psychpol

May 4, 2013

WHAT ARE THE FACTS?

Filed under: Psychology and Politics — psychpol @ 4:10 pm

Since we live in a very emotion-driven and divided country, it can be useful to examine facts regarding issues. While facts may contradict preconceived liberal or conservative ideas, it is an essential way to understand an issue and formulate a workable plan of action.

Many of us are unable to assimilate facts that contradict our cherished belief systems. Emotions such as anger prevent clear thought. But if we want to wake up to what is true, then the more facts the better.

Here are some facts from reputable sources that pertain to the issues of gun control, crime and education in the US. 

A current and emotional issue involves gun control.We have witnessed horrible crimes that repulse and enrage most of us.  In addition to routine carnage in our cities, there seems to be an almost daily incident involving bizarre gun violence. It is becoming the norm in a violence ridden culture.

For perspective, in 2011 8600 people were killed by firearms, a 10% decline compared to 2007, and 32,000 people died in motor vehicle collisions.

According to a recent Gallup poll, Americans rate gun control as the eighth most important issue, with the economy being first.

Did you know that of all the mass shootings since 1950, all but one have occurred in Gun Free Zones? And fully automatic rifles have been banned in the US since 1934?

Recent gun control efforts led by Senator Feinstein focus on “military appearing” features, such as the grip on the weapon. Some states like New York and Colorado have outlawed magazines beyond a specified number of rounds.

In Washington DC, a citizen had been unable to take a licensed gun out of their home, as if the streets were safe. Illinois had the same law, but it was overturned by the courts. In 2012, there were more murders in Chicago than for all coalition troops in Afghanistan.

President Obama has issued 23 executive orders pertaining to gun violence. The consensus is that none would prevent a horror like Newtown, Connecticut. Nonetheless, these are touted as “solutions” to gun violence, and often become the focus of discussion in the national media.

There are 6.6 million violent crimes a year in the US. However, in the past 10 years, violent crime is down 12.3% in the US. Why? Most observers believe this pertains to mandatory sentencing laws for violent offenders in many states. The safest way to protect the public is if offenders are imprisoned.

What would happen if the US had Federal laws mandating prison sentences for any gun crime?

The topic of race and crime is an emotionally volatile one in America, although racial status does predict crime rates in the general population.

Looking again at Connecticut, according to Uniform Crime Statistics published by the FBI in the most recent year, incidence data showed 10 – 15x the murder rate for African-Americans compared to Caucasians. The rate was 5 – 6x for rape, 8 – 9x for robbery, 4 – 5x for aggravated assault and 2 – 3x for burglary in the same direction.

In the US, 7% of the population are African-American males. They represent 50% of the murder victims and a majority of the perpetrators. Many murders are so-called black on black crimes.

It took one terrible, evil act by one Caucasian in Connecticut to spark a strong national gun debate that continues today. What about all the other violent crimes that have been ongoing in that and other states for decades? Have we become so numb to the suffering of the victims?

In looking at FBI crime statistics, it is difficult to get a handle on the incidence of Hispanic crime rates per capita. The reason is that Hispanics are an ethnicity and not a race. Therefore, their stats are combined with whites. The result is an inflation of white crime rates and a deflation in the differences between groups.

It is known that in the US prison population, 40% of all prisoners are Hispanic. And 20% of all prisoners are illegal aliens. For Hispanics, 48% are incarcerated for immigration offenses, and 37% for drug offenses.

Illegal immigration has accelerated since January 1, 2013, tripling at some border locations. 

But enforcement for immigration offenses has declined, so these numbers have probably changed for those violations. They are not being prosecuted by the Department of Justice and Immigration and Customs Enforcement per order of the Obama administration. This usurps current Federal law.

During Obama’s tenure, there have been 15 thousand illegal and citizen fugitives who were felons that tried to purchase firearms and were detected. The Department of Justice has prosecuted only 44 cases or less than 1%.

Does this make sense to you?

In America, a black male in his early 30’s is 7x more likely to have a criminal record (22.4% of men) than to have served in the military (17.4%). Blacks have a murder rate of 7x per capita compared to whites, with 14.82/100K and 2.17/100K respectively.

Is this OK with our leadership? Is it mentioned much by the president and other leaders in the administration?  Politically incorrect, no? The perpetrators are not responsible for their actions? Who pulled the trigger?

 A teen who performed at the 2013 Inauguration was tragically gunned down in Chicago. Because she had a connection to the administration, and her death was publicized, our first lady appeared at the funeral and expressed her concern.

Then one of the kids who stood on the dais behind Michelle Obama at that event was later murdered.

Not a word from the president or the first lady. What about all the kids that had no connection to the Obama administration? Are their lost lives worthy of mention? The suffering of their parents, too often a single mother?

Regarding gun control, the left spends virtually no time addressing who the offenders are. This is quite remarkable. It is as if guns shoot themselves. For every gun crime, a person has pulled the trigger. Who are they and how did they get that way?

Doesn’t it make sense to focus on perpetrators involved and ways for us to prevent their actions? Doesn’t it make sense to propose legislation that addresses the real problems using workable solutions, and not feel good ideological ones?

And shouldn’t we preserve individual freedom wherever possible? The issue is criminals and the severely mentally ill, and the conditions that give rise to them, not the physical appearance of a weapon or the number of rounds.

A bill involving federal registration as a database to screen out criminals and those with some documented history of severe mental disorder (a very complex issue) was recently defeated in the US Senate. Was this such a radical step? 72% of Americans favored this measure. Politics again trumped a reasonable step toward addressing the larger problem.

What do we know about some of the perpetrators of gun violence?

One predictor of criminal behavior is academic failure. Overall, about 25% of our kids drop out before finishing high school. We spend more dollars per individual student than any country except Switzerland, $14 thousand in combined state, local and federal spending per student.

Of the 27 developed countries in one study, the US ranked 14th for college graduates. Achievement testing for high schoolers ranks the US at 17th for science and 27th for mathematics.

However, self-esteem ratings are generally favorable. In several surveys, the leading life goal of adolescents was to be “famous.” Period.

By groups, 50% of Hispanic kids drop out before completing high school. This is 3x the rate of whites and 2x the rate of black students. These are huge numbers and should be identified as a national emergency.

The average reading level of assigned high school texts is Grade 5. The last State of the Union speech was calibrated for Grade 7 language abilities.

Since 1950, there has been a 96% increase in spending on students, and a 702% increase in spending on non-teaching staff such as administration. There are 21 states with more administrators than teachers. Ohio is the state with the greatest imbalance.

Since 1970, spending on education has tripled. However, achievement test scores are flat and do not show appreciable improvement. Expending money as a solution is not working.

In the city of Chicago, there is a 45% dropout rate. Recently, the teachers union went on strike to demand more pay. Imagine you failing at work almost half the time and demanding a raise. Remarkable. No shame.

Many believe that teachers’ unions are a negative factor in the performance of our schools. Several of the states with the poorest school performance force teachers to join unions by law.

An interesting case example is the state of Wisconsin, formerly a mandatory union state. When this was overturned, to the dismay of the unions, 30% of the members dropped out of the teachers union. In addition, 60% dropped out of the public employees unions in that state.

An ancillary result was that health insurance plans selected and funded by the teachers union were opened to competition from other insurance companies. With this choice to date, 62% of school districts in Wisconsin are saving money on health insurance.

Speaking of choice, there are 55 million kids in schools nationwide. 22 of 23 studies have found that a parent’s ability to choose a school produced better educational outcomes. Of the total number of kids, 953 thousand have had school choice in their districts. The states of Florida, Indiana and Ohio have the most choice for families. Of note is that all have Republican governors.

Charter schools, those less regulated by federal and state bureaucracies, appear to produce excellent outcomes. In fact, there are long waiting lists for many of these schools. There are now 2.3 million kids in charter schools.

The Federal government is attempting to reassert power by developing a “new” common core curriculum to be taught by all US schools. This addresses standards in reading and mathematics. There are other elements that appear to represent a leftist world view, and these have drawn criticism.

Edicts from centralized bureaucracies will usurp the school’s prerogative to implement programs that best suit local communities. In addition, school choice and charter schools tend to be opposed by teachers’ unions, thus stifling local innovation.

Why? Because parents will move away from underperforming schools if given the choice. Who wouldn’t? And inferior teachers will be terminated, jobs lost and control shifted to local communities and families. The unions position is strictly an economic issue that has nothing to do with educating kids.

The Federal government and the teachers’ unions are fighting the trend of choice. To paraphrase the general counsel of the National Education Association a few years back, ” when kids pay dues, then we will listen carefully to their needs.”

Oh yah, the kids. We’d have a great school here if it wasn’t for these darn kids!

So, there is a direct correlation between educational success and criminal behavior. The better educated, the less likely to be a criminal. This ought to be a huge priority for us.

A failing school system means future generations lost, with implications for high poverty rates and dependency on government entitlements funded by productive citizens.

When we turn out large numbers of kids who have poor literacy skills, are unmotivated to learn and have dropped out, are they going to become software engineers?

Are they going to work in the declining area of American manufacturing? What are their options in an information based economy?

With both gun violence and educational performance, solutions are needed that work. There must be a context of personal responsibility as a starting point. Instead of ideology that has no relationship to the facts, society must create solutions based on the real causes of the problem.

So what would work regarding gun violence? What would work regarding poor school performance? What would work regarding criminality in America? Why do we have so much violence and criminality? Why do some groups have higher rates of social dysfunction?

As current neuroscience suggests, are there brain-based factors that predispose a child to violence as early as age 3? And what can do we now to prevent this?

It is facts and scientific evidence that should drive our solutions to make a better world for all. It is not partisan, ideological politicians that divide us for political gain. Our safety and our kids’ futures are too important.

We need to wake up and become active in electing leaders who will bring solutions to the table, not “feel good” rhetoric that does not work, or laws that usurp our freedoms and divide us even further.

We are fools if we allow our anger at one another to be stoked by radicals such as our current executive and congressional leadership. Knowledge is power and that involves understanding the facts of an issue and taking direct action.

It is our country, today and every day. Let’s make it work even better and solve the problem of violence in America.

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April 10, 2013

FUN WITH FACTS

Filed under: Psychology and Politics — psychpol @ 4:33 pm

If knowledge is power, then the more we know, the better. We are all influenced by what happens in our society, politically and culturally. Our choice is whether we get informed and participate or just get run over.

About 57.5% of us voted in the 2012 election, while 42.5% did not. Since this is a very emotional time characterized by the Blame Game, many of us are poorly informed as to what is really happening. Biased media, various political hustlers and slick politicians seem to deliberately confuse many of us.

As Twain said, “there’s good fishing in muddy waters.”

So this column presents facts from reliable sources and some commentary for readers to consider.  Some of these facts are mind-boggling, typically go unreported and make us wonder who makes these decisions and why this is happening.

So, here goes…

In 2012, the most looked up words on search engines were – Capitalism and Socialism. Economic models are apparently on the minds of many.

The most searched topics on Google were – Whitney Houston and Gangam Style. Here, entertainment seemed to rule.

If you are a newborn in the United States today, you already owe over $52,000 in Federal debt. If you are a family, you owe over $139,000.

There is an increasing debate about how much money government is spending. Since 2009, the Federal debt (overall amount that we owe), has gone from $9 trillion to over $16.5 trillion. Federal debt projections for 2016 are over $20 trillion unless something changes.

We recently heard about the “Fiscal Cliff.” This is a scary enough concept for most of us, even if we have tried to understand it. The “deal” reached in Washington to “resolve” this included the following data, according to the Tax Policy Center:

As of January 1, 2013, if you make $20 – 30 thousand as an individual or a couple that files joint taxes, you are now paying $1064 more in taxes per year. If you make $50 – 75 thousand, you now pay $2399 more in federal taxes per year. If you make $100 – 200 thousand, you now pay $6034 more in taxes per year.

Under this bipartisan “deal,” taxes have increased for all who work. The President had promised that there would be no tax increases for “the middle class.” But, the reinstatement of the 2% payroll tax has affected the paychecks of everyone who works.

For the almost 50% of our fellow citizens who do not pay Federal income tax, there is no increase. However, they may be affected by other state taxes such as a sales tax or state income tax increase (California is at 13.3% now).

The Federal government spends $11 billion per day. We pay $54 million in interest on the debt per day. Around $3 billion a day is spent on social programs through the Health and Human Services Department. And about $1.8 billion per day is spent by the Department of Defense.

About 67% of our budget involves mandatory entitlement programs, with the other 33% involving discretionary spending. The latter means that Congress gets to decide how our money is spent.

For every dollar collected in taxes, the Federal government must borrow an additional 42 cents to pay its bills.

Let’s see you run your personal budget that way.

Two new sanitized words (to make us feel better) used by the Federal government are:

Taxes = Revenue      and      Spending = Investment

In fact, with “green energy” companies, the Department of Energy within the Federal government has lost billions of our dollars “investing” in companies that failed. The only possible success we have put our tax dollars behind ($456 Million) is Tesla Motors, a maker of expensive electric cars. Some think they will be profitable, and others think they are cooking the books. We shall see.

Many believe that if an idea is worthwhile, then the capitalists will finance it. In this model, the government has no business picking “winners and losers,” although they seem to be good at the latter.

The new Obama budget, delivered 65-days late, proposes additional tax increases that will affect everyone. It proposes $3.7 trillion in spending against a background of $2.7 trillion collected in taxes. That is the most tax revenue we have ever collected in the US. Nonetheless, it would produce an annual deficit of $1 trillion.

Don’t try this budget math at home…

The Senate is required to produce a yearly budget. This Democratically controlled Senate did not do so for 4 years. They finally produced one last month that essentially calls for no spending cuts and increased taxes. It is said that this combination will “protect the middle class.”

Let’s see, if your work was 4 years late, how long would you keep your job? 

By the way, Congress worked 123 days last year. They really care. Honest.

A state may legally have right to work status (24 states), or mandatory union membership requirements (26 states). In the past 10 years, job growth in right to work states is 10.3%. Job growth in mandatory union states is 1.2%.

The percentage of private sector workers in unions is about 7%, a historical low. The percentage of public sector (government) workers is 35% and growing. Unions overwhelmingly support Democratic candidates, who in turn legislate policies favorable to unions.

In this case, the worker does not freely choose which candidates to endorse. Well-paid union management makes those decisions. And in over 90% of cases, it is Democratic candidates who are endorsed and receive campaign dollars in the form of membership dues.

In 2012, we re-elected 21 of 22 US Senators and 353 of 373 Representatives. As noted 57.5%, or roughly 126,000,000 of us, voted for incumbents at an overwhelming rate.

But Congress has a 9 – 14% approval rating!

So, why do we vote in the same people if we can’t stand them?

In the Senate, 61% of the members are lawyers. The figure is 37.2% in the House. 123 Democrats are lawyers, while this is true of 81 Republicans. Lawyers are the largest occupational group in Congress. What are they trained to do?  Answer – to argue.

Lawyers tend to reason inductively, That means that they have a conclusion to an argument in mind (for example, Obamacare will be good for everyone), and then will find the data that sounds true to support their preconceived idea.

Stephen Gaskin of The Farm commune in Tennessee once said that “today is the era of looting the ship. The lawyers are here to make sure it proceeds in an orderly fashion.”

By contrast, a scientist reasons deductively. That means they look at all the facts, analyze them and then reach a conclusion. The facts guide the conclusion, rather than the other way around.

In 2012, Congress passed fewer laws by one-half  than at any time since 1947. Some would regard this as good news.

There are 27,000 regulations that govern the distribution and sale of asparagus in the US.

There are now over 15,000 pages of regulations involving Obamacare. Recently, the Secretary of HHS, Kathleen Sibelius, who heads the agency responsible for implementing Obamacare, remarked at how “surprised” she was that making this work was proving so complicated.

