March - 2013

I have a few acquaintances, I hesitate to call them friends in that our political differences have driven us apart, with some classmates that dip far back into my past. I grew up in the atmosphere of small town America, during this period my town was primarily Democratic which had a somewhat different definition than it does today, albeit even though the town was not within a State - Alaska being a Territory and it was not allowed to vote on any national our US issues it usually mirrored the results found in the southern States. Even after it became a part of the nation in 1959, it still followed in the shadow of the electorate in the south, not that it really made much of a impact on my way of thinking I was too busy wiggling my way through the problems of a teenager. I did know, even more today than then that our town was pretty much on its own, with the exception of importing food stuffs and fuel oil. Our main industry was what you could call “extraction”, we extracted fish from the sea and timber from the Tongass, and a few shekels from the few who walked down the gangplank from a tour boat. In other words my home town was resource driven, which in any case is mostly the situation throughout Alaska today, with the exception of its largest city Anchorage, yet when you think about it so is Anchorage in that it is a major oil office and the headquarters for other resource driven industries.

What a difference between yesteryear and today, whereas the only time politics played a big role wound around the people in the street a little before election time and shortly thereafter when either your candidate won or lost. Today you cannot pick up a newspaper, watch the evening news or cruise the Internet that you don’t find either this political issue or that one sharing the headlines with War – another political issue. Just the other day the nation was again hit by the New Budget from Paul Ryan, a budget that is said but to be another reflection of his old proposal with a minor facelift here or there, he still seems to be hung up on cutting any Federal assistance for the poor and sick, which in these troubled times is paramount to treason or worse. I say these days as in the days when I was just beginning to understand a bit about the world around me I lived in a situation where the townsfolk looked after their own – today we find that 84% of our population lives in or around our cities – whereas back in 1910 the rural population was at 72% and not 16%. A huge difference, and correct me if I’m wrong but in most cities a good majority of us don’t even know our neighbors. His “new” budget (tongue in cheek) keeps the “sequester” which includes a $1 trillion non-defense and defense spending, but his breakdown slips “spending-cuts” into the non-defense side – slick. Gently tapping the defense cuts. His cuts will slash deeply into scientific research, housing, international relations, education, public safety, public health, environmental protection and job training whereby they will be the recipient of a “double sequester” cut, plus another $250 billion in ten years. Notice how he stays away from some hot items such as Social Security tickling them from the side, and its affiliated programs, and agencies like Homeland Security, Food and Drug are masked under public safety and public health. Government spending no doubt is the “hot ticket” item on any city street in America, including the highways and byways of rural America – and even in the businesses and homes in foreign lands – after all it is our Middle Class that is the primary driver behind the world economy, unfortunately our Middle Class has a tremendous slump in the middle sagging down into poverty.

He then proposes his projected tax revenue at $0.00, cutting rates and consolidating some, his plan creates a $6.7 trillion hole in Federal Revenue, where his only option being to push corporations for full benefit healthcare, eliminate mortgage interest, and disallow charitable donations, the most popular tax breaks. In the end we see that our Mr Ryan is (once again) very careful in NOT stating what would be cut – therefore his $6.7 trillion in mystery tax-spending becomes 46% more than his spending cuts – how he proposes to float this by the House Ways and Means Committee is any one’s guess, but never fear it will. Remaining the largest topic of interest today is 12 million workers with no jobs albeit statistically it has edged down to 7.7% in February, whereas the unemployment rates of whites dipped to 6.8%, blacks 13.8%, Hispanics 9.6% and Asians around 6.1% - all little change noted from this time last year – in words unemployment still is a major crisis across our land. In reality the unemployment crisis reflects, this time, the beginning of a “long-term” issue, recent budgets slipping under the doors of our political leaders most always fail to protect the unemployed, just as they do not make an effort to curb the long-term prediction of the failing employment rate. I am not of the opinion that more government spending or higher benefit packages are the solution, yet I also am not of the feeling that the complete abandonment of our workers is a solution either. We all know that in our quest to reduce our future deficits that it will take higher federal, state and local revenues coupled with reduced spending – the primary wall against this concept is the loss of revenue that used to be contributed by a much larger workforce. Today’s news scream that because of the sequestration there are large numbers of layoffs, furloughs, and get this “cancelled” White House tours, most doom headlines neglecting the fact that in Ryan’s new budget one of is top priorities is to cut funding to our science industry, stuffing scientific exploration and developing programs into an early grave – I realize that private enterprise is also a driver of science – yet if it wasn’t for the government’s goal to expand military communications we’d never have had the Internet, just one example. More than 95% of our scientists began their scientific career under a government program. Yet due to heavy pressure, Obama’s federal budget calls for just $30.2 billion for science research, that

