Saturday, December 29, 2012

Social Security and Medicare Are Not Welfare Programs

The members of Congress have called Social Security and Medicare "entitlements" so long they seem to have forgotten both the origin and purpose of the two programs. 

Webster's definition of the word entitle which most closely defines this usage of entitlements is:  "to give (a person or thing) a title, right or claim to something:  furnish with rights for laying claim. . ."
There is nothing in this definition to define or explain entitlements as nasty little four letter words.  Yet, judging from the verbal behavior of many conservative congressmen, that is how they view both Social Security and Medicare.

Let's focus attention, once more, on some of the Congressmen, past and present, who have vilified these and other "entitlements".  There are those like the former Congressman from Missouri who announced that he never liked Social Security and that he had not designed it.  But that is mild compared with the Congressman who said we "are a nation of whiners expecting to receive something just because we were promised it -- in the same conversation where he rejoiced that there had been no cost of living increase that year, so there would be no increase in C O L A.

It is exactly this attitude of company officials and their compadres in government that caused the need for social programs in the first place. 

It is kind of a fad these days for Americans to get bent out of shape over sweat shops in foreign countries, but people tend to forget about the sweat shops in Europe and the United States in the early years of the industrial revolution.  They were, in fact, a reason that our "social programs" exist today -- these entitlements that are anathema to a good many company owners.

Social Security and Medicare are frequently viewed as handouts by Congress and Conservative business owners, when they are better termed insurance programs.   In order to insure our old age financial security, most American workers have paid compulsory insurance premiums throughout their work histories.  Just as we were forced involuntarily to pay those fees, our leaders are supposed to see we receive the "insurance" when we reach the appropriate age.  Does Congress understand the word compulsory?  This compulsory program is required from both participants and government officials.  A previous Congress and Administration made a covenant with Americans to provide payouts to retired seniors and another previous Congress and Administration set Cost of Living Adjustments based on the Cost of Living Increase.  Remember the word Covenant.

As this author has stated repeatedly in these blog articles, if company owners had done their jobs right morally and ethically, such programs would never have been necessary.  But greedy and selfish people have, throughout history, worked employees, including women and underage children, in sweat shop conditions.  They have overworked and underpaid them, thinking only of how to fill their own pockets.  They have ignored basic safety standards.  Then they have used up and cast out workers as so much garbage when they got old, injured, sick or frail.  What Americans among us do not know about these conditions and the steps that were taken to remedy them?  We studied them in history in public schools.  Did your private educations leave you underprivileged in knowledge?

Social Security laws cover much more than just the aged.  They are also for survivors, the disabled and Medicare (which falls under a separate fee).  They offer an employment security benefit which includes unemployment and worker's compensation benefits.  Employees and their employers both contribute to the funding of these programs.

So, yes, we are entitled to the payout from them because we paid our insurance premiums and it is the law!  They differ radically from the social programs for the poor which are paid from our collective income taxes.  The latter programs include food stamps, HUD housing, energy assistance and Medicaid.  Too many of your former hard-working employees have suffered the humiliation of having to ask for public assistance due to inadequate Social Security payouts already.

Social Security and Medicare are supposed to be separate funds left untouched until needed and allowed to earn money in sound investment programs.

The pity is that members of Congress did not have "x-ray" foresight so that our leaders could accurately predict future funding needs.  But that is not going to wash as an excuse not to meet the requirements for the programs.  The baby boomer excuse is also wearing thin.  Lawmakers have known about them for many decades now.  Congress is going to have to increase premiums on current workers just as they have done in the past on other generations.  They are going to have to stop "forgiving" current workers from paying their full premiums.  They will need that money much more sorely once they retire.

The law required us to pay the premiums and now the law should require Congress to see we get the "lawful" Cost of Living Adjustment based on inflationary increases. 

Perhaps if everyone replaces the term "entitlements" with the word insurance, Congress and businessmen will begin to have a proper understanding of the programs.  They would know that an insurance company that collected premiums without honoring agreed upon payouts would be committing crimes -- fraud.  Such companies would probably be dissolved or replaced and their owners imprisoned.  If Congress reneges on this covenant, should they be prosecuted, too?  Who would be whining then?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

How Dare you?!!!

Who in this universe authorized you to speak for your entire state?  How dare a small minority of people request that my state be allowed to secede from the union?  Even if it were constitutionally possible to do so, for a state to request secession for all Texans or Missourians or Kansans, it would be necessary to hold an election to see what the majority of the state's citizens want.  So, you want to secede for the entire population of the state, you hold a legal election.  Then if the majority wants to seek secession, I'll move to a state where sanity rules the day.

But majority rule is the problem here, right?  For the tantruming minority out there, majority rule is only good if the majority votes your way.  Instead of ruling that people can vote at 18, 21, or whatever, we need to develop a litmus test for maturity.

I am a citizen of these United States of America.  What states I have lived in are coincidental to my citizenship in the greatest country ever formed.  In fact, I've lived in Illinois, Indiana, Florida, Missouri and Kansas.  Comprendez-vous?  A state is a small part of a great big wonderful piece of real estate that goes from sea to shining sea.

But I have a good idea for all of you malcontents.  You don't like the land I love, then leave it.  Whether you were born here, are naturalized or illegal, you may feel free to take a hike at any time!  We grownups even have a word for it.  It's called emigration.  No, I didn't spell it wrong, it means the act of moving from one country to another and settling there.  Get packing.  You'll then be referred to as an expatriot.  You won't pledge our flag or sing our songs anymore.

Let me make some suggestions.  All you in the upper one per cent that don't like paying taxes here, just move to China, India and anywhere else you have found outsourcing helpful to your bottom line.

All you radical right religious creatures -- for you I suggest Afghanistan or some of the other Middle Eastern Countries.  You might even want to help the Taliban stone people and kill their rebellious daughters for uncovering their heads, wearing makeup or for wanting to choose their own husbands.  Your thinking hasn't evolved that far past them.

You who don't like the welfare programs here can move to a country where hoards of homeless and hungry surround you and impede your every step.  I would suggest India for this, but they seem to be doing better than we are now that they have so many of our jobs.

Perhaps your major beef with majority rule would be quelled if you moved to China or North Korea.  Do you fancy a dictatorship or Communism?

There's a reason masses of people risk their lives coming to our shores.  It's because it's better here.  We all have a vote, a say in our government.  And just sometimes in a democracy, the other side wins. 

You sports lovers out there use sports models for everything else, so use them here.  Throwing a temper tantrum because the majority that won wasn't your team is called poor sportsmanship.  That's bad business.  Now pull yourselves together and let's work as a team.  Your side won for eight straight years.  Now it's time for the other side to have eight straight.

Just as in team sports, sportsmanship is the rule of the day, so in majority rule, maturity holds the sway! 

Now remember -- don't secede, emigrate.  Whatever you do, never again speak for me.

The Folly of Lines Drawn in the Sand

A number of years ago, a Republican who ran for and won  the Presidency, kept saying "Read my lips, no new taxes."  It seems a lifetime ago.

Several members of the House (read my paper) signed pledges they would not raise taxes under any circumstances.

Representative John Boehner is now saying the people want us to cooperate and work together, but he won't raise taxes just on the rich.

The twice-elected President of the United States agrees that the two branches must cooperate and work out an agreement, but he won't raise taxes on the middle class, seniors and students -- at least without a raise for the upper class.

Lines in the sand lead to -- do not pass go, go directly to -- a standoff.  No wonder we have gridlock in Washington, D. C.

Now, the man who drew the line in the sand with Iraq eventually went to war with Sadaam Hussein because he would not produce and destroy the weapons of mass destruction it was assumed he had.  After a huge shock and awe campaign, a lengthy occupation and efforts to rebuild the nation we had willfully destroyed -- surprise, they had no weapons of mass destruction!  But, once the line had been drawn in the sand, war was unavoidable.  It has been eleven years now during which time we have lost precious lives, limbs and minds, just because of the foolishness of drawing lines in the sand.  All this and the line drawer has lost face anyway.

Those paper signing congressmen have boxed themselves in with their line drawing.  Either they cannot vote for any compromise that includes a tax on anyone, or they will have to tell their constituents that they were lied to earlier.  The alternative is to let the whole country continue in debt for generations or go bankrupt.  And, by the way, adjusting COLA downward isn't taxing?

John Boehner, Mr. Bluster himself, is once again saying we must work together and compromise, but it won't be conservative Republicans who will do it. 

And you, too, Mr. President?  You'll tax the rich, but not the middle class even though taxing just the rich won't bring sufficient funds to reduce the debt enough?

All of you might need to take a leaf from President George H. W. Bush's book.  Learn from the folly of making unwise promises and erase the lines at once.  Then go back to the drawing board with everything truly on the table and everything negotiable.

