Chatting With A Libertarian

      Greeting and Salutations;

      It is the season of politics, of course,  and one interesting thing that has happened is that there is a surge of interest in third-party candidates.   One of the bigger parties has been around a LONG time, and this year the Libertarians may get significant numbers of votes.   Now,  will that produce a viable President Elect?   Or will it just act as a spoiler,  causing either The Donald, or HRC to lose enough electorial votes that the other one takes the office?   Only time will tell. 
     In my discussions with a wide range of poltical views,  I happened to end up interacting with a gentleman who is a Libertarian,  and believes that the bible of politics should be the collected words of Ron Paul.   We have had some interesting discussions,  so I thought I would add them to the collection of non-beekeeping posts  (yes I am still a beekeeper…although thanks to a variety of factors it looks like this year is going to be a maintenance and rebuilding year for my hives…)   I have interspersed my comments with his here, to make it easier to tell what, exactly I am talking about….
“Seems to me that if there is any relevance in this quote to the situation today, it’s that the “great power” that “some believe can hold evil in check” is almost without question the ever-growing, omni-present, all powerful government. It literally seeks to “keep evil in check” in every facet of our lives, even by invading foreign countries to kill anyone who may ever think an evil thought. Even in the midst of the mighty expansion of power by the government, “progressives” plead with the population to give it more and more; progressives assert to the masses that any societal problem is really just a lack of government, in the same way the progressive doctor insinuates to his patients that their symptoms are from a lack of some prescription drug, rather than advocating personal responsibility.

If fact, in relation to the relevance of Gandalf’s quote to our current situation, there is no greater power than the US government, and that is an extremely scary thought to us libertarians who know that it is actually the “small, everyday deeds of ordinary folks that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love” and charity and goodwill, coming altruistically and in the absence of a great power forcing us to act with such empathy. Gandalf’s quote is the libertarian’s fundamental position.

~Long live Dr. Ron Paul.”

The fallacy of the Libertarian is that EVERYONE will behave in an altruistic and humanitarian way. History shows us that this is NOT the case. For a couple of examples….Without the testing required by the FDA, the American market would be flooded with so-called “Cures” that have NO efficacy. In the 1800s, before regulation, there were tens of thousands of “doctors” selling bottles of liquid that would cure all your ills. They got rich off of selling bad whiskey, at inflated prices. I do have to ask you….”in the same way the progressive doctor insinuates to his patients that their symptoms are from a lack of some prescription drug, rather than advocating personal responsibility” What in the WORLD do you mean by this? It sounds as if you are supporting faith healing over modern medicine. Want a more precise example? I found out a few years ago that I had Hep C and it was on the verge of killing me. I had gotten it from contaminated blood that I had been infused with before there was even a test for it. The ONLY reason that I am alive today, and still have my own liver, is because I was lucky enough to get on one of the new treatments, and have it paid for by that government you hate. Should I be dead? And how would my taking personal responsibility have cured this disease?
To move to a financial arena…what about the financial crash of 2008? The financial industry had been deregulated (too much in my opinion) because of this sort of attitude. Did they do the right thing and help America grow by careful application of funds, loans, etc? NO! They went on a rampage that culminated in the crash of 2008, and in the process made BILLIONS of dollars for themselves. They even worked to keep the financial bubble going a year longer than it should have, in order to make more money for themselves….which made the crash even worse and the following recession (or depression…) that much worse and harder to get out of.
Again, a personal example. We had decided to move and build a new house and had started the process in 2007. We had been cautious investors, and had a solid financial plan that would have allowed us to live comfortably while building the new house. Well, the crash came and almost OVERNIGHT, 70% of our investment value went away….vanished in the winds. Since then, we have been struggling to keep our heads above water, and while we are continually close to the edge, thanks to the help of family and cutting the cash burn where we could, we are keeping above water.
So…your libertarian attitude that government control is a bad thing is again brought to question, as it was the lack of good government control that allowed this financial bubble to happen and burst, causing great hardship for MANY Americans.
“What other power on earth is greater than the US Government? What other central power structure has more authority, more oversight, and more power than the US Government?

Progressives obviously think that the Federal Government should oversee and conduct: Planned Parenthood, healthcare in general, education, mass surveillance, defining food, growing food, pre-emptive aggressive warfare, feeding the poor in America, feeding the poor abroad, having/raising the minimum wage, bailing out banks and investment firms, bailing out industries in general which are “too big to fail”, and many other duties. These are all things which “progressive” politicians like Obama and Hillary have advocated for or directly done. No offense, but progressivism is almost a complete adulteration and dismantlement of our original governmental structure, which clearly defined the President’s duties as well as the Federal Government’s duties, none of which I listed above are granted to them.

I say that progressives and liberals in general crave more government because look at all the problems we have and look at what progressives and liberals ask for, government! Can’t afford healthcare? Government. Can’t afford college? Government. Can’t afford birth control? Government. These are serious problems, but the answer is not inevitably government and it is a terrible condition to perceive solutions through the lens of government. Our original government was structured such that the Federal Government protected our individual rights and the States’ rights and sovereignty. All other problems were left up to State governments, local governments, and free people to solve.

The trend I see is a sacrificing of rights and liberties for an increased sense of security and protection from the government. I agree government can be beneficial; small, local and state governments. The national government protects our States and our rights, that’s it, otherwise it messes things up. Clearly it messes things up. Look at our education after 40 years under the Fed. Look at our food after decades under the Fed. The solution is to strip power from where it should have never been put, not to give the hungry beast more.”



“Libertarians do not assume that everyone will act with altruism and morals. We fully expect that there will people who simply will be grumpy old codgers. Those people will likely have a harder time and will likely have fewer friends and helpers, but we libertarians acknowledge their right to be a grumpy old codger. With respect to crimes, we libertarians have developed a genius way to deal with those who try to take the rights away from others or harm them; the Justice Department. So it’s not a “fallacy” on the libertarian’s part; it’s just that you assume we think everyone will behave, when really we know everyone won’t, so we have safety measures in place.”
Ok…not quite what I meant.  I apologize for being unclear.  What I was trying to say was “Ok…so who is going to step up and take care of the tasks necessary to keep today’s society running?  And how will that work?”  More specifically,   Someone is going to have to pave the road in front of your house;  pull the power and data lines to your house;  have cops, firemen and/or  EMTs show up when you are in trouble  Then we move on to the infrastructure of the country.   Who is going to regulate this, and ensure that it is working and kept up to date?   All of these are functions that the government provides.   Would a Libertarian Administration support these services?   Or would it cut funding,  and require each of us to contract to have these services and such as a private citizen?  
 
Now…According to my research over the years,   Libertarians have quite simple philosophical points they hope to live by.   These are summed up in this quote: “Libertarianism is the simple morality we learned as children: don’t strike first, don’t steal or cheat, keep your promises. If you inadvertently fail to live up to these standards, make it up to the person you’ve harmed. If someone harms you, you may defend yourself as needed to stop the aggressor and obtain reparations. This simple morality works group-to-group just as it works one-to-one to bring about a peaceful and prosperous world.” – Mary Ruwart, author of Healing Our World in an Age of Aggression”   The most important point of the philosophy I run across is this: “Libertarianism is a political philosophy. It is concerned solely with the proper use of force. Its core premise is that it should be illegal to threaten or initiate violence against a person or his property without his permission; force is justified only in defense or retaliation.That is it, in a nutshell. The rest is mere explanation, elaboration, and qualification.” – Walter Block, Loyola University Professor and author of Defending the Undefendable     That having been said….What exactly does the Justice Department do, and how would it go about that job?  
‘With regards to the FDA, this is where there are fallacies but you see none. The FDA has completely adulterated “food.” It h”as allowed dozens if not hundreds of chemicals and “food-like-substances” to be put into the food supply. I’m not saying that it’s not the Federal Government’s job to keep people safe; I’m saying that it’s the Federal Government’s job to prosecute those who poison the food supply with such a severe punishment that nobody else will try to put aspartame, fluoride, aluminum, or any of the other poisons the FDA currently allows. By the way, please check out the “revolving door” between the FDA and the chemical companies. Big money runs the FDA.”‘
     Ok.   I know that there are many folks that are suspicious of the FDA.  However,  I believe that your analysis of the department is focusing on the small percentage of failures and ignoring the many successes of the agency.   The fact is that everything you eat is made up of chemicals,  some of which are pretty bad for you in quantity.  For example,   here is a PDF listing all the foods that contain varying degrees of Formaldehyde http://www.cfs.gov.hk/english/whatsnew/whatsnew_fa/files/formaldehyde.pdf   There are other examples, but this is going to be long enough that I will hold off on listing others.   The job of the FDA is this: “FDA is responsible for protecting the public health by assuring the safety, efficacy and security of human and veterinary drugs, biological products, medical devices, our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, and products that emit radiation.Dec 7, 2015”  This does not mean that they test everything sold.   They would be the size of the Military budget if they could do that.   However,   The scientists there examine the studies given them from various sources,  and make their best recommendation about a given item.   Sometimes   those evaluations are followed exactly.  Sometimes,  political deals are made,  but, the bottom line is that very few really toxic things are allowed through,  and when they show up as causing problems,  they are removed from the shelves.   In short,  Aspartame,  Fluoride, and Aluminum that you mention are toxic in large enough quantities.   However,   there have been many, many studies that have shown that,  in the quantities allowed in food or drink,  these substances do not have enough impact on mortality to change the averages.   Yes…I can provide links – For Aspartame, as an example – http://www.snopes.com/medical/toxins/aspartame.asp   For Fluoride – According to the American Cancer Society “The researchers found “equivocal” (uncertain) evidence of cancer-causing potential of fluoridated drinking water in male rats, based on a higher than expected number of cases of osteosarcoma (a type of bone cancer). There was no evidence of cancer-causing potential in female rats or in male or female mice.Jul 28, 2015″  As for aluminum – this hard to read article digs into the actual studies and discusses the conclusions found – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2782734/  bottom line with this report is that to get brain damage from aluminum,  one would have to powder a 12” cooking pan, and eat it once a week.   In any case,  to say the FDA is the one putting anything into food shows confusion about the role of the agency.   It is the manufacturers of food that add a variety of chemicals to foods and remove others, in an attempt to make a more saleable product.   It is a fact that the only   way to approach having “pure” food is to either grow everything yourself,   or purchase your food locally from people you know.   Neither option is a viable alternative for at least 80% of Americans.    
     Now…as for your comment about the “revolving door” with industry.  I do agree that this is a problem.  I rather like the solution suggested by the New York Times

 “But consumer advocates are surely right that putting the industry in charge of supplement regulation is like appointing the fox to guard the henhouse. Clearly, the F.D.A. should not allow industry insiders to fill key positions. A permanent solution is for Congress to enact conflict-of-interest laws forcing employees above a certain grade level at any agency to recuse themselves from official actions that affect a former employer or client, including trade associations and their members.”   

However, that requires action by Congress,  and for the past 7+ years  taking action has been a foreign concept to the Right-Wingers that control it.   

“With regards to “modern medicine,” Hippocrates was the father of modern medicine. He said “let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine thy food.” He also said that we should be able to doctor and cure ourselves by the age of 40. Obviously he could not foresee the terrible and dramatic deterioration of our diets and lifestyles. Maybe he was living in “utopia.” Hepatitis C is a terrible viral infection, but there are natural compounds in nature which effectively neutralize the virus and the damage it causes in the body. Of course, no doctor who was educated in western medical schools will know this because his curriculum is so strongly influenced by the trillion dollar pharmaceutical/biotechnology industry, in the very same way the agricultural curriculum is influenced by BigOil agriculture. I graduated from Clemson with a degree in Health Science; I can assure you that even this fine institution is very “western” in the way it views health, disease, and treatment options. I had many brief conversations in the classroom with professors over the myopic and segregated information being presented. Speaking of myopia, you say that “the only reason” you’re alive today is because of western medicine. That is quite an assumption, seeing as how many other protocols of medicine could very well have cured you, and indeed if it were not for a western way of life in the first place, you may have never contracted this virus; furthermore, if not for westernization spreading like a cancer on this earth, the Hepatitis C virus would likely not be so prevalent.”
     Oddly enough,   while I am open to the practices of other cultures (for example,  I do take Turmeric when I can afford it,  and I have been doing Tai Chi for close to 15 years),  I am  unwilling to accept ANY medicine or procedure without understanding what it intends to do, and without some fairly extensive clinical trials that PROVE that it will do what it claims to do.  As for Turmeric,  while some holistic healers claim great things for it,  I consider that to be whistling past the graveyard, or an attempt to scam money out of the gullible.  I have seen a significant number of real studies though, that show that the curcumin in it DOES have some positive effects on the body.   Simply because it comes from someone else’s culture does not mean that a belief in the palliative effects is justified.   For example,  thousands of Rhinos are killed every year simply so their horns can be ground up and used to cure all KINDS of illnesses.   Does it work?  Well,  as well as grinding a cow’s leg bone up would!  It is purely a placebo effect.  Hence,  one of the reasons it is not allowed to be sold or advertised for any of these uses in the United States. 
     As for your comments on Hep C…They are without merit in my case.   When I was first diagnosed,  some six years ago,  I spent several years TRYING some of the alternative treatments.   The Results?   THe viral load stayed high and the inevitable march of Death towards me was unslowed.   However,   a couple years ago,  I was one of the smallish number of people treated with Sovaldi and another drug.  The end result.  At the end of THREE MONTHS,  my viral load was zero.  I took the pills for another 90 days,  as they wanted to make sure that all traces of the virus were gone.   I have had several blood tests since finishing the treatment,  and my viral load remains at zero.   While some of the alternatives did make me FEEL a bit better for a while,  they did not remove the virus from my body,  nor did they slow the damage it was doing to my liver.  When I first presented symptoms some six years ago,  my doctor was blunt.  He told me that there was a less than 50% chance that I would survive more than four years,  considering my condition.   Since I am quite “internal” and am in contact with my body and aware of it,  I was quite willing to accept his diagnosis.   However,   being a stubborn German (with one HELL of a strong metabolism),  I also was not going to roll over and wait to die.  So,  I started a journey of taking control of my treatment,  and pushing for treatments.  If one was available,  there had to be a damn good reason why I should not have it.
     While I appreciate Hippocrates and his huge leap forwards  in changing medicine from random superstitions to an actual, fact based science ,   are you advocating that we should walk way from the diagnostic tools and medicines that we have today,  and return to medicine as it was when he planted the roots of Western Medicine?   here, by the by, is an excellent, if short,  biography of him and his works 
     I would also appreciate your explaining a little further about your remark  “if it were not for a western way of life in the first place, you may have never contracted this virus; furthermore, if not for westernization spreading like a cancer on this earth, the Hepatitis C virus would likely not be so prevalent”  
 
