Pleasing to hear Obamacare upheld by the high court (even though I have been ambivalent toward it)

June 28, 2012

While I have been ambivalent about Obamacare, I found myself delighted at the word that a majority of the Supreme Court has today essentially upheld the law, to include the individual mandate.

This has to be a major victory for President Barack Obama, who made the law his signature piece of legislation for his presidency (thus far).

Now the Republicans are vowing to repeal it . It will be interesting to see where that gets them.

Seems like the Republicans would then have to explain why people should be denied health care. They’d almost have to come out and say, and some have, that if you cannot afford health care, that is your problem that you do not have enough money and cannot get insurance.

I understand the court held that the individual mandate was a tax and thus was in the purview of the federal government. That makes sense, and since taxpayers wind up paying for medical care for the indigent, especially via hospital emergency rooms, sometimes for things as minor as the common cold, but expensive nonetheless, it seems only logical that the government must raise taxes in some way.

My work duties in my real job and a low battery in this computer require me to leave it at that for now, but I am sure I will have more to add to all this soon.

ADD 1:

I found a power source and some time and hurriedly skimmed through the syllabus or summary of the court decision and offer this:

Just because you don’t agree with legislation on a partisan, ideological, philosophical, or even practical basis does not mean it is unconstitutional. And the Supremes via their arcane, dense and sometimes tricky language (sometimes a tax is a tax and not one at the same time) get to decide what is constitutional.

——————–

CORRECTION:

In my original post I stated that Obamacare was passed when the Republicans controlled the House of Representatives. I was wrong.

Advertisements

The two presidential candidates nothing to get excited about…

June 25, 2012

I just can’t get excited about either President Barack Obama getting another four years or challenger Mitt Romney winning the presidency. And since I wrote that first paragraph the other day, I read that a new poll finds that one quarter of the potential voters are undecided and many are turned off by the obvious pandering candidates do to get votes.

I could get excited, though, about a candidate who would act like he (or she) could do something to move in the direction of paying off the national debt and end deficit spending and even more importantly, make the United States a great engine of production rather than just consumption. The latter would go a long ways toward solving the unemployment and debt problems. And also a top priority should be to back off the militarist approach this nation has taken since the days of George W. Bush.

Certainly we need to defend our nation, but I don’t think our adventure in Iraq and the continuing Afghanistan quagmire have much to do with defending the United States, except in the most roundabout ways or via twisted logic. And this continuing trouble in Syria: as bad as it is for those poor people over there, it is their problem. There is seemingly little we can do (except sanctions and condemnation). And if we were to simply say enough is enough, that is enough of a brutal regime gunning down its own people, and go in there, we would end up like the cops trying to break up a family disturbance, with both sides fighting us (maybe a Libya-type operation with other nations helping, but I have heard that is not thought feasible, and besides, these multinational military operations bother me. What if they turned on us?).

Sometimes I think the old isolationist attitude of “Fortress America” had its merits. There may be times, though, when something has to be done, such as — my pet worry on the international front — Iran getting the bomb. But I am somehow led to believe by reading the news we have thus far managed to thwart that by clandestine operations. And that is how they should stay, clandestine (there‘s been too much talk of them already). This drone business, however, is worrisome. It seems almost Orwellian. And with reports that local police agencies all over the U.S. want to get in on the act, using drones for their own purposes, it is really Orwellian.

Hey this is an off- the-cuff blog, so pardon the lack of segue here: While I have never thought and still don’t that service in the military should be a requirement for the White House, it is disturbing that we get presidents who have never have made the ultimate commitment (I mean serving in the military, not dying) to their nation dispatching troops hither and yawn. Let’s see, is my history right? Gen. Dwight Eisenhower served two terms as president and did not get us into war (and there were plenty of chances). He helped lift us out of the Korean War. And he does have some culpability for the Vietnam policy that led eventually to our greatest military blunder, and he did set in motion the Bay of Pigs, which wound up to be John Kennedy’s early-on embarrassment. Richard Nixon had military service and did prolong the Vietnam War after promising to end it, but he did not start it. Lyndon Johnson, before Nixon, did start it, and he had military service too.

