Need an escape

It’s been a long week for me, and I imagine I’m not alone. Seems like someone turned things up to 11 and locked the door to the control booth. I didn’t really get to enjoy but one of my days away from work, and it’s already time to head back into the salt mines.

News has been coming fast and furious this week too. The trial of the murder of Ahmaud Arbery is underway with jury selection. Old Shipwreck Joe’s 10 Republican friends failed to reveal themselves on a vote for Joe’s voting rights legislation. Alec Baldwin was involved in the accidental death on the set of his latest movie. And that’s just a few things.

Locally, the Braves are fighting to get to the World Series. Kasim Reed is being frowned upon by the local NAACP. And driving is still a full contact sport on the local highways

It’s Friday though, and I’m sure we all need an escape. I’m not going to blather any further…

I’m out! Enjoy your weekend and be safe.

Correctly framing the current import crisis

I was sitting up at work last night and a story from the Daily Mail UK caught my eye. The story discussed how Isaac Larian, the CEO of MGA Entertainment, complained during an interview with Fox News how President Biden’s efforts to address the supply shortage that’s affecting US imports were “too little and too late”. Give me a second while I make the wanking motion as I wouldn’t expect anyone to go on Fox News singing the praises of how effective Biden is handling the cards he’s been dealt.

Now, this is a billionaire who says he has been in the toy industry for decades. He even said “I’ve been doing this for 42 years. I have never, ever seen something like this before.” Larian also added. “And frankly, the administration knew about this and what they are doing is too little, too late to save this holiday.” While reading the article, I did not see a single admission by Larian or the writer telling the role that company CEOs played in causing this supply crunch. Instead, what I saw was the appearance of the right wing media trying to pin the entire issue on the Biden administration.

For proof, here’s a few stories I came across including the referenced Daily Mail story.

Anyone who has been in a business where just in time shipping is involved with productivity already knows that the current administration is not responsible for the current situation. This situation has been in the making for decades. When I worked retail in the 1990s, just in time shipping was replacing warehousing because the decision makers decided that cutting warehousing costs to increase profits was a wise business decision. This is a part of the destructive aspect of capitalism where the extraction of profits takes precedent over everything else including common sense basic business decisions.

To explain the differences in warehousing supplies vs just in time shipping, here’s a simple example that anyone should understand. Warehousing would be like a family coming up with ideas of what they want to have for dinner for an entire week. Then, the family goes grocery shopping to buy all the necessary supplies to prepare the meals for the entire week. Those groceries are brought home and stored in the refrigerator, freezer, or pantry as required. Just in time shipping would be planning the meals for the entire week. Instead of one grocery store trip to buy everything, the family would make a trip every day to the grocery store to buy just the items needed for that day’s meal.

If you’re able to rub two brain cells together, you can see where the embedded flaw lies between the two approaches. In the former approach, the family can return to the store during the week to purchase any items that were not in stock during the initial visit before they’re needed for that day’s meal. With the latter approach, if the items are not in stock that day, then the meal cannot be prepared.

Here’s a twitter thread that goes into the details of the problem at our shipping ports.

It’s well worth the time spent reading it to understand the effect just in time shipping has on our entire economy. Beyond just in time shipping, the crisis is also fueled by offshoring. When it became cheaper to make goods abroad and ship them here to sell, that also plays a part in our supply chain. We would not be discussing how to unload hundreds of container ships that are anchored offshore around the countries if the goods were still made here. Domestic goods are easily transported over rail and by truck without the extra time required to offload them from massive cargo ships. Domestic production removes links in the supply chain that can cause the system to lock up as it currently has.

This tweet here summarizes it all in a few characters.

The lack of long term thinking and planning is why we have a supply crisis, and not Joe Biden. The pandemic plays a role, but with an effective planning strategy, the effects of unexpected disasters like that can be mitigated.

Don’t let these folks con you into thinking this is a problem because of the current administration. This crisis has been in the works for a long time. Biden just happens to be the person sitting in the captain’s chair as the ship has run aground. We’ve been on a course with disaster for decades. The problems faced by capitalism today are due to capitalism’s greed overriding common sense. The CEOs bought the legislation they wanted to maximize profits, so now they need to own the repercussions of their greed. Businesses caused the crisis, so they should be properly attributed as such and not the sitting president.

Indigenous Peoples Day

I hemmed and hawed over writing this post all day. The only reason why is because I don’t want people to get the impression that I’m just a pissed off Black guy with a WordPress site. I’m not always angry, and I like to believe that I’m a pretty likable guy. However, there are some things that just sets me off. Today is one of those days.