is less than 1% out of the total budget of $3.8 trillion. A good example of private industry in solving problems in the real world, the Boeing mess with the Ion battery – did they solve the voltage/current problem not really they drilled some drainage holes in a reinforced case, added some separation between cells and called it good – the term for this is “bottom line driven”. Preventive healthcare – another target of many – why fix something that is not broke is the attitude – sort or like removing all the fire prevention because there is no fire, or someone screaming that the government or the 1st lady has no right in stating that as a society we consume to damn much sugar. Pro-Lifers send squads of the religious right to march or protest abortion, while these very same ignore the poor and unemployed who are dying because of the lack of medical care, the phrase today is “we protect the unborn, but once you hit the atmosphere baby you’re on your own!” The other day at “CPAC” and up-and-coming star Florida Senator Marco Rubio who the GOP hangs their hat on for dragging back the Latino’s to the fold spend hours and hours bashing China, while Texas Governor Rick Perry got boo’d out of the hall when he uttered, “shift appeal to the growing Hispanic demographic”, yet the atmosphere plunged into a more positive mode when Kentucky Senator Rand Paul slammed the US sending aid to Egypt. Rubio, fast becoming the fairy tale spinner of the GOP remarked, “we’re are here bickering in this country, arguing about whether we should spend more than we take in or what government’s role should be, there is a nation (China) trying to supplant us as the leading power in the world. The Chinese government provides their people with no Internet.” Wingnut, they have more Internet users in China than we have people within our borders –he didn’t stop there. “The Chinese government will hold citizens prisoner!” Per capita the United State has more people behind bars then any other nation, bar none. “Their future of plenitude (abundance in case you’re wondering) isn’t high-tech and software-driven, it isn’t interactive or knowledge-powered; and it doesn’t come from Silicon Valley, San Francisco, or New York City… their wealth comes from old-fashioned, boring extractive industries like

mining and oil drilling, and from un-sexy places like the Great Plains, Texas and the Dakotas.” Small hint to you people who love this guy, either educate him or dump him – he is as off-center as Sarah if not more, and is certain runner-up to the Mormon. In other words a bit on the “duhhh” side. He forgets that it was one of his ilk that recently said that “America’s epicenters of economic dynamism are a giant of un-fashion-ableness, starting at the Dakotas where unemployment are at microscopic levels – now drop straight down through the energy belts of the Great Plains until you hit Texas. Occasionally, you turn to touch spots where fertilizer output and other manufacturing plants are on the rebound, like the Third Coast areas in Louisiana, Mississippi and Northern Florida.” These “giant financial engines” the man quotes are not in the BostonWashington corridor or from Seattle to San Francisco, not if you want to make the big bucks are in suck truck-loads of Federal subsidies (key) – no “they are in the low-tax, low-wage, anti-regulation, pro-business places east and west coast elites call the ‘fly-over-country’.” I always marveled at the fact that there is NO CROP INSURANCE for fisherman, anywhere whether it be Alaska, Washington, Oregon, California, Maine, and other parts east, while in the planting a few seeds, mixing in some cow poop deviled up by Monsanto is one huge hole or drain on our Federal Budget – huge beyond belief multi-national corporations suck billions away from “all” taxpayers – wait until you see their bill for last years drought. They suck up to the Federal monetary spillway 100 times more than you bailed out the banks – anyone say anything or much less do anything about these bloodsucking monsters? Don’t get me wrong, we should all be thankful for America’s remarkable resource wealth, whereas it is still a key to our economic success – yet it is by far from our entire story. We read that that in the oil and gas extraction industry employment has increase by some 50% since the middle of the last decade, in small print we see this rise only accounts for 5% of 1% of total US employment or 1-twentieth of 1%. On the other side of the fence are our scholars of economic development who document that it is NOT resource but knowledge, and ideas that power

