Time For an Internet Boycott

I don’t think I ever saw a new law impact my life so quickly as the new law that says ISP’s can access your browsing history and your personal information. I didn’t even know that 45 had signed it yet. We are going to have to accept that it is time for an internet boycott.

When my sister sent me a message on “Messenger” two days ago she teasingly suggested that we buy my mom a caftan that costs over $3500. When I sent her a new message today there was a pop-up showing the last four numbers of my debit card asking me if I wanted to buy that caftan with just one click? I have never seen such a prompt in Messenger before but it would be quite easy to push the wrong button here and then, in my case, my bank account would have declined; but this kind of activity is wrong. What if I did have enough money in my account? How does being declined by your bank affect your credit?

I am a blogger so I write online and, of course, I will continue to do that because the internet is the only platform for bloggers. But for a while I will stop purchasing things on line. I will boycott the internet. I will either call the seller directly or go to a brick and mortar store.

I was actually messaging my sister to tell her that my mom would have a different aide tomorrow. I did not even have to type in the keyboard. As soon as I mentioned the name of the caller the message to my sister appeared word by word in the bar above the keyboard. Somehow my tablet or Facebook knew everything I had discussed on the phone.

I will use a land line from now on to speak to my family and friends and to conduct business and I will not communicate through Facebook or the internet. I have not tried texting yet. I’ll see if the text feature is spying on me also. This is very upsetting. I did not think that the “big brother” age had made it this far yet.

If internet service providers cannot control themselves and their greed we may all have to avoid our computers, our smart phones, our smart TV’s, and those new devices that we can talk to like Alexa. I do not want something in my home that can hear me or see me when I think that I have privacy. Will we have to go back in time to avoid the problem of boundaries on the internet?

The problems of hacking an election and planting fake news seem all too frightening and just wrong, but when it becomes this personal it hits a bit too close to home. I guess these are the Wild West days of the internet. Will our “smart” devices eventually get some etiquette that sticks and place some limits on the behavior of those who offer services to “we the people” for profit? Or will we have to find ways to block them from reading our minds when what we are doing or saying is none of their business? Perhaps someone will market something like a lead-lined box to place around a device that will block the Ethernet. Will that even work? Is lead the “kryptonite” for the Internet? If not then something else probably is. Perhaps microwaves? (A Dirty Dancing reference might work here – is there sheet music for this?)

I know! They will sell us something to shut spying down and then someone will mysteriously figure out how to bypass that device and they will sell us a new device and on and on it will go. But don’t they have to use the same computers we all use when they go home to their private lives? Boycotting is our best bet to make the point that business and our government need to mind their own campfires and keep their noses out of ours. (It’s a cave man thing.)

Creating Jobs, What Won’t Work

I am in favor of creating jobs. Who isn’t? However, I do not believe the ways this administration is going about “bringing back jobs” will work. Trying to get back factory jobs, at least at this particular moment, is probably a bad strategy. Although there will always be industry, the Industrial Age, those busy days of railroads, steel, coal, automation, automobiles and burgeoning electronics were changed forever by a relatively tiny chip. The Industrial Age has left the west. It has gone “on tour” to nations that have not yet been “modernized” and monetized.

So not only is vacating the regulations that help rein in the rapacious greed that often partners with Capitalism a bad move (everything has a bad side); such actions are unnecessary and probably counterproductive. The same is true of trashing our environmental protections.

Even if you reset our laws and regulations back to when America was packed with factories, when workers left home each day at the crack of dawn with their lunchboxes, when the air was clogged with the smoke factories emitted, containing all kinds of toxic elements, and when the industrial wastes containing heavy metals and other carcinogens were discharged into our water and our soil; even with a reboot you cannot expect to “regenerate” the boom times of the peak of the Industrial Age.

I could listen to Led Zeppelin every day and wear bell bottoms and a headband, but just reproducing these details will not cause the 60’s to suddenly re-coalesce – and thank goodness for that – because, even though in many ways the 60’s were wonderful, terrible things were also afoot (the Vietnam War, policemen training hoses on black folks, or doing worse).

