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Tom Rinaldo

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Member since: Mon Oct 20, 2003, 06:39 PM
Number of posts: 18,600

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A man earning $30,000 giving $300 to charity sacrifices more than a Billionaire giving away millions

The creed of false equivalence gets used to bludgeon common sense, and often obscures our grasp of true morality. A portion of every persons income is needed to support life itself. Another part allows for simple pleasures. Beyond that lies realms of ascending privilege, that lead toward self aggrandizement, and ultimately wanton gluttony. Once the latter was viewed by Christianity as a sin.

It is good when those with wealth donate large sums to worthy charities - that money is sorely needed for important causes and wealthy individuals are blessed with the means to give ample assistance to them. Our society does not shun nor shame those who choose not to become benefactors, so it is therefor appropriate to acknowledge those who take on that role voluntarily. Yes it is good that Mitt Romney gave millions of dollars to charity, but the fact still remains that he has150 million put aside in an IRA and untold amounts more stashed away in secret bank accounts.

It is not a matter of begrudging anyone success. There are very few among us who would not gladly embrace similar good fortune should riches somehow come our way. But keeping perspective is important, especially during a political year when talk about the need for Americans to make sacrifices to reign in future entitlements is a common refrain. Perspective is needed when negative aspersions are cast upon those who labor at minimum wage jobs because, unlike those who receive much higher compensation, they don't make enough to pay income taxes.

The working poor never earn glowing headlines when they donate $25 to their volunteer fire department's annual fund raising drive, or when they buy 5 boxes of girl scout cookies to help a neighbor's kid afford some enriching experience. But their charity comes at far greater personal sacrifice than the millions that someone like Mitt Romney is in a position to donate. Some people simply have plenty they can give without hurting, and some people's survival isn't at risk when they are forced to "sacrifice" just a little bit more for the essentials of life.

When Worker Productivity Goes Up & Worker Pay Goes Down - That Is Wealth Redistribution

The U. S. is a capitalist nation and our wealth primarily flows through our national "market place". Who ends up with that wealth is an unambiguous result of how that wealth is distributed. When corporations generate more money than they need to operate, decisions must be made where to allocate those surplus fiscal resources. They can go toward upgrading facilities, toward research, toward marketing, toward employee compensation, or toward owner profits. These are conscious choices.

The hands that guide that distribution are not some invisible unseen market force. They belong to managers and owners and corporate boards. They belong to the one percent and to their most trusted agents. Together they have directed a massive redistribution of American wealth away from middle class Americans to the wealthiest among us. When both worker productivity and corporate profits rise while the income of the average American family falls, that isn't preordained and blameless. It is the ownership class in America furthering its own interests by redistributing the fruits of the American economy disproportionately into their own pockets simply because they can, and they are counting on no one stopping them. That's why they want a smaller government, and that's why they are willing to invest heavily in the political process in order to buy one.

We know wealth redistribution in America. It is the class warfare that most of us currently are losing.

Romney wants more Americans with good paying jobs paying income taxes.

Too bad he was a pioneer in outsourcing those types of jobs to China. Still there is work to be had in America, at the prevailing minimum wage, but those people don’t earn enough money to pay income taxes under our current Republican crafted tax codes. Ronald Reagan was quite proud of signing the earned income credit for the poor into law. He wanted people to work for their poverty.

There are a whole lot of people working grueling 40 hour a week jobs who don’t even make enough to pay income taxes now. Mitt Romney thinks that is a problem. He thinks they might stop feeling like victims entitled to food and shelter, if only they paid income taxes too, just like richer Americans like him - well maybe not like him personally – but like some richer Americans at least.

The good news is that this can be arranged. Republicans could accomplish Romney’s goal simply by supporting raising the minimum wage to a living wage. Democrats would certainly back that type of Republican leadership, and many of the grubbers would finally have the means to start caring about themselves again. As it is now patriotic businesses that want to do right by hard working Americans are being punished by businesses who want to mooch off the strenuous efforts and high productivity of American workers. There must be plenty of businessmen who Mitt Romney knows personally who would love to pay their workers more, if they didn’t fear being undercut by competitors paying poverty wages stealing their clients away due to lower costs.

