Tuesday, May 31, 2011

American First

As you all should know by now, I am not affiliated with any particular party.  I have some  major issues with both parties and I feel they are very slowly ruining our country.   The way I see it, either party with a large majority turns into a ravenous shark.  They lose all control and become so overwhelmed with the smell of blood that they start tearing apart all semblance of dignity.  They see something they want and proceed to grab it,  and their promises during the election become a distant memory.  Their position as a representative of the people ceases and their eyes roll to the back of their head as they bite into the blood- filled meat of power. 

Such is the case with our government here in Florida.  The Republican governor, senate and the house of representatives were beside themselves as they passed law after law that would neuter the Democrats and will lay the foundation for their feeding frenzy to continue well into the future.   What's most daunting though, is their assault on the fair voting districts amendment that the people approved in the last election.  (They've even resorted to using public funds to file a lawsuit stopping it!)  What are they afraid of?  Is it that they couldn't win elections without the help of gerrymandering?   That is the thorn of contention that I have with each of our major parties: They are in it for the power and to subjugate the opposing party.  Improving  the lives of the people becomes a perfunctory task, an irritating necessity that draws them away from the much more entertaining game of political chess. 

Just as with any herd, there is very little logic or consideration for the direction of movement except for the fact that the herd wishes it., and unless you get out of their way,  your considerate ideas and approaches to making improvements in the "way of things" will be trampled   These two groups have us separated and powerless through this endless round of "us versus them".   There is no real reason to be in a party except that it has simply always been so.  As Thomas Paine said at the beginning of his masterpiece  "Common Sense":   ".........  a long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right".

The political parties split us as Americans and leave those who crave power for power's sake in charge.  We need American leaders, not Republican and Democratic leaders.  Only then will we truly see an effective, functioning government. 

In my humble opinion,

Chuck Marshall

p.s. !  Click and ad ..... I need the money.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Pigs At The Trough

Did you know that the amount of money spent on lobbying in Washington, DC has gone up by seven times since 1980..... seven times ! The amount spent on organized "influencing" of our federal government is at an astounding $3.4 Billion annually as of 2010 ! That's up from $1.44 Billion just since 1990. Nearly triple in 20 years.

So, who are these lobbyists, exactly ?

The largest contributing industry in 2010?    Pharmaceuticals which spent $241,075,934 in 2010 and they have spent a whopping $2,081,240,642 since 1998.  A close second was the electric utilities at $191,304,085 in 2010 and $1,417,711,382 since 1998.  Although the insurance industry has been losing ground the last year or so, they still get an "also ran" award for placing second overall in this category by spending $1,499,821,977 since 1998 to get their "fair share". Another $1.5 Billion to make sure congress does exactly what?

The largest single contributors?    The US Chamber of Commerce for 2010 which was at $132,067,500. They have spent a massive $738,825,680 since 1998.  Second: PG&E Group (Pacific Gas & Electric Co.) at $45,460,000 for 2010.    The all time "winner" for 1998-2010 was the American Medical Association at $243,277,500. The American Medical Association and the Pharmaceutical lobbyists must have a good time discussing strategies at the taverns and bars in Georgetown. The two together have spent nearly $3 Billion since 1990.  And my how our health care system shines.... er, wait a second !  I guess it works well for them.   They're not stupid enough to spend $3 Billion for nothing,......only the government does dumb things like that.

Well, I could go on and on about who is buying our government but I think I'm making myself clear that this is out of control.   This has been one of the hardest blogs for me to write because I tend to acknowledge both sides of arguments, but I see no argument to support such obscene amounts of money being spent by the monied and powerful.  They steer our government to make specific decisions that would obviously be in their favor. 

In "Common Sense", Thomas Paine began by writing:  "Perhaps the sentiments contained in the following pages, are not yet sufficiently fashionable to procure them general favor; a long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right". Thomas Paine was talking about the King of England,  I think it applies today to the lobbying industry.  We've seen it so long, that it seems like an ordinary way of "doing government business".  An unfortunate necessity.   But,  what's going on is wrong.   Like slithering snakes, these lobbyists have coiled themselves around the very freedoms and liberties our young men and women fight for over seas, choking those freedoms into submission in the name of corporate welfare.  These people have an undue influence on our government  and its operation.  I am afraid that our leaders in Washington, DC consider, first and foremost,  "what would be the best course of action to grease the palms of those that will get me reelected?".  Any benefit to the American people would be a happy circumstance..... a pleasant coincidence.  With lobbyists whispering in their ear, the focus and targets and ambitions of our leaders is rooted in the matter of how they might yield more power to the already powerful.   

In My Humble Opinion,

Chuck Marshall

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Party of Reagan

After my tirade against the Republican Party's leadership here in Florida, I feel compelled to elaborate on some of the good I see going on. 

-I note they have reigned in spending by some substantial dough;  While focusing on protecting most critical services under a more efficient government, Senate Republicans were able to uphold their commitment to not raise taxes and fees. They agreed upon a $69.7 billion budget with more than $300 million in tax relief measures, including the August school supply sales tax holiday and $30 million in tax breaks for Florida’s small businesses. In addition, the budget includes a $2.7 billion cut in annualized recurring general revenue and trust funds.

- Crash worthiness: Senate Bill 142, by Senator Richter, is a common-sense tort reform initiative that allows the jury to hear the full story of what led to an automobile accident.  Sounds reasonable to me.

- Homestead/Non-homestead Property: Senate Joint Resolution 658, by Senator Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, prohibits increases in the assessed value of a homestead property in any year when the market value of the property decreases. This certainly seems appropriate.