I am reading a book which takes place in colonial times but keeps flashing back to 1665. In 1665 people believed, for example, that meat left to sit out would generate maggots. Today we know that, in the absence of flies, old meat cannot generate maggots. Just recreating the conditions that pertained at the height of the Industrial Age will not necessarily bring back the factories so essential to that booming era in American history. Other unknown variables might be absent.

We can have a new boom. We might have full employment with jobs that pay well once again. History doesn’t clone itself exactly, but it is a sort of spiral where events circle back but on a different level.

As I watch this administration undo the 21st century in order to get back the 19th and 20th centuries it is reminding me of something I once read by Edward Albee, “sometimes you have to go a long distance out of the way to come back a short distance correctly.

Why would we want to do that? After all we learned in geometry that “the shortest distance between two points is a straight line” Lowering taxes on the rich (‘job creators’), tickle-down economics, deregulation, abandoning environmental protections are variables that might have been present in the last boom. But trying to implement the exact same constellation of events is practically impossible in the first place and in the second place is unlikely to generate America’s new economy (or, in other words, make America great again.)

Education and training – even if it is more technical and less “liberal” is most likely the true key to the “new age” What we need is the patience to let the world as it is now generate the events to come and we need to get as many Americans as possible proficient in current technologies in order to give people a platform from which to build the future. Obviously this is no time to dismantle America’s educational system either. I am sorry to see us taking these unnecessary detours to the past.

Here is a list of the bills that my representative in the House of Representatives voted for since the beginning of the 115th Congress and almost every one of these bills overturns a regulation on businesses, the SEC, or removes an environmental protection, except for the one that takes away more of our privacy on the internet.

John Katko’s voting record

http://congress.freedomworks.org/legislators/john-katko

017: 115th Congress 89%

  • 1: On Passage: REINS Act – H.R. 26✔ Yea
  • 2: On Passage: Regulatory Accountability Act – H.R. 5✔ Yea
  • 3: On Passage: H.J. Res 41 – Resolution of Disapproval Against the SEC’s Disclosure of Payments by Resource Extraction Issuers Rule✔ Yea
  • 4: On Passage: H.J.Res. 38 – Resolution of Disapproval Against the Department of the Interior’s Stream Protection Rule✔ Yea
  • 5: On Passage: H.J. Res. 37 – Resolution of Disapproval Against the DOD, GSA, and NASA Federal Acquisition Regulation✔ Yea
  • 6: On Passage: H.J.Res. 36 – Resolution of Disapproval Against the Bureau of Land Management’s Prevention, Production Subject to Royalties, and Resource Conservation Rule✘ Nay
  • 7: On Passage: H.J.Res. 57 – Resolution of Disapproval Against the Department of Education’s Accountability and State Plans Rule✔ Yea
  • 8: On Passage: H.R. 372 – Competitive Health Insurance Reform Act✔ Yea
  • 9: On Passage: H.R. 1101 – Small Business Health F

·         Recent Votes

Date Roll Call Bill Vote
4/6/2017 221 H.R.1219 Yea
4/5/2017 220 H.R.1304 Yea
4/5/2017 218 H.RES.242 Aye
4/5/2017 217 H.RES.242 Yea

 

Guess what. Mr. Katko was not alone. Looking at the voting records of any one Republican representative in the House is the same as looking at the voting of all of the Republican representatives in the House because they all vote pretty much exactly the same way.  They are all busily and happily deregulating everything they can think of, in order to undo all laws that they believe restrict industry and business in the US, and fully believing that if they do this America will once again be the key nation in the world in terms of economics and therefore power. When everyone in a party votes in lockstep, this is what partisanship looks like.

This is a view from the cheap seats.