“With regards to the financial collapse, Ron Paul warned of this decades earlier; there are videos on top of videos that are decades old which are of Ron Paul clearly articulating the political, financial, and social holes we are digging for ourselves. To me, the single greatest thing any American can do to further his understanding of the events playing out in the world today and how they are being handled by world governments and financial institutions would be to listen to every word ever spoken by Ron Paul. I’m very serious when I say that. Furthermore, the collapse is not finished, we are still digging the hole, and it will be much worse next time. The deregulation was purposeful. It’s going to take a lot more independent research on your part for you to understand the argument I’m making but suffice it say that the goal all along was have the taxpayers bail out the “struggling” financial institutions. The collapse was planned; it was not an accident any more than 9/11 was an accident.”
     First of all,  your assumption that I have not researched these claims assumes facts not in evidence.   Simply because I say that this is starting to sound like the unfounded fantasies of a Conspiracy Loony  does not mean that I have no knowledge of that whch you speak.
     However,  I would like to see some links from reliable sources that support you say about the Finanacial collapse being planned so the taxpayers would bail out the financial institutions.  While it is true that the government LENT large sums of money to various corporations, to help keep them from crashing down and causing worse problems,   it appears that ALL that money,  plus interest has been repaid.   Rather than saying that the collapse was planned,  I would say that the junk bond games that CAUSED it were planned and propped up by the banks and hedge funds.  Perhaps one of the best reports I have seen on this is here:  https://www.propublica.org/article/all-the-magnetar-trade-how-one-hedge-fund-helped-keep-the-housing-bubble  Note that without the efforts of Magnetar,  the bubble would have burst a year or so sooner,  which would have cause a lot of financial pain,  but,  far LESS than the world-wide crash it precipitated.   I am pretty sure, too,  that had Magnetar thought that there was a few more billion to squeeze out of the economy,  they would have propped things up for a bit longer.
     This economic crash that put a huge number of people into serious financial difficulties, was a DIRECT result of the financial lobbyests talking several administrations into doing what may have looked like “minor” relaxations of the regulations and oversight that would have kept this from happening.   This situation was purely out of greed,  and it worked for many of these wankers.   There were hundreds and hundreds of hedge fund managers and bankers who walked away with BILLIONS of dollars from this crash.  Know how many have gone to jail in the USA?   1 (ONE) sacrifical goat was thrown out so the Right-Wing congress could claim that they have “punished” the miscreants.   I have a bad attitude about this because over one weekend,  we saw the investments we had planed to use to pay for retirement, and to build a house on the property we had bought lose 70% of their value.   We are still struggling from that hit.   Now…Libertarians talk about “personal responsibility”.   We had a conservate set of investments,  and we had a financial course laid out that would have tied up about 80% of that cash as collateral and such.   Where was OUR “Personal Responsibility” in losing all those resources?
“The most unfortunate thing I see today with regards to people who are fired up about social and political change is this: that they know there is “corruption” within the government but to know the true extent of the corruption, the true breadth and depth of the corruption, makes them so uncomfortable that they not only don’t want to research it, they don’t even want to consider it. There is an agenda in action right now. Most big names in politics are involved, and many secret societies and organizations are involved. The Clintons, the Bush family, Obama, Kissinger, Rockefeller, Rothschilde, the Bohemian Grove, the Bilderberg Group, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Tri-Lateral Commission. There is more information available than a dozen of the finest scholars could peruse. What I know is barely even the tip of the iceberg, but I’m damn sure not naive anymore. I’m not necessarily religious, but the Bible actually foretells what we’re seeing right now. To give a brief anecdote of my own, my dad’s best friend was in the FBI for 40 years. When asked about the FBI in general, he says it’s the most corrupt organization there is. Planting evidence, advancements made underhandedly, general negligence. They’re all like that, all the government organizations, which is why I can’t understand why people want to give it more money (we’re $17 trillion in debt by the way, $2 trillion more since Obama took office) and more power.”
    Ok…ALL of your claims about a world government, run by these “secret” societies”  has yet to have any actual documentation.   It falls right into that Conspiracy fantasy world that is used to push a variety of agendas.   Oh Yes…by the by…Reading rants without proof on a Conspiracy Website does not qualify as “more information”.   It has been my observation that some wild theory will get posted to a single website,  and then, like vultures to a carcase,  ALL the others will grab that story, and post it on their sites.  Some will take it directly.  Some will tweak it a bit, to fit the prejudices of THEIR audience. but, there are few examples of independent research.   Now,  I am NOT saying that some of these entities exist.  However,  they are hardly a world government, and they sure as the dickens are NOT secret.  After all,  The trilateral commission has a website where it talkes at length about itself, why it exists, and what it does at the meetings.  Also, they post papers about what they discussed.   As for the Bohemian Grove…well,  I think this article pretty well covers it –   The Council on Foreign relations has a nice website –  and everyone and his brother knows about the Bilderberg Group.  The folks that go to these places are likely doing a higher end version of what we ALL do when we go to out of area conferences.  They are spending a bit of time sitting around arguing about issues, and listening to lectures detailing issues,  and the rest of the time, they are hanging out in rooms with a nice buffet, booze and cute servers,  networking and getting face time. 
    Does any of this qualify as a nefarious plan to implement a World Government and enslave everyone?   Not by my standards.
    I do agree about the FBI, though.   Under that Cross-Dressing J. Edgar,  they did some pretty underhanded things and tended to act as if the rules did not apply to them.   Indeed, I am fairly sure that they still do that.   What can we do about that?   Same thing we need to do with every police department in America.   Go through and clean house.  Get ride of the sociopaths and bullies.  Keep the folks who believe in and try to live up to the oath they took when they joined the Bureau.   Easy to say,  but hard to do,  because the scum in the organization are also the ones that have been at The Bohemian Grove with high-resolution cameras and recorders,  and NO politician wants the truth revealed about some parts of their life.  For that matter we ALL have episodes in our life that we would prefer not to have splattered all over the News Channels.  These are also the folks that will use that information if they feel they are threatened.
     As for the debt.   I agree,  it is larger than it was when Pres. Obama took office.  However,  that ignores the more important facet of the problem…that of the deficit.   Since Congress holds the purse strings in our government,  The reason the debt was growing rapidly was because they had bought a LOT of toys and services,  by handing out IOUs (the deficit).  When ever one spends more money than one brings in, it causes the debt to rise…that deficit was HUGE when Pres. Obama took office.   In the 7+ years he has been in office,  he has managed, in spite of HUGE foot dragging by the Right-Wingers,  to bring that deficit down by more than 75%.  So…the debt is growing…yes…because Congress is still spending OUR money like a drunken sailor,  but, it is growing far more slowly than it would have if the deficit had not been dealt with.  Perhaps with the next Administration,  HRC,  since she is a white woman,  will get more cooperation,  and will do what Democratic Administrations ALWAYS end up doing…working Congress back to surplus spending,  and causing the actual debt to drop.   It shows a bit of misundertanding on how economics works on the Governmental level to simply blame Pres. Obama for a total debt that is larger than it was when he took office.

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The Massacre at the Pulse In Orlando – Another observation.

orlando-club-shooting-henley3.jpg

Greetings and Salutations;
The attached image is of the Henley Street bridge, in Knoxville Tennessee. The mayor of the city has ordered the lamps on the bridge to be changed to a rainbow configuration, in memorial to the 49 victims of the Pulse massacre in Orlando yesterday morning. Similar such memorials are being raised around the world. Now, Knoxville is a nice, little, city in many ways, but it is still not known as a hot-bed of tolerance for the LGBT community. In spite of this, there is this large, public display of support for the victims of this viscous attack, as well as a number of more personal moments of people praying together, and standing in support of the victims. All across the United States, as soon as the blood banks opened their doors, there was a flood of donors coming in to give a unit of blood to help the victims from Pulse. In Orlando, there were several places where over 1000 citizens lined up to await giving blood. GoFundMe, an internet site dedicated to collecting money to help folk’s causes, has, as of this morning, collected more that $1.7 million dollars in contributions, to be applied to helping the victims of the shooting.

While this is a sickening moment in America’s history, this act of Evil has not had the effects that the shooter perhaps wanted. Instead of a wide-spread support for his heinous deed, in general there is a tsunami of support and caring for the victims and their families. His Evil has brought out much good. Alas, there is a subset of Right-Wingers who are celebrating his act, but, they are a tiny and pathetic percentage of the population.

Pleasant Dreams
Bee Man Dave
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When will the insanity end? Thoughts on the Massacre at the Pulse in Orlando

Orlando Police officers direct family members away from a fatal shooting at Pulse Orlando nightclub in Orlando, Fla., Sunday, June 12, 2016. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

Orlando Police officers direct family members away from a fatal shooting at Pulse Orlando nightclub in Orlando, Fla., Sunday, June 12, 2016. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

         Greetings and Salutations;

     Once again,  the Mad Flood of hate,  bigotry  and violence that has permeated America has reared its horrible head and produced a tragedy of monumental proportions.   This morning,  at around 2 AM,  a madman  entered the Pulse in Orlando, Fl  and opened fire with a rifle.  The toll, as of the late afternoon, is 50 dead, and 53 in hospital with varying wounds.  While the data is still fuzzy,  as it is early times,   it appears that the shooter was offended by seeing a couple of guys, kissing each other,  and chose to attack the Pulse (which is one of the biggest, and best known gay bars in the area).   As the day has progressed,  there have been some weird twists.  For example,  apparently he called 911 and told the operator that he was swearing allegiance to Daesh and the current piece of slime that is heading it up  right before he went into the club.   He also has been working as a security officer for the past seven years, and had both weapons training,  and gun permits.   Although he was born in NYC,  his parents immigrated from Afghanistan,  so he was also a US citizen and, had not shown any obvious signs of radicalization before today.  His father has issued a statement saying that he and his wife were shocked and amazed at their son’s actions, and had no idea he was on this path.   On the other hand,  his ex-wife was interviewed and said that he had become quite abusive in their relationship before she got out.   The full story will come out,  I am sure, but, right now,  it is pretty chaotic.
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     As always happens,  there is this momentary burst of folks posting rants about how Americans need to give up their guns (which is their idea of “gun control”).   I rather doubt that anything like this will happen as even this huge massacre will be unlikely to move legislators in that direction.   My view of the situation is somewhat different.   I believe that a bigger factor is the society of hatred, bigotry, and violence that we have allowed to permeate American society.   Today,  we have a Right-Wing Presidential Candidate who has come out in support of not only killing terrorists who attack America,  but, killing their families too.   He has promised that not only will he return waterboarding to the toolkit of the Spooks but, will authorize much more extensive torture in an attempt to extract information from prisoners.   He actively denigrates and disrespects almost every race that is not White.   He has claimed that ALL Muslims are terrorists out to destroy America.   He has claimed that Undocumented workers from Mexico are actually rapists and murderers.  I could go on, but, will simply say that he is not the only one of the Right-Wingers to support extremist views.   Because of this preaching hate,  there have been myriad attacks on folks that LOOK Middle Eastern,  no matter whether or not they are Muslim or not.   There has been a spike in vandalism against churches serving the minority community.   Even the cops are getting in on the “fun”…killing unarmed people of color on a daily basis.  Granted,  a couple of these psychopaths have been charged and gone to prison,  but, a vast majority walk, in spite of video evidence showing that their actions were uncalled for.  Perhaps saddest of all are the number of so-called Christian churches  who are no longer preaching the gospel of Love as presented by Christ,  but, rather, are picking and choosing verses from the Old Testament to support their agenda of hate and oppression against various groups of society.   I am of the opinion that part of the radicalization of today’s killer  came from being exposed to this hate speech and calls for action against those that are considered “Enemies”.
     What can we do about this?   I have no idea what the complete answer is,  but, I know some things that would make a difference.   For example;  We should spend more time examining ourselves,  and use that introspection to help us understand what controls our attitudes and actions.  Only then, can we stop being completely controlled by the programming given us by others and control our own life.
     We, who have decided to reproduce,  should take on the burden of parenthood with enthusiasm,  and teach our children to behave ethically, and with love and tolerance for all.   We should refuse to stand by as a spectator when we see Evil growing.
The shooter, for example,  planted a number of red flags that have been reported.  His descent into domestic abuse is a huge warning sign that his mind was being taken over by Evil,  and the sort of Evil which leads to very bad actions.   I am sure that a number of people knew about this, yet did nothing.   It is a shame, for example, that his wife – his primary target – did not go to the police and file a complaint.   I can certainly understand why she might have been too frightened to do so on her own,  but, if one of the silent watchers had stepped up to support her,  he could have been arrested,  and would not have been able to acquire the weapons he used in the attack.   His melt down over seeing a couple of guys kissing a few weeks ago should have been a warning sign that should have pushed someone to contact his employer and see if he could get some help.   We shall see what shows up in the next couple of weeks as the investigation continues,  but, I suspect he will have a record of increasingly fanatical posts to social media.  Again,  someone should have cared enough about him to try and get him help.   This reenforces the truth of that old bit of wisdom that “the only thing Evil needs to succeed is for Good Men to do nothing”.
     Pleasant dreams.
     bee Man Dave

