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A Game of Tyrants & Demagogues

A Game of Tyrants & Demagogues

Or as H. L. Mencken is quoted as having said: “If they say it isn’t about money, it’s about money.”

But this is not just about money. No, this is also about loss of life, lives and money lost without any lasting measure of success for mankind. This is about the total cost of wars, which are often misnamed as police actions or other less brutal occurrences which tyrants and demagogues bestow on other peoples’ children.

Neta Crawford of Boston University, co-founder of the Cost of Wars Project, spells it out in her article in Nation Magazine, September 20, 2021: “20 Years of Bloodshed and Delusion – The Numbers.”

“Over the last 20 years the US military has spent or requested about 8.8 trillion dollars.” Future medical and disability payments will likely exceed an additional 2.2 trillion dollars.” She tells us that there were 7,052 service members killed.

There is unnecessary secrecy, voice are ignored, derided, or silenced as we rally around the flag and worship our generals. Like a friend of mine in the military years said about sergeants: “these guys pray for war.

The Costs of War Project publishes this information to promote transparency about warfare.

This study and publication cites statistics that are troubling and a sad commentary on the lack of accomplishments from the cost of money and lives in these conflicts. The death toll of warfare in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and others for the US military is more than 7,000, US contractors more than 8,000, other allied troops more than 14,000, civilians more than 300,000, opposition forces more than 300,000, total death toll from these war zones 900,000 or more.

The Price of War for post 9/11, 2001-2022 is quoted as:

DOD Overseas Operations – $2 trillion                                             Homeland Security – $1 trillion                                                                      Future Obligations including veterans care – $2 trillion plus         Interest Payments on War Spending $1 trillion plus                           Other Pentagon expenses $1 trillion plus

If they say it isn’t about money, it’s about money. And it’s about what better choices could be made for the use of 8 trillion dollars – particularly for protecting the planet from demise due to warfare, as above delineated, and all other abuses that endanger future human habitation hereon.

This kind of reminds us of what the conservative Senator Everett Dirksen was quoted as having said many years ago; ” A billion here and a billion there, the first thing you know you are talking about real money.”

Defrocking is baloney!

Defrocking is baloney!

Hand-slapping for the chosen ones!

Ted Folkert – September 4, 2021

Wouldn’t all criminals, such as rapists, thieves, murderers, and all other forms of criminal behavior like to be punished by defrocking? Of course they would.

Seeing the defrocked cardinal slumping over his walker in an effort to look feeble and harmless is like a young child telling his mother “I didn’t do it and I’m not going to do it again.”

There doesn’t seem to be an adequate punishment for a creep like this, praying on the defenseless youngsters who are taught to revere the priests and bishops and cardinals as if everything they say and do is sanctioned by God himself or herself.

As a minimal preventative measure their sexual organs should be surgically removed and displayed on the church wall for observation to others who choose to permanently damage the minds of defenseless youngsters left in their charge.

Someone please explain to us the hiring process for these so-called church leaders, The entire catholic organization should be on this case, but perhaps there are too many remaining who sympathize or consider themselves among those being publicized. Obviously, this is an internal problem which the general public cannot correct, but only publicize and criticize.

The Catholic organization owns massive real estate all over the planet. They control the religious thinking and behavioral actions of millions, perhaps billions, of followers of their gospel. They have their own school system for devout Catholics to educate their children. And they have failed miserably in protecting these young, fertile, and submissive minds from being seriously damaged at a very young and fragile age.

Where is law enforcement for these crimes? We the people should rise up in mass and demand strict law enforcement including incarceration and the banning of involvement of education of the young forever.

Where is George Carlin when we need him? I just looked around and he was gone.

Where is George Carlin when we need him? I just looked around and he was gone.

I still miss George Carlin even though he left us a few years ago.

Although, Carlin was dismissed by some comedy lovers for using profanity and saying things that “hurts the ears” of those who see themselves as “holier than thou,” I appreciated his unique ability of pointing out the avoidance of implicitness in remarks of some politicians by sort of dodging the full impact of their beliefs.

Some examples from his comedic routines about the statements of politicians, while poking fun at them, are poignant and true to his intent, such as:

He suggests that the “term limits” for politicians should be limiting the “terms” they use.