She of course blamed the states.

Over the last 20 years, government subsidies (taxpayer dollars) have been 18x more for wind energy than nuclear energy. Renewable energy has yet to prove itself in the US marketplace. Wind energy costs $56.1 dollars per kilowatt-hour of production. Fossil fuel power costs .63 cents per kilowatt-hour of production.

In the same vein, government subsidized solar energy companies like Solyndra and Abound Solar have gone bankrupt because of an inability to compete with Chinese manufacturers.

Did you know that the Chinese recently bought a battery company funded by the American taxpayer that was failing? We staked that company with our hard-earned tax dollars.

Since 2009, the Food Stamp program has increased from 26 million people to 47 million people. Unemployment is actually over 11%. Tens of millions of people are unable to find work.

In the overall economy, 102 million workers support 85 million people who do not work or pay Federal income taxes.

Whereas there were 7 workers supporting 1 Social Security recipient a few decades ago, there are now 2 workers doing so. Does anyone but the Democrats  think this will work over time as a way to protect our elderly?

The Bowles – Simpson Debt Commission, appointed by Obama, offered multiple suggestions for addressing entitlement excesses and our huge debt. Many on both sides of the aisle favored several ideas. Obama ignored them all. The conformist, leftist media did not bother to report this fact.

But creating the commission looked good, no? I mean, the President really cares, right?

The Democrat campaigns promised a “balanced approach” to the Federal debt and yearly deficit. Sounded great. The Republican campaigns promised a balanced budget over time via spending cuts, lower taxes and economic growth.

Of course, since we re-elect incumbents, many of the people responsible for the mess are still in office.

What works according to history? How do people achieve prosperity?

As Reagan famously said, the 9 most terrifying words in the English language are “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” This is obviously an exaggerated statement, but it does contain elements of truth.

Over the last 4 years, spending for the Veterans Administration system has increased by 50%. Sounds good, right? However, in 2011, there were 331 suicides by vets, and 349 in 2012. Suicides. Lives forever lost.

Combat deaths in 2012 were at 245.

If you’re a vet making a claim for benefits, it takes an average of 9 months before you get a response from the VA. If you appeal the decision, it will take 4 – 6 years to have that resolved.

Thank you for your service.

Do you remember the president telling us during the campaign how much he cared about vets? All about his “commitment?” And the other side solemnly telling us how important vets are?

These tragic facts are an example of government’s inability to manage programs efficiently and in the interest of the citizens, in this case, those that have sacrificed for our freedoms. Lives have been ended or changed forever.

Why do we want to turn over one-sixth of our economy to Obamacare, a government program? We are not going to like how this turns out.

The fantasy that government is like a parent that will “take care” of you is absurd. They have a poor track record. Look at the plight of our veterans. Look at most anything that government does. Look at the cities going bankrupt in the US today.

Look at how they throw our money away and won’t tell us the truth about things such as Benghazi or taxes. Why are we so naive, year after year, to believe this garbage?

On the cultural front, did you know that 1 of 4 teens have attempted suicide? What is happening to us?  There are bizarre, violent crimes every day in our country. Where are the voices of moral leadership in America?

Is it morally right to burden a baby with huge debt at the moment of their birth?

Did you know that African-American babies are born without fathers in 72% of the cases? And that Hispanic babies are born without fathers in 50% of the cases? And Caucasian babies are born without fathers in 25% of the cases?

Of all babies born, 41% are without fathers. Real liberating to live in poverty, right? Where is the outrage from the “caring” left?

If you want to create a rage-filled society, fatherless kids is one way to do it. Where are the voices of the leadership condemning this? The voices in the media?

Hey, did you hear about the recent Memphis Soul party at the White House ? Lots of stars and celebrities. Did you get invited?  You paid for part of it ($435,000 out of $1,300,000).

So, let’s get out there to work today to pay for our share of that important event.

Finally, the White House tour program has been suspended. For years, kids, families and other interested individuals have gone on these tours. I went as a child and as a parent. It is the people’s house and a piece of our collective history.

The tour guides are voluntary and unpaid. Overall it costs $74 thousand a week to run the program, including a salary and benefits package for the Director of around $150 thousand per year.

Several conservative public figures said they would each pay for one week of the program. The White House declined their offer. No liberal public figures offered to pay for the program, including wealthy celebrities.

Why? Because they fundamentally despise the America that has made them wealthy. Go figure.

A recent golfing trip for Obama to Palm Beach, Florida cost the taxpayers (us) around $1 million. A Hawaii vacation for the Obama family required two separate jets and cost the taxpayers (us) $4 million.

If you can afford it, how much are you spending on your vacation this year?

When will we ever wake up to the phony promises and hypocritical actions of the people we elect?

If we inform ourselves, we may begin to wake up and become empowered.

It is our country. The political class and the bureaucrats do not own it, nor do they have the right to control us and steal our children’s future. They work for us. Today and everyday.

February 9, 2013

ANYONE FOR PRINCIPLES?

Filed under: Psychology and Politics — Tags: — psychpol @ 7:07 pm

Whatever happened to principles? Don’t you and I have them in our lives? Don’t they guide our actions and form a foundation for interpersonal trust?

If you examine the issues facing our society, you will find a large number of inconsistencies and just plain lying by our leaders. Given this barrage, it is so easy to simply numb ourselves and turn away.

It can be an awakening when you realize, ” wait a minute, this is my life, and that of my loved ones, present and future. Let me wake up and check this out! Is this true or not?”

Then when the next election occurs, and the machine finds ways to anger you, and if you care to vote as 53% of us did in 2012, we may stop reacting like conditioned pets.

The Obama Democrats have mastered the Blame Game strategy. Consequently, they received many of the ANTI votes from those oblivious to the important issues facing our country.

Like freedom, debt, government control of our lives, personal responsibility, foreign policy and health care.

Anger is way more fun. You know, ” I’ll show them they’re no better than me,” and so on. ” Who do they think they are anyway!”

It turns out that those who fired us up are dumping their “people’s” agenda on our country. Have you checked out the recent decline in your paycheck? Or that, under Obamacare, the CBO projects that 7 million of us will lose coverage? Or that premiums have already greatly increased?

Searching for principles that govern the decisions and statements of our leaders can be quite fruitless. It seems that principled consistency is of no relevance for many politicians. Some still bleat about them in speeches, and others probably started their careers with them. But most seem incapable of logical consistency and standing on principle, even on comparable issues.

Here is one example.

When George W. Bush was president, there was a controversy over the use of what became known as ” enhanced interrogation techniques.” This essentially referred to waterboarding terrorists in an effort to extract information that would protect American lives by preventing attacks. Some Democrats vehemently described this as a form of torture.

The media and the Democrats in Congress, and later the Obama administration, decried the use of such methods. They stated it was inhumane and did not work, in spite of evidence to the contrary. 

One can access a multitude of video clips from the Bush years and Obama’s first term to personally view the furor with which Democrats denounced such tactics. The liberal media, leftist mimics that they are, piled on in print, network and cable television news shows.

So what was the principle? It was simply that to use such measures was inhumane and did not reflect the essence of American law and morality. Perhaps the Geneva Convention was tossed in as another standard that forbade such methods, with that document referring to the treatment of prisoners of war.

However, the Obama administration informed us that these were criminals entitled to the same rights as you and I as Americans. So if they were not enemy combatants, did such provisions for their treatment still apply?

Prior to that, we had the Abu Ghraib prison controversy in Iraq, whereby American guards took photos of prisoners in bizarre positions, some in their undergarments or intimating sexual acts, and subjected them to other activities that were seen as demeaning.

To the Democratic left and their media supporters, this was another example of the horrors brought upon the innocent by Bush and Dick Cheney. A great scandal.

Of course, the enemy beheaded American citizens while they were still alive and videotaped it.  OK, it wasn’t as awful as pictures of people in their underwear taken by those horrid Americans. Still….

There was much hand wringing and finger-pointing in America because of these prison events. Bush and Cheney were guilty of great evils.

In fact, in the first Obama administration, under the Department of Justice headed by the radical leftist Eric Holder, reviews were initiated to prosecute Bush administration officials, though these initiatives eventually fizzled out.

They did manage to destroy the legal career of Cheney aide, Scooter Libby, for “outing” a CIA employee, Valerie Plame. As it turned out, everyone knew she worked for the CIA. Furthermore, she was not an operations agent, and her role was innocuous. Her husband, a well-placed Democratic lawyer in DC, was also part of the outraged leftist gang that successfully went after Libby.

And now? Again, in the search for that rarest of gems, principle, here is what is happening today.

This administration has created a memo that essentially gives the president and his designate, in this case DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, the power to kill any American citizen thought to be involved with terrorist activities.

This includes no due process, such as a right to trial, representation and all the other legal protections afforded to any American citizen, either in civil or military courts, by the Constitution.

The issue is the use of drones to kill suspected or confirmed terrorist operators such as Anwar Al-Alaki. He was an American citizen and radical Islamist tied to attempted terrorist attacks in the US. American drones killed him in Yemen.

In the  current program, the president shall appoint an overseer for such hits. In this case, they have proposed Napolitanto, she of the open borders policy for “protecting the homeland.” Such an action against a citizen will require no Congressional oversight or judicial review before they are attacked.

For those of us paying attention, it is clear that Obama is an Imperial President, probably our first, who has little regard for the people’s Congress, except as an object of blame. He has insulted the US Supreme Court Justices in a State of the Union speech.

By the way, did you know that his last State of the Union speech was geared to a seventh grade education? In fact, you can watch another this coming Tuesday, February 12. Hope we can understand it.

He has overridden the law on a number of occasions, using Executive Authority to do so in areas that had no such precedent. With a few exceptions, the media does not report this, let alone challenge it. Too busy swooning. Wonder what his favorite color is?

Let us not forget that a recent study of 18 – 29 year olds found that only 26% knew there were three branches of government. Let’s face it, this is an easy group to manipulate while abrogating many of the provisions of the US Constitution.

So, where are the voices from the left condemning the capricious murder of American citizens? None. Silent. The same ones, including our new Secretary of State, John Kerry, that blasted Bush/Cheney for waterboarding and Abu Ghraib, are nowhere to be heard.

Where is the principle here? Who stands on principle? Are we forever left to watch the Republicans bash the Democrats and vice versa? Is the principle anything goes if it can be used for political gain and power?

Do we stand for humane treatment of our enemies or not? Can we agree on what is humane treatment? Or can we agree that we should do whatever it takes anytime-anyplace to protect the American people? (a personal favorite)

Can we agree on what to call the Fort Hood massacre by the Islamic fascist psychiatrist? Is it, as the Obama administration has labeled it, an “act of workplace violence?”

Or is it a terrorist act? Since the killer yelled “Allah Hu Akbar” (god is great)while shooting innocent soldiers and civilians, could that be a clue? Is there a sensible principle here? Or is it more Crazy Logic?

And so it is almost impossible to assign credibility to many politicians running America. We have a president who lies with impunity. Most media do not bother to point this out or confront it. But some do, and they of course are blamed by the politicians.  You know, shoot the messenger.

” We’re not lying, it’s Fox News! Let’s shut it down! Who needs that pesky first amendment!” Said the tolerant and caring liberal, lover of all things diverse but thought and speech.

It is quite remarkable, in spite of facts to the contrary,  how credible the president is to a majority of voters and media. He has systematically broken  promises made as a candidate and as president. This pattern is quite remarkable, and even for lying politicians, Obama stands out. Very smooth and practiced.

For our own good, of course…

This is a current example of the Obama administration’s disregard for Federal law. The area is illegal aliens and enforcement of the law by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents in the field.

We know that Federal laws require the prosecution of illegals that break into our country or exceed work or educational visa limits. We also know that these laws are not being enforced.

Therefore, some states like Arizona enacted their own law to authorize police to ask someone detained on another offense for proof of citizenship. Some of us know that Arizona was sued by the Obama/Holder Department of Justice. In fact, several states that enacted laws to protect their borders were sued by DOJ as well.

These lawsuits were brought even though Federal law, passed by the people’s Congress, requires enforcement similar to the laws passed by those states.

The states are being abused by 11 – 20 million illegals that drain educational, social service, correctional and health care resources provided though the efforts of working citizens who pay taxes.

Obama unilaterally declared that the offspring of illegals who met certain criteria were given a pathway to citizenship. Because, after all, it was “through no fault of their own” (a favorite liberal mantra) that they were here illegally in the US. And they were even declared to be “Dreamers.”

Of course over 20% of the prisoners in the entire US Correctional System are here illegally. You know, dreaming of breaking into our houses or worse.

Interesting side point. If you try to access FBI or State data on Hispanic crime rates, it is not available. Why? Because Hispanics are defined as an ” ethnicity and not a race.”

Guess where that data goes.  It is lumped together with white crime rates, thus inflating the official crime rates among Caucasians.

Then, the FBI and others compare these numbers to Blacks, Native Americans, Asians and other groups, essentially falsely inflating the rates of one group to minimize the discrepancy with other groups, and hide the rates among Hispanics.

Don’t you just love government logic and uncommon sense?

But back to ICE. In the first Obama term, primarily through word of mouth, ICE field agents were told not to arrest illegal aliens unless they had committed a crime. Of course, it is a crime to be here illegally, is it not?

Under these mandates, ICE could not have detained the 9/11 terrorists that murdered almost 3000 of our fellow citizens.

For the Obama gang, legal status simply doesn’t count. In fact recently, Rep. Conyers, a Michigan Democrat, declared that illegals were actually “New Americans who were out of status.” Do you get it? They are Americans, just like an American citizen born here, or someone who has legally gone through the immigration process and become a citizen.

Just like my relatives and maybe yours as well. Why bother to come here legally, like so many millions are trying to do right now?

However, these illegals are now “Americans,” says Conyers and most of his fellow Democrats. If I break into China, am I now Chinese? Or Costa Rican? Or Russian?

In fact, although the approval rating of Congress is somewhere between 9 – 14%, lower than a colonoscopy or a cockroach in one study, we the people re-elected 21/22 incumbent Senators and 353/373 of the incumbents in Congress. Obama now has an approval rating of 60%.

We have an effective unemployment rate that includes those who have stopped looking for work of over 11%.

Some say we get the government that we deserve.

In this early second Obama term, written policy from Janet Napolitano, DHS Secretary, and AG Eric Holder, now forbids ICE agents from arresting illegals. In fact, if they are criminals, they are only to be arrested if their crimes meet certain criteria, for example, three or more misdemeanors. Some criminals are OK.

But Federal law says they must be arrested. Obama and his radical comrades have declared that law, like the Defense of Marriage Act, invalid and not to be enforced.

Now, several courageous and patriotic ICE agents are suing the Obama administration, claiming they are being forced to violate the law and are unable to do their jobs. It is our tax dollars, those of us who produce, that pay for these programs.

Anyone want to place bets on whether the agents keep their ICE jobs?

This scheme, like the catch phrase ” immigration reform,” is simply designed to increase the Democratic voter base.

Obama’s two primary goals are punishing the successful and wiping out the Republican opposition. He has already dismissed Congress and the Judiciary by making his own laws and invalidating those now on the books.

So, Crazy Logic.  It is clear that power is the only objective. Principle is to be spouted at campaign events. The more outraged and blaming, or smooth and soothing, the greater the effect on the clueless American voter, an ever expanding group today.

“He/she told them off but good!” “They’re no better than me!” “He/she seems so sincere.” “He/she really cares.” “He /she is my friend.”

Finally, let’s look at two tragic contemporary issues involving adolescents.

Today is the funeral of Chicago teen, Hadiya Pendleton, age 15. She was gunned down while talking with a group of friends a few blocks from her school. Hadiya had recently participated as a member of her school’s majorette team at the inauguration of Obama. That must have been a very proud moment for she and her family.

