The Weiner Component V.2 #29 – The Pattern of United States History & the Evolving Purpose of Government: Part 2

Unemployment rate in the US 1910–1960, with th...

Unemployment rate in the US 1910–1960, with the years of the Great Depression (1929–1939) highlighted. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Herbert Hoover was elected President of the United States in 1928.  He

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1933. Lietuvių: Fra...

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1933. Lietuvių: Franklinas Delanas Ruzveltas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

was the third Republican elected to the presidency since the end of World War I, taking office in March 4, 1929.  The Great Depression began on September 4, 1929, with a fall in stock prices.  The stock market crashed on October 29, 1929, Black Tuesday.  It would continue to drop thereafter, losing billions of dollars in value.

English: Real National Product in the Great De...

English: Real National Product in the Great Depression (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Hoover was President about seven months before the crash came.  He spent the next three and some years contending unsuccessfully with the Great Depression and waiting for the Stock Market to reverse itself into positive territory.  It never did.

 

From October 29th on the Great Depression became a world phenomenon.   It had devastating effects.  Personal incomes, tax revenues, profits and prices dropped.  International trade plunged more than 50%.  Countries had set up tariff barriers against all other nations.

 

Both poor and rich suffered.  Personal income tax revenues, profits and prices fell.  Unemployment in the United States dropped to 25%.  It was higher in some other countries, reaching 33%.  Farming areas suffered as crop-prices fell 60%.  All this began eight months after Hoover became President of the United States and continued to get worse during his presidency.

 

Once the Depression hit, Hoover, as President attempted to combat the economic decline with large scale government public work projects such as the Hoover Dam.  He urged industry to keep wages high.  Reluctantly he approved the Smoot-Hawley Tariff of 1930 which set up international trade barriers.  Because he believed in a balanced budget as government income from taxes fell, he raised the rate.   The economy kept falling and unemployment gradually rose to 25%.

 

What had happened was that the economy fell like a bolder off the roof of a high building.  On the one hand President Hoover tried to continually add money to the economy but on the other hand he massively decreased the amount of money available to the public by continually trying to balance the National budget.  The basic problem was that no one really understood what was happening.  By continually decreasing the money available Hoover exacerbated the depths of the depression.  In 2008, when a similar situation occurred the President increased government spending by trillions of dollars and did not raise taxes.  What should have been a greater depression than that of 1929 became instead a Great Recession from which the country recovered in a few years.  Economic downturns are generally understood today; their causes and effects weren’t in 1929.

***************************************

The Great Depression of 1929 was mainly caused by the unregulated banks.  They allowed stock to be purchased with a margin of 10 percent of the actual cost of the stock, the bank funding the remaining 90 percent with interest.  This allowed innumerable people to invest in the Stock Market.  The banks held the stock.  If its cost went down the so-called owner had to quickly come up with the difference raising the bank’s holding to 90 percent or they would sell the stock.  This was buying on margin.

 

The system created high false values on the stocks, producing a bubble which would at some point collapse.  Stocks that never paid a dividend were selling for ever rising costs.  Sooner or later a crash had to come.

 

When the Crash came on October 29, 1929, Black Tuesday, the majority of stocks dropped quickly far lower than 10 percent in one day and continued dropping on succeeding days.  A large number of stockholders were suddenly bankrupt and a lot of banks went out of business.

 

Overnight the amount of money in circulation decreased by a massive percentage and the country was in a deeper depression than it had ever been in before.  This was the Great Depression that would last until shortly after the outbreak of World War II.  What pulled the United States and other countries out of the Great Depression was the unlimited war spending.

***********************************

On March 4, 1933 Franklin Delano Roosevelt took office as the first elected Democratic President since the end of World War I.  In the preceding campaign he had promised the country a “New Deal.”  It was a term that came from poker; the player gave up his five cards and received five new ones with which to play.  It was to the American people a promise of a complete change.  What the change would be, no one knew at the time.  I suspect that included the President; but he would experiment and find a way through the economic crisis.

 

The New Deal consisted of what Roosevelt called the 3Rs: Relief, Recovery, and Reform.  Relief was to create jobs for the unemployed, Recovery was to bring the economy back to a state of health, and Reform was to pass laws that regulated the banks and other enterprises that brought about the Great Depression.  It was felt that the overall economy had to be changed so that this condition could never happen again.

 

Initially Roosevelt closed all the banks and quickly began a process of auditing them.  He began his fireside chats over the new invention, radio, stating in one of his early talks that “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”  He talked the nation through its fears.  During the first hundred days Congress passed bills that were largely blank, just having a title.  They were filled in by what was needed as they went into operation.

 

Roosevelt doubled the money supply by collecting all the gold coins, with the exception of a few held back as souvenirs.  People objected to having to turn in their gold coins for paper money.  The Federal Government sued them and won every case.  The gold was melted down and made into blocks which were then put into depositories like Fort Knox.  Gold paper certificates were then issued and kept by the Federal Reserve that denoted the amount of gold that was stored.

 

Ones and five dollar bills were silver certificates.  Ten dollar bills and up were gold certificates, actually Federal Reserve Notes.  Once this was completed the government had doubled its money supply.  Actually once this was done the country was off the gold standard.  It solved one major problem.  There had never been enough gold available to meet the monetary needs of the economy.  From this point on we were off the gold standard.  The theoretical fact that we, as a nation, were on one was a fiction.  Paper money could not be exchanged for gold.

 

What emerged as the New Deal developed was a series of Federal programs, public work projects, financial reforms and regulations enacted by the Roosevelt administration in response to the Great Depression.  These programs included support to the farmers, the unemployed, youth and the elderly.  It also included bank reform and changes to the monetary system.  They included both laws passed by Congress, and Presidential executive orders.  These programs focused on Relief, Recovery, and Reform.

 

In essence what Roosevelt did was to change the focus of the Federal Government.  From this point on it assumed responsibility for the welfare of its population.  It didn’t matter up until 2017 which political party was in control the new focus was kept up and added to by both political parties.  The Federal Government’s responsibility was to the people of the nation, to their welfare.  With the election of Donald J. Trump on January 20th on the government seemed to be attempting to move back in time to before 1929.  To date it hasn’t succeeded.

************************************

Harry S. Truman, who became President with the death of Roosevelt, and then won the next election for the Presidency introduced the “Fair Deal.”  It was a liberal extension of the New Deal.  Unfortunately, during his early presidency both houses of Congress were controlled by the Republicans.  What was achieved were those aspects of which the Republicans approved.

 

The Fair Deal included federal aid to education, a large tax cut for low income earners, abolition of the poll tax, an anti-lynching law, a farm aid program, increased public housing, an immigration bill, new TVA style public works projects, a new Department of Welfare, an increase in the minimum wage from 40 cents to 75 cents an hour, national health insurance, expanded Social Security coverage, and a $4 billion tax increase to reduce the national debt and pay for these programs.

 

A very small number of these items were passed by the Republican Congress.  In 1949 to 1950 there was a Democratic Congress and some more of these items were passed.

 

President Lyndon B. Johnson got a number of these reforms passed in his Great Society plan.  Medicare came into existence for senior citizens, with former President Harry S Truman getting the first card issued with the number 1.  Medicaid for the poor who could not afford proper medical care.  A number of civil rights and voter laws were passed desegregating the Southern States.  Johnson declared “War on poverty,” but was hampered in his domestic program by the Viet Nam War.  George W. Bush, the Republican President, added a 400 million dollar prescription drug bill to Medicare.

 

Finally under President Barack Obama in the early 21st Century Affordable Health Care came into existence.  Currently under President Donald J. Trump the country seems to be attempting to move backwards to a time before the New Deal.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

To sum up: President Herbert Hoover spent millions on public works trying to help the nation quickly work itself through the Great Depression.  He didn’t want the government to directly give charity because that would destroy individual initiative.  President Franklin D. Roosevelt spent billions.  He doubled the money supply.  His policy was Relief, Recovery, and Reform: the three R’s.  There was some of each but the Great Depression did not completely end until the 1940s with World War II where spending was endless.  In 2008 the Real Estate Bubble, brought about by the banks over a 28 year period, burst and the value of the dollar dropped to about ten cents.  President George W. Bush initially bailed out the banks and then Barack Obama became President in 2009.  The country faced a potential for a depression far worse than the Great Depression.  President Obama spent trillions and the country faced a Great Recession which mainly ended a few years later.  We had learned how to limit depressions.

The Weiner Component V.2 #29 – The Pattern of United States History & the Evolving Purpose of Government: Part 2

 

Herbert Hoover was elected President of the United States in 1928.  He was the third Republican elected to the presidency since the end of World War I, taking office in March 4, 1929.  The Great Depression began on September 4, 1929, with a fall in stock prices.  The stock market crashed on October 29, 1929, Black Tuesday.  It would continue to drop thereafter, losing billions of dollars in value.

 

Hoover was President about seven months before the crash came.  He spent the next three and some years contending unsuccessfully with the Great Depression and waiting for the Stock Market to reverse itself into positive territory.  It never did.

 

From October 29th on the Great Depression became a world phenomenon.   It had devastating effects.  Personal incomes, tax revenues, profits and prices dropped.  International trade plunged more than 50%.  Countries had set up tariff barriers against all other nations.

 

Both poor and rich suffered.  Personal income tax revenues, profits and prices fell.  Unemployment in the United States dropped to 25%.  It was higher in some other countries, reaching 33%.  Farming areas suffered as crop-prices fell 60%.  All this began eight months after Hoover became President of the United States and continued to get worse during his presidency.

 

Once the Depression hit, Hoover, as President attempted to combat the economic decline with large scale government public work projects such as the Hoover Dam.  He urged industry to keep wages high.  Reluctantly he approved the Smoot-Hawley Tariff of 1930 which set up international trade barriers.  Because he believed in a balanced budget as government income from taxes fell, he raised the rate.   The economy kept falling and unemployment gradually rose to 25%.

 

What had happened was that the economy fell like a bolder off the roof of a high building.  On the one hand President Hoover tried to continually add money to the economy but on the other hand he massively decreased the amount of money available to the public by continually trying to balance the National budget.  The basic problem was that no one really understood what was happening.  By continually decreasing the money available Hoover exacerbated the depths of the depression.  In 2008, when a similar situation occurred the President increased government spending by trillions of dollars and did not raise taxes.  What should have been a greater depression than that of 1929 became instead a Great Recession from which the country recovered in a few years.  Economic downturns are generally understood today; their causes and effects weren’t in 1929.

***************************************

The Great Depression of 1929 was mainly caused by the unregulated banks.  They allowed stock to be purchased with a margin of 10 percent of the actual cost of the stock, the bank funding the remaining 90 percent with interest.  This allowed innumerable people to invest in the Stock Market.  The banks held the stock.  If its cost went down the so-called owner had to quickly come up with the difference raising the bank’s holding to 90 percent or they would sell the stock.  This was buying on margin.

 

The system created high false values on the stocks, producing a bubble which would at some point collapse.  Stocks that never paid a dividend were selling for ever rising costs.  Sooner or later a crash had to come.

 

When the Crash came on October 29, 1929, Black Tuesday, the majority of stocks dropped quickly far lower than 10 percent in one day and continued dropping on succeeding days.  A large number of stockholders were suddenly bankrupt and a lot of banks went out of business.

 

Overnight the amount of money in circulation decreased by a massive percentage and the country was in a deeper depression than it had ever been in before.  This was the Great Depression that would last until shortly after the outbreak of World War II.  What pulled the United States and other countries out of the Great Depression was the unlimited war spending.

***********************************

On March 4, 1933 Franklin Delano Roosevelt took office as the first elected Democratic President since the end of World War I.  In the preceding campaign he had promised the country a “New Deal.”  It was a term that came from poker; the player gave up his five cards and received five new ones with which to play.  It was to the American people a promise of a complete change.  What the change would be, no one knew at the time.  I suspect that included the President; but he would experiment and find a way through the economic crisis.

 

The New Deal consisted of what Roosevelt called the 3Rs: Relief, Recovery, and Reform.  Relief was to create jobs for the unemployed, Recovery was to bring the economy back to a state of health, and Reform was to pass laws that regulated the banks and other enterprises that brought about the Great Depression.  It was felt that the overall economy had to be changed so that this condition could never happen again.

 

Initially Roosevelt closed all the banks and quickly began a process of auditing them.  He began his fireside chats over the new invention, radio, stating in one of his early talks that “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”  He talked the nation through its fears.  During the first hundred days Congress passed bills that were largely blank, just having a title.  They were filled in by what was needed as they went into operation.

 

Roosevelt doubled the money supply by collecting all the gold coins, with the exception of a few held back as souvenirs.  People objected to having to turn in their gold coins for paper money.  The Federal Government sued them and won every case.  The gold was melted down and made into blocks which were then put into depositories like Fort Knox.  Gold paper certificates were then issued and kept by the Federal Reserve that denoted the amount of gold that was stored.

 

Ones and five dollar bills were silver certificates.  Ten dollar bills and up were gold certificates, actually Federal Reserve Notes.  Once this was completed the government had doubled its money supply.  Actually once this was done the country was off the gold standard.  It solved one major problem.  There had never been enough gold available to meet the monetary needs of the economy.  From this point on we were off the gold standard.  The theoretical fact that we, as a nation, were on one was a fiction.  Paper money could not be exchanged for gold.