They don’t say things, they indicate or suggest – They don’t decide, they determine – They make judgments or assessments – They don’t answer, they respond – They don’t read it, they review it – They take a position – They address the problem – They will soon be proceeding or moving forward – They move the process forward in order to meet these challenges – They talk about miscommunication – They were quoted out of context – They say they twisted my words – They say that the whole thing was blown out of proportion – They want to get to the bottom of this and get on with their lives – They have faith in the American system – They want to get the facts out to the American people – They say mistakes were made and they want to take responsibility for their actions – They want to move the process forward in order to meet the challenge.

Carlin was one of a kind when it comes to poking fun at all of us with harmless but meaningful humorous criticism – a brilliant comedian who always made me laugh at others and myself.

Fossil Fuels & Hot Air

Fossil Fuels & Hot Air

Ted Folkert – July 15, 2021

“Can’t live with them and can’t live without them.” That’s what some people say about their spouses.

It seems that something similar can be said about fossil fuels – we literally can’t live with them and we domestically can’t live without them – that is, unless we can find a way to suck up the indestructible layer of gases we are spewing into our atmosphere every moment of every day, everywhere on Planet Earth, and bury them in the ocean or convert them into usable chemicals. Thus far, there doesn’t seem to be such a solution, and thus far there doesn’t seem to be a willingness to acknowledge our demise in a meaningful way.

This debacle came about with no intent of “malice in mind” unless we consider destroying the air we breathe by emitting chemicals into the air, which will eventually render planet Earth incapable of supporting human life, as “malice I mind.”

This lack of willingness to alter our ways may not destroy the planet’s capabilities of supporting human life during the lifetime of those of us who now occupy the planet, but it will certainly affect future inhabitants who are unable to prevent the damage we are doing simply because they have not yet been born. So, apparently, we will let then worry about it, perhaps when it is too late for preventative measures to extend life-sustaining necessities for human life. We hide behind clichés such as: “Why should we give up personal pleasures and lifestyles just so we can make life possible for those who are yet unborn?” “We don’t know that these scientists are right or if they are just trying to scare us into submission.” “Maybe brilliant measures will be discovered.” “Some scientists disagree with such doomsday warnings.” “Half the planet is still frozen.”

The damaging effect of fossil fuel usage is not climate-logical uncertainty. This is scientific knowledge accepted by nearly a hundred percent of the environmental scientists today. Those who choose to challenge these warnings do so to protect their own short term welfare with no regard for the future residents of the planet – a planet which provides the sustenance for life for 8 billion people now, a number which is likely to increase to 10 billion within the next few decades.

Scientists have warned us that we will see more extreme weather patterns, including intense heat waves that occur more often and  longer – a major public health risk that will only worsen as climate change ensues. (LA Times – “More waves, more death” editorial July 4, 2021) The recent heat wave in the Pacific Northwest is a perfect example of what we can expect from here on. In Oregon temperatures recently reached an all-time high of 116 degrees and at least 79 people died. In British Columbia it hit 121 degrees, the highest temperature ever recorded in Canada. Extreme heat kills more people in an average year than any other weather-related hazard. Such conditions will require extensive programs to weatherize homes all over the world in high-risk areas by providing cooling systems for survival and solar panels to produce power. Scientists tell us that climate change is here. More deadly heat waves are coming and we have to prepare for them.

Peter Kalmus, a climate scientist and author of “Being the Change: Live Well and Spark a Climate Revolution,” tells us: “We are clearly in a climate emergency, with the coming natural disasters the result of human decisions. We can still limit further breakdown by adopting policies designed to rapidly end fossil fuel use. This means an immediate moratorium on all new fossil fuel exploration, development and infrastructure, including the tar sands pipeline currently being built in the Upper Midwest.” He further states: “Future summers will make the summers of this decade seem cool by comparison. There is no stopping this process until we change how we treat the planet.”