advanced economic growth. In this they point to those regions of our country that suffer from what they label the “resource curse”, areas that have large endowments of natural resources where the local economy is wholly dependent of the successful extraction of the material, at most times at rates that totally ignore that the resource is not infinite. In these regions taking a back seat is the concept of knowledge accumulation, educational excellence, and optional methods for advanced economic development. This is not anoff-the-wall statement, a report issued by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development found the relationship between a heavy resource extraction region versus knowledge where knowledge was running at a distant -43, in other words “oil and knowledge” don’t mix. The same can be said about our cities and some regions, it was but 50 years ago that Benjamin Chinitz argued that regions organized around “extractive” industries such as Pittsburgh, tend to evolve as one-industry towns, which put the brakes on their entrepreneurial spirit (like Boeing and Seattle after WWII, which by the way was pulled from this eventual downfall by the invasion of digital technology) – this situation makes it difficult for them to reignite their economies if the industry fades and in reality it is the industry that drives the regions politics. In contrast looking at New York City which has no physical dependence on a natural resource for example the region leans toward a more diverse, entrepreneurial, and resilient economic structures. These assertions are backed by further studies that support the fact that “extractive” metros have had lower levels of entrepreneurship, less growth in trade, services and finance – in other words lower levels of overall economic growth. The preceding is not to say that a resource driven industry is doomed to failure, whereas to stay profitable the industry must progress incorporating an expanding knowledge base the industry invest in – take Houston for instance, once with its arms wrapped around pulling oil fro the ground, it now has copious numbers of scientists, along with digital guru’s bent on maximizing the profits associated with pulling more oil from nature. All these “knowledge” based individuals funded on some manner or form from the oil industry. We find a similar process in countries like Canada, Norway and Australia that are resource rich, knowledge based industries working around

and developing extraction procedures that play well within the countries environmental rules, in turn increasing their gallon for gallon or pound for pound ratio of useable product – in fact promoting the idea that resource environments can walk hand-in-hand as long as leaders utilize the resources to promote and create institutions that capture and build on human capabilities. The regions goal being to feed off of the resources opening the process to the creation of ideas, knowledge and creativity. In recent history (last 50-60 years) we note the “boom and bust” cycles of Alaska, land that has been recorded as being resource rich, where outside or foreign entities have marched willy-nilly within its boundaries taking what they can extract with a minimum cost and leaving. But enough of Alaska, I was discussing conservatives and progressives, which to many are seen as black and white, or visa-versa. When we again visit the Hispanic from Florida, who is seen by some as the raising star in the GOP, we have read of his majestic slamming of the Chinese, who have benefited by the mad rush of our corporate entities flooding their land in a dash towards their cheap labor, never mind the substandard products. Senator Rubio on a roll spit venom from his voice box at the Chinese restricting their people’s right to assemble along with if you were Chinese and slipped under the border to another place the government would chase you until time stood still – not to mention that Rubio mentioned in his condemning tone that they had strict birth limitation policies, forcing some of their population into unwanted abortions and sterilization. In the same breath (this guy is amazing) he shouted that they used “forced labor” (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-21822684) on their own people. Me, I think he’d better be careful in that a great majority of the GOP are the 1% who are behind moving their production centers to China – he keep this up and he won’t be invited to many more expansive lunches on the fantails of a mega-yacht. He asked his captive audience at CPAC (door locked, no guns or spitballs allowed) if his fellow conservatives, “we want that (China) to be the leading country in the world?” The captive mob screams back, “NO!”