 

What emerged as the New Deal developed was a series of Federal programs, public work projects, financial reforms and regulations enacted by the Roosevelt administration in response to the Great Depression.  These programs included support to the farmers, the unemployed, youth and the elderly.  It also included bank reform and changes to the monetary system.  They included both laws passed by Congress, and Presidential executive orders.  These programs focused on Relief, Recovery, and Reform.

 

In essence what Roosevelt did was to change the focus of the Federal Government.  From this point on it assumed responsibility for the welfare of its population.  It didn’t matter up until 2017 which political party was in control the new focus was kept up and added to by both political parties.  The Federal Government’s responsibility was to the people of the nation, to their welfare.  With the election of Donald J. Trump on January 20th on the government seemed to be attempting to move back in time to before 1929.  To date it hasn’t succeeded.

************************************

Harry S. Truman, who became President with the death of Roosevelt, and then won the next election for the Presidency introduced the “Fair Deal.”  It was a liberal extension of the New Deal.  Unfortunately, during his early presidency both houses of Congress were controlled by the Republicans.  What was achieved were those aspects of which the Republicans approved.

 

The Fair Deal included federal aid to education, a large tax cut for low income earners, abolition of the poll tax, an anti-lynching law, a farm aid program, increased public housing, an immigration bill, new TVA style public works projects, a new Department of Welfare, an increase in the minimum wage from 40 cents to 75 cents an hour, national health insurance, expanded Social Security coverage, and a $4 billion tax increase to reduce the national debt and pay for these programs.

 

A very small number of these items were passed by the Republican Congress.  In 1949 to 1950 there was a Democratic Congress and some more of these items were passed.

 

President Lyndon B. Johnson got a number of these reforms passed in his Great Society plan.  Medicare came into existence for senior citizens, with former President Harry S Truman getting the first card issued with the number 1.  Medicaid for the poor who could not afford proper medical care.  A number of civil rights and voter laws were passed desegregating the Southern States.  Johnson declared “War on poverty,” but was hampered in his domestic program by the Viet Nam War.  George W. Bush, the Republican President, added a 400 million dollar prescription drug bill to Medicare.

 

Finally under President Barack Obama in the early 21st Century Affordable Health Care came into existence.  Currently under President Donald J. Trump the country seems to be attempting to move backwards to a time before the New Deal.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

To sum up: President Herbert Hoover spent millions on public works trying to help the nation quickly work itself through the Great Depression.  He didn’t want the government to directly give charity because that would destroy individual initiative.  President Franklin D. Roosevelt spent billions.  He doubled the money supply.  His policy was Relief, Recovery, and Reform: the three R’s.  There was some of each but the Great Depression did not completely end until the 1940s with World War II where spending was endless.  In 2008 the Real Estate Bubble, brought about by the banks over a 28 year period, burst and the value of the dollar dropped to about ten cents.  President George W. Bush initially bailed out the banks and then Barack Obama became President in 2009.  The country faced a potential for a depression far worse than the Great Depression.  President Obama spent trillions and the country faced a Great Recession which mainly ended a few years later.  We had learned how to limit depressions.

The Weiner Component V.2 #21 – Comey vs Trump

speaking at CPAC in Washington D.C. on Februar...

Early in May President Donald J. Trump, without directly notifying James Comey

James Comey

James Comey (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

, fired him as Director of the FBI.  Later Comey received a letter from the President which stated: “I have received the attached letters from the Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General of the United States recommending your dismissal as the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  Trump had earlier requested these letters.

 

“I have accepted their recommendation and you are hereby terminated and removed from office, effective immediately.  While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgement of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the bureau.  It is essential that we find new leadership for the FBI that restores public trust and confidence in its law enforcement mission.  I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors.”  It is signed with Trump’s large signature.

 

While the Director made outlandish mistakes with the Clinton email investigation the question remains: Why did Trump fire him?

**********************************

On Thursday, June 8, 2017 James Comey, the former head or Director of the FBI testified to and was questioned by the Judicial Committee of the U.S. Senate.  Comey, as we’ve seen had been arbitrarily fired several weeks earlier by President Donald J. Trump.  Initially, according to Trump, he had been fired for incompetence but later in a TV interview with Lester Holt Trump stated that he had been fired for continuing the investigation of collusion between the Trump people and Russia during the 2016 Presidential Election.

 

It would seem that Comey was fired for refusing to express his loyalty to Trump over the Constitution.  Trump stated to Lester Holt that he had decided to fire Comey even before he received the letters from the from the Department of Justice.

 

Russia has been accused of meddling in the 2016 Presidential Election by every intelligence agency in the U. S. Government.  Among other things of hacking into and releasing Democratic emails, both real and made up, shortly before the election.  Trump has consistently denied that this was possible.

******************************

If one goes back to President Trump’s political campaign and considers what candidate Trump said it presents an image of a dark America where everyone has to struggle endlessly to survive.  This seems to be Trump’s world where he had bullied his way through as CEO of his own company surrounded by “Yes, men.”  Trump, according to one of his aids, Kellyanne Conway, lives in an alternate reality.  His values and concepts are different from those of most people.  In all probability he believes he has forced his success as a builder of hotels and golf courses by bullying and not allowing people to take advantage of him.  Instead he has been in a position to take advantage of others by limiting his payments to them.  This includes attorneys, contractors, and waiters working for him.  I imagine he doesn’t consider himself dishonest but shrewd.  To the people he has dealt with in this fashion he is a thief, totally dishonest.  To himself he is a winner and they are the losers.  This is the way he does his business.  And this seems to be the way he is attempting to run the United States of America as its President.

 

Of course the people to whom he has done this can sue him and some have successfully.  But in most cases the lawsuit cost as much as Trump owes them or possibly even more.  Trump will stall these cases, of which there have been over two thousand, dragging them on as long as possible, and allowing the costs for his opponents to mount endlessly.

 

Interestingly, with the appointment of a special prosecutor after the firing of James Comey as Director of the FBI by the Deputy Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein, Robert Mueller, former FBI Director, to investigate Trump’s possible collusion with Russia before and/or during the2016 Presidential Election, Trump has had a need to hire a private attorney.  Four of the leading law firms that handle this type of case turned him down, apparently for one or both of the following reasons: he doesn’t necessarily fully pay his attorneys, currently owing one firm about $96,000 and he doesn’t follow his lawyer’s advice.  He was forced to hire a lawyer who has great experience at being a bully and threatening people rather than one with experience in this area.  In fact his current attorney is currently undergoing an ethics investigation.  Conceivably he could lose his license to practice law.  Trump’s attorney, meanwhile, has hired another attorney experienced in the President’s problem area, to help defend Trump.

**********************************

House Speaker Paul Ryan’s ex-favorite author and philosopher, Ayn Rand, whose philosophy Ryan followed until he found out she was an atheist, then he presumably dropped her and her philosophy.  If he had read her philosophical work he would have figured out that fact early.  Ayn Rand sees religion as the means of controlling the masses, particularly by the group she calls the “witch doctors,” which are in reality the religious priests.

 

Ayn Rand’s philosophy, that she called objectivism, divides the people into four groups: the first is Attila, this includes all those who rule by force; the second is the witch doctors, the anti-intellectuals, the priests who supply systems of belief that cannot be supported by facts or logic.  This would be all the mystical beliefs that people supposedly live by, that are anti-intellectual and mystically assumed.  These are all the religious beliefs that allow the common man to be ruled by the “witch doctors,” priests and rulers who exploit their productivity.  The rulers (Atelia’s) and the witch doctors (priests) produce nothing but utilize the productivity of the masses for their own benefit.  This is an apt description of Donald Trump.

 

The third group would be the innovators who through logic and reason develop the technology needed to increase productivity.  These are her heroes or supermen, the ones who bring about societal innovation and progress.

 

I imagine that Paul Ryan saw/sees himself as a member of this group.  He was probably loath to give up this position. In reality Ryan, no doubt, still sees himself as of being the new man, tying together all the different aspects of the Republican Party.  But Ayn Rand, if she were alive today, would see Ryan as the ultimate witch doctor. Bringing together all the different elements of the Republican Party so that they could exploit the system for the benefit of the few who gain directly from the party; that is the wealthy who gain from the productivity of the mosses.

 

And the fourth group would be the overall masses that have been exploited over the ages supplying the needs of the first two groups, the Atalla’s and the witch doctors, while in many instances, doing without themselves.

 

Interestingly Donald J. Trump combines the first two types.  He has been/is both a conqueror and a witch doctor, exploiting both directly and indirectly a great number of people for his own use.  There is the example of Trump University as well as all the people on all levels who have worked for him and not been fully paid for their services.  But then Trump is the ultimate narcissist.  He sees everything in terms of himself and how he benefits.

********************************

 

Trump claims that in his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, James Comey, the former Director of the FBI told lies to Congress.  I doubt whether he did.  Watching Comey testify I got the impression that he was playing the perfect Boy Scout.  Actually he was being a super Eagle Scout.

 

Directly after each meeting he had had with Trump Comey wrote down everything that was said at the meeting and apparently kept a meticulous file.  There was something about Trump that made Comey feel that he needed to keep records of all those meetings.  Trump met with him privately at times and even invited him to a private dinner once.  Comey stated he was very uncomfortable with Trump privately.

 

Trump apparently feels that he is the government and that everyone owes allegiance to him first, not the Constitution.  Consequently, as President, they all owe allegiance to him.  It is even possible that Trump never read the Constitution.  In fact the impression one gets watching Trump in action is that he secretly expects everyone to take an oath of allegiance to him.  It would seem that in his mind he would like to be more like a dictator than a president.  He seems to admire strong heads of state like Vladimir Putin more than democratically elected heads of state.

 

Comey, as former Director of the FBI, worked very hard to keep the FBI from becoming politicized as it had been under its first Director J. Edgar Hoover.  But Comey has been a life-long Republican, appointed to the position by Republican President George W. Bush and continued at it by Presidents Barack Obama and initially by Donald J. Trump until he suddenly fired him.

 

The one factor about James Comey that seems to have been overlooked by the media is the fact that he is just as guilty as the Russians of undermining the 2016 Presidential Election.  Not too long before the actual election Comey announced, going against FBI policy, that it was investigating Hillary Rodham Clinton for email violation as Secretary of State.  He announced just prior to the election that the case was not prosecutable.  At the same time, if not earlier, the FBI was also investigating the Trump campaign for collusion with Russia in the 2016 Election.  Comey did not mention this.  It seems that as a life-long Republican he had the FBI take a position in the election.  He was as guilty as Russia, if not more so, in politicizing the FBI and taking a position in the Presidential Election.

 

Whether he meant to or not Comey sided with Trump.  Initially Trump praised him and within his first year in office fired him for non- cooperation.  Trump originally wanted the investigation against Michael Flynn dropped.  Comey would not only not do this he was also investigating the relationship between Trump people and Russian interference in the election.

 

It was the firing of James Comey, as the FBI Director, that brought a special prosecutor into existence.  Trump did a splendid job of bringing this condition into being.  He seems by his tweets and public statements to be his own worst enemy.  Will he ever learn to be otherwise?  Probably not.  Trump seems to continually act instinctively.  He publishes his tweets generally in the middle of the night.  And he is very spontaneous, even with a prepared speech; he seems to have a definite need to ad-lib.

 

.Will Trump last four years as President of the United States?  I suspect not.  I would even guess the bookies in Las Vegas are probably giving odds on how short Trump’s term in office will be.

The Weiner Component V.2 #18 – Deja Vu

Richard Milhous Nixon, 37th President of the U...

It took Richard Milhous Nixon two years of his second term as President of the United States to reach a point where he had to resign his office or be impeached.  It may take Donald John Trump less than a year in office to reach the same point.

 

President Trump seems to be his own worst enemy, continually bringing up issues that diminish him as President of the United States.  One issue is voter fraud.  Because Hillary Clinton got three million more popular votes than Trump there must have been voter fraud.  His thin ego demands that he had gotten the majority of the popular vote.  With no proof other than what he feels and knows emotionally to be true Trump is about to begin an investigation of voter fraud in the last election.

 

To his Voter Fraud Commission, which he has brought about with an Executive Order, Trump has assigned people who, among others, have belonged to hate groups.  He has assigned Kris Kobach to help lead this new commission.  Kobach is a lawyer who has championed laws to suppress voting and has long represented the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which has been named as a hate group by the SPLC.  He has also put Ken Blackwell on the commission.  He is a senior fellow at the Family Research Council, an anti-LGBT hate group.  The probable end result of this will be to restrict the vote among minorities and the elderly which many Republicans feel needs to be done since both those groups generally vote for the Democratic candidate.

 

But in point of fact from all past investigation, voter fraud is a very small fraction of one percent.  It is small enough to be practically nonexistent.  But Trump will loudly vent his feelings of outrage at not receiving the popular vote in this direction.  And he will follow past Republican practices of trying to suppress the non-Republican vote.

 

The group that blindly follows him will be egged on by him and will, in turn, egg him on with their cheering at his next rally.  Trump has stated that he could publically shoot someone and this group would cheer him on.  We’ll never really know, of course; but I suspect that it might be true for a part of his cheering groups, an ever decreasing number of the people who cheer him at his rallies.