But in the murder capital of the US, Chicago, she was yet another of the almost 45 victims who have died this year. At her funeral, Michelle Obama will be attending. Mayor Rahm Emanuel has talked to the family. And Governor Patrick Quinn of Illinois will be there as well.

The president has not commented on this murder, or the fact that Chicago violence among minorities is out of control. He did not hesitate to comment in the Trayvon Martin case, when it was alleged that a white man had killed the teen. In fact, along with his racist Democratic colleagues, he quickly blamed the shooter.

But  no mention of Hadiya’s death or the slaughter of so many kids on the streets of Chicago. The politicos are all of a sudden very concerned, and will get their photo ops at Hadiya”s funeral. They will show us how”caring” they are.

They may pontificate about gun control, with no mention of the individuals that shoot the guns and commit the crimes.

The second example of blatant hypocrisy is the case of the Pakistani teen, Malalla Yousefzai. The 15-year-old was released from a UK hospital yesterday.

At age 14, Malalla was an advocate for access to education for girls in her country. The Taliban came on her school bus on the way home and shot her in the head. She was accused of promoting ” Western Thinking.” She called for a more liberal interpretation of the Islamic religion by the Taliban, notorious persecutors of women and girls.

For this, she went through intensive medical care, including a recent skull reconstruction. This was done because the swelling in her brain required removal of a portion of the skull. In addition, she received a cochlear implant to allow her to hear. The shooting apparently damaged the auditory nerve in the brain.

In addition, because bullets entered her brain, she has lost cognitive and other abilities. Now, a news story says she actually read a book. So, Malalla will be impaired for the rest of her life.

Where are the voices of the feminists like Hilary Clinton,  Susan Rice and the liberal Supreme Court Justices? Where is the voice of the president decrying such violence against girls and women in Middle Eastern countries? 

By the way, Hilary Clinton’s popularity is described as “soaring.” Where are the principled voters who know how to think? How about the Benghazi bungling and cover-up of the murder of four of our fellow citizens?

Such unprincipled politicos do not forcefully speak against these injustices. Where is the National Organization for Women (NOW), and their outrage? Have they any principle besides being abortion advocates? Are they pro-woman or not? Where is the voice of the First Lady, the Senators and House members?

Mawalla, courageous girl that she is, has vowed to keep fighting for girls’ access to education.

Where was the president’s voice when several million Iranians attempted to fight back against the fascist mullahs? Where was the outrage when the young Iranian girl lay dying in the streets of Tehran, gunned down by a government sniper? Where is the principle?

If you take an issue and ask yourself if the politician you are about to vote for has been consistent, you may be surprised. You may even awaken to their hypocrisy and lack of true principle if one gets past the phony blame distractions.

In fact, their principle might simply be gathering power, money, influence or whatever the prize of the moment might be. This will not sit well with you, especially if you drop your identification with a party.

Think as an independent and make your choices from that perspective.

As a friend said, ” I feel like we are living in a snow globe world that someone turned upside down, keeps shaking and will not stop.”

We can look for principled consistency and reject those corrupted by the system or lack of personal ethics. We can find other people who will stand their ground.

We can be freed from the Crazy Logic now running our country and our lives. We must first recognize it in order to formulate a plan of action. It is our country and our government. If we just keep doing the same dumb things, we will get the same dumb result.

Be informed. Be awake. Use your eyes and ears and mind to understand what is happening. Question your assumptions. Be a source of power and change for the better, for your principles. Stand up to the lying.

We owe it to ourselves and to those yet to come…

January 26, 2013

HIDDEN AGENDAS

Filed under: Psychology and Politics — psychpol @ 2:07 am

This just in: According to numerous pundits, the recent inaugural address of President Obama was revealing as to his progressive, leftist agenda. It was divisive, addressed classic liberal issues, and was seen by many as traditional and uninspiring rhetoric from the left.

Many felt that Obama had finally revealed who he was, a committed progressive and radical leftist.

This is amusing to those of us who identified him as a radical prior to the 2008 election. A few conservative pundits like Limbaugh, Savage and Hannity, as well as reformed progressives like former Ramparts magazine editor, David Horowitz, understood who Obama was. It was simply a matter of examining his background, his work as a community organizer, his church affiliation with a racist America hater and his associations with people who were the most radical, violent and divisive during the upheaval of the 1960’s.

On the other hand, most media thought he was a moderate, a unifier, a man who would transcend race and partisan politics. There were countless columns and TV appearances during his first term proclaiming that, like Bill Clinton, Obama would soon be moving to the political center as a moderate.

His personal charm convinced many that he was a unifier and a reasonable man who would lead us to new heights in America. He would bring us together!

For those of us familiar with radical left politics, socialist and communist thought, and the divisive tactics of Obama mentor, Saul Alinsky, the idea of him moving to the center was an absurdity. An impossibility. A joke.

In truth, most in the liberal media are in line with Obama’s radicalism. They protected him in 2008 and refused to examine his background. They have continued to protect him as a hallowed, historical figure. They are the essence of intellectual corruption, and are true enemies of our country.

Any conservative that runs against the progressive Democratic machine will have to attack the leftist media in order to have a chance to be fairly heard, let alone win on the national level.

But, now Obama is “revealed” as a radical leftist, a basic reality all along. He had been cleverly packaged as a moderate by professional liars like David Axelrod. A majority of the American people, hoping for a new way, tired of the old, bought into this and elected him in 2008. Hope! Change!

Many voted to endorse his agenda of “Transforming America” without realizing what it really meant.

In 2012, given his dismal record as President, the strategy shifted to more classic leftist tactics of hating the rich, namely the decent Mitt Romney. The campaign played upon the lurking emotion of hate within many voters. The Obama record was the fault of the rich, the successful (unless they were Democratic campaign contributors) and the intransigent Republicans in Congress. Wall Street, the Banks, Big Oil!

That was why Obama’s greatness was not realized in the first term.  Being such a great man, it must have been somebody else’s fault. Blame them, not the President.  Mitt bullied some kid as a teen, Ann Romney’s horse, her expensive jacket, his money, the dog on the roof, his religion, he doesn’t relate, an unfair playing field! Oh the injustice of it all! Y’all back in chains!

And this strategy worked for over 51% of the voters who kept him in office, despite one of the worst economic records in history, including a high unemployment rate. Hate works, especially for the low information voter (a growing segment) and the dedicated partisan. Facts do not matter to them.

So, why hasn’t Obama been up front about his real agenda? After all, he has touted transparency as a key virtue of his reign. Oddly, this virtue of transparency is irrelevant for matters such as Benghazi as this week’s Clinton testimony showed. More lies from the gang  now running America.

The video, it was the video all along! Obama has destroyed the terrorists! But the election is approaching and the shame of Benghazi must be covered up. No question, the video!

What is Obama’s real agenda, partially revealed in the inauguration speech? How is he intending, as he promised,  to “transform” our country?

One must understand his fundamental beliefs about America to comprehend the scope of Obama’s leftist agenda.

The first is that America was unjustly created by white male slave masters. Blacks were exploited for the purpose of whites securing and preserving wealth through land and crops. The Constitution itself discriminated against one group for the benefit of the powerful.

To Obama, this never stopped. It is the wealthy that exploits the middle class, but especially poor minorities who are seen as helpless victims.  The game is rigged to benefit those with assets, especially if they are white people. Black wealth is somehow a righteous triumph over the ongoing oppression of the majority.

By virtue of its existence, America is unjust and corrupt at its core.

Another key element of Obama progressive doctrine defines America as an imperialist nation. It will use military might and wealth to conquer less capable countries, exploit their resources and keep them subservient to American power. This, along with the actions of other Western European colonialists, explains the backwardness of many third world nations in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. The inevitable corruption of America’s wealth is to seek expansion by subjugating others.

When Obama talks about ‘the 99%,” he is referring to the world, not just the US. Of course, he is not transparent about this messianic intention to support the world.

Those who saw the movie, ” 2016: Obama’s America” from Dinesh D’Souza, understand the historical origins of Obama’s fundamental hatred of the country he now leads.

For any human being, examining their past in terms of family and culture may reveal trends that translate into one’s adult life. Such information often predicts an individual’s life choices in adulthood.

Obama grew up an America hater, first with the influence of his mother and in fantasy via his Nigerian Muslim father who abandoned him. The maternal grandparents were active in the Communist Party. Obama’s stepfather, an Indonesian Muslim, was originally anti-American, with this a requirement for his mother, Stanley Ann.

In fact, Obama attended a madrasa, a Muslim school, as a child in Indonesia. These schools feature educating children to hate America and Israel in particular.

When the stepfather began changing his views in the direction of favorability toward America, Obama’s mother sent him to live with his grandparents in Hawaii. There, he was mentored by noted Communist Franklin Marshall Davis and attended an anti-American school that stressed themes of unjust foreign occupation of the Pacific Islands.

Obama’s anti-American roots are deep and strong, and these were only reinforced by his radical activities as a student and young adult. By the way, his closest advisor, Valerie Jarrett, often described as “the other half of Obama’s brain,”  also grew up overseas and was not Americanized as a child.

To keep the phony moderate image going, Obama will spout platitudes about our “wonderful capitalist system.”  Like all leftists, he of course hates it. Thus business is an enemy as is success.

The belief is that the accumulation of wealth is a corrupt and unjust activity, having occurred “on the backs of the poor and middle class.” You can not be successful without having exploited someone else. It is a kind of economic original sin.

This of course explains the never-ending pounding of business, Wall Street, banks, big oil, doctors, investors and other groups of offenders. As a consummate hypocrite, Obama will gladly take their campaign dollars. But for the edification of the voters, these are the enemy. Blame them for your life.

In this logic,” it stands to reason that individual effort and success are corrupt. Therefore, all should collectively share in the bounty of another’s achievements. The redistribution of wealth is a core Obama principle. This is facilitated by enraging the voters and pushing “fair share” tax the rich policies.  The idea is that if your life is not a success, it is because there wasn’t a “level playing field.” Someone didn’t give you a chance or they rigged the game.

How, you might ask, did Obama become so successful if these things are true?

The racial component of this version of class warfare is quite clear, since Obama believes that whites constitute the primary force of exploitation.

This bigotry is evident in the actions of his racist Attorney General, Eric Holder, who refuses to bring cases of blacks violating white voter rights to the courts. Ora case in Richmond, Virginia of blacks assaulting two white newspaper reporters.

The Democratic party today is simply an extension of these radical leftist ideas, and supports such an agenda without question. Thus, we see appointments across the board of dedicated, Obama style leftists, or ambitious politicians reluctant to confront his disproven ideology.

Since the wealthy and successful have either been “fortunate” (a favorite liberal code word for dismissing success) or have in fact exploited others, there must be victims. Favorite victim groups are Blacks and Hispanics. Their low educational levels, as well as high illegitimate birth rates, social dysfunction and crime rates are not the fault of the individual. It is an unjust society that has produced their actions.

You know the favorite Democrat phrase, “through no fault of their own.” How about you? Who caused your life?

We are told to “embrace cultural diversity” as if all of us are not Americans first. Make a list of cities and towns in America whose quality of life has improved because cultural diversity was “embraced.” Those who detract from the peace and security of innocent citizens and damage our communities must be called into account, not ignored or anointed as “special victims.”

Therefore, it is the responsibility of the working populace (106 million today), via taxing  mechanisms, to support the unproductive (50% on entitlement programs today), offer services and expand social programs. Like current gun control proposals, whether such programs work or not really doesn’t matter. It is socially just and that is reason enough.

Economically, it is only true economic justice if we work for the benefit of those who do not. We have never had such a huge population receiving entitlements in our country. This does not bother Obama in the least because it is his agenda. That is why he fails to speak to this as a problem in need of reform.

The more others work to support those who do not, the greater the correction of the fundamental corruption that is America by virtue of her very existence.

Obama despises capitalism as basically unfair and immoral. As multi-millionaire Obama has said, ” how much money do you need?” Some of us have replied, ” it is none of your business.”

But for radicals like Obama, everything is their business. Since they see themselves as morally superior and “caring,” it is they who know what is good for us. Thus, Obama wishes to take over health care, mandate whether we should have guns, “fix” problems ranging from obesity to climate change and decide how much is too much. For you and me. Not him and his supporters in the permanent political ruling class.

Like many liberals, Obama sees insurgent Muslims as natural allies, just like former VP Gore who sold his failing media network to the anti-American Al-Jazeera networks. Gore declined the purchase offer of a conservative American because “their views were not compatible.”

 In the case of the Palestinians, they are justly attempting to overthrow their Israeli “oppressors.” Any resistance movement of “the people” is valued and must be recognized. But Iran and its 2 million young people in the streets apparently did not count since Obama failed to utter one word of support.

Such inconsistency has been at the core of Obama and Secretary Clinton’s foreign policy initiatives. Now, Obama courts the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. They have vowed to destroy the State of Israel as a tenet of their Charter.

Like some radical blacks, Obama is contemptuous of Israel and the Jewish people, unless they are blind enough to vote for him. Look at his snubbing of Netanyahu. Look at the F-16 fighter jets and tanks now on the way to Egypt. Who do you think will eventually be attacked with those weapons?

As a Muslim sympathizer, such enemies of Israel are his preferred allies. What has he done to advance the peace process? When was the last time an American president suggested that Israel return to pre 1967 borders,  a recipe for their annihilation? When has an American President so consistently sided with an enemy of Israel, even when the Israelis were under attack from enemy rockets? Answer: Never.

Recall that great liberal, Jesse Jackson, and his comment about “Hymietown” when referring to New York City. Or the head of the American Black Muslims, Louis Farrakhan, renowned hater of Jews and whites. Such contempt is justified since these groups have “exploited” the black community, helpless that it is to direct its own fate. Who is responsible for the suffering of so many?

Since Obama regards the American economy as corrupt, and the “needs” of the poor in particular as righteous and just, continuing to spend the country into a depression is not a problem. In fact, it may be morally deserved.

If such a crisis occurred, wouldn’t we want Obama at the helm, especially since he could blame the problem on someone else?

That is why he never addresses the deficit or debt issues unless it is to blame Republicans. You know, “you ran up those bills, now pay for them!” It is also why he wants unlimited control of the debt ceiling. It explains why his budgets are a joke that have not even gathered a single Democratic vote in the Senate or House for the last 3 budgets.

Remember, the 99% means the world, not just the US. How much of your hard-earned dollars do we now send to America’s enemies who are Obama’s effective allies? Would you do it if you had decision-making power?

And so our leader does not really like the country that he leads. Oh, he likes the benefits, the crowds, the adulation. In fact, given his specialness (he said he was the 4th greatest president in history…give him a few more years) we should be glad to have his great wisdom at the helm. We shouldn’t criticize such a great man.

In fact, dissenters not welcome! You will be mocked! MSNBC, CNN, Letterman, Stewart and the Obama media await!

But he hates to govern. In fact, his campaign organization has been turned into a permanent lobbying force for his socialist agenda. As of today, he is off to give campaign style speeches as to why we should embrace his agenda. Cheering crowds of the clueless will adore him!

If you resent being bashed, that is your problem. You must reform and realize your basic corruption. Yes, you worked hard and gave it your best. But, “you didn’t build it,” and are part of the problem.

Don’t you see it is the Republicans, the wealthy, the Tea Party, those who don’t pay their fair share, those who love their country, those who dare to criticize and all the other foes of “the people” who are at fault?

Obama, the economist who never held a competitive job, tells us that prosperity “comes from the middle class.” No need to explain that one. Its intended effect is to anger us at the moneyed class.

Any respected economist realizes it is an absurd idea as a way to create economic improvement, unless the middle class becomes entrepreneurial, a desirable state in a capitalist economy. But why should we if Obama’s big government “takes care” of us?

