John Lewis – Great American, Great Humanitarian

John Lewis – great American, great humanitarian.

Ted Folkert – July 18, 2020

What can we say about John Lewis, the great humanitarian and civil rights leader who marched alongside Martin Luther King, Jr. Lewis, born in poverty, one of ten children, became an activist and organizer as a teenager and was a dominant voice for racial equality his entire life, serving 17 terms in congress. Of course this was after his career as a prominent civil rights leader who was said the have been beaten and jailed more than 40 times but never deterred from his innate mission of “we shall overcome.”

He was Chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. He was a leader in the Edmond Pettis Bridge March where he was beaten over the head and nearly killed. He was again injured in the Selma March which was an inspiration for President Lyndon Johnson for the civil rights movement which inspired the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act. Lewis grew up in cotton country in Alabama where he couldn’t get a library card because they were for whites only.

Lewis was awarded the Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama.

His message was quoted as: “If you see injustice, stand up and speak out.” And that is what he did.

What can you say about him? Here are some of the words describing him: courageous, tenacious, compassionate, orator, minister, chairman, patient, distinguished, honoree, inspirational, activist, congressional leader, and great American.

If we could all live up to a few of the terms describing John Lewis it would truly be a better world – which was all he wanted and all he strived for.

May he rest, in peace.

Death and Taxes

“Death and Taxes” by Kevin Drum, Mother Jones – July 2020

The track record of taxation policies over the last 40 years, as outlined by Kevin Drum, paints a commanding picture of the fallacies of such taxation policies and provides convincing evidence of failures of fiscal policies promoted and imposed by Republican administrations.

  • The Trump tax cut failed to deliver for all but the very rich. The GOP thinks this is the perfect time for more.
  • In 1980 Ronald Reagan promised to cut taxes for everyone, especially for the rich. He insisted that it would trickle down to everyone and supercharge the economy, which included slashing some social safety net programs. Well, the rich got lower taxes, but the economy flat-lined and the deficit skyrocketed.
  • In 1993 Bill Clinton passed a tax increase to reduce the deficit. The Republicans insisted that it would cripple the economy. Instead, the economy boomed and the deficit soared into a surplus.
  • In 2001 and in 2003 George W. Bush passed a tax cut. The Republicans said it would supercharge the economy. It produced the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.
  • IN 2013 Barack Obama forced the Republicans to accept a tax increase on high earners. The Republicans insisted that it would cripple the economy. The deficit declined and Obama produced the longest economic recovery in American history, which continued until the coronavirus pandemic killed it.
  • In 2017 the Republicans passed another tax cut which primarily a benefit for the corporations and the rich, insisting that it would supercharge the economy. They were wrong again.
  • The Republicans’ big donors only care about lower taxes, nothing else matters. Every single economic indicator that they said would go up, didn’t.
  • At the end of 2017 Republicans passed a $1.5 trillion tax cut, cutting taxes personal and corporate income.
  • Republicans have long been devoted to the strategy called “starve the beast” which has a simple goal: cut taxes, watch revenues fall, and insist that spending be cut to avoid budget deficits. The rich get most of the tax cuts and the spending cuts are aimed at the poor and middle class.

There you have it. We need to elect Democratic government in November so we can get on a path to a more stable and equally beneficial economy for all Americans.

No Where to Sleep

No Where to Sleep

Ted Folkert – July 2, 2020

As we know so well, the rich and powerful own the gold and make the rules in this country. We enabled this at the polls and we assure its continuance when we go to the polls to vote without being properly informed and without fully understanding the intent of the candidates. This seems to happen much too often as our political system enables the vultures to control the country due to a failure of our electoral process to assure the voters knowledge of the background and intent of the candidates. And it happens by the lack of controlling the financial moguls who amass fortunes while the workers are discriminated against. And it happens due to the lack of legislation to protect the populous – legislation such as that which occurred during the Obama presidency, with the Dodd-Frank Act which created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Unfortunately, this act has been weakened from its intent by Republicans whose intent is to enhance and protect the wealth of their campaign contributors while ignoring the plight of the working-class in the country.

