Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Right to bear arms a personal right -- STUN GUNS next

Modern-tech fits under the 1st, 4th -- AND -- 2nd Amendments.

Including stun guns under the Second Amendment could mimic including TV and radio under freedom of speech and limits on telephone wiretapping under unreasonable search prohibitions: technology that wasn't available when the amendments were passed may fit inarguably under the original intention of the amendments.

Now that the Supreme Court has recognized gun ownership as an individual right I would further claim that the right to bear arms is the right to own an instrument (new tech or old) to protect one's self with. I always held that the "militia" mention in the Second Amendment was place there because bearing arms was not a "natural" right like freedom of speech or privacy (in the days of sociobiology -- the evolution of behavior -- the Bill of Rights seems sort of the "human genome" of human social instincts) but a need-based right (a "militia" being the most statesman like example to put in the first ever constitution). The right to protect yourself outlook could be joined to the newly arrived technology approach to make the latter sound perfectly sensible.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Thoughts for today, Thursday, June 17

Thoughts for today:

Maybe it was just as well that Bush the First did not go all the way to Baghdad. Supposedly Saddam was set to rain his so-called weapons of mass destruction down on Israel if he did so. Saddam was an Armageddon kind of guy: he had already set fire to one country, 600 oil wells, while flooding the nearby Gulf with oil (why I was worried about Saddam building or much more likely buying a bomb -- my justification for the second Gulf war).

Had Saddam showered poison gas and anthrax spores on Tel Aviv does anyone doubt that Israel would have hesitated to nuke Baghdad or more, potentially killing millions -- histories second Hiroshimas?
No need for a new American political party that prioritizes both protecting the country from outside threats while upholding the interest of the average person's economic good (the latter mostly ignored by Dems as well as Repubs). Today's parties just have to return to the policies of both Democratic and Republican parties of the '60s and early '70s -- against which low-life segregationist George Wallace railed: "There isn't a dime's worth of difference."

He was right (good thing): Nixon signed a $9/hr minimum wage to go into effect immediately -- at 60% of today's average income -- and was poised to finish LBJ's health care work by extending coverage to all ages and incomes. LBJ stuck by Vietnam harder than Nixon who withdrew our financial and air support just at the moment the South Vietnamese took up all the bloody ground fighting.

Today's Republican party tries its best to destroy our economy by distorting the balance of every market -- financial, real estate, and labor -- heavily in favor of its rich patrons. Today's Democrats give most all their economic attention to mopping up after Republican damage to the financial and real estate markets -- while totally forgetting the labor market which not only dominates the lives of most middle class (and going down!) but ultimately perverts the political forum -- in favor of Republicans (a vicious circle Dems really must bust out of if sanity or Dems are ever to rule again).

Friday, June 11, 2010

What Social Security?

MY COMMENT ON THE "We learn why they hate Social Security" post on "ANGRY BEAR" today.

What Social Security? I worked all my life and now I'm 66 and get $675/mo + 162 in Food Stamps + Medicare/Medicaid. When my nearly 90 year old mother can no longer keep me indoors in the fashion to which I am accustomed I could be on the street.

[Note: Don't take up a collection. After 10 months of hard work I am finally getting a handle on online poker: earned 44 cents today in only 1 1/2 hours. There is a catch 22 that keeps poker less than excessively profitable: a good player by definition folds most hands pre-flop, more at the flop; more at the turn, loses often at the river, mostly doesn't make much when he wins -- often enough gets the perfect hand and everybody just happens to fold. That's why pro grinders [my future?] two and four table: they have to combine dribbles to make a few bucks. By Christmas that hopefully will be me. If not, I can exercise my option for Irish citizenship [5 Irish grandparents counting my mother's stepmother] and go to Europe and get on the dole -- anywhere in Europe.)

Back on topic. When I started cab driving it paid enough to live on but not to pay taxes on. Good for everybody else: they pay us less for a ride now and nothing for our retirement later. As should be plain from my "good jobs" post that was back when I started. It quickly went downhill so you couldn't make a living now (maybe compared to that steel mill in Pakistan). Ended up moving 2000 miles to San Francisco -- giving up free rent, cable and use of my brother's Towncar -- to make a living driving a cab (San Francisco is so liberal they treat you like you have a union even if you don't have one -- maintain a 1968 minimum wage level too!).

Like just about every other problem discussed in this and other progressive forums, it all goes back to unconscious American labor and the resulting distorted labor market and political arena. Wake America up and wage America up. (i was a poet and I didn't know it.)

There are some real simple, things that Americans could grok at the common sense level without a Ph.D. in economics (the reason America listens to Gingrich and company on complicated things like the economy and health care is that the know the Dems and the media are lying to them -- or at least acting like there is only one-liberal-side -- on all the social issues; issue which they can understand at the common sense level).

Tell Americans just a couple of too plain facts like the federal minimum wage is now 75 cents below what it was in the Eisenhower administration (not to mention $2.75 below LBJ's!) and that sector-wide labor agreements work just fine all over the world to fairly balance labor markets. Let loose a couple of simple truths and let the market for ideas sort out the result.

