Saturday, October 19, 2019

Weekend Reading

Hosting G-7 At Trump's Resort Is 'Profound' Emoluments Breach
Newly Uncovered Tax Documents Show Trump Kept 2 Sets Of Books And May Have Committed Financial Fraud
Andrew Yang Is Full Of It
GOP Group Uses Trump's Own Words On Corruption Against Him In Searing New Fox Ad
High Court Will Review Evers Veto Power
Private School Vouchers Cost $350 Million
Think Trump's Cruelty Is Unique? Meet Robin Vos
What Walker Cost Wisconsin

Medicare For All Would Cost Less, Not More

Pundits and other candidates keep claiming that Elizabeth Warren's and Bernie Sanders's Medicare For All plan is too expensive, a pipe dream, just not realistic.

Yet ...

It Won't Matter, But Medicare For All Would Cost Less And Cover 30 Million Americans
According to the Mercatus model, total health spending would actually come in about $303 billion lower in 2031 than under current projections, with $7.35 trillion going to healthcare that year versus $7.65 trillion expected now. Total national health spending would be $2 trillion lower from 2022 to 2031 under the plan, the report found. While the price tag for the federal government would increase significantly, decreased spending by other groups would lower total healthcare spending over that 10-year period. Meanwhile, the model also assumes that 30 million more people would get access to healthcare, and many people would get more robust services. The savings would come from a variety of places, such as the government's ability to leverage its bargaining power into lower prescription-drug costs and mandating all healthcare providers take the lower Medicare payment rate.
The next time you hear someone repeat the 'Medicare For All would cost too much' talking-point, immediately call bullshit. 

Out Of Touch White Privilege

I generally like Alec Baldwin in his dramatic and comedic acting roles.  Yet, with every passing year, as more of his actions and opinions come to light, he seems to represent the epitome of out of touch, wealthy, white privilege.

Alec Baldwin defends Felicity Huffman: 'The demonisation of wealth in this country is mind blowing'

As Baldwin put it, "I don’t think anyone involved in the college fraud cases should go to prison.  That includes past cases as well.  Community service, fines, yes.  But prison time, no."  

As someone on Twitter responded, "If they can afford hundreds of thousands of $$ to get their kids in [to college], how will a "fine" be a deterrent?"

Baldwin continued, "Community service is better.  The demonization of wealth in this country is mind blowing.  A country built on both freedoms and commerce.  Now, all success is scrutinized.  Merely to succeed, especially financially, invites scrutiny, judgment, abuse."

Wow.  Baldwin is so wrong and out-of-touch here.  There's a lot to unpack.

Yeah, if you can afford half a million dollars to bribe your kid into college, a fine isn't going to mean shit.  The same reason fining billion-dollar companies a few million for their wrongdoing doesn't stop them from continuing to do wrong.

"Demonization of wealth"?  WTF?

Not demonizing wealth at all.  It's just that people whom aren't "wealthy" (99% of the population) are sick of the wealthy cheating, lying, bribing and scamming their way into more privilege and ill-gotten gains.

The wealthy blather on and on about meritocracy - you get what you deserve based on talent, effort, and achievement.  With the wealthy always implying that this is how they made it.  But to believe this we would have to ignore nepotism, tax avoidance, bribery, inheritance and a litany of other schemes and scams the wealthy use to oppress the rest of us.

Baldwin also waxes nostalgic, "A country built on both freedoms and commerce."

Our history of slavery, racism and oppression seems to contradict Baldwin's rose-colored memory of how this country was built.   

Baldwin goes on complaining about success being scrutinized.  

Just the opposite.  This country drones on and on about every other fucking idiot who has made a buck or had an idea, and how great, fantastic and entrepreneurial they are.  Television is littered with wealthy know-nothings prattling on about anything and everything.  This country has a lot of self-loathing in that we keep eating up this shit, believing that these loudmouths have something to say and that they are actually better than anyone else.  Most believe they have some personal setback or inadequacy and that's why they aren't as good as some TV bozo like Donald Trump.  It's all bullshit.

Success being scrutinized?  Fuck that.  We mythologize and romanticize it into our own disadvantage.

In this country, we criticize the poor and the working class.  We're continually reducing wages and/or increasing costs for those whom can least afford it.  For the non-wealthy, retirement accounts are disappearing, benefits are shrinking, wages are stagnating, and health care is either too costly or nonexistent for many.

And, despite this, if anything, this country worships wealth.  It's why people keep voting against their own economic interest.  It's why Donald Trump is in office.  He's a big business man.  He has financially succeeded.  (At least this is what many of his supporters believe.)  And, because he did it, many believe they can too, and that's why they keep voting for cutting taxes on the rich and corporations - because someday they will be rich, too, and they don't want to pay those big taxes then either.