But then you get guys such as draft dodger Bill Clinton and he starts wearing military type uniforms (you know flight jackets when visiting the troops or on an Aircraft carriers, and he dispatches the military to Bosnia (albeit an air war). And the top chicken hawk of them all is George W. who liked to wear that flight suit and start major conflicts after reportedly not doing his full duty in the Air National Guard, which he obviously joined to skip out of Vietnam (not that I blame anyone for doing so, but then to go be a war monger yourself, sending others — well).

Obama is the first president in the more modern times not to have been subject to being called up to war as a young man. And he did not choose to serve. He has been in the ticklish position of wanting to extricate us from war but knowing that if he moves too fast he will be called a traitor, even among an ambivalent to war, at best, public. He has gone the other way, ironically, and actually expanded efforts in Afghanistan (but I think he had identified that in his presidential campaign as a necessary war). Neither war has helped us. Both have served to lead us into near bankruptcy and have brought on great misery and much death. And we still did not get the oil, or at least not exclusive rights to it.

The United States is in a position of having to field a major defense force, but it should be used sparingly. I realize that real wars make better training conditions, but I don’t think war is the correct answer to our problems. I for one would be quite comfortable to let the rest of the world fight it out while we remain strong and productive. The rest of the world might then see that peace is the answer and if not, well that is their problem.

P.s.

I failed to mention Jimmy Carter, who had served in the Navy. But he didn’t start any wars either.


So John Edwards is a creep, we knew that, but that is not against the law; campaign finance laws may not be worth the bother..

June 16, 2012

The failure to convict John Edwards of felony campaign finance violations and the subsequent dropping of charges by the federal government just proves that it is no crime to be a slime ball, in and of itself, and probably that campaign finance laws are useless and a waste of resources (time and taxpayer money).

We already knew enough about Edwards to know that he is a creep. So don’t vote for him.

Campaign finance laws seem silly to me. For one thing, apparently they are rather vague. And for another, it is probably impossible to stop the influence of money in politics.

The time and effort and expense of the bureaucracy of campaign finance laws may not be worth it all.

It seems ludicrous that the federal government spent millions of dollars to prosecute Edwards and then had to drop the charges. Nothing was gained, a lot was lost.

If the voters paid more attention and were more discriminating in their intake of so-called news, all the money in the world could not fool them.

Democracy is hampered when people choose to remain ignorant.

While I prefer our democratic republic, I sometimes wonder what with all the voter apathy and ignorance if we would not be just as well off with a benevolent and intelligent elite running the show.

P.s.

For the record, Edwards’ wife, the late Elizabeth Edwards, who succumbed to cancer, I understand was pretty strong willed and may not have been all that easy to live with.

But that does not excuse Edwards from using campaign money to finance a cover-up of the fact of his extra-marital affair and the offspring it produced (while his wife was dying of cancer).

Also, according to one story I read, some of attorney Edwdards’ so-called championing of the little guy amounted to shaking down corporations in questionable class action suits in which plaintiffs are essentially bought and paid for and the attorney gets most of the money.

While the trial may have put the final nail in the coffin of his political future (we can only hope) it was all but done for already, observers have said.


Not going to pave paradise just yet; Voters smart: vote against shopping center but not all development ever…

June 6, 2012

The voters in Shasta County, California did a smart thing on two ballot measures, one to approve a shopping center in a rural area, and another to basically put all development on hold in the area for a number of years — they voted down the shopping center but also the measure to freeze development.

I say smart because all this should be the purview of the county Board of Supervisors, after the normal hearings before a planning board and so on, otherwise, why is there a board of supervisors (called board of commissioners or other such title in some places)?

I was not for the shopping center and voted against it and I think I also voted for the freeze (I actually can’t recall at this moment). I was ambivalent about the freeze and even thought voting on the other was not the way to go, but it was on the ballot.