So, we are told that Obama is coming clean with some of his agenda. Many of us knew who this guy was all along. The liberal media will continue to fawn over him and ignore his radicalism. They are a large part of the problem.

The political effort by the Democrats will be the destruction of the Republican Party. Illegal aliens who now exploit our goodwill and tax dollars (23% of all prisoners are illegals…such dreamers) will be granted amnesty and will become Democratic voters. The increasing cluelessness of many Americans will facilitate a demagogue like Obama, Clinton or whoever is next in line. And the people will become increasingly numb and disengaged.

To the point, what is new with the Kardashians? Or, how many branches of government are there? A recent study of 18 – 29 year olds found that only 26% knew the answer. Perfect for Obama’s model of government by Imperial Presidency.

Or maybe not. Perhaps we will begin to wake up and understand that liberty is our right and revolutionaries like Obama and his cadres are the enemies of freedom and cannot steal it.

Perhaps we will claim our innate power as citizens of a proud Republic. Perhaps the average voter will see what the con has been and opt for something truer to their values and the truth itself.

Perhaps we will awaken and dump politicians who wish to exploit us and control our lives for their own gain.

What will it take for us? How much pain will we accept? How many lies?

Today is the starting point once again. There is no time like the present to begin awakening to what is happening in our beloved land, and to stand firmly for truth, real change and the heart of American values…

January 12, 2013

WHAT IS SELF-ESTEEM?

Filed under: Psychology and Politics — psychpol @ 8:14 pm

Self-esteem is a concept that is frequently mentioned in popular media, schools and discussions that we have with one another. Many of us wonder about our self-esteem. Is it what it should be or could be? We have learned that positive self-esteem is a desirable thing, and negative self-esteem may explain our actions and those of other people.

Such as when we conclude that  the reason someone made a choice is because of their self-esteem. Or, my child seems to have low self-esteem. What can I do to help? Where did it come from?

Let’s try to understand how this thing called self-esteem originates and develops.

When a baby is born, it brings certain tendencies as a result of genetics and  biology. For example, some infants are quite adventuresome and others seem shy. This is a matter of temperament, and early observation of that child often predicts later personality development.

For example, “she was very outgoing as a baby,” or ” he was always kind of quiet and inward.”

Some children are born with a genetic configuration that predisposes them to behavioral disorders. We are learning that genetic makeup will also predict a variety of medical disorders. These usually involve the expression of a combination of genes that activate the disorder and are difficult to turn off.

So, our DNA is programmed to produce particular characteristics for some of us. In other cases, it appears that genetics and environment must interact to produce certain outcomes, such as the realization of maximum potential for a child or a particular disorder.

As the child is exposed to the environment, a number of critical things occur. First, if the environment is responsive to the child’s needs, a basic sense of trust will develop. For example, “when I feel sensory discomfort from hunger and cry, someone responds to reduce my uncomfortable state.”

The child is exposed to a very large number of such events. Some babies do not receive a comforting response from the environment. They may hear anger, feel touched roughly or be ignored by the caretaker. They may be stuck with prolonged distress because their needs are not being met. They may develop an early sense of deprivation and mistrust regarding the goodness of the environment around them.

This stage corresponds to the development of what is called “primary narcissism.’  This is an early imprinted state whereby the child has a positive perception or feeling about themselves as beings in the world. It is a kind of “I’m OK” conclusion reached by the child about their basic worth.

As the child develops, they encounter other challenges as well. For example, it is natural for a child to seek autonomy, that is, independent action. The child strives to modify their environment as a result of an innate curiosity and desire for mastery. They manipulate objects and engage in early problem solving behaviors.

It turns out that the child must engage in these behaviors because brain development mandates it. Even for infants, there is a kind of dance via reciprocal movement with the caretaker. Mother’s voice produces particular movements of arms, legs, head and trunk. Those movements in fact strengthen certain motor centers and connections in the brain.

We are learning, through neuroimaging research, that the child’s brain connections develops in distinct stages. Specific brain areas became “hooked up” and activated and the child engages in corresponding behaviors to facilitate this. 

Examples would be moving into a pre-language stage with fundamental sound elements (“Ba, Da”), or classifying objects within a conceptual category by placing all the dolls and soldiers in their own piles.

Although genetics will determine things such as eye color, these forces also shape intelligence and other cognitive factors. The environment can either facilitate or suppress the child’s potential. This is a matter of positive intention and parenting ability.

Parenting ability will also manifest in areas such as nutritional choices for the child, exposure to violent events or imagery at an early age, protection from worldly harm, or parental comfort as the child develops an independent relationship with their environment.

So the child has developed a kind of unconscious self-valuation on the basis of how the environment has responded to their natural needs.

Around age seven, the child fully develops an internal voice that evaluates self and other. For example, “I am being good,” or “that person is mean.” This capacity for self-evaluation is not present in younger kids.

A child will learn what makes a caretaker happy or angry, and will activate or suppress those behaviors if able. But to objectify themselves, as in “I feel or think this” or “I do this because” is a neuropsychological impossibility for the preschool age child.

When we ask” why did you do this” and the child says “I don’t know”, they are absolutely telling the truth.  Most kids are unable to offer a logical explanation for their actions that may violate familial norms. 

Kids with a neurological disorder such as Attention Deficit Disorder Hyperactive Type (ADHD) may not be able to suppress particular annoying or disruptive behaviors. So, they tend to receive frequent negative input from the interpersonal environment.

But at around age seven, the age of reason in the Catholic Church, an area of the brain known as the frontal lobes begins to function more fully for most kids. This region involves planning, sequencing and other higher cognitive functions. One key function is self-evaluation. Here, the child is able to make judgements about their own actions, as well as their general value.

There comes into existence a “Me” that acts and an “I” that simultaneously observes personal actions. Here, the child may be able to inform the caretaker as to their reasons for doing a particular action. This is salient in most kids who are pre-adolescent.

The content of these judgements is largely determined by how the child was treated historically and how the environment responds now. For example, “I am bad because people are mad at me,” or “I am good because others love and comfort me” or “this always makes them mad at me.”

The child, like we all do, will talk to themselves about their worth as it relates to the world around them. This self talk is simply a form of thinking and self-evaluation.

If a child has been treated poorly early in life, they may develop a secondary narcissism, with this a self-focus that never quite seems to satisfy a sense of internal lacking and deficit. Such individuals tend to focus on themselves, talk about themselves and show little interest in their fellow human beings, except as audiences for their self preoccupation. In its extreme form, this represents a personality disorder that pervades one’s entire life.

There is a kind of epidemic of this problem in contemporary American society, including leaders and celebrities who manifest this quality of self preoccupation.

Children exposed to chaotic environments at early ages tend to develop a very negative definition of both themselves and the world. For example, that child may learn that “you can’t trust anyone,” or “get what you can while you can” or “love and pain always go together so the more I love someone, the more it will hurt me.”

As we progress through the school years, we tend to compare ourselves with peers. They may seem smarter, more popular, prettier or more athletic than us. We may evaluate ourselves negatively in comparison, or we may embrace  our value as it relates to our unique personal abilities and successes.

For example, to choose two common situations,  “I am not a football star or a homecoming queen,” but “I am good at grades, friends, scouts, loyalty, listening, caring, chess, science, poetry” or whatever it may be. Thus, one’s self-worth is not solely determined by social position and comparison with others.

Most kids go through this struggle. The exception seems to be particularly inner-directed kids who are quite focused in their lives. It is as if they already have some understanding of where they are headed in the future.

Someone made a simple but interesting observation that there are “two types of people, those who know and those seek.”  Some kids are on track very early and others search for their place in the world, often for years.

It also turns out that if we are burdened with negative self-esteem, chances are that our environment hurt us as kids. We may have been treated unfairly, even physically and emotionally abused, and our initial natural reaction was to fight back. But, given the obvious size and power difference, we directed our anger at ourselves. We learned to blame us and to feel bad about ourselves, when we really wanted to strike out at the tormentor.

They were big and we were small and we saw the difference very quickly. We may have also learned to hide aspects of ourselves, and these become a source of anxiety as we develop. For example, someone who is very placating may have trouble being assertive, even when any reasonable person would do so. They feel the internal anger or dissatisfaction but are unable to directly express it.

The same is true with sexual feelings in our culture. One feels them but does not know how to be comfortable with their biology, since many received early messages about the “badness” of such feelings.

This dynamic can set the stage for problems with conflict, depression and anxiety in adulthood. Learned patterns that we observed growing up may condition us to act the same way.

For example, “my parent was a depressed alcohol abuser and I seem to have the same tendencies,” or  “my parent was angry with us kids a lot and I find myself doing the same thing.”

Or, “my parent would punish me and then show love and affection, and I seem to choose relationships where that same thing happens over and over again.”

These examples of negative self-esteem represent early learning repeated, as if we are asleep, without awareness or choice. These patterns can be unlearned, and that is one of the purposes of therapy. They may be unconscious and tucked away in our brains. These too can be accessed and we can develop new ways of behaving in the world.

So, if a parent is stressed, one doesn’t have to act persecuted and irritable with their kids like mom or dad did.  Regular life brings enough challenges without repeating what we learned as little sponges in childhood. Someone else’s distant solutions to our problems today often makes matters worse.

For those subjected to severe abuse, learning a new way of giving oneself a fair evaluation and being constructive in life may take more deliberate work. Some can accomplish this, while others may not because the damage is too ingrained and likely to be repeated.

So, the parent is indeed father or mother to the man or woman as life evolves.

Our actions will reflect our self-esteem. If we value ourselves, we tend to make choices that promote happiness and fulfillment. We feel good in the present moment.

If we do not, we tend to make choices that produce conflict and unhappiness. For example, some individuals may seek abusive relationships with a measure of sexual excitement combined with emotional pain. Some mistakenly define this as “love.”

Or others may seek relationships that feature power and control over a person. This may produce a perverse satisfaction for the perpetrator, but a sense of being devalued for the victim.

Depending on early learning in their family, a person may repeatedly seek a familiar side in this type of transaction (controller or controlled), causing short-term excitement but eventual disappointment in the emotional outcome.

These patterns might be seen as reflective of poor self-esteem, and were probably learned by watching the adults in one’s childhood.

Would you sign up for your parents’ class in how to be married or how to raise a child? Bless them, but most of us would not.

The young child in effect says “so that is what love is – it hurts” or “that is how men treat women” or “pain and love are always mixed together.” Then, we simply act those patterns out, to our dissatisfaction and bewilderment as adults.

Some of us will take the absolute opposite position, in effect saying “I will never be like them in my life.” This position of determined decision-making is a reflection of personal resilience and ability to see alternatives to one’s early experience as a vulnerable child. 

When this happens, the child has often known a different adult role model. This typically involves a relative, neighbor, coach, teacher, friend’s family, member of the clergy, grandparent or health care professional who offers the child or adolescent a model for a different type of life.

The person says to themselves. “wait a minute, there is a better way and it looks like it would be a happier alternative to what I learned.”

Sometimes, religious belief systems can help one compensate for negative early experiences, thereby not repeating them. Or if the pain becomes too great, working with a competent mental health professional can help free one from self-defeating patterns.

So we might see self-esteem as having four primary components:

First, how do we evaluate and talk to ourselves about us?

Second, how do we behave in the world and does it promote happiness?

Third, do we treat fellow human beings as valuable and worthwhile entities?

Fourth, do we initiate and finish real world behaviors that involve success and accomplishment?

Regarding the latter, an unfortunate social trend today is to assume that everyone is valuable just because they showed up. While it is true that we all have intrinsic worth, not achieving anything real does not justify having positive self-esteem.

In schools, even given the difficult challenges of teaching, many educators may act like counselors whose job is not to educate but to repair a child’s poor self-image. It is understandable when the child’s pain is so apparent. 

While this is a noble intention, professionals may communicate that a child is valuable by virtue of being present. “You are wonderful just because you are you.”  This is a hollow gift devoid of real accomplishment.

We must learn to tie positive self-esteem to real world achievement.  Receiving a trophy for showing up or being on the losing team so you don’t “feel bad” is absurd. Part of trying harder is feeling uncomfortable and wanting to improve. That is a key motivator for progress in life.

Certain current political trends regarding entitlements, dependency on government and redistributing the fruits of the labor of others are another example of over-valuing those who produce little.

As this dynamic solidifies, people may become “deserving” and enraged if this demand is not met. Like an individual who expects the world to meet their needs because of their “specialness.”

So, the concept of self-esteem has been abused, with this disbursed by media folks who exploit a longing to feel better by cooing how great we are. True self-esteem derives from action.

If you are mishandling your life and feel bad about it, that is a good starting point. Give yourself a gift and use that realization to make positive changes.

If you are living a conflicted life, and you don’t make an attempt to improve, reconsider that decision. The next moment is a potential starting point. Always. Talk to a friend and ask for their genuine feedback about your choices.

Many in contemporary society disparage the idea of shame. But it is shame that can motivate us to improve. It is not to be ignored because in some cases it is well deserved. It is a signal to catch our attention.

If one feels ashamed at repeating a particular behavior that harms self or others, that can motivate the person to change it. Not always easy, but worth the effort. As is seeking help from a professional, clergy or trusted loved ones.

Socially, we are beset by individuals who publicly shame themselves, are celebrities and therefore are in the limelight.  They are well-known, might be wealthy and are adored by millions without the slightest idea who the real person might be. Some are even famous for being famous.

But, true positive self-esteem always involves actions of which we are proud, and improving the world around us, not simply parading in the bright lights and glitz of your “specialness.” 

So, these are some thoughts regarding the concept of personal self-esteem. Psychological researchers have tried to measure it, and there are some good scales that predict future behavior. The more positive or negative your view of yourself, the more likely that your choices will reflect that belief.

Some would say happiness is our absolute birthright. A nice idea, no? Some would say all the negative psychological gunk we carry is not truly ours. People from our early life dumped this on us, and we naturally absorbed it as kids, but as adults we can give it back and keep the good stuff.

It becomes a matter of getting rid of what you haven’t got. It never truly belonged to us. It was someone else’s problem and their confusion about who we truly were.

Positive self-esteem ideally derives from proper parenting, observable achievement, maximizing our unique potential and success in competitive environments. That is the nature of the world, and the sooner we learn this, the more prepared we and those we teach will be for the considerable challenges of tomorrow’s world.

January 5, 2013

POWER AND BLAME

Filed under: Psychology and Politics — psychpol @ 6:36 pm

Many would like to see a Federal government that is responsive to the real issues facing our country. Others do not really care unless something directly affects their personal life. Some us have the motivation and time to attend to what is happening politically, while others are simply too busy managing daily demands.

The one direct impact we can have on the political process is our vote. In the recent election, about 47% of eligible voters did not participate. That is a lot of people who could have impacted many elections at various levels. There were undoubtedly various reasons for this, although the largest surely involves apathy, and perhaps a sense of futility.

What is my vote going to do? Money runs the whole thing so what difference can I make?

Elections are really about the ownership of power in society. In theory, the winners provide a government of the people, for the people and by the people.

However, we have entered a new era of consolidation of power by an ideological cadre’, with their decisions influencing our daily lives. Such holders of power are becoming less and less responsive to the real needs of our country.

In this current phase, blame and anger are central mechanisms for dividing people, maintaining power and avoiding public or media scrutiny. We receive several daily doses of one group blaming another via various media outlets.

In fact, power has become an end in itself. Media handicaps who is up, who is down, who is winning and who is losing. The issues are addressed less and less. It is about who is outraged with whom. It is a kind of entertainment fueled by anger and blame.

Depending on the bias of the media outlet, inferences are made about who is to blame and who is not. So, certain outlets blame the Democrats, while others blame the Republicans. Some try to provide fairly objective information about what is happening. Others simply attack the opposition around the clock.