***********************************

For the general public there is just so much idiocy or nonsense that they can take.  With Trump it seems that there is no limit as to how much he can dish out.  Also he seems to have a short-turn memory and is constantly or day by day contradicting himself or changing his mind.  He apparently forgets what he has agreed to or is continently contradicting himself.

 

Being President is the first political adventure Trump has had.  Prior to the 2016 Election he had never held any office, had never been a public servant.  He seems to have a limited or no knowledge of the presidents of the U.S. and of the nation’s history.  He either doesn’t realize or he doesn’t care that everything he says is instant news and is televised and that the media will show the public that he is constantly changing his mind.  Life is completely different than it was when he was just a businessman and could bully his way through almost everything.  He can no longer be contemptuous of the legal system and not pay contractors or employees the full amount they were supposed to get, or, for that matter, run a pseudo university for large amounts of student tuition.

 

Trump, by his own admission, is the world’s greatest negotiator.  But outside of business deals or his reality television contract he has never negotiated anything.  He feels he can get better deals than any of the professionals at the State Department.  He has, by the way, fired the entire upper echelon of the State Department and not hired anyone in their place.  I suspect he wants to do all the negotiating by himself or through his Secretary of State.  This is something that he cannot physically carry out.  But then to him negotiating is very easy and doesn’t take much time.

 

He is like a bull in a China shop.  Whatever he does he is upsetting something.  In many cases that something is himself.

 

We have seen him in action with the President of Mexico.  In terms of China he has had the President of China visiting his Florida Resort on a weekend and suddenly, according to Trump, China is no longer trying to exploit the United States even though their trading practices have not really changed.  We know he tried to have China bring pressure upon North Korea to stop its atomic and missile development.  By inference, since then I would assume that some sort of trade agreement between the two countries was worked out, but no announcements were made as to what they were and President Trump has mentioned more than once that China will help us with North Korea.  But North Korea is still developing its missile system.

 

In essence what President Trump has been doing is learning how to be President of the United States for the last one hundred and twenty some days.  Initially he thought he was in charge and thought he could do anything he wanted.  He has been limited by the Courts and by Congress.  Apparently he doesn’t understand or has never read the Constitution.  Knowledge has slowly come to him.  It has been a humbling experience and he doesn’t like it.  As a businessman he could do anything he wished and largely ignore the law.  As President there are Constitutional limits to his power.  He seems to be learning more about these limits every day.

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At this point of his Presidency, regardless of Trump’s indifference on the matter, it is generally agreed by both the press and most government agencies that the Russians interfered in the 2016 Presidential Election by, among other things, attempting to influence how people voted by publishing both real and fake news just before the actual election.  They also published a large number of WiliLeaks hacked Clinton Emails that tended to negatively impact her campaign.  To date no one has accused the Russians of trying to impact actual voter counts.

 

Also Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor, Jared Kushner, attempted to set up a backchannel line of communication with Russia last December that would bypass US’ national security and the intelligence apparatus.  The action was totally illegal.

 

In addition American government intelligence agencies have conclusive evidence of at least 18 specific contacts between Trump’s people and Russian agents both before and during the 2016 Presidential Election.  Whether this evidence included transcripts of the contacts is presently unknown.  But evidence does exist.

 

Trump, himself, has refused to accept this information.  He tends to be positive about Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin, stating occasionally that any nation could have done that.  Consequently he has rejected the idea that Russians interfered in the American election.  In fact for some unknown reason Trump has shared with Russian diplomats Israeli top secret information.

 

This bring us to Trump and the former Director of the FBI, James Comey.  Comey announced, early in May, that he had been conducting an investigation into relations between Trump’s people and Russia even before the actual Presidential Election of 2016.  Presumably, according to Trump, Comey was doing a lousy job as head of the FBI.  Consequently he fired him.

 

Supposedly, what actually happened is that Trump invited Comey to a dinner which then Director Comey did not really want to attend and there, among other things, asked for his loyalty.  The FBI has traditionally been kept separate from the rest of the government.  Comey refused to acquiesce.  Comey had later asked for more resources to continue the investigation of Trump.  Trump fired him, not long afterwards when Comey was on the Westcoast without informing him of the fact.

 

Since that time it has come out that Trump asked Comey to drop the investigation against his former National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn.  Flynn not only had contacts with Russian agents and been paid by the Turkish government he also lied about it.  Sally Yates, in her testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee stated that she warned the White House that Flynn could be blackmailed by Russia and was therefore a security risk.  Eighteen days after this he was fired by Trump for lying to the Vice President and replaced as National Security Advisor.

 

Flynn had been under investigation by the FB, even before the election.  On Tuesday, May 16, the New York Times published an article that Trump early in February, had asked the head of the FBI to drop the investigation against Flynn, stating that “He’s a good guy, I hope you let this go.”  Within minutes after the story appeared in the New York Times the White House posted a response to the newspaper’s website denying that the President ever made such a request.  According to the Times report, Comey wrote a memo immediately following a February meeting with Trump, when he made this request. In fact Comey wrote memos after every meeting with Trump.

 

It’s interesting to note that Michael Flynn, after he had been relieved of government office, offered to testify before a Senate Committee if he were given immunity.  During the Reagan administration Colonel Oliver North had been given immunity when testifying before a Congressional Committee and subsequently could not be prosecuted for misdeeds he had committed.  I suspect Flynn is in the same situation.  The committee turned down his offer.  What does Flynn know about Trump?

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The day prior, Monday, May 15, 2017, Trump had a meeting that lasted over an hour with the Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, another Russian official, and a Russian photographer in the oval office where he gave the Russians access to top secret information, information that was shared by Israel and was not supposed to be shared with anyone else.

 

Apparently only the President can instantly declassify materials.  This news dropped like a bomb-shell, shocking everyone.  Trump denied that what he showed the Russians was secret.  But what is generally believed is that Trump shared with them information which had come from one of the United States allies.

 

Whether it’s true or not isn’t the point here.  What is the point is how does this news affect America’s allies?  Will they be willing to share information in the future as they have in the past?  What does this do to international trust between its allies and the U.S.?

 

Why would President Donald Trump stand with Russia against all of America’s allies?  It would seem that Trump is somehow tied to the Russians.  Presumably to the Russian Plutocrats who are in Putin’s intimate circle.  Has he been involved in money laundering?  In other types of financial dealings?  In what?  Does he owe money to Russian banks?

 

It seems that Trump has definite ties with Russia.  And these have existed long before he became President of the United States.  Currently he is looking for a new Director for the FBI.  Will he find someone who will swear allegiance to him rather than the Government of the United States?  Will he add on more to all the “Yes, Men” he has in the White House?  How long will it take for one or more of the investigations of his ties to Russia to be completed?  I suspect, with all the new bombshells dropping daily he may at most last a year in office.  Currently he has been President for a over four months.  He has another eight to go to make a year.

 

On Wednesday, May 17, 2017, the controversy about Trump continues.  Vladimir Putin, the Russian President, has offered to send a transcript of the meeting with Trump in the Oval office.  This has been rejected because of the distrust of anything Russian by leading members of the U.S. Congress.  Some of the heads of European countries have said they will continue to share their secret documents with the United States.   Republican members of Congress have called for a special prosecutor.  Toward the end of the day a special Counsel, Robert Mueller, the former FBI Director, was appointed by the Assistant Attorney General to investigate Russian interference with the 2016 Election.  It was also reported on the next day by Kevin McCarthy, the House whip that he thinks Putin pays Trump.  In addition it came out that the Trump people knew that Mike Flynn was under FBI investigation before Trump hired him.

 

Every day there is new and exciting news about Trump.  He left on the weekend of May 20th for his first overseas trip, where he will probably practice his negotiating skill as the world’s greatest negotiator.  One of his stops is Israel.  It was top secret Israeli information that he shared with his Russian visitors to the oval office.  It has been suggested that as a businessman Trump had never faced any opposition.  He had been involved in over 2,000 lawsuits.

 

The merry-go-round, and round, Trump tends to go round and round.  When and where will it stop?  Something new and exciting seems to turn up every day.  There is a little over seven months to go before his first year as President is up.  Will he make it?

The Weiner Component Vol.2 #17 Republicans & Affordable Health Care

Official photographic portrait of US President...

English: Nations with Universal health care sy...

English: Nations with Universal health care systems. Nations with some type of universal health care system. Nations attempting to obtain universal health care. Health care coverage provided by the United States war funding. Nations with no universal health care. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The existence of Universal Health Care exists in most of the industrial nations as a right for every citizen.   In the United States this concept came into being in 2010, the second year of the Obama administration.  Traditionally, in the U.S. up until that time health care was provided by many employers or it was for people who could afford to pay the required premiums.  The idea of Universal Health Care as a right of all citizens began in the United States in 1945 with President Harry S Truman.  It remained an idea because no legislation was passed by Congress.  Under President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965 Medicare was passed for senior citizens and the disabled.  Former President Harry S Truman received the first card, numbered 1.

 

For younger people, those under 65 years of age, medical coverage had to be purchased.  Millions didn’t have any coverage.  Either their jobs didn’t provide it or they couldn’t afford the required premiums.  In medical emergencies these people had to go to E.R. in hospitals or attempt to ignore their illness.  The hospitals had to provide services even if they could not collect fees for them.

 

It should be noted that even with Medicare medical services are not completely paid for.  Even today many seniors have limited financial resources.  They may have to choose between medicine, food, and/or rent.  Medications also tend to be very expensive.

 

President Bill Clinton had a committee headed by his wife, Hillary, attempt to develop a Universal Health Care Bill during his presidency.  It was finally totally defeated with the slogan, “There has to be a better way.”  The “better way” was no Health Care Bill.  The concept was defeated during his first four years in office.

 

Under President George W. Bush a prescription payment was added to Medicare.  This did not do away with payments for medication but it reduced them considerably with the Federal Government picking up the balance.

 

It should be noted that one of the main groups of contributors to Congressional Elections, particularly Republican elections, is the pharmaceutical industry.  In turn Congress has protected their rights to charge outlandish prices for medications.  Most medications produced by these companies cost far less outside the boundaries of the U.S.  Ironically it is the taxpayers who now pick up most of the cost for medication so that politicians can more easily get contributions.

 

During the second year of the Obama administration, 2010, with the Democrats having control of both houses of Congress, the Affordable Health Care Bill was passed.  As a put-down the Republicans dubbed the bill Obamacare.  President Obama stated that he liked the title and it has been largely called that since.

 

Ironically, in order to make the bill palatable to the Republicans the Democrats built Affordable Health Care from a Republican plan, utilizing private enterprise, the insurance companies, to build a universal health plan.  Obamacare was modeled after a plan that had been developed and used by the state of Massachusetts under the Republican governor, Mitt Romney.

 

Not one Republican voted for Affordable Health Care.  They had all in caucus agreed to not support anything President Obama favored.  They were determined to make him a one term President.  The Bill was passed by the Democratic majority in both Houses of Congress.  Not one Republican voted for the Bill in either House of Congress.  In fact from 2011 on, when the Republicans achieved a majority in the House of Representatives, they voted over sixty times over the next six years to repeal the Bill.  Up until 2014 the Democrats had a majority in the Senate.  In 2015 the Senate barely achieved a Republican majority.  At that time President Obama vetoed the anti-Obamacare Bill.

 

With the election of the Republican Donald J. Trump as President of the United States and with Republican majorities in both Houses of Congress their goal seemed within reach.  But poles ascertained that repeal of that Bill had only 17% approval among the general public.  The majority of Americans want to keep it in existence.  Affordable Health Care had become even more popular than it had been during the time when Barack Obama had been President of the United States. The number of people signing up for it in 2017 increased considerably.

 

Suddenly the Congressional Republicans had a tiger by the tail.  When the Republican legislators went home on their numerous breaks to their districts they faced unhappy constituents who were vociferous in their protest against doing away with Obamacare.  This was particularly true when the Non Partisan Congressional Office that reported upon this bill stated that 14 million people would lose their health insurance coverage if the initial Republican “repeal and replace” health bill became law.

 

After failing to get their “repeal and replace” bill through the House of Representatives the Republicans members were careful to take their two week Easter break.  When they returned there was presumably a new “repeal and replace” bill which was rushed through the House and passed before it had been evaluated by the Non Partisan Budget Office that vets all bills as to their effects.  Since the bill would be massive in size the probability was that most of the Republicans who voted for it had not read it.

 

The new bill is called The American Health Care Act.  From what I understand it makes Health Insurance available to everyone if they can afford the premiums.  Whereas Affordable Health Care attempted to make Health Insurance a right for every citizen the American Health Care Act makes it a privilege for those who can afford it.  The Federal Government will give each state a fixed amount of money which the states can use in helping their citizens pay healthcare premiums.

 

The overall amount which the Federal Government will save is estimated to be around eight billion dollars.  This will allow the Congress to pass what it calls, tax reform.  Congress and President Donald Trump intend to reduce income taxes for the upper 1% and for corporations around eight billion dollars.  The principle here strikes me as reverse Robin Hood, that is, take from the poor and give to the rich.  If this goes through Donald Trump will reduce his taxes considerably.