And remember the lesson of Iraq -- a person can't produce and destroy something he doesn't have.  The line drawing was a foolish act for which we are all still paying.  The American public should not have to suffer more because our leaders act like school children angling for a fight.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Morning After

Try reading the mind of God!  Is it possible to understand why, after the expenditure of six billion dollars in advertising, hours upon hours of American prayer and enough negative commercials to drive a Saint to drink, we wound up with almost the same situation we had before the election?  I'd like to try to help figure it out.

Some of the world's religions teach that we are sent to this planet to learn particular lessons.  Some even present that we pick our families ahead of coming here so that we maximize our opportunities to improve.  Others teach that whatever the reason we came in the first place, we are put into the same negative situations over and over until we finally learn correct and healthy responses to them.  An example might be always getting mean and hateful supervisors at work until such time as we learn how to cope and thrive in spite of them. 

So, keeping these thoughts in mind, how can we view our election results?

President Barack Obama gets another opportunity to defuse an obstinate House of Representatives and to motivate a recalcitrant Senate and to show the hope and change he promised as he moves us forward.  He gets to overcome his deer-in-the-headlights response to this dysfunctional Congress and assume the leadership role that We the People have twice given him the opportunity to command.

The Senate of these United States has one more chance to produce a sound budget that cuts wasteful spending while preserving worthwhile causes as they pay down the national debt.

The House of Representatives gets to forget ridiculous austerity and put on their thinking caps in an effort to devise sensible methods of paying down the afforementioned debt, including increasing taxes -- that five-letter, four-letter word.

All of the above absolutely must cooperate and compromise.  You are not playing games.  This is the real world and we are real people who need you to do what you were elected to do -- construct, tweek and pass laws to make our country better and stronger.

Mr. Mitch McConnell's lesson is that we want to give him one more chance to effect meaningful change for us.  We did not send him to congress to make sure Barack Obama was a one-term President or to waste an entire term in doing so.  We sent him to cooperate and use his mind for worthwhile things.  Besides he failed at his number one priority as well as on our behalf.

Mr. John Boehner needs this second chance to learn that the American right to go from a bar owner's son to one of the most powerful jobs in the land comes with a huge responsibility -- not just self aggrandizement.  He must play nice with others and get some good work done -- real work, not just rhetoric.

Eric Cantor, Paul Ryan and others of their ilk must realize the folly of politicians -- themselves, especially -- making political promises that cannot or should not be kept.  You are going to have to tax!  Again, that four-letter word, but in it's three-letter form.

And our President, whom some of us see as too willing to cooperate and compromise, is going to have to have more starch.  He will need it to stand up to the bullies in the other branch.

Karl Rove, The Koch brothers and the Super Pac big spenders get to learn that they can find more influential and responsible ways to spend their dollars.  How about using it to pay down the debt?  You obviously didn't buy our votes, did you?  And, oh yes, lying doesn't really work either, does it?

Mr. George Will, perhaps you are correct to some degree.  It may be necessary to have a Republican majority in the House to slow things down long enough to think and work together.  But, I am right as well.  This much gridlock is dysfunctional.

You all have a new opportunity to get this right and save our country from debt and bancruptcy.  Don't screw it up this time.

The Meaning of Our Vote

However slim the difference in the vote, the majority hath spoken!  What has the majority said?

Most of us . . .

. . . want to keep the Affordable Health Care Act

. . . believe in an individual's right to choose -- what we do with our own bodies, whom we love and marry, as well as other specific individual decisions

. . . trust the President more than the dissidents

. . . do not want the radical religious right changing our laws

. . . prefer a moderate to liberal approach right now

. . . are not impressed by scare tactics

. . . believe more in large government than small government

. . . can discern who lies the most

. . . disdain of political posturing

. . . want public education

. . . do not want vouchers or their clones

. . . want to preserve Social Security and Medicare

. . . believe in helping the poor

. . . want the rich to pay their fair share

. . . like that "hopey changey" stuff

Bring it on!!!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

My Tongue-in-Cheek Choice for Congress (Or Am I Serious)?

Did you read Joel Stein's column in the November 5, 2012 Time?  His work, which he calls "The Awesome Column", is now the first thing I read.  If it doesn't make me laugh, his supposed intention, it 's sure to tick me off .  For example, the time he told us all he was smarter than us because he went to a better college.

This issue he was making a proposal that nobody should be allowed to vote unless they were at least as smart as he.  In laying his groundwork, he mentioned low-information voters, a term coined by an author, Samuel Popkin.  Stein consulted Popkin and some other impressive sounding people who eventually convinced him he was not a low-information voter.  By the end of the column, I decided I had laughed more than I had been rankled.  I also was evaluating whether I was a low-information voter concerning my most difficult choice this year.

What were the bits of information I had about the people running for Congress from our district in the state of Kansas? 

___________, Libertarian

Kevin Yoder, Republican

About the Libertarian whose name I don't remember, I know not a word.  There were no ads.  There were no handshakes.  There were no pictures on fliers.  There weren't even any phone calls.  But, I may have finally figured out a way not to receive any of the latter.

About Kevin Yoder, I have this sketchy information. 

.  He's a rather handsome man who wears expensive looking clothing which fits him beautifully.  Oh, yeah, that's probably not a good reason for choosing a public leader.

.  He's not Dennis Moore.  Now, Dennis Moore, by the end of one term in Congress, had sent out a number of newsletters and invitations to talk sessions.  He even got out of Johnson County for some of them.  He spoke of ideas that agreed with some of mine and seemed a good, intelligent man.

.  He's not even Dennis Moore's wife who ran for the seat after Dennis resigned, but sadly lost the election.

.  Yoder did send me one communication.  There was a multi-paged questionnaire asking my opinion about the issues he wanted to accomplish in his next term.  It was accompanied by a b. s. letter telling me that because of my standing in the community he needed to know my wishes. 

Let's examine my standing for truth.

1.  Retired
2.  Poor
3.  Female
4.  Democrat
5.  Single -- no spouse to influence
6.  Smart aleck
7.  Opinionated
8.  Or is that opinionated smart aleck?

The letter informed me if I would include my e-mail address he would send me results of the survey in about a month.  I did, he didn't.  (And to think I gave him my blog address as well.)

I did hear about him one more time in the interim. He got his sorry behind in the news - almost literally -- for going skinny dipping in the Sea of Galilee. 

1.  In coed company
2.  There were other members of Congress there
3.  Some, including Yoder, had their spouses with them
4. The others wore their clothes

Now, for the above story I want to thank him for the laugh it gives me every time I think of it.  But I guess it does show poor judgment for a Congressman who wants to be reelected to behave in such a way.  Even though I'm sure Jesus, himself, may have skinny-dipped there a time or two, it wasn't considered a sacred body of water at the time. But, then Yoder may have been trying to save the crease in those lovely clothes.

Not to worry, Mr. Yoder.  I'm sure you'll win the election.  There were no Democrats running against you.  Your party didn't think they needed to run any ads against your opponent.  And the national politicians consider this state a lock-in for the Republican Party.

I was just h e double hocky sticks (remember me now?) bent on showing my ire with Republican dirty political tactics this year by voting for anyone else, especially Democrats.

Don't let my blog worry you either.  I can't get most of my friends and family to read it and none of them live in Kansas.  I'm sure you rushed to read the blog as soon as you received knowledge of it.  If you did, you'll note it says I have two followers, but that can't be right, can it?  It increased from one follower to two one time when I signed in to do an edit.  My granddaughter swears she read it at least once.  So did my brother, the Republican . . . and my nephew by marriage told me I was some kind of writer.  I'm sure he doesn't know I realize that may not be a compliment.  My friend from high school, who lives in California, said she would read one and I remember her as a person of her word.  My other brother, the Democrat, after many excuses why he hadn't, reluctantly said he would, and he's a minister.  They always tell the truth, don't they?  I know my best friend's sister read it at least once, because her nephew filed a comment and said she had recommended he read it.  And then there is my niece whom I fired up so badly she wrote two rebuttal comments. 

But, I'll leave it to you all my non-reading followers.  Was I a low-information voter or not?

There was one thing of note.  Mr. Yoder said on the survey form that he was working to get term limits for Congress.  Fat chance his colleagues will go for that, but it is an idea I can get into myself.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Pre-Election Overview of Trickle Down Politics

A friend asked a person for information I needed for this blog. That person said he would like to meet and shake the hand of the individual -- me -- that cares enough to write a blog that nobody reads. It does seem that way sometimes, but I certainly have ticked off a lot of conservative Republicans with it. Some have filed formal comments on the blog. Joel Osteen said in his sermon today that sometimes we have to go through a thousand or so closed doors before we walk through the one that God answers with a yes, but we need to stay in the faith and keep trying.

