While preparing to write a comparison of Republican and Democratic positions for the upcoming 2014 elections I came to the realization that the question may be debated in terms of Democrat or Republican but it is essentially this; what direction do you think our country should take? Should we face the challenges of the future with our eyes wide open to the options available, or should we shrink from the challenge and resort to old and sometimes failed policies when tackling the problems facing the nation?
Conservatives believe in things remaining the same. Health insurance is a good example of this. Every time reform to our health care system comes up, Conservative Republicans oppose it. They have a plan for reforming healthcare they offered as a counter proposal to the single payer system favored by the Democrats and used in most modern countries. The Affordable Care Act is the Republican plan. When Democrats saw this type of plan working in Massachusetts where it was implemented by the Republican Governor, Democrats adopted it as a way to get everybody healthcare and control costs. Considering it is the Republican plan, Democrats figured passing it would not be a problem. Surprise surprise, Republicans then repudiated their own plan and vociferously began opposing it and derisively calling it Obamacare! It seems that political opposition trumps not only the welfare of the country but Republicans own ideas.
Republicans have shown that they will if elected continue the policy of ‘trickle down’ economics and austerity. This includes the policy of ‘shrinking the beast’. The practice of giving tax revenue to corporations and business so they will invest it and grow the economy, while at the same time shrinking revenue and cutting and getting rid of Government services to make the Federal Government weak and ineffective. Republicans have made no secret of their disdain for our Government and will certainly pursue policies that reflect as much. Why we elect people to positions in Government who dislike Government is beyond me!
Republicans at both the State and Federal level have and will continue to propose voter suppression laws in the guise of voter I D laws and anti-abortion laws designed to put the Government between a woman and her doctor when it comes to her reproductive choices. They will continue to push austerity and cut funding for Social Security, welfare, food stamps, Medicaid and Medicare. They oppose raising the minimum wage and would certainly move to cut or limit unemployment.
Democrats, rather than redo the past, believe in moving the country forward. Their willingness to adopt the Republican Healthcare Plan is a good example of this. It was working in Mass. It does cut costs and covers everybody so Democrats support it while Republicans inexplicably oppose it! Democrats are more likely to support diplomacy in dealing with our enemies where practicable. A treaty is far less destructive than ‘boots on the ground’ and costs a lot less. Democrats push for a more inclusive economy based on supply and demand that increases the buying power of the poor and middle class. Doing that, getting money into the hands of those who will spend it, rather than those who will stick it into some off shore account will grow the economy and create demand which when satisfied will create the jobs promised by the Republicans in 2010 and 2012.
One can see it’s a clear choice, forward or back. Grow the economy and let the economic power of the Federal Government help, or curtail the economic power of the Federal Government and make it inefficient in reining in the excesses and social inequity of the free market. For me the choice is easy. I make less than 300,000 dollars a year and voting Republican is voting against my economic best interests. I wonder how many who make less than 300,000 a year will vote against themselves in the next election? It never ceases to amaze me. A guy will vote into office a politician who will take money from him and his family based solely on the false notion that the Government is somehow coming for his guns; or any number of ridiculous notions ginned up by those who work to con poor people into voting against themselves. This time the choice of who to vote for is easy. This time I’m voting for myself!
It is a wonderful thing as a Veteran to see all the praise and thanks coming from everyone on this Veterans Day. The parades and well wishes go a long way in healing a wounded heart or soul, damaged parts that medicine cannot repair, and on behalf of my fellow Vets I thank you sincerely.
In a more practical sense, there is something the Assembly can do for Kentucky’s Veterans in the very next session that will, if done, have a profound effect on the welfare of our brothers and sisters who suffer the sometimes invisible wound of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Passage of the Gatewood Galbraith Medical Marijuana Memorial Act will enable our Veterans to safely and legally procure and use the only medicine that has shown success in treating this insidious condition. Veterans report the traditional remedies used in mental health do little if nothing to relieve or control their symptoms but those who defy convention and have begun to use medical marijuana for their PTSD report success. First thing they say is it gave them the first good night’s sleep since the trauma that caused the condition. Later they find they aren’t hitting the floor if a car backfires, or being paranoid in a crowd. The results of medical marijuana use for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder are literally astounding!
Additionally, Passing the bill will also protect these Vets from having their medical treatment at the VA withheld because of testing positive for Medical Marijuana if you are a patient of the Pain Clinic. The VA policy on Medical Marijuana stopped this practice but only for Vets who live in states that have medical marijuana laws. In order to protect our Vets we must pass the bill here in Kentucky!
