25 June 2011

Summer Madness - The Face of America

James Verone is the face of America in the summer of 2011.

James Verone at Gaston county jail: the North Carolina man attempted a robbery of one dollar at a bank in order to be given medical treatment. Photograph: Ben Goff/The Gaston Gazette

Unemployed without health insurance, James had himself arrested so he could get a prison doctor to see him for back pain, arthritis and a dodgy foot (US man stages $1 bank robbery to get state healthcare).

It actually could get worse. Some politicians favor privatizing prisons. An unregulated, for-profit prison isn't likely to provide inmate healthcare. Just saying. It's Summer Madness.

It's the kind of madness that even Kool & The Gang could not have anticipated when they wrote their classic instrumental tune Summer Madness in 1974.

Watch Kool & The Gang's Rusty Hamilton slap a keyboard & synthesizer like it owes him money (below), then think about how fucked up public policy has been since the Reagan revolution in 1980.

The Bottom Line

The politics of The Rugged Individualist DO NOT WORK for people. Humans are a social community. We are interdependent, compassion-seeking creatures. I'd say BANK ON IT, but an unregulated banker might extract a hidden fee from you.

450 Economists Were Right

What happened in February 2003?

450 economists including 10 of the 25 American Nobel Prize laureates, having examined facts and the long arc of historical record, urged President Bush NOT to enact the 2003 tax cuts in a landmark public statement.

The statement in the 2003 Economist's Statement Opposing the Bush Tax Cuts is quite revealing. All of the gravest concerns & objections expressed by our best & brightest economists from Berkeley to MIT have been proven out over the past 8 years.

Resoundingly opposed to the politically expedient Bush tax cuts, these economists were proven intellectually honest, prescient and wise.

250 Dead-Wrong Economists

On the flip side, 250 economists said the Bush tax cuts would, create more employment, economic growth, and opportunities for all Americans.
Dead Wrong:

Bush tax cuts DID NOT create more employment, economic growth, and opportunities for all Americans.
Those in support of the Bush tax cuts were proven to be either unabashed special-interest shills, ignorant of the historical record, or casual with the facts.

In Retrospect

The 2003 Bush tax cuts have:
  • Worsened the long-term budget outlook;
  • Added to the nation’s near decade-long deficit;
  • Reduced the federal government's capacity to finance Social Security and Medicare benefits;
  • Gutted investments in public schools, health, infrastructure, and basic research; and
  • Exacerbated inequities in after-tax income for the country's life blood - middle income workers like you and me.

20 June 2011

War. What is it Good For?

Fact-bereft conservatives and intellectually dishonest libertarians consistently hammer on Federally funded programs like Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, Unemployment Insurance, Planned Parenthood, NPR, and so on, as the root causes of the deficit in the US government.

Name a program that helps people, and you'll find fact-bereft conservatives relentlessly bashing it. It is rare to hear an honest Republican (or Democrat) point to 3 elective wars as the biggest budget buster.

To his credit libertarian Ron Paul has called out the costs of 3 elective wars, so give the dude credit even though he flips the ninny bit with most of his free-market drivel.

I blame the deficit squarely on elective wars and nation-building:

President Obama could have ended two failed elective wars and costly nation building on day 1 of his presidency, but has failed miserably by pandering to failed conservative doctrine (e.g., Bush-Lite foreign policy) in a feeble attempt to reach consensus with stubborn conservative ideologues.

19 June 2011

Root of Dignity

Ergun Çoruh asks
What does it take
to live a dignified life?
I dunno. Do you?

I don’t know how to live life with dignity. I have imagined a dignified death.

I have thought of death as a culmination of a backpacking trip -- a trip where I have been packing the molecules my mind has convinced me is my body.

There's comfort in the notion that whatever was carried into the world by me and my antecedents would be recycled, or carried out, in a stubbornly efficient mass balance. Carried out not by me, rather carried out by co-dependent opportunistic species -- like carrion beetles.

I don’t know how to live life with dignity.

I wrote a poem called Kicking Horse that is ostensibly about a dignified death in the wilderness. My poem celebrates the great unknown -- where I treat the great unknown, perhaps naively, as something more than the stark finality of decomposition.

Kicking Horse
Saint Paul, 24 May 2005
Remembering Richard Hugo's poems

I rest my pikestaff
Against a granite colossus
In defiance, a toast
I tip a metal flask of Jack
To the wilderness

Now reclined
On the cobbled banks
Of the Kicking Horse Reservoir
Sun morsels desert my pupils
I cook until dusk

In the mackinaw of nightfall
Conferences of carrion beetles
Prepare their nurseries
Opening my eye sockets
To some star-lit destiny

The title Kicking Horse is borrowed from poet Richard Hugo. Nominated for a National Book Award, The Lady in Kicking Horse Reservoir contains many of Richard Hugo's most loved and anthologized poems.


Learning to live a life with dignity would seem to require the experience of living. Learning to live a life with dignity also seems to require introspective thinking.

Introspective thinking is not idle navel gazing. Rather it is the requisite time to reconcile heady stuff like what is the nature of reality?
Becoming a witness to yourself gives you the lens of objectivity with which to test the comfort of your own reality.
~John Maeda
Part of living life with dignity is having a sense of what's fair.
I have come to think of fairness as a sort of social mass balance.
John Maeda says in his post Father as Leader
...what I believe is important in a leader -- being someone that consistently gives, instead of just takes...
I don’t know how to live life with dignity, but fairness seems to be at the root of dignity.