This campaign has left a lot of citizens confused and frustrated. The died-in-the-wool Democrats and Republicans remain almost blindly and unthinkingly faithful to party lines. The rest of us have to keep listening, reading and evaluating. We also need to be prayerful that we hear and understand the issues well enough to make the best choices for most Americans. Believe me I have prayed my way through these blog articles.

Throughout the process, the blame games have grown very tiring and have not been constructive. Yes, our debt grew considerably because of two wars, tax cuts and an unsubstantiated belief that cutting taxes for the wealthy and businesses would cause trickle down affluence to Main Street. Yes, the current congress and administration colluded with the previous ones and continued those same questionable practices. What part of "they are not working" do both parties not understand? The best that can be said is they are leading us through a sluggish recovery.

Granted this recovery was destined to be sluggish anyway. There is a reason this period was called The Great Recession. It was named such because it is the worst recession since the Great Depression. We won't recover overnight.

In "The View From Mainstreet", the first article in the blog, I said that the average head of household knows how to fix a financial crisis -- at least as long as jobs are available. One, stop fighting about the problem and creating more stress. Two, cut out all frivolous and unnecessary spending. Three, increase revenue. In a family, that means people take on extra jobs. In government that means increasing taxes. If it means Congress needs to tax my $797 monthly Social Security Transfer, so-be-it. Tax it! As a neighbor says when we get no or niggardly Social Security increases, "we can learn to do with less". Whatever it takes, get that national debt paid down. It is sheer insanity to be in debt to a country that has clearly not been our friend for decades. The Chinese are no dummies. Are we?

Focusing on whether or not we like the personalities involved should not be the issue. After the Republican primary, I e-mailed my Republican brother that I'm glad Romney had won. I rather like the man. I simply disagree with his waffling on issues in order to improve his poll figures as well as his newly acquired conservative politics.

I understand why that brother is a Republican. He is a small business owner and Republicans, by orientation, tend to favor businesses, both large and small. But most of my friends and family, as well as myself, have worked for schools, local governments, serving or helping professions, and in other people's businesses. Democrats are the ones more likely to protect the interests of the little people like us. From them you don't get the feeling that they are saying if they can live on their $10,000,000 annual income and save for their futures, why can't we live on the minimum wage $15,080 and save for our retirements as well. Even wealthy Democrats have a better understanding of what it means to be poor or Middle Class. The Republicans seem not to care anymore.

In this economy of less than one job per working-aged employee, there are some conservatives who actually think that Social Security should be entirely eliminated or at least reduced to a state that it supplements our retirement jobs. There is a reason why the very young and the very old do not work. The very young are learning how to survive and the very old are trying use the skills they learned while young. Even people as remarkably healthy as I, still have physical issues that can impede productive work -- visual disturbances, hearing problems, arthritis, etc. How can they convince a prospective employer that they can be as useful and productive as their younger selves? Many of them need afternoon naps to keep up their strength or rest their eyes.

Remember that funny old saying, "them what has, gets"? Social Security recipients, while having an average monthly income of $1050 received no raise for 2010, 2011, a 3.6 per cent raise for 2012 and a prospective increase of 1.7 per cent for 2013. Supposedly our Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) is based on the Consumer Price Index -W. Having lived through the years 2010, 2011 and 2012 to date, can you honestly agree that we had no cost of living increase in 2009 and 2010 or just 1.7 per cent in 2012? If these figures are correct, why can we buy so much less than we could a few years ago. The COLA is supposed to keep us at the same purchasing power as when the Index was lower.

Yet, Congress, some time ago, allowed themselves an automatic annual raise unless they voted before the end of the previous year to forego it. Ordinary Congressmen have an income of $174, 000, but they need an increase sometimes even when the Seniors and handicapped do not. "Them what has, gets."

In psychology and education, we talk about a phenomenon called the "Self Fulfilling Prophecy". If we think something negative might happen, our subconscious is likely to set up conditions so that something negative happens. Well, the current climate in Congress is that Social Security needs to be reduced or discontinued so it won't go bankrupt or cause the entire country to be bankrupt. So what does Congress do? They stop taking Social Security taxes from employee's paychecks. And what are Conservatives threatening? Republicans want to privatize the program. President George W. Bush suggested since people would like to leave something for their children, he thought privatizing was a good idea. Besides the fact that private funds would be threatened over and over by a volatile stock market, how can failure to tax the current workforce for Social Security or letting heirs inherit the private funds save the program? Subtracting funds from an already crippled system will kill the system, which is exactly what some Republicans such as Todd Akin of Missouri want to do.

Next we need to address issues related to large and small government. Right after the Civil War, a Union could not have been possible had the states not been given a lot of power and latitude. The entire concept of small versus large government is kind of a dinosaur, but the country keeps playing the old tapes over and over. Per small government conservatives, there are a lot of areas where the Federal Government does not belong. For Mitt Romney, one of these is health care. He presented once that his State Health Care plan would be a good model for the country, but for each individual state, not the Federal Government. Well, what a waste of time, manpower and dollars to replicate it 49 times. And, would there be equal protection fifty different times? Can't you envision a mass exodus to the state with the most popular plan? But more importantly, doesn't this underscore a basic hypocrisy in Conservative thinking? The very party that believes that the less government the better, is the one that wants to micromanage our individual lives -- what we do with our bodies, who we marry, what wattage light bulb we use, whether or not we use birth control. Our God is a taxing master, but even He offers us a choice. Local, state and federal governments do not belong in our private and religious lives. Mucking around in them is evidence of politics and government out of control.

We have yet to hear the debate about foreign policy. That hasn't stopped people on both sides from devining what the policies are or should be.

A lot of my family is up in arms over our relations with Israel. Per our military leaders, our country still has good rapport with the Israeli military. From what I have discerned from my reading, Israel does not have enough manpower or supplies to carry on a prolonged war with Iran. If they go into battle with that country, whether it is started by Israel or Iran, they will have to have the backing and support of the U. S. and their other allies. It would be to Netanyahu's advantage if he could coerce all of us to start the war for them. Some of the other Israeli leaders, however, do not believe the time is yet here when Israel and it's allies need to act. President Obama and our leaders are well aware that two recent wars are the major cause of our never-ending debt and that our troops are exhausted and stressed to the point of suicide. We do not need another war. We need to rest, grieve and heal both emotionally and financially. But Netanyahu will not cease his pressure to get the U. S. and the U. N. to go to war for him. Through his efforts to achieve his personal agenda, he has offended our President on more than one occasion, including dressing him down in a televised photo op on his first visit to this administration.

In addition, Russia and China do not want military interference between these two countries at this time, and yes they have a say. Our government and the other countries have opted to use sanctions in an attempt to avoid bloodshed and achieve a peaceful resolution. Besides, Ahmadinejad said that Putin informed him we had several thousand nuclear weapons, and that one bomb would be nothing compared to that. But go ahead, critics and continue to criticize our President and the U. N. for not engaging in our usual guilt-ridden knee jerk reaction to Israeli concerns. Then the next presidential election you will be able to complain about a war of your own making.

Now, let's deal with the Libyan debate. CBS did a timeline last week about what and when the Administration stated that the attack on our embasy was probably terrorism. In a meeting with some of his staff, Obama is said to have stated it was probably terrorism, and he mentioned not tolerating terrorists in his public news conference, less than twelve hours after the event. If ten kids get into a fight on the playground, the school staff may believe, while stopping it, that they know what caused it and who all was involved. But if they walk into the fray saying they know the gang kid started it and take action based only on opinion, they could come up short later when they find out Johnny four-eyes stole a candy bar from a little girl and the others began to protect her. Wherever the fight and whatever the cause, sane individuals have to methodically sift through the facts, examine forensically and make sane decisions before acting. And to think if he had come out swearing vengeance for terrorism and it turned out regular mob violence, all the critics would have risen against him for that. We need to leave personalities and our favorites out of this and think forensically ourselves.

The uprising in Egypt seems truly to have been provoked by the ill-timed and ill-conceived video that a coptic Egyptian published on-line from our country. Nobody seems concerned that Egypt has taken responsibility for their own cleanup.

The situation in Syria is a heartache. Our government considered sending in weapons to help the rebels, but could not because there was no guarantee they would not be used by AlQaeda, The Talliban and their sympathizers. Just think, we could have wound up with another gun/Cartel expose for everybody to bitch about.

But the bottom line is that Ron Paul is probably right. The United States is not the police force of the world. We are neither obligated nor qualified to be. We have more than we can handle policing within our own borders.

We all need to learn as much as we can. We must discern what remarks -- from both sides -- are fact and what are half truths and what are misdirections, or downright lies meant to win votes. We need to honestly assess if we are cherry picking points to support our pre-conceived party position or if we are really trying to eke out all the facts.

