Tuesday, August 10, 2010

James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010

This bill has the simple task of paying compensation, mostly health care costs, for the thousands of people who worked in horrible conditions after the attacks on 9/11 to try and find survivors in the rubble.

It would cost about $8.4B over 10 year and then might cost another $4B after that. True to their way of operating, the Democratic controlled congress identified a way to pay the cost. They proposed to close a tax loophole used by corporations to avoid paying taxes.

For bizarre and probably overly political reasons, the bill came to the House floor under a rule that required it get a 2/3 majority. But still it should have passed.

155 out of 167 Republicans voted against the bill and it failed passage.

I am still not clear why they voted against it.

The biggest reason I have found is that it included additional tax revenue from closing a loophole.

It appears that 155 Republicans (and 4 Democrats) put the interests of corporations ahead of the interests of those heroes who worked so hard to recover from the attacks on 9/11.

I have friends who really have just come to hate Conservatives/Republicans. I don't hate them, partially because I am related to many of them. But I don't understand their priorities. This concept that all taxes for any purpose no matter who pays them are bad and should be cut or eliminated is fiscal insanity. But its an insanity that they cling to with both arms.

I guess I should pity them their insanity, but when they do stuff like this I realize that is the victims of their insanity that I must reserve my pity for.


I got asked once why I don't like corporations.

The answer is not that I don't LIKE corporations, the answer is that I don't TRUST corporations.

I have worked for various corporations for most of the last 20+ years of my life. Corporations are an integral part of the American economy. But they are not trustworthy. BP develops of culture of cutting corners in the pursuit of profit and we have the oil refinery accident a few years ago followed by the largest unintentional oil spill in history. They and the other oil companies basically infiltrated and compromised the agency tasked with regulating and monitoring their actions and now we have an environmental disaster of literally unknown proportions where we won't know the final cost for years. The company that owned that mine in West Virginia where 29 miners died had a long history of simply ignoring the safety rules and then protesting/contesting the fines for as long as possible before finally paying the fines since it seemed to cost them less that way than actually caring about the safety of their workers.

I could go on and on and on.

The newest proof, as if more was needed, was a proposed deal between Verizon and Google where Google's YouTube site would get priority access (and the resulting higher speeds) than other sites not willing to pay a premium. Two big corporations getting together in a way that will in the end only profit other big corporations while relegating smaller companies and non-profits to second class status on the internet. Its not like they aren't already making money on their investments. They just want to make more.

That, after all, is a corporations job. To make money so they can pay dividends to their shareholders, so their stock price will go up.

To make money.

That is their job. That is the principle, even sole motive.

I have no problem with that. Corporations making money drives the economy.

But nowhere in there does the corporation have my best interests at heart. Even if I work for them, they are only as good to me as they need to be to keep me from leaving (unless they decide they can save money by replacing me with someone else, perhaps in China).

Nowhere in there does the corporation care about the environment. Nowhere in there does the corporation care about the larger economy. Nowhere in there does the corporation care about national security. That's not their job. Profit is their job.

So if I think we should regulate industry, so if I think that allowing corporations should be allowed to spend unlimited amounts of money directly supporting the candidates of their choice, so if I think that corporations should not be allowed to get to big to fail, its not because I don't like corporations. I am hoping that some corporation will decide that they like my skill and experience set and hire me.

But I don't trust corporations.
And neither should you.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Climate Change/Global Warming Continues

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has released its most recent State of the Climate report.

Its conclusions are not surprising.

Last decade was the warmest decade on Record

Last year was the warmest year on Record

There are fewer and fewer Climate Change deniers now. And their arguments are more and more convoluted.

And yet, Conservatives and the Republican Party are determined to prevent the US congress from taking any reasonable or effective action to address our contribution to that problem. For the most part they have stopped claiming its all a fraud or putting forward some new unscientific argument. Now they are just saying we can't afford to do anything.

I guess this is progress of a sort. But the problem remains and its critical that we, as a nation act. This concept that companies are allowed to massively pollute the environment in a way that threaten huge environmental and economic disasters and should not have to pay for that pollution, and should not be compelled to reduce and even eliminate that pollution is incredible to me.

If your neighbor backed his car up to your house and ran a hose from his car into your house, you would have a reason to object. Yet that is what power companies do every day. They are not the only polluters, but they are certainly one of the largest. And every day they are allowed to pump thousands of tons of CO2 into the atmosphere, contributing to and accelerating Global Warming. And according to Conservatives and the Republican Party, thats OK. They should be able to do that as much as they want for as long as they want without cost or constraint.

Stuff like this makes me wonder, what are their priorities?

With deficits largely resulting from Conservative/Republican backed tax cuts and mindless defense spending that will be a burden on our descendants for decades, even generations and their refusal to do anything to address Global Warming dooming our descendants environmental and economic impacts we can only guess at, what do they really care about?


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A Woman Takes Command

How far we have come.


When I was in the Navy's Officer Candidate School back in 1976, we got some mandated sensitivity training about the role of women in the US Navy. My Company Officer (who was married to a female Naval Officer who was also a Company Officer) gave us some simple advice.

"You can't F*%k em and work em at the same time." Crudely put but probably sage advice. Unfortunately he didn't stop there. He paused slightly and then added "The idea is to F%* them first." We all chuckled and grinned at his wisdom and sense of humor.

In my time in the Navy, we went through a series of scandals as we worked out the issues around integrating women into our combat forces. Tailhook was probably the most famous, but no where near the most egregious.

And now we have a woman commanding a Carrier Battle Group. Amazing!

Despite the challenges we face, I love this country more and more every day.

Equal Rights

Its finally happened.
A Federal judge has ruled that California's law prohibiting same sex marriage violates the Equal Protection and Due Process clauses of the US Constitution.

This will probably be appealed, eventually to the US Supreme Court, but for now there is a Federal precedent against this form of discrimination.

Its about time