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Mike hopes to see the world turned upside down through local communities banding together for social change, especially churches which have recognized the radical calling to be good news to the poor, to set free the prisoners and oppressed, and to become the social embodiment of the reign of God on earth as it is in heaven. He lives with the blessed memory of his wife, in Durham, NC, and has three adult children living in three different states. He also shares his life with the Mt. Level Missionary Baptist Church in Durham, the faculty and students of Shaw University Divinity School in Raleigh, NC, and the faithful fans of Duke and Baylor Basketball in his neighborhood.

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Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Madder as the Day Went On!

Last night, I fell asleep looking at a news story about the bombshell budget proposal whose poster boy is Rep. Ryan, R-Wisconsin.  Then I woke up this morning thinking about it, so I finished reading the article.  Then, as the day went on, I kept reading and kept getting more upset.

As has been the case with the Party of NO for the past few years, Social Security, Medicare, and the social safety net have been held up as bankrupting the country.  There is no doubt that the cost of health care is at the heart of what is destroying the people of the US and the economy.  But Medicare and Medicaid are not the cause.  Medicare and Medicaid are expensive because the health care industry is operating with out-of-control greed, and the health care industry lobbyists are running the government.

Pres. Obama and his advisers offered ideas about reform, but before reform could get started the pharmaceutical industry, the insurance industry, the hospital industry, and on and on had derailed real reform.  What we got was, I think, a step in the right direction.  But it did not do what was needed to slow the growth of health care costs.  Its opponents also have no interest in slowing the growth of health care costs.  They only want to make American safe for health care profits.  So if health care is going to cost more and more, they want to make sure that taxpayers are not paying for the poor and elderly to get some.  That might require the wealthy to pay their fare share of taxes, and the sinister dementia of current right-wing politics is that the wealthy deserve all that they have gotten, and the rest of us deserve to do without.

As you can tell, I have been getting madder as the day has gone on.  I have tormented my facebook friends with post after post, which of course they have been free to ignore.  So I decided I would collect them all into one blog post for those who want to think through this with me.

around 11 am

Thank you, government of the corporations, by the corporations, and for the corporations. Don't forget, corporations are people, too. In fact, they are special people who get a better deal than the rest of us lowly human people. Mr. Obama, Mr. Ryan, stop posturing and FIX THIS!
10 of the Biggest Corporate Tax Cheats in America
f you or I were running a small business and we kept one set of books showing how much money we were making and a second set for the IRS that painted a picture of an enterprise on the brink of bankruptcy, we'd end up behind bars.

But that's standard operating procedure for corporate America.
around 3 pm
Let's see: spinach, hamburger meat, peanut butter, chicken, tomatoes, and besides food there's lead paint on toys, radioactive compounds in toys. All in all, doesn't Ryan's budget make sense when it fires all the inspectors? Mr. Obama and Mr. Ryan--tell the truth, serve the people, do what is right, FIX THIS.
Congress: Support funding for FDA food safety
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports, urged Congress to support funding for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)s food safety functions in advance of a House hearing on the FDA budget.
around 3:30 pm
I gave some effort but should have tried harder at my kids' high schools. Let's hear it for this Atlanta group's recruitment for non-violence.
American Friends Service Committee/Atlanta: SCAP Brings Non-Military Options to Stephenson High
Stephenson High school invited Student Career Alternatives Program to their first spring career fair, which took place today. This marked our second visit to the Stone Mountain high school. One striking thing that we again noticed today that the student body is over 99% African American, which seems to further confirm the fact that Atlanta Metro school have become resegregated over the past 20 years.
We were all impressed with the counseling staffs dedication to the students and their post high school careers. So many high school counselors cave into parents request to hold career fairs after school instead of during school. The fairs that take place during school hours are so much more accessible to students.
We had hundreds of students come talk to us through the course of the fair. Students explored ways to serve their country, travel the world, find adventure, get money for college, develop artistic skills, and other job skills training without out having to join the military.
around 3:30 pm
Recruiting for nonviolence
Before You Enlist! (2011 revision)
Straight talk from soldiers, veterans and their family members tells what is missing from the sales pitches presented by recruiters and the military's marketing efforts. Produced by Telequest, Inc with support from AFSC. See http://youth4peace.org/ for more info.
around 4 pm
Here is the Congressional Budget Office's analysis of the Bill to Massively Increase Senior Adult Medical Bankruptcy presented by Rep. Ryan.
Representative Ryan Proposes Medicare Plan Under Which Seniors Would Pay Most of Their Income for Health Care
That is what headlines would look like if the United States had an independent press. After all, this is one of the main take aways of the Congressional Budget Office's (CBO) analysis of the plan proposed by Representative Paul Ryan, the Republican chairman of the House Budget Committee.
still around 4 pm
The budget debate is between those who would reign in the mountains of money going to pharmaceutical corporations, physicians, for-profit and "non-profit" hospitals, and private insurance companies, and those who would keep letting them rob the rest of us to pay bonuses to their top executives.  Mr. Ryan and Mr. Obama, tell the truth, stop the "giant sucking sound" of money going from the people to the corporations.
The New York Times Thinks That Congress is Full of Philosophers | Beat the Press
The New York Times apparently missed the elections last fall. This is the only possible explanation for its assertion that the budget debate in Congress "is likely to spur an ideological showdown over the size of government and the role of entitlement programs like Medicaid and Medicare."

The people serving in Congress got their jobs because they are effective politicians. This means that they have the ability to appeal to powerful interest groups; there is no requirement that they have any background in, or adherence to, any political philosophy.

The debates over competing plans for Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are most obviously about the distribution of income between the wealthy and the less wealthy.
a little later, around 4 pm 
Look at the third graphic line from the bottom: this is the projected percentage of health care cost turned back upon the retiree on fixed income in Ryan's plan.  Of course, if most of the seniors go bankrupt, then we can put them on Medicaid instead--oops, that will be gone, too.  Sorry, Mom and Dad, but we're better off if you die.  Ryan says this will save the taxpayers $400 billion over 10 years, which may or may not be accurate.  Ten years of war in Afghanistan has cost $400 billion, and eight years in Iraq has cost $800 million.  This year $119 billion is budgeted for Afghanistan alone.  Ron Paul, where are you when we need you?  Cut the cost of these wars and bring the troops home.  That way we can keep medical care available for seniors.  Cutting the cost of medical care is essential, but this is not the way to do it.

around 7:20 pm

Calculating the costs of killing--Cadillac Death Machines and Yugo Safety Nets

MLK, Jr., speaking about the war in Vietnam in 1967:  "You may not know it my friend, but it is estimated that we spend $500,000 dollars to kill each enemy soldier, while we spend only $53.00 dollars for each person classified as poor.  And, most of that $53.00 dollars goes to salaries for people who are not poor."

Available data on enemies killed per year in the past three years is sketchy, ranging from under 2000 (Army data in mid 2009) in a year to about 4000 (Wikileaks) to 5225 (Afghan government).  At a cost of over $100 billion a year that would mean somewhere between $20 million and $50 million dollars to kill each enemy soldier.  Grisly.  Sickening.  Expensive.

Who is benefiting from such an outsized cost for the blood and guts of war?  Not the taxpayers.  Not the soldiers.  Not the seniors on Medicare or the malaria sufferers of Africa.
So there you have it.  Mad.  Sick and tired.  The world is not the church.   Too often, the church is not the church.  The phrase "hell in a handbasket" comes to mind.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.  Where there is despair, let me sow hope.  Where there is darkness, let me sow light.  Where there is sadness, let me sow joy.

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