loans. The idea is to package high risk loans with low risk loans and sell it to other investors. Thus one default doesn't kill the investment.

    The Fed seeing that the real estate market is robust keeps interest rates artificially low to encourage lending and buying of homes especially by those who never were able to get past the down payment required by homes in the past. After all, shouldn't a home be a right for everyone?

    The real estate market heats up to the point that it can no longer be sustained. At some point investors realize the market has peaked and pull out. Market crashes and house values drop. Scores of recent home buyers now realize they owe more for their house then what it's worth and decide to walk away from their mortgages and homes. Record mortgage defaults cause some banks to go under.

    Fed steps in and says we need to bail out biggest institutions. Really!!! Lehman and Bear Stearns are left to fail. BofA is forced to acquire Merrill and Countrywide. AIG bailed out. Morgan Stanley picks up Smith Barney from Citigroup. Rest of Citigroup bailed out.

    Now, what precipitated this whole thing? It was government action. The community reinvestment act. Forcing banks to give out bad loans. This led to the collateralized debt obligations which would have worked if the Fed hadn't stoked the fire by keeping interest rates artificially low.

    But the politicians involved with this set out a course of blaming everything on the CDOs as being the problem. The banks and investment houses couldn't defend themselves because they needed a bailout to continue business. What cozy bedfellas we make.

    You mention greed as the problem. There is nothing wrong with making money on an investment. It's what powers our economies. The real problem is big government trying to control our lives. They do great damage because they are seldom correct with their actions. It's the same as Solyndra.

    This is the root of socialism and it's why I believe it will never work. And those ailing European countries? They were headed towards unsustainable entitlement problems before this happened. This real estate bubble bursting just accelerated their problems.

    And I agree. We haven't seen the end of this. I'm looking at the Euro drop in early Monday trading and I fear more chaos this week.

    So long as we use Keyensian economic policies we'll only make things worst. It's time to swallow the bitter pill. I hate to say this but things are going to get a lot worst before they get better.

  81. Jim

    I think if you're attempting to argue that the global financial crisis was caused by anything other than unfettered, unregulated capitalism you're on to a loser.

    And if you're suggesting that the solution to the global financial crisis is less government intervention then I would profoundly disagree with you.

    What recent event have proved is that the free market, left to its own devices, will bring not just individual countries but - thanks to globalisation - most of the developed world to the brink of collapse. Whatever the solution is, unrestricted capitalism is certainly not it.

    The trouble with most discourse about the left by the right is that sooner or later it degenerates into conspiracy theories about "controlling our lives". Leaving aside the question of how "free" most Americans were under George W. Bush, or how "free" they might be under Rick Perry, Mitt Romney or even worse Michele Bachmann, no socialist - or Marxist for that matter - wants to control everyone's lives, certainly no more than those on the right do. It's simply scaremongering to suggest otherwise.

    You say there's nothing wrong with making money on an investment but in my view there is something wrong with making a profit on public services, particularly health. There are enough opportunities for those who see making money as the be-all-and-end-all without handing over the public services to them as well. Those services should be ring fenced not-for-profit organisations.



  82. Jim, you are once again taking one part of the disaster that might fit into conservative thinking and proliferating the myth that it was the cause of this mess. As usual, the cart is before the horse. If you do nothing else please take the time to watch this program. It is a fairly detailed account of what happened and how our "free marketeer, Summers, Geitner, Greenspan and the head of the SEC" were told of this secret box with trillions in it that no one knew anything about. The discovery of what was in the box (OTC derivatives) and the refusal by these men to do what needed to be done to reign in this Guiness Book of Records level greed. This was the trigger that set everything else in motion.

    Watch this program. It is vital to an understanding of why we are where we are and the real forces that brought us here. I do agree with some of your accounts of what caused the housing bubble. And please DO nOT use the term Keyensian to describe what has happened. It shows that you are blatantly passing on the myths being used by the right. There is very little resembling anything Keyensian about the policies that we have or are following.

  83. And I will point out that Oteil was correct when he pointed out that Bill Clinton was pre4sident when this went down. I trust that by now most informed people have seen that Bill Clinton was, at best, a centrist, and at worst used conservative policies far too often to advance his agenda.

  84. Butch and Dan,

    First things first guys -- might I suggest that there are a lot of things we agree on here? We're just disagreeing on the remedies.

    In the beginning of the Frontline program, you are told an interesting thing. Greenspan is a disciple of Rand who is a libertarian. Yet, he must renounce that title in order to become the chairman of the Federal Reserve. This is because the Federal Reserve manipulates the market by setting interest rates. I made this point in my previous post. So, to assume that we are in a state of "unfettered, unregulated capitalism" is wrong.

    In an unfettered and unregulated capitalistic world interest rates are set based on market forces. When the economy overheats, interest rates rise and it slows economic activity. In the 90s, rates were kept artificially low by the fed in order to keep the tech boom going. When that failed, they lowered them even more because "we needed to allow the economy to recover." Boom, along comes the second bubble in a decade and again, interest rates are now lowered to 0%. The government is creating another mess. This is not unfettered capitalism. The Fed also creates money out of thin air which devalues the currency. Gold and silver are going through the roof not because they are worth more but because the dollar is worth less. The DOW has surged since March/09 for the same reason, not because we are pulling out of the recession.

    Another thing that bothers me is the notion of "too big to fail." My educational background is not in finance but even the so called experts failed at their jobs. So I have to say that I find it very odd that we need to bail out a company. So the company goes bankrupt and their investors lose their investment. First things first, you never invest anything that you can't afford to lose. If you violate that rule, you deserve to go bankrupt. Maybe I'm oversimplifying this because I don't understand the intricate details but neither do the politicians who decide on these rules (irrespective of their ideology). If companies get so big that their bankruptcy would cause entire economies to fail, then they need to be broken up just like a monopoly would be broken up.

    Another point (BTW: I'm going on a week vacation tomorrow so I'll not be able to respond to any rebuttals) -- that entire PBS program showed how bad government officials can be when given the power to regulate or not regulate.

    The libertarian mind says you are free to do as you please but if you get into trouble don't expect others to bail you out. In capitalism, if you do not provide the marketplace with a product or service that they need and want, then you go bankrupt. You then pick up the pieces and do something else hopefully different from your first idea. But when government steps in and bails you out, you are encouraged to make the same mistake.

    Butch, I use the term Keynesiamism because Keynes pushed the idea of government stimulus to heal economic recessions. Friedrich Hayek said this would have an opposite effect and I agree with him.

  85. Nice painting Mrs. Trucks! Pretty much right on the money Jim G!!

  86. What Bill Gates is doing in total is great. However, I understand that he is also in partnership with Monsanto and their genetically modified foods. There is a lot of dislike and distrust for Monsanto.

  87. hey butch, just curious why you are not on the song standback? please don't keep me wondering no more.

  88. Butch; been listening to you play since 1970. Just found this blog. We have way more in common than your music. This is spot on. Thanks for this and the music.



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