So fuck Alec Baldwin, Felicity Huffman, Lori Laughlin and all those assholes that think a slap on the wrist in fine for the wealthy that cheat the system.  Workers in the U.S. have been struggling for decades based on our worship the wealthy system of governance.  Economic inequality is at an all-time high.  It's well past the time where we should have already cleaned up this mess and punished these wealthy, spoiled perpetrators. 

We lock poor people up for decades of their life for much less than a $500,000 bribe.  It's time the wealthy started facing the same justice as the rest of us.  

I Am So Tired Of Republicons

Wisconsin Supreme Court takes case challenging Gov. Tony Evers' vetoes
Three taxpayers represented by the conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty asked the high court in July to take their challenge directly, without making them first go through the lower courts.

The court agreed to do so Wednesday, according online court records. A ruling is expected by summer.

The lawsuit argues Evers exceeded his authority by issuing vetoes that enact policies the Legislature hasn't endorsed. It's a practice that governors from both parties have engaged in for decades. The state Supreme Court has repeatedly sided with governors over the years, granting them extensive veto powers.

Wednesday's decision to take the new challenge means the high court is willing to at least consider whether it should reverse its long-standing precedents. Conservatives control the court 5-2.
The Wisconsin Institute For Law And Liberty [try not to laugh at the ridiculousness and outright misdirection of the organization's name] was formed in 2011.  What has taken them 8 years to challenge the governor's veto powers?  Oh, yeah, if a Republicon is doing the vetoing then it's fine.

The article explains, "Those bringing the lawsuit are asking the court to reverse vetoes that effectively rewrote parts of the budget written by Republicans who control the Legislature."

It continues, "Ordinarily the Supreme Court waits for cases to go through lower courts before taking a case. But Esenberg asked the justices to take the case immediately so that the case could be resolved quickly.  He acknowledged this summer that lower courts would have been required to side with Evers because of Supreme Court precedents. But the high court is free to rule on the case as it sees fit.  Esenberg is seeking to overturn precedents going back to 1935."

No need for a paper trail from the lower courts reiterating the precedent.  Much easier for the conservative State Supreme Court to agree to hear the case and pretend there's no history here to consider.

These Republicons are so slimy and corrupt.

Republicons have no problem ignoring precedent.  They have no problem wasting taxpayer time and money.  This is clearly self-serving, anti-democratic grandstanding.  Another attempt, like gerrymandering, at consolidating their power.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

We Need Less Policing

The Milwaukee Police Department takes up a disproportionately large portion of the City budget.  In the latest budget proposal, the mayor is proposing not filling about 60 positions to help close the budget gap and to use some of the savings to pay pension commitments going forward.

Milwaukee Police Chief Warns Loss Of 60 Positions Could Mean Cutting An Entire Shift

The police department seems to have endlessly increasing costs.  Their budget can never be large enough and the number of officers is never large enough.  More, more, more.  Whether it's their general budget or lawsuits brought against the department, their costs seem to be exponentially rising.  (Scott Walker exempting the police from Act 10 also allowed the police to not have to pay pension contributions and to continue to "bargain" for pay increases every year.)

One glaring omission from the article, there's no comparison or benchmarking.  How many officers should there be for every 10,000 citizens?  What is the typical department size for similarly sized cities?  Does Milwaukee already have more than enough police officers?

Note to journalists - put your topic in context.  Decisions, policies, correct understanding of any issue needs context.  Otherwise, you're just operating in a meaningless vacuum.

Luckily, I previously looked into some of the numbers.  As I discovered, Milwaukee has 42 police employees for every 10,000 people in the City of Milwaukee.  Ranking Milwaukee 14th in the U.S.  The average in the U.S. for cities with a population over 500,000 is 24 police employees for every 10,000 people.  The population of the City of Milwaukee ranks 30th among the 100 largest cities in America.

Milwaukee has almost twice as many police employees as other similar-sized cities.

According to the average of 24 police employees for every 10,000 people, the Milwaukee Police Department should be able to function with roughly 1,440 police employees.

Seems like reducing 60 positions would be a good start.  The City should look at reducing even more in the future.  The costs associated with the police department are not sustainable.  We need to find more cost-effective ways.

And, as Alex S. Vitale, Professor of Sociology, has found:
As Alex S. Vitale proclaims, We Need Less Policing. His research into the issue concludes: 
Any real agenda for police reform should not look to make the police friendlier and more professional. Instead, it must reduce their role and replace it with empowered communities working to solve their own problems. We don’t need community control of the police. We need community control of services that will create safer, more stable neighborhoods and cities. 
In We Don't Just Need Nicer Cops. We Need Fewer Cops Vitale continues: 
We have to take steps to dial back our reliance on the police as the primary tool of resolving neighborhood crime and disorder problems.
Just as almost everyone else has had to, it's time for the police department to start figuring out how to do more with less.

