Archive for January 2007

“Maximum Greed”

January 28, 2007

Ted Kennedy’s blood was boiling when he said, “When does the greed stop?!”  Thankfully someone in the Senate was saying what needed to be said.  How can anyone think that increasing the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour could be wrong?  If a person works full time at $7.25 an hour, they bring home around $210 a week, $840 a month, around $10,000 a year.   $7.25 is pretty minimal to me.

You figure depending on where you live a one bedroom apartment rents for $800 a month.  Okay, let’s say you got a real good deal on rent – $500 and that’s my final offer.  You are left with less than $400 to cover monthly expenses.  Wages across the board have been stagnant since George Bush was smuggled into office, and since then corporate profits have doubled.  The inequality between executives and their workers has increased by,…, lets say – lots!  The incredible unfairness is when you look at the worker working away as the terminated CEO walks out with millions. 

The federal minimum wage has not been increased in ten years, but congress has given itself about $31,000 each during that same time period.  So the Senate had to pass the increase for the minimum wage, but the vote breaks down to 54 to 43.  I have no idea who voted what, but I bet that most of the forty-three were Republicans.

Eighty percent of the American people wanted to see the increase passed.  It makes you wonder how there could be such a discrepancy in votes then?  Were they voting as their constituents’ wished?  The Republicans wanted to attach a tax break for businesses to the bill.  Without sixty percent of the vote the bill now will be delayed and discussed and,…, well, you’ll see what’ll happen.  The number one complaint is that by raising the minimum wage it will hurt small businesses, which can be disputed by looking at past increases.  By increasing a person’s pay scale wouldn’t they purchase more?  Doesn’t that help the economy?

Write your congress people – better yet get angry at that selfish, greedy forty-three! Jake Drew

Come relieve your frustrations at http://www.LivinginLethargy.com

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“Human Military Hybrids”

January 25, 2007

Every year in the State of the Union address the president tosses out something that makes me perk up.  Last year there was “switch grass” and “human animal hybrids”.  Through the course of 2006 switch grass came up, but I still keep looking for a human animal hybrid!  That seems a lot more interesting than some weedy grass. 

What hit me in this year’s speech was “Civilian Reserve Corps”.  Huh?  That’s what President Bush said.

 “A second task we can take on together is to design and establish a volunteer Civilian Reserve Corps. Such a corps would function much like our military reserve.  It would ease the burden on the Armed Forces by allowing us to hire civilians with critical skills to serve on missions abroad when America needs them.  It would give people across
America who do not wear the uniform a chance to serve in the defining struggle of our time.”
 
All I found about this idea was something attributed to Wesley Clark from October 2003.  He talked of Americans serving their country when emergencies occur.  Civilian Reserve registration would allow Americans to contribute their special abilities to help in times of trouble without an added bureaucracy.  Nah – that’s not it.    No way could the Bush Administration be talking about Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), which was part of the New Deal to help relieve poverty during the Great Depression.  This is the administration that despises and tries to remove anything related to Roosevelt, but cuddles and pampers the Ronald Reagan legacy.  Just for fun I looked up the Nazi stormtroopers, the Brownshirts, the Sturmabteilung.  Basically the Brownshirts were a bunch of thugs that Adolf Hitler would use in the 1920s to squelch out dissidents at Nazi speeches or gatherings.  Later on when Hitler took power in Germany they were good at busting up Jewish businesses and homes.   Maybe?  Nah.   

Let’s meander on down the trail of the Military Industrial Complex.  Bush was talking about Americans without uniforms to define our greatest struggle.  It sounds like privatizing the military to me.  It eliminates the financial burden of the military, and not so long ago we had hired guns watchin’ over the cattle on the plains.

     It’s already here, so it’s not a stretch to get to the Civilian Reserve Corps.  In the Iraqi and Afghanistan War we have our military operating side by side with civilians or “private contractors”.  Can you imagine what it’s like to work next to somebody making $100,000 a year while you risk your life for your country for $20-24,000 a year?  That can’t help morale!  Financially it makes sense to take misguided youths out of their bedrooms and away from their Mp3 to let them act out all their video gaming in a foreign land.  The best part is now a company doesn’t have to pay exorbitant salaries, and these employees aren’t held to any of the rules of warfare.  Heck!  If this works out, we can do away with police departments too!  That’s taxing on our cities and country too.  Oh, oh, can you say – Sturmabteilung?  Write your congress people because this is one really bad idea.   Jake DrewCome relieve your frustrations at http://www.LivinginLethargy.com

“Have ya ever heard of the Marshall Plan?”

