Congressmen *would* normally work in your best interests, themselves. Why? Because making you happy means you vote for them, and that gets them re-elected.
Except that it’s commonly assumed that money wins elections. And usually that’s true. That’s been the rule of the land for decades now. Because (trust me on this, I’m learning this first-hand) it’s friggin’ HARD to raise small campaign donations to get elected. The average citizen doesn’t have much to give. And asking thousands and thousands of citizens to give small donations (the right way to do it) is extremely difficult and time-consuming.
But Big Interest companies DO have a lot of money! So instead of serving you, our members of Congress take vast sums of money from *them* to use for their re-election campaigns, instead. They follow the easy money. It’s that simple. And like good little puppets, they do what’s in the best interests of those major companies, who are quite literally *paying* Congress to pass legislation that protects their profits. In fact, their paid lobbyists will often write the legislation themselves, and it usually gets passed into law word-for-word.
But – it’s illegal for companies to give money to politicians. So how does this work?
Well – that’s where the lobbyists come in. Lobbyists aren’t directly employed by the companies that pay them. So by taking these vested-interest companies on as “clients” of their Lobbying Firm, the lobbyists are simply side-stepping the law.
The lobbyist simply has to look up which committee is most likely to help their “client” company (you can do this with a quick Google search in two minutes). Then they offer to take one of those committee members out to lunch – and by “lunch” I mean a swanky “Fundraising Lunch,” where the Senator walks away with a campaign donation check for $75,000. This is all technically legal, because it didn’t directly involve the company paying for it, and it was called “Fundraising.”
They’re not idiots – they know where the money comes from. They know it’s corrupt. But they prefer getting several dozen large checks to asking thousands of people for small donations.
So – these lobbyists already have these politicians eating out of their hand. But then there’s the ultimate ‘coup de grace’: those same lobbyists will also offer to make the politicians a lobbyist themselves, once they’re out of office. With an annual salary in the **Millions of dollars.**
To quote former lobbyist Jack Abramoff:
“I would say to [the Member], ‘When you’re done working on the Hill, we’d very much like you to consider coming to work for us.’ The moment I said that, we owned them. And what does that mean? Every request from our office, every request of our clients, everything that we want, they’re gonna do.”
THIS IS WHY WE HAVE TO BAN PAID LOBBYING.
Once lobbyists can no longer accept any form of payment for lobbying – watch how quickly their influence evaporates, and Congress is forced to start working for the People again!
This is how we save our nation from corruption’s stranglehold.
If you don’t know what Net Neutrality is, watch this – it’s an excellent conceptual example.
If you DO know already know what it is, you’re going to want to watch this anyway, because it’s really funny.
If civic rights (hence the reason for the existence of government) are meant to protect people in their pursuit of Life, Liberty, and Happiness, that protection requires certain basic obligations to be met. A Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice system to protect against things like theft, rape, and murder. A network of Fire Departments to protect against loss of property and possessions, as well as loss of life. A standing Military to protect against foreign invasion, and safeguard self-determinancy in government.
The common denominator here is protecting the well-being of the population. What is more important to their well-being than meeting their medical needs?
Clearly, the U.S. private sector is failing in that duty. It’s time to consider that it should always have been the responsibility of the government itself.
We know from numerous other 1st-World examples that it can be done efficiently, and done well.
Speaking of waste – I just learned something new about how the Pentagon controls and trims down excesses in the military. It’s called the OAE (Office of Economic Adjustment). And apparently it’s been *trying* to do it’s job well, citing 20% excess capacity in land usage alone, with repeated requests to Congress over the past 6 years to be given authorization to make the necessary changes, to trim down on some of the unnecessary fat.
Thus far, Congress has refused to allow them to do so. And – Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) has actually proposed to shut down the OAE entirely. The incredible irony here is – Rep. Thornberry’s excuse for shutting it down is that it “funding the agency is a wasteful expense.” Riiiiiight…
An agency that’s begged you to allow them to eliminate wasteful spending (which you’ve denied) are themselves a wasteful expense….
I wonder if Rep. Thornberry has a couple defense contractor lobbyists on speed-dial…
Anyway – you can read more about it, here:
America isn’t represented by it’s government anymore. Big Business is. You’re all starting to see that now for yourselves, I think. Good. That’s step #1.
I hate to have to be the one to say it, but – we did this to ourselves. It’s our fault.