Modern Witch Hunting

There are men in Congress so obsessed with women’s reproduction processes that they try to defund an organization that has helped women with their unique health issues for decades and they try to do this over and over again. Our Supreme Court upheld a woman’s right to control her own pregnancies in the famous Roe v Wade decision. But some men in Congress, unable to overturn this decision, are trying to make sure that the Federal government does not fund it. Some of these self-righteous men are even fathers but have no respect for the miracle that gave them their children and the complications and dangers that can accompany that miracle. Some do not even want the Federal government to help women with the costs of contraception or to help pay for the health needs particular to women because they feel these services allow women to have a sexual freedom which they disapprove of. Since Planned Parenthood uses its own private funds to make sure needy women can get an abortion when they need to these men want to withdraw all funding from women’s health services so that Planned Parenthood does not get one cent of federal money. This money does not belong to these men. It belongs to “we the people”. They do not actually run the government, they represent us and we run the government, because, supposedly, they vote for the things we need.

Whenever you see a photo of those who take this grim, judgmental position on behalf of women (really?) the photo will almost always show only men. Apparently it is not so easy to keep government and religion separate, but it is essential since you cannot guarantee freedom of religion without this separation. But on the issue of women’s reproductive choice some men turn into ancient Puritanical authority figures glaring disapprovingly at any woman who has the temerity to believe that she should control any decisions she makes about her own body. These men seems to feel that women are so frail that they must be protected from their own tendency to sin. The way these men, who do wield power in modern America, have used Planned Parenthood to pursue their atavistic agenda frightens women. It feels like modern witch hunting. It is like a time machine right back to the Salem Witch Hunts.

I know for people with strong Christian values this issue is one that people truly struggle with. These men in our Congress seem obsessed though and obsession is not a Christian quality either. If you are not a woman then let this moral struggle go. Leave it to women to make their own decisions in this matter and accept the consequences in both this world and the next. Perhaps there is a Freudian secret here and men are really trying to control birth in women because it is the one thing they cannot do by themselves.

Distraction and Disorientation: The New American Way

I find recent events so disorienting that it is hard to know where to even begin when it comes to resistance or activism. I do not think this confusion is coming from my brain; I think it is a goal of he who I refuse to name and his minions to create a fog of misinformation and to flood our politics with so many issues that we risk losing the progress made during the Obama years because we don’t have time to respond in numbers strong enough to be as effective as we would like to be. Perhaps this person’s book should be called The Art of Distraction.

Purposeful Distraction (What would we do without Rachel Maddow?)

We are dealing with the issues around Russian intervention in American politics and the possible connections with Trump’s staff and possibly Trump himself. We are dealing with Devin Nunes and his pursed lips, so maddening. He conspicuously went onto the White House grounds to read classified documents in a safe room and then pretended that his actions were either invisible or have nothing to do with the investigation he is leading. But when he chose this option he must have known that there would be a trail to follow.

Nunes has us playing some ridiculous game. “I know something you don’t know but I will never tell you.” He is the head of an investigative committee that is supposed to find things out and then tell us, or at least inform the other members of the committee. Yet when he is confronted with his rather obnoxious refusal to fulfill his commitments and, when, as a result he is asked to resign, he just clams up, adopts a power stance, and says “you can’t make me” and even more exasperating “I will never tell”. But if it is something that harms Obama or the Democrats you can bet it will eventually come out. Now he has called Comey (FBI) back in front of his committee. This is not like any American government I have ever taken pride in.

Make Use of Disorientation – Act Fast and Pack the Agenda

Internet Privacy

I keep track of bills coming up in Congress on the Countable app and on the govtrack service. So I knew the bill that would end some of our consumer protections on the internet (allow sellers to access our browsing histories and our locations) was coming up for a vote. Well the vote is already done and if DT signs it, as we know he will, another of our rights bites the dust. It happened so fast there was little time to effectively resist.

Deportations

Deportations are continuing apace and they are not pretty. They are beginning to have impacts on our communities and therefore on us. Can you enjoy a leisurely summer with warm days and sunlight dappled through leaves while they are dragging people kicking and protesting off to await deportation and ripping parents away from their children? I believe it will begin to cast a pall over our entire nation that will rob us of some of pleasure we usually take from life. Meanness rebounds on the perpetrators.