January 23, 2007

“No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.”  James Madison in 1795

It’s been almost four years since George Bush stood on the deck of the battleship, the USS Lincoln, and announced how we would help rebuild Iraq.  We weren’t going to leave until we left behind a free and democratic Iraq.  The USA would build hospitals and schools in the place of the dictator’s palaces. 

Now the image of the United States in Europe has faltered to the same low points as George Bush’s support for his policies and the war.  What happened?

Sixty years ago President Truman had the same dilemma in front of him.  The Marshall Plan was put in place.  During four years, which coincides with where we are currently in Iraq, some $13 billion of economic and technical assistance was provided to the convalescing Europe. 

The Marshall Plan was conceived by many of the same people who designed the New Deal programs that helped bring the United States out of the Great Depression.  The United States wasn’t just looking out for Europe.  They knew the European economy was important to the USA because Europe would need to buy manufactured goods and raw materials.  Our prosperity was dependent on trade, and markets that developed our ability to export goods.

Truman’s administration made it clear that the Europeans would be free to structure the plan for themselves, but the European plans would have to pass through Congress.  Congress was committed to free trade and European integration.  The Europeans asked for $22 billion in aid, and Truman cut this to $17 billion in the bill he put to Congress.  The funds were transferred to the governments of the European nations.  These funds were managed by local governments and the Economic Cooperation Administration.

“In vain they seek to hide behind the flag and the Constitution.  In their blindness they forget what the flag and the Constitution stand for.”  Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1936. 

The Bush Administration has done the exact opposite of what the Marshall Plan was set up to do.  This administration didn’t give money or loans to Iraq.  Bush gave the funds to large politically connected corporations to deal with the problem.  The Iraqi Constitution was molded to make Iraq the world’s largest free-trade zone.  Corporations were allowed in to buy up Iraqi companies, and then corporate income taxes were reduced from 40% to 15%. 

This continuing war has little to do with leaving Iraq a free and democratic country – this war is about corporate greed. 

Write your congress people and remind them of the values that were set up with the Marshall Plan.
Jake Drew

Come relieve your frustrations at http://www.LivinginLethargy.com

“Angels Amongst Us” January 2007

January 15, 2007

There is nothing creepier to me to think that angels descend from the heavens to watch over us.  I’ve never heard a whisper or felt a push to look out for a speeding car or better yet to prevent me from stepping into dog crap.   I’d appreciate it though, because I tend to run into the latter example quite a lot!  

I do like angels in films, such as “Wings of Desire” or “The Bishop’s Wife”.  I guess I prefer to watch angels rather than having them watching over me. 

A report came out recently that 81 percent of United States citizens believe in angels in some form. 
The definition in the report of an angel could be a kind stranger, a benefactor, a misty aberration, or someone with fluffy wings.  I’d say that’s a pretty open definition.  I assume the 19 percent that don’t believe have to be hardcore Republicans.  With a definition as open as this one you’d have to assume that all people are self-centered and unwilling to help others.    

I prefer to think that helping others has nothing to do with religion or angels.  Is Wesley Autrey an angel or just a courageous man?  Wesley Autrey left his two daughters on a subway platform to go save a college student’s life.   Mr. Autrey jumped onto the subway tracks to protect the man, who fell while he was having a seizure, from an oncoming train.  Later Wesley stated that he had to do something to save the young college student’s life.

Wesley Autrey’s actions were about human kindness at a very high level.  He showed compassion or humanitarianism to another.  We can all learn from him about caring about others rather than always being concerned about ourselves.   Wesley isn’t an angel – he’s a human being. 

 – Jake Drew

Come visit us at http://www.LivinginLethargy.com

“Liberty Across a Troubled Region” January 2007

January 14, 2007

After watching President Bush’s new strategy in Iraq, I realized that nothing new was being said, but when I read the text one paragraph stood out for me.

“The challenge playing out across the broader Middle East is more than a military conflict.  It is the decisive ideological struggle of our time.  On one side are those who believe in freedom and moderation.  On the other side are extremists who kill the innocent, and have declared their intention to destroy our way of life.  In the long run, the most realistic way to protect the American people is to provide a hopeful alternative to the hateful ideology of the enemy – by advancing liberty across a troubled region.”

There’s a hint of the Crusades of the Middle Ages in this paragraph.  President Bush did not say a troubled country; he used “troubled region”.  He is working toward a broader advancement in the area to spread our liberty and freedom. The United States consists of five percent of the world population though we use twenty-five percent of the world’s resources.  I always assumed that is because of all our freedom and liberty, but then the president spoke of freedom and moderation.  Where does the word moderation fall into our way of life?  The extremists kill innocent people and want to destroy our way of life.  The United States has killed innocent people, and when was it ever stated that extremists want to destroy our way of life?

