Humane Executions

July 29, 2014 at 5:17 pm | Posted in Brain and mind, Crime and punishment, Fairness, Judicial Misjudgment, Terrorism | 1 Comment
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
A woodcut showing a rabid dog in the Middle Ages. "Middle Ages rabid dog" by Unknown - Scanned from Dobson, Mary J. (2008) Disease, Englewood Cliffs, N.J: Quercus, p. 157 ISBN: 1-84724-399-1.. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Middle_Ages_rabid_dog.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Middle_Ages_rabid_dog.jpg

A woodcut showing a rabid dog in the Middle Ages. “Middle Ages rabid dog” by Unknown – Scanned from Dobson, Mary J. (2008) Disease, Englewood Cliffs, N.J: Quercus, p. 157 ISBN: 1-84724-399-1.. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Middle_Ages_rabid_dog.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Middle_Ages_rabid_dog.jpg

 

Execution by lethal chemical cocktails has recently become more difficult.  Some of the makers of the required chemicals refuse to sell them for that purpose.  The remaining makers desire anonymity, to avoid becoming the target of protests.  Worse, some of the recent chemical executions have been botched, and seem to have produced drawn-out painful deaths.

All of these problems could be eliminated by returning to an older technique: death by bullet.

But the shooting should not be performed by a firing squad.  Too many things can go wrong with a firing squad.

Instead, use a device that softly but firmly holds fixed the head and chest of the condemned.  A commercially available cervical collar might be one part of the device.  The condemned should be lying horizontally, face up, unable to move, on a special table having a soft surface.

The execution would be carried out by one or more gunshots from behind the head.

The gun could be fired by either a person or a computer.  Computer-controlled firing would be less subject to mistakes.  Sensors viewing the vicinity of the condemned could provide signals to the the computer so that the gun could fire only when no other person was in the line of fire.

Note: The general design described above is hereby released into the public domain by thepoliblog.WordPress.com.  It is not patentable.

That covers the how.  What about the why?

As long as the death penalty is imposed fairly, its morality is clear.  We kill mad dogs, attacking wild animals, and armed enemy soldiers.  We kill terrorists.  We kill madmen and criminals who try to kill the police, and madmen who attack the public.  We kill cancers.  No matter how morally advanced we become, we will always regard such killing as justified.

But can the death penalty be imposed fairly?

Some claim that the death penalty can never be imposed fairly on an individual who is now under our control.  Why not treat such a person as a prisoner of war?  Why not restrain them instead of killing them?  Why not try to rehabilitate them?  These are difficult questions which I hope to address in a later posting.  But for the present, recall that we do not use these alternatives for mad dogs.  Recall that the intrinsic dignity of human beings may be a too-sweeping and vaguely founded concept, and likewise for the concept of free will.  And recall that many innocents have been killed by seemingly reformed but unreformed parolees: different person’s brains are wired differently.

On these matters I have to agree with Charles Lane, and have to disagree with Eugene Robinson, who is usually one of the most insightful analyzers of public issues, and with the Editors of the Washington Post.

 

If you wish to comment on this post but do not see a box where you can submit a comment, that is because the mechanism for commenting is not available on any page that contains multiple postings.  Comment boxes are available only on pages for single blog posts.  So click here, scroll to the bottom of the post, and submit your comment.

Wear Something Black on June 4 (Tiananmen Square Day)

May 29, 2014 at 8:01 pm | Posted in Abuse of Office, Fairness | 2 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Retouched version by Gary King of a picture taken of Natasha Bedingfield by Bobcobb22 at Six Flags over Georgia in Austell, Georgia, USA on July 13, 2008.

Retouched version by Gary King of a picture taken of Natasha Bedingfield by Bobcobb22 at Six Flags over Georgia in Austell, Georgia, USA on July 13, 2008.

On and around June 4, 1989, Chinese citizens were killed or imprisoned or beaten by the Chinese Government for peacefully demonstrating at Tianenmen Square for a more open society (see here and here). They wanted a society that functioned according to democratically chosen and publically announced laws, rather than according to unpublished but universally understood rules that are crafted for the benefit of the powerful, and are administered and revised according to their whim.