“We want that (China) to be the leading voice on this planet?” This time on their feet their hand wrapped firmly around their glass of Jack Daniels scream, “No!” “That’s the stakes. That’s what at stake in America’s greatness. This is not just about National Pride. The truth of the matter is – don’t take this for granted – what we have here is different and special historic. In the vast history of the world and of mankind almost everyone that’s been born was poor and disadvantaged with no ability to get ahead. What’s made us (America) different is that here, people have had the real chance to get a better life no matter where they started out. Do not underestimate what that has meant for the world,” Rubio shouted. “America still works!” The captive crowd broke into cheers that could be heard in Washington D.C. Us taxpayers, along with our Congress is locked in the middle of a huge debate concerning our Federal Spending or deficit, where we have one side calling a halt to increasing taxes, and the other hanging tough on the benefits paid out to our retirement community, Social Security, Medicare and whatnot – next on the line will be the cost associated with our new healthcare law. The latest un-official WP/ABC poll asks if the government should increase the eligibility ages for Social Security and Medicare – 58% only said no. A value that ten-years ago was running around 65% - times are changing. In an official Pew Poll 87% favor present or greater Social Security spending, only 10% support any cuts. I know, I know that are some of you voicing your thoughts about those illegal immigrants lining up for food stamps, or leaning on a emergency room counter with a bullet wound – but we do take care of those in need. This is America right? Emerging from the closet is the fairness of what we refer to as “freemarket capitalism”, where is it true that the system is making “all-of-us” better off, in other words creating a true sense of equal opportunity and “fairly” dividing the economic pie –if true then we wouldn’t require the government to take care of all the “things” it does. It only makes “common sense” that if those members of our society were in a physical and financial position to take care of their elders they would, yet as one can clearly see we can’t, in this we see in addition to the elderly living longer we see a social reaction to their increasing dependence of the system

to extend the age bracket for when they can actually draw from the community pot. Yet our present employment situation finds the up-andcoming younger group pushing those over the retirement bracket who are perfectly capable of a meaningful contribution – out the door. Along with this is the changing opinion that the “well-off” retirees can afford to pay more for their benefits or receive “less”. In other words concentrating the benefits on those less fortunate allowing amongst other things a better healthcare system. The debate is whether or not the administration should embrace a much higher cut in social spending, such as real life cuts to Social Security when considering inflation, and/or increasing the age of Medicare eligibility – with this the Republicans say they “might” consider higher taxes, the problem – nobody trusts the “might” in their statement. Senator Rand Paul hit-the-nail on the head during his speech at CPAC when he said, young voter “want leaders that won’t feed them a line of crap.” Amen! The problem is that their leaders today are living in a world that is slowly going by the wayside, being pushed and pulled by those under the half-century mark – a politicians world that has “grown stale and mosscovered” as note by the Senator from Kentucky. As a democracy do we required two or more parties, you bet, but the public is screaming for parties that represent the real world, which by the way if you haven’t noticed it is changing whether you like it or not. Our society must change along with it, and by-the-way with or without the diversion of AR-15’s or not. Hey the Holy Roman Empire just sat Jorge Mario Bergoglio as its 266th Pope Francis a Jesuit, the world is changing. Today some maintain that “liberals” (Progressives) have moved too far to the left, whereas their counterpart points to the fact that they are lifting some social media conditions too high in the air, such as gay marriages and hold your breath the legalization of un-documented immigrants, and lets not forget the registration of guns. Yet opinion polls are demonstrating that the far-out liberal positions are becoming the conventional thought of the day. Conservatives focus on the liberal’s support for a greater government role in the day-to-day existence of the population, whereby lately the liberals are