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A Meditation on this Memorial Day Weekend

     Greetings and Salutations;
      I have been poking around online, and, on the cable channels this weekend,   and contemplating the state of the World in general,  and America in specific.   It is, I am sorry to say, not a very pretty picture  I see before me.    We are now in at least year 15 of our entanglement in the Middle East.   While technology – in the form of the drone program – had cut back on the number of American casualties,  the war is still killing and maiming too many people,  both innocents and combatants.
     I look back to the time, some 77 years or so ago,  when the World was caught up in the madness of World War Two.  Considering that World War 1 was called “The War to End All Wars”,   the fact that over 100 million combatants were caught up in a conflict that split the political allegiances of the countries into two, opposing camps,   changed the motto of World War 1 from a fervent wish to a sad irony.   Not only did World War 2 leave deep and lasting scars on the citizens of many countries,  it was the only time in the history of Mankind that nuclear weapons were used by one country against another.   No matter whether one holds the view that this was the best thing to do, or was totally wrong,  it did happen and is part of our heritage.
atlantic_Japanese_arriving_at_camp.jpg
     World War 2 also saw one of the most widespread abrogation of the Constitutional Rights of a group of citizens that has happened in the history of the country.   As most of us may have heard of by now,  thanks to George Takei’s play Allegiance,   tens of thousands of Japanese Americans were rounded up and confined to internment camps for no other reason than they were not White Americans,  and looked like the enemy.   HERE is an article that discusses the situation, and includes many, contemporary images.     However,  the Japanese Americans were not the only group so treated.    A large percentage of the German American population in internees.ellisisland.jpgAmerica was subject to the same treatment.   In some cases, though,  these citizens were deported to Germany or other countries.    At the end of the War  these German Americans were also required to sign a non-disclosure promise,  where the penalty for talking about ANY of their experiences would be immediate deportation.   HERE is a good article about THAT side of the equation.   In spite of these massive attacks on the Constitutional Rights of these citizens,   many of them enlisted and fought bravely for America.     Thanks to the executive order that allowed the FBI and Military to sweep up anyone they wanted, without an recourse from the Law of the land,  these people lost everything that they had worked for their entire lives,  preserving only that which they could pack up and take with them.   After their release,  not only did they have to face the challenges of starting over from scratch,  but,  they had emotional scars that, in some cases,  were never healed.
     In 1945,   not more than a year after the end of World War 2,  the first American soldier was killed in Vietnam.   The French had been in Vietnam from before 1939,  but had finally come to their senses,  and pulled out in the early 1940s.   America, thanks to the Cold War concept of the Domino Theory,   dove right in, and stayed there for 30 years.   The Domino Theory, which for all y’all that slept through history class,  said that we had to prop up South Vietnam,  because if it fell to North Vietnam (and the Russians),   then,  Cambodia,  Thailand and the various other countries in the area would be taken over by Russia also, and before we knew what would be happening,   we would have Russian troops on our doorstep.    This proved to be  nonsense, and, while the South East Asia was a nightmare for decades,   none of the projected outcomes of the Domino Theory or the Cold Warriors came to pass.    We lost 50,000+ young men and women  in that war, and many times that number were left with physical and emotional scars that are still destroying their lives today.    For a variety of reasons,   American soldiers engaged in some of the worst destruction of human rights that we had ever done.    There were soldiers who wiped out villages of men, women and children,  simply because they looked Vietnamese, not because they had attacked the soldiers.   To add to the complications of the time,   America was going through some serious, political uproar and changes in Society during this time.  The 50s brought us the rebellion in music, personified by Elvis Priestley and others.   The 60s brought us the general rebellion against the traditions of society  with the Hippie movement.   The sad thing was that too many of us did not understand that there was a difference between the Government, and the Soldiers,  so, often, when the boys would return from the Hell of South East Asia,  they would be spat at, and called “Baby Killers”.   This “welcome” and the fact that therapy remains today to be nearly impossible to get are some of the  factors that that cause there to be  far too many Vietnam Veterans living on the street,  as well as  killing themselves.
     Our excursion into the Middle East has, alas,  not been the success that America’s leaders thought it would be.    Our actions there have caused the death and maiming of millions of citizens of the countries involved.   Our casualty list is short,  in that we have had under 8,000 fatalities,  and a total of around 57,500 killed and maimed.   Technology has made a huge difference for us.    America went into Iraq based on a lie – the existence of an active Weapons of Mass Destruction program –  and after overthrowing the government,  stayed there as an occupying force for years.   Much the same issue happened with Afghanistan,  except this excuse was to capture or kill Osama Bin Laden,  who was  allegedly using the country as a refuge.  Again,  American troops went in,  generally destroyed the government and the infrastructure of the country and stayed for nearly a decade.    The result of this has been a region thrown into chaos,   with several groups contending for power,  many, many civilians being killed.   The worst thing about this madness is that it has fueled a high-end terrorist group called Daesh,  who is trying to unify the area into a totalitarian state,  using fear and murder as their main tools.  This group also is reaching out and encouraging bombings and shootings in various countries around the world.
     Now…that all having been said,   you may be wondering why I am wallowing in this ugly history of America.   The answer is fairly simple:
Arlington_11.jpg
     This is one section of Arlington Cemetery,  the final resting place of too many brave Americans,  of all races and  religions,   who, when their Country called them,  answered that call and gave all on the battle field,   fighting to protect the rights we are granted by the Constitution.    If you have never visited Arlington,  or, one of the many other Veteran’s cemeteries spotted around the country,  I urge you to do so.   Go there.  Walk among the tombstones, and contemplate the sacrifice of these brave men and women.
 homeless-vet-sleeping-600x400.jpg     Then,  look at the society you live in now.   Look at the growth of hate for folks that do not look like you.   Look at the reports, on a daily basis, of police who kill an unarmed citizen who is not resisting them, and, in many cases is already restrained.    Look at the next homeless person you pass on the street.  There is an excellent chance that he is a veteran

 

 

 

Now, take a moment to look at the Race for President this year.   The Republicans have presented a candidate who is a chicken-hawk,  who has expressed a willingness to use nuclear weapons, and to torture prisoners of war in order to extract information from them, and, claims to have raised millions of dollars for Veteran’s groups, yet has only distributed a fraction of that.  .   His total experience with the military?   He went to a military academy,  and spent considerable time and money getting out of the draft to avoid serving.    Add to this the Republican controlled Congress who claims (as does the candidate) to be a great supporter of Veterans,  yet, time and time again  has refused to pass appropriations and laws that would actually make it better for those Veterans.

Look at the way this same Congress has tried to obstruct President Obama’s programs, and, in spite of that,  he has managed to get a number of major items through, helping Americans, and improving America’s financial state.

Look at the way the Right-Wingers who support the Republican Party seem to have forgotten the concept of truth.   Day after day,  I see claims made that are patently false,  and have no basis in truth.   Yet,   the Right-Wingers NEVER call out these liars and demand they prove their claims.   Rather,  they accept these untruths and run with them.

As I contemplate the sacrifice that so many of our brave warriors have given over the decades,   I weep when I see the way we, as a society are spitting on their bravery and sacrifice.    Let us, on this Memorial Day,   make (and keep)  a promise to them that we will work to return to an ethical path that is controlled by the Constitution,  as it should be.   That we will put aside name-calling,   emotion based argument, and clinging to lies because they feed our prejudices and our agenda,.    I believe it is only this way that we can really honor the memory of these men and women and what they gave for each of us.

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Texas Rules The TextBook World (And why this is BAD)

Greetings and Salutations;

     Texas shows up again in my sights…and the news from there is mixed.   As I indicated in the title of this essay,   the Texas state School Board tends to control the content of the school textbooks used throughout the country.   Since Texas is such a huge market FOR those textbooks,  it is not a surprise that publishers are happy to knuckle under to their demands.    However,   I suggest that this kind of power is a real problem for all the kids in America,  and, will discuss why I think this.
     Let me introduce you to Mary Lou Brunner.  This Grandmotherly woman is (as one can see),  a Republican,  and, over the past month or so has been running for  a seat on TextBooks_MaryLouBrunner.jpgthe Texas State School Board.   Like MOST Republicans,  she drapes a flag around her shoulders,   to,  I assume,  prove that she is the REAL Patriot in the contest.    She looks like a kindly, little, old  lady that would have really great cookies ready for you when you show up at her house,  does she not?   In her role as a Grandmother,   we should be sure that she would dispense pearls of wisdom to us,  garnered from a lifetime of experience, and designed to guide us on the best path for us through this complicated Journey of Life.
However, alas,   appearances can be deceiving!   THIS ARTICLE details a number of her views of reality,  and,  frankly,  they scare the living daylights out of me.   In short, she is a conspiracy loony,  and believes that President Obama is a secret Muslim who speaks fluent Arabic, and is focused on destroying the United States..    Speaking of Conspiracy Loonies….she believes that the UN is controlled by the Illuminati,  and is part of this mysterious plan to put the world under a one government dominion,  all detailed in reports on “Agenda 21”.     Now,  for the past several months,   she has been running a strong campaign to get a seat on the Texas State School Board, and get her the power she needs to put HER Agenda into the textbooks used by all the school systems in America!     As of yesterday,  though,  as reported by the New York Times,  her bid was defeated by a somewhat more sane fellow by the name of Kevin Ellis.   The fact that she looked as if she had a lock on the seat for much of her campaign should worry all of us though.  .

     Why is the lock that Texas has on Textbooks a bad thing?

  1. Look at Mary Lou!   While she is, I am sure, a delightful person,   her views of reality,  and her desire to push her agenda ensures that textbooks will end up having data in them that has NO contact with reality.  This insistence on teaching Creationism in schools is foolish,  as it has no facts to support it,  but is little more than an opinion based on the fantasies of a fevered brow!
  2. Over the years,   the control that Texas has on content has caused history to be re-written to fit an agenda,  rather than the facts.   THIS ARTICLE,  for example,   speaks to the “sanitizing” of history to make our Founding Fathers look like Christians,   to ignore issues of integration, and to claim that America was founded as a Christian Nation.
  3. The issue of Creationism versus Evolution has been a hot button for decades.   THIS ARTICLE  discusses the changes demanded by Texas.
  4. Texas has, in the past,  required publishers to delete references to the LGBT community,  including removing contact information for suicide prevention and other help lines.   THIS ARTICLE touches on these changes
     I could go on however, I think this makes the point sufficiently well that one state’s ultra-conservative agenda has, and will re-write textbooks to match their prejudices.    It is my view of reality that schools should be purely fact based,  and presenting ONLY  scientifically valid data to the students.    There is no room in education for religious indoctrination,   or conspiracy theories based on lies,  or nothing but rumor.
     That having been said,   I am in no way trying to call for the control of what an individual citizen believes.   I, for one,  as a life-long Lutheran,  am quite comfortable with religion, and a belief system that includes it.    While I may feel that people who believe in conspiracies to take over the world, or control the population  are a bit sad, and rather ignorant,  I do not think that they should be banned from believing about the Illuminati,  or Chem-Trails,   or Vaccines,  or any of the flood of other theories that distract from reality.

      How would I fix the problem?

     Well,  that is a challenge!     One way would be to set up a section in  the Federal Department of Education,  whose job would be to write the specifications for school text books, and, then,  have the responsibility of vetting the books published to find which ones diverged from that standard.    This is appealing,  in a  way,  because it would tend to remove the local bias and prejudices from published books.   It would also leave the freedom for the publishers to print divergent books,   that individual states could purchase.     There are some problems with this approach of course.   For example,   it increases the size of the Federal Government.  It works on a “One Size Fits All” model that may not work well for the entire country.   Finally,  it still allows large school systems to purchase textbooks with the same sort of factual errors I mentioned above.
     We could eliminate the concept of printed textbooks entirely.   For the cost of one book,  it would be possible to equip every student with a tablet that pulls readings,  and tests,  from a server run by some level of school board.   This would save huge numbers of trees,  of course,  and would allow the data being presented the students  to be updated in a timely manner.  Problems with this?    Well,  first off,  it requires teachers to be flexible enough in their thinking to be able to deal with adding tablets and other technology to the classroom.   It is my experience that while this problem is easing as older teachers retire and younger ones take their place,  there is still a huge resistence in the school system to change like this.    It also requires that all students have a level of competency with using technology.  Again, this is rather better than it used to be, but, there are still far too many kids that have not developed the skills necessary to deal with the technology.    It would also be a body blow to the publishers,  who make a huge profit off school textbooks.   Finally,  it would take a level of competency to get the servers set up,  and running.   This costs money, and, schools are perpetually low on funding.
     If I could wave a magic wand and fix the problem, though,  I would go with the second option.   Not only is technology likely to be a huge part of our society for well into the future,   but,  there is such a flood of new information, and re-interpretations of old data happening that a printed textbook is close to being obsolete by the time it rolls off the press and into the warehouse..
     Pleasant Dreams
     Bee Man Dave.
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Take a SMALL step to help keep Earth Clean!

