Spending Your Way To Prosperity

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 1980’s 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 2020 saw Republicans pass several of these ‘tax cuts’. Each 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 ended up paying for the Government and 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 several recessions and the Great Recession of 2007.

After the recession the Republicans did 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 and one of the first things they did after regaining power in 2016 was to pass another trillion plus tax cut for the wealthy but that money also will not be invested. 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 and 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. We should pass a Universal Basic Income and 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!

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Oh, Pardon me!

President Trump, as President, has the power to pardon people who have been convicted of breaking Federal Law. He has misused this power to help people who got in trouble while working on his election.  He has signaled to his cronies in trouble that if they protect him a pardon could be in the offing!  As bad as this misuse of power is the President is not the only leader with pardoning power.

State Governors also have executive pardoning power with the ability to pardon those who have broken State laws.  Many are using this power not only to pardon but also to apologize.  With the end of cannabis prohibition in more than half of the states, many Governors and State Legislatures have begun to pardon and expunge the records of those convicted under the unjust laws supporting cannabis prohibition.  We know now that the original law prohibiting the use of cannabis was an unjust and racist law that was declared unconstitutional in 1969, with much thanks to Dr. Timothy Leary.  The number of people who have had their lives damaged between 1937 and 1969 by this unjust law is hard to estimate. 

The law replacing it, the 1970 Controlled Substances Act which scheduled drugs by harm, placed cannabis in Schedule 1, dangerous and having no medical value along with heroin. This alone seemed strange as heroin is essentially the same as morphine which is classified as Schedule 2.  Cannabis’s scheduling was supposed to be temporary, awaiting the results of the Nixon appointed Shafer Commission’s report, ‘Drugs in America’. They reported that cannabis should be decriminalized and that drugs were a medical problem and not a criminal one.  President Nixon, we now know, decided to ignore the recommendation of the commission and declared the War on Drugs so he could use the War to harass his political enemies. John Erlichmann, Nixon aide in an interview in 1993 admitted that the prohibition of cannabis and heroin was nothing more than a political ploy.  He said,” The Nixon Campaign and the Nixon Whitehouse had 2 enemies, Blacks and Anti-war Protesters.  We couldn’t make it against the law to be Black or against the war but if we could associate the Blacks with heroin and the Anti-war Protesters with marijuana and criminalized them heavily we could break up their meetings, arrest their leaders and vilify them night after night on the evening news.  Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we were!”  One wonders how many of our citizens had their lives ruined behind this political scam.  The records show from 1969 to 1995 an average of 400,000 arrests per year for an estimated total of 10,400,000 arrests for this period.  From 1996 to the present we see an uptick to 750,000 arrests per year for an estimated total of 18,000,000 arrests.  Millions of lives upended by this scam!

Governors in the states that have legalized have begun to undo some of this damage.  The Colorado Governor as has the Michigan governor recently have pardoned and expunged the records of their citizens damaged by this law.  These pardons and expungements are a drop in the bucket of repairing the actual damage done.  Sadly, on the Federal level and in some States it is still being used to unjustly destroy the lives of our citizens. 

When the Federal prohibition of cannabis finally ends the President should not only pardon those currently in prison or on record as having been arrested but, He or She should, as should all State Governors, also issue a blanket pardon to reverse every cannabis conviction from 1937 to the present. It may only be a token gesture but it should be done. Additionally it might be a good idea to attach an apology to the blanket pardon.  Eighty years of lies and false propaganda destroying millions of American lives certainly deserves an apology and it’s long overdue!  

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“We Need to Get Rid of the Ballots.”

President Trump has been reported saying he would not promise a peaceful transfer of power should he lose the election.  He added that, “We need to get rid of the ballots, then there won’t need to be a transfer of power.”

Think about that.  He wants to declare your vote invalid to enable him to stay in power.  Sounds like he is planning to steal the election.  Well, guess what folks. He is!  He is working it two ways.  Declare the whole election fraudulent and sue to push it to the court hoping his newly appointed justice will rule in his favor and hand him the election.  The other is a bit sneakier.  State Legislatures can declare the ballots in their state invalid for some reason and then instruct the Electors of the Electoral College whom to vote for. The idea is that enough states will do this and throw the election to Trump.

Republican operatives are right now in discussion with legislators of States with Republican controlled Legislatures planning ways to declare the votes of their citizens invalid so the legislators can instruct their Electors to presumably vote for Trump.  This will invalidate all votes no matter who they are for and steal the election.

If they pull this off it will be the end of our Great experiment in democracy. We then will really have a dictator and not just a wannabe! You can bet these guys will do whatever it takes to remain in power.  He has said as much on many occasions and if it takes the destruction and demise of democracy and freedom in America then so be it.