Many of us have chosen our sides. This revolves around  “fairness” in our society regarding matters of wealth. In fact, the recent election was determined by this issue. The Democratic strategy was not to present new ideas. It was simply to stoke rage at the wealthy opponent. And it worked.

The Democratic campaign strategy was to ” Kill Romney”, not how to better the lives of real Americans or provide leadership to address our real problems.

With the recent Fiscal Cliff battle, the central issue for President Obama was taxing the wealthy. Here, ” millionaires and billionaires” were defined as making $200 thousand a year for an individual, or $250 thousand a year for a couple. That number was raised in the final deal to $400 and $450 thousand.

However, such wealthy persons are not literally “millionaires and billionaires.” This simple fact was not addressed by the left or liberal media. It was a blatant numerical lie. But, no matter. The purpose was to stir anger in order to solidify power and advance an agenda.

The publicly stated purpose of the left was to “protect the middle class.” As many will soon learn, the payroll tax holiday was ended, raising everyone’s paycheck taxes by 2%. The buzzword now is “revenue” and not taxes. And the government is “investing” our dollars, not just spending it.

This process of distraction and blame has become the central feature of government, and many of our fellow citizens. The government’s disdain for the American people is truly unprecedented and remarkable.

But, have you ever seen so many angry people in society? The examples are countless: athletes fighting during sporting events, people blaming those who think differently, liberals hating conservatives and vice versa, fans fighting in the stands, road rage, gang violence, rudeness, insolent kids, child abuse, proliferating lawsuits about trivial issues, someone is angry about who knows what, ” in your face ” behavioral styles, “getting real” which simply means angry, fighting about a Christmas tree, bizarre crimes and mass murders, a steady stream of violent imagery in our culture, angry hip hop or metal musicians.

Many people are offended, often about something trivial, and on and on.

Leading the charge are the politicians in Washington DC. They play a significant part in setting the public tone of blame in America.

Here are some interesting facts about our government. There are a total of 535 members in the Senate and the House. In the Senate, 60% are lawyers. In the House, 37.2% are lawyers. Of the 535 members of Congress, there are 81 Republican lawyers and 123 Democratic lawyers, This is by far the largest occupational group in Congress.

Other groups with representation include medical providers and real estate developers. The Democratic controlled Senate has the greatest proportion of true millionaires. The President is a multi–millionaire and a lawyer.

So, what do lawyers do? Well, many serve valuable social functions with respect to the pursuit of justice or the distribution of assets.  A central skill set is arguing and trying to prevail on behalf of, either one’s client, or, in the case of government, one’s position. In practice, some lawyers will settle an issue by seeking compromise. But for many, the objective is to discredit the opponent and win.

A recent study of occupations from the business school at Dartmouth University found that lawyers were the most conforming and least creative thinkers of any occupational group. Other studies have found them to be the most disillusioned of any occupational group, with this often occurring quite rapidly after graduating from law school.

Today, America has more young folks in law schools than in medical schools. America has 2/3 of the lawyers on the planet.

So, this group of professionals who are trained to argue  and assign blame is the most represented in our government. Thus, we have a government of conforming politicos who follow their party line and blame the other party for things not working.

In fact, the more a legislator has been elected, the more power they will have, and the greater the likelihood that they have been corrupted by the process in Washington DC. They may have started with noble principles, but these are likely to have been eroded over time for most.

The chief tone setter for the blame game appears to be the president, and many believe that his favorite targets are the successful in our society, business and the Republicans.

Currently, gun owners are also targets for the left. The left tells us that the cause of violence is gun ownership. Of course, right now, there are millions of guns not shooting anyone.

A gun harms no one unless there is a predator, mentally disturbed or irresponsible person firing it. In some cases adults have irresponsibly failed to protect children from access to guns.

Nonetheless, it is the blaming that matters, and the resulting pitting of people against one another, not an analysis of a very complex problem. But, hey, blame the NRA, blame the conservatives, blame the gun owners, publish their names, and many will feel angry, righteous and alive.

Perhaps you have seen the recent video of Hollywood liberals decrying guns, and their juxtaposed films blowing things up and shooting people with automatic weapons.

 The current administration of leftist radicals have their favorites as well, including big business, Wall Street, coal companies, big oil/pharma/banks, mining companies and other targets. The right has their targets too, usually the established Democratic leadership or non-productive citizens on entitlement programs like Food Stamps or AFDC.

One might passionately disagree with another’s position, and that is a good thing in a thriving republic. Being able to respect and hear the other is a basic requirement for any compromise to occur. Blame blocks that possibility and conflict resolution will be driven by time pressure, necessity and political gamesmanship, not reason and sensible solutions.

It may be that anger blocks the critical thinking centers in the frontal areas of our brains.

The truth is there are valid points to be analyzed beneath all this blaming. Why don’t we simply address those issues, for example, energy independence, environmental protection, civil commitment laws, preventive mental health, who our true enemies are, what works economically based on history and data? 

Answer: Because blame can make the people feel “right,” thereby supporting the power base of the status quo.

Many of us feel energized when we are angry. It may produce a sense of righteous purpose, not always the worst thing to experience, especially if it motivates action in service of principle. For some, it can be a source of being enlivened, perhaps something missing from parts of our work or intimate lives.

It is interesting to consider the work of Dr. Lawrence Kohlberg, a psychologist who studied the development of moral reasoning in children, adolescents and adults. He identified six stages of moral reasoning as a result of his empirical studies over many years.

Whereas broad developmental theories in psychology always have room to be critiqued in terms of methods, his research yielded some interesting ideas.

In the early stages of moral development, when fitting in with social conventions is irrelevant, a child will have a “what’s in it for me?” orientation to the world. The needs of others are inconsequential to that child. The child may make quid pro quo deals in their self-interest. “I will give you a cookie if you give me your bicycle.”

There is no concern with how the child will be perceived by others. It is an early moral stage characterized by “I-me-my” needs and wants. Normal for young kids.

In many ways, significant numbers of people have not moved beyond that early stage. 

This developmental deficit in moral reasoning occurs more frequently for those without a strong moral foundation derived from a religious belief system or philosophical position that values others. It is well-known that affiliation with religious organizations is lower than ever in modern America.

By contrast, in the prominent media culture,  celebrities, stars, and politicos may be stuck at that early level, modeling a narcissistic, “me first” approach to life.

And so, in government, we see a growing inability to compromise for the greater good. We see the greater good defined by one side or the other. Some emphasize a socialist collectivism, while others celebrate individuality and personal initiative. This is the battle now underway, a “dialogue” of closed minds unable to listen to ideas that could expand their ideological boundaries.

For those who are savvy on economics and the American economy, most observers realize there is big trouble ahead for us. However, polarized and blaming leftist leadership appears immune to issues such as huge debt that could bankrupt our country and devalue our currency.

Instead, leftist politicos blame the opposition while advocating for economic policies that have historically failed in other countries. Look at Southern Europe today, the stagnant economies and high rates of unemployment.

This ideological tunnel vision is setting the stage for class conflicts in America. The natural result of  The Blame Game is promoting attacks upon the opponents. Whether deliberate or not, this is the effective agenda of the current administration. It is a shameless exploitation of the base emotions of people.

It is a factor in the bizarre violence that we see in our society. It sets the table for a choice between restraint or acting out by the most disturbed and enraged among us.

It is classic socialist, class warfare strategy. Anyone familiar with ” people’s revolutions ” readily understands the mechanisms for stoking angry emotion as well as the dire consequences for all when true liberty is lost. It is the party chiefs, not the people, who always divide the spoils.

Nonetheless, in such social “transformations,”  it is the angry power of the people that overthrows the social order. The people serve as foils and unwitting tools for the political manipulators, ostensibly to gain security. That is the promised trade. We are approaching this kind of situation in America.

To return to the issue of guns, the US city with the highest murder rate is Chicago. In fact, it is on track for becoming the most violent city in the world. This is the president’s adopted hometown. Where are the Democratic voices on the social conditions that produce murderous psychopaths terrorizing neighborhoods?

Answer: Not to be heard. Poverty and violence are someone else’s fault.

Instead, we hear advocates for gun control, as if that was the only cause. But in fact, Chicago has one of the strictest gun control laws of any city. Eliminating  legal availability of guns may only harm potential victims, not remove  guns from the violent.

But there is little discussion as to who these perpetrators are, and what can be done to stem the rising tide of their rage. If called to account, someone might be offended, and this is more important than a horrendous social problem that takes lives and terrorizes innocent citizens trying to live in peace.

But, as a reflexive position, let’s blame the gun owners or the wealthy. They are the problem. It isn’t a ” level playing field ” or ” fair.” Take their unjust money, give it to others who are “deserving”. America is unjust socially and economically. The founders were corrupt men that had slaves. We are imperialists. The poor and middle class are exploited by the Big Banks. And on and on. Pick your favorite class enemy and blame them to avoid analyzing any complex issue in today’s America.

Tempting to blame your life on someone else, isn’t it? Many of us seek rationalizations for our sense of personal frustration. And a favorite is to blame someone else. And there can be some reality to that, for example, kids that are abused, impoverished backgrounds, domestic violence, parents abandoning their children, destructive schools, etc.

But it is now that we can make our choices once we claim our power. Now.

And as someone once said, “did you ever notice that every time your life doesn’t work, you happen to be there?”

So blame is the anger generating fuel espoused by our president and his party. It is designed to divide us, thus keeping us relatively ineffective as an empowered populace seeking a better life.

We must find a way to wake up and stop being emotionally manipulated. If you have a position, left or right, that is great. Now, let’s meet and find compromise and solutions to the problems facing us all.

But the opposite strategy drives our political leadership today, from the top down. These are ideological fanatics who poison any chance for constructive dialogue that informs the voters as to choices and consequences of policy.

So, we can reclaim our birthright of power by exercising something as simple as a vote. We can write, call or email or representatives.

We can stop being sucked in by con artists in Washington DC and their media advocates. We can talk to our friends and family, and try to educate ourselves about the issues of our time. We can stop being so angry with one another, open our minds, find common ground as Americans.

Many of us long for this kind of country. While there has always been battling politically, this is a new and dangerous low point. Many of us are fed up with the blame game in service of preserving those in power. We don’t want our leaders to act like small children fighting for a toy.

We can do better as adults demanding a sane society that is responsive to people, respecting individual liberties and acting collectively when needed.

Most of us are reasonable folks when push comes to shove.

Personal Note: A big thanks to the growing reader base of the psychpol blogs. Thanks for sharing these blog posts with others in your life. Let’s keep thinking, talking to one another and being involved with our world.  It’s the only one we’ve got!

December 29, 2012

OBAMA’S TRIFECTA

Filed under: Psychology and Politics — psychpol @ 2:30 pm

We have been hearing the term ” Fiscal Cliff ” for many weeks. Some understand the implications, but many do not. In spite of endless political posturing, and biased media reporting, the limiting factor in resolving the crisis is President Obama. If he wants a solution, the Democrats will march in lockstep to support it.

On the other hand, the Republicans have proposed a number of alternatives to resolve the issues. None has been taken up by the Senate. And Obama has not responded in a meaningful way to Republican proposals.

His campaign promises to ” work across the aisle ” were of course a con to appease hopeful voters. So many of us are disgusted with partisan fighting in Washington. But, like most ideologues, Obama has not shown any inclinations in his first term for compromise.

Here is an anecdote from Bob Woodward’s recent book describing the ” Grand Bargain” negotiations of last year to ” fix the Fiscal Cliff:”

Representative Boehner (Ohio – R): “I am willing to accept $800 billion in tax increases. What do I get in return?

President Obama (D): “You get nothing. I get that for free.”

To add to the mess, the current gridlocked Congress has passed the fewest number of new laws since 1947. They have passed less than one half of the lowest total any of the previous 65 years.

Dysfunction is too mild a word, though many believe the more gridlocked a government, the better for the people. They will do less to meddle in our lives.

Regulations from the Obama administration, which do not require Congressional vote, are pouring out in record numbers. In the last 90 days, 900 new ones have been issued. So, we the people are still a target.

On the Fiscal Cliff, lots of numbers get tossed around. Here are a few:

Republicans have currently agreed to a tax increase of $800 billion over ten years on upper income citizens. They agreed on  eliminating certain tax loopholes, thus generating a total of $1.8 trillion in revenue for the government. They proposed that tax increases should be for those making $500 thousand or $1 million per year, depending on the latest proposal.

Obama said he wanted $1.8 trillion in new spending authorizations, the tax increases and no limit to the debt ceiling.  The President could spend as much as he wished. Like a giant government check, except you put in the number and then sign it.

Obama’s tax increases would affect single persons making $200 thousand or a couple making $250 thousand per year. He also wants extended unemployment benefits.

The Republicans demanded a decrease in government spending, citing an annual deficit of $1.3 trillion and a growing debt of $16.4 trillion.

Obama said that money would be saved or “cut” from the budget because of the wars ending. He offered nothing in terms of cutting existing government spending, in spite of his campaign promise of a ” balanced ” approach to fiscal management.

So, that is like saying you will save $65 thousand this year because you aren’t buying that Mercedes you had been thinking about. Make sense? Of course not. If you wanted to save money, you would reduce current expenditures. You would simply stop spending so much.

But this simple logic does not work in the world of leftist radicals like Obama and the gang. Makes too much common sense. Bad for political agendas.

And let’s not forget that the US Senate has not produced a budget in almost 4 years. They are ” required ” by law to produce an annual budget. But it appears that leftist Democrats would rather wait for Republican proposals and then shoot them down, like the Paul Ryan (R) budget. They offer nothing positive.

Senator Patty Murray (Washington – D) has publicly stated that she wants to be Chair of the Senate Budget Committee. She hastened to add that she could not guarantee there would be a budget. No kidding. Another great Democratic ” leader” waiting in the wings.

As of Friday afternoon, there was talk of a “mini-deal” and the ” leaders ” of our government met at the White House. The stock market, hanging onto hope for any kind of deal, again tanked on Friday. Dow Futures are down 226 points as of today, Saturday.

Can’t be good news if you have a retirement plan or own any stocks or bonds or other assets. Or participate in a managed pension plan for teachers, police and firefighters that has invested in the markets. Which they all do.

Oh, by the way, Obama plans on increasing your long-term capital gains tax on non-sheltered investment income from $15% to 39%.

Hey, seniors, depend on that money to live on? No problem. Obama and the Democrats really “care “about you, don’t you think?

This just in: Never mind. The ” leaders ” just walked out of the White House on Friday and no one said a word. Could it have been the flexibility shown by Obama, Biden, Reid, Pelosi and Geithner? They have shown virtually none regarding the issues at hand.

Sorry America. Just blame it on the Republicans and their rich friends, as mainstream media is now doing.

The President later stated that he ” was moderately hopeful  that something would get done.”

So after much ” negotiating,” it must be those ” uncaring ” Republicans who want the people to have as much of their money as possible. After all, the people worked for it, right? Seems reasonable.

Well, why haven’t the parties reached an agreement in service of the people? After all, aren’t they OUR government servants. OUR representatives?

Well, as you may know, President Obama just returned from a taxpayer paid vacation to Hawaii. He was to return a day early, and his media cheerleaders trumpeted this stunning announcement.

But alas, Obama had to get another round of golf in,  and so returned to DC a day later. Supposedly, he was concerned about the Fiscal Cliff. Funny stuff, his “concern” for the middle class.

By the way, Obama has played 110 rounds of golf in less than four years. By contrast, George W. Bush, a favorite liberal hate target, played 23 rounds in 8 years. In fact, Bush quit playing golf because he felt it was not right, given the fact that we had troops in the field risking their lives on a daily basis.

Obama, the great leader who “cares” and “relates” and “connects” has no such issue with golf and the troops. He is, as they say, ” playing on.” He spends very little time  at Walter Reed Hospital visiting our wounded troops.

