Saturday, March 28, 2009

Prohibition in the 21st Century: What a Racket

How many billions of dollars have we spent fighting illegal drugs? What makes alcohol and tobacco so different from marijuana and cocaine? How much would we save were we to legalize and regulate the latter? Sure there will be abusers just as people abuse alcohol and prescription drugs today. The fact of the matter is that the movie Reefer Madness never came to pass, not even in Oregon after decriminalization.
The Mexican Cartel’s probably have lobbyist in Washington promoting stronger drug laws to keep their businesses viable. If we woke up and took control of manufacturing and distribution they would be out of business. Rehabilitation Clinics are better for our society than assault weapons and far less prone to be smuggled across the border. As we search for ways to trim our Federal Deficit the billions of dollars we currently spend on this losing battle deserves serious review and strong consideration should be given to another approach.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Toxic Congressional Units

Why do we allow politicians to waste our time and money posturing and spewing rhetoric? The arm chair quarterbacking over who knew what when and why it was not prevented is nauseating. Badgering witnesses to give a yes or no answer to loaded questions about derivatives and stock swaps is like asking for a one word explanation of futures.

Hindsight is and always has been 20/20 vision and we permit the media to occupy our attention with naysayer’s who have no idea what to do, experts looking for their next book deal, and political posturing to no end. We have known for years that Social Security and Medicare were driving the Federal Budget into the stratosphere. Why now are we shocked when President Obama effectively addresses the issue and tells the truth? There is no denying that the economic crisis and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan magnify the deficit but the overwhelming factor that is driving the budget deficit in years 6 through 10 is healthcare costs.

If we do something like electronic medical records, which the VA implemented, that can reduce costs by 25% to 50% or more then there will be a much different picture ahead. I am embarrassed for the elected official who only panders to the ignorant crowd, adds no value and wastes our precious time and attention on nonsense. We need to identify these people and stop listening! Remember the lessons your mother taught you “If you do not have anything good to say, then do not say anything at all.”

We need to purge the toxic rhetoric from our Congress and insist on collaboration, cooperation, and constructive behavior with no tolerance for bickering, backbiting, second guessing, arm chair quarterbacking, and sound bytes for effect. As long as we continue to be drawn into the hype of juicy battles spawned by dramatic accusations and distracted from making sustained progress on something, nothing will change.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Goose and the Gander

If is it acceptable to go after people who actually made money from Bernie Madoff to payback those who lost everything then why do we not go after the Executives who got paid millions in bonus at companies our tax dollars are bailing out? The double standard is clear, granted lawyers will argue until the cows come home but that does not change anything. The rich get richer than ever in a down market because they can afford to buy GE at $6 and ride it back up to $60. Poor is poor and our system will keep them that way more ofter than not. Sure there are success stories and someone hits the lottery everyday however it is hope that sustains us. The hope that things will get better and right wins over wrong. If we could just stay focused on something long enough to fix it perhaps progress could be made. The media understands our collective ADD and keeps us chasing our tails while nothing really changes. America is still an infant compared to Italy or Egypt and they know their history while we forgot the depression and have repeated the mistakes of only 90 years ago.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Earning over $250K and Black: What now?

As an African American who voted for Barak Obama because I felt it was the right thing to do for our country, it is becoming increasingly difficult to savor the victory. Earning over $250K/year no longer feels like success, more like having a big bull’s eye on my back. Having worked my way up from $10 an hour in 1991 to mid six figures in 2007 it is daunting to see our financial picture fade to red. The fact of the matter is that while chasing the American Dream I did not save enough and reached for bigger and better everything for our family only to be burned by the AMT tax and Bush backlash.
When I read about the billions of dollars swindled, stolen, and mis-appropriated through mega bonus dollars for executives with poor judgment it is quite simply depressing. Just think of those who have lost their life savings contrasted against the hundreds of millions of dollars paid to executives of bankrupted companies. It is like a global pension scheme just ripped us all off!
Granted stock values have plummeted; property values are at or below many mortgage balances and the credit situation is frightening yet tomorrow still holds promise. Everyday there is a chance that just around the corner is a jackpot. So long as we do not give up and surrender to the crushing weight of the volumes of bad news shot gunned at us each day, it is our hope in the future that keeps me going.I am all for a fair share and yes the better off do have a moral responsibility to help those less fortunate but the tactics and plans being communicated today are divisive and will result in less aid to those that most need it. Not sure what happened to America and I pray that somehow a movement will evolve that can pull us up from this abyss and lead us back to where truth justice and the American Way will mean something again. Superman where are you?