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Fortunately the House of Representatives passing a bill is just that, passing a bill.  The bill then goes to the Senate and the Senate has to pass the bill.  First the bill actually goes to a Senatorial Committee where hearings on it will be held and it will be marked-up, changed or rewritten into a Senate version.  A number of Republican Senators have already stated that they have their own ideas about a Senate version of a Health Care Bill.

 

Once the Senate Committee has come out with their version of the bill it then goes to the full Senate where Senators can still amend the bill before voting upon it.  After amendments are added, and each one must be voted upon separately, the bill is again voted upon by the full Senate.  At best it will have three more Republican votes than Democratic votes.  The count in the Senate is now 52 Republicans to 46 Democrats and 2 Independents who caucus and vote with the Democrats.

 

It is very possible that the Republicans will not be able to get a majority vote and the bill will die in the Senate.  But even if it passes it will be different from the House bill.  Consequently the two bills will go to a Conference Committee made up of members of both Houses of Congress.  They, in turn, will have to come up with a Compromise Bill that is acceptable to both Houses of Congress.  If that were to occur then the new Compromise Bill would have to go to both Houses and be voted upon and passed in both Houses without any changes or it would have to go back to a new Conference Committee.

 

The chances of much of this happening is very small.  The probability is that the bill will not even reach the Conference Committee.  And even if it does it could easily die there.

 

What this bill will achieve is to upset the 14 million people who would lose their current medical coverage if the bill were to pass.  There is a Midterm Election coming up on the first Tuesday in November of 2018.  I am sure the Democrats in each District and State will be happy to remind their constituents of how their Republican representatives voted in 2017 on health care.  It would probably also be worth notifying them that the Republicans refused to raise the minimum wage above $7.25 an hour.  The probability is that the Senate will once again gain a Democratic majority and the House of Representatives could also achieve one.

 

President Donald Trump will likely be tweeting half the night if one or both Houses of Congress had a Democratic majority.  He has essentially been able to get nothing done with Republican majorities in both Houses of Congress.  He will probably get less than nothing done with one or both Houses of Congress in Democratic hands.

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As a point of interest, Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, who is or was a follower of Ann Rand, at least until he found out she was an atheist, is largely responsible for the original new health bill and after the Easter Congressional break for the so-called new version of that bill that the House of Representatives passed.  He says that it is “a bogus attack from the left” to claim that the health care bill was rushed.  I suppose the “left” is the Democratic Party, as the bill was passed strictly along party lines.  No Democrat voted for it.

 

Ryan did not wait for the Non Partisan Congressional Office to study and give the over-all effects of the bill.  Rushing the bill through the House meant, not giving the constituents a chance to complain.

 

It is also interesting to note that Ann Rand basic philosophy, which she applied to her novels dealt with the Hegelian method, thesis vs. antithesis which she turned into individuals acting against each other in her two major novels: The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged.  Her form, in both novels dealt with the super individual functioning or struggling against the uncaring group.  In essence it would be the super human vs. the uncaring masses.  I suppose to Ryan it means him against the masses.

 

This philosophy was developed in the late 19th and first half of the 20th Century.  Its prime example would be Germany’s concept of the Master Race.  I would guess that the current Speaker of the House of Representatives mentally includes himself among that group.  This is the man that pushed through the current House Health Bill which will, if passed, take medical insurance away from 14 million people and also increase the wealth of the well to do by decreasing their taxes.

The Weiner Component Vol. 2 #4: Part 1 – President Donald J. Trump

speaking at CPAC in Washington D.C. on Februar...

As of January 20, 2017 the United States had a new president and he certainly seemed different from any that had come before.  On his second day in office a good percentage of women in the county with the aid of some men held protest marches in all the major and a lot of minor cities, not only in the United States but also throughout the world.  Celebrities and female members of Congress came out with anti-Trump speeches.  One march was held within sight of the White House.   Instead of acknowledging this as a First Amendment right, Trump ignored the happening.  On a much smaller scale this has been repeated within the United States every day since, throughout Trump’s first two weeks in office.

 

At the Women’s Marches the women judged Trump, who had previously, over most of his life, judged them on a 1 to 10 scale according to his sexual preference, and found him as president on a scale of 1 to 10 rating below zero.

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Now that Trump has been elected President of the United States he is a very nervous head of state.  He can’t seem to get it out of his head that Hillary Clinton received 2.8 million more popular votes than he did.  With absolutely no evidence but a hurt ego, he has stated that he believes that all those extra votes that Clinton got were cast by non-citizens, people registered in more than one state, or by people voting in the name of dead individuals.  He also stated that many people who are registered in two or more states, vote in each. 

 

His daughter, Tiffany is registered in two states.  So is one of his advisors, Steve Bannon. And so is one of his son-in-laws who he is now using as one of his advisors.   People reregister when they move out of a state or to different residences within a state.  There is no mechanism to unregister.  Apparently, one’s name is removed from the voting rolls if an individual does not vote for a number of years.  Somehow Steve Bannon recently got his name removed from a Florida registration.

 

But Trump seems to feel that all this is a plot that kept him from getting both the electoral vote and the popular vote.  He cannot believe that a large number of voters did not really purposely vote for him.  Instead they voted against Hillary Clinton.  The improper balance of votes and false or fake news brought about her defeat.  Trump just happened to benefit from these.  He is the least popular or most disliked candidate in the history of the United States to have run for president.

 

Now, as President, he has ordered an investigation of the voting practices in the last Presidential Election.  The results should be interesting.  All the current evidence implies that all the cheating on voting is a very small fraction of one percent, certainly not the almost three million votes that Trump did not get.  I suspect the public will never hear the results of this investigation if it is even carried out.

 

During the campaign one long-time reporter on the staff of the Wall Street Journal defined Trump as a perennial adolescent who never really grew up.  Apparently what he learned up to that time he still knows.  Anything that has happened to him since that time just reinforces what he already knows. 

 

For some unknown reason this reminded me that Trump, who has never been in the military, was sent by his parents to a Military High School for his education.  Why would New York City parents send their child to a military high school?  The answer would be to get rid of a child who was essentially out of control.  If he misbehaved there he would be sent to the guard house, something his parents could not necessarily do.  Trump is very proud of his high school years which, he believes, gave him a knowledge of the military, since he never served in the armed forces.

 

Most people if they find things in their lives that they don’t like try to change that aspect of their lives.  But Donald Trump does not do this.  Instead he lives in an alternate reality.  If he finds something he does not like he innately knows that it is wrong and takes action accordantly.  With a contractor he has hired for something he knows that he has paid him enough and stops paying him, usually on the last instalment.  With the popular presidential vote he knows that he really won it.  Therefore people must have cheated at the ballet box.  As President he can call forth the forces of the nation to discover his alternate truths.  As a result President Trump is unique and totally scary.  There is no telling what he might do with his alternate reality.

 

If we assume the Wall Street reporter’s analysis of Trump was correct then is the man today any different from the adolescent high school student?  He is thin skinned, generally verbally attacks anyone who criticizes him, ignores group protests protected by the first Amendment, and can be erratic with constantly changing decisions.  Like many adolescents he seems to be incapable of being briefed with by the Intelligence people or, for that matter, by anyone else.  His concentrative ability seems to be relatively short where he is not directly involved in what is going on.

 

Lynden B. Johnson, when he became President of the United States, after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, fulfilled what seemed to be his lifelong ambition.  He became the most powerful man on earth.  What he found was that even though he had the power he couldn’t use it.  He ended up losing the Viet Nam War even though he escalated that war.  Donald J. Trump may not be smart enough to realize that limitation.  And that is really scary as he will be President until 2020, unless he is impeached prior to that time.

              

One thing Donald Trump does do is to project some of his own negative aspects upon any opponent.  For example, during his campaign struggle with Hillary Clinton, Trump called her “Crooked Hillary.”  It seems that he and the Clintons both ran altruistic Foundations.  His was run according to his rules which in many cases legally had nothing to do with the way a Foundation is supposed to function.  Much of what he did with the funds that were contributed by others benefited him directly.  Since the Foundation the Clinton’s had was ten or more times larger than his they must have been at least ten times more dishonest than he was.

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Trump believes in secret prisons outside of the country and that, in interrogating prisoners, torture inevitably works in gaining information from them, as was done under the President George W. Bush’s administration.  Even though the majority of military, CIA and FBI interrogators are against the use of torturing prisoners and do not believe it is an effective way to get information out of enemy prisoners.  The use of this type of “enhanced interrogation,” to quote former Vice President Dick Cheney, is now illegal.  I suspect both Donald J. Trump and Dick Cheney know it works because they feel if they were tortured they would tell the person questioning them whatever they wanted to know.  He is, however, willing to not push this point since his Secretary of Defense does not believe in the use of torture or secret prisons.  But he knows, without any evidence or experience, that torture absolutely works.

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During most of his presidential campaign Donald Trump boasted that as President he would build a high wall between the United States and Mexico to keep thieves, rapists, and murderers from coming into this country from Mexico.  He also boasted that Mexico would pay for the wall.  The Mexican government stated that under no circumstances would Mexico pay for such an enterprise.

 

On Wednesday, January 25, 2017, five days after Trump officially became President of the United State, he signed an executive order beginning work on this enterprise.  The Mexican president then cancelled an official visit to the U.S. and blatantly stated that under no circumstances would Mexico pay for the wall. 

 

Trump stated that it would be complicated getting Mexico to pay for the wall.  On Thursday, January 26 he announced his plan.  There would be a 20% tax on all imports into the United States from Mexico.  Whether this is his opening position or final position is unknown at this time.  In either case it would cancel out the NAFTA agreement with Mexico and make the United States a non-dependable trading partner since it would thereafter have a reputation for changing international trade rules arbitrarily by ignoring its own Trading Treaties.

 

It should be noted that the two countries share a twelve hundred mile border and while some areas in connecting cities where the two country’s border touch, currently have fences; these may not come up to Trumps expectations.  Depending on the fence or wall that Trump wants to build the costs will be anywhere from 3 billion to 33 billion or somewhere above that.  Imagine how much it cost to build a fence around a home property.  There the fence or wall will be, at most, six feet high.  The wall Trump is talking about would be fifteen to twenty feet high and extend for 1,200 miles. 

 

As of Wednesday January 26th the United States would pay for the WALL but will eventually get its money back from a 20% tax on all goods coming into the country from Mexico.  That was the plan on Thursday morning but by Thursday late afternoon the plan had disappeared.  However on the next day, Friday, it was being touted again.  It disappeared again the day after.

 

This so-called wonderful plan of Trump’s will firmly place the cost of building the Wall on the backs of the American taxpayers by placing the payment of the wall firmly on Americans in the U.S.  It will also significantly reduce the purchasing of Mexican products in this country by raising the price of all goods imported from Mexico twenty percent.  Mexico will reciprocate by placing a similar tax upon American goods coming into Mexico.  The result will be a trade war that freezes out a large percentage of purchasers in both countries for people who can no longer afford the assorted items being shipped from one country to the other and both countries will be harshly effected since today both have major trade with the other . 

 

This will be particularly troublesome because Mexico currently is the second largest export market for the United States.  One of the many types of products that comes to the United States from Mexico are fresh fruits and vegetables, particularly during the winter season.  With a twenty percent increase in cost many people will no longer be able to afford these products.  This will take the U.S. back thirty or more years when people had fresh fruits and vegetables in season only, instead of all year.  Not only Mexican farmers and American consumers will be hurt but the entire pattern of trade will be hurt negatively affecting people in both countries.  It may also disrupt trade with many of our other trade partners and destroy the NAFTA agreement between the two counties which has been highly effective for both sides.

 

In addition, once the wall is completed it will have to be constantly monitored.  This will require a large number of crews monitoring it over all twelve hundred miles.  It will cost billions to build and additional billions to care for it.  Even if the United States could get it built at no cost it would still cost vast amounts to maintain it.

 

The entire plan is crazy.  The U.S. will be putting out multi billions of dollars, increasing the National Debt, which may or may not get all its investment back over an unknown number of years; meanwhile standards of living in both countries will drop with the rise in prices.  It is a sad use of resources while the U.S. has a fair sized homeless population of which just the city of Los Angeles, according to a recent count, had 47,000 homeless, many of whom will die of exposure during the winter season.  In addition there are far more things to be done in the U.S. particularly regarding its infrastructure that should take priority over a wall separating both nations.  

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Donald J. Trump has been very busy during his first week in office signing executive orders, each neatly placed in a black leather folder.  The problem here is that the majority of these single page documents are not executive orders, they are, if anything, requests to Congress to pass laws that will put these statements into practice.  Of the smaller percentage that are executive orders many contain contradictions that make carrying out the order impossible.  The problem here is that Trump and his staff need to learn what the parameters of executive orders are before he or they start writing them.

 

President Trump has retired or fired the entire upper echelon of the career diplomats at the State Department who have served under both Republican and Democratic presidents.  When the new Secretary of State takes command of that department he will be missing a whole layer of career executives who run the departments on a daily basis as well as many of the trained negotiators.  Of course Trump, who considers himself the world’s greatest negotiator, may appoint a whole new cadre of people to run it but they would not have any experience at doing so.  It would be like bringing back the 19th Century Spoils System into the 21st Century.  These positions are too important to give to loyal amateurs.

