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ROE V. WADE V. SINGLE PAYER

I think government is within its rights to make me stop at stop signs and red lights. The purpose of government’s encroachment on my rights not to stop is apparent to even the most libertarian minded. I do not think government is within its rights to (if I were female) make me (by whatever ruse, including courts who rule on my rights from the standpoint of someone else’s religious views) give up my “certain inalienable rights” as described by Jefferson in our Declaration of Independence, inalienable” in this context meaning, inter alia, not only “not for sale,” but not to be considered for transfer by any means. My exclusive rights are neither exclusive nor inalienable if their implementation depends upon someone else’s religious views, whether employer, judge, senator, priest, preacher, president et al.

The answer to fear of clergy, religiously armed employers, male authoritarians, and the ballot box is now and has been all along adoption of single payer coverage, a healthcare system that was recognized and adopted by the civilized world decades ago. Insurance companies in this country not only skim 25 to 30 percent of premiums paid off the top for dividends to shareholders and executive compensation which could otherwise be applied to coverage, worse, they set the rules for coverage via what we call “campaign contributions” (and ALEC models) to their congressional lackeys. Result (among others)? Medical bankruptcies comprise (at my last count) 41 percent of the total bankruptcies filed. It is not only doctors and hospitals who get stiffed in the process; the bankrupt’s vendors and many other innocent creditors are stiffed as well, but the medical industry doesn’t care since they can fold such losses into higher prices the rest of us pay to maintain or expand the industry’s bottom lines, hence a situation where we pay the highest premiums in the world for inferior care and no care at all for millions.

What to do as to specific coverage lost by women due to employer religious views? The obvious. Adopt single payer coverage. It’s cheaper, better, universal etc., and will end these (I hope) last vestiges of religious control of our “certain inalienable rights.” How our employers may view Bronze Age history and its philosophers is unrelated to 21st century healthcare and is neither a stop sign nor a red light.        GERALD              E

SLAVERY THEN AND NOW

Professor Kennedy in her blog today suggests that Trump with his racist attitudes has held up a mirror to our own bigotries, that we as a society and in varying degrees are also racist. We often equate racism with slavery because that has been the American experience, but that is a happenstance, as I note in the following response to her effort, slightly edited, as follows.

Slavery is nothing new; it’s rather the norm in recorded history. Race and color were immaterial. Black people enslaved black people, white people enslaved white people, Greeks enslaved Greeks etc. It was never right and certainly is not right today in this era of human rights. There are even examples in the past where nominal “slaves” bargained for the terms of their slavehood (see the deal the Athenian Aristotle cut with King Phillip of Macedonia in return for mentoring the latter’s son, Alexander (the Great). From today’s perspective in re human rights the “peculiar institution” was never the right way to organize society, but today wasn’t then. Thus there is no record that Jesus ever condemned slavery; it was just a given for most of our recorded history.

Slavery is still with us in modified form. Thus the one percent doles out just enough to us wage slaves to keep us and our pitchforks out of the streets 24-7, and we enforce such questionable generosity with class prejudices of our own directed on the poor based on color, race, gender, and other such artificial distinctions in order to maintain or advance our position on the Midas to Impoverishment Spectrum. So as I have often lamented, we have slavery based on color today – but the color is green as well as black and brown, and one we need to correct because, among other good rationales for change, this is now and not then.           GERALD               E

COMRADE TRUMP – RACISM & MURDER

Professor Kennedy notes among other things in her blog today that Trump doesn’t bother to demonstrate his racism with dog whistles anymore. Since he has been able to get away with it as a means of communication with his base, he has graduated from the “very fine people on both sides” observation (when one side was composed of White Supremicists and Nazis) to other openly racist diatribes. I responded to her effort, slightly edited, as follows.

I have just discovered another addition for Professor Kennedy’s list today. Trump is now threatening to veto the mammoth defense bill, and why? Because it contains a provision that confederate names of our military installations be erased. I’m guessing that the emperor is wearing no clothes on this issue in that such a veto if exercised would be overriden, but speaking of not so subtle racist whistles. . . What message does this send?