It’s an elegant solution. Since most of the good paying jobs in America have been lost overseas due to the pioneering efforts of Bain Capital and their cohorts, we can encourage more deadbeat American moochers to become real income tax paying Americans worthy of Mitt Romney’s respect simply by paying them more at the lousy jobs that remain. Surely Mitt Romney will support raising the minimum wage. It must be part of his secret plan.

The Romney Campaign reminds me of McGovern in 1972

I better explain what I mean. First off, I loved George McGovern then and I still do now. I think he would have made an excellent President. Second, no I do not believe that Mitt Romney will lose this election as badly McGovern as lost in 1972 either. That isn't the point.

The similarity that strikes me is this: Romney has been playing catch up in this race from day one; from before then actually if you set day one as his acceptance speech at the RNC. Romney got off on the wrong foot and he has never regained his stride, if he ever had one. That is what happened to George McGovern with the Eagleton fiasco. The problems with McGovern's campaign became the focus of the ccoverage he received.

When that happens it's like a ship loosing power and floating dead in the water in an area uinfested by pirates. The seige is certain to follow and a death spiral commences. Lots of other things may have changed, but in that key way this is feeling like 1972 agan.

It sounds familiar, doesn't it?

"My job is is not to worry about those people."

Thats Mitt Romney caught talking to wealthy donors about the "47% of voters who will vote for the President no matter what... there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them". That's damn near half the nation who Romney figures it's his job not to worry about while he runs for President

"I'm not concerned about the very poor".

That too was Mitt Romney speaking earlier this year, that time about people who presumably form a subset of the 47% of Americans who he thinks it is his job not to worry about. At least Romney is consistent in not worrying about tens of millions of Americans who almost certainly did not start out life with all the advantages that Mitt Romney had.

In admitting his lack of concern for the very poor, Romney justified that lack of interest in their needs by further stating; "We have a safety net there. If it needs repair, I'll fix it."
There Mitt Romney must be referring to all those entitlements that 47% of Americans, you know, those self identified victims, depend on. They ended up hooked on health care, food, housing, you-name-it. We all know the type; Veterans with disabilities. small children born into poverty, millions of retired folks getting by on Social Security, people whose jobs got outsourced to China when who can't find jobs paying a living wage to replace them with. Yup, the roll call of Americans who Mitt Romney knows will never take personal responsibility and care for their lives.

Somehow they all got the notion that their government is supposed to care about them. That to Romney is a problem. Their dependence on a safety net to survive is a problem, one that Romney no doubt intends to repair. You can’t depend on something that no longer is there.

The Politics of "Bring it On!"

That notorious quote from President George W. Bush continues to echo in today's Republican Party. The same macho posture, the same "our troops can handle anything the enemy throws at us, so let them try" invitation to even greater carnage. It was easy for George W. Bush to say, he sat 7,000 miles away from the action surrounded by the Secret Service

The last time I looked Mitt Romney wasn't stationed in the Middle East either. Nor does he have children stationed there. Nor does he work for an airline that flies there, or even an Oil Company that works there. For all of his devotion to the Mormon Church, Mitt Romney doesn't toil for Christ as a missionary in Africa, and he isn't an aid worker there either, feeding and caring for families at risk of dying from malnutrition.

No, Mitt Romney is safe here inside America, running for President of the United States. He isn't in physical danger when passions surge over religious issues in Africa or the Mideast. He can afford to act tough and try to score political points against the President while American lives are at risk. Because his isn't. It's only those who find themselves in harms way who have anything to worry about. The troops Romney so conspicuously failed to mention during his acceptance speech, for example, and our diplomatic personnel who risk their lives daily serving American interests in the four corners of the world. Yes Republicans love the military. It’s just the soldiers they can't bring themselves to support.

Does Mitt Romney condone hate speech against other religions? Does he favor sticking it to people of a faith that is not his own? That might explain his defiant rejection of any attempt to calm the waters as mere "sympathy for terrorists". Perhaps that is it. It's more likely though that Romney is just a politician trolling for votes during an election campaign, indifferent to the fate of innocent lives that his crass bravado puts at greater risk.