You’ve probably seen by now the Zuckerberg interview where he shamelessly says “if a product is free, then that means *you* are what’s being sold.” Bit of a cheesehole thing to say, isn’t it?
He’s absolutely right, though. And it’s not just about having your identities sold by Facebook. You are the product, and the ‘customer’ is whoever is paying to gain access to your attention. Everything that you see on a screen that’s political in nature (and yes, even this post is an example) is trying to rope you into conscripting you.
The only difference between a commercial and a political ad (or Opinion News programs, for that matter) is whether they want your money or your vote.
That’s how they look at it – by ‘they,’ I mean the true ‘customers’ who’re paying money for it – they see a vote as being just another form of currency, one step removed. They just have to go through a song-and-dance to get there, because the law still (barely) forces a degree of separation between the two.
So they’re exploiting a loophole in the system. They can’t directly buy votes, but they CAN buy influence. And influence is a currency that can be legally traded for votes.
They can convince you that Liberals/Conservatives (take your pick) are Evil and/or Ignorant! They can convince you that anything that they don’t approve of is “Fake News!” …That’s the rope. And once they have you securely tied, they OWN you.
Remember – your attention is what they paid for. Beware of anything that’s both well-financed and political.
Big Business owns the government (and they have, for a long time) because we – WE – have allowed ourselves to be charmed by pretty designs, buzzwords that serve as emotional triggers, and fancy campaign ads with high budgets. Things that you want to hear.
Guess who pays for those big budgets. Big Companies, with their tendrils wrapped around politics. That WANT you to keep voting for the two major parties in Congress because they know they can continue buying the wording of their own bills – and keep using the power of Law to keep making themselves richer, and richer.
And they’re also able to pay to block or drown out the messages of anyone who threatens their monopoly on Power.
This is what is meant by the expression “Pay-to-Play.”
Well I intend to threaten them. I intend to give them HELL. And mark my words, I am GOING to topple them. Because “whoever has the most money” should never be the ultimate voice in a Democracy. And I will not sit idly by and watch, as our democracy crumbles around our ears.
THIS is why I’m running for office. Because *someone* has to step up and challenge the monopoly. It cannot be a Democrat, and it cannot be a Republican, because both of the major parties are complicit in selling their souls to Big Interests, in exchange for remaining in power. It has to be someone who can see clearly through the muck of politics. And it has to be somebody with a cogent plan of Action.
But I cannot do it alone. I cannot do it without your votes.
I write this (and most of my political messages) in text format because it’s cheap. And I’m not made of money. Nor do I have a major political party backing me. And I’ve refused any help from Big Interests (because my soul isn’t for sale). So I have to make-do with the resources that I’ve got.
You will never see a “fancy ad” from me. Quite simply because I can’t afford it. But the truth has a way of ringing clear. You’ll know it when you hear it. And, as the old adage goes: the truth will set you free.
There hasn’t been doubt about it for well over a year now: Russia screwed with our 2016 elections. A report was released a few months ago from The Department of Homeland Security that alerted 21 different States that Russian hackers had also targeted their elections systems. Two of those States we know for sure were actually compromised.
If you aren’t horrified by this, you need to check your Birth Certificate/Naturalization Papers. This is a threat to the fundamental trust we place in our election systems and our democracy.
It’s been a year, and the heads of our Intelligence services are all unanimous in saying that it WILL happen again during the mid-term elections later this year.
That fact that we have done absolutely nothing about it in the past year – taken NO steps to counter an actual attack on our democracy, and the threat of another attack coming soon – that should move you from being horrified to being downright infuriated.
How can we trust our representative government, if we cannot trust that the numbers of votes in our elections weren’t directly altered by a nation that has been our enemy since 1945.
We – everyone – need to demand action. That is all.
Alright, it’s time for the tough conversation. Taxes, Expenditures, and the Federal Debt (don’t worry Texas, I’m not dyslexic – I did mean ‘taxes,’ not you guys).
We are currently $20 Trillion in debt, as a nation. That number is so big, it’s legitimately difficult to truly wrap your mind around. For comparison, the average person can count from 1 to 310,000,000 over the course of their entire life (assuming you were able to speak and count fluently from the moment of birth, and died at the age of 75). So, in order to count as high as the current National Debt, you would need 64,516 lifetimes to do it. Or 1,492 times the number of years that the universe has been in existence.
That’s … a really big number. And it’s growing. At a current rate of $440 Billion per year. Now, don’t have a heart attack – yearly deficits for a country of the size and wealth as ours will typically range in the Billions. And that would normally be ok – IF we weren’t already in debt waaay above our ability to pay it off within a few years.