BottledWater.jpeg

Greetings and Salutations;

On this Sunday,  as I take a moment to try and do some Good Stewardship of the Earth,  I decided I would take a moment and offer a suggestion on how YOU can help America, and the World.
     I realize it is a challenge to live Green,  and can look like a very daunting prospect that is full of sacrifice and being deprived of the things we have in our lives.   However,  as Ed Bagley Jr.  says… “You do not have to be perfectly Green….Just be as Green as you can be.”    So,  I am going to take a moment here and suggest a small change that will not only do good things for the Earth,  but,  will save each of us large amounts of money every year.
     The issue at hand is that of the plastic bottles of water we have scattered all over the place, and purchase in huge quantities.   Every year,  according to THIS ARTICLE  Americans pitch 20 BILLION empty bottles every year.   THink about that for a second.   That is a huge waste,  not only because many of these end up in Land Fills,  turning valleys into mountains,  but, that is a HUGE amount of oil that could be used for many other,  more productive purposes.   Another negative is that a large number of these bottles are dumped into the ocean, where they end up doing terrible things to the food chain.  As for costs….next time you pick up a bottle of water…think of the fact that the water you are drinking probably cost 1/10th of a penny…and you are likely paying over $1.00 for it
     So…let me offer you a simple,  inexpensive alternative that will end up saving you huge amounts of money and hassle.    Since, in many cases that water you are purchasing is nothing more than tap water….why not do the ecologically smart thing,   and get a re-usable water container and re-fill it.   Everywhere one looks,  it is possible to find a store selling reusable drinking containers,  with built-in lid and straw.   I have a number of aluminum ones around the house and use them regularly.   I also have a number of plastic,  water bottles that can be cleaned and re-filled.    While metal is better than plastic, in my opinion,   the more important thing is that every time one refills a container,   that is one more plastic bottle that is NOT going into the waste stream.
     Of course, I am not the first person to bring this up…THIS,  for example,  is an excellent piece that discusses the issues of disposable water bottles in more detail, and is well worth reading.
     Some folks fret about how clean this is.   The fact is that ALL the bottles I have run across have been safe for the dishwasher,   and that does a great job of cleaning and sterilizing the surfaces.    So…it is as clean, or cleaner,  than purchasing a case of water bottles at the store.
     One of the most insightful things that I have heard,  in the area of living Green,  is the quote from Ed Bagley Jr.  I mentioned at the start of this essay.   Try to be as Green as you can be,  and restore the Good Stewardship of the Earth that we need to have to survive much longer.
     Pleasant Dreams
     Bee Man Dave
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Ever Visited an Old Growth Redwood?

Greetings and Salutations;

      Some of the most amazing and majestic trees left in America are the old growth Redwoods, living out West.   However,  thanks to the issues brought on by Global Climate Change,   these treasures are in trouble.   Here is a very worthwhile article that I recommend we all read and contemplate what it is saying
Man Climbing Old Growth Redwood.
     These trees have been around for hundreds and hundreds of years,  quietly growing larger, and doing their job of providing habitat for the creatures of the forest floor,  and filtering the contaminents out of the air that blows through their branches.   Thanks to mankinds poor stewardship, and, actions taken without understanding the process of what was going on, or, the long-term consequences of those actions,  the climate is changing.  These changes have caused weather conditions to become more extreme, and, have put the Redwoods under serious stress because of the drought that every year seems to bring.    We need to understand that these great Trees are the canary in the coal mine.   They are warning us that the changes we are inflicting on Mother Earth can and WILL kill us, too.   We are at least as fragile as these trees, and so, when there is no growing weather left for food,  and there is no water for keeping us alive thanks to drought, and contamination of fresh water sources by Industry…Humanity itself is in danger.
   Most of us cannot be completely “Green”…and no reasonable person expects us to be.  However, we, as an attempt to return to being Good Stewards of the Earth, should make the effort to be as green as POSSIBLE.    Minimize our use of electricity and water.   Purchase vehicles that are smaller, and lighter, and, more efficient.   In spite of decades of proof, there are too many of us believe that driving a huge SUV that gets 8 MPG, in order to take ourselves to the store a mile away or our kids to school half a mile away,  is a good and necessary thing.
     Recycle what you can.   Yes…It is kind of a pain in the butt to take the time to crush aluminum cans and separate them out,  or rinse out the milk bottles and put them and other plastics in the appropriate bin for pickup.  However, a couple of minutes extra is not too much, I believe, to help ensure that our grandchildren and great grandchildren will have a world to live in.
     Have you read the book “Dune” by Frank Herbert?  Or seen the movie?    If not I suggest sitting down and doing this.   It will give you a much better picture of how life can be on a planet where fresh water is the exception, not the rule, and much of the planet is covered with sand…
Pleasant Dreams
Bee Man Dave
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Texas To Secede?

     Greetings and Salutations;

     Ok…I know a lot of the recent entries here have been pretty dark, and, to be accurate,  they DID reflect my state of mind.   However,   Today,  I was presented with a news story that brought a ray of amusement to me.   Here it is:
The Alamo!

The Texas Secession Movement!

     As the story points out this is not the FIRST time that Texans have brought up this damn-fool idea,  but, the fact that a large number of counties (10 by some counts,  20 by others)  and many, many online posters support this idea shows the lack of foresight that too many of the citizens of that state have.   Since I am Lutheran,  I do follow Martin Luther’s example of posting questions of importance to a public forum, in the hopes that it will generate some debate and deeper understanding of the issues.   So…Here Goes!
  1. Do the citizens of Texas realize that it has been determined several times by the court system that, since the Civil War ended,   there HAS been no right of a state to secede from the Union?   Here is an interesting article on one of the Supreme Court rulings  Please note that the state that BROUGHT the case to court was, indeed, Texas! 
  2. Let us assume for the next few questions, that Texas DOES vote to secede from the Union,  and, it is upheld by the Supreme Court.    THe first question that springs to my mind is this:   What  is the state going to do to generate the border guards and infrastructure?
  3. What is Texas going to do about Customs Inspectors?
  4. What is Texas going to do about a military of some sort to protect their borders?
  5. Texas has many connections to the Infrastructure of the United States,  including power lines,  fuel lines, Oil lines,   Fiber optic trunks, etc.   The moment they change to a soverign country,   a WHOLE different set of rules and tariffs will apply to the Electrical power,  Fuel, and Data that cross their borders.   What will they do about that?
  6. There is the question of trade.   Right now,  food and other consumer products can move in and out of Texas with no difficulties, or delays.   The only serious delay would be if the weigh stations find an overloaded truck, and it is required to park until it gets some of its cargo offloaded.  As touched on above, this will change radically when they become a separate nation.   What will Texas do about the increased delays of going through customs inspections (on BOTH sides of the border)?
  7. Tourism.   Texas gets quite a bit of revenue from visitors, ranging from casual tourists enjoying the food, landscape and peoples of the area,  to large businessess holding conferences and such.   Do they think that, with the necessity of Passports, and Visas, they are going to see this level of tourism continue?  I suspect not, as the excess hassles and expense of traveling to a foreign country will dissuade many folks from visiting the area.
  8. There is the question of Federal Funds going into the state.   The fact is that billions of Federal Dollars go into the state every year, to support the citizens, and the governmental programs that the state wants to progress.   That will disappear if they become a separate nation.   It is possible that they could receive foreign aid,  but, those numbers are typically MUCH smaller than they are getting now.
  9. To maintain an area as a soverign nation requires a right fair amount of government…Will Texans accept and support the increase in the size of the government that this endeavor would take?
  10. Finally,  do these citizens who are so eager to split off on their own realize that if their tiny nation is to survive,  they are going to either lose most or all of the benefits they derive from the government,  or they are going to have to accept large tax increases.   They will not have the ability to run up huge debts from deficit spending,  as the USA has done, as they will have nothing to back that debt.   ANYTHING that benefits the citizens and is done by the government costs money,  and that money has to come from somewhere.  What will you do, Texas?
     I will say that I am fairly sure that there are enough sane people left in Texas that any serious movement towards sucession would be quashed in short order.   I am also rather sure that a goodly number of the people who are pushing for secession are selling snake oil to the rest of the citizens,  promising them a land of milk and honey,  when all they will get is a mouthful of ashes.  
     However, as a Tennessean, who realizes that if it were not for the efforts of many of OUR brave citizens,  Texas would still be a province of Mexico,  I want to say, I support your desire to split away from the USA…and since it is doomed to failure,   I support even more those citizens who are pushing for this event to move to a more anarchistic country,  where they could be what they want to be – Free to do anything they damn well please!
Pleasant Dreams
Bee Man Dave
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Brussels Bombed…and Americans say WHAT?

Greetings and Salutations;
This morning, three bombs were set off in the heart of Brussels,   leading to the death and injury of thousands of people.  It is easy enough to find detailed articles on this tragedy online, so, I am not going into those bloody and foolish details here.

Rather,  I have been somewhat interested in the American reactions to this event.  Of course, The Donald is saying that this is unacceptable, and when he is president, he will change the rules to allow our agencies to torture prisoners to get the information out of them.   Needless to say,  this ignores the fact that time and time again,  it has been proven that torture is a useless method of getting useful information out of an enemy.  All it does is push them to a point of telling the torturer what they want to hear,  in order to make the pain stop,  or pushes them to a greater level of hate, and likelihood that they will become a more violent opponent.   I just saw this post on Social Media, that I felt had to be replied to here:

“Deep deep down it’s jealousy…. The west has it all… When you live like dustmites that’s gotta make you a little green and disgruntled.. Some kids build huge castles out of blocks and others like to come along and kick them over… Guess who’s who?”

Now,  while this may have  a grain of truth in it,  it does show a lack of understanding of the motivations of the Middle Eastern Radicals who are often responsible for these acts.   This is what I wanted to address.

1)  Is it really jealousy that motivates these attacks?   I think not.  Not only does the West NOT have it all,  there are a number of other societies around the world that look at our greed and possession driven society and shake their heads in disbelief.   To claim that Western Civilization is the height of perfection shows a parochial point of view, a view that is based on prejudice not fact.

2)  Claiming that people in the Middle East “Live like Dust Mites” is also rather dismissive of a society that has been around

for many,  many years longer than America, and likely will still be here when America is nothing but a footnote for a history class.   It is true that the standard of living in much of the Middle East does not compare to American Middle Class (What little there is left of it),  but that has more to do with the fact that we, and before us the Russians,  have been pounding their infrastructure into fine pebbles for decades with machines of war.   The Middle East is also  an object lesson about the society that America is moving towards.  It is a society where a very small percentage of the people have all the money and power,  and the vast majority of the citizens are barely scraping by.  It is further along that path than we are,  but we are on that same road.

3) The post also ignores the religious aspects of the conflict between the fundamentalists in the Middle East and the rest of the world.   There is a small subset of Muslims who are driven by ignorance and fanaticism,  taught by Imams who pervert the words of the Qura’an,  to push their agenda of hate and death.   These people are not driven by greed.  They are driven by propaganda and a mistaken belief in their Scriptures.   We have the same sort of people in the United States.

An extreme example is that of Westboro Baptist Church,   although there are a lot of groups who believe they are following the teachings of Christ, but are only one or two steps away from these fanatics.   Now, I, for one, tend to think that this factor is one of the strongest,  as the West has been attempting to attack the Middle East for hundreds of years.   That is a legacy that can build a LOT of resentment.   Think, for example of the Crusades.   The West sent this army of heavily armed men into the Middle East,  and those men used the excuse of trying to free Jerusalem to rape, pillage burn and kill huge numbers of the inhabitants.   The Knights had no honor there,  they were no better than barbarians.   Jumping to a much more recent time,   a few decades ago, the Russians went into Afghanistan to “pacify” it.  they pitted heavy tanks against guys with rifles.   I suspect, that there were a fair number of atrocities committed during that conflict too.   Then,  after the Russians got tired of playing War in the area and bailed out,  American leaders came up with a nonsensical reason to justify their sending in troops to continue killing a few combatants and hundreds of thousands of innocents, including women and children.  This is no way to get a war to wind down!

 

Now…what can we do to improve the situation?  As individuals,  perhaps nothing huge –  Unless you, the reader, are the Leader of a Middle Eastern country,  or are one of the Ultra-Rich in America!   However,   we can each make small steps forward and with enough of us,  a mighty force of change can, perhaps help.   We can study the ENTIRE text of our Holy Book(s) and work to gain understanding of the full message of Christ, or Mohammed.   We can treat others around us with respect and not fear and hate.   We can work to support the organizations that oppose discrimination against people, both citizens and guests in our country, and finally,  we can vote for representatives on ALL levels of government that look to the welfare of the citizens and do what is necessary to keep America a country with goodness in its heart, and not evil.   It is a hard thing to do, and requires constant vigilance,  but, with work and time,  we can change the path America is on.   We can make it more difficult for people around the world to hate us, and wish to bring us harm.   The Right-Winger’s claims that the entirety of Islam is the enemy is both wrong, and suicidally foolish.   Apparently these candidate wanna-bes do not realize that if push comes to shove, there are 350 million Americans,  but, there are 1.3 BILLION Muslims in the world.   We are the minority here, and the probability that we would win a contest of violence with the rest of the world is slightly less than you or I winning the PowerBall lottery.   It is nothing but foolish grandstanding to claim otherwise.  It seems to me that it would be far more productive to work with the moderates in these countries,  to support their efforts to bring a more sane and modern for of government to the area.

 

Pleasant Dreams

Bee Man Dave

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Why does the World think America is nuts?