The best defense we have against this assault on our freedom is to bury Trump in a tsunami of votes for Biden that will make any attempted coup so obvious that even half assed patriots will get out of their ‘lazyboys’ and actually do what is necessary to resist this attack on our country and way of life.

The tipping point is coming.  We must be prepared to do what it will take to save the greatest light of Democracy and Freedom the world has ever known!

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Society’s Grease

I do not understand the rancor and hostility between even decades old friends over differing political views.  Suffice it to say, I will never understand supporting people whose policies would negatively affect me and mine but people do.

I imagine they cannot understand why I think we should equitably, not equally, share in the wealth of the wealthiest nation on earth.  Healthcare for everybody and a monetary policy that gives every citizen a dividend check as their share of the nation’s wealth.

Alaskans get a yearly dividend check from the State as payment for their share of the gas and oil being taken out of the state.  I think we should do this nationally.   Oops! Sorry, there I go!

Anyway, knowing we disagree, we do not discuss it.

There is a way to handle politics if it comes up.  Acknowledge but make no opinion statements about it. Should there be an election where you and your friend are supporting different candidates, and your friend’s man wins, here’s what you do. Look your friend in the eye and say, “Good for you your guy won!”  Then drop the subject.  We need in this time of political conflict to keep the conflict in the public sphere and out of the private.  I wouldn’t like it if your guy won but I can celebrate your happiness over it.

They say manners are the grease society uses to keep the machinery of society running smoothly.  Without it we descend into division and violence.

The science fiction writer Robert Heinlein in his novel, ‘Time Enough For Love’ has the character Lazarus Long comment on manners. “Moving parts in rubbing contact require lubrication to avoid excessive wear.  Honorifics and formal politeness provide lubrication where people rub together.  Often the very young, the untraveled, the naïve, the unsophisticated deplore these formalities as, ‘empty’, ‘meaningless’, or ‘dishonest’, and scorn to use them.  No matter how ‘pure’ their motives are they throw sand into machinery that does not work too well at best.”

I would add that in these divisive times we all need to use extra grease more often than not!

So bite your tongue, listen without judgement and let it go!  Repeat in your mind, I love you man even though you are wrong, and let it go!  With any luck your friendship will be stronger and will last long after the politicians and policies are gone.  We can choose to be together even though we disagree.  As I like to say, Choose Wisely!

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Fresh Ideas and New Faces

The current President’s Administration appears to be staffed with people only concerned with immediate economic reward.  Like small time grifters, it seems they do not care about what happens to their families or their fellow citizens in general after they are gone.  What else can account for their choice to put profit over the crisis of climate change?  What else can account for their choice to put political advantage during a pandemic that has, at this reading, killed 150,000 of their fellow citizens, over the good of the country?  What else can account for their blindly following a two bit con man and narcissist whose incompetence need for revenge and need for self-aggrandizement, has allowed tens of thousands of our citizens to die unnecessarily simply for some personal or political gain.

The President says he only hires the best people.  Who, the past winner of the Grifter of the Year Award?  People with a history of looking the other way?  People who are willing to sell their integrity?  I think we have had enough of the President’s ‘best people’.

The Republicans are just as culpable as the President is for our current condition.  They have sold their souls and integrity to enable this disaster of an administration to continue and yes, the preventable deaths from the pandemic fall at their feet.

All our legislators in both parties have been too focused on their reelection and not on what morality and integrity calls them to do.  The question for the citizens is, what rules should be put in place to give legislators the political freedom to vote with the best interests of the country in mind instead of the next election.  Term limits seem to be a significant part of the answer. We want experienced leaders but not in the same position for 40 years.  Perhaps as Shakespeare said in Julius Caesar, “The fault, Dear Brutus is not in our stars but in ourselves.”  It is we who lazily elect the same faces over and over.  We can change this by picking someone in the Primary that maybe has the same politics but is simply not the same guy!

Term limits would do some of this but it also requires us citizens to do our homework before marking our ballots.  Whatever we do, we have to find an acceptable compromise between having experienced legislators verses fresh ideas and new faces.  It is the only way to keep us from getting stuck in a rut.  Fresh faces and ideas are the traction for our wheels!    

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Make the World Over

We have at this moment, as we did as a result of the Revolution, a chance to make the world over.  Let us not waste this costly chance to remake our world in the image of our dreams and aspirations.  We have again the opportunity to live up to our claim that all people are created equal but that equality must extend to all.

We must build a new society with a government that has in its charge the welfare of all our citizens.  A government that is willing to curb the harms of unfettered capitalism and direct itself to making it possible for all our citizens to benefit from the wealth that capitalism can produce.  We say God created all people equal.  We now have a chance to move one giant step closer to making that vision a reality.  We moved closer with the end of the Civil War and emancipation but we have not finished the job.  This time we can finish the job by making it possible for all our citizens to enjoy equally the blessings of American Freedom.