However, given his disregard for Putin’s sponsorhip of assassination of our troops, it’s not too big a stretch to see his veto of wages for our soldiers, sailors and marines. Imagine! A draft dodging “commander in chief” with scads of Secret Service protection who would by his signature refuse to pay service personnel in harm’s way! I must be imagining things; this can’t be real! No president would dare do such a thing!

ADEENDUM (not in my response to Professor Kennedy’s blog): I just learned late tonight while typing this that Trump has called Putin’s assassination of American troops a Democratic hoax and fake news even though our intelligence has the name and description of the Afghani who made distribution of Putin’s assassination funds for the murder of American troops along with a half million American dollars our soldiers recovered from this Afghani’s home in a raid in Kabul. Putin, of course, has denied everything, and now Trump agrees with him, just as he did when he took Putin’s word over that of the unanimous opinion of all of our seventeen intelligence agencies that Russia interfered with our 2016 election!

This is intolerable – a bridge far too far. Whose side is Trump on? Russia should suffer strong sanctions for paying the Taliban to murder our troops and Trump should be impeached again and if the Senate doesn’t convict him (as they failed to do last time when they should have), then let those who are up for reelection whether Democrat or Republican answer for their dereliction of duty to the voters in November, as well as those who are up two and four years from now.         GERALD               E

 

 

 

 

AFTER TRUMP AND VIRUS -THEN WHAT?

Professor Kennedy in her blog today discusses the futures of cities, the high costs of rents, and the need for better safety nets for the poor after Trump and the pandemic are in our wake. One of my fellow contributors, Vernon, suggested that we rebuild the ghettos in which the poor are forced to live. I responded to her blog and Vern’s  suggestion, slightly edited, as follows.

Vern writes of redoing the ghettos and thereby giving “those people” a boost which, along with a realistic safety net, would vault them into competition with us white people, BUT, Vern (per racist Republicans), that would be socialism! Horrors! Can’t have that! (As though it’s not socialism their bought and paid for members of Congress aren’t already doling out to the rich and corporate class by the trillion – with a few bones thrown to the rest of us to keep us out of the streets with our piitchforks). See the Trump/Ryan giveaway tax act of December, 2017, by the terms of which Republicans added trillions to our long term deficit while simultaneously cutting taxes on the rich and corporate class and which our great grandchildren will be paying (speaking of taxation without representation).

We need what Vern has recommended (such improvements for a good start to be made as much as possible by employment of those who live in such areas) along with a new New Deal in a redo of our entire infrastructure as well. Rich Republicans will say we can’t afford it, which is shorthand for don’t spend money for the common good; spend it for us via tax cuts and other giveaways to programs for the rich.

If FDR could build roads, dams, ports, bridges, airports, buildings etc. during a hair-raising depression when the government had next to nothing in revenues, then we can do it now, and as to how to finance it, we can borrow a lesson from the French, who came up with a resources bank devoted solely to infrastructure repair and renewal, a bank which issued government-guaranteed bonds to get the needed funds for such efforts in lieu of the unavailability of revenues, bonds that as a practical matter will be renewed into eternity in a market all their own, and with a non-taxable clause for interest earned by bondholders in order to keep the interest rate low – like municipal bonds today – bonds that will serve as excellent collateral for loans their holders may wish to obtain for other purposes, all of which in combination will greatly increase employment and demand in a humming economy and increase revenues to government for further initiatives.

The foregoing is just one of the initiatives we can pursue once Trump is gone and governing comes back into vogue. There are other programs we can develop that will simultaneously and positively affect needed reforms in how to gain full employiment and reduce if not end such social ills as racism, misygomy, class and other such artificial distinctions – but first things first > getting rid of Trump come November. That by any standard is numero uno, after which we can go to work.      GERALD             E

HARD SCIENCE AND POLITICAL SCIENCE

Professor Kennedy in her blog today again decried the lack of civic literacy among voters and asked contributors to comment on what we are going to do about it, citing very low information perentages among citizens of what is and is not in the Constitution, their understanding of the Bill of Rights, Madisonian federalism, the Separation of Powers Clause etc. I responded, lightly edited, as follows.