expecting the government to assist the populations dip into poverty brought about by careless manipulation of the economy. The conservatives deny to a person that the players in the economic world are solely responsible for the present financial situation labeled our global recession. In this the liberals in their attempt to push the economy forward look to the government to assist in job creation in such areas as highway infrastructure, electrical distribution infrastructure, mass transit, along with an upgrade and maintenance of our educational facility’s. The conservatives argue that our Federal Budget should be slashed, whereby spending $450 billion on public works is nothing short of hidden treason, they propose that the Federal government reduce the amount to $179 billion and divide it between the states and let them decide the service proposed by the Administration. In any case, progressive or conservative the funs necessary would come from increased taxation – a feared result that some maintain would be a simple matter of robbing Peter to pay Paul – in other words draining the private sector of the capital necessary for economic growth. Recent publications show that the US economy is still performing under par – some $985 billion or more, this compared to an analysis based on its factories running 24/7 – in this the liberals are pushing for more government involvement that would increase production, employment thereby increasing consumption – albeit Gallup’s poll show that 72% of Americans across the population would support a major Federally financed infrastructure repair program, along with a program that created 1-2 million jobs – the major block to this is the revenues needed to finance such a goal is lacking because of the 12 million able people without jobs – hence a reduced revenue base because of a lack of taxes collected from the un-employed. The conservatives are hanging tough on the idea that it is only the private sector that can create jobs and prosperity, in this they ignore the fact that the private sector is no longer capable of creating jobs and prosperity like it used to, this to mean “apart” from any situation that a governmental policy may have on job creation. Detailed records outside of government show that well “before” ObamaCare that employers began reducing or eliminating health coverage and retirement benefits for their employees – along with

decreasing the share of their profits applied to wages – today you find corporations with the highest profit margins in our economic history – with wages at their lowest in several decades. S&P’s 500 largest “publicly” traded companies receive “almost” 50% of their revenue from sales outside of the US borders (2011 S&P analysis), which means much of their production is going to remain abroad. Couple this with the increasing automation usage, direct translation, less manual labor for the work force – although latest estimates put US corporations sitting on $1.7 trillion in cash, which by the way keep share values and profits high – in this don’t expect them to invest any time soon in a shrinking purchasing base in the USA. A good example of this Catch-22, is the refining of crude into gasoline which is being shipped off shore to countries which pay a much higher per gallon value. This export is keeping the cost of a gallon at its present state, no matter the downward or upward fluctuation of a dollar or two of a barrel of crude. It is a well known fact that the highly contested XL Pipeline dropping down from the Tar Sands in Canada will supply the “dirty crude” to the Texas refineries for processing and consequent shipping to markets off-shore. Not to provide relief at America’s gas pumps. In a phrase, the economy is hard at work providing handsome profits for the economic elites, whereas any massive changes in this or that investment of corporate revenue to enhance the monetary gain of the Middle Class is not anywhere being close to the economic horizon. In this the great “growth” machine that was once a strong entity in America is just but a weak and feeble shadow of our country, a primary reason that our present recession has dragged on and on. To this situation we find the moving force behind the Congressional Progressive movement, it is not that the “liberals” want to create a “welfare” state, or that they are sitting around “smoking” some good stuff. It is that the economy is in a dismal state of stability, laying back far short of its full employment potential – or even close or renewing the promise of prosperity in the land. They ask for government investment, in “stuff” that will benefit the population for years, increase the educational opportunity, while providing jobs for over 1-2 million people. If anyone is “smoking” the good stuff one could say it is the conservatives who firmly believe that it can only

be the private sector left alone, with reduced regulations and a reduction in taxes that will hoist America back on the track of prosperity – they’ve been at it for over twenty-years and still haven’t done squat.