For far too many of us the average wage no longer will cover housing, groceries, auto expenses, insurance, healthcare, education, recreation and other basic necessities of living a comfortable life.

Information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in the fourth quarter of 2019 the median income for a full-time wage or salary worker on a weekly basis was about $950, which would amount to a yearly income of nearly $50,000.

The website: https://dqydj.com (i.e. “Don’t Quit Your Day Job”) tells us that in the United States in 2019 the median individual income was about $40,000, the average individual income was nearly $60,000, and that the top 1% average was more than $300,000. (https://dqydj.com/average-median-top-individual-income-percentiles/)

A study by Statistica.com 6/28/2019 tells us that someone in San Jose, California requires nearly $100,000 per year to live comfortably, while someone in San Antonio, Texas requires nearly $60,000 per year.

What this tells us is that someone making a median income or less will be either unlikely or unable to live a comfortable life in this country. It tells us that, if San Antonio represents one of the lowest costs of living in the country, anyone making less than $60,000, the average income, cannot live comfortably in this country. This, of course includes an unfortunate percentage of US workers.

So, this explains why the total of credit continues to rise out of control. The valuepequin.com website tells us that:    (https://www.valuepenguin.com/average-credit-card-debt)

  • The average American Household Debt is $5,700.
  • The average credit balance for households is $9,300.
  • Total Outstanding U.S. Consumer Debt is $3.9 trillion.
  • Total revolving debt is $1.03 trillion.
  • 2% of all households carry some sort of credit card debt.
  • Households with the lowest net worth (zero or less) hold an average of $10,000 in credit card debt.

 

Of course, this debt problem is worsened due to the generosity of our irresponsible leaders who enable the financial vultures by allowing them to dangle “easy-credit” to lure in victims, then charge egregious fees, interest rates, and late fees to those unfortunate victims who have nowhere else to turn, no place to go, no place to sleep, no place to live.

And this explains why the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) estimates that there are 553,000 people experiencing homelessness in America, more than half a million people, some in the streets and some in homeless shelters. This is in the so-called richest country in the world. It’s hard to imagine how much worse it could be in all the poorer countries of the world. If you live in a part of the country such as California, where you can live outdoors all year, it becomes apparent every time you drive down the street in Los Angeles and other major cities. There are numerous homeless encampments all over Los Angeles and all over Southern California and they seem to be growing on a daily basis.

Discussing this isn’t meant to complain about the presence of homeless encampments, it is meant to emphasize the critical nature of the problem and the continuous struggle of those who have no place to go, no place to sleep, no  place to live.

The amazing part of all this for some of us is the number of egregious lenders that are so willing, so anxious, such vultures, as to lure the helpless victims into their net like a hungry spider. How can they sleep at night thinking about driving their victims into insurmountable burdens of debt with which they are trapped for life because the interest rates increase the debt balance faster than they are able to reduce the balance due, which ultimately forces them into bankruptcy, leaving them with a lack of financial worthiness to qualify for any future availability of credit. They lure their victims with the offering of low interest or no interest teaser rates for loans, after an initial period or on one late payment the interest rate increases to levels which make the loan virtually permanent due to the inability of many borrowers to reduce the loan amount.

The term debt-trap has become a common term now, a term which explains the plight of too many working-class individuals who are trying to provide a comfortable lifestyle for their families and ending up in a hole without a way to climb out. This is exacerbated of course because wages have not kept pace with inflation, which is due in large part to the gutting of right-to-work laws, enacted by Republicans beginning in the 1980s, which rendered labor organizations powerless to protect the workers they represented.

The question is how bad can it get, how far can it go, how long can it endure? It’s like a merry-go-round cliché – round and round and round it goes and where it stops nobody knows.

Recognizing this dilemma of all dilemmas underscores the value and importance of changing the leadership in this country which can be initially accomplished at the polls in November of this year. If we lose this opportunity to initiate critical change in leadership we may not get such an opportunity again for some time.

The need for change is imminent for improving the plight of working people and setting the stage for economic prosperity for everyone. If the working-class have no money in their pockets, we have no economy. That is a fact, pure and simple.

How Much Longer?

How Much Longer?