 

In addition a large percentage of the individuals who work for the State Department have signed letters of protest against one of Trump’s executive orders baring the entrance of Muslims from entry or reentry into the United States.  They have stated that this order will do more harm than good.  Trump’s press secretary has stated that they can either carry out the order or leave the Department of State.  With the career leadership already having been removed from the State Department and a mass quitting or firing among the rest of the personnel Trump could well begin his tenure with a Secretary of State and a non-functioning Department behind him.  In either case the moral at the Department has never before been as low as it currently is. 

 

So far, after about two weeks in office, Trump would seem to be his own worst enemy as far as running the United States.

The Weiner Component Vol.2 #3 – The Purpose of Government

English: Citizens registered as an Independent...

English: Citizens registered as an Independent, Democrat or Republican. Derived from :Image:Party affiliation USA.jpg. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If the question of what is the primary purpose of government in the 21st Century is raised then depending upon which major political party you adhere to you get different answers. 

 

Historically people have always been social animals, always functioning in groups with some form of social organization.  Traditionally governments have functioned to provide a framework in which people have lived.  They have provided rules or laws that have allowed them to live together, kept them safe within the society and from foreign invaders, provided the necessities for reasonable living conditions and protected their property.  These governments have provided a currency and regulated trade within and with other nations.  Other than that people have provided for their individual needs for themselves.  This, in essence, is the Republican concept of the function of government.

 

In 1929, through following these concepts and unlimited growth on the stock market, the United States economy crashed and billions of dollars were lost almost overnight in the 1929 Great Depression.  From 1929 through 1932 feeble attempts were made by the Republican dominated government to allow the Stock Market to adjust itself.  Instead it kept dropping lower.  This occurred from 1929 through 1932, when it and the rest of the economy reached its lowest level.  The Market Model was unable to adjust itself; it had been abused too much.

 

In 1933, the Democrat, Franklin D. Roosevelt became President, replacing the Republican, Herbert Hoover.  Roosevelt, in dealing with the massive unemployment problem, extended the purpose of the Federal Government, by having the Federal Government assume responsibility for those people who could no longer function successfully within the broken society.  He created mechanisms whereby these people could again function with a measure of success within the economy.  The Federal Government had now assumed responsibility for the people in the country who could no longer provide for themselves.  This now became the new additional function of the Central Government. 

 

While conditions improved considerably the Great Depression did not end until about 1940 with the outbreak of World War II when first European and Asian nations bought unlimited goods from America and at the end of 1941 when the Federal Government began unlimited spending in fighting the war. 

 

The government had dedicated itself to a new purpose which would continue on after the war had ended, more or less, depending upon which political party controlled the Central Government.  The Republicans tended to favor business and the wealthy, limiting social spending as much as possible, while the Democrats favored the middle and lower class extending this practice as much as they could.

 

Currently with the Republicans in control of Congress and the Presidency they are moving to get rid of Obamacare (Affordable Health Care).  They are presumably going to replace it with Trumpcare, whatever that is.  Probably it will be a voucher system that will be cheaper for the government to operate, but will gradually become more and more expensive for its recipients as medical costs increase but government vouchers do not.

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Two events occurred: one began in the 1970s, an increasing need for more money to be available in the National Cash Flow; and the other in the 1980s with the election of Ronald Reagan to the presidency.  In the earlier decade the major banking houses in the country began packaging mortgages in small fractions and selling them.  They did this gradually on a larger and larger scale.  The process took off in the 1980s with the Reagan White House.  This, in turn, increased the value of the homes.  In essence a percentage of the population began mortgaging and refinancing the ever increasing value of their houses over and over again.  At no time during the 30 years of this period was there any real inflation in the country.  For the first 10 years the country was in an inflationary cycle that began with the Viet Nam War.  This was ended at the beginning of the 1980s.

 

Reagan was the first of the really Conservative Presidents.  Forty-five years earlier he had majored in economics as an undergraduate in college.  Since that point in history economics had developed far from where it had been when Reagan was a college senior.  Much more about its functioning was understood in the 1980s.

 

Adam Smith began modern economics with the publication of his work,  “An Inquiry into the Wealth of Nations,” in 1776.  In this work, among other things, he developed the Market Model, which functioned through the use of the “invisible hand.”  The invisible hand is the profit motive.  Smith believed that the profit motive would best make all the Market decisions of what to produce and how to produce it. 

 

President Ronald Reagan and a good percentage of Republicans in Congress also believed this.  During his presidency hey did away with all bank regulatory laws that had been developed during the 1930s and beyond to avoid another Great Depression.

 

In the period before the 1929 Stock Market Crash many bank executives had taken depositors monies and invested them in stocks.  Shortly thereafter when the price went up they had sold the stocks and pocketed the profits.  People could also buy stocks on margin; all an investor needed was 10% of the value of the stock he/she bought, the banks would lend the remaining 90%.   The problem here was that many people were in love with the concept of the stocks, not with their true value, and they kept forcing up the value of all the stocks by continually buying and selling them.  This created a bubble that had to burst at some time.  When it did, from 1929 on, it not only bankrupted innumerable stockholders but also innumerable banks with unbelievable negative effects upon the overall economy.

 

The result of what Reagan considered reforms was that a multitude of banking organizations began an almost limitless level of refinancing homes, allowing people to take their ever increasing equity out of their properties to buy whatever, and countless billions of dollars were created in the National Cash Flow allowing almost endless spending.  All of this occurred until 2008 when the bubble burst.  Interestingly some of these companies insured the bank loans, charging generous premiums.  These companies and many banks faced immediate bankruptcy with the crash.

      **************************************

In the year 2008 the Housing Bubble, that had been developing over the last forty years, burst, bringing about an almost instant and complete drop in home property values.  People’s home values virtually dropped overnight hundreds of thousands of dollars per single unit leaving a percentage of homeowners underwater, suddenly owing more on their home properties than they were worth.

 

This process had been slowly building since the 1970s, with it massively accelerating during the Reagan administration in the 1980s, when virtually all banking laws, many of which came into being during The Great Depression in the 1930s, were done away with and the country followed the administration’s mantra of letting the Free Market make all the economic decisions.  A good percentage of the population, with strong encouragement from the banks, had gone through a wild period of spending.

 

Specifically what happened was that the country did not have enough money in the National Cash Flow to meet its needs.  There was a shortage of money in the overall society.  The banks, among the many services they perform for the general society, also can increase or decrease the amount of cash available within their specific regions.  They do this through their lending or non-lending practices.  Most exchanges of cash at this time was through the transfer of funds by writing checks, bringing about an exchange of numbers in different columns of different bank ledgers.

 

People discovered the advantages of their equity in their home loans by taking out First, Second, and Third mortgages based upon their equity.  Over the forty year period as people borrowed upon their homes the value of their homes went up continually.  It seems the continual borrowing created a desire in people who rented living space to attempt to buy homes, forcing up the value of the homes even more for this forty year period.  Properties that were purchased for well under one hundred thousand dollars, because of the sudden great demand, were worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. 

 

For the forty year period, well into the year 2008 home values kept rising.  People refinanced their properties over and over again buying whatever they wanted.  The overall economy prospered.  People bought all the toys they ever wanted: boats, mobile homes for traveling, whatever.  There was no real inflation.

 

By the year 2007 the indications of a collapse were present for those in a position to understand what was going on.  But the bankers, who had taken home millions in compensation, were in total denial.  They were incapable of understanding that conditions could change.  To encourage further refinancing many banks raised the level of refinancing homes to 125% of the appraised value of the property.

 

Toward the end of the year 2008 the bubble burst or the crash came.  Many homeowners suddenly discovered that they were underwater, owing more on their home than they were then worth.  Some just walked away from their properties, leaving a deserted house behind them.  Others just stopped making payments they could no longer afford.  Unemployment rose significantly. 

 

Hedge Funds that had been developed from some of this mortgage paper were suddenly worthless.  Banks foreclosed upon properties that they both owned or had owned and sold to hedge funds.  The entire situation was a total mess.  Hedge funds were suddenly worthless, many banks were on the point of bankruptcy.  It looked like the entire economy was on the point of collapse.

 

At this point President George W. Bush and his Treasury Secretary, Hank Paulson, arranged for bank loans to keep many financial institutions from going bankrupt.  Then Bush was replaced by President Barack Obama who continued the bank loans and also bailed out the American auto industry which was also at the point of bankruptcy at that time.  With President Obama’s massive spending efforts what could have been a greater depression than the Great Depression of 1929 turned into what has been called the Great Recession, from which the country is still on its way out of.  By January of 2017 unemployment in the United States had dropped to 4.8%. 

 

The problem that existed here is that from the 1970s on more money was needed in the economy that should have been supplied by the Federal Reserve on a more gradual level.  A controlled increase of funds for the nation would have allowed for a slow healthy economic growth with no crash in 2008.  Allowing the banks to do this with just the profit motive led to unlimited and reckless greed as the major factor controlling the economy.

     

English: Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Herbert...

English: Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Herbert Hoover in convertible automobile on way to U.S. Capitol for Roosevelt’s inauguration, March 4, 1933 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Th

e Great Depression was caused by the Republican’s legislating after World War I.  This was from the election of Warren Harding to the presidency through Herbert Hoover.  They created the necessary laws and general milieu that allowed it to come about.  The Housing Crash of 2008 was set forth by the policies of President Ronald Reagan.  He inspired and brought about the environment that allowed the financial institutions to go berserk through the unhampered use of the profit motive.  Now, with the election of Donald J. Trump to the presidency an equally horrible situation exists with the Republican legislature and Trump promising to do away with Affordable Health Care and the distinct possibility of taking medical care away from about 30 million citizens.

 

During his first year as President in 1993 William Jefferson Clinton, among other things, attempted to set up a system of Universal Health Care for all the people in the United States.  He placed his wife, Hillary, in charge of a task force that was supposed to develop a plan for this.  The Republicans were strongly against it.  They tried everything they could to kill this plan.  Finally they succeeded when they came up with a slogan: “There has to be a better way.”  The “better way” ended up being: No way.  With this mantra they successfully ended the plan for universal health care in 1993.

 

During President Barack Obama’s first two years in office he had a Democratic majority in Congress.  Together, they came up with a plan for the majority of people in the country to achieve health care.  The plan had been developed by a Republican think tank for Mitt Romney, when he was governor of Massachusetts.  I imagine that President Obama assumed that a Republican Plan would gain some Republican support in both Houses of Congress.  But by that time the Republican members of Congress had in a caucus and taken an oath to make Obama a one term President by not supporting anything he supported or for which he could take credit.  As a consequence they have vigorously opposed and continually denounced Obamacare (Affordable Health Care), which was in actuality their plan.  Affordable Health Care was passed in Congress strictly on a party basis, not one Republican Congressman voted for it.

 

In 2011 the Republicans gained a majority in the House of Representatives.  From then on the House passed bills to do away with Affordable Health Care; this was over fifty times.  While the Democrats controlled the Senate the bill was not even taken up there.  In 2014 the Republicans also gained the majority in the Senate.  In 2016 they gained Donald J. Trump as the new Republican President.  They are promising to replace Obamacare with a new and better policy.  But no specific plan seems to be on the horizon.  Meanwhile the first steps have been taken to begin the process dismantling Affordable Health Care.

 

Interestingly even the Republicans are now stating their sense of responsibility for the medical welfare of the general public.  But Affordable Health Care was their plan for universal health care.  It entails using private enterprise to bring universal medical care into existence. 

 

What is interesting or strange is that in 2012 when President Barack Obama ran for reelection, his Republican adversary, Mitt Romney and his fellow Republicans seem to have totally forgotten the Crash or Great Recession of 2008.  When elected they were going to do away with the laws passed in 2009 and 2010 to avoid that situation from occurring again.  And the same is true about the Presidential Election of 2016.  It would seem that the Republicans have some sort of collective amnesia about their own past.  The difference is that in 2016 the Republican candidate, Donald Trump and his fellow Republicans won the election, not only the presidency but also both Houses of Congress.  What will they do?  It seems that the Republicans themselves are not sure

Donald Trump enters the Oscar De LA Renta Fash...

The Weiner Component, Volume 2 – Economics in the 21st Century: #1: Change & the 21st Century: Part I Introduction

 

Prenote: I find myself getting bored with Donald J. Trump and his machinations.  He, as President-Elect is setting up a government which seems that it will wipe out any progress made in the 20th Century on.  Will it?  We’ll have to wait and see. 

Meanwhile the stock market is rising to new heights.  Is that because of President-Elect Donald J. Trump or in spite of him?  Again we’ll have to wait and see.  Basically the issue with Trump is that we, the public, will have to wait and see what he does after January 20, 2017, when he becomes President of the United States.

Meanwhile I will begin a new version of my book, “Economics in the 21st Century.

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Volume 2 #1 – The Purpose of Government in the 21st Century:                                                            Introduction: Part 1

 

The past is always safe, particularly if it is mostly imagined.  It is a known when balanced against the future which is always unknown and therefore unsafe.  In the presidential election of 2016, Donald J. Trump was elected by a minority of voters who were fearful of the changes that were occurring in society.  Trump promised to bring back the past.  He would bring back the values and conditions that supposedly were while Clinton would continue forward to a changing society.