There’s something missing in all this war mongering.  I’d call it diplomacy, and a matter of fact the Baker-Hamilton report suggested that too.  If our freedoms and liberties are so valuable, other countries would want to be like us.  We wouldn’t have to invade their countries.  Kill’em with kindness like a good “Christian” country should do.  If the United States were invaded, I can assure you that we would all fight against the invaders.

As the president was addressing the country there were two events occurring.  The United States invaded the Iran consulate in the Kurdish area of Iraq, which is considered an act of war, and oil companies are diversifying the vast oil supplies of Iraq.

This does not sound like the United States is bringing freedom and liberty to others.  The reason for the United States wants to be a thorn in the side of the Middle East is based on greed, and the Middle East is suppressing that freedom.   I only wish that the president would be honest about our involvement in the Middle East.

Just say it – Our freedoms and liberties depend on capturing the oil supplies in the world.

  Jake Drew 

Come have a good laugh with us and visit http://www.LivinginLethargy.com 

“Let Them Eat Cake”

January 10, 2007

I’m a little disturbed by the Bush twins and Cheney’s daughter.  Where have all the family or Christian right values gone?  All these people that we emulate whether because they dictate the course of the country or influence us through the media are living these lives of double standards.  It reminds me of the 1700s with Marie Antoinette and all that trouble with the peasants.  The royalty expects the underclass to behave one way as they live these lifes filled with decadent behavior.  Man!  I want a piece of that action too.

How can a father be supportive and look forward to a grandchild, even though the political party that he belongs to considers his daughter’s lifestyle culturally obscene?  How can two beef-fed Texan girls of god-fearing parents cause so much trouble that a country asks them to leave? If our leaders don’t even live within the realm of their deeply religious vision, shouldn’t we be questioning anything they dream up as being in our best interest?

For instance – in my city I watched around 4000 jobs disappear within the last couple weeks.  This isn’t a fluke – it happens quite often.  It seems like a lot of jobs, though all I hear about is the increase in jobs and the low unemployment rate.  I never see the newspaper articles about these new jobs.  Oh, but that’s right, it’s because the “liberal” media only reports the negative. I don’t know – I think you have to start questioning what’s going on.  Most of us are law-abiding, decent people living from pay check to pay check, and now it’s becoming questionable if even that lifestyle will continue.

There’s a surge in unequality happening and this isn’t about race or sexual identity.  On the one side we have the the rich and the other side the less rich in monetary reward.    I don’t think we need to storm the Bastille yet, but we have to start questioning what is happening around us.  I don’t think you can look toward the wealthy as role models or protecting our best interests anymore.

   – Jake Drew

 Come visit us at http://www.LivinginLethargy.com

“The Man without a Star”

January 6, 2007

I sat one afternoon watching a Kirk Douglas western titled, “The Man without a Star“, and was amazed by the environmental and economical messages in this film.   Basically the plot plays out with the hero, who is a free range ridin’ cowboy, who hooks up with this greedy cattle ranch owner played by Jeanne Crain, who is quite the bitch.  Before Kirk arrives on the scene the local ranchers are complaining because this woman has increased her cattle herd to ten thousand.  The local ranchers are satisfied with raising 800 to 1000 head of cattle each.  They make a good living and the land can support the grazing of their animals.  Now they find themselves being pushed out of their livelihoods because of one rancher’s self-interest.

Kirk is smitten with Jeanne Crain because she’s successful and beautiful for the 1950s – not the 1850s.  It’s understandable.  At one point Jeanne Rancher is asked by her hired hands if she plans to be a “hands on” rancher or does she plan to manage the ranch from back east. No way – she’s staying.

Kirk maneuvers his way into ranch foreman and into her cold, empty heart.  As she confides in him, he starts to see through her.  She plans to stay, but only long enough to increase the herd to 30,000 and to sell the place at an incredible profit.  He realizes that she has no interest in the other ranchers and will destroy them to get what she wants.  The other cattlemen have now turned to putting up barbed wire fencing to save their meager existence.  That’s where I’ll leave the synopsis.

I started to think about the parallels of what’s happening in Corporate America today.  The main focus is about profit margins and stock value.  Quality of life for everyone and any concern of the environment are of least important.  The ranchers were all peaceful and cordial with each other until greed came loping over the plains.

Saddle’em up boys! We ain’t wanted in these parts.   – Jake Drew

Come visit us at http://www.LivinginLethargy.com