When I rook a course in STIX long ago, uh, just before Latin supplanted hieroglyphics in the lexicon, a course called The Statistical Evaluation of Economic Data (you can see why we students shortened the name to Stix), I used a slide rule to obtain square roots, but that was in the Stone Age. Today I can push a button for the square root of whatever. Unfortunately, such new means of obtaining quick and accurate answers in the hard sciences have little to no appliation to an understanding of federalism and the Separation of Powers, an understanding vital to how democracy can work, etc., but again unfortunately, an “understanding” that can be manipulated by those who lust for power via both subtle and open appeals to race, class, gender and other artificial distinctions (see, currently, by those such as McConnell, Trump, et al) designed to remove such small d understandings from the civic table.

My now deceased wife, a university professor appointed by the Dean of her department to defend existing course work and new courses offered from review and approval of visiting accreditation teams, often lectured me on the value of critical thinking and individual differences. She came home after a day’s discussion with a visiting accreditation team one day and excitedly told me that she had gained approval of her own new course she called “Creative Modes of Expression.” I didn’t ask her for details as to how she ran that one past the accreditation team or how it fit in with the undergraduate and graduate students degree programs she taught, reasoning that as a lawyer I would never come across a set of facts where such knowledge would be helpful.

I think that teaching civic literacy in school in how to be an informed citizens is as important or even more so as rote learning of content, since content can largely be had these days with the click of a button, but how to know and understand the obligations imposed on good citizens to understand and live up to our constitutional history is not a click away from elucidation. Perhaps the process falls into one of my wife’s “creative modes of expression,” but wherever it falls, I think its emphasis is worthy of a hard look by curricular czars and state and local school boards.      GERALD             E

WHEN NOT TO REOPEN THE ECONOMY

A few days ago a group of economists charged with the task announced that our economy had been in recession since February. I immediately responded to such “news” to some of my followers which, slightly edited, I am repeating here as follows.

Tell me something I didn’t already know. We were headed for a short and perhaps shallow recession before the virus struck for other reasons (tariffs, international slowdowns, China trade disputes, supply chain disruptions, subsidies to farmers, immense additions to our deficit etc.), but the coronavirus sped up the process at breakneck pace. The trick now will be to have only a recession (even if long and deep) rather than a depression (which would take us over the economic cliff).

A full bore or even near total reopening of our economy as of now or even soon would in my opinion risk depression over mere recession due to further but essential lockdowns by governors and other local officials as peak infection and death rates reemerge to haunt us. It’s a roll of the dice to fully or even mostly reopen the economy and we had better not throw craps (craps here being defined as new peak infection and death rates plus a depression).

I can claim some authority in re depressions because I personally lived through The Great Depression, a some ten year era marked by poverty and despair, and I can confidently predict that those of you who have not lived through such a hair-raising depression would not like such a bleak and terrifying year after year experience.

One of the many problems in recessions and especially depressions is that those who are unemployed have no money to go to market and those who may have jobs are prone (like the Japanese) to save rather than spend their incomes with the result that aggregate demand tanks which in turn leads to yet greater unemployment and deflation. We have set the stage for such consumer sentiment with our four decade policy of wage inequality which, when added to the effects of the virus, gives us a fair chance of having a depression irrespective of artificial support of the Fed and congressional borrowing against the future, since at some point the economy has to perform as an economy and not a mere recipient of public largesse.

Paper shuffling via the Dow and gift-giving by politicians must at some point yield to corporate performance in the real economy of competition in the production and sale of goods and services by employees and other workers who as a result have the wherewithal to go to market and stimulate aggregate demand (the almost sole arbiter of the holy grail of economic growth) that keeps an economy humming, so let’s not reopen our economy prematurely lest we lose it via a destructive and debilitating depression. Patience.      GERALD             E

POLICY: TRUMP OR KEYNES?

While in the grips of a pandemic, a recession, forty millions or more unemployed (depending on how you count them), millions of jobs that will never return along with millions of people in the streets in search of justice it is easy to forget that anything else is at work that could greatly affect this country and its people, but there is, and there has been since before the January-February 2019 edition of the saturdayevening post.Com, which laid it out, noting among other things our since worsened savings rate (it’s up, and as we shall see, that’s bad!) and the immense increases in the deficit, which we have done nothing to contain, adding trillions to our national deficit and over a trillion to current per year deficits.