June 4 is International Tiananmen Square Day. It reminds us of the courage, heroism, and patriotic public spirit of the demonstrators. It reminds us that the Chinese Government still has not expressed regret for abusing its most public spirited citizens – those who wanted to advance their country rather than to fill their wallets at the expense of their fellow citizens.

The demonstrators in and around Tiananmen Square chose black to be the color that symbolized their adherence to their cause.

In memory of the demonstrators, and to honor their ideas, wear something black on June 4. June 4 is a Wednesday this year.

Black shoes, a black belt, a black shirt, a black hat, a black necktie, black gloves, black shirt buttons, a black band, a black ribbon, a black scrunchie, a black umbrella – anything black.

'Former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Turkish President Abdullah Gül.

‘Former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Turkish President Abdullah Gül.

Mens' ballroom shoes at the Eurodance (Vladimír Bábor), Czech Republic, photographed 25 February 2009 by Martin Kozák.

Mens’ ballroom shoes at the Eurodance (Vladimír Bábor), Czech Republic, photographed 25 February 2009 by Martin Kozák.

Ladies' ballroom shoes by Tango Shoes, Buenos Aires, photographed 25 February 2009 by  Martin Kozák.

Ladies’ ballroom shoes by Tango Shoes, Buenos Aires, photographed 25 February 2009 by
Martin Kozák.

292x240.S3_SafetyFootwear

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kazuma Nitta performs a Kubudo Kata with a staff for the judges at the Open Karate Tournament in Japan, 2004. Photographed by Lance Cpl. Patrick J. Floto, USMC.

Kazuma Nitta performs a Kubudo Kata with a staff for the judges at the Open Karate Tournament in Japan, 2004. Photographed by Lance Cpl. Patrick J. Floto, USMC.

The first Chinese Emperor, Qin Shi Huang. Tsîn-sí-hông. 秦始皇。

The first Chinese Emperor, Qin Shi Huang.
Tsîn-sí-hông. 秦始皇。

 

Additional information:

The Massacre at Tiananmen Square was twenty five years ago tomorrow, June 4, 1989, in Beijing and in Chengdu.

Tomorrow, the 25th anniversary of the Massacre, Louisa Lim’s remarkable new book (The People’s Republic of Amnesia: Tiananmen Revisited, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0199347704) will become publically available. Selections from it at the web sites of on-line book sellers show that the book contains much new information, written beautifully and clearly, as well as remarkable interviews and color photos. The link to a Washington Post article by Louisa Lim, about the secrecy she had to deploy to write the book, was given near the beginning of this post.

Dan Southerland was the chief of the Beijing bureau of the Washington Post in 1985 through 1990. In a recent article he praises the additional information that was uncovered by Louisa Lim, and is included in her book. His article also describes what he saw before, during, and after the massacre.

The link to an astounding video, narrated by Dan Southerland, appears in the online version of an article by Michael Streissguth that has just appeared in the Washington Post Magazine. The video shiows the attacks on the students, and shows Tank Man stopping a column of tanks on a nearby street. The video also shows very shocking photos. Southerland very effectively describes the time-line of the events. The students were demonstrating protesting corruption by officials, and because they knew that China needed a more open society. The video was produced by Kate M. Tobey, assembled by Jason Adag, and used excellent graphics by Osman Malick and Julio Negron.

Streissguth’s article itself is very informative, and includes remarkable photos of bicycles that had been flattened by army tanks, and of students in Tiananmen Square listening to a young leader of the pro-democracy movement.

A good article by Ruth Marcus describes present-day attitudes in China about the massacre.

An moving article by Rowena Xiaoqing He describes the impact of the massacre on parents of the students who were killed.

William Wan’s article in the Washington Post shows astounding works of art produced by artists in China, in response to the massacre.

An article by Dana Nemcova, Jiri Gruntorad, Jan Ruml show that the ideas of the demonstrating students live on.

More additional information:

Today is the 25th Anniversary of the Massacres at Tiananmen Square and at Chengdu. Several fascinating articles have appeared in print today (2014-06-04).

Tom Malinowski’s op-ed article in the Washington Post notes how the Chinese government’s failure to come to grips with the massacres has held China back, and why it matters to the rest of the world.