What kind of country do we want?  It seems most of us want a country that includes everybody equally, especially when it comes to the vote, in all our doings. A country that provides the benefits we see in other countries.   Healthcare for all, Universal Basic income that eliminates abject poverty and gives all our citizens freedom and a financial platform to help our children get started and succeed in life.  This would drive the largest economic expansion in our history.  It would enable tens of thousands of our citizens to attend college who otherwise would not be able to.  The scientific and societal advances of all those educated Americans cannot begin to be imagined.

Thomas Paine wrote in Common Sense that, “These are the times that try men’s souls.”  He also wrote in the appendix to Common Sense that, ‘We have the chance to begin the world over again.”  In the same vein we too today have a chance to begin the world over again as they did then.  Let us go forward bravely so that when we pass on our children will say we left the world a better place.  The chance for change comes once in a lifetime.  Let’s not blow it!

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Crimes of Desperation

When one looks at the deaths of our citizens at the hands of the police one thing, other than a disproportionate number being Afro American, sticks out.  The crimes committed that instigated the confrontation with police are all minor crimes.

Selling single cigarettes on the street, a bad $20 check, minor drug dealing and drug use, heck, even a bad turn signal can end up in you being dead or incarcerated. These are crimes of desperation.  We live in a cruel capitalistic system.  Work or starve.  No work where you live?  We don’t care, starve.  Transportation to work not available?  We don’t care, starve.  Can’t afford to move to seek work?  We don’t care, starve.  This is a cruel system that exploits those at the bottom to maintain the lifestyle of the wealthy.  The current minimum wage is only one quarter of what it should be to comprise a living wage.

It is not surprising that people end up committing petty crimes to get by.  The guy who trades some food stamps to fix his car so he can get to work is a criminal but it’s either that or starve!  The system is what drives this kind of desperate criminality.  Many of these things should not even be crimes.  Drug use is one.  The 1972 Shafer Committee in its report, ‘Drugs in America’ long ago said drugs were a medical problem and not a criminal one yet we still treat drug use as criminal.  Bad turn signal is another one.  Today’s cars tell you when your turn signal is out.  You do not need a policeman to stop you to tell you something the car is already telling you.  What you need is an income that makes it possible to afford to fix it!

There is no doubt that reform is needed.  Not just police and police standards but the law that supports this system must be reformed also.  Add to that healthcare for all and a Universal Basic Income and now we are getting somewhere.

The way forward calls for us to do whatever is in our power to right the wrongs our system creates.  We must move to a more equitable economic and cultural society where not just the wealthy do well but all our citizens have the economic and cultural support needed to live prosperous and meaningful lives.

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Reconciliations and Reparations

We need to do some kind of reconciliation program like was done in other countries to put slavery and racism behind us. Reconciliation and reparations are needed and until we do, these things will haunt us and we can never ever put them behind us.

Rwanda saw the Hutu tribe members killing Tutsi tribe members in a massive slaughter of biblical proportions. After the killings and civil war were stopped, reconciliation hearings were held to try to repair the damage and bring the country back together. The same thing happened in Bosnia after the Balkan wars. These hearings went a long way to healing these countries.

We have the horrible things done to Native Americans and African Americans in our past and regrettably in our present and we have done nothing to atone and reconcile what had happened. We have never done anything to put these things behind us. Oh we say, well that was in the past, but it is not. We are dealing with them right now! The treatment of African Americans by our police is directly connected to slavery and the civil war.  Some blogger even posted that the only good democrat is a dead one. What’s next, knocking on doors and killing anyone who does not agree? This ‘past’ of ours will never be behind us until we own up and do the hard work of reconciliation.

What form that would take is up for discussion.  We could use what happened in Rwanda and the Balkans as a template.  Hearings to get the facts out and some form of reparations to put it officially to an end.  It won’t be perfect but it must be done if we are ever to move on.

The rioting over the killing of another African American is just the outward appearance of the anger and resentment left over by the horrible treatment of our own citizens by our Government, and to think it will just stop one day without an honest treatment of what happened is living in a nonexistent dream world.  Without some kind of reconciliation and reparations we will never be free of our past.

Until we face our past and reconcile what was done in our name it will continue to haunt us from century to century and the only way to put it behind us is reconciliation and reparations.

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Anger in the Land

There is a folk song written in 1950 by Don West and Hedy West titled, ‘Anger in the Land’ about the horror of lynching in the South and the anger of the people affected by it.  The folk group Peter, Paul and Mary did a cover of the song and recast it as an anti-war song with the people angry at the continued deaths of their sons in Vietnam.  More than 50,000 died in that war.  The people were angry and wanted it to end.

The lyrics, as Peter, Paul and Mary sang them, could be applied to the crisis we are in today.  We are witnessing the deaths of over 100,000 of our citizens, many of which would still be alive were it not for the denial and bungling of the Administration in its handling of the crisis.

