Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Who should determine our future?

I want the leaders I look toward for guidance to be smarter, more forward-thinking, more able to see the bigger picture of what an action today means for results tomorrow.

Sadly, I look around today and don't see that forward vision in our leadership. Just because we've always done something doesn't mean it continues to be the right choice for today's world. As Darwin said: "It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change."
WE must be the change.

As I look at the institutions and practices we revere today, I see patterns for survival in a world that no longer exists.
  • We revere myopia. What were once forward-thinking enterprises are now entrenched in efforts to preserve practices that focus on immediate results without regard to inevitable subsequent consequences; that is short-sighted.
  • We are hidebound. Where once learning from the world around us was key to finding new directions for research and needs to be met, now only tried and existing pathways are considered; that is constrictive.
  • We retreat into fear. In a nation that once aimed for productivity and growth, safety and security have increasingly consumed resources, leaving nothing to invest in creativity and innovation to improve potential; that is the antithesis of progress and growth.
As long as we preserve what was at the expense of what could become, we fail to adapt. Darwin knew: entrenched thinking is preparation to fail.

Pushing to perpetuate short term profits without regard to the long-tail costs of those choices does not lead to success; it leads to disaster. When we ignore the best evidence because it doesn't fit with old expectations, we practice wishful thinking rather than making progress. To continue the same repetitious decisions better and faster only gets incrementally more of the same old dysfunctional results. Our current patterns are leading us toward a dangerous precipice that our forward-searching scouts are warning us about.

To do nothing different will lead us to the brink of a crisis that could be preventable if we take heed today.

Current risk assessment is crucial for long-term financial, sustainable success. America, indeed the entire world, needs to rethink current analysis to refocus on extended profitability rather than short-term cashflow. Today, Harvard students and faculty are urging Harvard Corporation, the world’s largest educational endowment, to take this long-range view and divest from fossil fuels.
Students and Faculty to Harvard: Divest from Fossil Fuels
Student leader Canyon Woodward calls it their "moral responsibility" to ensure that Harvard "aligns its institutional actions and policies with the shared interests of society."

Harvard as an institution, its faculty, and so many of its graduates provide national leadership. Students and faculty know that Harvard's awareness of changing worldwide priorities is essential in this transitional era, and they are poised to tackle the crucial issue of climate change and bring the dialogue about divestment into public view.

Woodward says, "We take this action with the conviction that Harvard can, must, and will be a leader in responding to the climate crisis. We owe it to the world’s less fortunate and to future generations to lead the way to a livable planet."

The rest of America has no less responsibility. It's past time to divest from future-risky policies, practices, companies, and industries.

No time is more crucial than the present to take a future-focused lead. We must realize that short-term greed won't create a better world for tomorrow. It is our responsibility to move into the future with a vision of sustainable, realistic, planet-friendly energy policies.

By taking a stand with Harvard visionaries today, we lead the way to a better tomorrow. Together, we can rescue our institutions, revive our communities, and realign with the self-sustaining ecosystem of our planet. The future is determined by what we choose today.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Isn't Net Neutrality a basic Internet Right?

There you are, working online, thinking you and everyone else have the same ability to access internet content. It's only right that we all want to be able to get our information, products, and services with equal ease.
Net Neutrality means equal internet access for all -- even this cat
But FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and the rest of the Federal Communications Commission don't seem to think so. Even though millions petitioned for equal access to be retained, the FCC has just proposed rules that would end net neutrality. The proposed rules enable big corporations to have faster internet access, making smaller operators unable to compete.

To ignore the purpose of the internet -- free exchange of information -- and sacrifice small businesses and independent users to greedy giant corporations is the antithesis of the platform.

It is the job of the FCC to prevent unfair practices by industry. The FCC is supposed to support the needs and broadcast access of America's  millions of consumers. The proposed FCC rules make a mockery of their charge to protect consumers from unscrupulous industry tactics.

The Chairman, a former cable TV and cell phone industry lobbyist, is said to have drafted the new net neutrality-ending rules himself. Wheeler should go back to working as an industry lobbyist if he cannot understand the different purpose inherent in the FCC charge.

If you agree corporate domination of the internet is wrong, tell the FCC to revise its rules to reflect egalitarian access to the internet for all.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Who doesn't think corporations are people?

BIG Corporation -- little person
Do YOU think corporations are people? I don't, and I'm in really good company:
The Founding Fathers didn't make corporations people:
  • As colonists, to get around the monopoly of the British East India Company's tea trade, Americans smuggled in their own tea, which led to the Crown imposing the Tea Act as a bailout for the deeply indebted company, which in turn led to the Boston Tea Party rebellion.
  • Early Americans granted government charters to form business organizations to achieve one specific purpose and for limited duration. These "incorporations" were formed only to perform services for the common good that business people could not afford to undertake individually.

The 1886 Supreme Court didn't rule corporations were people:
  • In the case widely cited as establishing corporations as people, SCOTUS declined to consider that argument and ruled on other issues; however a court clerk took liberty in interpretting this to infer corporations had 14th Amendment protections when summarizing its key findings. (For more detail see post on corporate "personhood".)
  • Subsequent court cases have cited this erroneous digest as precedent. (This video shows the shocking timelines that further increased corporate dominance.)

Americans today don't support the idea that corporations are people:
  • In every one of the more than 500 communities -- conservative and liberal, urban and rural -- that have taken action on grassroots initiatives against corporate domination, strong majorities of 65% to nearly 90% of the voters supported resolutions to specify that corporations are not people.