Ted Folkert – June 11, 2020

When will the lynching’s end?
George Floyd was lynched.
It’s been 400 years, so far.
How much longer?

When will equal rights be implemented?
It’s been 400 years, so far.
How much longer?

When will those denied be compensated?
It’s been their peril for 400 years, so far.
How much longer?

When will the reparations begin?
It’s been 400 years, so far.
How much longer?

I’m not black, brown, red, or yellow,
No, I’m white.
Whites are not unaware.
But being aware isn’t enough.
It’s has been 400 years, so far.
How much longer?

Our fearless leaders have been aware.
But being aware isn’t enough.
What have they done?
It’s been 400 years, so far.
How much longer?

Sam Cooke sang us “Change is Gonna Come.”
We sang “Change is Gonna Come.”
We passed the Civil Rights Act.
We passed the Equal Rights Amendment.
We elected a black president.
When will civil rights be implemented?
When will equal rights be implemented?
It’s been 400 years, so far.
How much longer?

We allowed control by the rich and powerful.
They control without paying their fair share.
Their money can now elect those they prefer.
And that is what we got, those they prefer.
It’s been 400 years, so far.
How much longer?

When is “Change Gonna Come?”
When will there be civil rights?
When will there be equal rights?
When will the lynching’s stop?
It’s been 400 years, so far.
How much longer?

British Description of Trump

Words of Jason Miciak, British author, March 8. 2020, quoted from Political Flare

 Trump lacks certain qualities which the British traditionally esteem.

For instance, he has no class, no charm, no coolness, no credibility, no compassion, no wit, no warmth, no wisdom, no subtlety, no sensitivity, no self-awareness, no humility, no honour and no grace – all qualities, funnily enough, with which his predecessor Mr. Obama was generously blessed. So for us, the stark contrast does rather throw Trump’s limitations into embarrassingly sharp relief.

Oh, and the old boy was just getting worked up.

After all, it’s impossible to read a single tweet, or hear him speak a sentence or two, without staring deep into the abyss. He turns being artless into an art form; he is a Picasso of pettiness; a Shakespeare of shit. His faults are fractal: even his flaws have flaws, and so on ad infinitum.

God knows there have always been stupid people in the world, and plenty of nasty people too. But rarely has stupidity been so nasty, or nastiness so stupid.

Smiling all the way to the bank!

Smiling all the way to the bank!

Ted Folkert – February 26, 2020

If you should perhaps be concerned about the welfare of the business merger and acquisition market, that market whereby the big companies acquire each other with the excess capital they have garnered by bilking the general public with excessive profits, you can rest assured that they are alive and quite healthy.

During 2019, as reported by Mergers and Acquisitions magazine, there were more than 200 acquisitions with values of between $650 million and $1 billion dollars each. They apparently ran out of space and failed to report the much larger number of deals less than $650 million each.

It has been reported that there were more than 12,000 merger and acquisition deals in the 2019 fiscal year. So, the market is healthy with lots of excess cash lying around. We need not wonder where all that excess cash came from. We know the answer. All of us consumers contributed to this excess with high consumer goods prices, high housing costs, high education costs, high healthcare costs and wages that have not kept pace with inflation.

The inflation we are talking about is the mandatory increase in earnings that all corporate executives are required to demonstrate each year to justify their enormous salaries. It is a continuous spiral in which the wage earners are not allowed to participate.

MLK, Jr. – Comments of Tom Steyer

This isn’t the America Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. fought for.

For too many Americans, racial justice, economic equality, livable wages, fair working conditions, and a secure future with opportunities for growth and prosperity are still out of reach. More than 50 years after his death, we’re still fighting for these same things. They are key drivers on this campaign, guiding our policies and vision for our nation. This isn’t a fight we can just give up on.

We honor the contributions of Dr. King — a leader who forever changed our history by calling for the recognition of African-American civil rights, equality and equity — by embodying his values of service and sacrifice today, and every day. African Americans built this nation and shaped our values without receiving any gratitude or recompense. So it’s on all of us — but especially those who continue to benefit from whiteness and privilege in society — to get out and give back.