It is imperative that we align ourselves with politicians whose records to date show that they share our interests and have policies that will facilitate our own financial and life-sustaining needs. It is ludicrous when a part-time teacher or a hospital nurse's aid identifies so closely with a member of the upper one per cent that they think their needs and goals are the same. They are totally in conflict. And there are 99% more of us than there are of them.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Which Mitt Romney Would Be President?

Should Mitt Romey become President, which Mitt Romney would we get?  Would it be the one who signed a health care bill into law while he was Governor of Massachusetts?  You remember the law -- it was used as the model for the Affordable Health Care Act currently called Obamacare.  Or would we get the Mitt Romney who vows to get rid of Obamacare his first day in office?

Would the pro-choice Mitt Romney, Governor of Massachusetts, arrive in the Oval Office, or would the currently pro-life "Romney for President" be the one? 

Perhaps we will get the Romney who said the next President might eliminate the Dream Act that President Obama enacted by Executive Order or perhaps the one who now proudly exclaims he has an ancestor who was born of American parents in Mexico.  Or better still, we might get the one who says this country was built by immigrants and even his ancestors were immigrants. Well, duh, except for those few of us who have native American origins, all of us were born of immigrants.

Perhaps we will see the man who favors giving senior citizens vouchers for Medicare and sending them off to fight the wars with insurance companies (but please don't call them vouchers, because that's an unpopular idea).  Or maybe we will get the one who now says we'll have to have a governnment sponsored option as one of the Medicare choices.

Just possibly we will get the Romney that doesn't want the government in Affordable Health Care because the government doesn't belong in what should be a private industry.  Or possibly we will get the Romney that believes in the afforementioned government option for Medicare.

Maybe we'll get the Romney that says to trust him with the details instead of the one we observe making them up as he does interviews.

Will we get the Romney who said that kids who want to go to college or start businesses should borrow from their parents, or will we get the Romney who now says educating our young people is important and he truly embraces Pell grants?

Do we anticipate the Mitt Romney, who as a representative of Bain, closed companies and cut jobs, not the one who says his Bain experience taught him how to create jobs?  Or, will the Mitt Romney who took Bain's profits from the top and walked away, leaving some companies to file for bancruptcy, be the one we can expect?

Will we get the Romney that wrote 47 per cent of the population off in a private meeting, or the one who now embraces all of us as best friends -- the poor, the pregnant, the handicapped, the middle class, the Food Stamp People, the people he cannot comprehend, the multitudes who are too lazy and selfish to live off the always too low minimum wage, and the ones who cannot find two or three jobs in an economy that offers less than one each? 

For sure we would be getting the Romney that wants to be president even more than a kid wants a candy bar -- so much he will say anything at all to get the nomination and the job. 

But what we don't know from all the verbiage is which Mitt Romney will actually show up for work every day.  How could we?

Friday, September 21, 2012

Voucher Brain Disease


Lou Hough

Unfortunately, the Republicans in congress, and perhaps a few Democrats, have been stricken with a dangerous brain condition which this author has coined Voucher Brain Disease.  The congressmen most affected -- the worst cases -- tend to be small government, conservative Republicans.

This fad, which follows closely on the heels of one where U. S. Citizens were labeled whiners by our elected officials, seems to imply it is essential that the federal government get out of the management of our schools as well as our health care for seniors.

Consider the school children first.  Suppose the government estimates it should cost a hypothetical $2,500 per child per year to educate each one in America.  Part of the point they make is they will be saving taxpayers money in doing so.  Another part of their point is they are getting the federal government out of our schools and resting responsibility with local and state governments.  The first is probably a myth and the second is downright dangerous. 

Why is it a myth to think that it would reduce taxes?  First, these vouchers would not only be available to the usual public school students, but they they would go to private school children as well.  Does that mean we, the taxpayers, would be paying for Paul Ryan's children to be taught Catholicism in their schools?  That has been entertained as a possibility.  According to sources, the Supreme Court would probably have to decide any congressional decision that included parochial schools.

It certainly means we would be paying for Mitt Romney's grandchildren to attend private schools. These are at least two classifications of schools for which taxpayers probably should not have to pay, especially if we are trying to save federal money and are cutting taxes to the rich.  Think for a moment how many schools for which we do not pay now, that would receive children's vouchers under the proposed new plan.  How can that possibly save tax dollars?   (Note:  Mr. Romney is said to favor similar plans for education as well as Medicare, but avoids the term voucher because it is very unpopular). 

Second, as any senior on Social Security can tell you, the Congress steadfastly underestimates how much money is needed to live the barest existence.  So, they apply this typical underestimate to education and the school districts find that it costs $3,000 per student.  Who do you think will pay the difference?  Well, you will, depending on how your state and local governments decide to handle it.  Options include the student's family picking up the $500 extra per student or state and local governments increasing our -- yes, you guessed it -- taxes.  Do state and local taxes to pay that extra cost any less than federal? 

Also, they will try to tell you that it is better if local communities control the educational offerings.  Education is actually one area where a larger collection of minds designing and recommending curriculum or teaching methods is better than a small local school system doing it.  Even large ones can fail their students.  The Kansas City, Missouri, district, based on student achievement, has lost it's accreditation and caused the state to have to take over.  It not only takes a village to rear our children, as once written by Hillary Clinton, the village needs to be the entire U. S. A. in this case.

Think for a moment what the country's insurance companys could do with vouchers for Medicare.  For seniors on Medicare now, remember that from the start of the program, our pay checks were taxed for Medicare.  Next, once we were old enough to receive it, we had to pay a monthly fee which is subtracted from our Social Security payout.  Then we are told we have to pay a deductible before Medicare steps in and that Medicare will pay only a percentage of the charges with the rest being our copays.  In order to afford our deductibles and copays we have to subscribe to a Supplemental Insurance plan which currently costs in the neighborhood of $200 per month in fees.  As most of the companys charge extra for older age categories, it can be even higher.  In addition, we have to pay more per month for prescription coverage.  Now the federal government, which forced us to pay taxes to insure our future health, wants to give us vouchers and leave us to the mercy of insurance companies?  Worse still, the very ones in Congress who suffer from voucher brain disease, want deregulation of all U. S. companies

If you vote for Republicans for Congress and the Presidency this year, you are voting for these kinds of problems to be visited upon yourselves and your family.  Remember that this kind of thinking produced the Ryan budget plan that has already passed the Republican controled House of Representatives.  Think carefully what you do.  One celebrity said it's like giving them food stamps to go and get an education (or health care).

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Fatal Flaw


Lou Hough

It was disappointing recently to hear a young congressman say he and his wife gave up their own goals to "save the country" -- a self-appointed savior who now wants to destroy our education system.

It was frustrating earlier to watch a president ignore the wishes of a large number of his people and ignore the vote of a world council to enter an unprovoked war because the other country might be a threat to America's security.

It is unconscionable that a senior congressman said his party's number one priority was to see Barack Obama was a one term president.  Worse, he and his party wasted years of potential law-making and taxpayer's dollars in that endeavor.

Once again refer to Rick Santorum's words while electioneering -- he told a group of blue collar workers it was snobbery to want a college education available to all Americans.  Yet, he does not deny educations to his own children.

One congressman did a little twirl on television and thrilled that there was no inflation, so Social Security recipients would get no cost of living adjustment that year.  He continued making a little speech about how we are a nation of whiners to expect something just because we had been promised it.  Retirees who had shoveled out years of taxes and insurance involuntarily for old age security were whiners because he and his ilk wanted to reduce or destroy the Social Security system.  But, he will be collecting lifetime dollars at taxpayer expense himself. 

It was extremely irritating to hear a wealthy man, with a smug look on his face, tell a television interviewer that, of course, he deserved his great wealth because he had the idea and he took the risk.  He said it as if he had single-handedly made each part of each product by himself.

An arrogance that says congressmen are the elite and therefore entitled.  An arrogance that says the rich should get more because they are rich -- and conversely that the poor should get less because they are poor!  Elected officials suffering from a god-complex and acting as though the masses that elected them are worthless; unnecessary.

Recently a friend posted an article onto her Facebook page.  It seemed to be a 2009 review of two biographies of Ayn Rand.  Besides being filled with personal resentment, the article showed a lack of understanding of Rand's philosophy and work.  The reviewer seemed to believe Rand's books were about the virtues of being rich, but they were more about the virtues of being valuable.  Immediately, Congressional elitism and arrogance and implications the rich were totally responsible for their wealth sprang to mind.  What if generations of greedy, self-serving, arrogant people were a product of reading or misreading Rand.