                       *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

 With the election of Donald J. Trump, as President of the United States by a majority of people from the smaller states the country choose the candidate that got the minority of popular votes but the majority of electoral votes.  Hillary Clinton actually won the election with nearly three million more votes than Trump received.  The voters who choose Trump actually choose to stay with what they believed would be a return of the past, to the supposed happy days when there were jobs for all the low skilled workers.  Trump would, he said, “stay the course” and continue the process of lowering taxes.  He would continue the war effort in the Middle East and the War against Terror.  He would bring back all the jobs that had moved overseas and take the country back to its happy days, whenever they were.  He would reform our society, making it as it had been in the past.

 

Of course “reform” historically was a euphuism for change or raising taxes among the ordinary citizens of the country.  Trump has promised to lower taxes for the wealthy.  Ordinary people would object to a tax raise but how can they be unhappy about reform, semantical games.  The problem is that the government is spending billions of dollars daily above what it collects in taxes pushing the National Debt (which President Clinton had begun to reduce) to new astronomical levels.  Trump will lower taxes for the wealthy and the corporations.  He will have to make up the difference somehow.

 

There is currently one vacancy on the Supreme Court and one Justice in her eighties.  From what I understand Trump should be able during his tenure as President to probably make two appointments to the Court.  This should make the Court 6 to 3 in favor of the conservatives.  The significance of a solid conservative balance on the Supreme Court is that it might, among other things like individual rights, finish striking down Roe vs. Wade; and thus take away the right of choice from slightly over fifty percent of the population.  The majority of women, according to the surveys taken, are overwhelmingly in favor of choice.  It would be a decision imposed by a minority upon the majority.

 

 This seems to be Trump’s version of the “good old days.”

                           *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

But despite what is currently happening with Donald J. Trump as the new President-Elect no one really knows what he will do as President.  Still the Twenty-first Century holds the promise of all sorts of social and economic changes for the people of the United States, the other Industrial Nations, and even for the emerging non-industrial countries of this world.  The question, of course, is whether these changes will be positive or will they be otherwise.  Our traditional economic model will no longer function (if it ever did properly beyond the theoretical stage).  Technological change, particularly that of the Computer Revolution is moving forward at a rapid pace.  The changes are speeding up. 

 

     With these changes the concept of employment (What is work?) is/will also undergo evolution.  Low skilled jobs are and have been disappearing in the United States; some highly technological occupations are and have been coming into being.  A large number of factory and many white collar jobs are moving overseas where they can be performed at a much lower cost.  The economy today is a world-wide one with the individual nations still being essentially nationalistic.

                         *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

     For the last three to four thousand years the concept of work has been fairly constant.  It has essentially been effort related to survival: production of food, shelter, clothing, and gradually entities needed for recreation.  Up until the Industrial Revolution it took ten or more people working full time (sunrise to sunset) to provide the fundamentals needed for one individual to have the leisure time to be a priest, government official, artist, or someone not having to work for survival.  With the change over from a hand-craft society to a machine- operated one the ratio has changed and continues to decrease.  From ten to one we gradually went to one person supplying everything for one hundred people.  With the coming and continuance of the Computer Revolution the ratio has gone from one supplying everything for one hundred people to one supplying what’s needed for a thousand individuals, with the possibilities of eventually going well beyond that number.

 

     What then happens to both the concept of work and the need to work when all the rudiments can easily and almost effortlessly be supplied?  Traditionally man (and woman) have earned their bread like Adam (after being expelled from the Garden of Eden) by the sweat of his (her) brow.  Now, ironically, we have returned to garden conditions.  Can we handle them?

 

     Today, at the Second decade of the Twenty-first Century, we seem to be well into the Computer Revolution; but, I suspect, we are only seeing its initial stage. 

 

The government constantly monitors and publishes the unemployment percentage of the working population.  They are thrilled when it decreases by one or several tenths of a percent.  Politicians like Donald Trump, are constantly promising to decrease unemployment.  The President will proudly proclaim and take credit for any tenth of a percent decrease.  The goal, as far as the government and public are concerned, seems to be a healthy economy with full employment in an era when computers are rapidly increasing the rates of productivity and many corporations are downsizing while increasing their output.  We seem to be squarely and hopefully looking historically backward.

                               *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Many thousands of years ago a man-like creature first picked up a rock or piece of wood and used it as a tool or weapon for the first time.  From that time on the concept was passed to others and they did the same, eventually discovering that they could chip the rock into a specific shape and sharpness and sharpen the wood, fire-hardening a point.  Over the multitude of years types of tools were developed.  Mankind developed more and better means of increasing his productivity, of making life easier for himself.  In fact his conscious or unconscious goal during all the years of his existence has been to produce more with less effort.

 

During the 19th Century the emerging handicraft society began to change in England and then Europe and the United States with the gradual development of machines; this became known as the Industrial Revolution, when manufacturing changed from hand-production to machine production.

 

The early machines were mostly made of wood and were operated by water-power, and shortly thereafter by steam power.  With the invention of the electric motor and development in metallurgy the machines became metal and also more highly efficient, multitudinously increasing their productive capacities.  Where in the Eighteenth Century it took ten people to produce enough to free one from labor, now gradually one person could produce enough to supply ten individuals with all their basic needs.  Life and the concept of work changed.  A percentage of the handicraft people were displaced becoming superfluous; these were the luggites.  Machines did their work a hundred times faster than they could by hand.  The level of productivity brought about by the Industrial Society achieved by the middle of the Twentieth Century a level of supply of goods and services in the Industrial Nations that had been inconceivable earlier.  It also brought about the Business Cycle — prosperity, recession, depression, and recovery — in a never ending pattern erratically coming about in shorter or longer periods of time.

 

Recession and depression, presumably caused by overproduction, brought about a situation in which there was fair to large scale unemployment, reduced consumption of goods and services in an economy where the overall workforce strongly desired to work and consume but could not.  The economy had broken down, ceased to smoothly function.  The willingness to work was there but the economy could not utilize it.  For one reason or another the basic rudiments that caused the economy to smoothly flow no longer worked. 

 

The question here is why?  There is a ready and willing workforce anxious to labor and consume the goods and services produced but there is no work for them and very little for them and their families to consume.  WHY?

 

The grease that allows the economy to function is money.  The distribution of that entity throughout an economy, the amounts that each family unit earns or has determines who will get how much of the goods and services produced.

 

How then is money distributed within a society?  The different occupations receive different levels of remuneration.  Unskilled labor, which is mostly grunt type work requiring generally brute strength only would be the lowest paid earnings.  In many cases, not enough is earned to provide for the basic needs of an individual or family.  Skilled labor, on the other hand, can go from a fair standard of living to a level where the amount of money earned cannot possibly be spent because of its vastness in the millions.

 

Money can also be stored, not used for consumption, but put into banks or other financial institutions where it earns interest.  In addition it can be used as a commodity where it can earn profit.  Used this way it tends to increase the productive capacity of a nation; but this has nothing to do with the distribution of goods and services.

 

Money, in the form of profit (Adam Smith’s “invisible hand”) becomes the motivating force behind production of both goods and services.  Profit, from the sale of goods or the charge for services and the accumulation of money is the motivation for production.  This accumulation allows a small percentage of the population to amass large amounts but again, has nothing to do with a reasonable distribution of the specie.

 

It can be argued that Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” works on every level of the economy.  Given a choice the laborer, white collar worker, executive, entrepreneur will take that position which pays the greatest amount or has the best advantages.  Therefore each entity within the society is functioning where he/she can in their own interest; doing the best for themselves and their family unit.  But, again, what has this to do with a fair distribution of the National Income?

 

Several interesting questions arise here: Is money really related to the production of goods and services?  And if it is not then in what way would distribution be accomplished?  Since volume of production is tied directly to volume of consumption how, if we are to avoid upturns and downturns (constant recovery and recession), can we maintain a steady course of production and distribution of goods and services? 

 

The economic model (capitalism) was stated in 1776 by Adam Smith in his book “An Inquiry into the Wealth of Nations,” which was published that year.  Smith designed his model for a pre-industrial nation, for a time when production could not meet the overall needs of everybody in the society.  We are now almost into a postindustrial society moving rapidly through and into the computer Revolution.  We are still prone to the vicissitudes of the Business Cycle.  Can we afford this kind of continual economic up and down turn?

                   *********************************

The Twenty-first Century promises to be a time of intense change.  If we continue to adhere to what we have now then the economic upheavals can be catastrophic.  The Great Depression of 1929 could be mild compared to what we may face. In 2008 we faced such a situation.  It was avoided by massive spending by Presidents Bush and Obama.  

 

Donald Trump seems to be pointing toward the pre-2008 period.  He could, during his four year presidency, bring us back to an economic situation as bad as or far worse than the potential 2008 Depression. 

 

To avoid the possibility of negative economic change within our economy the country needs a new economic model or it has to make massive changes within our present system.

 

 

The Weiner Component #172 – Part 1: Notes on President-Elect Donald J. Trump

The question that arose at the end of November 2016 was whether Donald Trump was/is more interested in being President of the United States or remaining in charge of his Business Empire?  At present he seems to want to do both.  The problem that emerges here is that doing both means he is completely subjected to conflicts of interest, where as President he is encouraging foreign visitors to use his property facilities such as his new Washington, D.C. hotel which he recently opened.  Trumps attitude seems to be for everyone to trust him, he will keep the two entities separate, even though he does not reveal the extent of his Business Empire. 

 

Trump likes to keep secrets.  He is the only President in recent history who has not released his income taxes.  He has also not released any information on the extent of his property holdings, either within the United States or internationally.  We also have no idea of the ties he has with Russia, China, India, or for that matter, with any other nation.

 

Is this reasonable?  While the President and the Judges of the Supreme Court are exempt from self-interest still conflicts in the two could affect President Trump’s responsibility to the United States.  If he intentionally makes a profit in his real estate empire from acts he performs as President then he is abrogating his role as President of the United States and acting unconstitutionally.  For this type of act he can be impeached.  What exactly will Donald Trump do, if anything, to alleviate his conflicts of interest?  Does he care about them?

speaking at CPAC in Washington D.C. on Februar...

                          ***************

Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Council will participate in a recount of the votes in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan.  Marc Elias, the Clinton campaign’s general council wrote in a post on Medium on Saturday, November 26, 2016, that the Clinton team has been conducting an extensive review of election results.

 

“While the effort has not, in our view, resulted in evidence of manipulation of results”, stated Elias, “now that a recount is underway, we believe we have an obligation, to the more than 64 million Americans who cast ballots for Hillary Clinton, to participate in the ongoing proceedings to ensure that an accurate vote count will be reported.”

 

The Green Party candidate, Jill Stein, has to date raised 5 ½ million dollars for a recount in Wisconsin; where she filed for one on Friday morning, November 25, and has pledged to do the same in Pennsylvania and Michigan.  These are states where President-Elect Trump won or is leading by a small margin.

 

New York magazine reported that a group of activists and computer scientists have implored the Clinton campaign in a conference call on the week of November 20th to call for a recount in the three states.

 

Wisconsin has 10 electoral votes, Pennsylvania has 20, and Michigan has 16 electoral votes.  Since each of these states is a winner take all state the total is 46 electoral votes.  In each of these states Clinton did better than Trump in the urban centers where the voting machines were mechanical.  In the rural areas the voting machines were electronic and hooked into the internet.  There Trump did better and presumably won all three states.

 

It is in the rural areas with the electronic voting machines that the computer experts tend to believe there may have been interference and possible hacking of the information.  It could have been changed.  This is where they specifically want a recount which could change the course of the election. 

 

If Clinton actually won these three states it would change the Electoral College vote from 290 for Trump to 244 and Clinton’s 232 Electoral votes would become 278, making her the winner of the 2016 Presidential Election.  It takes 270 Electoral College votes to win the election.  Trump has called the recount a scam.  He has stated that the Election is over and that he has won.  Some of his supporters are suing to avoid a recount.

 

What will happen is if a recount gives those three states to Clinton there is absolutely no precedent for this kind of event?  To quote former President, Harry S. Truman, “The manure will hit the fan.”  Hillary Clinton did receive well over two ½ million more votes than Trump.  It is a distinct possibility that it could happen.  The objective noises and denunciations will be heard from one end of this continent to the other.  Will there be acts of violence?  There’s no telling.  Will Trump and the nation get over the shock?  Eventually.

                    

What is the probability of this happening?  It is probably well under 50%.  Actually a happening of this dimension would resolve a lot of problems.  All of Trumps behavioral choices would suddenly go away and he would just be facing his lawsuit with New York State and the investigation of his improper use of his Foundation.  He has settled his three class action law suits over Trump University for a payment of 25 million dollars.  This type of resolution would end the possibilities of endless conflicts of interest.  The country will undergo immediate agony but it will be saved from long term pain over the next four years.

                  ********************************

If we go back to the probability that Trump will remain President-Elect then we should consider two more of his appointments, both women.  As his Ambassador to the United Nations Trump has chosen Nikki Haley, the popular governor of South Carolina.