An editorial by the Editors of the Washington Post stresses the fear that underlies the Chinese governments attempts to suppress information not only about the massacres, but also about its abuse of China’s brave patriots and their good ideas, as well their suppression of any non-governmental organization that becomes large. These suppressions directly violate China’s constitution. The on-line version of the editorial also includes a link to a remarkable article by Hua Ze which was published by The New York Times on August 18, 2013, about how the Chinese government misused its police powers to persecute Xu Zhiyong, for his advocacy of the rule of law and for his opposition to corruption. The editorial also mentions a book, In the Shadow of the Rising Dragon: Stories of Repression in the New China, that was edited by Xu Youyu and Hua Ze and was published last year.  I hadn’t known of the book, and am eager to read it.

An article by William Wan and Simon Denyer in the Washingtom Post describes the Chinese government’s panicky and heavy-handed repression of remembrance of the massacres. (Note: “the Chinese government’s”, not “China’s”! ) The article includes interesting interviews and photos, and a link to the video that was described above.

 

 

International Tiananmen Square Day

May 30, 2013 at 10:23 am | Posted in Abuse of Office, Disinformation, Fairness | 3 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , ,
Tiananmen Square, Beijing, China, May 1988, one year before the protests.  Photo by Derzsi Elekes Andor.

Tiananmen Square, Beijing, China, May 1988, one year before the protests. Photo by Derzsi Elekes Andor.

It is now only a few days before June 4, International Tiananmen Square Day.

International Tiananmen Square Day commemorates the bravery, the good will, and the peaceful, principled behavior of the patriotic students who were killed near Tiananmen Square on June 3, June 4, and on subsequent days in 1989.

According to Wikipedia, the students “called for government accountability, freedom of the press, freedom of speech, and the restoration of workers’ control over industry.”  They also complained about “corruption of the party elite”.  All of those issues are still alive today.

A Chinese Type 59 tank at the Beijing Military Museum.   A Type 59 main battle tank on display at the Military Museum of the Chinese People's Revolution in western Beijing. On June 3, 1989, People's Liberation Army soldiers on Type 59 tanks began firing on civilian demonstrators at Muxidi near the military museum. (Wikipedia)  Photo by Max Smith.

A Chinese Type 59 tank at the Beijing Military Museum. A Type 59 main battle tank on display at the Military Museum of the Chinese People’s Revolution in western Beijing. On June 3, 1989, People’s Liberation Army soldiers on Type 59 tanks began firing on civilian demonstrators at Muxidi near the military museum.
(Wikipedia) Photo by Max Smith.

But International Tiananmen Square Day commemorates other brave and decent people, as well.

Many have heard of Tank Man, a single individual who on June 5 blocked tanks on Chang’an Avenue by standing in their path.  (The dramatic image is copyrighted, so it cannot be included here.  But you can see it via the hyperlink.)  The soldiers in these tanks respected this man’s rights as a citizen, and did not move forward until non-soldiers (whose identies are unknown) pulled Tank Man out of the street and took him away.  Tank Man subsequently disappeared.  He was a hero.

But the soldiers in the tanks who refused to run over him, or shoot him, or beat him, or even push him out of the way – they were heros, too.  Those soldiers insisted on treating a Chinese citizen as a citizen: as a person with a right to speak, and who deserved to be treated respectfully and humanely.  The soldiers in those first few tanks were honest soldiers, protecting their people instead of killing and cowing them.  Only insiders know for sure what happened to the commander of the lead tank.  Some claim that he was shot, others claim that he is still alive.  But there is no doubt that he was a hero, and a truer patriot than those who ordered the attack on the demonstrators, or than those who beat and shot them.

The commander of the lead tank on Chang’an Avenue was not the only Chinese soldier who acted nobly.  According to a remarkably illuminating page in Wikipedia, about two weeks before the massacre, ”On 17 May 1989, over 1,000 men from the People’s Liberation Army’s General Logistics Department showed their support for the movement by appearing on Chang’an Avenue and marching toward Tiananmen Square, all the while receiving enthusiastic applause from onlookers.”