And so, despite these prodigious warnings, we just can’t live without our traditional 4th of July fireworks displays all over the nation – not a few, not a hundred – no, thousands of fireworks displays sanctioned and performed by governmental as well as private revelers in celebration of the founding of our nation. The Los Angeles Times article: “Pollution soars with July 4 fireworks,” tells us that: “This year’s Fourth of July fireworks created the second-highest air pollution levels from the holiday in the last decade and were the highest since the Bobcat wildfire in September,” quoting the South Coast Air Quality Management District. The article tells us that the levels of pollution were about 50% higher than the 10 year average from 2010 to 2019.

Continuing the process of information, the Los Angeles Times tells us in the July 5th article: “No, L.A. is not a desert. But we are getting there:” “A hotter planet is drying out Los Angeles and the wetter regions on which the city relies for water.” The article tells us that southern climate patterns are creeping northward, so L.A.’s climate may come to more closely resemble northern Baja California’s”: hotter and drier.

In regard to water sources, some changes are noticeable as well: the Rocky Mountain snowmelt that feeds the Colorado River and once filled Lake Powell in Arizona has diminished since the start of the 21st Century and Lake Mead behind the Hoover dam reached its lowest level in history last month, both because of the drying Colorado River watershed and competing uses in increasingly populous Western states.

The paraprosdokian about “robbing Peter to pay Paul,” which states that “in so doing you can always count on the support of Paul,” continues to ring true when we talk about fossil fuel companies. Our campaign finance system gives this statement a whole new meaning, especially when it comes to pollution. Apparently, pollution is okay as long as one is willing to pay for it monetarily regardless of the damage done to the air we breathe and the long term effect on the sustainability of human life. How can a monetary price be established for long term damage to life? Such a question is merely rhetorical. They say that money can’t buy happiness but it surely takes some pressure off. Well, how can money buy a longer life for humanity? That’s possible only for the very short term. It is impossible as a long term strategy because short term gain equals long term loss. So, robbing Peter to pay Paul only works short term. Paul can’t extend the life-sustaining elements of Planet Earth even with Peter paying the price.

Exploring the subject of holding fossil fuel companies responsible for damages could be considered a whole new science. Seth Shulman’s article in the Union of Concerned Scientists magazine: “The Mounting Case Against Fossil Fuel Companies” discusses the subject: “The UCS Science Hub for Climate Litigation is working to hold major fossil fuel  producers accountable for their share of damages  by bringing the latest  climate sciences to the courtroom.”

“We have mentioned climatic conditions around the western US but looking to the eastern coast provides equally as disparaging news. City Dock, the historic downtown district of Annapolis, Maryland, has been flooded a historic 65 times during high tides in 2019, causing some shops and restaurants to close. This has required a $65 million adaptation plan and an anticipated $45 million seawall to be built.”

“Annapolis has sued Chevron, ExxonMobil, Shell and nearly two dozen other fossil fuel companies to help pay for it all. Nothing seems to get the attention of such matters like monetary penalties. The lawsuit claims “the companies’ production of oil, gas, and coal is largely responsible for the increasing amount of climate-driven damage inflicted on the low-lying city, and that the defendants knew about the harm their products were causing for decades but actively worked to deceive policymakers, shareholders, and the public about it.”

The article states that a 2014 UCS report “Encroaching Tides,” stated that “without dramatic restrictions in carbon emissions, Annapolis is likely to face as many as 350 days of tidal flooding annually by 2040. To help prove the companies knew about the threat their products posed to the climate, the lawsuit quotes internal company documents published by UCS in its Climate Deception Dossier report and in the 2007 work “Smoke, Mirrors, and Hot Air,” which detailed Exxon’s funding of third parties who mislead the public about climate science.”

Hot air is doing the damage in more ways than one. We blow hot air into ourselves so we can ignore the hot air which we are creating each and every day as we choose short term pleasure over long term survival. Future generations of Earth inhabitants deserve better consideration than hot air. They are going to get hot air to breathe because of the hot air we feed ourselves as we refuse to take necessary steps to placate the threat to mankind. We can do better. We must do better!

 

The Footprint of Humanity

The Footprint of Humanity

Ted Folkert – July 4, 2021

The revolving climate debacle seems to be a troubling cycle of a cause, solution, and effect, which creates more cause, solution, and effect,  which creates more cause, solution, and effect – what some would call a vicious circle of climate control.