You know, busy schedule – golf, Hawaii, Letterman, Leno, Pimp with a Limp, vacations, blame the video, more speeches, campaign-like stops to support class warfare taxing of the rich and other crucial matters of state.

And there was that one time before the election that he went to New Jersey because he “cared” about the victims of Superstorm Sandy. Ask those who still have no power, housing or basic assistance how they feel about the Obama administration’s handling of their misery.

Then again, you can see it on television. Oops, the Obama media doesn’t report it. I mean, these victims aren’t as important as the Hurricane Katrina casualties, are they? In fact, wasn’t it George W. Bush who caused that Hurricane?

So, what does going over the Fiscal Cliff mean for all of us in real, daily life?

Well, it means higher taxes for everyone on January 1, 2013.

Let’s look at a single person or a married couple filing jointly. If you earn $20 – 30 thousand a year, you will pay an average extra $1064 in Federal income taxes. If you earn $50 – 75 thousand a year,  you will pay an extra $2399 in taxes. If you earn $100 – 200 thousand a year, you will pay an extra $6034 in income taxes. Right out of your paycheck.

Now Obama and the Democrats have told us that they really “care” about the middle class. Even though it was George Bush who reduced taxes for everyone, it is those rich Republicans who don’t care, right? So, if the Democrats care so much, why are they allowing taxes to go up for everyone?

By the way, this doesn’t even take into account the additional $268 billion in new taxes that activate on January 1 as a result of Obamacare and other taxes. The bulk of this will be borne by the lower and middle-income classes. And our seniors. So, get a hip replacement (if they let you) and you will pay a tax on this and any other medical device.

And there are lots of new regulations on the way that will raise the prices of food, fuel and other necessities. You know, so you can get to work and have the government take more money to give to someone who doesn’t produce.

What do you say, Democrats? Do you support these policies? Do you even get it or are you still blinded by ideology?

And, by the way, you can also pay extra income taxes anytime you wish. Even Warren Buffet, now fighting the IRS for $920 million in his unpaid taxes, or the wealthy Obama Hollywood supporters could voluntarily pay more. Right now. Today.

And so could the 36 people who work in the White House (where women make 18% less than their male counterparts) that owe $856 thousand in unpaid taxes. We commoners of course must pay OUR taxes.

So, with the Fiscal Cliff, Obama gets a tax increase on everyone. Therefore, as a  dedicated Marxist-Leninist, he can further expand the Federal government. And they, in turn, can further control our lives and redistribute your hard-earned dollars to “the needy.”

By the way, when he speaks of the 99%, he is referring to the WORLD. Wait until more of your money starts going to support third world countries. After all, you are part of the social and economic injustice that is America.

What else does Obama win by failing to provide leadership to resolve the Fiscal Cliff?

Well, he gets spending cuts on January 1, 2013, including $500 million taken from the Defense Budget. Any thinking person knows that liberals despise the American military, so this is also a win for the left. These cuts can also be blamed on the Congress and the sequestration process.

Other programs will be cut that do not represent any Democratic proposal to resolve the Fiscal Cliff. This includes over $700 billion taken from Medicare and put into the implementation of Obamacare.

This will enrage many people, but blame will be placed on the Republicans by the administration and their media pals. More Democratic votes in 2014.

Lastly, Obama wins the liberal’s favorite pastime, The Blame Game. Since he hates Republicans, like any good liberal, his aim is to destroy that party in time for the midterm elections.

So, he has artfully split the Republican Party into the moderate and hard right (no new taxes) factions. By insisting on a tax increase on the discredited wealthy, he has forced the Republican hand because their leadership has agreed to a tax increase, a violation of conservative principles. This will not play well with conservative voters.

The goal is to cripple the opposition party, and by pushing for amnesty for the millions of illegal aliens who have broken into our country, the dream of a permanent Democratic majority is well on its way.

After all, as the Obama lap-dog media on NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, CNBC, MSNBC, etc. has repeatedly ” reported, ”  it is the Republicans’ fault that there is no deal. The perennial ” Party of No.”

Many American people, becoming more self-absorbed and less informed every year, tend to agree with this view. Many others are simply oblivious.

Because the narrative is all that motivates Republicans is not taxing “millionaires and billionaires” who liberals despise. This disdain for conservatives and wealth simply reflects the long-held view of their leader, the community organizer and anti-American radical.

Four more years…

By the way, in Obama math, if you make $200 thousand a year as a single person, or $250 thousand a year for couples filing  jointly, you are now a Obama “millionaire!” Congratulations!

So the trifecta of not having a meaningful Fiscal Cliff deal is:

1.  Obama gets more of everyone’s money to spend. Bigger government.

2.  Spending cuts occur with disfavored budget items like defense.

3.  Obama and his Congressional pawns like Reid and Pelosi get to blame  Republicans for the entire mess and retake the House in 2014 .          

And the Obama fawning media will broadcast this stuff over and over until the least informed among us believe it.

Truth, who needs it?

The key item off the table for Obama and the Democrats is spending. Right now, for every $1 of tax collected by the Federal government, it spends $2.06. The $1.06 is borrowed money.

We spend about $9.6 billion per day to run the government. Of that, $3 billion is spent by Health and Human Services which administers programs like Medicaid, Aid For Dependent Children (welfare) and Obamacare, among many others.

The Department of Defense spends $1.8 billion per day, ostensibly to protect the American people. The Department of Homeland Security, also charged with our protection, is part of another budget classification.

The $80 billion per year tax the rich increase, the centerpiece of Obama’s presidential campaign, will run the government for about 8 1/2 days. So it is a mere drop in the ocean of government spending.

But to the class warrior, it is imperative to punish the wealthy and confiscate their unjust dollars.  Our multi-millionaire champion, Barack Obama, and his multi-millionaire cronies, Reid, Pelosi and others, will show those Republicans who REALLY cares about the middle class and the poor by punishing the successful.

After all, ” you didn’t build that.” We did!

VP Biden (D) and his wife donated $395 dollars to charity in the most recent tax year. Really caring, compassionate and everything!

So, this is one person’s opinion on the issues discussed here.

For those of us who do not like the current situation or the immediate future for our country, what to do?

Well, we learned that even with a terrible economic record, hate wins elections. You can demonize the opponent, slander them, lie about their record, hide your radicalism, say what reasonable people are hoping for, blame someone else, demonize opposition media figures, lie wantonly whenever you need to and pretend you really “care” about the average person.

Sadly, hate the rich worked very well for the Democrats. The ongoing requirement is an uninformed and oblivious electorate, filled with personal frustration, anger and regressive dreams of being taken care of by mommy and daddy government.

The ” I-me-my” generation of younger voters, ages 18 – 29, voted for Obama 60% to 37%. Minorities, groups with the highest rates of entitlements and the lowest educational rates, overwhelmingly supported Obama. Hispanics who are legal citizens are the fastest growing segment of the American population.

It is of course any group’s right to support whomever they wish.

According to a George Mason University study, of the 239, 405, 657 American citizens of voting age, 197,828,022 were registered to vote. Of this group, about 126,000,000 actually voted (57.5%).

So, 42.5% of our fellow registered voters did not bother, for whatever reasons. There were about 8,000,000 fewer voters cast than in 2008.

Another large group never even registered. When asked about the election, their response might have been ” Huh?”

But no matter how overwhelming our problems may be, elections DO have consequences and they affect ALL of us.

For those of us who see our country declining, and lacking representative leadership that strives to solve the people’s problems, we have a few options.

One, on the personal level, we can write our thoughts and feelings and toss them into the blogosphere.  Cathartic and could be of interest to others. Easy to do on sites such as WordPress.com.

Two, we can become more active politically, supporting the candidates and issues of our choice.  Active involvement in caucuses and campaigns can be energizing and difference making. We can visit, write, call or email our US Senators and Representatives. We can even get real obnoxious about it.

Three, we can declare war on hypocrisy and lying, and support leaders and media who are truthful and willing to address our real problems. Those who vote because a candidate is ” likeable ” need to remember it is that person’s record as a leader, their governing philosophy and character that will matter.

Trite media nonsense of  ” who would you most like to have a beer with ” is irrelevant to the huge fiscal and security challenges facing us. It’s not a golfing or workout buddy you are choosing. Some of the best cons are extremely         ” likeable.” Until they steal your hard-earned money and abuse your trust.

Four, we can stop voting for incumbents. Many are originators of our current problems and, since they benefit, cannot be expected to initiate meaningful change. They have a good deal, going –  prestige, power, great health care (better than you and me), trips, lobbyist perks, on and on.

Speaking of trips, Washington State’s very liberal Congressman, Jim McDermott , a Seattle Democrat, recently went on the second most expensive ever ” fact-finding ” trip to Bali. What facts did he find? We will never know.

Get to work and let’s pay for it.  Now there’s a fact.

Five, we can encourage our fellow citizens to get involved, become informed and participate actively in our Republic. But you can’t be shy about your beliefs and the valid reasons for holding them, no matter how ” uncool ” others may think you are. You know, just chill, be laid back, smoke a joint and so on. Dumb and Numb and Proud of it.

When the people become sheep, their government becomes wolves.

Lastly, although many don’t wish to know what is happening, or how it will affect them, we can speak up about our views and present them intelligently to those in our lives.  Understanding breeds personal power for us all.

For example, how many people understand that the national debt is being passed on to our children and grandchildren? An innocent baby born at this moment inherits over $50 thousand dollars in Federal debt. Who will pay for this loan?

Many believe, for reasons mentioned here, that President Obama never had a desire to resolve the Fiscal Cliff. Others believe that, as a leftist who hates capitalism, he is deliberately trying to bankrupt our economy, thus stoking the hatred of class warfare. Still others believe he is simply incompetent and does not understand basic economic issues.

Whatever the reasons, we get to choose our fate. Anger or analysis? Blame or taking responsibility? Withdrawal or participation? Freedom and Liberty or subservience to a massive government?

Always our choice, and if reasonable people come together and find a middle ground, real change will be swept across the land by the winds of our treasured freedom.

December 15, 2012

WHY THE VIOLENCE?

Filed under: Psychology and Politics — psychpol @ 5:25 pm

We have witnessed yet another act of horrific violence against the innocent, this time elementary school children in Connecticut and adults who educated them.

A few days ago, it was a shopping mall in Oregon near the area where Santa Claus greeted children. And before that, it was a movie theater in Colorado where people had simply gone to enjoy a new film release. And before that, it was a workplace shooting in California by an employee who had been terminated.

And before that, and before that…

For the latest slaughter of the innocents, the media dutifully reported the tragedies, and even informed us as to where the killing ranked in terms of number of victims.

Like a stat sheet in sports.

The president appeared on TV, reading a statement and showing tears. This was seen by many as a great act of leadership.

The various agencies came on TV and talked about their cooperation and what a good job everyone did.

We heard the “thoughts and prayers” line repeated by many officials. Very somber, very concerned.

We have had much analysis already about what could have caused such madness. The gun control people blame it on guns. Some pundits blame it on the culture of violence. Others blame it on a mental disorder on the part of the killer.

It has become a familiar drill to us, with a kind of numbing effect, unless the horror is even more vicious and incomprehensible than the previous one, as in the latest school massacre. Then it registers somewhere in our soul.

After all, who can’t identify with losing a sweet little child, sitting there terrified as their lives are destroyed by utter madness, if not evil? And in the Christmas season, no less.

More hearts are broken, lives forever lost or ruined and the culture degraded yet another notch downward.

How do we understand this increase in random, vicious violence in our country?

Although the first attack on a school occurred in 1926, and the murder rate in America has declined 50% in the last 30 years, such crimes did not happen with such heartlessness in the past. They are now fairly commonplace.

Here are some factors that the author believes are causes of the violence. As we all try to make sense of this, we must understand the causes in order to remedy them.

First, we address the personal characteristics and mental health status of the killer.

In the current case, we have learned that the murderer had been diagnosed with Autistic Disorder (perhaps Asperger’s Syndrome) and a Personality Disorder. This is a somewhat unusual combination of diagnoses.

It is not clear who made it, or if their qualifications were adequate to do so. In the mental health world, many “diagnose” others without adequate training. The best bet is always a diagnosis offered by a Psychiatrist or Clinical Psychologist, both mental health doctors.

Mental health terms are casually tossed around these days, for example in media forums, by those who have no training in this area. So, we are sure to hear from various “experts” holding forth.

Currently, we don’t know the validity of these diagnoses, what the killer’s treatment history might have been,  if violent tendencies had been identified, and, if so, what precautions may have been taken. We do know that persons with Autistic Disorders are no more violent than the general population.

The same is not true for certain mental disorders such as paranoid schizophrenia and other severe psychiatric illnesses. But most of these mass killers do not qualify as legally insane, although most would use that term to describe their actions.

Those that do qualify for that legal status by virtue of a mental disorder demonstrate inability to understand the difference between right and wrong, as well as inability to form an intent to commit the crime.

There are exceptions involving mass violence killers, with the movie shooter in Colorado apparently entering a preliminary plea of Not Guilty By Reason of Insanity. However, most have carefully planned their assault on the innocent, intending to commit mass murder.

So we look to the murderer and their mental characteristics as one possible cause of their actions.

Second, since these crimes were committed with guns, controlling guns must be both the problem and the answer.

This is a favorite argument for anti-gun advocates. It is the fault of the gun, in this recent case, three weapons owned by the killer’s mother. She was his first victim.

The notion involves the gun doing the killing, and if we could eliminate this, all would be better. It is like saying that a fork causes obesity, because the individual uses that as a vehicle for excessive food consumption.

And, there are several million gun owners and people with access to guns in America. Almost none act out in this way, although guns are available to millions right at this moment.

However, criminals who have guns have a higher probability of using them in a crime. In the city of Chicago, for example, the murder rate is one of the highest in the world, especially among young African-Americans and Hispanics. And Illinois, until recently, had outlawed concealed weapons on a statewide basis.

Washington DC, also known for high crime rates, has experienced a decline in violent crime since the ban on handgun ownership was overturned by the courts, In fact, many of the slaughters we are witnessing have occurred in states with the most stringent gun control laws, like Colorado and Connecticut.

In a very literal sense, however, a gun is one of the causes of this type of mass violence.

Third, we are living in an increasingly violent culture.

Media such as film, video, Internet downloads, music and other imagery does provide a consistent context of violence in America. Our children are often saturated with this kind of input from a very early age, depending on how conscientious a parent might be in terms of restricting access.

Studies have clearly shown modeling effects for viewers of violence, particularly children. This simply means that the likelihood of imitative acting out is increased in kids who view such material on a repeated basis.

Other studies have shown higher rates of physiological arousal in children who witness violent imagery, particularly when it is used to “solve” a life problem. The child may learn this strategy and implement it in their own lives. The real, human consequences of such behavior on others are typically not portrayed in media. You know, time for a commercial break. Got to move on.

The media industry will trot out their paid liars, either lawyers of public relations types, to “question” such findings. They have even developed a rating system which is supposed to guide viewer access by age.  So, such violent imagery is OK for adults, or kids over 14, or whomever?

But reputable scientists understand the negative effects of violent imagery on development and behavior, both in kids and adults.

There is no question about it. No issue as to such media causing more violent behavior.

Fourth, there is a powerful new media revolution underway in America.

This involves electronic devices such as computers,  smart phones, video games, tablets etc. It is said that these things help us stay “connected.” This is hailed as a great social breakthrough, and there are valuable applications using such technology. Hardly anyone would question that.

But it is useful to consider what the unintended social impacts might be.

For example, emerging research using functional neuroimaging techniques, shows that such devices, like any activity,  produce activation in specific brain centers. In fact, those centers, if repeatedly exercised, may display increased volume. More brain cells may accumulate through a little understood process called neurogenesis.

