Category Archives: Causes

Let’s End the Clock Fiddle

specsmist122716

While the sun and my roosters don’t recognize clock time, I must re-set eight clocks every six months, thanks to the US government.  Now that we have officially gone off daylight saving time, I vote to save time in the future by not having to re-set clocks again in March.

Supposedly, Benjamin Franklin first introduced the concept of daylight saving time in France in 1784, as a joke, but the French took him seriously.

Daylight saving time was first instituted nationally in the German Empire and Austria-Hungary in 1916.  It had been suggested in the United Kingdom in 1908 and had influential supporters but was opposed by farmers and theater owners.  It was adopted in the UK 1914-1918 during WWI. In the US, the Standard Time Act of 1918 instituted it, but this was repealed in 1919.  Franklin D. Roosevelt re-introduced it in the form of “war time,” in 1942 and it lasted year-round.  Between 1945 and 1966 there was no federal law regarding daylight saving time.

In the US, the Uniform Time Act of 1966 sought to establish a uniform DST throughout the USA, but allowed individual state exemptions.  Of the states, only Arizona and Hawaii opted out.  US-controlled territories Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and American Samoa have also opted out.  The Navajo Nation in Arizona uses DST.

In 1974-1975, during the energy crisis, the US Congress extended the beginning and end dates of DST as an experiment to measure its effects on energy use.  The latest adjustment to DST came with the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which re-set the DST start date to the second Sunday in March, and the end date to the first Sunday in November.

The use of seasonal clock adjustments varies around the world.  Daylight saving time is used in 70 countries, most in mid-latitude areas.  Russia, China, and Japan are notable exceptions.

The issue of daylight saving time is controversial and political.  Farmers and rural residents tend to oppose it, as their outdoor-based livelihoods depend more on daylight than on clock time.  The primary beneficiaries of DST are those who enjoy or profit from the post-work hours of sunlight in the summer.  These are the golfers and outdoor enthusiasts, and the retailers who sell to them.  In the mid 1980s, Chlorox (parent of Kingsford Charcoal) and 7-Eleven lobbied to extend DST’s seasonal duration.  Both Idaho senators voted for the extension, under the premise that fast food restaurants sell more French fries (Idaho potatoes) during DST.  Other supporters tend to be urban workers, retail businesses, outdoor sports enthusiasts and businesses, the tourism industry, and others who benefit from evening outdoor activity.

However, a 2014 Rasmussen report said only 33 percent of Americans see the point of DST.  The start of DST in the spring has been blamed for increases in heart attacks, traffic accidents, work injuries, and suicides.  Studies into energy savings are inconsistent, but indicate any savings are negligible.  What is saved in lighting may be lost in increased use of air conditioning in the summer.

Changing clocks every six months, especially since every country has different rules, creates confusion in the transportation, communications, business, and medical sectors.  Problems with clock-based thermostats, medical instruments, computers, and other equipment can lead to inefficiency and sometimes dangerous errors.

Why do we make things harder than they need to be?  Why create unnecessary confusion when the world is confused enough already?  Could Congress break through its stalemate to relieve us of this semi-annual Clock Fiddle?  If only to annoy our golf-loving president?  What’s your vote?

 

 

Advertisements

Skull & Bones

August 19, 2017
I love my journal.  It’s the best therapist imaginable, free, doesn’t interrupt, argue, talk back, gossip, nag, or second-guess.  If more people kept journals, the world would be a saner place.

Ten years ago this month, when George W. Bush was still president, I purchased a “Collectors’ Edition” of the US News and World Report on “Secret Societies.”  The following journal entry was my take on “Skull & Bones,” the Yale club that claims the Georges Bush as members, among other famous power-brokers

secsoc0807

Sunday, August 26, 2007
katharineotto.wordpress.com
writerbeat.com

I bought a “Collector’s Edition” of the US News and World Report.  “Mysteries of History–Secret Societies.”  It has articles on the Masons, Rosicrucians, Skull & Bones, and numerous others.