“More Of The Same” With Obama

Politicians spit it out like an epithet; “only more of the same!” As if that’s always the worst option possible, give us anything but more of the same. Democrats and Republicans instinctively belittle the day when nothing new is offered beyond the oft ridiculed more of the same. Except when times are good of course. When times are good the temptation sets in to change absolutely nothing, not even your jersey if you’re a baseball pitcher on a winning streak. Keep a good thing going and don’t tinker with success. Politics flickers like a bad fluorescent light bulb; change, freeze, change, freeze. What gets lost in the strobe lights is usually common sense.

We know better in our own lives, at least most of us do. Our personal decisions are less mechanical. Just because drinking that first vodka and tonic brought about generally desirable results is no reason to assume that drinking a second, third, or fourth one will do the same. Most of us resist that blind assumption. Common sense and experience kick in instead. Likewise with life’s adversities. You start running a high fever so you see the Doctor. She says you have a bad infection and prescribes antibiotics as a treatment. You go home and take a full dose but still feel absolutely awful. Same thing happens in the morning: Little or no improvement. What do you do that evening? You go for more of the same.

It is the nature of calamities that destruction comes in s relative blink of an eye, while recovery can seem to drag on for eternity. An assassin nearly took Gabby Giffords life. The world she knew was obliterated in an instant. It required drastic action to save her, but there was no rapid way to restore her health. Gabby is an inspiration and an American hero. Everyday she faces more of the same; more stressful physical therapy, more frustrating mental exercises. Over and over the prescription essentially remains the same, because slow as it may be, that is the best route to her recovery.

We have all been schooled well about the weather. We know the difference between a category one, two, or three storm. Hurricane Cindy struck Louisiana during the same year that Hurricane Katrina did. Recovery from the former was rapid, not so the latter. Americans understand that not all hurricanes are the same. Neither are recessions. Over the past hundred years the United States has experienced numerous recessions, but only one was a category 5, and that was The Great Depression. Recovery from that one dragged on for nearly a decade, and many believe it would have taken even longer had it not been for World War II.

The Recession that President Obama inherited the first day he stepped into the oval office might not have clocked in then as a category 5, but it certainly rated a high category 4, the deadliest economic storm our nation has faced since the 1930’s. When Hurricane Cindy first struck Louisiana in July 2005 it was initially categorized as a Tropical Storm, but was later upgraded to a Category 1 hurricane in the post-storm analysis. Something similar happened with The Great Recession.

While President Obama fought to prevent an economic slide into a second Great Depression, he assured America that we could turn adversity around; that our worst fears would be averted, and that strength would be restored to America’s economy. As FDR once famously stated, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself”, and Barack Obama worked hard to resstore consumer confidence in the American economy by proclaiming his own confidence in America’s future. He staked his political reputation on an economic recovery, and we are in one today.

Our recovery is slower than the President initially forcast, but it turns out that the recession itself was far worse than how experts were characterizing it when Obama actually made his recovery projections. That fact was revealed in revised figures documenting the actual GDP loss during the recession that were retroactively released by the U.S. Department of Commerce Bureau of Economic Analysis:

“The overall pattern of quarterly changes during the downturn was similar in both the revised and previously published estimates, though the revised estimates show larger decreases for 2008:Q4 (-8.9 percent compared with -6.8 percent) and for 2009:Q1 (-6.7 percent compared with -4.9 percent).”

Americans love Super Glue and Duct Tape, but there isn’t always a quick fix for every problem. Some solutions play out over time, and require perseverance to achieve. Sometimes it takes more of the same. Sometimes it even takes four more years. One thing though is certain. No disaster victim is ever well served by sending them back to a disaster zone. Wrong policies caused our economy to crash in 2008. Restoring those who advocated them to power in Washington would be a change from “more of the same”. It would be more of what caused the disaster in the first place.

This Democratic Convention has a Lord of The Rings feel for me

Emotionally, that's what just came up for me, with the emphasis on Part 3 "The Return of the King", and no I'm not making a specific reference to Bill Clinton here. I'm not tempted to assign direct character comparisons to actual real Democrats- with one possible exception.