They become preferred and well-developed brain centers for the person.  They will tend to dominate the person’s activities because they are the most efficient brain areas for that individual. We do what works best for our brains.

It also means that other areas of the brain are underused during such activities because electronic media do not require their use. 

For example, centers in the brain that generate social empathy, the ability to feel for others, may become diminished in media users, particularly those who spend much time doing these activities.

The Connecticut shooter, a 20-year-old, is described as a “computer genius.”

And many of these crimes involve publishing one’s “writings” regarding violent plans and intentions on the Internet, today’s preferred forum for such announcements.

Such killers are usually very involved in electronic media, socially isolated, withdrawn, etc.  Lots of computer time. Not much people time.

So, we wonder about the effects of significant use on brain development, as well as squashing social functions such as empathy for others.

After all, these victims, even sweet children, seem to be nothing but two-dimensional objects to be “eliminated.” The killer is usually silent and does not display rage. The Portland shooter was described as “having death in his eyes.”

Furthermore, violent electronic media can objectify and trivialize such actions, portraying the demise of game victims as a brief electronic event, often accompanied by some kind of sound effect, and even a point score.

Though the author is not a video gamer, why is one game called ” Angry Birds,” not “Loving Birds” or “Sweet Creatures Who Fly?” Are birds really that angry?

We all intuitively know about violent media. For chronic, habitual users, the world and one’s internal emotional life may become deadened. And other human beings may cease to have real feelings, dreams, loved ones and depth of humanity. To eliminate them is like pushing a button, or simply pulling the trigger.

Maybe their screams don’t even seem real to the murderer. Just another sound effect. Their sobs, their agony, their terror. Does the killer count the victims?

We are in fact creating more Digital Creatures in our society, emotionally deadened people who may act out violently to gain some kind of internal sensation in an attempt to feel something.

Or perhaps to psychologically incorporate the victims into the killer’s deadened, internal life. Like the depressed parent, who in order to “save” their children “from this world” murders them.

The fifth factor pertains to a cultural shift promoting the self-centered acting out of base impulses.

Shame, morality and social restraint, potent social glues that once bound us together as people, are out of fashion’.  “If it feels good  just do it!”

This trend began in the 1960’s and has now become deeply ingrained in our culture. It is profitable. It makes the purveyors rich and famous.

Ask the ACLU lawyers who defend this “right” to free expression in improbable social circumstances. Such paid advocates are apologists for those who promote a lack of social responsibility. It’s the bottom line, baby!

In fact, politicos who bemoan such tragedies as the massacre of children gladly take millions of dollars from the cultural degraders in order to maintain power.

Look at our current president and other ” leaders. ” They may show tears and apparent concern after a tragedy, but they are part of the problem, failing to provide the moral leadership that we need to fortify social restraint. Why don’t they say no to blood money from Hollywood and other violence pimps?

Where are their speeches on parenting, fathers abandoning their offspring, illegitimacy, crime, violence and concern for others? This could help some of us question our lives and the choices we are making, perhaps strengthening the country’s moral climate.

Such “leaders” are hypocrites of the highest order, and part of the problem.

As another cultural issue, some mass killers speak of or have left notes regarding their wish to be “famous” murderers. Just plain famous. Morality was not a concern for them.

Regarding this issue in the general adolescent population, the single highest rated goal for high school kids in several surveys was to be “famous.” But just not for doing anything in particular like curing cancer, helping humanity, etc.

Furthermore, all manner of human behavior is available on the Internet, some of it positive and some of it degraded. Does anyone think kids can not easily access amoral imagery? Does anyone think it doesn’t degrade morality?

Or one can watch “reality” TV programming involving base behaviors and lack of restraint by ignorant, psychologically unbalanced people. Or some professional celebrity’s sex tape or arrest events. Or a personal confession of intimate life details on a talk show or in print media.

We can even watch people fall and hit their heads, and hear the audience laugh. No one ever asks the person shown in the video image if it hurt, did they require medical attention, or are there aftereffects from the injury.

What’s left to do so you can feel something?  What’s next to catch a glimpse of being alive in the world?

The book, “Fifty Shades of Gray” reportedly extols the virtues of sadomasochistic sexual acts as a desirable goal. Given the emotional and spiritual deadening in our culture, its popularity is not surprising.

Objectification of the pain and suffering of others, and its association with personal gratification, represents a powerful shift away from the social bonds that should unite us as empathic human beings caring for one another.

More and more people are angry. More and more will act out that anger. Someone has to be blamed. If I lose my job, I will “take you with me.” I will get a lawyer and sue you. You have offended and wronged me. You must pay. It is not I who is personally responsible for what happens in my life. It is you!

I am entitled to _______(fill in the blank). I am special because I am me!

It is the Republicans, the Democrats, the Rich, those who are different from me. They must be punished…The innocent babies.

And so, the ocean in which we all swim has become quite polluted. It may serve to activate the most disturbed among us to perpetrate violence against the purest and truly innocent.

Combine the amoral cultural context, mental disorder, electronic deadening of human feeling, availability of guns and other factors discussed here , and we create violent monsters that reflect what we have become as a society.

We are all attempting to understand the complexity of factors that may be involved in these mass murders. While mass murder is not new, the author believes the recent spate of such crimes brings to light a unique social context that is activating such behavior within a very disturbed group of our people.

We must understand the problem, as well as potential solutions, and have the will to recognize and confront both. We must prevent such terrible, heart breaking events, and the loss of those who will forever be gone from our midst.

For this moment, our outrage is an important reminder, as is extending our hearts to those who are suffering so terribly, and will be for the forseeable future. The parents, the siblings, the spouses, the families, the community.

There will never be closure and complete healing for them. Never.

December 7, 2012

UNDERSTANDING HEALTH CARE

Filed under: Psychology and Politics — psychpol @ 3:18 pm

How does our health care system work?  What is on the horizon?  What does this mean for you and your loved ones?

When the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, was narrowly passed, it appeared to promise health care for all Americans. It is about 2500 pages in length, and has generated thousands of regulations to date.

Remarkably, this piece of legislation accounts for one-sixth of the American economy, and has no Republican signatures on it. Not one.

By contrast, the bill creating Medicare, a system of care for Seniors, had strong bipartisan support. Its original cost estimates proved to be incorrect.

The Medicare program now costs seven times what was originally estimated. It is near insolvency, and there is an unwillingness on the part of the Democrats to modify this entitlement. During the 2012 campaign, Romney proposed such modifications as raising the eligibility age and means testing.

The latter refers to the simple idea that if you have so much in assets, you would pay more for Medicare. Conversely, those with fewer assets would pay the standard amount.

To a slight degree, this is currently the case. Seniors with a certain number of assets pay a slightly higher amount per month, usually withdrawn from their Social Security benefit.

Obamacare, or the ACA, slated to be fully implemented in 2014, is already partially present in the marketplace. Insurance premiums have risen since this act was passed, in spite of promises to the contrary by Obama and the Democrats.

Retiring Senator Max Baucus (D – Mt), one of the architects of the ACA, recently called it a “disaster.” Reassuring, no?

Essentially, the ACA is designed to include about 30 million Americans who did not have insurance coverage. This group has been referred to as ” the working poor.” The ACA transfers partial financial obligation for this population to the states as the program rolls out.

The Federal portion will be partly funded by $716  billion that the Obama administration has taken out of Medicare, either through direct reductions in funding to programs such as Medicare Advantage, or cuts in services for seniors.

So, what are the current options for health insurance?

If someone is below certain income levels that define poverty, for example welfare recipients, they are probably eligible for coverage through Medicaid. This is a state administered program, partially funded by the Federal government.

If someone is over 65, they are eligible for Medicare benefits, and if they worked, have paid into this program during their working lives. Others over age 65 may have not worked, but still receive benefits.

If someone is disabled, and has so qualified, they are eligible for Medicare as part of the Social Security Disability program.

If someone is able, either personally or through an employer, they are likely to have private insurance such as Blue Cross, Blue Shield, Mutual of Omaha , United Health Care or many others.

If someone is injured on the job, they may receive health care through Federal or State Worker’s Compensation programs aimed at rehabilitating that individual for return to work..

So, Obamacare, while very complex, with twenty new taxes affixed to the legislation, aims at two broad objectives.

The first is the inclusion of “working poor” in the Medicaid benefit program. This forces states to pay out more benefits since the Feds only pay some portion of these dollars.

The second is to control the health care system by placing the Federal government in charge of provider reimbursement, service authorization, cost control and other factors for eligible patients.

This is very different from a private insurance policy.

However, goes the idea, if government can lower the cost, perhaps through deficit financing of its health insurance plan, consumers will tend to choose that program.

It would be cheaper for the consumer, furthering government control of the industry.

Such a consumer choice would assume equivalence of care quality and service availability with the government program. Is it any good?

If cheap enough, employers that offer health insurance might also opt for the government plan. This would reduce their costs. This is already underway, with employees being terminated or having their hours reduced to avoid their qualifying for Obamacare.

Well, what system do we have NOW? What are the basic workings of our health care system today?

Your doctor will perform a particular procedure. That procedure has a CPT code, and this is how the service is billed to an insurer.

Depending on the complexity of the service, the billing rate will vary. Multiple CPT codes may be used, each with its own charge.

An exception might be a provider, such as a mental health clinician, who charges by the hour, and uses a single CPT code.

The provider can set any rate that they want. For example, they could bill $100,000 for a physical examination.

However, if they have signed up to be a part of a provider network, they will only be reimbursed at the agreed upon rate set by the insurer. This is true for government programs and private insurance programs. So, your doctor may bill an amount for a surgery, let’s say $6000, but Medicaid or Blue Cross or whomever may only pay $1800.

The provider is unable to bill you for those extra amounts. If the doctor is in the provider network for that insurer,  he/she has contractually agreed to write off the remaining amount.

The same is true for hospitals, nursing homes and other care settings, like physical therapy clinics. Insurance pays a fixed amount per CPT code.

Obamacare aims to establish Health Information Exchanges (HIE) in each state. They have given states the opportunity to create these and bear most of the expense.

HIEs would provide data as to various policies in that state, including the Federal government plan, allowing people to choose their health care plan under government oversight.

Currently, several states are refusing to implement the HIE. The ACA law states that HHS, the federal agency for Health and Human Services, then has the power to set up an HIE in any state. This would remove the cost burden from that state.

Insurers, by law, can not sell their products across state lines. For example, Blue Cross of Washington and Alaska can generally operate in those states. They may seek exceptions from government, but that is subject to state approval, both the home state and the proposed expansion state.

Many private insurers are regulated by the state, and are not true public companies. Some may apply for that status, with or without being successful, depending on the decision of the state agency involved.

Others such as United Health, Humana, Aetna, Mutual of Omaha, etc. are listed public companies, and one can purchase their stock. They have a broader reach than those limited to a particular state.

A further exception involves government programs for Medicare, whereby national insurance companies can offer Supplementary Policies (Medicare Parts A – inpatient care and B – outpatient care), and Prescription Benefit Plans to Seniors, the latter called Medicare Part D.

There are no state limits on supplementary insurance programs, thus producing price competition that benefits the consumer. These programs will augment the standard Medicare benefit, which normally pays 80% of the allowed Medicare charge for a service (but not outpatient prescriptions). The latter are covered by the Part D plan which is purchased privately by the senior.

Your doctor bills $500, Medicare or Medicaid allows $200, then the government will pay $160 (80%) to the provider.

If you have a supplementary policy, that may pick up the $40 difference in payment to your doctor. If you don’t, the doctor typically writes off that cost.

If you examine a government program and the benefits allowed, you will see a myriad of exceptions. We will pay for this but we will not pay for that.

For example, paying only for a limited time in the hospital or a care center, or not paying for certain services considered to be policy exclusions.

Or they may not pay for the treatment amount that your doctor has recommended. You can have three mental health or physical therapy visits, not the ten that your doctor believed to be right for your treatment.

Of course, your doctor knows you face to face. The bureaucrat making the decision has never met you.

Are we having fun yet?

It is quite complex and confusing, even for many of us who have worked in health care. And that is without Obamacare and the over 15,00o pages of regulations now completed, with more to come by 2014.

Nonetheless, Obamacare promises that we may all be part of a government program eventually!

The notion is that the Federal government will offer lower rates and eventually put private insurers out of business, thus moving us toward socialized and nationalized, single payer medicine.

This is a classic goal for leftist ideologues like Obama and many Democratic colleagues in the House and Senate.

This goal appeals to many people, though many do not understand the implications for access to services, quality of care, availability of well-trained doctors, medical research, pharmaceutical advancements and other core factors in the system.

Others do not care to understand the issues, and simply wish to be given something by the government.

Take care of me because I deserve it. Or punish those greedy insurance companies.  Tax the evil rich.  Standard leftist positions. Dependency and rage mix well together.

The antipathy of Obama and other leftists toward the medical profession is well-known. One recalls his famous comment to the effect that if you bring your child to the doctor, they will “yank out their tonsils” just for the sake of billing for an additional service.

Insulting stuff. However, the AMA, an organization that represents only 20% of US doctors (wonder why?), and the AARP, alleged advocates for seniors, both backed Obamacare. They have since questioned their original endorsement.

Many of us in health care wish that politicians or lawyers (Obama is both) would have the same ethical standards as doctors.

The ACA creates a key committee of 15 members appointed by the president. They are not required to be health care professionals. Their function is to control government program costs, and manage the disbursement of care in order to do so.

This group has been called a “death panel” by some conservatives.

They have several tools available to manage costs. Think about it.

If you are a health care provider, doctor, hospital, physical therapist, etc., your industry has been characterized by increasing costs (electricity, medical supplies, price of an MRI unit, staff costs and many more), but your revenue has been declining.

Insurers generally pay less for a service each calendar year. A 20% cut in reimbursement for doctors seeing Medicare seniors is a frequent proposal.

That is not a viable business model. So, the doctor can drop out of provider networks like Medicare and bill  patients directly for the full cost of services provided. Some will afford it, some will not.

Or, you can simply stop seeing Medicare and Medicaid patients, including the new Obamacare group created by the ACA. Such a trend is well underway in our communities.

Currently, many doctors will not see a new government-funded patient.  So, seniors, poor people and the working poor may not have access to a primary care doctor or a specialist.

Minor detail, right? Not to the clueless, wealthy Washington DC politicians, who, by the way, have superb heath care insurance.

Why don’t they vote themselves into the ACA plan if it so great? A movement is currently underway to exempt the President, Vice President, Congress and Federal employees, and their dependents, from Obamacare.

The Obamacare panel can also control costs by cutting service authorizations.

If you are a 75-year-old person with a chronic illness, and you have broken a hip, surgery may be denied based on longevity and productivity projections for your life by the government.

Is this person’s life “worth” authorizing the care dollars for this service? Who will decide the criteria to be used?

Or, instead of twelve physical therapy rehab treatments after the hip surgery, you may only be authorized six, even though your provider knows, and scientific literature demonstrates, that you probably need twelve.

This cost control strategy is called management by benefit. Limit the benefit, reduce the cost of care.

Government can actually use whatever criteria for service denial that they wish. Just factor in the cost of some litigation, if they are not indemnified by law, and it denial of services  still saves the program dollars. Tough luck for the real person.

These are common practices that result in care rationing by all nationalized and government controlled health care systems.

For example, we, the government have 10 million seniors and so many dollars. How much should we authorize per service and what should the denial criteria be for hip surgery and rehab, or any other illness and treatment?

The third tool the panel has available is to simply not pay for a service. So, you learn about a promising treatment for cancer, but the panel refuses to pay for that service.

Remarkably, Obamacare also usurps the traditional research function of the academic health care community by deciding which treatments are worthy of reimbursement!