 

Her parents migrated from India.  Her father teaching first at a university in Canada and later at one in South Carolina.  Her family was Sikh.  When she married she went through two ceremonies, one Sikh and one Methodist.  Today she claims to be a Christian Methodist.

 

Currently she is in her second term as governor of South Carolina.  Governor Nikki Haley received national coverage over the issue of the Southern battle flag at the state capital.  She stated that the flag should represent all the people, not just one group within South Carolina.  It could fly in other areas but not on the state capitol grounds.  Nikki Haley signed a bill removing it from the capital grounds.

 

Obviously she is a very bright lady and is a popular and likeable governor and was overwhelmingly reelected to a second term.  She was even considered as a Vice-Presidential candidate.  Now Trump has chosen her as his Ambassador to the United Nations.  The one comment that can be made here is that she has no experience dealing with foreign nations nor any specialized knowledge of them.  Whether or not this will be a handicap is not known at this point.  After all she is an inordinately bright lady and will have a highly competent support staff at the United Nations.

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Trump’s second female choice is mega-donor billionaire Betsy DeVos to be Secretary of Education.  DeVos has never experienced anything to do with Public Education.  She is an ardent supporter of school vouchers and charter schools. 

 

Betsy DeVos and her husband, Dick, have been compared to the Koch brothers for their involvement in Republican politics.  They are a Michigan family that has spent at least $200 million on conservative causes.  They have probably been the major donor in 2015 in support of Republican candidates. 

 

Her father-in-law, Richard DeVos, co-founded Amway.  Virtually everyone in the family is a billionaire.  A free market think tank that they operate is run out of the Amway headquarters.  Dick DeVos spent $35.4 million in 2006 running unsuccessfully for Michigan governor.

 

Betsy DeVos currently runs a political action committee along with her husband.  “I know a little something about soft money, as my family is the largest single contributor of soft money to the national Republican Party,” she wrote in 1997.  “I have decided, however, to stop taking offense at the suggestion that we are buying influence.  Now I concede the point.”

 

Much of DeVos’ political activity has been focused on the expansion of charter schools and school vouchers, putting her in line with Trump’s campaign proposal to shift $20 billion in federal education funding into state school block grants to enroll children in charter and private schools.

 

In the year 2000 the DeVos family funded a failed Michigan ballot initiative that would have required that students enrolled in failing public school districts be offered vouchers for private school tuition.  Even though the measure was soundly defeated by the voters, the DeVos’ spent more on the issue and formed a political action committee to support pro-voucher candidates nationwide.  They also operate philanthropic organizations known for giving to entities aligned with the charter school movement.  This includes faith-based schools and conservative think tanks.  They also oppose gay rights and abortion.

 

Trump’s selection of Betsy DeVos has been very popular among the GOP establishment.  Republicans largely support the issue of school choice.  Former Florida governor and potential presidential candidate Jed bush called DeVos “an outstanding pick for Secretary of Education.”

 

On the other side of the political spectrum the National Education Association President, Lily Eskelsen Garcia, has stated that DeVos’ “efforts over the years have done more to undermine public education than support students.  She has lobbied for failed schemes, like vouchers, which take away funding and local control from our public schools, to fund private schools at taxpayers’ expense.  These schemes do nothing to help our most vulnerable students while they ignore or exacerbate glaring opportunity gaps.  She has consistently pushed a corporate agenda to privatize, de-professionalize and impose cookie-cutter solutions to public education.”

 

Randi Weingarten, the president of American Federation of Teachers, said that DeVos was “the most ideological, anti-public education nominee” for Education Secretary since the cabinet-level position was created.  “In nominating DeVos, Trump makes it loud and clear that his education policy will focus on privatizing, defunding and destroying public education in America.”

 

Public education in the United States, with one or two exceptions, is controlled locally by the School District and partly state-wise by the State Legislatures.  The Federal Government can offer recommendations and additional funds, usually for special programs.  The states are not required to accept the Federal recommendations.

 

This would be the limit of Betsy DeVos’ power as the Secretary of Education.  Obviously she will do well in Republican controlled states and poorly in those run by Democratic legislatures, in terms of her education philosophy.  

 

This brings up the “due process” clause in the Constitution.  Can the Federal Education Department favor one group of states financially and ignore the rest of them?  This question will have to be decided by the Supreme Court.

 

There is also another important issue.  There is largely a fixed amount of money spent on education in all fifty states.  Currently most of it goes for public schools.  DeVos would try to change that balance.  She would take money from public education and spend it on vouchers that could be used in private and parochial schools.  This would lower significantly the amount spent on public education while reimbursing those who send their children to private or religious schools for their education.  It would, in turn, lower the quality of public education as considerably less money would be available there.  In a word, it would help the upper and middle class while significantly lowering the standards for those who cannot afford to transport their children to private schools.  It is actually a welfare program for the rich and the richer, in that it takes from the poor and gives to those who currently have their children in private or parochial schools.

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On Sunday, 11/27/2016, Donald J. Trump claimed that there was serious voter fraud in three states that Clinton won: California, Virginia, and New Hampshire.  He claimed, without presenting any evidence that millions of non-citizens, voted illegally.  He stated that he would have won these states if they had not voted. 

 

Hillary Clinton won all three states.  In California, which has not elected a Republican in decades, Clinton bested Trump by more than three million votes: 61.6% to his 32.8%.  In Virginia she won by 185,689 votes; 49.9% to 45%. And in New Hampshire she beat him by 2,700 votes.  I suspect by illegal voting Trump means votes by Democrats.  He would like to suppress their voting completely.  It’s amazing how Trump can just grab information out of the air and state it like it’s a fact.

                        **********************************

If Trump is serious about winning the majority of votes in the Presidential Election.  According to the current vote count Hillary Clinton has over 3 ½ more votes cast for her than Trump has.  He has stated that millions of votes for Hillary Clinton were illegally cast by people who are in this country illegally and had no right to vote.  He has also berated the media for not reporting this fact.  He has not presented any evidence for any of this.  Presumably he got this information from a far-right radio host that is always pulling information out of the air. 

 

If Trump is really serious and truly believes all of this then it is possible that he won’t last a year as President of the United States.  He could at some point go off the deep end and lose complete touch with reality.  At that point Congress would have to replace him with His Vice-President.

 

 

 

The Weiner Component #163 – Part 2: The 2017 Presidency

English: Seal of the President of the United S...

Official portrait of Secretary of State Hillar...

The Presidential Campaign will continue until Tuesday, November 8th of 2016, with both sides continually verbally attacking the other.  Trump has reorganized his staff three times, hiring among others someone who has made a career of attacking and trying to discredit the Clintons. He is supposed to excel in dirty tricks.  Hillary Clinton will continue with her basic premise that Trump is unfit to be President and move on from there.  In fact on Wednesday, September 7, at a back to back veteran’s Town Hall with Clinton, Trump defined the secret briefing as being anti Obama in the body language of the men who gave it, something which the intelligence community said never happened.  In terms of money raised for campaigning Clinton seems to be able to raise well over ten times the amount Trump does.

 

(In fact, Trumps entire Washington Bureau Organization quit when Trump refused to send them the promised checks for their work. This seems to be a pattern of Trump’s, stiffing his employees by not paying them.}

 

There are to be four debates scheduled, three will be between the Presidential candidates and one between the Vice-Presidential choices.  Of these one will be moderated by a NBC moderator, one by a Fox News employee, one by ABC News and CNN with joint a moderator from each network, and the Vice Presidential one by CBS News.  They will begin on September 26th and end on October 19th.  They should be interesting or at least colorful.

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When all this is done and the votes finally counted at the end of November 8th the next President of the United States will be officially elected to that office and will take the helm in January of 2017 of guiding the country for the next four years.

 

If we ask, which candidate will it be?  There is a high probability that it will be Hillary Rodham Clinton.  It is also probably that the Senate will return to a Democratic majority after the election but that the House of Representatives will remain in the hands of the Republicans.  This is the exact situation that President Obama faced from his third year in office until his sixth year there.  In 2014, a non-Presidential Election year, the Republicans also achieved a slight majority in the Senate.

 

From 2011 on there was a Democratic President, a Republican majority in the House of Representatives, and until 2014, a Democratic majority in the Senate.  The result, since 2011, has been total gridlock with the House most of the time unsuccessfully trying to force its will upon the President and the Senate; and in many cases adding something that they wanted like defunding Planned Parenthood to a necessary bill which was then vetoed.

 

For the duration of his first term in office the Congressional Republicans in both Houses of Congress were determined to make Barack Obama a one term President.  They opposed everything he supported.  The Affordable Health Care Bill, which was modeled upon one developed by the Republican Think Tank, Citizen’s United, for Mitt Romney when he was governor OF Massachusetts and applied to that state.  It espouses Republican values by allowing private enterprise to control the plan.  Yet it was passed in Congress on a strict Party basis.  Democrats voted for it and all Republicans all opposed it.  The House, after the Republican majority was reached there spent over fifty days bringing its demise up and voting to end it even though these numerous identical Bills were never brought up in the Senate.  The vote has always been strictly upon Party lines.

 

For his first four years in office President Barack Obama seemed to feel that he could get some cooperation from the Republicans in Congress.  It never happened.  For his second term he knew better but he nor the rest of the Democratic Party ever really took them on.  While neither the President nor the Democrats in Congress never really exposed the Republican actions or non-actions the Republican’s never stopped blaming the President and the Democrats for what they, the Republicans, did not do.

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The odds are that Hillary Clinton on November 8th will be elected 45th President of the United States, and the Senate will regain its Democratic majority.  But there is a high probability that the Republicans in the House of Representatives, while losing some of their majority members, will still have control of that body.

 

There are 435 voting members in the House.  Currently 247 are Republicans and 188 are Democrats.  The Democrats would have to win 30 seats in the House to just gain control of that body.  They will probably gain some seats but not the 30 needed.  Consequently the probable state of affairs during the Clinton Presidency could very well be continued gridlock.

 

With this situation there is the question of how will Hillary Clinton be able to bring part or all of her agenda about.

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One of the major group of incidents that have frustrated President Obama during his presidency has been the random terrorist massacres that have occurred throughout the United States.  Generally Congress will observe a moment of silence but essentially the Republicans will pass no laws to control the purchase of firearms.  The National Rifle Association, which contributes heavily to Congressional elections and supports gun owners throughout the U.S. and is controlled by the gun, magazine, and ammunition producing companies, holds the position that any step in weapon control is the first step in taking guns away from American citizens. Essentially what the reformers want is to have thorough background checks upon everyone buying a firearm and to stop the sale to people with mental problems or to those who have criminal records.

 

The random gun shootings in the United States are at least 22 times higher than in any other industrial nation.  The last terrorist attack was on the night of June 12, 2016, when Omar Mateen, an American born, not too well mentally balanced 29 year old Moslem, who worked as a security guard, killed 49 people and wounded 53 others in a terrorist hate crime inside Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.  After a three hour siege he was shot and killed by the Orlando Police Department swat team.  Mateen had purchased the semi-automatic firearms legally the prior week.

 

This issue was dealt with at least twice at the Democratic Convention: once by adults who had lost a parent or child to random shooting and once by people whose parent or child had been specifically or otherwise targeted.

 

The Senate had blocked four gun measures the following Monday, two from each party.  Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader said that Democrats were taking advantage of the Orlando Massacre, using it as a political talking point.  He called the Republican proposals, “real solutions.”  Harry Reid, the minority leader, called the Republican measures, “political stunts.”  Hillary Clinton had one word for the Senate after the gun vote, “Enough.”  She later tweeted, “It’s time to demand more than thoughts and prayers from our elected officials.”

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At the Democratic Convention, the Platform writing committee consisted of fifteen members: Clinton appointed six of them, Sanders five, and Wasserman Schultz four.  The Platform was described by NBC News as the most progressive in party history.

 

They want to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour and index it to inflation.  They also desire to include 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave.  On health care, the Democrats want a public option for the Affordable Care Act and legislation to allow Americans aged 55 and over to buy into Medicare.  They also want Medicare to negotiate lower prices for prescription drugs and to double their support for community health centers that provide primary health-care services, particularly in rural areas.

 

The Democrats express support for Wall Street reform.  They want a 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act to keep banks from gambling with depositor’s money and a breakup of “too big to fail” financial institutions.  Also there should be an expansion of Social Security and the abolition of the death penalty.  There is support for criminal justice reform, and an end to private prisons; and reforms to boost police accountability to communities.

 

On taxation the platform pledges “tax relief for middle class families” and improvement on K-12 education.  On workers’ rights the platform endorses expanding and defending the right of workers to organize unions and bargain collectively.  The platform maintains the long standing support of Israel.  On abortion it states, “We believe, like the majority of Americans, that every woman should have access to quality reproductive health care services, including safe and legal abortion – regardless of where she lives, how much money she makes, or how she is insured.”  It also defends Planned Parenthood.  It urges the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women and supports passage of the Equal Rights Amendment.  “After 240 years, we will finally enshrine the rights of women in the Constitution.”

 

There are other considerations in the Democratic Platform but these are ones that both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sander strongly support.