Interplanetary Travel

Interplanetary Travel

Ego Control

Ted Folkert – January 9, 2020

If you have any plans to travel around the universe soon you may want to consider some facts about distances and travel times.

Considering the vastness of the universe can be overwhelming and mind-boggling. And it can be humbling.

Our galaxy, the Milky Way, is said to be 100,000 light-years across, with an estimated 400 billion stars in it. 100,000 light-years would be 1,500,000,000,000,000,000 miles across. At the speed of our fastest spacecraft it would take 2 billion years to cross our galaxy.

The Andromeda galaxy, is said to be 2.5 million light-years away from Earth, and has one trillion stars. It would take 2.8 billion years to cross this galaxy and perhaps 50 billion years to reach it.

The IC1101 galaxy is said to be 1.2 billion light-years away from Earth and has 100 trillion stars, 50 times the size of the Milky Way, and would take 100 billon years to cross and perhaps more than a trillion years to reach it.

How our scientists figured all this out seems beyond conception for the unscientific mind, but this is what at least one of them tells us is the consensus of the cosmologists.

Realization of our importance in the universe as a country or a planet should provide some realization of the individual value of any one of the 8 billion of us on this tiny planet – providing ego control for all, even those with incurable narcissism.

Bon Voyage!

Voluntary Climate Action – Who wants to go first?

Voluntary Climate Action – Who wants to go first?

A rhetorical question – of course, no one does.

Ted Folkert – December 16, 2019

Climate change – the warming of the planet, the warming of the oceans, the irreversible threat to life as we know it, is real and progressing. The efforts to control or reduce it have not proven to be significantly successful and are being shirked in favor of pleasure, wealth and prosperity throughout the world. Talk is cheap, actions are insufficient, and solutions are expensive and uncomfortable.

We, the people of Planet Earth, ignore it as we explode everything we can find incessantly, be it a bomb for testing or as a display of power, or a gun for hunting or killing each other, or fireworks for celebration purposes. We ignore it as we drive thousands of miles per year to and from work, or for pleasure, or for unnecessary travel – burning life-threatening fossil fuels and exhausting the remains of such into the atmosphere which enables life on Planet Earth.

An example of no-one-wants-to-go-first is the fact that Russia continues to embrace fossil fuels despite concerns about global warming, as was pointed in the article “The Kremlin Shrugs at Climate Change” in Bloomberg Businessweek December 9, 2019.

“On September 20, 2019 the coordinated climate demonstrations swept to globe – 300,000 peoples rallied at City Hall in New York, 270,000 at Berlin’s Reichstag, 90,000 in Sydney, Australia. In Russia only a few dozen assembled near Red Square.”

They either didn’t get the message, simply don’t care or chose to deny their populace the facts about the demise which we face as a planet for the sake of preserving whatever semblance of a vibrant economy which prevails there. Russia is increasingly promoting fossil fuel discovery and production, choosing the burning of carbon and emitting it into the atmosphere over doing what scientific discovery tells us must be done to preserve human habitability on Planet Earth. The obvious reason – Russia is said to receive half of government revenue from taxes on carbon fuels. Again, money talks.

There is much discussion of the dangers and suggestions of necessary corrective measures for this fatalistic debacle. The consensus continues to be that Earth’s inhabitants must reduce carbon emissions significantly immediately. Some believe that the “too-late date” is fast approaching or has already passed.

But, as we declare Russia to be the selfish culprit, we should look in the mirror at our own behavior. The fact is that our president and our big oil companies are doing everything they can to exploit the rewards of carbon exploitation and ignoring the danger, as well. And who among us is forgoing pleasure and abundant lifestyle for the sake of planetary salvation? Everyone who is complying, please raise your hand.

It becomes more obvious every day that we need to listen to the voices, not only of our brilliant scientists, but of educated protesters, as well, even the voice of 16-year-old Greta Thunberg of Sweden, who sounds more like an educated scientist than a mere school student. She is concerned for the plight of the planet which we plan to leave to her and her colleagues due to our unwillingness to sacrifice progress and pleasure for planetary survival.