According to the same Wikipedia page, “Martial law was declared on 20 May 1989. On the same day, eight retired generals, Wang Ping, Ye Fei, Zhang Aiping, Xiao Ke, Yang Dezhi, Chen Zaidao, Song Shilun and Li Jukui signed a one-sentence letter to Deng Xiaoping and the Central Military Commission, “request[ing] that troops not enter the city and that martial law not be carried out in Beijing.””

“The 38th Army is stationed near Beijing and therefore has a closer connection to the people of Beijing. Many students had also served in the unit before attending university and some students trained with the 38th in the summers as members of the army reserve. During the initial days when martial law was declared, the 38th Army, under General Xu Qinxian, openly refused to use force against student protestors.”

“During the Tiananmen repression an estimated 3,500 PLA officers disobeyed orders, resulting in scores of army officers being executed and several generals facing court martial, including 38th Army General Xu Qinxian.”

“The 28th Army was notable for its passive enforcement of the martial law order. The unit, led by commander He Yanran and political commissar Zhang Mingchun and based in Datong, Shanxi Province, received the mobilization order on May 19. They proceeded to lead the mechanized units to Yanqing County northwest of Beijing’s city centre. When ordered to enter the city on June 3, the 28th encountered protesting residents along route but did not open fire and missed the deadline to reach Tiananmen Square by 5:30 am on June 4. At 7:00am, the 28th Army ran into a throng of angry residents at Muxidi on West Chang’an Avenue west of the Square. The residents told the soldiers of the killings from earlier in the morning and showed blood stained shirts of victims.”

”At noon, Liu Huaqing, the commander of the martial law enforcement action, and Wang Hai, head of the PLA Air Force, flew over Muxidi in a helicopter and by loud speaker ordered the 28th Army to counterattack. But on the ground, the commanders of the 28th refused to comply. Instead the troops abandoned their positions en masse. By 5pm, many had retreated into the Military Museum of the Chinese People’s Revolution nearby. Of all units involved in the crackdown, the 28th Army lost by far the most equipment, as 74 vehicles including 31 armored personnel and two communications vehicles were burned.”

The protesters in Tiananmen Square wore something black.  It was the badge of their protest.  Wear at least one small bit of black on June 4, to commemorate the protesters, Tank Man, the soldiers who did not attack Tank Man, and the many officers and troops who refused to kill the protesters, and who were executed as a result.

Doing so will show that you look forward to the day when China – and all nations – will become humane and honorable.

As long as the government of China does not allow the Chinese people to voice their true opinions and aspirations, the policies and actions of the government of China are not those of the Chinese people.

As long as the government of China does not allow the Chinese people to voice their true opinions and aspirations, it deprives itself and China of its people’s ability to identify problems and to suggest solutions.

Since 1989 China has matured politically, and has become self-confident enough to allow people to point out selected problems.  But it still often responds thugishly, like a bully, punishing those who it should instead have thanked for speaking out, punishing even their relatives, in ways that dishonor China in the eyes of the world, and do not befit a great power.  Glaring recent examples are here, and here, and here.

Replica of the Goddess of Democracy statue at Freedom Park in Arlington, Virginia, photographed by Ben Schumin.

Replica of the Goddess of Democracy statue at Freedom Park in Arlington, Virginia, photographed by Ben Schumin.

On June 4, remember and act upon what the students stood for.

If you do, eventually China, and all countries, will be better.  They will thrive sustainably.  They will be more humane.  Their citizens will be able to become all they can be.

More on Homeless Children

February 12, 2013 at 1:32 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Obdachlos - Homeless mother and children, 1883 or earlier.  From the Illustrirter Katalog der internationalen Kunstausstellung im Königl. Glaspalaste in München 1883, 4. Auflage, München, September 1883 (Digitalisat der BSB). Photographed by Fernand Pelez.

Obdachlos – Homeless mother and children, 1883 or earlier. From the Illustrirter Katalog der internationalen Kunstausstellung im Königl. Glaspalaste in München 1883, 4. Auflage, München, September 1883 (Digitalisat der BSB). Photographed by Fernand Pelez.