Skull & Bones, the secret society at Yale that boasts multiple notable members– including George W. Bush and his father, George H. W. Bush–interests me only because it is an excellent example of a Good Ole Boy clique.  The article gives fuzzy details but for this:  Skull & Bones “puts its members through some strange activities and centers its program around ideas of death, power, and devotion to a goddess.  The influence of Skull & Bones is particularly noticeable in the area of public service, although it does no community service.”

I figure the public service is all done with other people’s money.  This is the plutocracy.  I wonder which goddess, or did they invent their own?  Is this some kind of Satanic cult American taxpayers have elected?  Is this the anti-Christ we’ve been waiting for?  Bush does walk around with a dazed look, as if he is figuring out he’s being perceived as the anti-Christ and doesn’t quite know how to play the role.

A skull and bones is the symbol for poison, so why would anyone choose to associate with a group that brags about being poisonous?  The flag that pirates carried?  I embrace life, not death.

Also, “Bones has each candidate recite his or her [?] sexual history right off the bat (September of his senior year).  By forcing them to share their most intimate confidences with each other, Skull & Bones binds its members together.”  Sounds like a cult of perverts, as well.  How does anyone know if they’re telling the truth?  Anybody ever refuse to join?

But America elected Bush, as well as others of this cult’s members.

What amazes me most is that anyone takes them seriously.  If this is what they’re learning at Yale, I withdraw my taxpayer contribution to education.

Secrecy is shame and shame secrecy.

The concept of Skull & Bones representing poison bears closer scrutiny.  My issues with public policy are strongly domestic:  The mis-management on the home turf, with poisons being pushed on people’s bodies and into the planetary ecosystem in massive quantities . . .

A more interesting article was about the Illuminati, an organization that may or may not exist, kept alive by belief that it does and that Jews are behind it.  Whether it exists is irrelevant to me.  The world is dominated by people who think they are smarter than everyone else, including each other, as current events show.  If they want to reassure each other that they are illuminated, just because they want it to be true, fine with me.  Just don’t expect me to pay for it.

Now Skull & Bones makes a big deal of public service with other people’s money, in true Plutonian style.

I would really like to know which goddess they pray to.  No wonder public policy feels like a gangbang.  Not enough women to go around.

I suspect they are all homosexuals and pedophiles, anyway.  Maybe the goddess they pray to is the one who can give them erections.  Someone more exciting than little boys.

skullbonesshield0807

Their symbolism is interesting.  They adapt several masonic symbols having to do with building.   There are three “5”s in a triangle on their shield, which is a coffin.

They have west facing up – sunset – a 90-degree counter-clockwise shift of the south pole in a horoscope.

So that’s what we’re seeing on the world stage:  a group of self-proclaimed world leaders intentionally leading the world into self-destruction.  It makes no sense to me.

These people think they are smart?

 

 

 

 

Funding Deforestation

palmeijsum17

Earth Island Journal  is a recent find in the world of periodicals.  It provides “News of the World Environment” and reports on a variety of assaults on the environment, from human intervention to natural disasters.  (www.earthislandjournal.org)

The Summer, 2017 issue’s cover story is about the “Toxic Footprint of America’s Prisons,” but the article that grabbed my interest, and my $5.00, was “Crisis Among the Palms,” by Jeff Conant.  The subtitle, “How Your Retirement Fund May be Fueling Rainforest Destruction,” supports my longstanding belief that people who have retirement accounts—especially accounts managed by large fund managers—often don’t know where their money is invested or how they are contributing to eco-rape and human rights abuses.

It stands to reason that fund managers, who control large pots of money, look for the most profitable investments.  They may not know or care how the individual companies or governments generate those profits, but even a superficial overview suggests that maximum profits come from squeezing labor and compromising the environment where the companies operate.  Compound this with the fiercely competitive market for the almighty dollar, and the fact that multi-national corporations have many levels of protective shells, as well as local government collusion, and it’s a set-up for disaster.  Foreign investment is notorious for bankrupting and/or corrupting third-world governments and devastating local environments.  (Rosaliene Bacchus’ most recent blog post,   “Guyana ties the knot with ExxonMobil” (https://rosalienebacchus.blog) reports on such a possibility with the June, 2017 deal between ExxonMobil and the government of Guyana.)