     Greetings and Salutations
     The following image/meme was posted on my FaceBook thread today,  with a one word comment of “Truth”.   It has motivated me to write a long-overdue Blog post.    What follows is the reply I posted to the image….  In addition  I wanted to add,  as my title indicates,  I believe this is an excellent example of why it is that the on going clown show of the Republican fight to come up with a candidate for this November’s presidential election is causing such a stir in the other countries of the world.
Anti-American Rant

An Example Of An Ignorant Rant

     I love the irony of putting the word “Truth” in juxtaposition with this meme. “Half-Truth” would be generous, as it is mostly without merit. First off, 125 years ago (which would be 1891. Oddly enough, many of the things that are in the first part one DID have to happen. Also, some of things listed were not a function of the Government – The issue with taking up a trade, for example.   Issues like that were controlled by the guilds for hundreds of years,  and these guilds are the source of many of the laws regulating who can work as a “Professional” in the area.   Also, many of the other items were put under the law to protect us citizens from each other.
       As for the issue of automobiles and driver’s licenses…One has got to remember that in 1890, a LOT of the roads in America were still dirt paths and not only were there very few automobiles, they were quite slow.  Here is a worthwhile article about the state of the automobile in America around that time – http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/automobile.aspx So, the idea of a license to cover the 2600 vehicles a year being built, when they were barely faster than a running man, is ridiculous.   As the speed, weight and power of the automobile increased,  the government instituted the requirement for a driver’s license,  to ensure that the drivers had some education on the rules of the road and the proper operation of this powerful machine.   Does the creator of this meme think this was a bad idea?  Would he really like to have untrained and ignorant people speeding around in vehicles that weigh a ton or more, and have enough power to push their top speed to 90 MPH or more?
Another point that is wrong is “asking permission to own a weapon”. There are no bans on law-abiding citizens to own a gun, up to and including some serious weapons like the Barrett .50 BFG made in Tennessee.   With the changes in society, though,  the government has seen it preferable to implement regulations requiring that one pass a background check to ensure that the purchaser is not a convicted, violent felon who has lost their right to own weapons. However, how is that a bad thing?  I am of the school that believes there should be a requirement that anyone purchasing a gun complete a course of education about the proper use, and storage of the weapon.   I talk about the problem and a way to address them  in this blog entry from a while ago.
     The claim about the 16th Amendment (which established and defines the ability of Congress to collect income tax) not being ratified is totally false – http://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?flash=true&doc=57
While the creator of this meme may hate taxes, the fact is that the government spends money on what we, the citizens want. Government reflects the population – like it or not. The income taxes we pay are dues for living in this society. They pay for the paved roads we drive on, they pay for the standing army that we support. THey pay for fire departments to keep our property from burning, and police to keep evil doers from walking off with it, or attacking and injuring or killing us.  They pay for disaster relief from FEMA; They pay for a HUGE list of benefits and responsibilities that our country offers. There is no such thing as a free lunch. If you want the goodies, you have to pay the piper.
     As for the ending rant about living in an open-air prison state, to me, this is nothing more than ignorance inflated by paranoia and anger speaking. While we may have had some of our freedoms curtailed, the fact is we live in one of the most free countries in the world. We can get online, and speak our minds, up to and including calling for the murder of the Federal representatives, with no serious consequences.   In other online posts,  we can malign the character of public figures, again with no consequences.  we can, in many states, hang a high powered rifle over our shoulder, loaded with a 30 round clip, and wander through public spaces, with no consequences. We have no limits on our travels in the United State, nor are we required to have identity papers with us all the time; and as a part of that the police cannot randomly stop us and demand to SEE those identity papers. There are many more examples, but, these examples are hot points for so-called “Prison States”.  In TRUE dictator state – Prison States –  If you do anything that annoys the powers that be, you will be vanished, and it is likely that your entire family out to your grandparents and the family dogs will end up in shallow graves in the desert.   If this were a true “Prison State”  does the creator of this meme realize that the many postings over the past seven years comparing the Obamas to dictators,  or monkeys,  or claiming Pres. Obama was not qualified to be President would have resulted in a lot of empty houses and vanished people if this were a Prison State?
     Look at the recent example of the college kid who went on a tourist visit to North Korea, and is now looking at a 15 year prison term at hard labor (and North Korean prisons are NOT fun places to be). His crime? He tried to take a propaganda poster from his hotel as a momento of the trip!  In a true Prison State, not only is this standard operating procedure,  but, half the citizens are watching the other half,  waiting to turn them in to gain brownie points with the administration.
     Finally (and this is a small quibble),  if the creator wants to have ANY credibility they need to go back to community college and take some remedial English course,  so they can learn the difference between “your” and “you’re”.   Showing one’s ignorance of proper spelling undercuts ANY valid points that might be hidden in a rant.
     It is my opinion that this meme does not point up problems with the country so much as it reveals the reality of how deep the pool of anger, ignorance,  and paranoia  is in a large percentage of American Citizens.      It is this bigotry that has fueled the rise of The Donald  as a candidate for President,  and is generating the nervous laughter around the world over the state of America.   As a Canadian Prime Minister said, quite some time ago when asked about having such a long border with America – “It is like a mouse sleeping next to an elephant.  The elephant may be friendly,  but, the mouse had better watch out every time the elephant stirs”.
     Pleasant dreams.
     Bee Man Dave
Posted in Ethics, General Thoughts, Humanity, Nuttiness, Political rants, Politics, Snake Oil | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Saving the Bees….And Butterflies…

  Greetings and Salutations;
     The bees in America have a lot of stresses that are causing them to die off.   Needless to say,  this is a Bad Thing,  because something like 30% of the crops in America and 90% of the wild-flowers are pollinated by these insects.   The main focus for the past years has been the way that neonicotinoid pesticides have weakened the bees to the point that they die as they fly out to collect nectar,  or,  are unable to fight off the parasites and viruses that can infest them.  The good news is that the Feds have put a hold on the use of neonicotinoid pesticides until further studies can be done.  However,  there is one factor that has received very little attention,   and that is the loss of habitat.   One of the great sources of fresh blood for apiaries  are the wild bees that congregate out in the woods.   Well,   the changes in climate and the destruction of forests that have plagued the United States over the past few decades have cut down quite a bit on the number of places that bee colonies can survive and prosper.   The White House is quite aware of these issues,  and has, recently, released a plan to help deal with some of these, and, with luck,  the current loss of hives will slow, and perhaps even reverse.  Here is a link to the NPR story  dealing with this.
 asclepias_tuberosa3_1.jpg
     In the spirit of thinking globally,  but, acting locally,  what can we do to help the bees?   I have some suggestions.
      If you have an open area (a lawn, or field, for example),  plant bee and butterfly friendly wild-flowers in as much of it as you can.   Not only will this add beauty to your environment,  but, it will provide a source of food for bees and butterflies.   I, for one,  like Butterfly Weed,  but,  there are a number of options.   Here is an excellent source of information 
Note that many of these flowers are perennials and so once you get them started,  they will return every year with no effort on your part.  Also,  they will keep producing blooms for most of the Summer.
     Consider adding aSTL_water-feature-art1.jpg small water feature to your yard…say,  a fountain, or a waterfall into a  rock-filled pond.   This will go a long way towards giving the insects an important source of water, and, by running a pump,  the water movement will ensure that it will not be a mosquito breeding ground.
Praying-Mantis-Frog.jpg
 If you feel it is necessary to spray pesticides around the outside of your house,   try and use “more friendly” ones (the previous link has some suggestions).   I, though, would recommend that you consider adding Preying Mantises to the eco-system.   They are great little creatures,  and do an excellent job of eliminating other insects.  They are also self-sustaining
Pleasant Dreams
Bee Man Dave
Posted in Beekeeping, Hive and Colony care, Ruminations, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Some interesting questions…

Greetings and Salutations;

     A relative posted some questions about the issues of terrorism in the world today,  and, I have to say I found them worthy of consideration.  So…here are the questions and my responses.
how many Muslims in the world?
     Approximately 1.6 Billion
How many Muslims are terrorists?
      The last numbers I saw indicated there were roughly 200,000 members of Daesh – Which many Muslims say is NOT Islamic.   It would not be out of line to say that up to a Million are radical and have either directly or indirectly taken part in terroristic acts.
How many Christians are in the world?
     about 2.2 billion
How many Christians are terrorists?
      Not an easy question to answer as there are no easily accessible numbers. However, here is an interesting article that addresses the question –About Terrorist Attacks In America Also, there is this interesting examination of the issue –  The bottom line in both articles is that Muslims are responsible for only a small percentage of  the terroristic attacks in America.    As for the world as a whole….it MIGHT be true that Sunni Muslims do a majority of “terroristic” acts.   However,  that does kind of depend on what “Terroristic” is.  Also,  a vast majority of these attacks are against other Muslims,   so from America’s standpoint are meaningless.
Do Christians consider Christian terrorists to be true Christians?
     What is a “true Christian?” I, for one, who am a moderate in many areas, including faith, do NOT consider the many people who claim to be Christians, but cherry-pick verses from the bible, twist their meaning, and in general ignore Christ’s teaching to push a hate-filled and bigoted agenda to be Christian. In James, it says “Faith, without works, is dead”. Christ also said “By their fruits, ye shall know them”. There are millions of other Christians who share my views, and, so, I would say that a vast majority of Christians would say “no, they are NOT Christian”  Of course,  there is a spectrum of believe in the bucket “Christians”,  and that includes too many Conservatives who would say “yes,  they are true Christians,  because they are saving the unborn,  or opposing same sex marriage,  or, fighting the unbelievers,  or any other of a long list of rationalizations to excuse the fact that they are sticking with the Old Testament,  and NOT following Christ’s message in the New Testament.
Do Muslims consider Muslim terrorists to be true Muslims?
     While I cannot provide the supporting quotes, not being Muslim,  I tend to believe that there is no significant difference between Christians and Muslims in this area. The comments to the proceeding question apply here too. Now, the ONE difference I can see is that in my opinion the Qu’aran is, essentially, the Old Testament, which is a bloody record of the draconian response to the laws being broken. Islam does not have, or has not adopted, the New Covenant of Christ, as laid out in the New Testament. This, I believe, is one factor in why it seems the fanatics in that group can be so violent and appear to glory in blood. That having been said, one thing that has NOT been reported widely is the fact that tens of thousands of Imams have issued papers condemning the excesses of Daesh. Also, for every Muslim who murders unarmed innocents, there are millions who are loving, tolerant people who just want to take care of their family, and be friends with their neighbors.
Does each group consider the other group’s terrorists as terrorists first or the other group as a primary characteristic?
     I cannot speak for the Muslim community, but I suspect that their breakdown of belief is similar to the Christian community. That is…a vast majority look upon the attacks on an individual basis, and realize that they are the actions of one or a few fanatics who are not representative of the group as a whole.
I know for a fact though, that there are too many “Christians” – or CINOs as I call them (Christians In Name Only) who Do believe that if one Muslim is a terrorist…they all are. This ranges from the local garbage man up to candidates for president. This is foolish, hateful and not true, of course. I also find it interesting that these same people are totally blind to the fact that others might look at Christians through the same glasses when a single shooter kills at a Planned Parenthood clinic, or a movie theatre, or an innocent Muslim child is beaten and insulted simply for being a Muslim. It is a sad blindness.
What if any enforcement efforts can each group do to preemptively do to prevent its group of terrorists from terroristic acts?
     Again, not an easy question to answer. However, One common thread among all the fanatics who murder innocents is that they ALWAYS have left a long trail of red flags warning of the danger. Their personality changes as the spin up to do the deed, the social network postings, the changes in their daily activity, all are warning signs that something is wrong. We do not like to stick our nose into someone else;s business but, perhaps if friends or family had reached out to them, they could have been stopped before they went over the cliff. Or, as a last resort, the authorities should be notified and those authorities should actually DO something, instead of just blowing it off. If we had a more robust mental health care system, it could be an excellent tool for helping folks get out of their delusions. This could include Clergy who could engage the person, and attempt to clarify their misunderstandings and misinterpretations   Be that as it may,   this requires a diverse society that is non-judgemental and willing to take tha step of doing something that, up front,  may not be appreciated, and may bring some conflict and strife into the life of the person doing the intervention..
How to do that without placing limits on the free expressions of religion, regardless of how nutty that belief system may be?
    This is a tightrope, in that it is skirting close to the alligator pit of ignoring the Constitutional protections we benefit from. However, as I pointed out in the previous question, it seems like it could be possible to see when a person is slipping into the trap of fanaticism and homicide, and catch them.   Of course, at this point in time, we, as a society have tiny numbers of terrorist attacks. Perhaps we could simply continue as we are…with the cops doing their best to find conspiracies and arresting and charging those involved. We cannot eliminate these attacks, any more than we can ensure that we will never have another airplane crash.
That having been said, there are some changes to society that would, I believe, keep these from happening. a) Our would-be leaders MUST stop using the language of bigotry, hate and violence against those that are different from us. Look, for example at the fiery rhetoric being spewed out by the Right Wing these days!  They are condemning ALL Muslims based on the actions of a tiny percentage of them.  This has already had negative effects.   It has caused a number of people of color who may or may not have been Muslim to be attacked with hate speech and actual, physical injury.   It is causing our “leaders”  to build walls to keep people from seeking sanctuary in America in their attempts to get away from war and insanely fanatical behavior that is killing them and their families, and destroying their lives.  This in spite of the fact that these refugees have been through a rigerous screening process that has found that they have NO connections with terrorist organizations.   Too many of us ordinary citizens are attacking people who have done nothing,  simply because we have been filled with this delusional hate.   There have been several Muslim shopkeepers who have been attacked by psycho white guys.  There is the young girl who, a couple of weeks ago,  was attacked by several white boys at school,  beaten,  had her Hajab ripped off,  and called a “Sand Nigger” and other racist terms.  She is 13 years old!   The rot that produces this kind of hate and evil actions need to change.
    now….back to the question… We must, as a society,  make an effort to interact with, and come to understand the Muslims who are good citizens and who are fine people.   By doing this,  we can undercut the hateful actions that generate the sort of frustrated fanaticism that leads to these attacks.   The people we hate and attack are not the folks that are our neighbors, who we interact with on a regular basis.  They are the “Stranger”   the person who we can paint as being less than human, and so bei ok to attack and kill.
     This is, alas, a complicated issue,  with no easy answers.   However,   we, as a society need to move back towards the sort of tolerance and love that Christ taught,  or,  our society will be doomed to destruction.   As the above links point out,  a vast majority of terrorist attacks in America come from people that are NOT Muslim.   Becoming a more tolerant society and one that avoids heated rhetoric for moderation will likely cut down on those attacks.   A calmer state of mind will also cause the rest of the world to look at us with less concern, wondering if, like a mad dog backed into a corner,  we are going to lash out with death and destruction.   We are,  after all, the ONLY country on Earth that has exploded nuclear weapons on another country.   That is the sort of event that, if nothing else,  leaves everyone wondering…Will they do it again?
     Pleasant dreams!
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Muslims in America…we are shameful.

park

   Greetings andSalutations;

I hope, during this Christmas season, that I can post some positive moments from America, to remind all of us that the bigoted, hateful, racist  bastards we appear to be are just a small subset of the population. However, so far, it has been a challenge to find anything. Maybe soon, though.