Rand's philosophy of Objective Ethics -- watered down into a nutshell says man, as a goal-setting, conscious individual is responsible for his own survival.  Anything that stands in the way of that survival is evil.  She recommended a rational selfishness that man should concentrate on his own survival to the exclusion of interfering incidents or purposes.  But the selfishness was not to be based on desires, whims or aspirations.  It was only to enhance survival.  Man had to take responsibility for this goal. 

She said human good does not require human sacrifice and cannot be achieved by sacrifice.  She said rational interests of man do not clash.  As long as men don't make sacrifices or accept sacrifices, but give value for value they can achieve a proper trade. 

Trade, is the principle of justice.  She said a trader earns what he gets.  He does not treat others as masters or slaves.  A trader expects to be paid for achievements.  The exchange must benefit both, not just one. 

Rand saw philosophies based on altruism to be the antithesis to her survival philosophy.  A person who sacrifices himself or herself to others is not being a trader -- not someone who gives and gets value in a trade. 

She was also an athiest -- her position, not mine.  This author is as much a Bible reading, devotional writing, Virgin Birth believing Christian as Rand was athiest.  That said, she has had a firm baptism in helping other people.  One Southern Baptist minister recently said he believes that neglecting the poor and downtrodden is dangerous business for Christians because Jesus' sympathies are so tied to helping them.  Perhaps a balance of altruism and self-protection might serve mankind better.  I'm sure Jesus didn't mean to turn generations into foot rugs. 

This article is not meant to support or defame Rand's position.  It is simply explained to show how a misinterpretation of her meaning might have inspired greed, exploitation and neglect of one's fellow man.

If one interpreted trading value and the virtue of selfishness to mean soak the public for all you can get . . . or if seeing avoiding altruism to mean it was to work your employess for less than they need to support a family . . . or if they read being valuable to mean being rich, then we might just have found the fatal flaw that has ruined our economy and is tanking this country.

All of you Rand readers out there, reread her work knowing she meant value for value, not exploiting others to be rich.  After all, Rand did say that parasites and looters can be of no use to a human being and she defined masters who exploit their "slaves" as being some of those parasites.

We might better have taken lessons from our Native Americans who believed in taking only what they needed to survive and sharing that with the others in their camps.  But we didn't do that, did we?  Had business owners also interpreted Rand correctly, they would have traded real value to those who gave them the value of their time and their work.  But that didn't happen.  The American way became that of a business owner's bottom line and any means to achieve it. 

For our country and our people to survive, it seems important to learn and use Rand's challenge to engage in even trade.  Had our bottom-line crowd done this, instead of turning employees into servants, our system of capitalism might be working.

Henry Ford is said to have wanted his workers to earn a decent wage and be able to afford to buy his product.  He made it happen.

Had other business owners followed his lead, today's programs the Republicans are calling "socialism" would never have been necessary.  It is not socialism, of course.  We would not want to think that our leaders were so uninformed that they don't know socialism is a system that gives the community control of all industry, land and capital.  But they don't think we know that.  They view us as uninformed, nonthinking masses of parasites who will respond to their cries of socialism with fear and confusion.  They mean to manipulate us to flock to the polls in November to vote out the liberals.  They want us not to see the wisdom and compassion that brought about Public Education, Social Security, Medicare, Welfare, the Affordable Care Act.  They want us to give them the reins over it all so they can cut spending on valuable programs so they can fill their pockets with more wealth and line their retirements with more taxpayer dollars.  But we have caught them at their game.

It is disrespect from the Chiefs for the Indians that has been the fatal flaw.  Let's hope it's not too late to change the program.

The Value of a Public Education


Lou Hough

For many years this author has wondered about what drives the minds of individuals in Congress.  Why would they vote to cut public education funds while valuing education so much they send their own children to expensive schools and pull strings to get them into Harvard?

It has felt for years as if school funds are tightest when Republicans hold the Congressional majority.  Here they are again wanting to cut taxes for the rich by cutting funding for public schools, colleges and student loans and grants.  Don't they know that it is the public education system that has made this country great?  It is the opportunity to go from uneducated to contributing, productive citizen that has produced our country's worth.

The Romney/Ryan team, as well as the Republican Platform, show designs on practically destroying public education.  The Platform shows the parents as responsible for the child's education.  They prefer state and local control and want the parents to have choice in the child's education.  But federal control and dispensing of funds equalizes the amount of dollars -- instead of a rich town or state having all of the opportunities.  These are our great-grandchildren that would suffer.

Mitt Romney professes to want to award school vouchers to individual families and let them apply them toward their children's educations.  He doesn't say how much of the costs the vouchers will cover or if they will be equal amounts in all the states or to all students.

He said students wanting to attend college could borrow from their parents and search for the lowest cost schools.  The man has no clue what it is like to be lower or lower middle class, does he?  Mr. Romney, where do you think these parents will get the money to loan their children?  From their minimum wage jobs?  How many more do you think they can work?

Paul Ryan's education plan, which passed the House but not the Senate, includes cutting $115,000,0000,000 from education -- yes, billion.  He plans to have 2,000,000 less children in Head Start, that program that levels the playing field at least until fifth grade.  He wants to cut Pell grants which help lower and lower middle class families afford college educations for their children.  And yes, Ryan's plan passed the Republican majority House of Representatives.

To show the value of our free public education, take a moment to consider this author's high school graduating class. The small community of 12,000 was basically a coal mining and farming city.  The class of '56 produced nine coal miners, some of whom became management, as well as seven homemakers.  The two valedictorians (a tie) became a doctor (one of three) and a nurse (one of two).  We also have an LPN from our midst.  One of us became a public school administrator; another served that role in a junior college.  At least two were teachers.  Three or more owned their own businesses.  We proudly claim four engineers.  Five of us worked in real estate, some as brokers.  We boast at least one insurance person as well as two investment gurus.  One of us became a cinematographer who worked nationally.  Another was a photographer.  Two became counselors or psychologists.  One is a journalist and book author.  We can claim one person in electronics and one a systems analyst.  One of us became a veterinarian -- three were electricians.  Four are ministers. 

Our free public education produced one computer programer, a court clerk and a travel agent.  We have one trucker, two librarians, a mechanic and a plumber.  One worked in television.  Four of us served as bookkeepers or accountants.  One became a postal employee.  Six have worked in various levels of the phone industry.  At least seven of us worked in some sort of sales and one in manufacturing.  Four worked in childcare, one a cook, another a school bus driver, all jobs requiring the patience of saints.  We boast the director of a charity, a seamstress, a millwright.  Ten worked in some form of the secretarial/clerical field and one in the oil business. 

Two were career military and others served as well.  We are very grateful to the one (or more) who died in battle to save our country.

So, you see, had it not been for our free public education, most of us would have stayed at home in mines until they shut down, on farms until conglomerates or realtors bought us out or as housewives until we had to go to work because our husbands lost their jobs.  Instead, we have spread all over the country from Florida to New York -- from New Orleans to Chicago -- from Texas to California.  Our public education jump started our careers, turning us into productive, valuable members of society.  Tampering with the funding for it is like signing a death warrant for our country and to our competitiveness with the world.  We have vastly repaid our country for their investment in us.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Probably Not The Final Word, But . . .

Lou Hough

The Chick-Fil-A incident not only demonstrated how freedom of speech, behavior and corporate participation can work for both sides, it also demonstrated a need for all Americans to reconsider the nature of sexual humans -- both hetero- and homosexual.

Some say sex has evolved into "much ado about nothing".  Compared with the need for food, water and shelter, such labeling seems appropriate.  Without all the tabus placed on it, it probably would not have so much appeal.

In the creation stories (Genesis 1-3) God created man and woman in his own image and He told them to be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth . . ."  He left Adam to tend the Garden of Eden which had every tree that was beautiful or good for food, including a Tree of Life and a Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  In Genesis 2, He made eating from the latter a tabu.  God, then, left them to an innocent enjoyment of each other.  Once they ate forbidden fruit, they clothed themselves and the sex act there-in-after was labeled sin.  But the never asked question is did God forbid them sex or did He forbid them knowledge?  Read it again.

Though they were to enjoy each others bodies and procreate prior to eating the fruit, childbearing became Eve's punishment afterward.  Once sex was seen as evil, the die was cast.  What God had meant as a warm intimacy between individuals now became a dreaded sin.  As stated before, much ado about nothing.

As the world evolved, human interactions became so complex that rules, besides God's, were necessary.  Anthropologists and sociologists refer to the need for "mores" -- rules first spoken and then written to eliminate chaos in the clans.  These included marriage.  That's right, when God blessed his newly created couple  and told them to go and multiply, there seems not to have been a formal, licensed ceremony -- legal marriage.  The first union was between God and the couple, not the couple and other people.  It's the making of human laws that makes us think it's our business.