“Crisis Among the Palms” shows how this strategy works in the palm oil industry, but the same strategy is used in every commodity industry I’ve encountered.  The article gives specific examples in Liberia, Guatemala, and Indonesia, three tropical countries where the palm oil industry has grown up and thrived, consuming millions of acres a year over the past several decades.  Palm oil is now the most widely traded vegetable oil on the planet.

In May, 2015, in Butaw, Liberia, villagers who complained to the CEO of Golden Veroleum (subsidiary of Malaysian multinational Golden Agri Resources) about theft of family lands, grinding poverty, and bare subsistence level wages were brutally beaten and arrested by local police.  Homes were ransacked and looted.

A month later, in northern Guatemala, effluent from ponds on the property of a local palm oil company, REPSA, overflowed into the Pasion River, spilling enough malathion—an organophosphate pesticide–to kill hundreds of thousands of fish, an incident local courts would later call an “ecocide.”  The river has provided the lifeblood of the region that was until recently one of the world’s largest rainforests, now given over to plantations and cattle pasture.

Later that summer, Indonesia’s forests and peatlands burned out of control, forcing hundreds of thousands of people to evacuate to medical centers.  The fires were linked to the country’s expanding palm oil and pulpwood plantations.

Author Conant says “. . .the palm oil industry is a leading cause of rainforest destruction—and a source of both economic dispossession and wage labor for countless people—from the Congo basin to Malaysia to Peru . . .the industry has quickly grown to rely on global financing to fuel its expansion.”  Thus the companies that profit from the exploitation appear more and more on the world’s stock exchanges.

The financing of some of the world’s largest and most notorious palm oil companies comes from well known financial management companies, like Vanguard, Teachers Insurance and Annuity Associate (TIAA), BlackRock, CitiGroup, and California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS).  “What this means is that IRAs, pension funds, and 401Ks . . . are increasingly investing in an industry that is destroying the world’s last rain forests and impoverishing the people who live there.”

With the exception of Cargill, Archer Daniels Midland, and Unilever, the large palm oil juggernauts are mostly southeast Asian, says Conant.  He notes that the industry—almost unknown in the West ten years ago, is projected to be worth $88 billion by the year 2022.  Its growth was spurred in part by the US FDA ban on trans-fats, with 71 percent of production now going to the food industry, everything from Krispy Kreme donuts to Nestle’s chocolate to PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay snacks.  Sixteen percent of palm oil production goes to biofuels, and 12 percent to the chemicals industry.

Conant says the industry’s growth has coincided with two global trends in finance.  First is the massively increased investment in “emerging economies,” which grew by 30 percent just between 2011 and 2015.  Concurrently, there was a huge increase in “index funds” in which multiple companies are bundled into a fund that spreads risk and follows the fluctuations of the market as a whole. They are sold as low-risk funds. Between 2000 and 2014, money invested in index funds more than quintupled.

The article points out that deforestation causes up to 18 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, and industrial agriculture drives an additional 13 percent.  A rather typical scenario is that “landowners who sold or otherwise gave up their land to agribusiness companies could be driven deeply into poverty.  In this sense, the palm oil boom has come to replace less environmentally damaging, subsistence livelihoods.  It has brought debt, wealth inequality, and, of course, ecological destruction on a vast scale.  In Indonesia, villagers frequently concede to relinquishing land to corporations because the plantation companies promise them roads, schools, and clinics.  But companies have by and large failed to fulfill the terms of community agreements  . . . .  Farmers often don’t know what they are getting into.  Lack of information and transparency are big problems.  ‘A company often collects the farmers’ land certificates, after which they become laborers on their own land.’”