Here’s the very sobering, very ugly truth: at $20 Trillion in debt, we are already having to borrow money every year, just to pay the interest – JUST the interest – on the money we’ve already borrowed. Let that sink in for a second. We’re having to borrow money just to keep from defaulting on the loans of the money we’ve already borrowed (and spent). None of that is actually going to paying off the principle on the actual debt itself. That’s like opening a new credit card, just to pay the minimum payments on the nine credit cards you’ve already maxed out. And the entire amount of debt you owe is still sitting there, untouched, building up more debt.
This has gone FAR beyond the point were we can just say – “ok, time to stop spending money we don’t have, and tighten up the belt, so we can pay it off.” ..It’s damn-near too late for that. 15 years ago, we would have been ok, within 5-6 years. But now… No sir. We’ve got serious problems.
Let me tell you what happens in our not-so-distant future, if we FAIL to start paying down our National Debt and get it to a more manageable level. One of three things will happen.
1.) The U.S. cannot keep up with the interest that is owed on the money we’ve already borrowed, and the U.S. Treasury will default on it’s loans, and then the credit rating of the sovereign U.S. Government will tank. When that happens, our entire economy will disintegrate (and likely the world’s economy will fall apart too, since the world currently runs on $USD). Which means we’re all screwed. This is the least-likely scenario, because it can be delayed by options 2 and 3, as listed below.
2.) The U.S. cannot keep up with the interest on our debt, and – rather than letting the economy immediately fall apart, as in Example 1 – we choose instead to print more money, so we can use it to pay the interest on our debt.. This leads quickly to hyper-inflation, and everyone’s money becomes worthless. Which means we have to print even MORE money to keep pace with the plummeting value of the U.S. Dollar, so that we can continue to pay the interest on our debt. Which means our money becomes even MORE worthless. Inevitably, our economy will still disintegrate anyway. This scenario will just buy us a few extra years of time, before that happens. And the recovery will take longer (several decades).
3.) The final scenario (which is the most likely of the three) is: the U.S. cannot keep up with the interest on our debt, and – rather than printing more money, as in example 2 – the rest of the world simply cuts us off from borrowing any additional money from them, because at that point it’s become obvious that we cannot pay our bills. In this scenario, our economy experiences an extended period of dramatic deflation, everyone loses their jobs because nobody can afford to hire anyone, and the U.S. Dollar ceases (probably forever) to be the standard currency of trade around the world, and is most likely replaced by the Chinese Yuan. At which point, we’ll be at the mercy of their economy (or that of whoever’s currency happens to take over), rather than the other way around. This will figuratively enslave us, economically.
Now, let me put that further into perspective: our current government, being already $20 Trillion in debt, has just added $1.4 Trillion to our deficit, just by passing the “tax cuts” last December. Just two months ago. Make no mistake – those tax cuts benefited ONLY the super-rich and mega-corporations. If you’re middle-class, you will see an average savings of ~$50 per year for the next couple of years. “whoopeeeie…” And then your taxes are going to jump up higher than they already are now, and you’ll have no more line-item deductions to help lower your tax burden.
Yes, that’s correct. You’re going to get REAMED by the Tax-man, in a few years. Don’t believe me? Wait a year, or maybe three at most. At your peril. Or, do the math now, and realize you need to do something before it’s too late. Your choice.
Either way, you’re still screwed. Because our sorely in-debt government hasn’t JUST borrowed another $1.4 Trillion to literally hand it over to the super-wealthy in tax-cuts – they’ve also passed a spending bill yesterday that adds another $500 Billion to the National Debt, on top of that (having to borrow more money to pay the interest on the money we’ve already borrowed). AND the President has called for a massive spending increase on “national defense,” all while cutting numerous government agencies (which protect the public, and our foreign interests) and also our social programs – to the bone.
And – laughably – the President wants to hold a military parade, on top of all that… A MILITARY PARADE..!! I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Because that’s about $20 Million wasted on … what?? What do we really gain from a friggin parade!? We’re already in debt over our eyeballs, with no plan to pull ourselves out of this mess, and only a plan to spend yet more money that we don’t have, and … a parade!? Somebody in Washington has a pretty damn dark sense of humor. Or, is just straight-up delusional.