Petula Dvorak’s recent article in the Washington Post vividly draws attention to the cruel injustice to homeless families – and in particular, to the children in those families – that results from the present policies in Washington, DC toward homeless families.  The article is likely to apply to many cities.

Dvorak’s moving account nicely complements a post (Homeless Children at School) in this blog.

I won’t repeat here what is in the article or in the blog post, but I recommend that you look at both, if you care about what kind of world you live in, and about what kinds of people will be living in your world in the near and medium-term future.

Instead I’d like to draw your attention to something that at first has no relation to the topic, but is actually very relevant.

Zachary Karabell recently published an article that takes a fresh look at the deficit – which is topic A these days – and arrives at startling but convincing conclusions.

Zachary Karabell points out that deficits are debt, and, depending on what it is used for, debt can be either a prudent investment, with future payoffs, or can be spendthrift and dangerous.  He points out that the present discussion on the deficit incorrectly assumes that all debt is bad.  Historically, that is not true.  If well used, debt can bring us future prosperity that would be unattainable otherwise.  Historically, deficits have often been prudent and beneficial.  They can temper recessions, avert depressions, and provide infrastructure that is essential for future growth.

This brings us back to the topic of homeless parents, job seekers, and children.  For the moment, consider only homeless people who are either looking for work, or who will be looking for work when they grow up.  For the moment we are not considering those who are homeless because they cannot work now nor in the future, for reasons of physical or mental ill health.  We will consider them at the end of this post.

Both Petula Dvorak’s article and the blog post cited earlier point out the penny-wise and pound-foolish nature of the present policy.  Zachary Karabell’s findings greatly sharpen that point.  Providing resources that provide a stable, non-chaotic, respectful environment for homeless people who seek jobs, or will grow up to seek jobs, or who are raising children who will grow up to seek jobs
– will provide means for them to get off the dole, which they ardently seek to do
– will lead to more taxpayers in the future
– will reduce the number of the unemployable and the number of criminals in the future

That is, public expenditures of this type are an investment – an investment in the employability and character of people who will be part of our city in the future.  Think of it as an investment in infrastructure.  People are the most important infrastructure.

Now about those who are homeless because they cannot work now nor in the future, for reasons of physical or mental ill health.  Our policies to them are a more purely humanitarian issue.  What kind of people do we want to be?  What kind of world do we want, insofar as we can influence it?

Homeless veteran in New York, 13 December 2008, http://www.flickr.com/photos/josjos/3105382896/in/photostream/, by JMSuarez.

Homeless veteran in New York, 13 December 2008, http://www.flickr.com/photos/josjos/3105382896/in/photostream/, by JMSuarez.

Homeless Children at School

October 9, 2012 at 8:59 am | Posted in Fairness | 2 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , ,
Children sleeping in Mulberry Street (1890), Jacob Riis (May 3, 1849 - May 26, 1914)

Children sleeping in Mulberry Street (1890), Jacob Riis (May 3, 1849 – May 26, 1914).

This post was triggered by a recent article by Petula Dvorak in the Washington Post, about poor children.

Some years ago, I was the President of a local chapter of a major national and international scientific and engineering society.

The society was holding its annual meeting in a nearby city, and as the nearest local chapter, we were designated to host an Educators’ Day for the K-12 teachers in the area.

The teachers who attended were enthusiastic and interested.  They were eager to share their experiences and problems.  What they had to say was informative, and sometimes even shocking.

A significant number of the most interested teachers came from Washington, DC, since it neighbored the city (Baltimore) where the meeting was being held.

One of the teachers from DC mentioned that 85% of the students in her classes were from homeless families.  Those children mostly lived in city shelters.

The city thought that it had to motivate homeless families to keep looking for a job.  It thought that they needed additional incentive to try to cease being homeless.  It feared that they might become comfortable and rooted in a particular shelter.

So no family was allowed to remain in the same shelter for more than two or three consecutive months.  When that time was up, the family had to try to find another shelter with space for them.

What would that do to a child’s ability to learn?  To concentrate?  To make friends, and establish enduring relationships with other children and adults?

What would that do to a parent’s ability to find a job, and to get to it each day, on time?