There were a few other worthy laws passed that should do some good in our state.  Overall, the Republican led state legislature managed the money well, and they are making difficult but necessary cuts in various situations.  It is necessary.  We are in the Great Recession with 12% unemployment and the state government should not be squandering money in any way, shape or form.  Some cuts were harsh, but fair.  It isn't right that state employees should have substantially better benefits than the general population, for example. 

It is this kind of government fiscal responsibility that made me a great admirer of Ronald Reagan.  He was the first President I ever voted for in 1984.   The "gipper" was one steady leader, making effective decisions but without skewering opposing opinions.  He reached across the aisle and cut deals with the Democrats on many occasions.  It was an effective leadership that got our country through a deep recession in the early 80's.   Reagan's effective leadership inspired the people to do better and encouraged that a single person can make a huge difference for good.  That sort of decent, positive leadership is what I admire about what the Republicans are capable of.  However, I must point out that  Ronnie wouldn't have been manipulating processes of voting in order to tilt free elections in his favor.  He won his office "the old fashioned way, he earned it". 

It was Reagan's philosophy that the government is not there to solve all our problems that really drew me to him and the Republican party, of which I was a member for 20 years.  Most anything taken on by the government turns into a wasteful, frustrating mess because there is no accountability.  Good intentions usually morph into a massive bureaucracy of people that are focused mainly on the very existence of their job.  As Reagan put it;  "The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.'"  Amen brother Reagan, your nation misses you. 

In My Humble Opinion,

Chuck Marshall

"Click an ad, 'cause I'm definitely a capitalist.."

Monday, May 9, 2011

Republican Leadership's Power Gorge

As far as I can tell the Republican led legislature and our Republican governor have come to some exaggerated assumptions about what it is the people of Florida want, OR (and this is much more likely) they just don't care what we want and they've simply lost all self control.  They are like children in a candy store who've just been told everything is free.  As they gorge themselves on the sugar-laden goodies they have bestowed upon themselves, ultimately their teeth will rot and all robust growth will stop,  but unfortunately it's the people of Florida that will develop the cavities and perhaps much worse as the years roll by. 

The children, with chocolate covered faces mutter on about how they're bringing back "growth" to our state.  Am I to understand that the "Great Recession" would have skipped right over Florida if it hadn't been for all those laws requiring developers to act responsibly ?  The door has now been flung open for all the "low rung" builders to jump in and make a quick buck on some poorly designed, poorly built, tacky-looking neighborhoods once we've worked through the 1,000,000 vacant homes that dot the landscape as it is.  Rest assured though, there will be a lot of jobs for the Mexicans once we get there. 

They are "handing out lollipops" in the form of tax breaks for corporations to "get them to come here", but isn't this the same thing as the socialism that they so despise?  They are taking our money and re-distributing it to those that "need it" according to their definition ?  I sincerely don't see the difference.  Most desirable corporations are also looking for modern transportation (Governor Scott made sure that didn't happen), good schools (our recently gutted public school system should sink to the bottom of the country within a few years), and quality of life (plentiful and clean water comes to mind).   There are few intelligent people today that would consider dropping environmental protections as an acceptable approach to drawing business.....even most businesses.   I do understand that handing out tax breaks is much easier to put into action and so the herd of legislators along with their ring leader, Governor Scott latched on to the movement without much thought.  That's what herds do.

So, good job state of Florida !  The rest of the world is working on alternatives to abusing the land and gobbling up natural resources in order to establish firm footing for our children and grandchildren.  But you, our glorious leaders, have decided to go ahead and grab all the candy while the gettin's good.  I would laugh at your childish short-sightedness except for the fact that I love this state and I hate how carelessly you risk my children's future so you can stuff yourself with the "bon-bon's" of power today.   

In my humble opinion,

Chuck Marshall

Click an ad.... I need the money

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Lady Justice is Victorious: Osama Bin Laden is dead

Osama bin Laden is dead, and our country has reached closure for the mass murder that occurred on Sept. 11, 2001 that left a gaping hole in the soul of our well-being as a nation.  After a day of reflection and "news watching", and Facebook conversations I have come to some conclusions. 

1)  Our Navy Seals are the very best special ops in the world !   It took much planning, and spying and diligence to find Bin Laden but we owe the final closure to these men that risked their lives and utilized their intelligence and physical prowess to bring this evil man to justice. 

2)  I think we all have felt something isn't right since that fateful day, and I hope and pray that since justice has now been served,  we can come together and move forward to solving some very serious challenges in the coming years including the persistent threat of more terrorist attacks.

3)  I'm disappointed that there are already rumors of "conspiracy" and doubts coming from the far right Tea Party and others.  I feel this is an insult to our country at a time when we need to heal as a nation.  It diminishes the accomplishments of the  Navy Seals.   It implies that our young men couldn't have accomplished this because the President is in the "wrong" party and therefor all all that occurs is suspect.

4)  I offer praise to the President of the United States for having the guts and determination to give the order to move forward to get Bin Laden.  The risk was very high  as failure would have been personally catasrophic to him.   I know the entire right wing of our political spectrum is loathe to praise anything about the President, but try to see things in perspective as an American not a Republican or a "Tea Partier".  He got the job done.  End of story.

5)  I was cautioned by some of my fellow Christians  for celebrating the death of OBL, and for offering up the hope that he is on a high speed railroad to Hell.  I must admit, I was perhaps overly emotional when I made a comment out in the open on Facebook to that effect.  But I stand behind the sentiment of my comments, with some caveats.  The world is a better, safer place now that he is dead.   The good Lord makes all decisions and metes out justice to all of us as he sees fit.  Maybe I shouldn't hope, but I certainly would appreciate the justice if  Osama bin Laden is joining  Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin,  and others of their ilk and is banished from the sight of  God for a very, very long time..... left to the depths of  Hell and the empty darkness of his evil thoughts and deeds.

In My Humble Opinion,

Chuck Marshall