If you're like most Americans, you, too, are fed up with corporate domination. It's time to do more than complain. It's time for all of us to advocate for human rights, to ensure social and economic justice, and to shift the balance of power by ending of corporate domination. It's up to us to build a vibrant democracy accountable to People, not corporations.

We the People have the power -- if we choose to exercise it.

It's up to US to demand that Congress respect its constituents instead of lobbyists' persuasions. It's up to US to tell corporations once and for all: Only human beings are People. It's up to US to support a petition for a Constitutional Amendment to put corporations in their legal place -- as a business, not a person with political control or free speech rights. 

It's time for us to form a coalition of People who support the We the People Amendment. Go to MoveToAmend.org to join the movement. 

And if you're in California, sign the petition for the Amendment initiative

Monday, April 7, 2014

Why call this the "Great" Recession?

If the Great Depression is the basis for labelling an economic blip "Great," this Recession can't be classified as Great. For a fiscal conservative, it is clearly an example of Poor choices, Poor economic policies, and Poor oversight that have not been corrected -- the mitigating outcome that enabled the 1929 crash to ultimately be labelled the Great Depression. In fact, the only people who could call the outcome of this recession Great are the excessively rich; for them, these post-crash adjustments have indeed been Great.
Reaganomics politicians laughing about their "Trickle Down" trick
Perhaps I criticize too soon. Perhaps all of the corrections are yet unknown and it is too early to evaluate the final results of this economic downturn. Perhaps we're only in the throes of the shakeout, and the angels of our better sense are still tending the wounded so they haven't yet got to the point of whispering inspired corrections into the ears of those who have the power to improve the situation. Perhaps, like after the Great Depression, happy days will be here again and prosperity will again become as viable as the American Dream once was.

But it seems like there should be some movement by now toward curbing the excesses and controlling the lack of accountability. It seems like by now we should recognize that the root of our Recession was nurtured by dismantling of the FDR reform programs that had held the financial systems in check. It seems like by now we should be getting closer to our own "3 Rs" efforts.

But right now, it looks like Relief, Recovery, and Reform are being blocked by the very institutions that took charge and demanded change the last time this nation's financial well-being was threatened by greed and corruption. This time instead of relief, all we see is austerity. Instead of recovery, all we see is perpetuation. Instead of reform, all we see is collusion. There's no conservation at all going on in any quarter.
Billionaire calling "Raise the Minimum Wage" greed
The fault is surely in our language: we're using "conservative" wrong. After all, it is patently untrue that a "conservative" system would allow a "conservative" government to launch a costly long-term endeavor while reducing revenue.  A true conservative financial approach would always balance expenses with sufficient revenue. A financial plan that increases costs while reducing revenue could never be called conservative; at best, it could be called a recipe for bankruptcy. To continue now to advocate the same failed approach is neither conservative nor the way to save the republic; it's a course toward insanity.
Professor trying to explain deficit budget
Let's explain this more clearly to some legislators who apparently are not schooled in economic reality. It's not fiscally conservative to spend more than you have:
  • To squander a trillion-plus surplus on an unnecessary war is like an heir to a fortune blowing his inheritance on floozies and booze.
  • Running up trillions in debt while slashing income taxes on those most able to pay is more like an out of control gambler getting in too deep with the loan sharks than a fiscally astute conservative planning for a financially responsible future.
  • And certainly using taxpayer funds to bail out the very people who caused the financial crisis in the first place is a misplaced correction, forcing the taxpayers into a bankruptcy spiral while allowing the bankers to avert their own Chapter 11s -- and then award themselves bonuses for squeaking out of the failure they deserved.
Yet, this muddled chaotic insanity is exactly the effect of policies advocated by those who are still claiming to be "conservatives."

Maybe we should explain again from another angle. Conservatives are people who preserve what they have:
  • A conservative homeowner makes repairs to keep up the value and useability of the property.
  • A conservative landowner enriches the soil and nurtures the animals to produce healthy yields.
  • A conservative manager provides equitable compensation, benefits, and advancement opportunities so employees are satisfied to make the effort that improves products and expands the market.
Conservative practices are win-win-win for the individual, the environment, and the nation.

Now, let's look at the reality of the practices advocated by these faux-conservatives:
  • Necessary infrastructure repairs have been ignored until interstate bridges are falling down.
  • Land (and air and water, too) is being polluted with toxic fracking residues and tar sands spills.
  • Workers are being shorted on wages and their benefits cut so that the wage gap between a full time employee at minimum wage (that is: 40 hours for 52weeks @ $7.25) and CEO pay has reached at least 1667%. (Do the math: $25million in pay and bonuses for the CEO / $15080). Of course most minimum wage employees aren't scheduled for the full 40hours since then the corporation would have to pay them fulltime benefits and besides many aren't even receiving the federal minimum because tip workers and the disabled are legally exempted. But whatever the reality, it is inequitable by any standards
Seriously considered, these practices have NOTHING to do with fiscal conservatism. The only thing they are conserving is their own steady stream of personal wealth.

To properly name the reality, we have to conclude: "Greedy Corporatists" caused the "Cataclysmic" Recession and are distorting the aftermath with faux news and legalized bribery to further increase Income Inequity and the upsidedown tax structure.
Cat unable to comprehend the Faux-Conservative budget
The only possible reaction a true fiscal conservative could have to this insane reality is to rant (hence this post).