Laws against homosexuality began with the ancients, including the Jews.  However, some of the incidents used by moderns as proof homosexuality is sin do not clearly pertain to same sex behaviors.  The tribal war caused when some men wanted to have sex with a priest and ultimately raped a concubine unto death, as well as the incident when Lot's neighbors wanted to rape the Angels of God, were about rape, not homosexuality.  The tribal war in the first was caused by the death of the concubine.  Angels, who are said by many scholars never to have been human, may not even have sexual identities.  If they do, are there no female angels?

Neither the stories of Sodom and Gomorrah nor Canaan describe exactly what the sexual sins were.  It is just assumed by moderns that same sex relations were the problem.  Hence, sodomy from Sodom.

Some readers believe the story of Jonathan and King David -- the King who seems not to have experienced any drastic punishment from God for his sexual exploits -- was a story of homosexual love.

The Apostle Paul, after experiencing hysterical blindness out of guilt for crucifying Jesus, did caution not to engage in homosexual activity.  Even people who take his cautions not to marry with a grain of salt, accept his opinion about same sex love as the final word.  But a closer look shows his objection was based on women abandoning their God-given role in life and engaging in sex with other women.  That caused men to have to sleep with men.  (And the ancients thought it was Atlas that carried the burden on his shoulders).  Paul didn't like women dominating women and men being dominated by men.  (Everyone knows men should dominate women -- at least in the eyes of the ancient church.  Check out what else he said about a woman's place).

So now we have reached an impasse.  We have nature, on the one hand, causing people to want to engage in both natural and "allegedly" unnatural acts and men of the Bible and others of the ancient world seeing God-given physiology as perverse and sinful.  Saint Augustine said that to mix up whether a Biblical story is literal or figurative is wrong.  He said if it pertained to virtue and truth it was literal.  If not, it was figurative.  But whose truth and whose definition of virtue?

Ever since the likes of Augustine, Paul and others of their times, any sexual act except that for procreation has been deemed a sin.  Even sex for procreation, Augustine said was passing original sin from one generation to the next.  Per him, Mary, Mother of Jesus, had to be born of Immaculate Conception lest a man's seed would pass original sin to her and from her to Jesus.  Do you see the problem?  Man has taken physiological creations of God and turned them into evil.  But are they sin to God?  If so, why did He allow the body to experience such phenomena?

Many fundamentalistic Christians see the reason great civilizations lost their world status as caused by one common factor -- they began to engage in homosexual relations.  But are they ignoring other commonalities?  For instance, they all began as small communities and grew to great and highly peopled kingdoms.  Suppose homosexuality is a mechanism built within each organism and was meant by God as a means of controling for overcrowding?

Before you condemn me as a heretic, know this.  Scientific studies among fish, worms, mollusks and plants indicate they can change sex when needed. 

When reef fish have lost their single male, the largest female begins behaving like a male and can produce sperm in ten days.  Some species of  fish switch back and forth between producing sperm, then eggs.  This occurs in at least fourteen species, even though their original sex seems genetically determined (physiological).

Switching in fish depends on either the size of the reef or the density of population.  Sometimes entire harems convert to male.  Males becoming female is less common, but in one species of bass, schools seem programed to have a certain number of males.

.  Worms are born with no gender at all.  As they travel, if they find a female, they become male, etc.

.  Sex change is found in some frogs.

.  Environmental factors can alter sex and gender.

.  Some plants come with both male and female characteristics.

.  Women are not always born with xx (women) chromosomes and men with xy (male) ones.  If our gender physiology can vary among individuals, why do we find it so strange that our sexual orientation would vary?

Sometimes when in a fun-loving mood this author likes to visualize God as a right-brained, creative individual who was playing around in His heavenly laboratory.  Not being left-brained, He neglected to follow rigid scientific rules and laws, thus causing an explosion.  When He successfully recovered from His shock at the "big bang", He went to observe and clean up the mess.

Instead, He saw the earth, that it was good.  Because it was without form, He set about hanging out the sun, moon and stars.  He decorated it with the most beautiful trees, plants, colors and animal life available.  He made man and woman simultaneously as in Genesis one.  And he made them in His own image as androgynous individuals.  He leaned back and watched them grow until there were too many, and then his alter physiological mechanism kicked in to slow the growth rate down.

Of course, it will take a lot more scientific work before these ideas are refuted or set in stone.  But before that is completed, keep in mind that the ten rules that were set in stone did not include "thou shalt not enjoy sex with your significant other" or that "your significant other can't be of the same sex".  And these were the rules written by the finger of God, not those that evolved from Man's need to control his fellow man.  Also, don't forget, the great psychiatrist, Sigmund Freud, said all of us have latent homosexual tendencies. 

So you can see, though the C. E. O. of Chick-Fil-A had a right to express his opinion, his ideas were possibly based on an incorrect assumption.  Same sex love is probaly based on physiology, not sinful choice.

Probably not the final word, but . . . the final word is God's.  And God would no doubt want us not to flaunt or critique what He meant as an intimate act.

Lou Hough can be contacted at  See her other articles shown below.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Americans and Religion

Lou Hough

In the time of Mary, Queen of Scotland, the Protestant movement clashed with the Catholic Church concerning which church held all the correct answers and should, therefore, control the realm.  George Wishart was a Protestant reformer who was burned at the stake by Cardinal Beaton of St. Andrews.  Later, some of Wishart's followers assassinated the Cardinal.  John Knox, who started out as a Catholic Priest, became a Wishart disciple.   He did not help kill the Cardinal but had no problem going to live in Beaton's castle with other Protestants.  Queen Mary sent for her French connections who brought their fleet to take back the castle.  This also brought down the wrath of John Knox upon her Catholic self.

John Calvin was also in the thick of the religious/government quarrels of the 1500's.  He greatly influenced the Puritan beliefs of that age.  Europeans, especially Puritans, flocked to America because they wanted religious freedom.  They were tired of being persecuted for their beliefs.

It was out of this atmosphere that our founding fathers emerged.  No government was to tell us our religious beliefs and no church was to run our government.  It is unfortunate they did not make the written document more clear on this matter.

Article VI (3)  "... but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States." 

With this one small statement, the authors of the constitution protected our country from any religious group -- yours or mine -- determing who can hold office in our country.  In other words, no Pope, Cardinal or Bishop of the Catholic Church; no President of the Southern Baptist Convention; No Imam; no Athiest organization can rule out our leaders because of what they believe about religion.  This is frequently referred to as Separation of Church and State.  Neither the Democratic nor Republican parties had yet been formed.

The First Ammendment, ratified in 1791, further guaranteed us Freedom of religion.  "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion..."

Despite our forefathers attempts to spare us religion in government and government in religion, this is still a problem in the United States of America.  So, when we -- at least those of us in the legislative majority at the time a law is forged -- step over the line infringing on the religious and other personal rights of Americans, it becames the job of the Supreme Court to decide if the law is Constitutional -- Constitutional protection.  They have had to step in from time to time.

In 1956, the United States made "In God We Trust" the official motto of the country. But this had been printed on our coins since 1864.  In 1864, Abraham Lincoln was in charge; Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956. 

E Pluribus Unum, meaning out of many, one, (from 13 states to one union) is the motto on the Great Seal of the United States.  Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams first suggested it and since 1873, while Ulysses S. Grant was President, law requires that it is on one side of each coin submitted.  Sometimes both this motto and In God We Trust are printed around the edge of our money. 

The author of the Pledge of Allegiance did not include the words "under God" in his original manuscript.  Consequently, it was not part of the original Pledge when the Flag Code was adopted in 1942.  A man named Louis Bowman began inserting it and various organizations followed his lead until it was added by law in 1952.  When the original code was adopted, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was President and Harry S. Truman was at the helm when under God was added legally.

The Supreme Court decision (Roe v. Wade) in 1973, said that with few exceptions, states cannot keep women from having an abortion during the first six months of the pregnancy.  It further ruled that the Texas law that had denied Jane Roe an abortion violated a woman's right to privacy.  Regretably, a privacy right, is not a part of the Constitution, though most courts choose to protect privacy where possible.  A 1974 Privacy Act gives individuals the right to examine files, like those developed on them by the Federal Government, and they can ask to have incorrect information changed.  In 1973-74, Richard Nixon was President.

So why this sudden article?  One of my readers has decided that no Christians should vote Democratic, because Democrats are responsible, single-handedly, for God being separated from our government and country.  He implies that the current Democratic President is responsible for every bad thing that has befallen America in the last three years and is saying to vote for him, a Democrat, should be unthinkable.  He mentions other laws that Democrats have made in their "assault" on God in our country, but I think these are enough to illustrate that the men in charge at the time of our beginnings and the interim changes have been people from all different political positions.