Penalties for Sanctuary Cities

Our mayor in Syracuse has declared our city to be a Sanctuary City. She does not plan to help ICE with any deportation activities. On Monday Jeff Sessions broadcast strong warnings to all Sanctuary cities that they will lose federal funding if they persist in refusing to cooperate with deportations.

http://cnycentral.com/news/local/syracuse-mayor-on-threats-to-cut-funds-to-sanctuary-cities-this-is-not-who-we-should-be

The Wall

The issue of the “wall” has moved from the realm of speculation into the realm of practicalities and we are getting information about what sections of the wall the orange one should tackle first, who will lose their land, what the design will be and what the cost will be. I may come to think this wall was a good idea one day, but I very much doubt it. I think this is an expensive exercise in futility.

(Is this the America we know and love?)

Health Care

Mitch McConnell has done his nasty best to will whatever happens with Obamacare to the Democrats while he implies that the Republicans will not only not do anything to save it but they might use any tricks they can come up with to undermine it further than they already have.

The Environment

There is more. There will be more. There is the attempt to dismantle environmental protections painstakingly put in place to balance the needs of business and a world where polar ice is melting, sea levels are rising, human populations are testing the limits of our oceans to deal with our trash and our spills, and climate does seem to be changing. I can only hope that this egomaniacal man who pits his puny power against the power of nature does not trigger some disastrous event with his disregard for the planet. Do we have time to backtrack on this? Let’s hope we do.

It’s now day 70 of the first 100 days and I have dreaded turning on the news on each and every one of these 70 days. NBC is keeping a list of the activities of the first 100 days

http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/white-house/president-donald-trump-s-first-100-days-major-moments-n709706

Education

It goes on. The Education Department, which may soon no longer exist, is gearing up to privatize education in America so we can expect the first cannonballs to come over that horizon soon. The unions are preparing to resist but this administration seems to favor the preemptive strike.

Federal Budget

There is the “no good, very bad budget” that is coming up for a vote (maybe) soon. It is a miserable budget that carries out the GOP promises to help the wealthy and get rid of all those benefits that provide a safety net for the middle class, whose finances are much more precarious. So that should be fun.

Foreign Policy

And none of this even touches the things that are happening in the foreign policy arena that are so troubling, with a President who apparently only shakes hands with men, or women he considers attractive, even if they are from important NATO allied nations with a fairly dominant position in Europe.

Whiplash

It is no wonder that those of us who are following this stuff have whiplash and we are not sure what to protest first or what to say to our Representatives in Congress at any given moment without a program, and even with a program there is little time to react. There is a great rush to dismantle our government although I am not sure why. I suppose these people know that all Americans will eventually catch on to their deceptions and they are not sure what will happen then. In the meantime it apparently doesn’t matter where your activism focuses. Just pick a bad bill or bad executive action and chip away. Make noise. Be heard. We must; otherwise we seem complicit.

Test ACA By Using It As Intended

Republicans repeat time and again that the ACA is in a “death spiral”, that it is unsustainable and will die of its own internal flaws. The problem is that I will never believe them until they let the ACA function as it was intended to. Reinstate the mandate.

http://www.scotusblog.com/2012/06/the-mandate-is-constitutional-in-plain-english/

Get all the states to accept the Medicaid expansion. Test the ACA by using it as intended.

Free market health care will not work. That is why the ACA put together a public/private partnership. If there were a great option for health care that did not involve any public offerings someone would have already written that plan and it would have been approved right away. Do not listen to the insurance companies right now. They were terrible providers of health insurance if you care to remember. They only covered people who worked, for the most part, and, in fact, only people who worked for medium-sized to giant-sized companies.

If you were self-employed you could sometimes get good insurance when you joined a group or an organization, but if you were on your own insurance was either very pricey or covered very little. People who have preexisting conditions, contrary to popular opinion, do not always have those conditions because they have traveled down the “road to Perdition” and brought it on by their own vices.