Make America Grift Again

Trump's Tax Cuts Helped Billionaires Pay Less Than The Working Class For First Time

For The First Time In History, U.S. Billionaires Paid A Lower Tax Rate Than The Working Class Last Year

Federal Deficit Estimated At $984 Billion, Highest In Seven Years

Republicans are increasing the deficit, in part, by not taxing the richest Americans.  Again, avoiding paying their fair share and using taxpayer dollars as their own piggybank to reward their cronies. 

Republicans Never-Ending Hypocrisy

Remember when Republicans criticized the auto industry "bailout"?
“Unless Chrysler, Ford and General Motors become lean and innovative and competitive in the market place, this is only delaying their funeral,” said Sen. Richard Shelby, an Alabama Republican and bailout opponent.
It was a colossal waste of money and pointless.

Actually, it was a success.  The auto companies are performing well again and have paid back the "bailout".

Auto workers are union members and usually vote for Democrats, which is the real reason Republicans were against helping them out.

Farmers usually vote Republican ...

And, what most Americans probably don't know, Trump's Farm Bailout Has Cost The Taxpayers More Than Double The Auto Bailout.  (Lets also not forget that Trump's own trade policies exacerbated farmers' problems.)

As Bloomberg reported, "Doling out billions in aid to American farmers, who have become more dependent on government money than they’ve been in years. At $28 billion so far, the farm rescue is more than twice as expensive as the 2009 bailout of Detroit’s Big Three automakers."

This is what the Republican party has become - a spiteful cabal of sycophants and grifters, only concerned with power and cronyism.  Their policies have nothing to do with what is right for America, what would be good for America, but are more concerned with what will buy them votes, keep them in power, and allow them access to the trough of public dollars to reward themselves.

Wisconsin Reading

Beer Made Milwaukee Famous. Can Water Quality Keep The Legacy Alive?
Rethinking State Economic Policies
The Wisconsin Senator Who Keeps Making Things Worse For Trump
Convention Host Cities Tell Milwaukee To Play The Long Game
Scott Fitzgerald Says Trump Hasn't Done Anything Wrong Over Ukraine
New Tool Tracks Milwaukee's Progress, Or Lack Of It, Toward A Knowledge-Based Economy
Assembly Set To Take Another Major Republican Power Grab
When Big Storms Inundate Wisconsin, How Could Wetlands 'Slow The Flow'?

Weekend Reading

The Oceans We Know Won't Survive Climate Change
Tax Aversion And The Legacy Of Slavery
How Slavery Shaped American Capitalism
Amid Trade War, Farmers Lean On New Crop: Hemp
Federal Judge In Trump Tax Case Picks Apart DOJ Rule Barring Indictment Of President
How To Get Away With Gerrymandering
For The First Time In History, U.S. Billionaires Paid A Lower Tax Rate Than The Working Class Last Year
Federal Deficit Estimated At $984 Billion, Highest In Seven Years
No More Half-Measures On Corporate Taxes
How A Brief Socialist Takeover In North Dakota Gave Residents A Public Bank

Elizabeth Warren Slaps Down Homophobia

Intelligence Versus Idiocy

Reject The Status Quo

Billionaires shouldn't exist.  You might be bright, make good financial moves, or even invent magnificent stuff.  You shouldn't be able to hoard generational wealth at the expense of the country that allowed you to do such.

Big tech, and other mega-companies, should be made to pay their fair share and not be allowed to dodge taxes.

Our elections should be fair and free from private money influence.  Citizens United needs to be overturned.

Climate change should be a priority.

American infrastructure needs immediate attention.  From clean water, to clean energy, we need a massive rebuilding of our country's infrastructure to remain relevant and competitive.

These are some of the things Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have been campaigning for during this election cycle.

If the majority of citizens actually want change that benefits the majority of citizens, these are the two candidates that will fight for and deliver such change.  None of the other candidates have shown such consistent, principled and passionate convictions regarding these issues.

Anything less, the status quo will carry on.

Monday, October 7, 2019

What Socialism Really Looks Like

Ron Johnson Is An Idiot

Social Security Myths

These 7 Social Security myths just aren’t true, no matter how often you hear them

Do As I Say, Not As I Do

Strauss, Amazon projects force local competition questions
“I’m told there was an informal agreement that no municipality would poach from each other,” Franklin Mayor Steve Olson told the Milwaukee Business Journal. “I’m not sure that’s the case any more.”
That's rich. Suburbs, like Franklin, exist because of poaching.  Suburbs were happy to offer 'economic incentives' to attract formerly good paying jobs and companies away from the central city.  Now that cities are seeing a resurgence and can compete, the suburbs are pretending this (economic development incentives) is some new occurrence.  Perfectly fine when they do it ... but when it happens to them, not so much.

For Further Reading:
Corporate Tax Breaks
Failure of Economic Development Incentives
Grading Places
Industrial Incentives
Rethinking Growth Strategies
Tax and Spending Incentives and Enterprise Zones
The Great American Jobs Scam
Economic Development, Tax Incentives and The Plutocracy It's Creating