Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Separation of Church and State?

Our founding fathers opposed the institutionalization of religion into government, and purposely kept the Constitution itself free of references to God. The first priority of the amendments in the Bill of Rights was to erect a church-state wall. When Benjamin Franklin proposed during the Constitutional Convention that each day begin with a prayer to God for guidance, his suggestion was defeated.

Since our nation's founding, opponents of America's secularism have repeatedly sought to breach the wall of separation between religion and government. It was not until the "Red Scare" of the 1950s, with it's fear of communism and the atheism that it espoused, that politicians in Washington practically fell over each other in their efforts to prove their piety. It was in 1954 that the phrase "under God," was added to the Pledge of Allegiance, thus making it a public prayer as well as a patriotic oath. (Ironically, it has been the addition of those words that has resulted in the banishment of the pledge from public schools.) In 1955 Congress added the words "In God We Trust" to all paper money. In 1956 "E Pluribus Unum" was replaced with "In God We Trust" as the nation's official motto.

The Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled as unconstitutional efforts to inject religion into government, yet we are told almost daily how the founding fathers wanted this to be a Christian nation. We are told repeatedly that we must have religion in order to have values. People's rights are routinely denied with recitation of Old Testament value judgements. Non-Christian religions are demonized with distortions and untruths about those faiths. The Iraq and Afghanistan wars practically became holy wars with all of the religious justifications that were regularly cited.

Our founding fathers would be vehemently opposed to current efforts to put Christianity into our government. If people really cared about the values that this nation was founded on, they would stop using religion as a qualification for seeking public office, and they would oppose the demonizing of those who choose to respect the Establishment clause (church/state separation) of the first amendment of the Bill of Rights of our nation's Constitution.

Additionally, I believe that government itself should have a blind eye when it comes to religious matters. Laws should apply equally to both religious and non-religious organizations, assets, incomes, etc. To do otherwise is to give religion special status, and invites corruption of religious institutions as well as of government.

Newt Gingrich Lies About Chilean Privatized Retirement

Newt wants Wall Street to get a hold of the $2.6 trillion in the Social Security Trust Fund, as well as the money coming in yearly from payroll taxes. And he wants private firms to make money from 20% administrative costs (administrative costs for Social Security are currently less than 2%).

In the Chilean privatized retirement scheme that Newt loves so much, Chilean workers pay 10% of their salaries to personal retirement accounts, plus another 2% for the pension fund managers. It doesn't matter to Gingrich that about half of all retirement payments from the private accounts have to be subsidized, and that 40% of retirees are paid only from government (public) funds.

Newt continues to spout the lie that the system is voluntary, and that it has not cost the Chilean government anything, because apparently if you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Boehner's Lies

Boehner wants to capitalize on the fact that too many people believe the recession started during the Obama administration, instead of in the previous administration. The official start of the recession was December of 2007. I wrote in November of 2010, "Let us now sit back and listen for the next two years as the Republicans continuously blame the other party for all of the country's woes. Let us see if they can keep people from realizing that they have been conned."

Under George W. Bush, the percentage of the National Debt to the GDP went from 56.4% to 86.4%. In the final months of Bush's term, the economy was in free-fall, the stock market was tanking, the banks were getting bailed out by Congress, unemployment was spiraling out of control, and the deficit for 2009 was projected to be $1 trillion dollars, all before Obama even took office. We were also in the middle of two unfunded wars.

In the first two years of Obama's presidency, Republicans in the Senate blocked most of the efforts by the Democrat-controlled House to provide economic relief to Main Street. Since then the House, under a Republican majority, has passed one bill after another designed to give the rich more breaks under the guise of producing jobs. The Bush tax cuts are still in place, and taxes on capital gains are still 15%, while actual labor is taxed at 25% or more.

Boehner wants us to believe that Republicans will usher in an age of prosperity; in reality, it has been the policies of conservatives which have left so many Americans destitute.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Response to a Story About Charity

This is a comment to a Huffington Post article titled, "Conservativism, Compassion, and Cruelty: A Response to David Brooks."

Why do corporatio­ns continue to lobby against progressiv­es and universal health care? You would think it would be in their interest to support health care that is not paid for with company provided health insurance. Don't they have to compete against companies who don't have those costs?

Maybe it is really corporatio­ns dominated by outside (foreign) interests that are against American universal health care.

If more than half the town voluntaril­y helped pay for one person's medical bills, does that say something about universal health care?

What would have happened if it was not Ruthie Leming? If it was someone who was not as well liked or someone who worked in a less visible profession­, would the town have responded in the same way? Should one's popularity make a difference in the amount of help given for medical expenses?

Class Warfare, Taxes, and Progressives

What has bled the nation dry is the conservative policy of keeping revenues disastrously low while continuing to raise expenses, such as two unfunded wars. A 25% cut in taxes on capital gains and (special) dividend income is still in place (capital gains and dividend income are now both taxed at 15%), resulting in federal taxes on the wealthy averaging 16%. Most of the income on the wealthy is exempt from payroll taxes. Contrast this with a 25% tax rate on middle class incomes along with payroll taxes. So people are taxed at a much higher rate if they have to labor for their income rather than sending their money out to do the work for them.

We have had thirty years of class warfare by the wealthy. Income at the top has soared while wages among the poor and the middle class have stagnated.

Legislation is dominated by corporate influence. The conservative strategy of increasing the deficit in order to provide justification for cutting social spending has worked. The conservative's stated goal of keeping the economy from recovering in order to defeat Democrats is working.

There is a reason the top 1% pay more in taxes than the bottom 50%. Look at the relative incomes. Just how much should poor people pay in taxes while their income and spending power continues to tank?

Unemployment benefits, public libraries, a women's right to vote, environmental protections, food safety, a 5-day work week, living wages, child labor laws, desegregation, national parks, Social Security and Medicare. That is what progressives have fought for and won. How many of these have conservatives attacked? Do you really want a return to child labor, six-and-a-half day work weeks, senior poverty and poorhouses, sawdust in hot dogs, rivers catching fire, workers being fired for not being able to perform their jobs after being injured on those jobs, and wages that are little more than indentured servitude?

Go ahead and continue to support today's GOP. Continue to vote against your self-interest. Continue to believe right-wing propaganda and continue to believe that progressives are socialists. Continue to support free trade agreements that force American companies to compete against companies that are subsidized by their governments and whose workers have government (not company paid for) health care and 50-cents-an-hour wages.