Here are the facts, and here is what we need to do: we need to wake up to the bleakness of our situation. We need to recognize that certain critical government agencies need to be funded, but that we need to get a little wiser as to the prospects of our future, and how we spend our national treasury. We need to focus on maintaining the services that pay for themselves, and we need to maintain some services that don’t pay for themselves directly but that contribute directly to our national and economic well-being. And we need to recognize that some of our national expenses just are not necessary.
I know this will probably piss some people off – namely Conservatives – but, frankly I don’t give a good-goddamn. It needs to be said. Sometimes the truth hurts. That doesn’t make it any less necessary to speak it. Take for instance the military. I am a Veteran. And I’m proud of both my service, and of the military in general. And I believe whole-heartedly in a strong national defense. But – there’s a sensible limit. Where does the “we’re objectively safe” begin? 10% of the national budget? 30%? 90%? (…obviously not 90% – that’d be beyond ridiculous, but – you get my point).
Here’s the thing – our military is already the most powerful the world has EVER known. We control 6,800 nuclear weapons – be it via bombs, ICBMs, or missiles launched from submarines. Ie, the “Nuclear Triad.” In any case, that’s enough to render the world completely sterile of all life, several times over. We also spend more on our military than the next 10-ranked military powers, COMBINED (how the hell is another nation gonna put up a realistic challenge to that..??). Our Navy is stronger than the next 3 biggest navies combined, and has enough super-carrier groups that – if we needed to raze an entire nation to the ground, we could do so just by using the firepower of our naval fleets alone – point is, we already have an OVERWHELMING advantage, militarily.
Oh, and – do you know what else our Navy is doing? Building more nuclear-powered submarines. Do you know how many we already have? Thirty-two. In the entire world’s nations, only North Korea has more subs than we do, and the rest of North Korea’s Navy is a joke compared to ours – in both numbers, and in strength and firepower. Each of those submarines costs ~$2 Billion dollars. And we have seven more under construction right now. ….. WHY!??
It gets better – (or worse, if you’re not one for sardonic hyperbole)
We also already have over a thousand M1A1 Abrams tanks (the badass, take-no-crap, undisputed King-of-the-battlefield kind – the kind whose armor and top speed is still classified, 30 years after they were designed, are still unmatched around the world, and are still state-of-the-art). Do you know what all of those extra thousand+ M1A1 tanks are doing? They’re rotting in a parking lot. Because the military doesn’t have the personnel (or the need) to put men in them. And yet every year, our government makes more of them. Why??
And then there’s the F-35 Fighter Jet program. $1.5 Trillion dollars spent, and yet they still have trouble just taking off from a runway, without crashing or blowing up. And yet we still supposedly don’t have enough money to give our Soldiers a raise so they can live a comfortable middle-class lifestyle?? (let’s face it – they get paid crap for putting their lives on the line for us..)
Then we have the issue of rounding up illegal immigrants? You know how much money that costs?? Do you know how much cheaper it’d be to just have about a thousand Federal Agents on payroll, and have them actually enforce the laws that are already in place, and round up the illegal employers who’re hiring the immigrants, instead? And then if we did that, the source of the problem – the illegal jobs – would be solved, and the problem itself would dry up. Problem-friggin-Solved.
And then of course there’s The Wall. Look, I’m not going to comment too much on the wall, because I know a lot of you like the idea. I’m not a fool. But I AM a student of history – all the way from the Neolithic Age through present day – and thoroughly versed in pretty much all the Western World’s history, and a good bit of China’s history too. And through all of that studying, I have learned one thing: walls have never once – not in all of recorded history – been totally successful in doing what they are inherently meant to do – which is: keep people out. It’s never been the wall that matters. It’s always been about the number of people guarding it. And the effectiveness of people guarding a border is mostly independent of whether a wall is present or not. So … oh my god, is that a stereotypical example of spending money we don’t have!
And then there’s industry subsidies. These haven’t been re-vamped or adjusted since the 1950s. It’s a BIT out of date. We still pay the Oil & Gas Industry gob-tons of taxpayer-funded subsidies, when they are laying workers off all the time, and still making record profits, in the meantime. That needs to be adjusted to something resembling the modern Oil & Gas market. Then there are the farm subsidies that likewise haven’t been adjusted in 70 years, which are responsible for farmers producing only the same non-sustainable crops, every single season (because they are literally paid to do that, instead of diversifying their crops – it’s not that they don’t want to diversify – most of them do). This causes them to have to fertilize more often (and spend money on that), and the waste and the runoff hurts our farmlands and tributaries, to boot. Which of course we have to spend MORE money trying to prevent.
