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PatrickforB's Journal
PatrickforB's Journal
March 29, 2020

I have been exploring empathy.

This after having read an OP about a Trump supporter who has awakened to how bad Trump has been, and how the author of the OP simply said, "Well, that's what you get for voting in a reality TV show host." While this particular Trumpie signaled agreement, my thoughts turned to empathy.

Did you know there are three kinds: cognitive, emotional and compassionate?

Having empathy is necessary to be successful as a human, and I don't mean material success. Most here are not motivated by that anyway. No, I'm talking about success in relationships, in friendships, in surrounding oneself with belonging and achieving what self-actualization is possible.

If you've ever read Covey's 7 Habits, you know he says that we should 'seek first to understand.' This is cognitive empathy - "I can understand why you are thinking that way."

But to go deeper into the emotional part, we must ask ourselves why someone feels the way they do, and why those feelings led them to - in this case - vote for Trump in spite of all the red flags. Because God knows there were plenty of red flags.

And to go even deeper, even after all that has happened and all the discussions we've had on here about the negative aspects of Trump supporters, if we are to exercise compassionate empathy, we must work up enough compassionate empathy to try and feel what they felt that led them to the emotions that caused them to believe that caused them to vote the way they did.

Kind of like a Gordian knot. The first line of a famous prayer is, "Please, by the great power of thy right hand, untangle our knotted fate."

Oh, we can go back and blame Lewis Powell for his 1971 manifesto, Reagan for letting the Fairness Doctrine die, Fox 'news' and the evil phenomenon that is Rush.

Sure. But how do we fight back? We've tried laughing at them. Making fun of them. Hating them. Castigating them. Barraging them with facts. None of that has worked.

So the fundamental question going forward is after we smash them at the ballot box, which is non-negotiable, what should we do then? Obviously we must once again clean up the mess, but then how can we reach out to these people and keep it from happening again? Oh, sure some reforms - overturn Citizens United and all that.

But I'm talking about the millions who did vote for Trump. Why did they reject Clinton and sanity, and throw the dice for change? What is it they want so deeply to change? Some are racist and they want change back to a white America, but that isn't going to happen. To use a cliche, America is 'browning' in terms of how its people look. How can we help them see this isn't a bad thing?

And there are poor among us. People working two and three jobs, living in their cars, taking the bus to get groceries, living in miserable grinding poverty. How can we help them see that it isn't the poor who are the enemy, but that it is poverty itself that is the enemy?

There are sick among us. People who cannot afford the medical or even dental treatment they need, not to mention mental health. How can we help them see that it is not the sick who are the enemy, but how our healthcare system keeps some people from being able to pay for care?

There are billionaires among us who exercise undue influence in our politics. They have systematically corrupted DC so that ever more wealth is routed into fewer hands until over $25 trillion has been salted away in overseas tax havens, doing nothing. Helping nobody. I have a dear friend fond of saying that we have plenty of money to ensure everyone has a good quality of life, but it is in too few hands. How can we help them see that we need to get away from a corporate operations model that puts profit above people? Get away from the concept of shareholder primacy and expand fiduciary responsibility of corporate officers to include more stakeholders - workers, consumers, community and environment. How can we help this happen? Help people see how badly it needs to happen?

Does light in the end defeat darkness? Does good in the end overcome evil? Or must we fold in what seems evil and change it so it is less damaging, better for all of us?

These, it seems to me, are the fundamental questions we must ask moving forward. The Democrats are being vindicated in a big way, it seems, at the expense of many lives. Too many. How will we guard ourselves against being arrogant?

(Oh, and don't get me wrong - the foul maggots who have perpetrated these crimes against humanity must be held to account. That has by NO means changed).

But, again, how can we do even that in a way that reflects the empathy we pride ourselves in having?

March 27, 2020

This was posted yesterday on Daily Kos and it is well worth watching

Brianna Keiler of CNN nail Trump's crony Navarro, who is supposedly in charge of the supply chain.


She just does a great job shutting this lying jerk down.

Well done Brianna!

March 16, 2020

Something we must not forget.

Lately something has been weighing on my mind.

Oh the corona virus is the elephant in the room, and we're hearing all about the stock market crash and possible stimulus packages. And I'm scared. I know a lot of you are, too, because many of us are a bit older with underlying health conditions, and we hear there won't be enough ventilators and so on. Grocery stores are empty because of stupid hoarders. People are driving like maniacs and manifesting hostility through panic.

But that isn't what's on my mind.