That having been said. Yesterday evening a particularly annoying bit of news came up. HERE is a link to one of the reports In short, a young girl was attacked and beaten up by bullies on the playground simply because she is Muslim and was wearing the traditional head scarf -the Hijab. They tore the garment from her, and called her ISIS(Daesh). To add to the the shame, the police were called, but,refused to take a report, basicially blowing it off as kids being bad on the playground, rather than a hate-based attack. The school alleges that they are doing an internal investigation and will mete out any required punishment. Frankly, since it appears that the kids that attacked the young girl were white, and male, I suspect that nothing will come of it.

It is my opinion that actions like this are generated by what the kids learn at home, so, I would be inclined to hold the parents responsible for their kid’s actions. Granted kids at that age do not have the social barriers that ensure they will not randomly attack people, but, neither do they act so violently towards another kid. Making fun and teasing, yes, sure. That is NOTHING compared with what happened to this young girl. For all you folks out there supporing the flaming rhetoric of The Donald and other Right-Winger candidates…this is the world you are building. DO you really think that is the world you want to live in?  Why is it that all of a sudden,  it is OK for us to blame ALL Muslims for the acts of a fanatical few?   Should we treat all Christians as psychotics filled with hate because of the actions of the killers who shoot doctors as Woman’s Care clinics?   Or by the actions of the Westboro Baptist Church?   I think most Americans would say “no”…because it is THEIR ox being gored,  not some one elses.

In reading this report, I was reminded of an interview I heard quite some years ago, with an administrator in the Simon Wiesenthal Foundation. He had, in his youth, grown up in a racist household and was a die-hard Skin-Head, and white supremacist. One day,though, when he was in his early 20s, he was at a White Supremecist rally being ranted at about white purity, and how all the Blacks should be sent back to Africa and how racial impurity was destroying America…all the typical nonsense. In between the speeches, though, he was talking to one of his friends, and he asked a very important question – “What would we do if we got our wish? That all the people of color WERE rounded up and deported? Who would we hate THEN?” His friend looked at him and said “Don’t worry man, we will find SOMETHING”. The young man was bright enough to think about this, and he came to the realization that these folks were not fighting to preserve something GOOD.  Rather,  they were fighting because they HATED people that were different. He also realized that the next group could be blue-eyed people, or left-handed people, or any other group that did not match their definition of “normal”. This flash of insight caused him to change his life path, leaving the Supremacist movement and their hate-filled views, and moving over to join in the hunt for Nazis. It was a most interesting article.

Pleasant Dreams

Bee Man Dave

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Another Pearl Harbor day ticks by.

Greetings and Salutations…

     Today is December 7th,   the date of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor that changed America’s life path in too many ways to count.   I  look at America today,  and I see that even in the short 12 months since the last Memoral Day for this event,  there have been increasingly radical changes to our society…and few of them, alas, are good.   In the political arena,  the rhetoric from the Right-wingers is becoming more and more incendiary.   Donald Trump,  who, I would not have bet a dime on still being in the race, has not only jumped in feet first,  but, is the clear leader for the nomination of the GOP.   At last poll I saw,  he was leading the closest opponent  by upwards of 10%.    This is disconcerting,  as he has been, from day one,  the voice of truly radical,  fascist and Dictatorial speech.   It is amazing to me that he can go out and malign a given social group, and the polls show him jumping up each time.   For example,  he said, early on this year,  that the undocumented workers sneaking into America were mostly criminals – rapists and murderers.   UP jumped his rating.   He claims that Pres. Obama is doing nothing to secure the border,  in spite of the documented fact that the President has deported MORE undocumented aliens than any other president per year, and, he has bumped up the staff of ICE by 30,000 officers.   The Donald claimed that he saw video of thousands of Muslims dancing in the streets of New Jersey after the planes hit the World Trade Center on 9/11.  This is a known lie.  There were, at most EIGHT guys who were arrested for this sort of activity.   But, he not only sticks to his lie,  he doubles down on it, and claims that it is a huge conspiracy of the News media to hide the films.   Fianlly (although I could go on for hours),  today,  the Donald came out and said that he wanted a total freeze on the movement of ALL Muslims in and out of the U.S.  This includes tourists, citizens, etc.  It does not matter to The Donald.
     I wish I could say that the other 14 candidatates for the GOP were better, but, alas, while none of them are running the huge train wreck that the Donald is,  they all are working from a fantasy world that has no contact with reality, and are calling for (and demonizing) other groups.    Overall, the GOP which used to stand for CONSERVATIVE attitudes,  is moving to the radical Right, and becoming dangerous.
     This is the world that the brave men and women died for at Pearl Harbor and during the rest of World War II?   I rather think not.   They founght and died to preserve America from this sort of attack…the Fifth Column that destroys from within.
     In spite of the very dark place that America is in right now in too many areas (and I have not even touched on the increase in documentation about the LEOs injuring and killing civilians that they are either chasing or (in too many cases) have restrained and in custody)   Not all is completely ugly.  For example,  one of the shameful episodes of World War II was the sweeping up and internment of many Japanese Americans after Pearl Harbor,  simply because they were Japanese.    They were held in these prison camps for much of the war,  and lost everything they had worked for.   Well,  in the past year,   George Takei and others have been instrumental in bringing a play about this situation to Broadway.   Titled “Alliance”  it looks at one of the families whose life was disrupted by this abrogation of the Constitution.  The story is based on George Takei’s famly,  so it is quite appropriate for him to be playing a big part in it.   This story was ignored completely by hisotrians and textbooks through the 1980s,  although I had read about it quite some years before and so was aware of it.   Finally, though,  with this play,  more and more Americans are learning of this obscene act, and hopefully seeing that it is an important warning that we should never let this happen again.   It was an ugly chapter in American History (one of many, alas),  so it is good that we are exposed to it and learn from it.
     Pleasant Dreams
     Bee Man Dave
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Hope For the Bees!

 

honeybee-1

Greetings and Salutations;
Well, in these dark days of political insanity, bigotry and hate, there is at least ONE small ray of sunshine.   NPR has an interesting story about the discovery of a mushroom that may help bees build their immune system and be more successful at surviving the viruses and mites that are killing them off.  It is worth the read.

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Bees and Pesticides…Good Stewardship?

    
 Greetings and Salutations;
     The destruction of bee colonies by Nicotinoid based pesticides not only continues, but is spreading through the entire ecosystem of insects.   This article about it is short, but worth reading.  
Time after time studies have shown that overuse of general pesticides are killing off the bee colonies we love and need, and yet,  the companies continue to produce GMO plants that are resistant to these poisons,  allowing more and more of the stuff to be sprayed around.    I find it pretty hard to find anything intelligent, considerate of the future, or wise about these actions!    I am not even going to get into the fact that the trend in “commercial” produce these days is towards an item that looks pretty,  and has a long shelf life, but has so little taste it is hardly more than a texture source for the mouth.   
     Now, though, the toxins are getting so embedded in the environment that they are wiping out other species of bugs too, and, as the article points out,  this will have a huge impact on the food chain of various birds and other creatures.   It is just too much to express in any way that is readable….and is such poor stewardship of the Earth it is embarrassing.     
     I used to be fairly sure that an out of control Global Climate change would wipe out humanity.  Now, I wonder which suicidal path will get to us first?   Will drought caused by climate change wipe out our ability to grow crops and have sustinence?   Or will the destruction of the roots of the food chain cause a massive extinction event?    The coin is in the air, people!   Do we, as a species, what to give into our basic nature of desiring to die and take every living thing we can with us?   Or do we grow in wisdom, and, start working to clean up the huge destruction we have caused to the Earth, and live in harmony with it?
Pleasant Dreams.
Bee Man Dave
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Reading Comprehension – Harder Than One Might Think!

     Greetings and Salutations. 

     Although it is many, many months until the Presidential Elections,  the Right and Left Wingers are hard at it.   In this post, I am going to focus on a kind of mind-boggling moment from The Donald.   So far,  I could fill a goodly sized tome or two with his pronouncements that are so mind-bogglingly out in Left Field that one wonders if he is making a last minute attempt to take over The Daily Show, and bump Trevor!
     A few days ago, in one of the media events he so loves,  he was talking about how undocumented immigrants were taking over the country, stealing jobs from Americans,  and generally raising the crime rate.  It was part of his usual rant about building a huge fence along the Mexican border, to keep the scruffy ones out.   Well,  this time,  he ramped things up a bit.   Along with his usual rant about collecting and deporting every undocumented immigrant in America,  he went off on the “problem” of these pregnant, Mexican mothers sitting on the border until they are just about to deliver, then, running into America to have their child so the kid will gain “Birth right” citizenship.    He specifically believes that they should NOT get that citizenship, and in any case, he would deport the entire family back to where they came from – Ignoring any citizenship issues.   I could go on about how nuts this plan is, just from a logistics standpoint, but, I am more interested in the Birth Right issue right now.
     For those of us who are not Constitutional scholars, or, were  unable to stay awake in American History when the Constitution was studied…the concept of “Birth Right” citizenship comes from the 14th Amendment.  I will include a verbatim copy of it later on, but, right now, will say that it states, in fairly clear terms that “all people” born inside the borders of the country are automatically citizens of the United States.   Well,   The Donald went on to say that he had talked with a number of very good Constitutional Lawyers who were of the opinion that this clause ONLY applied to the freed slaves, and had nothing to do with anyone else.   Sadly, he has yet to give us the name of even one Constitutional scholar who is willing to say this!   So,  since he has decided that this clause of a Constitutional Amendment is unconstitutional,  he intends to ignore it, and claim that children born of undocumented immigrants are NOT citizens of the USA, but only hold citizenship in their parent’s country.  Now by doing this he removes ANY legal barriers that might keep him from tossing the entire family on to transport back to their country of origin.
     Needless to say, this has generated quite a furor online.   Among the educated, and the Liberals,  it has produced much laughter and many humorous remarks.   Among the Right-Wingers,  it has produced a lot of comments that seem to revolve around the ideas that they love The Donald because he is someone willing to stand up to the establishment, and, hoping that he gets elected so “we can get our country back”.   By the by, I have asked a number of times  what exactly this means, and have gotten NO answers yet.
     Well,  earlier today,   I decided that I would hop on it myself for a bit…so I  spent some time on Facebook, teaching Pigs to Sing. In thiscase, there was a lengthy thread started by an admiring post thatsaid how wonderful the Donald was for finally, accuratelyinterpreting the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. Ofcourse, this is total nonsense, and simply demonstrates the ignoranceof the Right-Wingers. I had the following exchange thatdemonstrates my thesis fairly well, I think:



DaveMundt Hum…the Donald seems to have some difficulty with English. I do not see ANY language in the 14th Amendment that says the Birth Right clause applies only to Negroes. As a matter of fact the first two words of the Amendment are “All persons” which seems pretty inclusive to me. Perhaps his problem is akin to dyslexia, except he has some wiring in his brain that simply pulls up random words and inserts them into the text he is trying to read. In any case, Although this is the “Boogie Man” Issue of the Right-Wingers and has been so for decades, I believe it is hardly the most important issue in today’s world.   I really find it difficult to believe that any other nation is attempting to overthrow the United States by creating citizens that will have a legal right to be here!

Oh yes…as for the point about other nations and their procedure for naturalizing immigrants….Not only is it far easier to get a residency permit up front for most of the civilized nations in the world, but, the path to becoming a citizen takes a few years….not the up to 25 years it can take for obtaining US citizenship.

Like· Reply · 2 hrs · Edited


RR Then you have a liberal edited copy of Constitution, for it says former slaves. The 14th amendment did not even include Native Americans. Trump is right exclusively for former slaves.

Like· 1 · 2 hrs


DaveMundt Mr. RR —Here is the copy I was looking at – http://www.archives.gov/…/constitution_amendments_11-27… To the best of my knowledge, the National Archives has no political bias. If you wish to claim otherwise…you MUST provide verifiable references to prove it.