I urge the members of the Assembly to support and pass the Gatewood Galbraith Medical Marijuana Memorial Act. Not only will passage help our Veterans but it will create economic activity that will benefit all our citizens. The emergence of the industrial, medical and recreational market nationwide will prove to be a billion dollar industry and passage of this bill will go a long way toward Kentucky capturing as much of that market as possible.
A conservative leaning friend of mine, while railing about Government spending gave voice to the saying, ‘You can’t spend your way to prosperity!’ That got me to thinking and it brought up this question, How is that true if our prosperity and growth from the end of the WWII to 1980s was driven by Government spending and personal economic growth thru supply and demand? There were a few recessions during this time but they were managed in the standard way with increased Government spending. The goal being to get the economy moving again till jobs come back and the spending of the people becomes the driving engine of the economy. Get money into the hands of those who must spend it, the middle class and poor, and that spending will create growth.
In the 1980s Republicans altered this equation. Oh, they still want the Government to put out money, just not to those who must spend it, the middle class and poor, but to those who will invest it, the already wealthy and Corporations. Those investments will create jobs and the wealth from those investments will trickle down to the rest of us at the bottom of the financial pyramid. Kinda makes you feel like a fire hydrant outside a Veterinarian’s office except they get more trickle.
How has that worked out? Trickle down somehow became trickle up. 1980 to 2007 saw a 1.2 trillion dollar shift of money from the middle class and poor to the coffers of the wealthy and the profit margins of huge corporations and businesses. What happened to the middle class and poor? They experienced a flat line of wages that when adjusted for inflation have not risen during the entire period. This change in economic policy brought us the Great Recession of 2007.
Since the recession the Republicans have done everything in their power to inhibit the recovery. They continue to push the notion that to recover we must still give money to the wealthy to invest and those investments will create jobs. The problem with that is investors are not going to invest until our economic situation improves. There is not enough demand for Joe Smith’s widgets because people do not have enough extra money to buy Joe’s widgets. Not enough demand for Joe to build another factory and hire more people to make more widgets! All that money is sitting in some corporation’s bank account waiting for things to get better so people can buy what the corporations make.
It’s time to stop this foolishness, time to return to solid economic policy. We should end the austerity imposed by Republicans in a futile attempt to make the failed economic policy derisively known as ‘trickle down’ work, and return to what we know works! Increase the spending of the Federal Government. Raise spending levels for unemployment, welfare, food stamps and other programs designed to get people productive. Increase the minimum wage. A man who works 40 hours a week should not need food stamps to make ends meet. As the spending power of the middle class improves the increased tax revenue pays off the increased Government spending. The increased spending of the poor also creates demand. That demand is then satisfied by investors, some taking advantage of Government programs, which create businesses, build factories and hire people to meet the new demand. Once the economy is humming along the extra tax revenue is used to pay off the debt created in getting the economy running.
We all get rich, not just a few! Our lives improve and the spending of the people and Government in improving lives and paying our bills keeps the economy rolling right along! That’s how you spend your way to prosperity!
Americans have been having a disagreement, since the beginning of the country about Government and its size and impact on the citizens. There are those who resist the idea of a central Government. There are those who see the good a central Government can do and support a strong central Government. This argument is between the rural and urban, those who believe that a strong State Government is better than a strong Federal Government and those who don’t.
This argument came to a boil in the 1860’s and culminated in our Civil War. It was clear the majority of States were moving to abolish the institution of slavery and the minority, mostly southern states, were going to be forced to end slavery which was the economic foundation for the southern economy.
The Southern States threatened succession. Republicans led by Lincoln would not accept the succession of the southern states and our Civil War nightmare lasted 4 years. The argument was settled. The Federal Government, in national matters would be dominate. The Constitution was amended and slavery was ended. Even after thousands of deaths and the wreck of the South though, many still disagreed with the outcome of the war.
Today we are engaged in a political war that is attempting to refight the Civil War of 150 years ago. The political parties of that Civil War have changed names but the players are the same. Those who believe we would be better off with a strong Federal Government and those who do not believe in a Federal Government at all! With their opposition to the Voter Rights Act supported by President Lyndon Johnson, the Democratic South switched parties and became Republican. Republicans who supported the Act became Democrats and our current political landscape was created out of opposition to African Americans exercising their voting rights.