This is a power that will retard medical progress in our country. It shows the remarkable arrogance of Obama and his Democrat minions.

Politically appointed bureaucrats, not doctors and university researchers, will determine the “best” treatment options for you.

So, the ACA takes decision-making away from you and your doctor. It is now a government matter, in spite of the very personal nature of your health care decisions.

Either people truly get it and want this, or they do not understand it.

And with the Federal government, there are usually strings attached, no?

An exception might be welfare programs such as AFDC where the Obama administration has diluted the work requirement that, under Clinton, was mandated in order to receive a government check.

So, in health care, many doctors now plan on retiring early. Very few want their kids to go into medicine.

Some have developed new practice models such as boutique medicine. This means that I pay you X dollars a year for my care, and we bypass insurance programs and their limits for most care services.

Some providers have dropped out of government insurance programs. Some no longer take any kind of insurance, government or private.

The net effect of Obamacare is a larger pool of patients coming into the system, and fewer doctors to see them. For doctors, there is less motivation to be part of such programs.

The common  theme for Obama and the Democrats is of course let’s punish those greedy doctors!

So what if they have many years of education and training? Like all the “rich,” say the leftists, they are exploiting us and must be controlled by a “caring” centralized government.

The average Family Practice physician earns $138,000 per year. This requires a minimum of 11 years of university education post high school.

 Wonder how much we pay our senators and representatives? Our President, his aides? Their lawyers. On and on.

Currently, we have far more law students than medical students in America. Encouraging for the future, don’t you think? Everyone can sue everyone.

The punitive government approach toward some of our best and brightest will damage the medical profession and reduce innovation, implementation of new technologies and quality of care.

We will move from the world’s greatest health care system to a mediocre government-centric system, in which care is not available for all and accessible providers tend to be the least qualified.

I mean, who wants to be run by the Federal government in their profession?

Need more doctors? Dumb down medical education, just like what has happened to higher education in general.

So for those who think health care is a  “right” or Obamacare will take care of you, a big surprise is coming. You will not like the hoops you must go through, or routine policies such as denying  or limiting needed services for you or your family.

A compassionate society should make health care available to all. And, currently, there is no one in America who can not secure needed services.

Why doesn’t the government address catastrophic care for all people if it wishes to help all of us in our time of greatest need?

You can even be an illegal immigrant and use American hospitals and other services. Look at how much California pays annually to offer such services.

They are only over thirty billion dollars a year in the hole. Anyone for 13.3% percent state income taxes, and rising?

Many hospitals, clinical providers and government-funded clinics now offer charity care for those in need. No one is left in the street.

Under the ACA, it is projected that 30% of hospitals and nursing homes will shut down because of reduced government reimbursements and increasing costs. Look at the number of small, rural, community hospitals that have already closed their doors, about 50%.

There will be fewer providers available for more patients.

And for you healthy folks who choose not to buy mandatory insurance, the IRS will have 16,500 agents to track this. You will be fined several thousand dollars each year if you fail to play the game. And there are requirements that you buy a complete insurance package, not just catastrophic care.

Ah, yes, the liberals version of “freedom.” More to come, folks. It’s for our own good. Eat your spinach!

There really is no free lunch, promising as it may sound when spun by ACA advocates such as Kathleen Sibelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services.

They can PR this thing all they want, and do (check out www.hhs.gov), but the substance of what is happening will greatly damage what used to be the world’s finest system of health care.

Many now come from countries with nationalized health care for our services here in the US. Why? Better care and more readily available access to services.

A needed MRI in Canada can take up to one year to secure. Guess what happens to an untreated, advancing illness during that period.

So, here are some basic ideas regarding how health care works, the politics, and what is coming for our country in this very private area of our lives.

Government’s record in implementing programs is very poor. They have a record of consistent inefficiency, bureaucratic boondoggle and decisions that defy common sense.

Note the current scandal with victims of Benghazi and Superstorm Sandy, the government inefficiency and incompetence, and the biased media’s unwillingness to, unlike Hurricane Katrina, confront government ineptitude here. Look at wasteful crazy spending, sending weapons to our enemies and on and on.

Such is the way of government, though some like to imagine it as a benevolent parent. Watch out, the milk is sour.

Or as one former president said, the most dangerous nine words in the English language are: ” I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”

November 30, 2012

FISCAL CLIFF

Filed under: Psychology and Politics — psychpol @ 4:46 pm

For those of us that are paying attention, the big economic issue of today is the Fiscal Cliff. What is it and where do many of us stand with this, and other issues in our society that have led to this situation?

Fiscal Cliff is all over the news. Some TV outlets have countdown meters, for example, 31 days – 2 hours – 41 seconds until we go over this cliff.

The actual date is the end of this year.

Many Americans happily have no clue as to what this issue involves.

They are more concerned about who is winning American Idol, Brad and Angelina’s maybe wedding, some singer beating up whomever, Lady Gaga, Michelle’s jacket, the latest youtube sensation and other mind-numbing topics of interest to many.

Hey, fun is fun and that is good. Agreed. Dance, sing, celebrate…

Or they may simply be trying to survive economically on a daily basis.

It is a free country, although many would say that it takes an informed people to keep it free.  We are collectively failing in this area.

Others wish to be informed. Knowledge is power, they might say.

Or they embrace their civic obligation to be informed, even with limited time in their busy lives.

This is one citizen blogger’s effort to understand current economic issues and some of the underlying trends in our country.

There are two major thrusts for managing the economy: 

The first is the Federal Reserve system (The Fed). They manage MONETARY policy, under the leadership of Chairman Ben Bernanke.  There are Fed Presidents from several regions of the country.

They have two basic missions, regulating the general economic environment in terms of money supply, and managing the interest rate environment in terms of lending rates, bank to bank and bank to person. 

They review and compare  data such as employment levels, Gross Domestic Product, various regional indices of manufacturing, purchasing data, retail data, national productivity data, wage data, etc.

Economic indicators.

They have a number of tools for implementing monetary policy. Currently, they are on the third round of keeping interest rates at near zero.

The purpose is to encourage borrowing and resulting economic activity, for example, expanding businesses, starting new businesses, buying homes/cars/appliances, thereby creating  more jobs.

Most economic experts believe that the Fed is now essentially out of significant tools for stimulating the economy.

The second is FISCAL policy. This concerns government budgets, including spending plans and revenue predictions.

These are decisions made by politicians under the leadership of the President.

Two items of interest in understanding fiscal policy are debt and deficit.

DEBT means how much has the country borrowed to finance its spending? 

What do we now owe overall?

It is like your credit card borrowing. What are the rates of our borrowing, and from whom do we borrow?

How much do we owe? The big picture.

Currently, the debt is over $16 trillion dollars, with China holding over 50% of the loans. The rest is held by other banking systems that have loaned money to our government.

To date, they have been willing to make loans to us.

For perspective, the debt when Bush took office in 2000 was roughly $5 trillion dollars. After eight years in office, the debt was $9 trillion dollars.

Since George Washington and all the preceding presidents, debt was $9 trillion dollars total by the end of 2008.

Candidate Obama in 2008 called this “immoral” and a “burden on future generations.” He was of course correct.

President Obama has taken debt from $9 trillion dollars to over $16 trillion dollars in less than four years.

It is projected that debt will be at least $20 trillion dollars by the end of his second term.

That is, if anyone wants to keep lending us money. To get it, the government may have to pay higher rates.

For perspective, the average American family now owes over $250,000 in federal debt. A child born today is already $50,000 dollars in federal debt.

DEFICIT refers to how much the government spends beyond what it takes in each year? For the first time in history, the annual deficit is over $1 trillion dollars and climbing.

This mean the government regularly collects less than it spends.

One euphemistic term in the discussion these days is “revenues.”  It used to be called taxes.

So, government revenues are derived from taxation, loans or (another buzz word) “investment.”

Investment would mean something like the GM or AIG bailouts, whereby these companies would pay back their loans with interest.

We the people would therefore benefit from such a loan payback.

Although AIG has paid back what we loaned them, plus interest, in the case of GM, they still owe over $25 billion dollars and have asked us to forgive that debt.

So, as with the failed green energy loans where we lost all of our “investment” dollars, we would lose this GM payback as well.

The banks have repaid their TARP loans with interest. We made out on the deal.

When one understands that many of these “investments” have gone to political supporters of the President and the Democrats,  we see that it can be more of a political payoff with our hard-earned (or borrowed) money in exchange for votes.

Fiscally, there are three budgets that are supposed to be presented: by the House, the Senate and the President.

These determine annual spending and revenue projections. These numbers provide the foundation for the deficit, surplus or balanced budget for the coming year.

By way of background, in over a three-year period, the Democratically controlled Senate has refused to produce an annual budget.

They are constitutionally mandated to do so, but have ignored this.

In fact, the proposed Chairperson of the Budget Committee, Senator Patty Murray ( D- WA) recently stated that she could not guarantee a budget would be produced under her “leadership.”

Huh?

The Republican controlled House has presented budgets on an annual basis as required by law.

The President has brought three budgets to the House and Senate. All have been defeated, without receiving one single vote of support.

No Democrat has voted for Obama’s budgets. Why?

In theory, the House, Senate and President’s budgets should  be debated and a compromise reached.

That is how the system is supposed to work on behalf of the American people.

Simply put, DEBT is how much you owe in total in your life right now.

DEFICIT is how much you earn versus your spending on an annual basis.

Most of us must manage this issue on a regular basis in our lives.

So, the FISCAL CLIFF pertains to what the politicians are doing to address DEBT and DEFICIT with tools such as tax rates, spending levels and debt limits.

The latter refers to how far they can go in terms of borrowing more dollars.

Now, we are over the line and decisions must be made before we go off the cliff on 1/1/13.

Solving the cliff  is the current debate in Washington DC.

What shall we owe, what shall we spend, and who shall be taxed how much?

Obama and the Democrats proposed yesterday to increase taxes by $1.6 trillion dollars, to increase spending by $50 billion dollars, to eliminate any debt ceiling ( we want to borrow as much as we want…) and to reduce entitlement spending (Medicare and Social Security for our seniors) by $4 billion dollar.

They also proposed to postpone scheduled cuts in defense and social programs for one year.

As promised, Obama’s centerpiece is “tax the rich.” At his proposed rates, the “rich” would pay an extra $82 billion dollars, or enough to run the Federal government for 8 1/2 days.

It costs about $9.6 billion dollars a day to operate the Federal government.

He also proposed raising the capital gains tax and tax on dividends from 15% to 39 – 44%. So, if you earn dividends on an investment,  have a CD or an interest bearing checking account, and these are not tax protected, you will pay more taxes on your gains.

A central issue in the debate involves keeping or eliminating the ” Bush tax cuts”. Obama and Congress had agreed to keep these before the election.

Here, all people were given reduced tax rates in an effort to “allow us” to keep more of what we earned. It was thought that this would stimulate our economy and reduce unemployment.

For perspective, about 50% of all tax return filers pay no Federal income taxes. There are various reasons for this, some pertaining to deductions, taxable income levels and entitlements.

The top 1% of earners generate 18.5% of all money earned, and pay 37% of all Federal income taxes (IRS – 2010).

The Republicans say that they wish to keep tax rates low for everyone, and eliminate some of the deductions people use to reduce their tax burden.

This would be a “grow the economy and enhance tax revenue” strategy.

More people work, more people pay taxes, right?

The fewer deductions, the more taxes paid to the Federal government.

There are “negotiations” underway to resolve this problem. The president is not participating directly. He is out encouraging voters to send Tweets and other messages to their elected representatives, supporting his “plan”.

Many are not sure what his overall ideas might entail, with the exception of the few mentioned above.

 To not resolve the cliff it is likely to produce the second RECESSION since 2008.

What is a recession? This is when the American economy has two consecutive quarters (roughly 26 weeks) of negative GDP growth.

This means that the economy is shrinking in terms of  how many dollars it generates through goods and services that we produce.

So, if the economy is shrinking,  jobs will be lost. We have seen this fact historically.

If we go over the FISCAL CLIFF, several hundred thousand more jobs are likely to be lost.  A recession is likely according to most economic observers.

Simply put, if we tax people more at the upper end of the income level, it is predicted that the economy will shrink. They will spend less and employ fewer people, goes the theory.

But, there are even bigger questions before us, no?

Why shouldn’t we keep most of what we earn? All of us.

Why shouldn’t we demand a balanced budget of our “leaders”?

Where does our money go? Who is contributing and who is using the rest of us for a free ride?

What will facilitate more economic opportunity for as many people as possible?

Who has a record of success? Of failing the people?

Who are the leaders that have the solutions, and who are those who simply grab for more power at our expense?

Why are so many American uninformed and simply getting less able to think clearly regarding critical issues in their lives?

Politicians prey on our confusion and apathy. The media’s job is to keep us  confused and misinformed in too many cases.

You feel overloaded, you withdraw and become cynical about your power and your possibilities.

Why is anger and rage at fellow citizens now ruling many of our people, clouding their common sense understanding of these economic issues?

Some believe that Obama wishes to wreck the American economy to stimulate class warfare and more government control of our lives.

This would be in the classic socialist tradition as seen in other failed economies and countries.

Others believe the Republicans simply want to protect their rich friends and facilitate the gap between the “haves and the have-nots.” 

This was a foundational theme that worked in the “hate the rich” aspect of the recent presidential campaign.

So far, neither side has budged. The Republicans have offered ideas that combine preserving some tax cuts for the middle class, but cutting overall spending.

The Democratic proposal is noted above. No meaningful spending cuts, no debt reduction, no deficit reduction is the current bottom line.

Two years ago, President Obama appointed the Simpson (R) – Bowles(D) Commission, a bipartisan group of experts.

Their job was to study debt and deficit reduction. They produced a document with several dozen recommendations. Many were supported by both sides.

The President simply did not act on any of their ideas. Why?

More stalemate.

What happens to you and me if we spend way more than we make?

In Washington DC, the power game takes precedence over our lives. It keeps our fear and stress levels high.

We the people are inconsequential.

It appeals to emotionally driven political campaigns that stoke our frustration as citizens and divide us.

For some, frustration equals anger equals inability to think clearly.

In the moment, anger and blame feel good. But they don’t work as solutions to complex problems.

Such power games further alienate even more of us.  A huge number of our peers are poorly informed or have dropped out entirely.

Many are proud of being uninformed. Not good. Self-defeating solution.

So, the FISCAL CLIFF stands to wreak havoc on our weak economy.

It is infuriating how power has become the object of the game, rather than serving the needs of the people.

Yes, we will have our differences, left and right. But I bet we could find a compromise if we listened to one another and sought common ground.

In truth, the author finds economics difficult to understand and there are many opinions on what should be done with Debt and Deficit.

If we try to remember our daily lives, and how we must manage our finances, it helps to see through the smoke and mirrors put out by the politicos.

We must demand leadership that is responsive to the people, seeks compromise and celebrates moderation as it benefits us all.

We the people must come out of our numbed slumber and forgo our electronic distractions and the propaganda we are fed.

Collectively, we may be getting dumber and easier to manipulate.

We must reclaim our power, and seek governments that have positive solutions to our economic problems.

If  they do not, let’s unite and throw them out.

Let’s hope that we do not go over the FISCAL CLIFF so these clowns can continue their power game at our expense.

And while you are hoping, take action steps with your senators, congressperson and the president. 

Do more than Tweet. Threaten to vote them out. Or whomever they endorse as their successor.

This stuff will matter in your life and the lives of your loved ones, now and in the future.

What seems distant and “out there” will directly impact us. It will stress and anger us. It will inhibit our dreams as a people.

Let’s not allow them, whoever “they” may be, to push us around and dismiss us any longer. Their tactic of frightening the people should not be tolerated.

Common sense will tell us what can work for the good of our country…

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