Did I say: what Social Security?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Answer to the question: "where will the good jobs come from?"


I never stop being shocked at how the most obvious solution to the "good jobs" question eternally escapes our best and brightest economic brains. BIG HINT: such a question does not exist in Europe in the same desperate way it does here -- in Europe where they work many fewer hours yet.

Anybody ever going to recognize what is America's CORE economic problem: quite a bit more than anemic labor strength at the bargaining table. Opps; what bargaining table? That is the CORE problem; Americans -- including apparently our best and brightest and most progressive (they think -- but totally useless to working folks like myself!) -- have no idea you are supposed have an actually working ability to withhold your labor from the production process until you get the right price.

Simple, no-sweat way of going about this used all over the much better compensated and insured OECD world (excepting labor squeezed Japan) -- legally mandated by the labor majorities everywhere: sector-wide labor agreements.
My personal experience as a starved American worker -- in particular as a Chicago cab driver -- which used to be what Mark Thoma would have called a "good job":

1) one 30 cent increase in the meter mileage rate between 1981 and 1997 (by which 16 year mark I was hacking in San Francisco);
2) at which 1990 point the city began building subways to both airports and making the number of limo licenses unlimited, taking away most profitable long rides (a bit of explanation here: as taxi drivers were paid less and less, the quality of drivers naturally enough got worse and worse, scaring everybody into limos);
3) at which 1990 point the city also began putting on 40% more taxis (now on the way to 50% -- the city profits selling medallions to drivers willing to work for more than the steel mill in Pakistan paid).

This would never happen in labor market conscious (that doesn't sound very Marxist) Europe. Maybe you can tell me how to get cab drivers paid again (in America that is) -- and make that job a "good job" again, Mark and Rdan. Oh; I already explained the basic process for reinstituting American labor power in the comment above -- used all over the better paid OECD world: sector-wide labor agreements.
The Crips and the Bloods could not whip an honest Ronald Mcdonald and would be the first to say so. Double the minimum wage and end all street gangs. Double the minimum wage and the price of a Big Mac goes up 1/3. Who buys Big Macs: people earning less than $15/hr -- seems no problem for Ronald there. Nothing else goes up much at all.

Double the minimum wage and overall prices may jump 5% -- haven't worked it out lately. [See an earlier computation here: ] Double the minimum wage and end crime and the worst poverty for a bit of inflation (what the economy needs right now?). DOUBLE THE MINIMUM WAGE AND MAKE EVEN FAST FOOD JOBS BECOME "GOOD JOBS" AGAIN -- FOR THOSE THAT NEED IT MOST.

Anyone ever expect Obama to ever so much as inform American labor that his minimum wage is now 75 cents below Eisenhower's minimum wage -- 250% the average income later?
Whoa (re: my "good jobs" post above)! $15/hr, double today's federal minimum wage, is today's median wage. Double the minimum wage and half of America will be restored to some sort of "good job" -- if today's median wage job is considered some sort of "good job."

Why not double it -- 40 years after LBJ's minimum wage was $10/hr (adjusted) and 200% the average income increase later? If LBJ's minimum wage had kept up with average income increase, then, today's MINIMUM wage would be $5/hr more than Obama's MEDIAN wage.

Wake up America. Good jobs are just a matter of getting paid fairly for your present jobs. "Wage Up America" might be the right good slogan.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Replace derelict Yankee Stadium with rebuilt track and field


Replace derelict Yankee Stadium with rebuilt track and field.

I grew up in sight of the old Yankee Stadium (I snuck -- or rather dashed -- into the second-half of the early '60s Giant-Packer NFL championship). The new stadium was build over a track and football field that was utilized by 39 Bronx schools (don't worry; not rehashing).

The previous stadium is still there which reminds me of my brother's and my 1960s East Village slum lord not removing the old fridge when he put in a new one to raise the rent.

It just occurred to my "big brain" that if the old Yankee Stadium block was big enough to contain a football field plus 50,000 spectators there must be enough room on that same block for a track and football field and a bleachers for a few hundred people like the old field had -- with room even to replace softball and baseball fields that were all on the old block (I played softball there in the New York Post paperboy league).

Have half a mind to go back to the Bronx and start a stink to do it (what else to do at age 66? :-]).

The scene is what happens when middle class outrage disappears along with the middle class and their majority votes -- the fault solely and wholly if you ask me of a CRAZILY distorted American labor market (federal minimum wage now 75 cents below 1956 -- 250% average income increase later).

Over the hill (other side of Grand Concourse) NY's mayor replaced the brand new criminal court house (at least new when I was going there weekly with kids in the late '70s) and the court you used to see in the background of the old stadium's outfield -- probably the most beautiful building in the Bronx (don't laugh) -- with a new 400 million dollar Taj Mahal courthouse (after crime dropped more than half). More of the same; let the middle class disappear and any kind of purposelessness goes unchecked.

Our mayor's legacy in the Bronx seems to be leaving behind three more derelict structures right in its civic and geographic center of gravity -- nice!