…Do you see what I mean!?? And yet our national infrastructure is falling apart, and the politicians have the balls to tease at the idea of fixing it.. They have NO idea of what they’re getting into, and they’ve already spent the money needed to actually fix it, three-times over, on crap that we don’t need!
– It’s not that we don’t have the money to fully fund ourselves, and still keep our military nice and strong, AND start paying down our National Debt at the same time – it’s that we don’t hold our politicians accountable to actually doing that. The amount of federal waste is gut-churning.
And yet we STILL have Big Party politicians (I’m facing off against one in my district now) who insist that they’re supposedly “fiscally responsible,” and all-the-while promising their district *extra* money through pork-barrel funding for local projects, because they think the temporary minor boost in federal spending will net a couple hundred jobs, and thus earn them ‘kudo points’ to get elected. Horse-shit. Don’t buy that snake-oil.
They have no idea the meaning of “responsibility.” Sad as it is to say it, the conversation we really need to be having right now is how much we need to realistically raise our taxes, to make sure we don’t all go broke in 10 years. Yeah – I said it. We need to seriously look at the prospect of having to raise our taxes! The truth may not be pleasant, but – like any credit card debt, we have to eventually pay for all we’ve spent! Otherwise, what the hell are we doing, besides hiding our heads in the sand like a bunch of dumb animals, fervently hoping that “the good old days” that we’re living in now somehow – by some unknown and unlikely miracle – won’t disappear on us, like a fart in the breeze!
So I’m gonna go ahead and say it – Screw those guys. They need to own up to the fact that WE DON’T HAVE THE MONEY TO SPEND. And we sure as hell don’t have the money to re-direct from other government funds, either – like the poor Social Security treasury, which is already failing us now only because various Congressmens’ pork-barrel projects keep sucking all the money out of it – to fund their little “vote-for-me” projects.
They disgust me. The fact that the public is still somehow not seriously scared out of their wits of the dire situation we’re in, disgusts me. And it keeps me up at night, sometimes. I’m honestly worried about our future. I’ve started to save for my own retirement (and I’m only 35), not by traditional investing in 401k, or an IRA, or in stocks, or bonds, or mutual funds, but in buying gold and silver bullion, because I am legitimately concerned that the U.S. Dollar will lose most of it’s value in the next 10 years, because we’re running this country like a bunch of spoiled valley-girls with their daddy’s credit card.
But I’m going to try. I’m not giving up hope yet. I’m going to try to get the public to see the light, and do what I can to curb the government’s spending habits. It’s not too late yet. Lord knows, even in the best-case-scenario, we’re still gonna have to hurt for a while because of the damage that’s already been done, but – it’s not too late to turn this ship around before it capsizes, and takes us all down with it. We’ve gotta try..
Have you felt it? The ridiculousness of it all.
On the one hand, you’ve been voting more or less the same way every time, knowing that your own preferred party has it flaws, but thinking “well, what choice do I have? It’s better than voting for the other party, and it’s more realistic than throwing away my vote.” …Right? We’ve all been there. Lord knows I have.
But on the other hand, you never really see much of an improvement, either. Neither party (with a few occasional exceptions) really DOES anything. In fact, the political situation is getting worse, not better. There are no more Moderates anymore, Partisanship has descended into bickering political Tribalism, and the only thing we seem to share in common is that we all agree that Congress is full of a bunch of Crooks, who are primarily concerned with keeping themselves in power, gobbling up the largess of paid lobbyists and Dark Money, and pissing away our taxes.
But THAT is the one thing that we can all agree needs to end. That is a cause we can ALL unite under – Conservatives, Moderates, and Liberals alike. Well – it’s time we start taking responsibility. We’re the voters.
Neither a Democrat or a Republican can lead the effort. Either major party can (and will) immediately shut down the campaign of any of their own candidates who threatens to take away their gravy-train of corruption. ONLY an Independent can do that. Only an Independent has the freedom to act without fear of being shut down, because only an Independent doesn’t have the leash of a major party around their neck.
And we are not alone. 42% of ALL voters are now registered as Independents – 10% more than either the GOP or the DNC can muster – voters who feel like you do. We just need to wake up and realize that we actually do have that much voting power. And there are literally thousands of Independent candidates like me who’re running for office this year, from across the entire country.
There is no such thing as a wasted vote, anymore. It’s time we clean the Big House.