We have been encouraged by the President to flout the restrictions and mitigation measures put in place by the State Governors who have been left on their own by the Executive Branch of the Federal Government.  The President certainly does want to churn up anger, not at him, but at our State Governors who, on the whole, are trying to cope as best they can.

There should be anger in the land but not about the measures taken to mitigate the spread of the virus, but rather at the stunning number of deaths and the ineffectual response of the Trump Administration that allowed many of them to happen.

A recently released study from Columbia University found that if social distancing had been put in place one week earlier, as many as 36,000 of our citizens would likely still be alive.  Instead of being angry at our Governors for trying to save our lives, we should be angry at the Administration for the preventable deaths of our Fathers, Mothers, Sons and Daughters.

There should be anger in the land and lots of it.  It should be loud and insistent and directed to those responsible.  Most importantly, it should not stop.  Each and every death must be accounted and paid for and until then there should be increasing non-stop anger in the land!

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Open Letter to Presidential Candidate Joe Biden


I am supporter.

I am responding to a political advertisement that says you now support ‘decriminalization’ of marijuana use as opposed to full legalization.

Sir, this is simply a half- a– answer to the problem of drug prohibition.  This policy would allow law enforcement to continue to use marijuana possession and use as an excuse to harass anybody over it any time they want.  This sort of harassment always falls mostly on minorities and poor whites.

I have used cannabis to treat my Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from child sexual abuse for 50 years.  I was, despite prohibition, able to have a great career and retired from the Air Force after a little over 20 years.  I worked in communications and wrecked my back pulling manhole covers and climbing telephone poles.  I am disabled and also use marijuana to treat my chronic pain.  It helped me avoid opioid addiction too!  I also work as a Senior Advisor for Veterans for Medical Cannabis Access.  We were instrumental in getting the VA to stop withholding meds and treatment from Vet Patients simply because they tested positive for cannabis in a routine urinalysis.

Please read the following before you continue with decriminalization.  You must be made aware, despite your past opinions that prohibition as policy is a total failure.

The demonization of cannabis began in California in 1913, based on prejudice against “Hindoos” (https://www.researchgate.net/…/242120559_The_Origins_of_Can…) Immigrants from south Asia who used hashish and evolved into a deliberate campaign of racially biased propaganda directed against certain segments of our nation who still struggle against discrimination. Harry J. Anslinger the first drug Czar said cannabis should be illegal because, “It makes black people think they are as good as white people”, among other things.

Prior to 1937, cannabis was the most used medicine in America. During the early Thirties, it was demonized by the Hearst newspaper group with article after article of stories of Timmy killing his Grandmother with a skillet and such. Politicians jumped on the band wagon along with law enforcement, (many were out of a job with the end of alcohol prohibition). Despite many cannabis based medicines being approved for use, the fix was in. The Marijuana Tax Stamp Act of 1937 required one to have a Tax Stamp to possess marijuana but it was a trap law and finally was declared unconstitutional in 1969.

Next up, the 1970 Controlled Substances Act which temporarily placed cannabis in the same category as heroin, Schedule1, Dangerous and having no medical value.  They were waiting for the Nixon appointed Shafer Commission to report on its study of Drugs in America.  They finished in 1972 and reported that marijuana use should be decriminalized and that drugs were a medical problem not a criminal one.  Nixon ignored the report and declared the War on Drugs. The cover story in the April 2016 edition of Harper’s Magazine titled, “Legalize it all” with the subtitle “How to Win the War on Drugs” written by Dan Baum recalls an interview with President Nixon aide John Ehrlichman. Mister Baum was asking questions about the politics of drug prohibition and as he tells it, Ehrlichman asked, “You want to know what this was really all about?” He went on to say, “The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”

Besides being used as a political scam prohibition was also used as a way to harass immigrant and minority populations, (Afro-Americans are 6 times more likely to be arrested for drugs than Caucasian citizens.) and the result is an overblown prison population and arrests in the hundreds of thousands every year. Even with legalization in many states, there were over 500,000 arrests last year alone.   Millions of our citizens have had their lives upended and destroyed behind the totally failed policy of drug prohibition.

During the 90s America and Portugal were experiencing increasing numbers of drug users. Portugal took the step of decriminalization and rehabilitation whereas America doubled down on prohibition. Portugal has seen a 67% drop in drug use and abuse and America is still seeing no progress in its fight against drug use and abuse.

We should end marijuana prohibition completely.  (How about the ATMF Department, Alcohol, Tobacco, Marijuana and Firearms).  Adopt a policy similar to that of Portugal that, as the original Shafer Commission recommended, drugs are a medical and not a criminal problem.

If there is anything I can do to help you with this issue please feel free to contact me.  If you make it to MI, feel free to drop in for a cup of coffee!

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