Besides, presidents, as most of us are aware, cannot enact laws by themselves.  Laws are generated in Congress.  We would like to believe they are written by level-headed citizens who weigh each idea and thought and choose them for the good of our country.  Some congresses are better at this than others.  Regretably, some congressmen vote along strict party lines no matter who gets hurt in the process.  Worse still, some vote because they owe favors to other Congressmen.

So let's question for a minute.  What party was in charge when the Constitution was written?  We didn't have a President to thank or blame then.  Did Republicans or Democrats authorize the Constitutional Ammendments?  Duh, neither.  Was Congress Republican or Democrat when the Pledge was enacted?  Which, when it was changed?  Which party was in charge when the Supreme Court decided that Texas commited an unconstitutional act when it told Jane Roe she could not have an abortion?

You see it is not all black and white how we get our laws, whatever they are.  The President can suggest.  The laws are generated in Congress -- usually a version for the House and one for the Senate.  When Congress is functioning correctly, they work out the bugs together and come to a final document.  Then they vote.  Once they pass the law, the President either signs it or vetoes it.  Then if people object and say it is unconstitutional, it can be reviewed by the Supreme Court who has the final say on its Constitutional legality.  These checks and balances were meant to protect us so that a single person or small group cannot impose their will on the majority of the people.

Ideally, the habit of voting for or against legislation in any branch of our magnificent government will cease to be controled by party politics.  Hopefully, the well-being of all Americans, not just a favored few will be the criteria used.  With our current dysfunctional Congress I won't hold my breath.

Lou Hough:  B. S. in Journalism, SIU, Carbondale, IL; M. A. in Educational Research and Psychology, UMKC, K. C. MO; All But Disertation, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS, School Psychology.

Publications include Changes, a novel and Food for the Soul:  A Book of Devotional Essays.  Both were published by Jamie Carr Publishing in 2004.  e-mail --

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Letters to the Editor These letters are available under comments below the blog articles.

JoeDan, my comments concerning the Family Values party were not related to abortion only.  My blog, Trickle Down Politics, is mostly based on what is currently happening in the political world.  For background information, I read Time, Newsweek, the AARP publications and listen to 1 1/2 to 2 hours of news daily.  I also watch "This Week" on ABC each Sunday.  I consult books such as encyclopedias and use on-line search engines.  At the time that I published the articles in question, "Et Tu, Democrats" and "Spare Us the Radical Religious Right", there was much in the media concerning Rick Santorum and his quite extreme right-winged political views.  Although I respect his right to live how he wants and even state what he thinks, he was running for President of the United States and talking of changing laws so that all Americans would have to live by his radical point of view.  He was attacking birth control as a sin, abortion as a crime, and same-sex relationships in general.  That motor-mouth/small brain Rush Limbaugh was calling a perfectly lovely woman a whore and prostitute because she wanted her birth control pills covered, too, if every other woman's was to be covered. 

Frankly, I have a little trouble understanding why the birth control pills, etc., were to be covered by insurance anyway, but see no reason why women should have to pay for their own just because they work for Catholic institutions.  If one woman gets help, they should all get help.  As you might surmise at this point, I am not a Catholic. 

I hope that you will go to the library and look up past issues of the two newsmagazines mentioned above.  They cover both topics extremely well.  There is one quite long article concerning the Santorum campaign and his point of  view. 

With respect to "you and your friends" and the fact you don't want to pay for abortions and other women's issues, I would ask you to think how you would feel if women did not want to pay for a prostate exam or surgery if you ever needed one.  That is a man's issue. 

As for why I have something against Christians, I didn't know I did.  I will be seventy-four years old on July 29 of this year.  I have been a Christian since I was nine.  I even write devotional essays which are based on a combination of Christian beliefs and my own view of the world. 

If you will reread the title, "Spare Us the Radical Religious Right" again, you may understand that it is radical religious views to which I object.  I also reject the idea that someone else's religious views should be imposed on all Americans.  That is why I began the article with the Muslim example.  If one religion can go into office and impose their beliefs on us all, other religions can expect to do the same.  We are constitutionally protected against that possibility.

Lou Hough

Me, Me, Me

Lou Hough

Several years ago, after this author had moved from her hometown, she received word about a young, unwed mother in that town who was using food stamps.  The complaint was many pronged, as the girl was driving around town in a new little red car.  The time was before unwed pregnancies were commonplace.  It was a place where food stamps were unacceptable.  It was extremely inappropriate to have food stamps and a new red car.

The basic story is true, though the grapevine may have embroidered the particulars.  The father refused to acknowledge the child -- before DNA.  He refused to support the child.  The town preferred to bad-mouth the unwed mother than to offer her a decent job.  The poor baby needed food, clothing and shelter.  All the boy's parents could see their way clear to do was to offer the girl a little red consolation prize.  Hence, food stamps and a car.  That was the face of welfare then.

This is the face of welfare now.  Several television interviews have featured highly educated couples -- both wage earners -- the most highly paid member of the unit, laid off from his or her job.  In some cases, both have been cut due to the economy.  They paid mortgages and bought food until savings ran out and their unemployment benefits expired.  For the love of their 2.3 American children, they were forced to apply for food stamps and medical assistance.  An humiliating experience, indeed.

Senior citizens had no raises during 2010 and 2011.  Why?  Because there was no cost of living increase in the third quarters of 2009 and 2010.  Not the whole year, just one quarter.  This is a group of people who, at best, are always living on last year's cost of living increase during the current year.  The economy doesn't care, folks.  Utilities continued to go up.  Rents increased.  Charges for Supplemental Health Insurance soared.  In other words, seniors used their savings to pay these expenses until, for many, their cash reserves ran out. 

A lot of people lost their retirement packages because they were "laid off" by their companies.  Others lose them to corporate theft and mishandling.  Nationally, people know of the Enron and Madhoff scandals, but there are smaller-level thieves and incompetents who are known only to their own communities.

Yes, these people are all the face of welfare today.  They are white, Asian, Hispanic, African American.  They are the rich, the upper, middle and lower middle classes of the past.  They are also the always poor of our country.  They represent all races and walks off life.  They are American.

Do we just let them starve?  Do we let them die from lack of medical care?

A friend of this author once said their families and friends should take care of them.  Can they afford it?  Do they have extra dollars?  Are they willing to risk their own futures to help a friend or relative?   

Others think churches should do it.  Do church members in affluent neighborhoods know the poorest of the poor?  Probably they know very few of them.  Do they know how to help? 

Food pantries abound.  Some, like Kansas City's Harvesters, are good.  But do they offer showers, jobs, clothing, transportation?  Shelters are overflowing during inclement weather.

Small business owners and corporate boards and leaders bitch continuously that they have to pay not only the salaries of their employees, but also medical insurance, fees for social security and workman's comp and taxes for welfare.  In other words, because they refuse to pay a wage adequate enough that their employees can save for their futures, the government programs exact the wage from them.

Because of small business and corporate greed of the '80's, or the '70's, or the '90's or now, liberal congressmen of the past stepped in to exact a toll to protect all Americans of the future. And never let it be said that you will never be one of them.  Share the wealth while you have it -- partake of the plenty when you don't.  We all need to quit hollering for me, me, me and start thinking of we, we, we. 

Whatever was congress thinking to expect a millionaire to live on $900,000 a year instead of their whole $1,000,000?  (For my more literal, left-brained readers, the figures are hypothetical, not literal.)  Only the "me" generation could fail to see the humor in this.

Lou Hough, B. S. in Journalism, SIU-Carbondale, IL; M. A. in Educational Research and Psychology, UMKC, Kansas City; All But Dissertation, University of Kansas, Lawrence. 

Among Ms. Hough's publications are Changes, a novel, and Food for the Soul:  A Book of Devotional Essays.  Both were published by Jamie Carr Publishing in 2004.  Changes is available at Barnes and Noble on-line service.

The only address for reaching Jamie Carr Publishing or Lou Hough is

Friday, May 18, 2012

Et Tu, Democrats?


Lou Hough

About the only thing my sources agree about on the beginnings of the Democratic Party is that it is the oldest existing party.  Some sources believe it started with Thomas Jefferson's Democratic-Republican Party and others that it started later with Andrew Jackson's presidential campaign -- with his committee to elect him being the beginning.  Whether it began from remnants of an older party or had a fresh start, it is fairly clear that its policies now are no more like the ones at its start than are those of the Republican Party, which was last month's blog topic.

Early on, the Party espoused a strict interpretation of the Constitution and believed in small government, especially at the federal level.  It was not until the depression, under Franklin Delano Roosevelt, that the federal government first expanded.  His measures to save the country from the depression seemed to require federal intervention, a level of interference with which even some Democrats disagreed.