 

 

Freedom, Democracy, and Capitalism

kcofeather031617

Tuesday, March 21, 2017—I’m a proponent of free market capitalism, in that I believe in free things, especially if they can be exchanged for money that helps pay the bills.  Chicken feathers are free, sort of, if you don’t count the cost of feeding and housing the chickens.  Chickens molt on a regular basis, and if their feathers are clean, they can be used in a variety of ways.

I wore this hat, with a Speckles feather, on a “bad hair day” last week, getting smiles and compliments everywhere I went.  At first, I didn’t understand why these strangers were smiling.  Once I caught on, I bragged about how Speckles is alive and well, clean and healthy, and produced this feather of his own free will.

squirefeathhat032117

Pictured here is the same hat with a Squire feather, while the producer stands on his soapbox.  The mason jar contains yellow roses brought by dinner guests and wisteria blooms from the vine I’m training to block summer sun through the window (also free).  The other jar holds saved feathers from previous molts.

My little enterprise, which will never go public, has already produced two sales, the first to my banker, who bought feathers scattered in a plastic sleeve protector.  The second was a trade of a small bag of Squire feathers for a large carafe of saki.  A few more feathers are on sale at a local consignment shop.

Squire tolerates, if he doesn’t necessarily like, going visiting in the cat carrier.  My banker and bank staff fell in love with him.  Speckles might like visiting, too, but so far hasn’t had the opportunity.

My version of capitalism makes use of the wealth between my ears to create value from things other people take for granted.  Those who buy their chickens plucked and cut into pieces can’t be expected to appreciate the beauty of the feathers—individually and collectively—until they see them in different contexts.

specs041716

Those who disparage capitalism seem to refer to “corporate capitalism,” which exploits human capital to form a “corporate body” amalgam in economic slavery to the bottom line.  Here we have such monsters as “corporate welfare,” “supercapitalism,” the “global economy,” and eco-rape.  Corporate capitalism has a long history of emphasizing short-term profits over long-term costs.  Local, and now world-wide, environmental pollution, general vitality-depletion on the planet, and a world at war (or perpetually on the verge of it) are only a few of the long term costs generated by an industrial age gone bananas

And, by the way, the bananas, especially the popular Cavendish banana, are at risk, too.  I grow another variety of banana and had a bumper crop last year, despite two major hurricanes.  Another free market capitalist product, courtesy of freedom, democracy, and capitalism.

dsc01567

The following comments come from my journal, ten years ago this month:

POWER ABUSE
Friday, March 2, 2007 – People who are raised or trained by power abusers don’t learn how to use power wisely.  Entrenched power abuse, as in the military or medicine, is considered normal for those in the systems.  The greatest ambition of the low man on the totem pole is to go from masochist to sadist, where he imagines he will respect himself more than he respects his bosses.

FREEDOM  AND RESPONSIBILITY
Saturday, March 3, 2007 – Right makes might.  It isn’t the other way around.    Self-sufficiency breeds freedom.  Taking responsibility for one’s own choices requires the willingness to accept and deal with consequences.  Criminals are soon entrapped in their own crimes, even if others never see.  A guilty man lives with his guilt and must face it, eventually.  His guilt lurks in the shadows, waiting for opportunities to right the wrong.  He can choose to restore balance consciously before he re-establishes it unconsciously through fear.
Thus did Adam learn the hard way that he couldn’t hide from God or his own guilty conscience.