The city’s bizarre thinking is a perfect example of ‘penny wise and pound foolish’.  Instead of transitioning families out of welfare, instead of helping the children of homeless families to become well adjusted, law abiding, well educated employable adults, the city’s policy undermined both goals.

Street Child, Srimangal Railway Station, Srimangal, Maulvi Bazar, Bangladesh.  Photo by Md. Tanvirul Islam.

Street Child, Srimangal Railway Station, Srimangal, Maulvi Bazar, Bangladesh. Photo by Md. Tanvirul Islam.
The Peachtree-Pine shelter in Atlanta, Georgia.  Photo byjramspott, 23 June 2009.

The Peachtree-Pine shelter in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo by jramspott, 23 June 2009.

Rename Labor Day

September 3, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Posted in Fairness, Judicial Misjudgment | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , , , , ,
Militia aims bayonets at strikers in Lawrence, Mass. in 1912

Militia aims bayonets at strikers in Lawrence, Mass. in 1912.
From the Wikipedia article on Labor union. In the public domain.

We have to rename Labor Day.

Labor Day was created to honor the contributions of ordinary hard working folks, and the labor unions that had improved the safety, wages and benefits of their  members.  Wherever there was competition to hire good workers, that increased the safety, benefits and wages of non-members, as well.

Those union-won benefits put more money into the pockets of those with immediate needs.  They spent that money right away, buying products and services.  Businesses made more and hired more, reinforcing the growth.  That produced widespread prosperity.

But now businesses and Republican legislators have worked together to suck the air out of the labor unions.  In the same way that the gains won by unions spilled over to non-union workers in an earlier time, so did the losses sustained by unions spill over to non-union workers now.

That is a major contributor to our present problems: scarce jobs, most people afraid to spend, budget deficits at all levels of government.

All this is explained clearly in a recent article in the Washington Post.  The article also has good suggestions on what to do about it.

But under the present conditions, it is hypocritical and cynical to have a holiday called Labor Day.

To be honest, we should change the name to Plutocracy Day, and devote it to singing the praises of our oligarchs, since they condescend to allow a little – a tiny fraction, but still not nothing – to trickle down to the rest of us.

We should also limn their elected and appointed henchmen in national and state government.  These politicians, including judges who claim not to be politicians, have been indispensable in converting the US from a democracy back to a plutocracy, just as it was in the good old days before October 1929.  They have also hoodwinked a large part of the populace into thinking that the Republicans and the oligarchs are on their side, fooling them into not feeling the fingers of those who are picking their pockets.  They have even fooled people into thinking that Romney’s and Ryan’s budget plans will reduce the deficit, even though they will actually increase it.

Judges were not the least effective in producing this change.  The article cited above shows how the judges did it.  And who can forget how the extremely partisan Republican majority in the present Supreme Court chose to lift the restrictions on how wealthy individuals and corporations could pour money into influencing elections.  The Supreme Court has lost all moral authority, buts its legal authority sufficed for this scam.

Republicans versus Reepos

August 17, 2012 at 8:06 am | Posted in Climate change, Disinformation, Dysfunctional Politics, Enemies of Freedom, Enemies of Planet Earth, Fairness, Global warming | 1 Comment
Tags: , , , , , , ,

I used to vote mostly for Republicans.

I contributed to the campaign of our local Representative, a thoughtful Republican who considered each issue on its merits, was pragmatic rather than ideological, and did not toe any party line.

The 1994 Contract With America delighted me.  (Does anyone remember it?)

But then the Republican Party zombified itself.  The change became noticeable in 1994.

Newt Gingrich, Tom DeLay, Dennis Hastert, and their ilk elevated ideology and party loyalty over pragmatic choices.  They sneered at compromise and bi-partisanship, as if they had a monopoly on truth.  Their policy was to stay on message, never revising their positions, regardless of the facts.  Thus they became rationalizers for what would benefit the rich, and purveyors of disinformation.

They ignored the data on climate change.  They saw no need to protect the public against unsafe food, or unscrupulous financiers.  They forgot the great economic lesson of the 20th Century: that an economy can grow stably and generate abundant jobs only when income is widely distributed, so that the many have the means to buy.  They systematically sought to dismantle labor unions.

