Corptocracy At Its Worst.

Imagine that you are a business owner. Let’s say that you found a new way to supply electrical power to a community using car sized batteries that recharge using Earth’s own magnetic field. Everyone in the community wants and needs your product so you incorporate and begin to sell and service these batteries. You realize quickly that you have a high demand product; so you decrease the supply, increase the price by a few hundred percent, and start downgrading the quality of the components to make yourself and your shareholders super rich. Then customers start to complain about side effects, price gouging, and battery failures. In a moment of wizardry, you create a narrative that somehow justifies your defense of the corporation thereby convincing your customers that these problems arose outside of your control. Then tragedy strikes and people actually die as a result of your product. In a desperate power move, you blame a fall guy and declare bankruptcy. But your crowning achievement comes when you beg the government to bail your corporation out…. after all, the people must have what you are selling.

Let me ask you dear readers, if this scenario happened to you do you think you could pull off the bailout? Or do you think, as I do, that you would be pounced on by every law enforcement and alphabet agency in our country? Hmm.

Now let’s look at PG&E. California public officials have blamed them for the recent deadliest wildfire in state history. Of course, the corporation recently filed bankruptcy along with forecasting higher customer rates. And they have been bailed out in the past, like in 2003 when 17 executives received a combined $83 million in bonuses courtesy of taxpayers. PG&E is lobbying for a bailout yet again. I guess it’s because the Rothschild owned utility really needs the money.


The Green New Deal….A Beautiful Fantasy

There has been so much buzz around the Green New Deal initiative presented by Democratic Representative Ocazio-Cortez recently. This initiative was proposed to simultaneously tackle climate change and economic inequality.. It’s goals are lofty, and ones that most Americans would love to see happen, but more of a pipe dream than a realistic endeavor right now.

The plan calls for greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles to be at zero within ten years. It calls for the end of using fossil fuels across the board, including manufacturing and transportation, and a transition to alternative energy and fuel. Also included is a massive goal of repairing and improving our infrastructure and net zero energy building, which includes upgrading all existing structures. On the economic side, not only does it call for guaranteed living wage employment for everyone, but also reparations and protections for those who have been disadvantaged by industry in the past. Basic utility prices are mandated to be affordable and available to all. Sounds wonderful! But is it realistic or just utopian musings?

With the caveat that the best indicator for future behavior is recent past behavior, critics of this plan are right to be skeptical. Historically, our country has an abysmal track record of bringing bright shiny ideas like this into concrete reality. Just look at the Obama stimulus package. Or the new rail project in California that just got permanently cancelled. Great ideas that offer both economic equality and protection against climate change have broad support in their proposal but almost utter failure in their implementation. The biggest reason, in my opinion, is that the powerful corporations and elite of this world have a big stake in maintaining their wealth and influence and as a whole do not act in ways that would foster equality and access for all. Until this changes, all these ideas are just a dream. One only needs to realize that with all the amazing technological advances we have seen this century alone, we still drive vehicles that are operating with 100 year old technology while patents that would revolutionize this remain suppressed for national security reasons.

I’m not saying we should stop dreaming and wishing for a healthier, cleaner, more just and equal society. I’m saying that in order for this type of change to happen, we all need to clear away the distracting chatter and get serious about how we can address the fundamental blocks to achieving this goal. Until we get real about that…. this is all a beautiful fantasy.

Have We Now Let Down Those That Need Help The Most?

I wasn’t planning on writing a post today, but after receiving an email from ABIN-PA, I felt compelled. It seem that the Department of Public Welfare for the state of PA has eliminated its cash assistance program to about 65, 000 people as of August 1, 2012. WHAT?

Before you begin a round of applause, please consider a few facts here. The general cash assistance program provided its recipients with a whopping $205 a month at most. That’s right, I said $205.  Could you live on $205 a month? Okay, so let’s say your food is free, because you receive about $150 a month in food stamps… at least you have peanut butter, jelly, and ramen noodles for a month. Then let’s say your medical expenses are covered, because you have Medicaid too. Fine. And I will even go one far-fetched step further and assume you have free shelter…..which actually might be a homeless shelter. Okay. How are you supposed to buy soap, shampoo,….. or if you are a female of child-bearing age god forbid, tampons? Tampons aren’t cheap.From where I stand, this cost cutting measure is going to end up increasing costs to the taxpayers, not saving money. Why, you ask? Well here is one reason why.

Picture this, you are a mom in the above scenario. You lost a bitter custody battle with your ex. You are disabled with a serious degenerative disc disease in your back and declared unable to work. Because of this physical disability, you developed mental health issues which now have left you spiraling downwards without a job or a home. You rely on the few friends and family that still are in your life and they help by making appointments with professionals that can help you. You dutifully attend your medical and psychiatric appointments and reach out further to the DPW for help getting back on your feet. You are assisted with food stamps, free medical visits, reduced prescription costs (notice I did not say free), and temporary homeless shelter. But the shelter rules stipulate you have to leave the premises by 6 AM every morning and return by 3 PM to get in line to secure your spot for that evening when the doors open at 6PM. You need a few dollars for basic human necessities, like transportation and the above mentioned tampons, but you no longer have ANY MONEY AT ALL. You wear out the resources of the few people who still remain in your life, as most of us are truly struggling financially now. Your mental health is deteriorating due to your situation. You feel hopeless. Lost. A Burden. Unwanted. Suicide becomes more than a passing ideation from time to time. What would you do?

The person I know in the above scenario did the only thing they could think of…..they started “selling” their medication on the street for cash to survive. I am in NO WAY condoning this behavior by writing this, but we do have to recognize that it is a reality. Now this person has less medication than the doctor felt she needed to get back to a place of wholeness, and the withdraw effects become clear to everyone around her. In a moment of clarity, she makes the decision to go to a psych hospital where she feels she will at least have food, shelter, and the proper meds even if it is for a short time. This will give her breathing space to safely gather her thoughts and get help making a plan to get back on her feet. But before she finishes going through all the red tape involved with getting a bed in a psych unit, she gets arrested for selling her meds and winds up in jail.

I ask you, which is cheaper…..$205 in cash assistance or incarceration? $205 in cash assistance or X number of days in a psych hospital? $205 a month in cash assistance or yet another motherless child growing up in our already complicated and isolating world?

I agree that the system is broken. I acknowledge that abuse of the system exists. I am painfully aware that state and local budgets are stretched to within an inch of rupture. But is this really the answer? The people affected by this cut are our mothers, our brothers, our sisters, our fathers, our friends, our loved ones, our lost. Can we really strip them of this meager help without providing solutions? I guess we did. How sad.

Come on people, we can do better.