The whole problem in a nutshell is that landowners want to get the most revenue from the property in which they have invested and developers are eager to make money too. And while one could argue that there must be a demand for something like a shopping center, the ironic thing is a few miles away inside city limits, portions of shopping centers or whole centers are vacant. It is a sad and ugly fact that throughout California (and other states) leap frog development has left blight in cities and paved over the countryside, which could have been left in productive agriculture or wild lands that support the ecosystem upon which all living creatures depend (including humans). Also, what is wrong with a green belt? Then there is the argument that building shopping centers creates jobs, both in the construction and then in the business they create. Well the construction jobs are short term (and often commercial construction is done by out-of-the-area workers who specialize in it ) and the retail jobs are relatively low pay, most of which cannot support a family by themselves. It is nice to have the support system of a shopping center, but there needs to be real industry too. I always say a service economy is like having an army made up entirely of clerks and no foot soldiers. Both make the army work, but you must have the soldiers in the field (although my analogy may become outdated as we seem to be going to all-drones for our military) .

You know, if the proposal had been for some type of factory I might have looked upon it with favor.

And I do think property owners have rights and I do think people should get what they are entitled to from the value of their property. That is why I believe in proper and fair land use planning developed by elected officials, not by ballot measure. But, like I said, it was on the ballot and I voted on the measures.

If a development plan, called the county general plan, was worked out an adhered to, people would have notice and know where they stand. I am not against compensation for loss of value where reasonable and possible.


Illegal immigrants form a costly artificial labor market…

June 1, 2012

Whether it’s farm labor or motel maids or fry cooks or construction workers or whatever, depending upon an illegal labor force, that is undocumented workers, is a bad practice.

It deprives United States citizens of jobs, keeps wages down, and probably encourages a large portion of our own population to be idle and yet we end up paying for the social services of both the undocumented workers and our own non-workers.

And the old adage or truism (that is not really true) that our own citizens will not do manual labor is nonsense. When the handouts end or are sharply reduced people get more eager to work, although they may still demand a higher standard of working conditions than may be the norm.

This came to my mind after reading a story about mixed reviews on tougher immigration standards in places such as Alabama and Arizona.

I think it said that in Alabama unemployment rates had come down, but it may have been because there is a smaller workforce now that many of the illegals have fled.

This is a subject of which I have blogged about many times previous — probably not too many people interested, but it really gets me that the powers that be seem to tacitly accept the fact of the illegal workforce, even when they pander to racial prejudice and say kick out all the illegals.

Also it really gets me that everyone says most citizens won’t or cannot do manual labor, such as work in the fields or cleaning restrooms or whatever.

Now it is true that the people, no matter who they are — brown, black, white, yellow — who are stuck in these low-level jobs form an underclass in society. Others occasionally have ventured into their world but escaped and others began in that world and escaped.

The solution is to raise the standards of pay and working conditions in that world, partly by governmental regulations on health and safety (and this has been done over the years, thankfully), and partly by the free marketplace of labor itself. Of course those who hire illegals — and they know they are doing it; they can’t truthfully, except in some limited cases, claim, gee, we didn’t know — would say that is what they are doing, taking advantage of the marketplace of labor. But it is an artificial one. People who come into the United States illegally have to take what they can get and are not in a position to go to the authorities if regulations are broken. Meanwhile because they may earn only low wages, they must depend upon various forms of government support, which they get no matter their immigration status (new state laws notwithstanding).

If there were no illegals to hire, employers would have to do what they can to attract the existing citizen work force.

I have also written this before. In much of the farm harvest labor if employers had to pay hire wages and improve working conditions (and I am not saying necessarily the pay and the working conditions are all bad; it’s a matter of perspective or comparison) to attract our native population, they might find it a bit costly. But what has happened in the past is that mechanization has taken over. And mark my words, it would again. There are few things that cannot be mechanized (although there are some). In some cases, I suppose, some crops would not be raised if the labor force was not available.

I’d rather see it where no one has to resign him or herself to being in the underclass, so it would suit me find if a lot of those jobs disappeared or became so well paying that those who did them were no longer in the underclass. I mean in some places garbage men (and no offense to garbage men) are quite well paid.

I don’t think government controls on wages are a good idea, though. Health and safety, yes.

The market place of labor could solve the problem, but having the artificial element of an illegal workforce subsidized by our government (read taxpayers) and intimidated by its own immigration status, is not a natural labor market.

P.s.

In a story I read an Alabama farmer was concerned that he could not get his crops in without illegals. He apparently sees no personal responsibility towards his own society.