The economic history of Japan is instructive. Some years ago when their economy was doing well there was a resurgence of saving over spending and they went too far- and since consumer spending is seventy percent of the economy and the arbiter of the holy grail of “economic growth,” the country began to experience recession even while their economy generally was doing well, thus proving that spending is essential (per Keynes) and necessary for even a good if not thriving economy.

John Maynard Keynes, my favorite all time economist, taught and wrote that during a recession we must increase government spending and cut taxes, and we have done that, but he also taught and wrote that when we are prosperous we must reduce government spending and raise taxes (since we can then afford to pay them) in order to recover a rough equilibrium in reducing what we owe while perhaps  enjoying a surplus for a future buffer to downturns. We have not done that, but rather via the Trump-Ryan immense tax cut of December, 2017, when the economy was doing well, Republicans engineered a massive tax cut for the rich and corporate class and others who did not need it by adding not only the gift to our national deficit but with their concurrent tax cut for the rich our current deficit (which is added to the national deficit) as well, which as of now per CBO over a trillion a year, and climbing, and with trillions of GDP lost in the present economy, there will be precious little revenues from which to repay anything at all on our debt, both per annum and long term. Our great grandchildren will be paying for that Trump-Ryan exchange of tax cuts in return for campaign contributions.

The Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis delivered a 2018 report in which it was noted that Americans were saving at a rate of 6.7 percent, up from the 4.2 percent the bureau had estimated. I now understand that the rate is 8.0 percent, and while Franklin’s “a penny saved is a penny earned” edict is a homey adage, the economic fact is that money saved and not spent (especially at today’s next to nothing rate of interest on savings) is not good for the economy. People are still aware of the losses of millions of homes to foreclosure and hundreds of thousands of bankruptcies during Bush’s Great Recession and afterwards, and are apparently deciding to save for the next rainy day (like the one we have today if they have anything to spend), and this in face of continuing wage inequality and no      opportunity to spend due to lack of wherewithal. I wish we were only broke; instead we owe trillions!

So after we have a vaccine for the virus, the economy is fully reopened, most people are back to jobs and out of the streets, our troubles are over. Right? Wrong. But it’s a start, and first things first. Too bad Keyenes, a British subject, is not with us anymore. He would have made a great president, but then by contrast with the one we have, who wouldn’t have?           GERALD              E

BAD APPLES, JUDGES AND PROSECUTORS

Professor Kennedy in her blog today discussed how we are going to stop police violence and change the culture among their number made up of mostly good public servants but with a “few bad apples” who, in this day of widely dispersed cameras among the protestors, are having their violent acts made available for the world to see – and condemn. I responded to her effort as follows.

I would amend “a few” bad apples to “several” bad apples and I have as a state prosecutor long ago suspected that justice was not served by post-Miranda confessions offered by detectives who took suspects to “the basement” for “interviews” prior to trial, which followed my service in police court where my suspicions were aroused one morning before court convened via an attempt by a police officer who did DUIs to bribe me @ $115 cash per case to forget to ask a certain and critical question (venue) upon his signal in his drunk driver cases in police court (before my promotion to criminal court which dealt with detectives and felonies). I told him where to go and immediately went to see the judge in chambers and told him that a police officer had just tried to bribe me, and the judge with a wave of his hand said: “Oh, Mr. Stinson, don’t worry about it. We know who these guys are.” I thought that a strange reply that did not treat the issue.

When prosecuting in police court later the same judge called me into chambers and told me that I had a 92 percent DUI conviction rate, that that was “too high,” and that afterwards my conviction rate would be sixty six and two-thirds percent in his court. I protested that my percentage rate could be 0 or 100 depending upon the facts and the law in individual cases and that no arbitrary number should be assigned. I was plainly if not openly overruled and started losing cases where the evidence was identical to that of cases I had previously won. I had to wonder for the rest of my life (and still wonder) whether the judge, a Republican, was in league with the police officer who (unsuccessfully) tried to bribe me, or that I was promoted to remove me from whatever it was they were doing at the police court level, or whatever. I still have my suspicions.

I thought and still think that the job of prosecutors is to see that the law is fairly applied based on facts, the job of detectives is to solve cases, and the job of judges is to fairly adjudge the facts and law, but (at the expense of justice and in my experience) the three do not always intersect to bring about perfect justice (if such exists).