As we inhabitants of Planet Earth heat the planet with our lifestyles, we tolerate the heat by cooling measures for our cars, businesses, and homes that make us more comfortable. In doing so it becomes like shooting ourselves in the foot as we add more heat to the planet by burning more fossil fuels to reduce heat that we find annoying. This requires more cooling measures, which adds more heat to the planet, which requires more cooling measures, which adds more heat to the planet – an irresolvable continuum.

Fossil fuels have enabled what we call human progress and now fossil fuels seem to be the interference of human progress. Fossil fuels have been great for improving personal lifestyles, building a vibrant economy, and expanding industrial capabilities and corporate dominance of the world. And fossil fuels will likely be the catalyst and ultimate demise of humanity unless extreme changes take place soon. Some scientists say we are approaching or have already passed the “too late” date for controlling the ultimate impact of environmental emission control.

As we pump oil and mine coal from the ground, remnants of dead plant and animal life which we call fossil fuels, we burn them to produce energy and then return the exhaust of such burning back into the atmosphere we breathe.

Of course wind energy and solar energy sources are considered much safer and less harmful to the environment. However, thus far they seem to be insufficient to fill the demand for energy which we eight billion humans demand to support our desires and requirements for food, shelter, clothing, education, entertainment, healthcare, comfort, and pleasure – not to mention the enormous demand for weapons to kill each other in our endless warfare around the planet as we explode our way to nonexistence.

All of this can be defined as our “footprint,” both individually and collectively. Our footprint may survive but humanity may not.

What’s it all about, Alfie?

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT, ALFIE?

By: Ted Folkert

Life is but a dream, they are singing

A simple line in a song’s beginning

A meaning worth a thousand words

As meaningful as were ever heard

Lessons learned can come too late

A fact deserving no debate

Warning us of a rash decision

Made without consideration

Alfie learned it, as the story goes

Much too late to resolve his woes

But we can profit by his demise

If we are gracious and more wise

With thoughts of others in our choices

We can resist the distracting voices

While keeping life’s treasures in mind

Those with whom we spend our time

Maybe that’s what it’s all about

As Alfie would now agree, no doubt

Seeking not only a life of self-pleasures

But with others as the lasting treasures

Climate Change Unchallenged

Climate Change Unchallenged

Ted Folkert – February 5, 2021

We know it is coming but we choose to ignore it. We leave protective measures and actions to future generations, although time is critical and future actions may be too late to save the planet for human habitation.

Such an ultimate demise for humanity has been publicly discussed for decades, at least since 1972, almost 50 years ago, with publication of a book published by MIT scientists: “Limits of Growth”. Their data was well-founded and supported by irrefutable facts about climate cycles and the impact of human exploitation.

These early warnings have been reaffirmed by scientists to the world population of we human exploiters, but with little avail. Perilous conditions continue to worsen and to prove the reality of the early warnings.

We have taken steps such as automobile emissions. Yet, we continue to leave any more meaningful resolution of the predicted demise to future generations.

This subject was addressed on January 31, 2021 by an article in the Los Angeles Times by Christopher Ketcham and Jeff Gibbs.: “The Coming Collapse.”

The subject was also recently discussed at length in a book published by me: “Aces & Eights – Gambling on Climate Change,” available form Outskirts Press, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble. This book wrestles with the problem and the actions taken or ignored, leaving population control as a partial resolution.

This is not a refreshing topic but it is the most crucial topic for humanity. If we don’t take heed and start preserving Earth’s precious resources now we are simply leaving future generations with nowhere to turn, nowhere to go, and nowhere to hide – all as a result of our comfort and pleasure-seeking with total disregard for the dilemma we are leaving for those who follow.

Think about it!!

 

Biden’s Challenge – The Distribution of Income

Biden’s Challenge – The Distribution of Income

January 30, 2021 – Ted Folkert

A return to civility – a return to normalcy – a return to a government of, by, and for the people – this is the early indication of the role of the Joseph R. Biden administration. He must surely be the right one for the job along with Kamala Harris who, like Biden, has an impeccable political career of integrity and dedication of duty.