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The next question that arises is: How will President Hillary Clinton bring many or most of these positions to fruition?  Will she end up like President Barack Obama, having to fight the House of Representatives, in many cases unsuccessfully, for every change the country needed?  President Obama was mostly successful working through the Federal Reserve and by using executive orders.  He got very little from Congress except having the House close down the government.

 

The Republicans in the House of Representatives seem to have no understanding of fiscal policy and many of them seem to want to limit the powers of the Federal Reserve, particularly in terms of monetary policy.  One gets the impression that many Republicans in the House do not really understand the principles of economics as they apply to the Central Government.  Basic ignorance does not bring about solutions to problems.  In fact they worsen those situations.  Witness the Great Recession of 2008.  A Republican President in 2009 would have turned it into a Greater Depression than that of 1929.

 

The actions taken by the Republican dominated House of Representatives from 2011 tended to worsen economic conditions by cutting government spending and increasing unemployment.  It was President Obama and the Federal Reserve, under Chairman Ben Bernanke, using creative monetary policy that largely solved the problem of unemployment, which should have been solved completely by Congress using fiscal policy.

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In 2017 President Clinton will have her hands full.  Will she be able to work with Republicans to bring about full employment and an era of increased prosperity for the majority of the American people?

The Weiner Component #162 – Part 3b: Thoughts About the Republican Party

Official photographic portrait of US President...

In addition to the election of a new President of the United States, 1/3d of the Senate is up for election in November of 2016, plus the entire House of Representatives will also be running for reelection.  The Republicans tend to do better in non-presidential years since at that time lots of Democrats, especially Hispanics, do not bother to vote.  Consequently a light vote tends to benefit the Republicans.  In 2014, for example, the Republicans were able to gain control of the Senate by a very slight majority.  In 2016 they will probably lose that majority and control of the Senate will return to the Democrats.

 

2010 was a non-presidential year and the Republicans gained control of the House of Representatives and a number of state governments.  2010 was also a census year, when the population of the United States was counted, and the House Voter Districts were reset by the State Legislatures, presumably based upon population changes.  Those states under Republican control gerrymandered their Districts to give themselves ultimate control in the House of Representatives by setting up new districts that were light in Democratic votes and heavy in Republican voters.  In 2012, a presidential year, a million and a quarter more votes were cast by Democrats for their candidates running for the House of Representatives but the Republicans still maintained their majority in the House of Representatives.  They still today maintain control of that House of Congress.  It will probably take an additional two to three million more votes by Democrats for control of the House of Representatives to be returned to them.  The probability of that happening, I suspect, is very low unless the Republicans do something extremely stupid like shutting down the Federal Government by not funding it.

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What will probably happen in 2017 is that Hillary Clinton will be elected President of the United States.  The United States Senate will have a Democratic majority, and the House of Representatives will remain in Republican Control, where it has been since 2011.  If that is what happens then essentially gridlock can probably continue with the Congress.  President Hillary Clinton will be able to make some deals with the Republicans in the Federal Legislature, but it will be tit-for-tat, something will have to be traded every time.  The Republicans will be more interested, as they have for the last six and ½ years, in blaming the Democrats for legislative failures than in passing necessary laws.

 

An example of this is the Zika crisis, which the World Health Organization has called “an extraordinary event” and “a global emergency.”  Before the July 4, 2016 Congressional recess, President Obama requested a 1.9 billion Dollar Bill to be used to fight the Zika outbreak. The amount was put together by experts in the field as to what it will take to remove the danger of Zika virus attacks. 

 

The House of Representatives passed, before they left on vacation, a 1.1 billion dollar bill and then left Washington for their 4th of July hiatus which did not end until after Labor Day.  They were attending the National Presidential Conventions in late July and then spent the rest of their time in their home states presumably campaigning. 

 

Their version of the Zika Abatement Bill contained spending cuts in other health programs such as cutting funds for Planned Parenthood, and was 800 million dollars smaller than the amount asked for.  President Obama remarked that the Bill contains too little money and has too many partisan provisions.

 

In the Senate the Bill was filibustered by Democrats who wanted to spend the full 1.9 billion dollars without cutting funds from other programs.  The White House spokesman, Eric Schultz, stated that if the measure does pass the Senate it will be vetoed by the President.

 

The basic Republican position is: Take what we give you or there will be no bill and it will be your fault.  This process had been done with other bills earlier.  After the bill had died because there was no Conference Committee functioning, the House was on vacation; they, the Republicans, will blame the failure on the President and Democrats for what they themselves have not done.  Whether the public will believe them is another question.

 

The Democrats and Republicans have been unable, still by the middle of September, to come up with a compromise bill.  This crisis is now four months old since it first came to the Congress.  The House is still offering its 1.1 billion dollar bill.   The disease which has become more major in terms of becoming an epidemic seems to gradually be growing in the United States in such states as Florida and other Southern states.  One or more cases have come up also in California.

 

The House, as early as the end of May 2016 seemed to be in no hurry to solve the Zika crisis.  Democrats said it was wrong to require spending cuts for a public health crisis while not requiring them for past emergencies such as wildfires and floods.  Republicans said the cuts are innocuous.  More than 2,200 cases had been reported in the U.S. and its territories.  The number is even greater today; and as I understand the problem, Congress still has not passed a compromise bill which both political parties could agree upon.  This problem is currently being left to the states to handle individually.  They do not have the resources to deal with a national, if not international, problem.

 

Congress returned from its July 4th break or vacation on Tuesday, September 6th, the day after Labor Day.  The House of Representatives will have to deal with the Zika crisis, which has increased over the last two months, and also deal with the budget, funding for the Federal Government ends at the end of September.  The House also failed to pass the 12 annual funding bills needed to run the government.  The issue now seems to be passing a partial funding bill and letting the new Congress in January of next year fund the government for the full year.          

 

The government will run out of money by the end of September.  To date no additional spending bills have been passed.  If such a bill is not passed the Republican dominated House will again shut down the government; but this time it will be on an election year.

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There is an election coming up on November 8th.  Every single member of the House of Representatives will be standing for election or reelection.  The current situation is totally absurd.  It would seem that the Republicans care more for making political points than for legislating for the good of the country.

 

During the remaining short period of time the House Republicans are planning votes on several “message bills,” some of which will not even be picked up by the Senate.  They will vote to impeach IRS Commissioner, John Koskinen, over allegations that he obstructed a Congressional Investigation about whether the IRS improperly scrutinized Tea Party groups looking for tax-exempt status.

 

Speaker Paul Ryan wants a vote on some kind of legislation to register GOP opposition to a 400 million dollar payment to Iran.  This is money and interest on funds belonging to Iran that the U.S. Government has held since the late 1980s. 

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What strikes me as fascinating are the conditions under which the Senate and the House of Representatives function.  The length of a year is 365 days.  After being elected to Congress the average salary is $174,000 per year.  The Speaker of the House of Representatives gets $223,000 a year; the majority and minority leaders of both parties get $193,000 per year.  The House has averaged since 2001 139 legislative days a year; that is less than 3 days a week.  In 2013 the New York Times found that the House was in session 942 hours that year, about 18 hours a week.  The House of Representatives calendar for 2016 is 110 legislating days.  Their average time spent in session in 2016 has been three days a week plus lengthy holidays.  They work, generally, from Monday through Wednesday and take a four day weekend plus all holiday breaks.

 

The average salary in the United States is less than half that amount and it includes at least a 40 hour work week.  There is also a very generous retirement plan for Congress that kicks-in after serving one two year term in the House of Representatives.

 

The Founding Fathers did not originally envision political parties.  They expected an educated constituency to elect the smartest people available.  We are far from that point now.  The taxpayers are spending a lot of money for very little.  For the last 5 ½ years it’s been for gridlock in Congress.

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As of Friday, August 26, 2016, 42 new non-travel cases of Zika infections have been discovered.  The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) wants the entire blood supply within the United States, every single blood donation screened for Zika.  It is currently estimated that one out of every ten blood donations in Puerto Rico contains the Zika virus.  The number would also be high in Florida.  But the problem could also exist in any of the other states.  The country could be moving toward a massive epidemic.  It would seem that the House of Representatives is looking to get its way no matter what the cost to the general public.

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The Zika virus disease is a mosquito borne illness.  It is beginning to reach epidemic proportions in some of the states and territories.  The symptoms of Zika are a mild fever, skin rashes, muscle and joint pain, and pink eye or conjunctivitis.   The symptoms normally last from 2 to 7 days and then go away.  The virus remains in the blood stream after the 7 day period.  Zika can produce sever birth defects in pregnant women’s fetuses, such as a small head size, and presumably limited learning ability as well as other physical problems.  This infection can cause microcephaly.

 

While the disease was first discovered in 1947 little is still known about it.  What we do know is that it is transmitted by a specific mosquito and also by sexual intercourse.  Lots of people in the country require occasional blood transfusions which is another way it can be freely transmitted. 

 

On Friday, August 26, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has recommended that the entire U.S. blood supply be screened for the Zika virus.  One out of every ten people tested in Puerto Rico has come up positive.  A massive epidemic of this disease can effect an entire generation of births and, if nothing else, cost the country trillions in medical care for the infected infants as they mature.

 

These new recommendations apply across the board.  The Red Cross said it will phase in universal testing.  It is currently conducting Zika testing in 5 Southeastern states.  It will now require it throughout the entire United States.

 

Because an infection can be transmitted during sexual intercourse someone who does not have symptoms might spread the virus unknowingly to his or her partner.  Then either of the two might donate blood, further spreading the infection.

 

In February of 2016 the FDA issued its first Zika virus blood screening recommendation in areas with active transmission.  Then, the agency advised screening blood and blood components for the virus or stopping blood collection completely in areas of active transmission.

 

The nation’s first local, non-travel related infection of Zika virus occurred in Puerto Rico in December of 2016.  Shortly after, American Samoa and the US Virgin Islands reported locally transmitted infections.  In July, Florida’s Miami-Dade County reported its own first case of a local mosquito transmitted Zika infection.

 

With all this occurring and Zika spreading the House of Representatives is in no hurry to solve the problem of nationally fighting the spread of this disease.  Their reaction to what can be a major health issue is pathetic.  It would seem to the Republicans getting their way and making political points is more important than the health and welfare of their constituents.

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This is a potential international problem that the United Nation’s World Health Organization takes very seriously.  Women of child-bearing age throughout the world are affected.  This can result in one or more generations of children growing up abnormally with no real futures, having to be taken care of by their healthier peers throughout the world; and the House of Representatives plays its political games essentially ignoring the issue.  They are basically leaving an international problem to the states and territories within the U.S. to handle by themselves without adequate resources or responsibility.  It would seem that a vote for a Republican legislator is a vote for political gridlock. 

 

President Barack Obama, on Saturday, August 27, issued a call to make the Zika crisis the first item of business that the House of Representatives deals with.  He stated that the various federal agencies dealing with this problem are running out of money.  He stated that, “a fraction of the funding won’t get the job done.  You can’t solve a fraction of a disease.  Our experts know what they’re doing.  They need the resources to do it.”  He further said about the current House bill, “But that’s not a sustainable solution.  And Congress has been on a seven-week recess without doing anything to protect Americans from the Zika virus.”

 

“Every day the Republican leaders in Congress wait to do their job, every day our experts have to wait to get the resources they need,” the President said.  “That has real-life consequences:  Weaker mosquito- control efforts.  Longer wait times to get accurate diagnostic results.  Delayed vaccines.  It puts more Americans at risk.”

 

“We need more Republicans to act … because this is more important than politics.  Republicans in Congress should treat Zika like the threat that it is and make this their first order of business when they come back to Washington after Labor Day.  That means working in a bipartisan way to fully fund our Zika response.”  So far none of this has happened.

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In addition, as of the present, no action has been taken on the hourly wage which remains at $7.25 an hour. And even the Republican National Candidate, Donald Trump, has mentioned raising it from $7.25 an hour to $10.00 an hour.  Also in the Republican Congress there has been no mention of requiring background checks on the purchase of firearms or limiting the size of weapon magazines.  Congress is currently in gridlock.  Will this change after the November Election if the Republicans remain in charge of the House of Representatives?  I suspect not.

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On Saturday, August 27, 2016, President Barack Obama has stepped up the pressure on Congress for Zika

English: Breakdown of political party represen...

English: Breakdown of political party representation in the United States House of Representatives during the 112th Congress. Blue: Democrat Red: Republican This SVG file was originally hand-written. It contains comments suggesting how to amend it to reflect future changes in Congress. Inkscape reads this file as corrupted, thus changes must be made with a text editor or other program and checked with a browser. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

funding.  He has urged legislators “to make this their first order of business” when they return from a seven-week recess after Labor Day.

 

Their second order of business will be to fund the government past the September deadline. 

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Congress will meet for the balance of September and then adjourn for November and then probably meet for another few weeks in December.  What will probably happen is a short term funding bill which will hand the problem over to the new Congress next year.  If the Tea Party Freedom Caucus refuses to go along with the rest of the Republicans in the House of Representatives then the Speaker, Paul Ryan, would be forced to work directly with the Democrats.  This, incidentally, was probably the main reason John Boehner, the former Speaker, was forced to resign.

 

And, of course, the Zika epidemic grows worse daily.

 

What will happen should be interesting, if not tragic.