Perhaps you heard the newest conclusion based on years of cancer research which says that cancer in our bodies depends on random changes in genes and does not necessarily result from bad lifestyle choices.

http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2017/03/23/521219318/cancer-is-partly-caused-by-bad-luck-study-finds

Although in the future we may once again hear evidence that random gene changes can be affected by some toxic external input, that is not what this recent study concluded. Obviously many people also have conditions besides cancer that are hereditary or work-related, or a result of an accident.

Insurance for most things can be logically based on risk. Health insurance is not that kind of insurance. Someone’s possessions are not what is at stake. Their quality of life is at stake. No insurance company in its right mind truly wants to cover something as risky as human health. But if they can deny insurance to anyone as soon as they show the slightest inclination to be sick or disabled then they can really rake in the profits by insuring only healthy people who get zapped off insurance as soon as symptoms appear. Although this might be good for the insurance industry, how is this good for people, who most assuredly will have health challenges at some point during their lives? Few people make it from cradle to grave without needing some care from the health sector at some point. There may not be a way to offer affordable and good quality health care and make a profit.

If the health insurance industry can prove that it can contain its greed and profit at a slow but steady rate, contain that hunger Capitalism encourages in its practitioners and “have a heart” for its clients, then perhaps we can keep private sector insurance for health concerns. I don’t believe that the insurance industry can practice any such restraint.

When we had only private insurance the competition which many promised would happen did not happen. Companies colluded. If one company raised premiums they all followed suit. If one company offered a new service to justify raising rates everyone jumped on the band wagon. And so, although many people would lose good jobs if private insurance disappeared, a single payer plan which would offer new jobs may be our only possibility if the ACA fails.

Both sides in Congress, if they are opposed to single payer need to find a way to make the current plan, the much maligned ACA, successful. So do the insurance companies. Single payer in America is not socialism. This is the people’s money and it is not socialism when the people decide how they want to spend their own money.

Now that the billionaires have had the American government make laws and tax breaks that shoveled all our money into their apparently bottomless pockets. they argue that the middle class and the poor do not pay enough taxes to support the ACA and that they definitely do not pay enough taxes to support a single payer plan, which these folks see as socialism, but which I do not. It is difficult to feel sad that a billionaire or millionaire might have possessed a few less billions or millions if we did not have such skewed laws. How many millions or billions can you spend, even in several generations? Did you ever read God Bless You Mrs. Rosewater by Kurt Vonnegut (probably no one reads Vonnegut anymore)? A billionaire wants to get rid of his fortune but every time he gives money away he gets more back.

It seems that billionaires feel faint even thinking about parting with a few million, which they have now convinced themselves appeared in their pockets totally through their own incredible talents and their sole efforts. In order to put an end to this standoff that has arisen because these privileged people have decided to refuse to contribute a portion of their wealth back to our government for the public good, perhaps the taxpayers who are not wealthy will be willing to pay taxes that are a bit higher in order to cover the safety net, the benefits we need as seniors, and a single-payer health care system. Why doesn’t that Congressional Budget Office give the people a figure on what it would cost the people who are not rich to pay for single payer health care and other social benefit programs on their own?

Diabolical Moves to Pass a Flawed AHCA

 

Background

My representative in Washington in the House of Representatives is John Katko who is serving his second term in Congress. He represents a sprawling CNY district which includes an inner city (which has been identified as one of the most stubborn pockets of poverty in the US), suburban areas which are quite affluent, including the one where his family lives, and rural areas where poverty is more the rule than the exception.

He has been elected in an area which has fairly recently been turned red by empty factories and recession. Republicans promise the hardest hit folks that they know the secret to turning the economy around and bringing jobs back. Democrats did not believe that they could promise any such thing. Republicans poured money into Katko’s election. The Democrats never came forth with the level of support that was necessary to help turn the area blue again. Ever since the Citizen’s United decision Republican PACs and donors have poured money into areas where it looked like they had a shot at turning any little dot on the map into a red dot. And their attention to detail has paid off.