HUMAN CAPITAL
Saturday, March 3, 2007 – Human capital is the most undervalued capital of all.  The social engineering messages—through laws, conventions, politics, media, entertainment and advertising–exploit this presumed advantage to everyone’s detriment.  Productivity increases when people enjoy their work enough to create a pleasant work environment.  This should be leadership’s top priority.  Pressure to perform, to grind an endless supply of boring and more boring, saps creativity, initiative, and ultimately, the economy.
When people wake up and realize we all bleed the same red blood, and the best way to live is to let live, we will begin to recognize the value of using our minds to work for instead of against us.  There is no mystique to psychiatry except self-knowledge.  My  life is my creation and no one can live it but me.  The best way to live it is to love it, in its many-faceted faces.
There is plenty of work to be done.  We have too many unproductive people, who want nothing more than to be fitted to the right job for them, and to earn enough money to support basic necessities and a few amenities.  More important, people need to be appreciated as human beings with human dignity and allowed the time and space to enjoy the fruits of their labors.
Everyone has a role to play.  A society that appreciates its human capital appreciates in value.  By fitting the job to the individual, rather than the other way around, everyone wins at relatively little cost to others.
Human capital is the only viable capital.  All other capital is derived from human desire and effort.  Once we place our values where they truly belong, with each individual, we can have a truly free, capitalistic, democracy.

KACKLES TACKLES at&t WITH A VENGEANCE

attfront1115A Year ago this month:

KACKLES TACKLES  at&t WITH A VENGEANCE
Tuesday, December 1, 2015

KACKLES THE WITCH is an alter ego of katharineotto.wordpress.com.

 

 

at&t’s bick and mortar store on Mall Blvd. in Savannah, where employees spend all their time on wireless phones to Corporate.  Do they even have a land line?  Yes, two of them, but it’s a big secret.  at&t’s website doesn’t even list land lines.

 

In this installment, Kackles the Witch tackles the artificially human TechnoMonsters of at&t, the FCC, Concast, and Wall Street, challenging their collective monopoly on telephone land lines.

Kackles is a New Age Witch, because she was born yesterday, when the telephone bill came, two months into a new contract.  At least corporate sent the bill to the right address, this time, and at least it came before the due date.

Kackles opened the bill and gasped.  Her blood started boiling.  Lightning bolts flashed from her eyes, almost setting fire to the bill.  The radioactive, penetrating power o her vision saw the obvious in a flash of blinding patented wireless technology.  The bill was almost twice the price of the official quote.

“How did this happen,” bemoaned the nascent witch.  “I did everything according to the rules, and they did everything wrong, but I’m the one paying for it.

“Gotcha again!” screech the at&t TechnoMonsters, backed by Wall Street, the Federal Government, Southern Company, and the Fed.

phonetag1115

New at&t telephone, with design so stupid it has to be patented.  Alternatively, a second-hand Uniden phone cost $2.50 at Goodwill.

 

“There, there,” whispers Dr. Kathorkian, another katharineotto.wordpress.com alter ego.  Dr. Kathorkian is Chief Medical Executioner under Obamacare.  “They call it ‘global warming,’” says Dr. K.  “That means we’re all headed straight to hell if we don’t shape up.”

Dr. K is a woman, of course, with the sixth sense, common sense, encoded on the half of X men didn’t get.  That makes men “Y”’s, thus lacking in the genetically endowed department.  Dr. Kathorkian reminds us that no matter how many ways they splice genes, women will always have more of them than men, but less than some fungi.

“That quarter-chromosome worth of extra gene power exists in every cell, so that’s a popper scoop of extra genes in them jeans, if you know what I mean,” quoth Dr. K, when she’s feeling lyrical.

Kackles was less interested in Dr. K’s scientific research.  She wanted collective vengeance on the creators of this excessive overhead, to wit, at&t’s copyrighted and patented services that she pays for without benefiting from.  She studied the bill and noted excise taxes, paid to the federal government monthly for access to air rights.  These are taxes on domestic goods and services.  Tariffs are taxes on imported goods.  All raise the price for purchasers, re-spun as “consumers” in 21st century PolCor speech.

“Huh?” anyone with common sense (usually women) might ask.  “How does that work for me, the taxpayer, if I’m paying both sides to protect me from people offering better deals?  Let Pfizer protect its own market share.”

viagrafda070105

Another katharineotto.wordpress.com alterego cheers.  KO! Economic Hit Woman whistles, calls “Attagirl!” and throws up a High Five and Victory (Peace) salute.