They became ethically and politically repulsive.  They were no longer Republicans.  They had become Reepos.

The Grand Old Party became instead the Greedy Old Pricks.

Perhaps it would be more polite to replace GOP by POG, for Party of Greed.

The GOP complains about class warfare, but the only class warfare right now is that waged by the Reepos against everyone else.

I grudgingly realized that however much I liked the work done by my local Representative, as long as my Representative was a Republican, that person would have to vote for a dishonorable Speaker of the House.

It is even worse now.

After President Obama’s election, the leading Republicans in the Senate and House said out loud that they would do everything possible to make Obama a one-term President.  They would vote against anything that Obama and other Democrats proposed, regardless of its merits.  In other words, party took priority over patriotism.  For the sake of attacking President Obama, they opposed the very features of his health care plan that he had learned from them.  The elected Republicans became the Party of No, the party of obstruction, the party of no compromise.

Opposition to even the possibility of compromise is un-American, because it is contrary to the goal of an open society, which is the most fundamental principle of the original United States.  An open society was the goal because of its greatest strength, which is the self-correcting ability it derives from give and take, loyal dissent, and compromise, rather than winner-take-all.

The Republican party has lost its previous understanding that a large and growing middle class was essential, both economically and for political stability, that robber barons are bad, that capitalism has to be regulated for its own good, and that – as the Founders so clearly understood – essential functions that benefit all must be funded by all, via the government, and therefore that government and taxes are indispensible.

What the Republican Party has become fulfills George Washington’s worst fears about what partisanship would do to the country.  In his Farewell Address  (December 19, 1796) Washington said that partisanship “serves always to distract the Public Councils and enfeeble the Public administration. It agitates the Community with ill founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against the other, foments occasionally riot and insurrection.”  That accurately describes us, today.  (As for the last phrase in that quote, think of the right wing demogogues on TV, and how their message affects racial purists and the unstable.)

I recently saw a bumper sticker that said, “Not a Republican”.  But the old Republicans were honorable and contributed beneficially to the civic dialog.  “Not A Reepo” would have more accurately represented the thought underlying the bumper sticker.

Would Lower Taxes for the Wealthy Create More Jobs?

August 9, 2012 at 5:07 pm | Posted in Fairness, Presidential election | Leave a comment
Tags: ,

If you were one of the Koch brothers, or one of the Mars brothers, would lowering your taxes induce you to create more jobs?

I don’t think so.

You would be more likely to use your additional wealth to have an even more disproportionate influence on politics and policy.

But every additional dollar in the pocket of someone in the lower middle class would be spent to buy something.  That would boost demand, leading to more jobs, which leads to more dollars in the pockets of those who need to buy things ASAP, creating a positive feedback that would increase the general prosperity.

John Hively’s blog shows how the increasing concentration of wealth has undermined our previous trajectory of increasing general prosperity, producing a negative feedback that has contributed mightily to the present scarcity of jobs.  Fewer paychecks mean smaller tax revenues locally, statewide, and nationally, which contributes to the deficits that now also weigh us down.  If the Tea Partiers really wanted to reduce the deficit, they would push for a wider and fairer distribution of income.  See Hively’s August 8, 2012 post, and all three of the related blog posts whose links appear within that post.

The disingenuous tactics that the super wealthy use to try to eliminate the estate tax are described in http://www.citizen.org/documents/EstateTaxFinal.pdf .

Social Security, Medicare, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and the Supreme Court

June 29, 2012 at 4:16 pm | Posted in Fairness | Leave a comment
Tags: ,

The Supreme Court made the only possible reasonable decision (June 28, 2012) on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act works very much like Social Security and Medicare.  If Social Security and Medicare are constitutional, then so is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.  If the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act were not constitutional, then neither would be Social Security and Medicare.

Social Security and Medicare are funded by taxes, and so is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.  It is to the credit of the Supreme Court to have noticed that, and not to have been misled by irrelevancies about the right to regulate interstate commerce.

By the way, the program needs a brief one-word name.  The long winded name allowed the right-wing noise machine to successfully spread the use of the propagandistic term “Obamacare”.

Blog at WordPress.com.
Entries and comments feeds.