A big, perhaps the biggest, challenge for repairing the damage left by the bungling of the oval office over last four years, is addressing the distribution of income. Such an endeavor could never have occurred under the idiotic tyrant we just escaped from.

Distribution of Income, that economic category which everyone competes for in some way – seems much more important for a healthy economy than is acknowledged by those who make the rules that we live by in the financial world. It seems to be exemplified by painful reality in times like this. Now that the entire planet is forced to deal with this devastating disease – which is beginning to cripple economies in the financially healthy countries as well as those which are struggling for economic survival for their populous – the economic trends are beginning to show distress, even in the financially healthy countries, such as ours.

Current trends are proving to become increasingly more unfavorable for the working-class as opposed to the leisure-class who survive on inherited wealth, investments, or fixed income. And what are the chances that this apparent trend will convince the rich and powerful who control our government to take the right steps to allow the working-class to prosper somewhat from the increasing stress on livelihoods for the lower and middle income segments of society?

It is no secret that putting more income into the pockets of the workers has a positive effect of the economy for everyone. That is Economics 101. It doesn’t take a financial wizard to figure that one out and it doesn’t take a genius to propose methods to create such a positive action. What it takes is convincing those who control government to follow the textbook processes for instilling such measures while continuing to placate the rich and powerful of the necessity – those who are capable of controlling campaign funding due to our campaign funding laws. Those in power very cleverly convinced the voters to support their control of the purse strings decades ago and have successfully maintained such measures through the campaign funding which they enabled.

Changing the system to be more favorable for the working-class can be considered to be like a team of local players taking on a professional sports team. What are their chances of victory?

The only obvious way of changing the distribution of income for the better would have to be through taxation. Unless the working-class have more income and a larger share of it available for discretionary spending there can be no increased demand for nonessential goods and services. The only way to achieve such a condition would require the wealthy to pay a larger share of the services provided by government, such as healthcare, education, transportation, communication, diplomacy, defense, welfare, and all the other services provided by government.

How do people become wealthy? Well, as they say in jest, the easiest way would be careful selection of the proper parents, but of course we don’t get any choice there. Methods beyond that would require participation successfully in some endeavor which can command a more exorbitant profit margin than an ordinary source of employment income, such as wages, salary, or profits from a small business or fee based representation. And, unfortunately, we don’t get much opportunity there. The methods are unlimited but the chance of inordinate success is very unlikely.

If this analysis of the situation is correct as implied then the only method of altering the distribution to level the playing field and improve the economy for everyone will be to enable legislation of a more favorable system of taxation. Of course, this brings the rich and powerful, those who control the electoral process, out in mass with enormous funding of political organizations constructed to placate any effort by those who endeavor to improve the system. So what we have is a system designed by the creators of such which, instead of robbing the rich to pay the poor, as they imply, robs the poor to pay the rich. It is also designed to enable the rich and powerful to retain an inordinate portion of the income they realize for their favorable situations, which robs the government of the funds necessary to provide a more stable economy for all of the more than 300 million of us in this country.

This situation can only be changed at the ballot box by voters who refuse to be influenced by the diversionary tactics of the rich and powerful in their quest to maintain their “absolute control of every living soul,” as Leonard Cohen sang to us. He also sang to us in his song: “The Anthem” that “There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.” We need to let the light in and see the future impact of the oppressive distribution of income and take the steps necessary to elect those who will help us let the light in.

Early indications are that President Joe Biden is the one to lead that charge. He is already “letting the light in.” He is doing everything in plain sight and with unquestionable integrity and foresight for the benefit of us all. We need to do our part and elect government representatives who will help him with repairing the abusive damage done by the previous abusive administration of the last four years.

Leonard Cohen also sang to us: “Democracy is Coming to the USA.” With the Biden-Harris administration it looks like Cohen’s prediction may now be possible.

Think about it!

Snared – Hook, Line and Sinker!

Snared – Hook, Line and Sinker!