Republicans are making the fight this time supposedly over a law that passed both houses and was signed by the President that will provide Health Insurance for all our citizens. The Affordable Care Act is an idea that was proposed by Republicans as a counter to the more affordable ‘single payer’ plan. Republicans want to keep health insurance in the realm of profitable business as opposed to the Government plan supported by the Democrats. As soon as the Democrats agreed to the Republican plan, a plan instituted in Massachusetts by then Republican Governor Mitt Romney with great success, Republicans immediately opposed their own plan. Republicans are using their opposition to the Affordable Care Act to push their overall plan of getting rid of the Federal Government all together. Republicans have a plan they call starve the beast. Defund Government until it is so small you could, as one Republican put it, drown it in the bathtub! They want to destroy the Union nothing less. I wonder, if they win and get rid of the Federal Government will they then go after State Government?
We can thank Reagan for a lot of this current crap. His admonishment that Government is the problem is the most destructive statement in the history of the Nation. Seeing as Reagan was President of the Federal Government and he raised the Debt Limit ten times, does he then see himself as the problem? These people have confused religion with government. You hold to your faith and die for your religion. You compromise in government to do what’s best for the country. These folks are willing to martyr the country rather than accept their own compromise.
Republicans knew that trying to defund a law already passed and in its third year of rollout would not fly! They knew that the funding of the Act could not be stopped with this tactic yet they have done it anyway. Now they are using the need to raise the debt limit as another threat to get what the voters wouldn’t give them. Take a look at what is happening to the bond markets already and the fact that the Heritage Foundation and other Koch funded anti Affordable Care Act entities are backing off. The Kochs put out a statement that they were not responsible and did not call for the shutdown and are calling for raising the debt limit. Funny when you realize that the Kochs spent millions pushing the agenda of the radical right! Seems Wall Street has started paying attention.
One has to wonder, if providing for the welfare of the citizens is so destructive, how come most of the modern democracies rate higher in all the categories used to rate how good a democracy is? Health care, welfare, social security, modern transit systems, roads and infrastructure, programs for new families and mothers, education thru college and much more, all of these things and their wealthy citizens are still getting rich!
We can have all of that and more and all we have to do is tax the richest fairly, Legislate a living wage for 40 hours a week of work and shift the wealth back to the middle class where it will really be spent and will really create jobs!
The Republican controlled House of Representatives has passed a bill to cut 40 billion dollars from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, (SNAP), kicking almost 4 million people off the program this year and roughly 3 million every year for the next ten years.
Republicans are cluelessly questioning the expansion in the number of people using the program. Republican denial of the effects of their own financial policies, after the worst depression in our history is telling. A friend of mine, a wonderful lady who works in the local Catholic Parish, cheerily opined that religious charities would be able to pick up the slack. It’s hard to imagine religious charities being able to handle 4 million new customers when most of the people they see now are already on the SNAP program. The school lunch programs will also take a hit.
The Senate offered 4 billion in cuts so when they and the House do a deal there will certainly be some cuts. Hopefully with a rebound in the economy the pain of actual cuts will be minimal.
Why do Republicans, during a weak economic recovery, wish to throw millions off of the food stamp program? Hard to say but it seems the hard right have gotten their religious notions confused with their political ones. The Church teaches us that to die for your faith, not change your beliefs for any reason even unto pain of death, is the greatest sacrifice one can make and it entitles one to immediate entry into heaven. Politics is different. It requires compromise which is in no way a tenant of religion. The mindset of the Tea Party folks is one of compromise as treason. Giving in, even a little bit, means losing and we must win Heaven at all costs!
Now Republicans are being led, once again, to sacrifice for their religion and they are going to take the whole country with them. Republicans have proclaimed The Affordable Care Act evil incarnate and they are willing to shut down the Government, or if that doesn’t work, severely damage the economy by refusing to raise the Debt Ceiling thereby causing the United States to default on its obligations, unless Congress and the President meet their demand to defund The Affordable Care Act. The President has vowed not to give in to Tea Party extortion so the next few weeks are gonna be ‘really interesting’.
One has to wonder, what does the Republican Party have against the American People that they are willing to destroy the economy just to make a political point? The financial collapse proved that the trickledown theory of Republican finance, give money to the wealthy and they will invest it and that money will trickle down to everyone else has proven to be a complete failure. Worker wages have been flat for 40 years. Sure didn’t trickle down to the workers did it? Rather than admitting that and working towards a demand based economy with growth for all, Republicans are forcing austerity even as austerity hurts and limits economic growth.