The voluminous literature regarding possible voluntary actions to placate this crucial problem is readily available and increasingly advertised. However, the unfortunate fact which is not much discussed is that “voluntary” is not going to work. Voluntary simply means other people, not me, not you – just other people.

The only action which will make a significant difference will be mandatory compliance with corrective measures, such as reduction in automobile usage, reduction of the size or our homes, reduction of the comforts of our lifestyles, reduction in travel, reduction in food waste, reduction, reduction, and more reduction. It will only happen by limiting availability of such activities and significantly increasing the cost of such. It would mean increasing the cost of gasoline by a dollar a gallon every year and making public transportation free and readily available everywhere on the planet. It will mean more working from home instead of driving for an hour each way to and from work. It will mean increasing the cost of air travel worldwide through taxation. It will mean increasing the cost of environment-damaging activities beyond the financial reach of most of us.

All of the possible positive actions which we can render are going to be more expensive and less pleasant.

Let’s face it. Voluntary compliance simply won’t work. It won’t work because of self-interest. It won’t work because of finger-pointing from all directions. It won’t work because many other countries will expect to bring their populous along with economic progress comparable to the more economically developed countries. It won’t work because there will be no standards of conduct to which everyone will agree and adhere. There simply is no other way. Everything else is just empty conversation – worthless suggestions which will be too little and too late.

We need immediate action and we need mandatory action – just in case that the “too-late-date” is still in the future.

Think about it!

Think About This

Think About This

Ted Folkert – October 16, 2019

Just so you know, the owners of the gold in the business world are alive and well.

The Middle-Market Merger and Acquisition market lists 140 deals, each with purchase values of between $100 million and $1 billion in July 2019. These are companies buying each other. Don’t bother totaling up that equation, the total number is enormous. If we take the average of $500 million times 140, we get $70 billion. And if we project that number to 15 months, it exceeds $1 trillion. Which means that those who own the wealth are healthy and prosperous, they are doing just fine.

These figures are not meant to be verifiable for accuracy. But they are only a real-time example of the fact that a lot of companies have accumulated enormous excess capital which they don’t need. This may be due to their cutting-edge technology or an unwavering demand for their products and services, or it could be due to exemplary expertise in marketing, however, one could question the validity of their profit motives and the integrity of their manipulation of the general public by demanding unconscionable margins of profit just because they can.

We could have a discussion of book-length about the methods which have enabled the facilitation of such profits, such as barriers of entry, monopolization, patents, copyrights, and unlimited extensions of patents, but we know about all that. The discussion we need to have is, how do we change this potential demise of the free-enterprise system to bring the market for goods and services back in line with reasonable profit margins which keep money in the pockets of those who make these markets possible.

I am sure that all the companies in the country can justify their profit margins and declare with fervor that their pricing is fair and equitable. But one thing is apparent even for the non-economic thinkers, excess profit doesn’t just fall out of the air, it doesn’t just suddenly show up on the financial statements, it isn’t fictitious. No, it is real profits earned in excess of what should be considered reasonable, otherwise the amount wouldn’t be exploding their bank accounts to the point of constantly seeking acquisitions of other companies.

We have stretched the working-class of our society about as far as can be feasibly possible by changing society from one wage-earner per household to two or more. We have forced the working class to extend their credit to the point of no return and no way out. We have increased the cost of everything in relation to previous valuations, not only for non-essentials such as recreation but to include educating our children.

The working-class wage-earners are now stretched so thin financially that with the slightest recession we could be facing economic disaster. This has been discussed at length by many of our great economic authors such as Thomas Piketty, Robert Reich, Emmanuel Saez, Gabriel Zucman, Tom Metcalf, Simon Kennedy, Peter Coy, George Monbiot, Thomas Sowell and many others. But it seems their writings fall on deaf ears when it comes to those who we have chosen to make the rules that we live by. Those who either don’t read, don’t listen, or are owned lock, stock, and barrel by the rich and powerful who finance their campaigns for elective office.

If the dreaded demise of economic disaster becomes a reality, those who have enabled the profiteers to operate without restraint will run and hide while pointing fingers at everyone else.

Election time is just around corner.

Think About This!

We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both. Louis Brandeis