Tuesday, June 07, 2011


Rep. Paul Ryan - true believer or con artist?

Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin has proposed a national budget to reduce the need to borrow money to pay our bills.  His plan does not include revenue enhancement (e.g., letting the Bush tax cuts expire) but achieves the result in part by abolishing Medicare as we know it.  Present retirees enrolled in Medicare, like me, would not be affected.  Workers ten years or more away from retirement would find Medicare replaced by a system of vouchers to help them afford private health insurance plans.  These new retirees would pay more toward the cost of their health care than present retirees.  One result of the Ryan plan would be to impose more suffering, more poverty on elderly retirees who have no chance to earn additional money by going back to work (who would hire them?) but no additional burden on wealthy individuals who have gained financially from the Bush tax reductions that were enacted in 2001 and intended to expire by 2010.

I have seen Mr. Ryan defend his proposals in a television interview on the NBC program "Meet the Press."  He sounded sincere and convincing.  My recent experience with a con man who tried to sell me some unnecessary (and non-existent) repairs to my car leads me to thing that perhaps Mr. Ryan is trying to perpetrate a swindle.  He is more convincing than the con man I encountered, to be sure.  The purpose of his swindle is to extract a large share of the reduction in the federal deficit from elderly, relatively un-rich individuals and not impose any inconvenience on an important constituency of the Republican Party.

I have another thought about Mr. Ryan.  He may be a great fan of the writer Ayn Rand.  Ayn Rand was a Russian immigrant from Communist Russia who had seen at first hand all of what was wrong with communism and socialism and none of its potential benefits.  She was extremely opposed to any government policy that took wealth from one class of society (i.e., the rich) and distributed it among the poor and middle class members of society.  If he is a follower of Ayn Rand, Mr. Ryan probably argues that the government has no right to take my money and give it to someone else.  If so, his proposal to abolish Medicare by degrees makes good sense to him.

Republicans who recognize the political problem that Mr. Ryan's plan poses for them in the 2012 election try to change the subject by stating that, well, at least Republicans have a proposal to deal seriously with the budget deficit.  It is a proposal for negotiating, a starting point in a debate about the deficit, etc., etc., etc.  They deny that they want to abolish Medicare.  They say that all options are on the negotiating table - except an increase in taxes.  Mr. Bush's tax cuts, recognized in 2001 as a political gift to wealthy constituents, have become fixed in stone if one is to believe these Republicans.

What can we do?  Democrats must point out the unfairness of the Ryan budget as loudly and as wide-spread as they can.  If the Democrats simply "make nice" with the Republicans, the public will not be aware of the basic unfairness of the Ryan proposal.  Many Republicans do not recognize this unfairness.  They believe that individuals should take care of themselves, just as they did 100 and 200 years ago.  They argue that it is "class warfare" to place the loss of Medicare on the same footing as taxing wealthy taxpayers.  It's wrong and immoral to be jealous of the rich.

Labels: , ,

Saturday, June 04, 2011


The Three Hikers

The other day on the radio I listened to Patt Morrison interviewing a woman who was one of the three hikers who, about two years ago, were captured while they were hiking close to the border between Iran and northern Iraq.  This woman had been released on bail recently because she was a woman.  The two male hikers are still in prison in Iran with no prospect for a trial.  They have been accused but not formally charged with spying.

The woman that Patt interviewed said that the three of them did not believe they were anywhere near the border with Iran at the time they were picked up by some Iranians in uniform, presumably members of the Army.  They had been assured by their Kurdish friends that the area in which they planned to hike was safe and was not near the border.  The border itself in unmarked.

The thought came to me that they were still miles from the border and within Iraqi Kurdistan when the Iranian soldiers picked them up.  It came to me that perhaps it was the Iranians who were "spying" and didn't want their present to be reported.  Therefore, they had to take the hikers with them.  They are now an embarrassment to some factions within the Iranian government.  Appeals for their release or at least for their trial have been sent to the President of Iran.  The woman being interviewed stated that the President had told her that her friends would be released soon, but nothing has happened.

My theory:  A platoon of Iranian Revolutionary Guards were spying in Iraq Kurdistan and came upon the hikers.  They took the hikers captive to prevent them from revealing to the world the presence of the Iranians in Kurdistan.  The President of Iran doesn't have the authority to go against the Revolutionary Guards.  The only person who can release the prisoners is Ali Khomenei, the ultimate authority in the country and the one person who can keep the Revolutionary Guards in line.  (Perhaps even he does not have that authority.)

Wednesday, June 01, 2011


Exxon for President?

I have a silly idea that someone with the talent of Mark Twain, Theodore Seuss Geisel, or Sholem Aleichem could make into a great story.  In a previous blog I mused about Supreme Court decisions regarding the rights of corporations.  In each important decision the Court asserted that the 14th Amendment grants corporations certain rights at law that are generally reserved for persons.  In effect, a corporation is a person.

My silly idea was to extrapolate these decisions.  If a court is a person, it is entitled to all the rights granted to persons in our constitutions, including the right to participate in elections.  (The Court already has allowed a corporation to make unlimited contributions to political candidates under the First Amendment.)  Corporations should also have the right to vote as persons and as registered voters and even run for office.

In my story line some corporations test this theory.  At first it is an obscure small corporation, such as a law firm, that decides to run for a seat on the Los Angeles City Council.  The law firm is elected and chooses a representative to sit on the council.  Other corporations quickly notice this development.  Soon the Gallo Corporation and Union Oil are competing for the office of Governor of California.  A mining corporation becomes Governor of Montana.  General Motors barely loses in Michigan to a Farmers' Cooperative.  Morgan Chase becomes the Mayor of New York.  And so it goes.

It's a silly and juicy idea.  I wish I had the talent to make it into a hilariously funny and sarcastic novel.

Labels: , , , , ,

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?