As to today’s topic, there is a police culture spun from a sense of brotherhood and common endeavor, and while I am in favor of police and other public unions, such an otherwise good organization that bargains for hours and working conditions should not be used as a shield for criminal conduct. I think without knowing that the long term answer for reform has to do with recruiting and psychological profiling along with another look at what police should be called upon to do and how to do it by their overseers. (See directing funeral traffic vs. burglaries in progress.) My long ago experience as a state prosecutor was at the end of this food chain; how to repair the “chain” I leave to the expertise of others.        GERALD              E

FRAMING SCIENTIFIC FACTS TO SUIT

Professor Sheila S. Kennedy in her blog today laments the fact that one of our major political parties (the Republican Party) has frequently decided to ignore scientific proof as applied to public issues in favor of its version of truth arrived at by a different standard, and notes that there are some scientists who for reasons of their own have agreed with that party in its search for “truth,” however that is to be framed, and report the result as fact whether such result is peer- reviewed or replicable.  I responded to her blog, slightly edited, as follows.

There may be better disciplines within which to understand reality than scientific peer-reviewed and replicable fact but that is the best arena we have today in our search for truth, and is clearly better than Trump’s self-described measure of “gut instincts” as his measure of ascertaining truth in re public issues. Some, such as Trump and his sycophants, however, are less interested in advocating for the common good than making money or fanning the flames of their preconceived prejudices, whether racially, economic and/or political, so perhaps the Know Nothing Party of the past can be rejuvenated so that those of the Republican Party who reject science can have a friendlier confine within which to congregate and argue two and two are five and up is down, both false by the standards of physical science.

Yes, we have rogue scientists in the act, and someone tell me any substantial arenas of human involvement that do not have their share of rogues. Perhaps unfortunately, and unlike Sir Isaac Newton and Einstein, we non-scientists are dealing with politics, economics and sociology rather than physical sciences, and since (unlike the physical sciences) such social science efforts and initiatives need be neither peer-reviewed nor replicable to gain an influential audience, the results can always be argued.

We know, for instance, that in the physical sciences water seeks its own level and that  photosynthesis and gravity exist, but how can we in confidence say that a specific tax cut will lead to prosperity for all since historically some such cuts have and some have not (as to the latter, see the monstrous multi-trillion dollar Trump-Ryan tax cut for the rich and corporate class of December, 2017, a law set for repeal if Democrats are successful in November’s election).

So? So perhaps we need different yardsticks for measuring the two “sciences” in our quest for truth in resolving public issues (assuming our search is for genuine truth based on facts and not greed or reinforcement of preexisting biases). Perhaps, but don’t wait up. Lying and pretense can be profitable.         GERALD               E

THE TRUMP – BARR COUP

Professor Kennedy’s blog today and its reference to history reminds me of an observation I read somewhere in the dim past or that I conjured myself, to wit: We should be guided by history but not bound by it. Unlike the law, where we have stare decisis (contra, Justice Thomas), we can make our own history as conditions change. (See the New Deal following the laissez faire policies of the three preceding Republican presidents.) What worked yesterday (or some variant thereof) may or may not work today, and today (and a vision of tomorrow) are all we have.

 

As to today, we are in 1932 Berlin with a Hitler in plain view and I for one will not be a Good German. I didn’t spend time in the South Pacific in WW II to come home to what I thought I was resisting there – fascism – but from within from the likes of a Trump-Barr conspiracy to destroy our democracy, as suggested by their ahistorical view of the Constitution and now proven beyond doubt with their turning troops loose on American citizens who are exercising their constitutional rights to peacefully assemble and ply their grievances. If we let them get by with this, then what’s next for the constitutional trash bin, speech? The press? And if they can get by with removing those protections afforded us by the the First Ten Amendments, what is to keep the Tlrump-Barr coup from including nullification of the Constitution itself, as is suggested by Barr’s view that Article II effectively gives dictatorial rights to a president, and speaking of Big Lies, if Barr continues to restate such a Big Lie propostion with his Goebbelspeak, many may come to believe that there is something to such a ridiculous proposition unsupported by law, fact or history. There isn’t; it’s a softening process used by wannabe dictators to prepare the masses for the advent of Big Brother.

I see resistance to this developing coup as more than political; it’s existential, and one that needs our urgent attention today.      GERALD            E