That having been said – You are factually correct that the Native Americans wereexcluded from this Amendment.   However, that was for the purposes of determining the number ofRepresentatives a state would have.  It had nothing to do with the Birth Right issue. However, do you have ANY Clue why Native Americans were mentioned in this Amendment?  Let me explain – Native Americans have a special status in the United States. They were considered a separate nation ( a status that continues until today). Here is a short discussion of the issue. http://nativeamericannetroots.net/diary/617 This, by the by was eventually modified so Native Americans now are, essentially, holding dual citizenship (Per the 14th Amendment…) as members of their tribes, and as US citizens.  As regards the Reservations,  here is the authoritative word – http://www.bia.gov/FAQs/  

I am quite willing to cede that the intent of the Founding Fathers was to modify and remove the 3/5th designation of humanity that the ex-slaves had at the time. However, I argue that the Founding Fathers were looking PAST that specific use – hence the “All Persons” lead into the Amendment. Add to that the fact that there is NO language that makes the birth right section of the Amendment specific to ex-slaves or other people of color and I can see no logical explanation other than the Amendment  was intended to do exactly what it says….grant citizenship to ANY child born within the borders of the United States.

Hereis the Amendment in question…


AMENDMENT XIV

Passedby Congress June 13, 1866. Ratified July 9, 1868.

Note:Article I, section 2, of the Constitution was modified by section 2 of the 14th amendment.


Section 1.

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Section 2.

Representativess hall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice-Presidentof the United States, Representatives in Congress, the Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age,* and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation there in shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.


Section 3.

No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.


Section 4.

The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.


Section 5.

The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.


*Changed by section 1 of the 26th amendment. 

     Because The Donald is such a great side show,  he is currently leading the pack of the 17 that want to be the Republican candidate for President.   This has generated a huge amount of attention for him, of course, but, the worrisome thing is that several other wannabes are making a strong effort to jump on the “Trump Bandwagon”  in order to get some of that adulation for themselves.   At least four or five of the potentials have already come out and strongly supported The Donald’s interpretation of the 14th Amendment, and said that if THEY are elected they will implement the same sort of deportation policies  that The Donald is promising.    It does not, in my view, speak well towards either their education, their intellectual abilities, or, their trustworthiness to fulfill the demands of the office and live up to the oath they would take IF they were able to get elected.    

     As with most Amendments,  the 14th  one covers several topics,  and so is likely to be confusing to those with limited reading skills and comprehension (and yes…I know I am being snarky here).   However,   to simply pick and choose lines from the Amendment, in order to push one’s agenda is just as childish, and foolish as picking individual Bible Verses out to prove a point.   One has to take either the whole thing or none of it.   This misuse of the basic document that defines us as a country and a society makes me fear for the long-term survival of America.   

Sleep Well
Bee Man Dave

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Send In The Clowns; Watch the Pundits leave!

Greetings and Salutations;

Last night was a kind of milestone in television, in my opinion. While most of the  evening was unremarkable, the juxtaposition of the two Republican”debates” with Jon Stewart’s last day as host of The Daily Show turned it into a stellar moment.

First off,there were the sound bite shows that passed for a debate between the Republican candidate wannabes. As I am sure everyone knows, Fox News decided that, since there were 17 contenders for the candidate’s position, the best course of action was to split the field into two parts. Based on polling results, the seven lowest rated candidates were relegated to the earlier show (which has been named “The Kid’sTable”). I alas, did not watch that debate, as sleep claimed  me while it was on. However, from reports of the content, it seems there was nothing surprising there. Then, at the “Adult table” debate at 21:00 the remaining 10 folks gathered in a lengthy arc across the stage.   Donald Trump was in the center (of course), with the rest of the group arranged in order of decreasing poll results out to the end. Fox had three of its anchors taking turns asking questions of the candidates, and,frankly, while they were fairly softball in their treatment of the speakers, there were some rather interesting moments during the show. More on that later.

One of the major factors that undercut this event as a debate was the fact that there were ten people on the stage, and only two hours to talk to them. This meant that each person had 60 seconds to answer  a question, and, 30 seconds for a rebuttal if necessary. That is not a debate, as it allows for NO complex or nuanced examination ofa given subject. So…nothing but quick sound bites for the news programs. This format also made it difficult for the moderators to call the candidates on it when they wandered off topic and did not answer the question they were asked, but, made other talking points.

In spite of those weaknesses in the format, there were some interesting moments. Donald Trump was called out on his hateful attitude towards woman and his contemptuous language towards them (ranging from calling them stupid, to bodyshaming).  Trump, in both his language, and his defense of his hateful attitudes, is interesting.   First off,  he jumped in and said that he only said these things about Rosie O’Donnell.   While it is true that he has had quite a feud going on with Ms. O’Donnell,  as the anchor pointed out, his hateful comments have been used against a number of women who have opposed him.   Then,  he went on to say that when he was being abusive,  it was all in good fun, and folks were just joking around and such.   As I was listening to that nonsense,   I was reminded of at least one client I had for many years.   He had exactly the same, cocky attitude (but not the money).   He would happily denegrate everyone around him, treat them like trained apes in a zoo,  and if called on it,  would be totally puzzled.  He even said to me one time that “he only gave me a hard time because he thought of me as one of the family”.   Considering the train wreck that hsi family was,  I can see how that might have been true.   In any case,  the bottom line is that abuse is abuse, and there is no call for it, and no way that anyone can or should be proud of engaging in it.   Trump’s attitudes that this sort of behavior is ok shows that he has a level of hubris that should  automatically  disqualify him for the presidency.
     Jeb Bush was kind of tentative in his statements, as I think he was trying to walk a tightrope of having a point of view,and yet not getting into it with Trump, or offending the special interest groups in the Republican Party. Christy was his typical, abrasive self, and played fast and loose with a number of statistics about his governorship (as of course, did various of the other speakers). Speaking of which, as expected, the entire two hours were packed with lies, partial truths, and agenda pushing spin. I was actually kind of surprised by the fact that I heard a few verifiable, true facts sneak though. Apparently accidents happen! Overall, I have to say that it was interesting enough to keep my attention for the two hours, and almost as amusing as the hour long tribute to Jon Stewart that followed it.

Tonight’sepisode of The Daily Show was an hour long, and, although there were a couple of efforts to stick to the usual format of mocking the insanity of the political and social scenes, it just did not happen. Pretty much it was an hour-long love fest of people doing cameo roles to let Stewart know what a great person and what a great force for good he has been for the last sixteen plus years. I am pretty sure that every on-air personality that ever was on the show made an appearance, and had an amusing interaction with Jon. There were even some very amusing clips of a variety of politicians and businessmen who he had zinged pretty well coming on and saying a cheerful “good riddance!” Perhaps the best moment, though, was when Steve Colbert went off  script at the end of the show, and gave a lengthy and heart-felt tribute to Jon that pointed out that he had done great things in his time on the show, not only in his pointing out the insane moments of the world, but, by helping many others into the industry, and teaching them how to seek and achieve excellence in there work. It is well worth searching this tribute out  on YouTube, and watching it, both because of the raw honesty of it, and, the fact that it is so hard for Jon to take that it looks like he wants to make a run for it to get away from the love. In contrast with the “debate” that proceeded it, there was nothing but truth spoken in this hour, and in such a way that it balanced out many hours of the evil and untruths that infest the broadcast waves most of the time.

I was watching the Daily Show pre-Jon, and I had some doubts when he first came on as the new host. However, he grew into the post, and became a true and amazing force for good. He deserves his time at the farm with his family…so thanks Jon, and do not be a stranger!
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Some Anniversaries Hurt

Greetings and Salutations;

     I am writing this in commemoration of the 70 year anniversary of bombing of Hiroshima during World War 2.   There are images here that are hard to view, but, are part of our heritage, so, should be faced.
Hiroshima_MushroomCloud_small.png
     America is, so far, the only country in the world to have actually used Atomic Weapons against another population.   I can only pray that this remains true forever.    There are just some things that we, as humans should not do, and, I believe that perverting Atomic energy to kill is one of them that is WAY up the list.    Over the years,   there have been many debates about the decision to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki.   There are people who passionately defend the action, and others who are just as emotional about pushing that it was a terrible mistake and should never have been done.    While these are valid arguments,   I am not going to address them here.  THe fact of the matter is that in July of 1945,  a group of men sat around a table and decided that it was the best course of action to drop the bomb on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.    That and the events that followed cannot be changed,  so all we can do is look at the reality of history, and decide…do we want to do this again?
Hiroshima_buildings_small.jpg
      When the Enola Gay dropped the Bomb on Hiroshima, and it reached its set altitiude, it detonated, and in less time than it takes a heart to beat,  70,000 people vanished in a flash of light.   They were vaporised by the heat and shock wave produced by the blast.   Most of the city was destroyed – buildings flattened as if they were built of cardboard.    The people that were killed instantly were, argueably the lucky ones.   The survivors were left with terrible injuries from the blast and radiation,  and over the next few weeks another 70,000 or more died from those injuries.
Hiroshima_burns01_small.jpg
   There are many, many more pict4uresof the results of this bombing,  and, while they are a challenge to view,  it is important that we look at them, and, as I have said before,  decide…what kind of society do we want to have, and what kind of society do we want to promote in the world?    Recently,  President Obama has, along with five other countries, has successfully created a treaty with Iran to help keep the proliferation of nuclear weapons from invading that country.   It shocks me to see that there are Right-Winger politicians in this country that are vehemently against this treaty,  claiming that it could be “better”.    THe members of Congress are threatening to veto the treaty, in spite of the facts that it will still happen, even if America is not part of it, and, it is the BEST deal so far to keep the focus of Iran on the peaceful use of atomic energy.   I hope that these people realize that, by fighting against treaties like this, they are voting for Hiroshima to happen again…and this time it might well be in OUR back yard.   Is this what they want?   I pray that this is not what is on their mind, and, that their eyes will be opened to the reality of not keeping the world as weapon free as is possible.
Pleasant dreams
Bee Man Dave
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The Economy – Bees and Humans…

Are These Equivalent?

*** Warning! What follows includes factual data, personal opinions and some painting with a broad brush ***

….. I keep finding interesting topics to mediate on  as I crawl around the intricate weave of the Net.   This time,  the  discussion that caught my eye was one between a woman from Ireland and a number of folks scattered around the USA.   She had the very apt question of “Can someone explain to me why none of the politicians in America give a shit about the working class?”  This, alas,  is one of those apparently simple questions that turns out to have many facets and complications that keep it from having a simple answer.  That of course, makes it worth further consideration, in MY book!   Needless to say, the question brought up a number of answers,  all good, and all looking at different aspects of the issues in America that have put the 99% into a waterslide to poverty.   I found my answer was getting long enough that I thought it would be worthwhile here, too, so,   let us dive into it….
…..One of the issues brought up was the concept of the (misnamed) “Right to Work” laws that so many states have.   The OP made the point that these, in spite of the name,  were NOT giving workers any power.   I, as a resident of a “right to work” state,  certainly agree that this law is a horrid thing for the workers.  We called it the “Right to be fired on a whim” law, with little actual humor to it.   The fact is that it gives the employer to dismiss an employee with no cause or explanation.   Granted most companies do gather a “screw up list” when they want to get rid of someone, to cover themselves in case the ex-employee decides to sue for wrongful termination.   However, that does not need to happen,   and the simple fact is that these laws remove much of the security an employee might feel when they do get a job.   What security is there if your supervisor/manager can walk in tomorrow and say “you are fired….these men will escort you to the door?”     Well…while the roots of this are a complicated story that I may take up later,  in short,  the Taft–Hartley Act, signed into law in 1947,  was created, basically,  to ensure that a worker could go into a company, and be free NOT to join the Union.   This was a strong attempt by the government and business to break the backs of the unions, which for the past 20+ years had pushed through many changes to business practices that were good for the workers but not so good for the upper level managers and owners.  It was the opinion of these bodies that the unions had grown too big and too powerful, so had to be broken up a bit.   The management did not like such things as strikes,   the inability to terminate employees at will, and the fact that a union negotiation almost always produced higher wages and benefits for the workers.    
…..Another issue raised was the idea that regulations and taxes were hurting small businesses and hounding them out of business, and even impacting the decisions of larger companies to outsource their jobs to foreign countries.  First off,  I had to disagree, in general, with the condemnation of regulations controlling business in America  The regulations on various industries were implemented because, before those regulations existed, businesses would  pull all kinds of tricks to make more money off the consumer, by creating a cheaper product.  
  • One abuse  that has been around for hundreds of years is adulterating food with cheaper fillers to increase profit.   the earliest examples were the millers grinding flour.  They would  dilute the wheat flour with gypsum dust or marble dust, which they could get for next to nothing.  This  would not kill a person eating the products made from the flour.  It DID increase their profit margin quite a bit.  It also lowered the quality of the bread baked from that flour.   That is a big reason we have the Food and Drug Administration, which is charged with ensuring that foods we eat and the medicines we take are more or less what they claim to be, and that they will (at least) not harm us.      
  • Another example of the need for regulations and inspections that spring to mind (and is a hot button for many) is the ACA. One of the reasons for the ACA being created and put into law was to regulate the insurance industry and keep it from the many abuses they would  inflict on their customers, all in the name of higher profits. Before the ACA, the Insurance companies could write policies that covered NOTHING;  so the monthly premium was essentially pure profit. They would refuse coverage to individuals for random reasons, most of which seemed centered around the fact that these people MIGHT force them to pay out some of that cash they were collecting. They were able to put arbitrary caps on how much would be paid out for a given disease, or policy. If you happened to have a situation where they DID have to pay out any cash, you could see your premiums doubling or more a couple of months later. Finally. they could refuse to cover a problem because of a “preexisting condition” – even if that condition had NOTHING to do with the current problem.  There are many examples documenting these abuses available with a simple Net Search.
  • Before the Wage and Hour regulations, and the regulations calling for a safer work place were created,   it was a buyer’s market as regards businesses and workers.  There was nothing to stop a business from paying low wages,  and requiring the workers to labor in a hazardous environment without protection.   For example,   I was looking at a History Channel program talking about tower cranes and how they had made it much easier to build the amazingly tall structures that dot the landscape.   As a part of the program,   there were a number of old photographs like this one:
    Ironworkers


    Note, please, the fact that these guys have no safety equipment at all.  No hard hats, no safety lines,  no ear protection, nothing.   They are also WAY up in the air!

