Uncommon Sense

May 15, 2014

The World According to Rubio . . .

According to Senator Marco Rubio (R Florida) there is a 100% scientific consensus that life begins at conception.

This is a fascinating claim from a scientific ignoramus. Consider if this were true. You could immediately claim an extra deduction on your income taxes. You could ask your fetus to get a job, support him- or herself, and maybe charge for room and board. (Talk about a taker!) I know of no agreed upon scientific definition of “life” so a 100% consensus on it beginning in a long train of human reproductory events (injection of sperm, egg fertilization, zygote development,  … , birth, suckling, … , etc.) in any particular place is beyond comprehension. We have a “legal” definition (or rather definitions) of when life “begins” to avoid the potential absurdities associated with the birth of a child. When a child is born, it is either dead or alive. If it is alive, it is accorded privileges (but not full privileges) as a citizen. A definition of life beginning at conception would be a legal nightmare. What rights would the little beastie be accorded? I believe the Senator would insist upon the right not to be aborted. For anything else he cares not.

He also cares not about truth or reality and is willing to lie, cheat, and steal to become President. Interesting process we have here, the one where we ask our political candidates to prove their worthiness to lead . . . by not understanding important science topics like climate change, conception and birth, etc. yet still having “firm” and often bizarre beliefs on those topics.

Finally! $1,000,000 per hour Barrier Broken!

We’re Number 1! We’re Number 1! In 2013, four Hedge Fund managers made over two billion dollars in earnings which means each of the four made over $1,000,000 per hour during that year (based upon a 40 hour work week (dubious), 11 paid holidays, and two weeks of vacation (also dubious)). This was done in an up and down market year that showed little gains for investors. And for this achievement, these titans of finance have been granted the lowest federal income tax rate on those earnings by the politicians they bribed. This means they get to keep a great fraction of their earnings than do you or I.

What a country! In an occupation that doesn’t really create anything and is more akin to gambling than anything productive, Hedge Fund managers show what the American Dream really is—prostitution, that is screwing people for money.

Well done Hedge Fund managers, well done!

(I know, I know, sarcasm is unbecoming, but sheesh!)

May 14, 2014

The Shocking Thing Is They Were so Blatant

The fact that the charter school movement was highjacked by plutocrats wanting to tap into the trillions of dollars spent on public education was quite understandable, what is shocking is that they are so inept at hiding their rapaciousness. Not satisfied in making substantial profits, the systemic cheating of the public is truly appalling.

According to Paul Rosenberg in Salon (“Charter schools are cheating your kids: New report reveals massive fraud, mismanagement, abusesub Millions of dollars are being vacuumed out of public schools and into the corporate pockets – or fraudulent execs):

“Just in time for National Charter School Week, there’s a new report highlighting the predictable perils of turning education into a poorly regulated business. Titled “Charter School Vulnerabilities to Waste, Fraud and Abuse,” the report focused on 15 states representing large charter markets, out of the 42 states that have charter schools. Drawing on news reports, criminal complaints, regulatory findings, audits and other sources, it “found fraud, waste and abuse cases totaling over $100 million in losses to taxpayers,” but warned that due to inadequate oversight, “the fraud and mismanagement that has been uncovered thus far might be just the tip of the iceberg.

“While there are plenty of other troubling issues surrounding charter schools — from high rates of racial segregation, to their lackluster overall performance records, to questionable admission and expulsion practices — this report sets all those admittedly important issues aside to focus squarely on activity that appears it could be criminal, and arguably totally out of control. It does not even mention questions raised by sky-high salaries paid to some charter CEOs, such as 16 New York City charter school CEOs who earned more than the head of the city’s public school system in 2011-12. Crime, not greed, is the focus here.

“In short, the report is about as apolitical as can be imagined: It is narrowly focused on a white-collar crime wave of staggering proportions, and what can be done about it within the existing framework of widespread charter schools.”


May 9, 2014

Should They or Shouldn’t They?

Filed under: Politics — Steve Ruis @ 8:59 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

The Democrats in the House of Representatives are facing the question as to whether they should participate in the Republican generated Special Committee on Benghazi. Since there have already been seven such inquiries (four in the House, two in the Senate, and one independent) in addition to the internal investigations in the State Department, Democrats are inclined to view this as a political sham.