So now we have a representative who is basically bought and paid for, who has, so far, voted the party line. And we have the health care bill coming up for a vote, supposedly as early as Thursday, March 23, 2017. In a district with as many poor people as Katko’s,  the number of people who will lose health care if the AHCA passes will be enormous. One of the problems is, of course, that the full impact of this bill will not be felt until 2020 so that these poor unsuspecting folks can vote this guy in again before they get zapped. Isn’t our politics lovely? Anything that can be done will be done.

I sent my Representative in the House the following letter asking him to get in touch with his better self:

Rep. John Katko:

Although I am sorry to write such a long letter I hope you will indulge me and read it in its entirety.

I am thinking that you are not thrilled by everything that is happening in Washington. I know that you are an earnest man who has a serious interest in serving the people in your district, which is a mix of urban, suburban, and rural cultures with diverse needs that few other representatives have to deal with. I suspect that you are a Catholic man, or at least a man of faith. I know that your unshakeable Conservative values include a firm pro-life stance and probably an economic view that fits with the one usually held on the right, one of fewer regulations and possibly even tax breaks to help employers take greater risks.

I don’t believe that someone with your inflexible position on women’s reproductive rights should be in government at all, but there are obviously many people in this district who do not agree with me. So I will leave this issue aside except to say that if you have your way in this matter it will make women’s lives far more difficult and will reset the clock on women’s rights back to my grandmothers’ days.

However, what seems most doubtful to me is that you want to “deconstruct” the American administration as the President’s men and women seem to want to do. It seems doubtful to me that you want to invite Vladimir Putin in to influence American politics. I find it hard to believe that you would like to vote in lower taxes for the wealthy at the expense of the poor and middle class people you represent. You just don’t seem like a person who wants to see our schools with insecure funding which could have profound effects on the quality of education in America and make opportunities unequal across the states.

I also find it hard to fathom why you might want to support the American Health Care Act when so many in your district would lose health insurance and so many seniors would be negatively affected. You don’t seem that extreme to me. I would guess that you are more moderate than some of your colleagues. But I do not know how ambitious you are. I do not know what you owe to the national party and the super PACs and other Conservative organizations. I do not know how courageously you would fight the very powerful pressure brought to bear on Conservatives in Washington by the base and the upper echelons of the party and by big money people.

Well I guess we, as your constituents, will see how extreme you are or how courageous you can be. Will you fight for the needs of your constituents the way a parent fights to meet the needs of their children. Every day I awake to see what new actions of this administration have weakened the foundations of our democracy and every day I am more and more shocked and distressed about what I see. Yet every day I feel more and more helpless to have any way to stop this administration from undoing every single thing I think any modern culture should try to do for the people it governs.

Sincerely,

Mr. Katko knows that the AHCA is not a good replacement for the ACA. He knows that it will create hardships for a large number of his constituents, and that it will please some of his constituents. He is between a rock and hard place but I was hoping that he would take the moral high road instead of the economic low road. I was hoping he would be brave enough to pick people over party in this instance. I am still hoping for that.

Federal Government Sweetens the Pot

The Federal government, however, is quite diabolical when it is determined to get its way. They have added an enticement to the health care bill that is only being offered to Upstate NY because Mr. Katko (and others upstate representatives) was having problems liking this legislation. They have also included some tidbits to tempt other Republican representatives who are less than delighted with this rushed and deeply flawed piece of legislation. The New York Times included a piece about these “carrots” in this morning’s edition.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/20/us/politics/house-health-care-new-york-republicans.html

In this article the authors, Thomas Kaplan and Richard Pear (with Jesse McKinley contributing reporting from Albany) tell us the following:

“House Republican leaders, trying to lock down the votes of wavering upstate New York Republicans, inserted a last-minute special provision in their health care bill that would shift Medicaid costs from New York’s counties to its state government”

(While it is true that Medicaid costs are among the mandated budget items that are an enormous burden on county budgets and while it is equally true that relief plans should be in the works, this Federal move to immediately shift the burden of these costs to the State of New York budget is a totally unplanned move that could perhaps bankrupt the state and is at the very least a political ploy strategically designed to get a very bad health care bill to pass, and at the most is something the states should raise an outcry about. Is it even legal?)