Ted Folkert – January 27, 2021

In his recent article, Thomas Friedman exemplifies the big lie which consumes all of our brilliant (so they think) financial prognosticators – the hook, line and sinker of the financial markets, the stock and bond markets, not a good place for the novice investor to wander.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/26/opinion/us-capitalism-socialism.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage

Who among us own stocks and bonds? Not you and I. We either lack available funds to invest or have been burned in the market because it is owned and manipulated by the rich and powerful and the investment gurus who enjoy a lavish lifestyle by pleasing the rich and powerful. The stock market is not a comfortable place in which those of us with retirement funds should invest.

And “invest” is not the right word here. It is a trap, a sink hole, which snares us like wild game wandering around the forest looking for food and then become prey for the vultures hiding nearby.

Friedman quotes Rochir Sharma of Morgan Stanley Investment Management: “America’s richest 10 percent, who own more than 80 percent of U.S. stocks, have seen their wealth more than triple in 30 years, while the bottom 50 percent, relying on their day jobs in real markets to survive, had zero gains.”

This is a message that many of us have meekly mentioned for decades, particularly this last decade. It needs to be broadcast with a megaphone and it needs to receive some major attention from our new administration. But more particularly it needs to be broadcast by our so-called news media, which unfortunately is all owned by the rich and powerful who also own all the gold and who also will bury the message so that their wealth will not be in danger of being heavily and appropriately taxed for the benefit of all of society.

It is difficult to imagine what a billionaire will do with more wealth. Should he or she buy more homes, more cars, more planes, more toys, more vacation properties, and more gold jewelry? What would they do with more wealth?

Well, as we must acknowledge, it is about keeping score – the one who dies with the most wealth wins.  The sad and ridiculous part of this process is that the rich and powerful not only were unable to enjoy life any more than those without wealth, they deprived many hard-working individuals from the ability to provide a more reliable financial future for their loved ones.

Like a wise one said recently: “the rich get richer and the poor remain poor.” That is the way it has been manipulated by those in power and that is the way they stay in power.

But, like they probably say to each other: “who cares.”

For more support of this argument read: “Rich Man, Poor Man, Beggar Man, Thief by Ted Folkert” which is available on Outskirts Press:  https://outskirtspress.com/RICHMANPOORMANBEGGARMANTHIEF.

 

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Ted Folkert – January 18, 2021

We all know who Dr. MLK, Jr. was.

But we should all remember what he was, what he tried to do and who he became in his short life – his brave quest for nonviolent social change. John Lewis, another hero of the quest for equality of opportunity, who we lost recently, and many other brave anti-racism marchers walked proudly across the Pettis Bridge with MLK, Jr. in 1965 into their expected beating by white racists, a beating for expressing their desire to be “free at last” of slavery. This came to be called “Bloody Sunday.”

And then in 1968 Dr. King was murdered by an assassin, obviously hired by some of the rich who felt threatened by Dr. King’s message.

Dr. King and his followers made some progress during their lives but racism still persists today in this country. It will continue to exist in the form of inequality, uncompensated labor, and obstacles to financial success for the blacks in this country until we tax the 800 billionaires by half of their wealth, which amounts to 3 trillion dollars or more, and use these trillions of dollars to pay reparations to the millions of black descendants of the enslaved, those who were and still are denied equality of opportunity in this country.

No one becomes a billionaire on a level playing field. No, they all found a way to garner or extort wealth by “taking more than they give” like the line in the song “Alfie,” – “… should we take more than we give, Alfie?” All the billionaires must realize that they can never spend all their wealth. They must pay it back to those upon whose backs they amassed such fortunes. This isn’t a complicated mathematical equation. It is simple arithmetic, third grade arithmetic.

The wealthy have garnered massive wealth far beyond their contributions to society and they did it on the backs of the workers who were denied their share of the rewards of the free-enterprise system which we seem to cherish. However, it still isn’t free enterprise. It is enterprise owned, operated, and controlled by these billionaires who were clever enough to elect and convince those who control government to enact the laws which enable them to earn abusive profits on the necessities of life which we all must have for survival – an electoral system bought and paid for by a Supreme Court decision called Citizens United, which should be called Billionaires United.

This is what we remember that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was about. This is the movement we should all connect with if we want to support equality of opportunity, that principle which is mandatory for survival of humanity here on Planet Earth.