There is something about Chris Mathews that is reminding me of the Dwarf; Gimli son of Glóin. It's the way Mathews has seemed transformed during both parties national conventions; from a grumpy one step removed commentator whose glory days were in the past, into a happy warrior with renewed purpose youth and vigor. It's become politics with conviction for a cause that he believes in again for Mathews, not just a game of Hardball.

But it is the feeling present at the Democratic National Convention that is evoking the Lord of The Rings trilogy for me - not similarities with a specific cast of characters. There is just something epic in the air, the struggle is joined, the outcome is momentous. The days of sleep walking are over; the days of shirking from conflict are passed. An ancient coalition, ragged from years of distrust and neglect, is reassembling for battle. The Elves are reengaged, Gondor is rising again. You can feel it in the crowd at the Democratic Convention. We can feel it in ourselves. Finally we confront the Right head on, in a fight for America's future.

There is a bigger than life feeling to what we are witnessing now. But that is what life feels like when, animated by core principles, we take on a battle with life or death implications for millions.

Some headers are priceless: "Purses that Cost More Than A House".

It's hard to come up with a populist political statement that even approaches the punch that this teaser for a empty calories video found on Yahoo carries. Purses that cost more than a house; when millions of Americans have recently lost their homes to foreclosures, and millions more have been living on the streets for years. We all know there are Super Rich people in the world. Usually we are numbed to what that means, but it's hard to avoid the implications here. The video itself is drivel but it does name drop a little if that type of thing interests you. Here is the full "text" for the story:

Most Expensive Handbags: Did you know that one purse can cost as much as a house?
Fri, Aug 31, 2012 - Who Knew? 2:02 | 376,933 views

Hobbies can be pricey, especially if you are into collecting expensive, luxury handbags. The most costly purses are covered in diamonds and are in fact a rarity. Check out some of the most exorbitant handbags and the celebrities who own them.

America is a nation that is said to celebrate wealth - even while children starve. Speaking for myself only, I wouldn't so much mind the super wealthy spending houses for a purse if we housed the homeless first and fed the hungry children who live among us.

I know, I know, the market doesn't work that way, and government is "heavy handed". There is some truth in both those claims. But there is also something wrong about a nation that smiles while the super rich stylishly carry the equivalent of a house or two off their shoulder to a party while children starve. There just is, and most Americans in their gut know it.

Our economy, our society itself, is constructed around the premise that wealth is an incentive to productivity. OK, fine. But how much incentive do the Super Rich need to contribute to our nation's productivity? I think at the point where they start purchasing $100,000 purses the potency of that incentive has already been spent.

No one within hiking distance of the mainstream in American politics advocates putting a cap on personal fortunes. I'm not advocating that either. But there is something deeply morally repugnant about the feverish efforts on the Right to LOWER the tax rates the Super Wealthy must pay in this country, one that gives them the liberty to burn through millions on impulse purchases while fellow citizens die from lack of affordable health care.

No More Halfway Measures: The 2016 Tea Party Platform

I just stumbled upons something I wrote a while ago that seems relevent right now in this Party Convention season. It's the 2016 Tea Party Pledge to Privatize Citizenship. Originally posted on July 4th, 2011:

Today as we celebrate the American Revolution, let us look forward to future milestones of freedom, independence, and the ultimate triumph of free market forces. Once again Americans will lead the way, when the Tea Party of 2016 unveils its manifesto. The road will be long and hard and resistance will be furious, but true freedom, profound individual capitalism, will not be denied us. Here now, reconstructed from the future through the science of guided interest group polling, is the outline of our coming liberation as seen and described by the Tea
party of 2016:

The true free market solution to government tyranny and mismanagement could not be more obvious. Privatizing citizenship in one bold stroke would modernize and improve the delivery of government services far more effectively than anything another century or two of compulsory democracy could accomplish; through unfettered competition. Perhaps even more important, privatized citizenship empowers the individual to select the choice that is right for him or her self, liberating us all to seek the leaders and legal system that best meets our own unique individual needs.
Government after all is a service; a rather unpleasant one perhaps - akin to sewage treatment or garbage removal, but a service none the less. Throughout history, when left to his own devices, Man has always chosen to be governed in some sort of manner. Some chose tyrannical despots and others chose benign despots, while a few more esoteric sorts experimented with concepts like oligarchy. But in all cases people remained free to vote with their feet - or rafts if located in places surrounded by water. Heavy handed bureaucrats had not yet invented Passports and Visas. Individuals could search for their ideal community in any social grouping holding similar enough world views so as not to kill them upon their arrival.