The article goes on to say:
“The move – one of a number of changes designed to gain more votes – would affect New York State only. It could save county governments outside of New York City $2.3 billion a year. But it could shift costs to state taxpayers or deny New York the same total in matching federal aid if the state continues to require those counties to contribute to the cost of Medicaid. Upstate New York Republicans, backed by local government officials, pressed for the measure over the angry opposition of New York’s Democratic governor, Andrew M. Cuomo.”

“The more we learn about the repeal and replacement for the Affordable Care Act, the sicker New York gets,” Mr. Cuomo said in a statement Monday night.”

While I can see what this measure does for county budgets I cannot, for the life of me, see what if does for poor people who need health care.

“The newly released set of changes does not directly provide more generous tax credits for older Americans as many Republicans had been requesting, but it lays the groundwork for the Senate to enhance those tax credits at a later stage in the legislative process.”

“President Trump and House conservatives already agreed to other changes involving Medicaid, including offering states the option of imposing a work requirement for certain able-bodied beneficiaries. They also agreed to let states choose a lump-sum block grant to fund their Medicaid programs instead of a per-capita allotment originally set in the House Bill.”

The Republicans representative who were wavering are now feeling that they can get back on board. But, although you can patch some tires and drive on them, some tires prove unfixable. Putting patches on this bill does not in any way make it a better health care plan. In fact New York’s governor has more to say:

“This cut is so severe that the majority of hospitals, nursing homes and assisted living facilities located in upstate New York and on Long Island would be devastated, Mr. Cuomo said.”

What do I Say to Mr. Katko Now?

I guess this puts the ball back in his court, although I still believe that he has to legislate in ways that serve the majority of his constituents but, in particular, the poorest of his constituents, since we are talking about something that means life or death in many cases. I also know that he will have a county executive to deal with and that this relief from what she calls “unfunded mandates” will put a great big old smile on her face. And who will win? Supposedly I will win because my taxes will go down or there will be more money to spend locally, but I have never minded that some of my tax dollars help people less fortunate than me. I have little extra money to contribute to the many charitable causes that break my heart, but this, since I am used to it, is a relatively painless way to give back for my many blessing.

John Katko, please stick to your guns and vote down this bill which will hurt many of your constituents and perhaps the entire state of New York, which DT would love to humble because of the Governor’s defiant statements. As I said, diabolical.

 

 

 

 

Governments Determine Society

 

Let’s talk about the link between a government and the society in which that government sits. Clearly governments determine society in very direct ways by the things they do and the things they do not do. Do the people in the society feel comfortable? Are people fearful? Do they scuttle out of their homes, do their business quickly, and get back behind closed doors, with closed curtains? Do the people have enough to eat, have adequate housing, pleasant surroundings? Are the people warm enough and well-clothed; are they healthy?

Is transportation available? Can people afford it? Are there jobs? Can people choose their own professions? Can they get the training they need? Do they enjoy some autonomy in the work places where they spend so much of their time or are they nervous because bosses are cruel and arbitrary and employees never know quite where they stand?

Russia

Let’s be more case specific. What do you think it was like to live and work in Russia before the Russian Revolution and after it? Russia had aristocrats, it had merchants, and it had peasants. The merchant class was about as close as they came to having a middle class. If you were not an entrepreneur then you were a peasant and the pleasure you took from your life depended on so many factors that you were far more likely to labor long and hard and die young, with perhaps a saint’s day to celebrate now and then. How the whole society fared depended on whether their ruler was benign or tyrannical.