We are isolated at home, and two of our precious grandchildren are with us. Little J. is two years old. He isn't quite potty trained yet, but he's a great, affectionate little boy. And B is four. She is the light of my life, for sure. She talks up a storm, loves bubble baths, knows all her numbers, colors, letters, a few words. She also knows her full name and address and Mom's phone number.

So, this morning I was looking at my grandkids and this huge feeling of love washed over me, and then my mind was drawn to those little boys and little girls who were separated from their families by the brutal policies of this administration and thrown in filthy cages where their care falls, not to their parents, but to older children. It is cold in those places.

I weep as I imagine a little girl who could be B, or a little boy who could be J, crying in loneliness and despair, watching as people begin to get sick, wondering where their parents are and if they will ever be able to play in the sun again.

The horror of what Trump and Miller and the rest of the white supremacist xenophobes have done to these people, these children makes me literally shake with anger.

So I promise you this: If I am still alive when this is over, I will be a vocal advocate for freeing these children, finding their families and paying them reparations for the horror they have endured, AND I will be relentless about seeing justice done for the perpetrators of these despicable crimes.

March 14, 2020

Absolutely excellent quote from Gov. Inslee:

He says, "Like my dad used to say, 'When you're going through hell, KEEP GOING!'"

Isn't that great? The people of WA have to be proud he's their governor.

I'm sure proud of Gov. Polis. His leadership, as well as his policies, make me proud to be a Coloradan.

March 6, 2020

Alabama executes inmate Nathaniel Woods

Source: CNN

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey refused to stop the controversial execution, and the US Supreme Court denied a last-minute stay, after first ordering a temporary halt only minutes before Woods had been scheduled to die.

Woods was convicted in 2005 of capital murder, but there were questions about his culpability, his representation at trial, and his co-defendant, Kerry Spencer said Woods was innocent.

In a phone interview from William C. Holman Correctional Facility in Escambia County, Spencer told CNN that he alone fatally shot the three officers in 2004 when they stormed the crack house where he was sleeping. A fourth officer was shot but survived.

Read more: https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/05/us/alabama-nathaniel-woods-execution/index.html

Nathaniel Woods is black.

He is innocent. Another guy, Kerry Spencer CONFESSED, but Woods was executed anyway.

Here's Spencer's note:

Alabama is truly the butthole of the nation.
March 2, 2020

Hello! You know, I've thought about that.

First, I stand corrected on the Kaiser Foundation. You were right and I was wrong. As to what is below, I wanted to give you a thoughtful answer to your statement about me leaving out millionaires in my little diatribe.

When you study economics, or at least when I did, I kind of had a crisis of conscience about capitalism as a system.

But capitalism, like socialism, is a term that is a bit foggy for most people.

I believe the one thing that could solve a whole plethora of problems right away is to force changes in corporate charters so the fiduciary responsibility of corporate officers expands beyond mere shareholder earnings, which is what we have now, to more of a stakeholder approach.

That was our mistake - we allowed this imbalance in the first place. Because if you're the CEO of a publicly held company, and you are a true believer in shareholder primacy, you will be relentless. You will do anything you can get away with to increase earnings - bust the union, drive the wages down, cheapen the benefits, pass more of their costs to workers, compromise on safe working environments, and even gobble up pension funds if you can swing it.

As to the consumers of your product, you want to make them pay as much as the market will bear for as little as possible. To this end you will substitute unhealthy ingredients for healthy ones, decrease the size of the container and charge the same or even claim the product is improved and so raise the price. The Brits call the latter 'shrinkflation.'

And, if you discover that your product is somehow unsafe, you will consult with your management and legal teams to ascertain if it will be less costly to merely pay claims to the people who get injured, or if you should do a recall, which is quite costly. But, you see, the unsafe product happened because of your dilution of the product's quality in the above paragraph.

Lastly, you will foul the environment any time you can get away with it. If you, for example, release fly ash by night, or pump sludge into a river, or illegally dump toxic waste, and aren't forced by government to clean it up, then you can consider that an 'externality' in your 10K report. All is good. Think about the nuclear waste dumped off the coast of Somalia as soon as that poor country didn't have a functioning government. Now those people HAVE to be pirates because all the fish that used to sustain them are gone from their coastal waters.

And the waste. Paper plates. Plastic everything. A disposable society.

This is what capitalism does, but if we expanded fiduciary responsibility of corporate officers around workers, consumers, the environment, and shareholders, then we'd solve a lot of problems. But we'd have to have a strong regulatory presence in governments worldwide, and would have to negotiate international agreements around these things. That concept takes fair trade into account as well.