At first the party was popular with farmers, plantation owners, bankers and urban laborers.  These groups all believed in small government and states rights.  Members of the Party quarreled often over slavery, banking and tariffs.  Most of the quarreling was over slavery, of course, peeking with the Kansas-Nebraska Act.  These issues resulted in the beginnings of the Republican Party. 

After this, the south became largely Democratic, which is not necessarily the case at this time.  Democrats fought for reform in both the government and private sectors, causing the parties to become quite similar over time.  However, the Democrats now seem to favor social and entitlement programs, which Republicans do not.  Republicans favor, in theory, a "hands off" government approach, all the while wanting to regulate personal choices of individuals.  Both parties have changed enough over time as to no longer resemble their original form.

Democrats seem to be more oriented toward Civil Rights and helping those less well off than themselves.  Even Democrats from the one percent holding most of the country's wealth are more likely to want the entitlements that help others.

The parties are so dissimilar in beliefs at this point, that they can barely get a piece of legislation through Congress. 

Lou Hough, B. S. in Journalism, SIU, Carbondale, IL; M. A. in Educational Research and Psychology, UMKC, Kansas City, MO; All But Dissertation, School Psychology, KU, Lawrence, KS.  Lou Hough can be reached at  (this is the only correct address at this time).

Publications include Changes, a novel; and Food for the Soul:  A Book of Devotional Essays.  Both were published by Jamie Carr Publications in 2004.  Changes is available through Barnes and Noble on-line service.  If interested in Food for the Soul, please write Ms. Hough at the e-mail address.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A New Political Party Creation


Lou Hough

A group of citizens are unhappy about congressional legislation so they appoint a committee to form a new political party.  The ideas of the new party do not have general, but rather sectional, appeal.  Many of the members of the party seem radical.  The year the party is formed is 1854.  The nickname given to them in the 1880's is "Grand Old Party."

The legislation these new G. O. P. members opposed was the Kansas-Nebraska Bill of 1854 which permitted slavery in these two new territories.  The Radical Republicans made the abolition of slavery their main goal.  When they lost the election of 1856 they knew they needed to change their goals, so they endorsed a transcontinental rail system and federal aid for harbors and rivers.  They promised settlement of the west, a raise in U. S. tariff rates and to permit slavery where it already had permission to exist.  The latter was a major compromise of their original goals.

Abraham Lincoln won their first election for them and the Civil War began almost at once.  He worked desparately to hold the Union together.  In fact, during his presidency, the Republicans preferred to be called the Union Party or National Union Party.

After the Civil War ended and Lincoln was assassinated, Radical Republicans took over the Congress.  They, in favor of punishing the south, took away votes of Confederate soldiers and gave the vote to former slaves.  Southerners rejected Republican leadership and the south became Democratic.  The arguing amongst the ranks eventually ended.

Then came industrialization, which neither party could handle.  A few wealthy business leaders got control (and still cling to it today) causing regular wage earners and farmers to experience hard times. 

The party split apart when William Howard Taft was President.  They reunited after they lost the election in 1912.

The focus of the 1920's was business and industry, and Republicans kept their taxes low and tariffs high.  After a long period of Republican presidents, the country experienced the depression and then Franklin D. Roosevelt, a Democrat, took the helm.  This led to a Republican Party population of business leaders, farmers and conservative workers.  For twenty years they remained the minority party.  The New Deal reigned and the Republicans attacked it year after year.  Welfare programs expanded.  Democrats led the country until the Republicans nominated a WW II hero, Dwight D. Eisenhower, a moderate.   After another round of Democrats, they nominated Barry Goldwater, an extreme conservative.  He was defeated by Lyndon B. Johnson who promoted Civil Rights and laws to help the disadvantaged.  Apparently he sought to make sense of the martyrdom of President John F. Kennedy by pushing through the latter's agenda. 

Over the years since then, Republicans have become, more and more, conservatives who support the wealthy and Democrats have become identified as liberals bent on providing welfare and support for the other 99% of the population.  To quote an old cigarette ad -- the one Mitt Romney recently quoted -- "You've come a long way, baby."  To be a Republican today is to be a far cry from the roots of the original Party.

Lou Hough, B. S. in Journalism, SIU, Carbondale, IL; M. A. Educational Research and Psychology, UMKC, K.C. MO; All But Dissertation, School Psychology, University of Kansas, Lawrence.

Publications include:  Changes, a novel, and Food for the Soul:  A Book of Devotional Essays, both published by Jamie Carr Publishing, 2004.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Spare Us the Radical Religious Right

                                                                Lou Hough

At the time citizens of our country were vociferously fighting an Islamic mosque near Ground Zero, This Week on ABC held a town hall meeting to discuss the controversy.  The wife of the religious leader who would head the Islamic Center kept assuring everyone there was no Muslim movement to inflict their religion on American citizens.  Their goals were, according to her, benign.

A Muslim radical who was among the long-distance participants begged to differ.  After dressing her down for not being a proper Muslim woman -- she was in American clothing -- he proceeded to announce his expectations that some day the Muslim flag would be flying over the White House.

Now this, folks, is an extreme example of why our forefathers saw fit to include a separation of church and state in our Sixth Article and First Ammendment of our Constitution.  Many Americans, including some of our current lawmakers, forget that though it may feel good when the controling powers hold the same religious beliefs as yours, it would be quite oppressive if the "wrong" religion was in charge.

Most of us don't want the Talliban and Al Quaeda alive and well and running Washington, D. C.  Neither do we want a minority religious right making life unbearable for us all. 

Few of us have encountered any basic religious sect, denomination or even individual church that doesn't proclaim that they have the one and only "right" answer.  We've all been guilty of religious arrogance whether we are fundamental Christians, Jews, Muslims, Budhists, Hindus, Agnostics or even Atheists.  None of us want anyone else telling us what to believe and, in this country, we have a Constitutional right not to have to live by someone else's religious rules.

Interestingly enough, the very party that claims not to believe in Federal Control and interference is the same "Family Values" party that wants to tell everyone else who they can marry, whether they can choose if they want to have an unplanned baby and whether or not they are sluts and prostitutes just because they want their birth control pills paid for, too. 

Perhaps all of us should question why payment for birth control pills got written into the insurance program in the first place.  Possibly it is part of the preventive care approach which is said to be an important part of the plan.  Whatever the reason, if one group of employees gets to have it, all should get to have it.   Maybe at this point we need to question why Catholic universities and hospitals are hiring non-Catholic employees.  If everyone that works in these institutions is Catholic, one might say that they are used to the heavy hand of a male Pope who has no experience with being pregnant, staying up all night with a screaming baby or, for that matter, making a husband's minimum wage job stretch enough to feed seven or nine kids.  We won't even discuss clothing, sheltering and educating a mob.  But then, Rick Santorum has so-informed us that it is snobbery to want all American children (except his, of course) to have a chance at a college education.

Now, abortion is a more complicated matter.  This author does not believe that she could ever choose to have an abortion.  But this author was never faced with an unwanted or untimely pregnancy.  She does believe, however, in a woman's right to choose.  She is concerned for the health and sanity of the stay-at-home mother with nine children who never gets to see her husband because he works two to three jobs.  This is the same woman who has to count out cookies to make sure each child gets an equal amount.  Then, one of the half dozen or so times a year she has recreational sex with her husband, the rhythm method doesn't work.  She knows full well that nine other children will suffer if the tenth is born.  She knows her husband will have to get another job -- or else she will have to work -- and where will she find forty more hours a week.

There are those who proclaim she should have the baby and adopt it out.  Have they ever been pregnant?  Do they know the wear and tear it makes on the body?  Have they ever had to search the depths of their energy to find strength to waddle up the street and collect a child from a play date?  Would they really be able to carry a child full term and pass it off to someone else?  Probably not, and if they could, they would probably experience a giant, aching emotional hole the rest of their lives.

And, ah, stem cell research -- a much trickier matter yet.  The use of cells from placentas, one's own body or unborn fetuses to develop cures for living, breathing children and adults.  Either way one goes, one is making life and death choices -- one is playing god.  Which is the most unethical decision?  Is it harvesting frozen embryos that will never be born anyway in order to save lives of those already here?  Or is it denying a remarkable living, breathing child a cure from a heinous disease or perhaps a permanent annihilation of cancer or Parkinson's?  What if it is your child?

But never fear.  The radical, religious right is here to tell us all what we should do.  They have the answers for everyone.  They know best.  And they accuse someone else of snobbery?  God, please spare us all.

Sandra Louise Hough,  B. S. in Journalism, SIU-Carbondale, M. A. in Educational Research and Psychology, All But Dissertation, School Psychology, KU, Lawrence, KS

Publications include Changes, a novel, and Food for the Soul:  A Book of Devotional Essays, both published in 2004 by Jamie Carr Publishing.