So you would think that when that big pitchfork – revolution – turned over that compost heap and those on the bottom were the hallowed, but poor workers who rose up against oppression, that those poor people would experience a transformation in their lives. But the leaders of the revolution made tests for people. You had to join the Party and everyone’s actions were constantly under scrutiny. You could be sent to labor and die in Siberia. You could be killed outright. You could be imprisoned in a gulag, without a trial, without any argument, just taken out of your life and sent to hell on earth. Then the leaders, who perhaps felt vengeful about their years at the bottom of the heap, really clamped down. They assigned citizens to jobs. They erected that virtual iron curtain around the USSR so they would have no interference from other nations. They even built an actual wall to separate West and East Berlin.

China

The People’s revolution in China did not turn out well either. Perhaps it was because Mao was mentally ill or maybe Mao only became insane as he tried to correct his failing policies with more failing policies, until we got to the truly injurious Cultural Revolution. In this era China, as had happened in Russia, placed those who had been on the bottom on top as officials and those who had been on the top became the workers. So you had farmers, without any education, unable to read or write, in charge of a whole village of people. These untrained leaders become defensive and dictatorial. The upper classes made very poor farmers. Although we think that “turn-around is fair play, and that it makes a certain moral sense, it was a terrible failure. People starved. People were so intimidated they found sneaky ways to undermine those in charge. People were beaten and imprisoned. Many left the country if they could find a way and some died trying.

Democracies and Our Republican Coup

Revolutions that put democratic governments in place fared slightly better. Still when we wish for revolution in this country I want to know exactly what we will get when it is done. Will it take a revolution to overcome this coup that I have been writing about for the past six years? The one where the Republicans took over all three branches of government so they can have their way with the American people. What will it be like now that Donald has “trumped” their coup? Will he let the Republicans do as they wish? He seems delighted to do just that and more by dismantling our Federal agencies. When we have no affordable health care, when we have to work in an America with no labor unions to protect us, no laws about wages, no safety net if the economy slows, when we have no allies, what will life be like for people who once considered themselves in charge of their own fate and enfranchised in a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” With all these changes in governance how could we expect our society to be as it is now?

What Effect Will these Aberrations in Government Have on our Society

There does not seem to be any place for “we the people” in our government after the coup. Unless we agree with those in power we have no input in governance except through resistance. We are now a one party government, the other major party basically powerless. It looks as if America will no longer be a society that will nurture us all and provide opportunities for us all.

I believe that Donald Trump could only be President in an America where the Constitution has been trashed, hollowed out by people who found every way to exploit the flexibility our forefathers left in the document. The Republicans did the gut work to take over the government and their agenda seemed quite extreme to me. Then Donald stepped in and usurped all that the propaganda war, the gerrymandering, the purchase of state and local governments had accomplished, and went further when and he brought in his enforcers, the “alt-right”, so extreme that they had always been sidelined by nearly everyone.

This is now a “take no prisoners” government, a “my way or the highway government,” and they are vengeful and selfish. This time I think “we the people” may be in real trouble. We may find a meaner government produces a meaner society and guess who will bear the brunt of that? All of the big money is with those who have taken over our government. It is sort of a revolution in reverse.

After looking at the new budget, after looking at the new bill on education, and the new health care nonplan it is clear that these guys (don’t ever doubt that the men are in charge) intend our nation to be that old thing we fought so hard against – a military-industrial complex, and we will be the grist for the mills.

If all the programs that people depend on to lift up the less fortunate or the temporarily-down-on-their-luck are cut to the bone and our Federal government lavishes all its funds and energies on the military and the corporations, our society will be changed beyond recognition. It will be a DINO, a Democracy In Name Only. And we will be the ones behind the wall this time. I so did not want to go here. Of course we have to resist. We have to fight, fight, fight – to the bitter end. But I don’t see how we will win. In the end we may have to hunker down and try to make it through to the other side of this nastiness. Only experiencing it will convince the “faithful” of their misplaced loyalty.