Republicans are more than the party of no. They have become the party of Hell no! No social security, no Medicare, no Medicaid, no welfare, no food stamps, and no unemployment either! It’s sad that the party of Abolition, Progressivism and freedom has instead become a party whose modern makeup is based on opposition to the 1964 Voting Rights Act, belief that, “Government is the problem!”, (thank you Ronald Reagan), and a financial philosophy that has shifted more than a trillion dollars from the poor, middle class and the Federal Government to the coffers and offshore accounts of the wealthy.
The current makeup of the Republican Party is one of, ‘All for One’. Unless it becomes a party of, ‘One for All’ it is hard to see it surviving long into the 21st century.
Attorney General Eric Holder, in a memorandum released on 29 August 2013, has declared a truce in the Federal war on marijuana users. In the memorandum the Justice Department lists 8 conditions that must be met by State marijuana laws in order to be free of Federal intervention. Most are common sense, for example, selling marijuana to minors or transporting marijuana to a non-marijuana state, and it should be fairly easy for the States to meet these requirements. The memorandum can be accessed here– http://www.justice.gov/iso/opa/resources/3052013829132756857467.pdf
The Feds are also working on guidelines for the banking industry to allow for State legal handling of marijuana industry finances, and a bill to do so has been filed in Congress.
The States are now free establish industrial, medical and recreational marijuana markets and prepare to grab as much of the national and indeed, the international market as marijuana prohibition ends around the world.
Kentucky, even with prohibition in force, is the second largest producer of marijuana in America and we have a reputation for growing some of the best marijuana in the world. We should capitalize on our reputation and jump into this growing market. Provided the Assembly is not afraid to act so we can catch up with Washington and Colorado, we could have a robust market in place by this time next year. The revenue to the state could end up being in the millions, not to mention the economic boon to the State from all those people who will be gainfully employed in this new industry. They will generate millions in economic activity that everybody in this State from the Governor to the everyday citizen will benefit from. I’m sure we would all like to see a citizen working rather than being on the State dole!
Now is the time to act! Now is the time for our Legislators to show their leadership and for them to craft and pass reasonable and fair legislation that can maximize to the citizens and the State the benefits of this emerging and growing industry. To squander this opportunity would be called in military terms, “dereliction of duty’. Legislators of Kentucky, do your duty!
The Kentucky House Health and Welfare Committee held an informational hearing on the Gatewood Galbraith Medical Marijuana Memorial Act on Wednesday the 21st of August 2013. Supporters gathered at the capitol and testimony was introduced by Senator Perry Clark and many patients testified as to their use of medical marijuana and how they benefit from that use.
Significantly, Mr. Irvin Rosenfeld, one of four surviving patients left from the Compassionate Care Program which provided investigational medicine for critical patients was there to testify. Mr. Rosenfeld receives a tin of 300 marijuana cigarettes from the Federal marijuana farm at the University of Mississippi every 25 days to treat his multiple congenital cartilaginous exostoses which causes bone spurs to grow into his joints, a very painful condition that would have resulted in his death at a young age were it not for his use of medical marijuana.
Senator Katie Stine made a motion to adjourn because the Senators had to be in session, however the Chair rejected that motion and kept the hearing open to allow the patients who had come to testify to do so. Representative Robert Benvenuti made a point that if marijuana is good to treat anxiety it has a high potential for abuse and said he wants more research before he makes up his mind. Opponents claim there is no scientific evidence of marijuana’s safety, however this ignores the many studies and anecdotal evidence that says otherwise.
As far back as 1988, in the matter of Docket 86-22 Marijuana Rescheduling Petition, Administrative Law Judge Francis Young of the Drug Enforcement Administration ruled in part VII Accepted Safety For Use Under Medical Supervision, “Marijuana in it’s natural form is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man. By any measure of rational analysis marijuana can be safely used within a supervised routine of medical care.”
One must also consider that statistics from the 20 States that do have medical marijuana laws show a decrease in teen marijuana use and in Colorado and Washington, 2 states having recreational marijuana, overall marijuana use is down. In order for these states to have these laws the laws must have passed a number of Public Safety, Health and Welfare, and Judicial committee hearings. Vetting the idea of medical marijuana laws has pretty well been done and it’s hard to imagine what we would find bad about marijuana that 20 other states didn’t find.
Actually the passing of State medical marijuana laws at this point, should be a routine and unremarkable bit of legislation as uncontroversial as naming a State highway after a respected Legislator, or naming a bill after a respected Gubernatorial Candidate such as Mr. Gatewood Galbraith.