While trying to think of something pretty and frilly to write about Indigenous Peoples Day, I drew a blank. The only ideas and thoughts that surfaced inside my brain were about how Native Americans have been so overwhelmingly mistreated and abused throughout history. That doesn’t make for a nice post, but it’s definitely fuel for a red hot rant.

I was researching how Congress appropriates funds annually for all the recognized First Nation tribes and came across this info.

SENATE PASSES LARGEST INVESTMENT IN NATIVE PROGRAMS IN HISTORY, MORE THAN $31 BILLION HEADING TO NATIVE COMMUNITIES

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i), chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, helped secure more than $31.2 billion in dedicated funding for Tribal governments and Native communities, comprising the largest investment in history for Native programs. The new funding will deliver immediate relief for hard-hit Native American families and support Tribal Nations as they build a bridge toward economic recovery.

“Native communities need relief. We listened and we took action. With more than $31 billion for Tribal governments and Native programs, the American Rescue Plan delivers the largest one-time investment to Native communities in history,” said Senator Schatz, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “This historic funding is a down payment on the federal government’s trust responsibility to Native communities and will empower American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians to tackle COVID-19’s impacts on their communities.”

Considering the trillions of dollars that we’ve spent on Israel, Iraq, Afghanistan, and other places, doesn’t this seem offensive, or is it just me? Why do we not not fight harder for more assistance here at home? A record appropriation of $31 billion sounds like a lot, but we should be spending more to assist the original nations that were destroyed in the creation of America.

I applaud that Joe Biden acknowledged Indigenous Peoples Day with the first ever presidential proclamation. However, that his proclamation made history in 2021 shows how indifferent Americans are overall to First Nation people. There are Americans who fight alongside the tribes for everything they get, but more often than not, Native Americans are the last people who receive any help from the government.

With all the talk about Critical Race Theory, maybe Americans need to be taught our complex and complete history without the whitewash that’s normally applied. People worldwide know about the Holocaust and how 6 million Jews were slaughtered by Nazis. Those Nazis were inspired by the actions of the US government towards its own people. Imagine the way we would be perceived around the world if it was widely taught that an estimated 10 million to 20 million Native Americans were slaughtered in the creation of the United States and 50 to 55 million throughout the Americas. I’d wager that there’s a sizable American population that does not know this.

Proclamations and pretty words are nice, but what actions will America take to address the historical mistreatment of Native Americans? Changing the name of a holiday pissed some folks off, but it’s a first step to make amends for past wrongs. None of us were alive during the wholesale slaughter of Native Americans, but we are alive now to correct past mistakes.

To all members of First Nation tribes as well as those who share ancestry with the tribes, I’ve got your back. Your causes are my causes, and I will speak truth to power to bring them to light. Enjoy your day, your week, your year. This land is your land too.

The power of money

Lots of news lately involving money and politics dropping this week. First, there was the whistleblower story about Facebook and algorithm manipulation which was followed up by a complete network outage for most of the next day. Then, there was the story about the Pandora Papers which exposed how the wealthy have been hiding money all over the world. Finally, there’s the AT&T story about how they pretty much funded OAN Network and keep it afloat with user fees.

The common theme in all these stories is massive wealth accumulation and that wealth being used to manipulate society in harmful ways. I’ve never been jealous or envious of wealthy people, and I’m not about to change my views halfway through life. That doesn’t mean that I will turn a blind eye to the damage being done by the wealthy because of their greed.

What does it say about the world in which we reside when the so-called beacon of freedom, the home of democracy, is basically a 2nd to 3rd world keptocracy with a thin veneer of democracy being used to try to hide the ugly truth? The moment the Citizen’s United decision came down, money became power in the US, and by proxy, the entire world.

The majority of laws passed in this country only happen when Congress gets it’s pockets greased enough to do something. More often than not, the laws being passed don’t benefit the country as a whole as much as they benefit the special interests who have bought and paid for Congress. The sad thing about this is voters continue to re-elect the same people who keep screwing us over in favor of their sponsors. None of this would happen without the voters going into the booth to keep putting these bastards into office.

It’s a damn good setup too, when you realize how it works. A wealthy person creates a company (or a shell company). That company uses some form of media to manipulate the minds of voters into whatever the wealthy person wants them to believe. The wealthy person then directs money to people they want in office to enact their agenda. The citizens buy into the propaganda of the wealthy person’s agenda and the idea the chosen official will deliver that agenda. When it’s all done, it’s wealthy person 1 – America 0.