I recommend that if they can get the rules amended so that they can fairly participate (under the Republican-authored rules, for example, Democrats may not even be present for some of the testimony) that they should participate in the following manner.

They should appoint the maximum number of members granted and for each hearing pool their minutes in the hands of one individual. This may or may not be the same person from hearing to hearing, but the questions of the participants should be just two:

1. Sir/Madam, you gave testimony in the former XYZ inquiry. Has your testimony changed at all from then? and

2. (If a diplomat or staff assigned to a diplomatic mission) Did your mission request additional funding for security during your tenure? Was it granted?

Comments based on the answers to these two questions would focus on the facts that Republicans have no new information to reveal and that Republicans repeatedly requested cost cutting in the State Department, including blocking increased funding for embassy security. In other words, the reason security was lax is directly attributable to Republican budget cutting.

I think that Republicans would take such a beating from this that they would conclude the sham hearings in short order or suffer the political death of a thousand cuts.

May 7, 2014

A Conservative Cultural Conundrum

In the U.S. we have created a “pay as you go” society. Every individual is supposed to “earn” enough money to pay his “bills” in support of his existence. Obviously we don’t extend this requirement to children or people with severe disabilities but able-bodied adults all have this requirement. (Anybody who is a child or is severely disabled must have a sponsor who earns enough to pay their way, though.) The conundrum is that if “pay as you go” is to be the basis for our society, everyone should earn their continuing existence, that is everyone should have a job. To deny anyone a job is to condemn them to a shadow existence or even death.

So, the conservative outlook should be embracing requiring folks to pay their own way through work but conservatives do not; they instead simply claim that people unable to find work possess a moral failing and tsk, tsk “those people.”

This is in sharp contrast with my upbringing. My parents (both Republicans) had each of their three children doing “chores” from quite an early age: school work had the highest priority, but household chores were not far behind. As a small child I had responsibility for assisting with the dinner table set up or break down (the dreaded “doing the dishes” but later cooking, too), which was expanded to include mowing the lawn and weeding the gardens, and while in high school I cleaned the common areas of the house (vacuuming and dusting, etc.) weekly in addition to keeping my own room clean and all of the rest. It was made clear that I had to contribute to the total effort of supporting the family.

Upon graduation from college I was gainfully employed for 35 years. Others are not as lucky. Through accidents of circumstances (such as poverty, lack of parental support, etc.) and mistakes such as failing to take their educations seriously or other big mistakes, their employment skill sets are such that they have fewer employment opportunities than others have. This is exasperated by the fact that our society is not post-racial in that hiring studies show that our black and brown citizens are hired less frequently, even with the same or even better qualifications than white applicants. And sometimes it is just crushing indifference in the system. An older worker loses his job in an economic downturn and then no one wants to hire them because they’d rather invest training in a younger employee who could serve them longer. The ultimate insult is to not be hired because you have been “out of work too long,” a logical position hard to support. Would not such a person be desperate for a job, be inclined to keep their head down for fear of losing their job, be loyal to the employer who gave them a second chance? Surely our experience with the Great Depression proved that. As just one example, my best friend’s father, having lived through the Great Depression, worked for forty years in a job he did not like because he had the attitude that having a job was a good thing. He did not take a single sick day in those forty years. Now he might be criticized for not looking around for a better job but he cannot be criticized for not doing the one he had.

So, conservatives are in the incredibly shaky moral position of wanting a “pay as you go system” but also in favor of large numbers of people being out of work so they cannot pay their bills. Would it not be a better conservative position to provide labor for these folks through useful public works? Surely our roads and bridges need a great deal of repair and I don’t see any corporations stepping up to volunteer to fix them for free. There is a great deal of work needed doing and would not all of us be better off if all were gainfully employed and paying taxes rather than stressing the abilities of charities and governmental safety nets?

Conservatives answer “no” to that because that is “socialism” which is just name calling. They don’t go further and explain why that is “bad,” it just is. What if we were to call it “workism” or maybe “pay as you go-ism” or “responsible work-ism?” or maybe “no freeloading-ism?” Would that help? Would it, conservatives?

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