    (Thanks,  to the fine folks here: shangralafamilyfun for their allowing the use of this image.  I recommend visiting their site, as it has a lot of interesting pictures, facts, and thoughts on it!)  
…..  Not only was this the norm for iron workers,  but, there and in other industries,  there was no such thing as guards on the moving parts of machines.   It was but the work of a moment for a worker to get sucked into a moving pully/belt system, or large gears,  to  be maimed or killed.   Regulations forced businesses to create a safer environment for their workers, so injuries dropped dramatically.   Another  abuse  that should have ended was the habit of dumping sick or injured employees, even if their problems came from the job, so the business would not be liable for paying any of the employee’s expenses.
…..Now, that having been said,  one factor that is ignored by the antitax and anti-Regulation crowd is that, at least in America,  there are many ways to escape the burden of taxes and regulations.   For example,   tax rates vary according to the net profit of a business.   this allows the LARGE companies, who employ tax experts by the dozen, to make use of the tens of thousands of loopholes and twists in the tax laws.   This ends up with too many businesses paying NO taxes at all.   Now, I ran a one-person consulting firm for many years.  The net was too small for Federal attention, but, I did have to deal with the State boys.   Overall, as I recall,  the total taxes I had to pay on the Net earnings were in the 7% to 9% range.  It was a small hassle and not enough of a difficulty to complain about.    As for regulations,  I and many other small businesses (which, I believe are still defined as those with 50 employees or less)  are often exempt from many of the complex regulations that apply to larger companies.  There are, of course inequities in the system – it is after all a human creation – but, in general it is a small challenge and not one that typically would put a small business out of business.

…..Another issue that is touched on in the original replies, but not to any detail, was one that I think is very important. because it affects ALL parts of the economy.   That issue is the economic gap between classes of Americans that has grown by leaps and bounds over the past 30+ years. This shift in economic blessings has produced a very small,  upper class that has a net worth of anywere from hundreds of millions of US$,  to a top number of US$40 BILLION or more.  There is nothing inherently wrong with being very rich…although it can easily  lead to a dangerous path.   In this case,  too many of the 1%ers who fall into this category are almost totally insulated from the 99% of the rest of the citizenry.   This leaves these ultra-rich folks almost totally  clueless about what the lives of the other 99% of Americans are like. I hear folks who either are in the upper income brackets (or want to be there)  saying really stupid things – like – “we need to cut government aid because it ruins the desire of the recipients to work. They would rather just be parasites, getting a free handout”  Or, “What? They are saying they cannot find work in their area? Well, then, they should just pack up and move to where the jobs are”. Or “If we try to redistribute the wealth to the lower classes through higher taxation of the rich, it will destroy the economy, because it is the rich that are the Job Creators”. Or (perhaps the worst of all) “you workers do not want the union to come in! they will just take a big chunk of your paycheck, live the high life, and will not do you a bIt of good”.

.
….To rebut these statements with some reality…
  • A vast majority of the people in America who receive government aid are not freeloaders, sitting at home,   eating chips, pumping out children and watching Soap Operas on the television.    No.   They are actually hard working people working full time jobs for wages that are too low to allow them to work, AND pay their bills;  They often cannot stay far enough ahead to even THINK about having a savings account, or escape from the drowning pit of renting that sucks huge percentages of their income away every month.  So…because of these terrible wages, and the annoying tricks that employers go through to ensure that they will not have to pay workers decently, or provide benefits touted by the company when trying to hire,   these good people are forced to go in and apply for EBT (Food Samps),  Medicare/Medicaid, etc.   Every day they pray that their car will run until tomorrow, because they can neither afford to get a new one,  or often, the repairs to get the vehicle back on the road.   Now there are some folks who work the system, but, that is a tiny percentage of the total number of American Citizens helped out by these programs.   Cutting the programs will not motivate those folks to go to work and it is a delusional belief that it will.  The people that work the system now will simply find other ways to work it, and perhaps to scam other people.
  • About that “Free Handout” part….That, too,  is foolish  because there is no state out there that allows a person to simply walk in, fill out a form, and get a debit card filled with “free” money to spend as they wish.    There are a large number of Department of Human Services workers who spend their days checking up on clients, to make sure that they are going to school or work registration as they agreed to do when they got into the program.   The systems, in general, require the clients to constantly update their employment and earnings status,  with the risk that if they fail to do this, they will be cut off.   Finally,  a change a few years ago to the aid system ensures that NO citizen can receive aid for more than 5 years…this is a life time limit, and, is a Federal law, so it spans ALL states.   Five years of tiny payments is not something that one can live on comfortably.
  • About that “moving to the jobs” idea.   While it is technically true,  it demonstrates the lack of understanding on the part of the well off about the lives of the 99%ers.   Moving is a complicated and expensive process.   Unless a person lives out of a suitcase already,  there is significant expense involved in getting the possessions they own packed up and moved to a new city, along with the expenses of moving their family.    There is the factor that once IN the new city, unless the person already has a job lined up,  there is the problem of getting enough money to survive until the new job appears.    While it may not be a huge monitary hit, the chaos and disruption of ones support community when one moves away is enormous.   It can add to the stresses of the move,  causing an increase in poor decisions.   It can impact one’s kids quite a bit, as they not only have to walk away from their comfortable surroundings and friends, but, they are dropped into a very different place…the learning curve to deal with the new society can be pretty steep, and it can affect the ability of the kids to absorb the lessons they need to have to survive in today’s society.   This will put them behiind.   there is much truth in the observation that once one slips behind in society,  it can become harder and harder to catch up to where one used to be.
  • The claim that wealth redistribution will hurt the economy because the Rich are the job creators has not been particularly true for many years now.   It was true that many years ago, when the Ultra-Rich of the day were gathering money,  it might have been a problem.   However, a large discrepancy between those days and today is that in THOSE days, the “robber barons”  understood that it was vital to pump a lot of their profits back into the company.  this may have cut the ratio of the earnings down to 50 to 1,  but, it did ensure that the workers not only had enough cash to be healthy and reasonably happy,  but, it slowly created a strong Middle Class that was able to purchase more of the “luxury” items that are denied to the poor.   More customers, more of a  market, more cash flowing in.  It is not a complicated system, in general.    However today, the story is quite different.  While it is a little hard to tell, the last numbers I saw indicated that the ratio of the salaries between the lowest and highest paid jobs in America, is closer to 2000 to 1.   In addition, much of the money is not being fed back into the company.   Rather it is going into investment accounts of stock holders, high end management.  Much of those proceeds end up in private, secret accounts in the Cayman Islands and other countries that really do not care about anything but getting hold of those billions.   Some of it goes to purchase more, and bigger, yachts, and bigger and “better” houses around the world.  The real job creators in today’s America are the small businesses created by foolishly optimistic entrepreneurs  who start with one or two partners and build from there. The rich, other than the fact that once a company gets some size and success, start circling it like hungry sharks, trying to purchase it,  have NOTHING to do with this.
  • Finally, there is the Union issue.   I have to say that in the past 20 years or so, the unions have, alas, become less of an advocate for the workers,  and more of a bureaucracy bent on perpetuating itself and making as much money for as little effort as possible.    However, in spite of that I believe that Unions are hated by, fought against and legislated against mainly because Management knows that Unions give power to the workers, and allow them to force changes in the company that will cut the money going to the top levels, but, will improve the lot of the workers.   This not only means an increase in wages and benefits,   but, making it harder for the companies to fire employees at will…thereby adding job security.  Yes…it is true that if one goes into a union shop, there is a fair amount of pressure to join the union.  that has annoyed Americans no end since the creation of “union shops”.  it is not so much that the dues are a huge percentage of their paychecks (although that is an issue at times),  but rather, there is the “surly teenager” attitude of over-reacting when someone tries to push us into something, even if it is a good thing.

…..Speaking to the last point a bit  more: That reaction, I believe, comes partly from the fact that – on an overall time scale of civilizations on Earth –  America and its Representative Republic form of government is more like a 8 year old child , than even a “teenager”.  We have been around as an entity for less than 300 years.  This is a babe in arms compared to the other civilizations that reach back several thousand years into history.   As a matter of fact, it amuses me to point out that not only is the USA younger than a lot of outhouses in England, but, New College at Oxford was about 113 years old when Columbus and his raiders discovered the Continent.   (New College, founded in 1379,   1490s for Columbus).
…..having dealt with that digression; I know America has some serious flaws in its economic structure.  Flaws that have gotten worse over the years.  I do not have any real answers, alas (which being a “fixer”, does  kind of annoy me).    However, I have come to believe that one of the only ways that the economy will improve for the workers is for the Unions to regroup,  and go back to their roots of  the 1920s and 1930s.   They need to stop snuggling up to Management and Government, and, start fighting for ALL workers, not just the ones that still pay their dues.   It is my opinion that over the past 30 to 40 years,  the unions have become fat and happy, getting a fair income from their remaining members, and often doing NOTHING significant to help those workers.    By going back to their roots,  they not only could help the workers, but, would likely find their membership increasing.  People are willing to support an organization that is on their side and fighting for them, after all.
…..As part of this resurgence,  we need more folks like John L Lewis, Samuel Gompers and Walter Reuther to get into the union leadership and re-invigorate it. They certainly had their weaknesses, and faults, but, every day they woke up with the desire to use the Union’s strength to improve the lot of the workers.  We also need artists like Bruce “Utah” Phillips, Tom Paxton, Pete Seeger, and many othertalented writers and performers  to write pro-union songs to explain why the Union is better than NO Union, and to mock the evil tht companies do.   Once the songs are written and performed,  both the old songs and the new should be put  back in the public eye.  On the positive side, with the universality of Net access, and the large number of Social Networking sites,  Video sites, and web pages,   it should be much easier to do this.
…..Now,  do I think this will “fix” the problem?   Well,  frankly, I do not know.   However, I do believe this change would be a positive thing for the workers of America.   It is not going to fix the problem on its own (Even as removing the Confederate Flag from Governmental buildings and public grounds will solve the terrible problem of racism in America – which is yet ANOTHER blog post)…but I do believe that it would be a step in a positive direction —  A direction that would return some respect and adequate wages to the millions of Americans who are struggling from day to day to feed their families,   keep a roof over their head, buy the wide variety of products (from medicines to appliences)  that are needed to live in today’s world..   It took decades,  after the rise of the Unions to correct many of the abuses inflicted on the workers.  It has taken decades for that progress to erode away.  However it CAN, with work and courage, happen again, and it SHOULD happen again…
…..Well, I am sure that if you are still with me, you are starting to say “so WHAT the Hell does this have to do with bees?   For me, it is a comparison (simplistic I know) of the two societies – in no particular order:
For The Society of Bees

For the Society of Humans.

…..As most folks know, bees have a very complicated, social structure However,   the social pyramid they form is focused on ONE thing,   that is the protection of, and growth of, the Hive. …..Within this society,  the individual members are often focused more on enriching themselves as individuals    The problem is that this means that Our Hive, the Earth, is being destroyed by the few for their benefit.
The colony tends to be ruthless. When the queen begins to fail to lay enough good eggs to sustain the colony,   she is killed or exiled.  A new Queen is created to take her place.   In the winter when the Drones (the only male bees in the hive) are no longer needed to impregnate a new queen,   they are exiled,  to die outside the colony.    …..Within the Human community,  there is a much fuzzier concept of building a good community and much less inclination to fix problems.   We, even today, re-elect 95% plus of the local, state and Federal representatives that hold sway over us.   This, in spite of egregious lying, abuse of power and creating legislation that discriminates and hurts many Citizens.   I would call for Voters to be a bit more ruthless,   and do NOT re-elect the person in the office just because they are there.   Follow the exmple of the Bees, and, if that representative is not creating good for the whole society,  replace them with someone who will!
The Bees are, essentially, one organism, in that each individual bee is able to do almost nothing.   However, in concert, as an organism of 20,000 to 40,000 cells,  the bee civilization can do mighty things.  While it is normal for humans to band together in tribes and teams and such,  very often they do not perform to the optimal level  because of their individuality and insistance on maintaining it.   Think of the last time your favorite team got wholloped by a much less talented team.  Why did that happen?   10-1 odds it was because YOUR team was a bunch of individuals, each jockeying for their moment of glory.   The OTHER team was a group that had submerged their individual desires, and created a gestalt where in,  like the Bees,  all the members worked for the common goal, ignoring personal glory..

….I am not, by any means advocating that bees are “perfect” in their society.   Nor am I saying that we, as humans, should suppress our individuality and become part of a Hive organism.   While there are societies that do that in a fairly succesful way (Japan comes to mind),   In most cases it is a process doomed to failure.    However, that having been said,   I also think that workers SHOULD take some examples of the bees and incorporate facets of that into their lives.   For example,   Join the Union,  and work to be a part of its push for better money, job security and working conditions.  Like the bees, if your leadership is not producing results,  band together to get rid of it and replace it with a new, fresh leadership.     As individuals,  it is very hard to change reality.   Take the Pyramids for example.   Each of the stones stacked up to create them weighed tons.   It would be essentially impossible for a single person to move those stones up the structure and get them set in place.   However,  get a real team of a couple or three hundred workers together,  and the task becomes possible…perhaps even easy.
Thinking of bees, and humanity and such puts me into mind of one of my favorite activists/folksinger/songwriter/all around interesting fellows – Pete Seeger.   I believe he sums up much of that I have been ranting about for some time now in his wonderful song “Step By Step”.    I have to recommend him as a good voice to add to one’s collection…   
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