So now, (at least in my own mind we have established that the doctrine of shareholder primacy is neither efficient nor moral, we can look at your statement on millionaires.

We can blame the Chicago School of Economics for much of the current thinking about shareholder primacy, and also for the 'trickle-down' or supply-side economics model. They are the ones who, in part, came up with 'supply-side' economics, the idea that you can cut taxes, which will stimulate job creation and actually bring in more revenue due to the increased worker earnings.

Well, that isn't true. Funny, on Maher I saw Steve Bannon put out that talking point yet again. But it is the big lie. It has never worked, really, does not work now, and will likely never work. And, as a corollary, it transfers more wealth into the hands of fewer people.

Shareholder primacy is bad enough. But with the 4th industrial revolution which is currently in motion, we have the information industry groups growing exponentially. Think about those kitchen table stories about Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Paul Allen and the rest of the tech billionaires. Romantic, right. Sitting in their garages or basements and inventing ways to massively increase productivity. The world runs on Microsoft. They have something like an 85% market share.

And the way they've set it up to maximize profit also maximizes waste. This waste takes centuries to biodegrade, and much if it can also be toxic. Consider Guiyu, China, where all the old monitors and other parts go to die. China's not taking them any more, but google pictures of that place.

So, does Bill Gates deserve to be a BILLIONAIRE? Does Zuck, or Bezos, or Allen or Adelsen? Do the Mercers?

I mean, I live OK in the sense that I have enough. My family has enough. We struggle sometimes, but we do OK. And like you, I work hard. Every day. But I can't even get my head around what it would be like to be a billionaire. Seems like a lot more to worry about to me. And how would I ever use it? What will it do? Sit around and grow? That's the capitalist mantra. The purpose of wealth is to create more wealth.

Hence my thoughts on billionaires. I've often written on here that I believe they are parasites. They only need two or three suits, just like me. They only need to eat as much as me, and so on. And their money just sits there. In fact, they have salted away over $22 trillion in offshore tax havens as we speak.

Every tax cut, every effort to deregulate or privatize, helps these people take just a little bit more wealth out of circulation, while the rest of us fight over an ever smaller pie.

So, yeah, I believe in a confiscatory tax system that would make billionaires into millionaires, and redistribute wealth to help pay for things that all of us need, that would make our lives materially better. Like health care. Like a postsecondary education system that actually invests in our children and grandchildren (I have three) instead of victimizing them with predatory loans. Et cetera.

As to millionaires, let's be realistic. If you have good ideas, start a company and get to be a millionaire, that's GREAT! I rejoice in your success. I do. In fact, I can use you as a role model, and work as hard as you do, save my money, and so on. I can get ahead, put my hands on that good old American dream!

Anyway, if you look at increased life expectancy, a man will live (on average) to around 79 or 80, and women to 82 or 84. If your retire at 65 or 66 years of age (because you've worked for fifty years or so by this time and you're TIRED of it and want to just spend time with your grand kids, your spouse and your children, maybe putter around, do some writing...), you are gonna get a whopping $2,300 a month from Social Security, but that is TAXED, thanks to Republicans, and you have to pay a premium on Medicare and if you're lucky get supplemental insurance so you can actually afford insulin or whatever other drugs you need to make your life a bit more comfy.

So, bottom line, you'd better have a couple million saved up in a pension account, because you will need it to maintain a decent lifestyle until you go. Anyway, what? One in three of us will end up in a nursing home, and that's about $6 large a month, so you'll blow through those assets at the end anyway and leave this earth naked and broke just like you were when you came here out of your mom's womb.

There it is. No objection to millionaires, but we don't need the billionaires. They are parasites no matter how much value their companies have created - they themselves do not need to hoard that kind of wealth.

If you made it to the end of this, please accept my good wishes. I like the people here on DU.

March 1, 2020

Pence says there could be more deaths due to the coronavirus

Source: CNN

Pence said federal officials are addressing the lack of testing kits in the US.

“It’s a very fair question. And it’s one of the first issues governors I spoke to raised with me. I’m happy to report that this weekend more than 15,000 testing kits have been released. Also the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has approved a testing regimen that state and local officials can be using. And beyond that we actually are working with a commercial provider with new testing framework to send another 50,000 kits out," Pence said.

Read more: https://www.cnn.com/asia/live-news/coronavirus-outbreak-03-01-20-intl-hnk/index.html

Think about that for a minute. A whopping 15,000 testing kits, with another 50,000 promised at some unspecified time in the future.

For a country with 325 million people.

Talk about a WOEFULLY inadequate response.

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About PatrickforB

Counselor, economist and public servant.

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