A perfect example of the power of money is Sens. Manchin and Sinema. Prior to January 20th, Manchin was talking about the need to pass an infrastructure package of up to $4 trillion dollars to get America back on track. Nine months later, his “top” amount is $1.5 trillion. I can only imagine the amount of campaign contributions he received to change his mind on the size of the infrastructure needs of this country. Never mind the flooding and destruction we’re seeing on a daily basis now. Don’t think about the potholes on your drive to work or to the store. We’re in the middle of a pandemic and many school kids don’t have access to the internet. However, that infrastructure need dropped significantly over nine months.

Sinema is just as bad. She was elected based on her pledges to work for the people of Arizona to help different groups that supported her and got her elected. I guess the support from those groups paled in comparison to the newfound support that has pushed her wealth high enough to make her a millionaire in three years. Her new supporters have obviously gotten her ear because she won’t hold town halls or even take questions from the very people who got her elected. She will, however, skip out of DC with the quickness to attend a fundraiser. That’s the power of money.

How do we counter the power of money? For starters, we need transparency and sunshine to find out all the sources of this money and the requests that accompany the donations. Voters, that means ALL voters, need to step out of their confirmation biases and look at the laws being suggested and where the push for them originates. I would also go as far as to suggest people band together to form a new and neutral news outlet that focuses on investigative journalism to vet information as it’s spread to try to kill disinformation before it infects society.

By far, the biggest antidote to money influence is the power of our vote itself. We need to eschew ourselves of the party apparatus. I know that’s harder than what it sounds, but party politics enables corruption and kleptocracy.

In addition, we need to address the ethical standards for holding office in this country. As a federal worker, I undergo a background investigation every 5 years as a condition of employment. Bad credit, financial issues, or anything else that would make me susceptible to blackmail or coercion could get me dismissed from employment. I can’t accept gifts from people I do business with, and the maximum value of gifts that I can accept is less than a triple digit amount. I don’t make policy or law. I simply enforce it. So, why am I held to a vastly higher standard than the people who actually craft policy and determine the direction of the country?

Just something to think about…

America is broken

I started thinking about this last night after realizing that I’m about to go through another furlough period for choices that my fellow Americans keep making. It’s apparent that this country continues to make the same choices while expecting different outcomes. The choices we’re making has broken America, and I am not convinced that the damage can be repaired.

Now I’ll say this and cause some people to flip the hell out. I’m of the opinion that America has always been broken. It has never lived up to the symbol of democracy that it’s been advertised to be. Pick any day in our history, and there will be a group or groups of people who are actively being denied the freedom advertised by our founding and the protections enshrined within the Constitution. This country has always been broken for someone, but it has also always been functional.

Being broken isn’t inherently a bad thing though. America, while being broken, has also has the promise of a better day or, shall we say, a more perfect union just around the corner. That promise showed up time and time again as we corrected mistakes to move society forward for all. The corrections were not always easy, nor were they always painless. However, we pushed America forward towards mending the breaks.

Now, America is so broken that I don’t think we can repair the breaks. As the story goes, America was founded because the founders wanted to break away from the monarchy in England and have freedom to choose their own paths. This quest for freedom runs through all the founding documents and is the basis by which America proclaims itself to be the leader of the free world. Now, we have almost half of the country ready to surrender itself to an aristocracy intent on installing an authoritarian government if necessary just to get their way.

Don’t just take my word that America is broken. Look at the evidence yourself and see what conclusions you come to. We witnessed a failed coup attempt by a sitting president and his party to remain in power. It started with the lie about voter fraud, led to the January 6th insurrection, and is being furthered by GOP state legislation designed to overturn elections they disagree with no matter how secure they are? That’s not government of the people, by the people, and for the people. That’s government how WE want it regardless of what you vote for, and that isn’t any type of democracy at all.

Moving past the election fraud going on, we’re looking at another government shutdown. How in the hell does a free and democratic society ever have a government shutdown? There should be legislation dictating that funding automatically freezes and remains the same when Congress abdicates its duty to properly pass appropriation legislation to set funding levels for our government to operate. An even better suggestion would be to make appropriation bills valid for 2 years so each House session only has to pass one set of bills and be done with the process.

Another symbol of a broken democracy is the debt limit. What country has to actually legislate paying its obligations? Imagine the chaos if a person or business operated that way. We would be the United States of Bankruptcy and Bad Credit. It should be automatic that we will pay our bills, yet a political party has made it a tactic to hold the country hostage and threaten worldwide economic destruction just to gain control of the government.

While all this is going on, what do we hear from the media? Crickets. Yes, there are individual journalists and others sounding the warning bells like Paul Revere riding a horse like his life depends on it. However, our media papers over things like this is all normal and proper action for a democracy. However when you look beyond our borders, other countries hit the streets in protest for far less egregious things that we allow to happen here as though that’s how things should go.

America is severely broken whether we are honest enough with ourselves to admit it. The question is will we admit it before there is no longer an America to fix?