In recent centuries so called Democracies have come into fashion as a means to deliver government services to individuals. They co-exist today alongside a broad array of more traditional time honored government models, such as monarchies and dictatorships. To each his own, as well it should be, but is it really? Compulsory citizenship makes a total mockery of that concept. It is the well spring of all tyranny, and the reason why government is held in such poor esteem by all thinking individuals. No matter what its outer trappings, at root compulsory citizenship IS Communism. What power can an individual really hope to have have when the government owns you rather than the other way around?

The answer, our ultimate liberation, lies in privatized citizenship. If true government is a service (unlike the communism we now live under) it should be agreed upon and arranged for by both parties, through a contract stipulating the actual rights and obligations of each party to the other through that contract. Governments should compete for citizens on the open market, much like health insurance companies here do for customers today. In that way will government become more affordable and responsive to our individual needs, under the threat of losing citizens to other more competitive nation states if they should fail in that effort. Compulsory citizenship provides no incentive for governments to improve.

On the open market over time it will become clear which nation states are generally more desirable to contract for citizenship with. Some may offer special amenities, such as warm weather, or good ski slopes, that prove popular with many perspective citizens. Citizenship in those nations, all other things being equal, will rise in value which would be reflected in the cost of a citizenship contract for that country. Some liberals might cry out that its unfair for poor people to be priced out of citizenship in, for example, nations with nice beaches. By so doing they only show their own lack of understanding of the power and ingenuity of unleashed market forces.

All men may well be created equal at birth, in that we all tend to have the same number of toes and fingers, but equality ends right there as even those born with but one eye can clearly see. One need only look at the natural state. Rabbits get lots of sex but they also get eaten quickly. Birds are able to fly but they then must contend with windmills. Nature is not socialist. Everyone has a calling, everyone has a burden, no one is truly equal. Privatized citizenship embraces the natural order and by doing so enhances it, for through it all are blessed by the bedrock of true liberty: choices.

With Privatized Citizenships, even the poorest benefit from increased choices. True they might have to shop for citizenship in land locked nations, but they could seek out the one boasting native music most pleasing to their ear. And if beaches really are that important to someone on a limited budget, perhaps a discount citizenship is affordable in a nation where the King can legally claim any women for one of his wives. There might even be a country so starved for forced labor that it would pay the poor to become citizens there.

While subject to the terms of a four year citizenship contract an individual would be legally bound to the rules of that State for the duration of that contract. Those rules would all be spelled out somewhere in the citizenship contract, which could make each one a fascinating weekend read. No reason to worry whether your first born female will be thrown into a volcano to appease an angy goddess, just look under "human sacrifice" in the index before signing a contract should that be a particular concern of yours.

What of those so lacking in personal initiative that they refuse to shop for citizenship during the designated open enrollment period you ask? Or the handful of social degenerates so loathsome by nature that no nation will offer them a citizenship policy? It seems to be a curse upon humanity that in any population that aspires to generate winners some will still resort to losing. There exist tested means to deal with this contingency, where stateless individuals could still live; Refugee Camps.

Acknowledged medical and religious experts will determine what is the bare minimum needed to sustain human life, and this shall be guaranteed to all refugees, regardless of the nation of their former citizenship. Conditions in these camps may indeed be deplorable but that in turn will provide compelling market incentives for all malcontents and slothful individuals to better themselves to become eligible for citizenship in one or more nations.

With privatized citizenship for all, the world will become a continuing free market test of efficient means for governing, unearthing constantly new cost cutting and profitable methods for limiting bureaucracy while still maintaining adequate levels of social control. No longer will the most productive members of society be burdened carrying the weight of the least able among us. The introduction of citizen choice will make that a thing of the past as peer groups naturally congregate in nations most suited to their personal gifts. Innovation will flourish as elites shake off the shackles that now now bind them to meritocracy. And all of humanity will be humbled to finally witness the greatness that lies within some of us. Privatize Citizenship Now!

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