“Bye, bye, Pfizer, and good riddance,” she gloats.  “Let Ireland protect your patents, if it can.  Let Ireland protect your stocks, too, and your VA contracts.  Oh, and while we’re at it, I recommend that US taxpayers confiscate your $270 million global research facility in New London, Connecticut, and donate it to Susette Kelo and her former neighbors.

For once, katharineotto.wordpress.com’s alter agos begin to agree with each other.  Even Kaka Big Chicken is helping to plot strategy.  She offers to walk into the brick-and-mortar store with chicken poop on her shoes and flies buzzing around her head.

Libby Belle is only thinking about how much her feet hurt, standing on that pedestal, holding that torch all day and night in New Yuck harbor.  She wants to escape new Yuck and wiggle her toes in the sand at Tybee.

Finally, nagged into compliance by her amalgamated alters, katharineotto.wordpress.com marches bravely into at&t’s lair with bill and agenda in hand, carrying notebook, sketchpad, camera, and a secret weapon known as primal screaming, a Kaka Big Chicken specialty.

katharineotto.wordpress.com takes a number and sits in front of the Direct TV, which at&t has just acquired, and watches Donald Trump perform.  Kackles casually doodles caricatures of all the employees holding cell phones to their ears, because they don’t deal with land line services or that class of customers.  The Real Yellow Pages has been contracted out.

But Kackles doesn’t sweat the small stuff.  Born out of ashes, to ashes she will return, when she’s good and ready, but not yet.  She still has spells to cast on TechnoBabble Nation’s networks and stranglehold by patented, unreliable technology.

Meanwhile, she sweeps up the ashes of frizzle-frazzle with the New Age broom.  The broom, Hilda, sweeps as god as she flies, so Kackles is a satisfied tourist from the Cosmic Commune, where everything is free and money doesn’t exist.

“Cackle, cackle,” cackles Kackles.  “I have nothing better to do.”

attpolwsj111716At Left:  The Wall Street Journal, Thursday, November 17, 2016

Twelve years ago:

November 29, 2004

David Dorman
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
AT&T Corporation
One AT&T Way
Bedminster, NJ  07921

Duane Ackerman
Chairman, President and
Chief Executive Officer
Bell South
1155 Peachtree Street, NE
Room 15G03
Atlanta, GA  30309

Michael K. Powell
Chairman, Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street, SW
Washington, DC  20554

Boys:

I am writing this letter to all three of you because each of your organizations is blaming the others for the problems I am having with basic telephone and internet services.

It really doesn’t have to be this hard.  As a “consumer” small business owner (read “customer-voter-taxpayer”) I decided at the end of August to look into internet services by Bell South and AT&T, with the intent of signing up for one or the other.  After going through telephone menu maze after telephone menu maze, and listening to raucous music while on hold, I finally got a human being at AT&T who gave me bad information, convincing me to change all telephone service to AT&T and sign up for their internet services, too.  But oops, my telephone number has been hijacked by a DSL company, Georgia Business Net, which service I’d ordered and cancelled a month prior, without ever having had the service installed.  It took several hours over several days to straighten that one out, with everyone blaming everyone else and no one able to unlock the hold on my telephone number until I made a big stink with Georgia Business Net’s local representative, Brewton Computer Services, who wanted to play games, but who finally pulled some backroom maneuver to release me from their greedy jaws.

Then I call Bell South to find I can’t change telephone services without paying a huge penalty, because I had forgotten I signed a three-year contract for lower rates two years ago.  I didn’t know the rates were so low, since AT&T’s cost was supposedly about half what Bell South was charging.  So I changed back to Bell South, to avoid paying that penalty, and have July, 2005 on my calendar as the date when I am free of that contract and can reconsider my phone service options.

Meanwhile, I sign up for internet services with Bell South, or so I think, but the software for the service never arrives.  I continue to use the local library to get on the net, and I begin to wonder if I need home internet services at all, since the library is so convenient and I don’t use the internet that much (less and less).

Next thing I know, I get a bill from AT&T for forty-seven cents, which I dutifully pay on October 16, 2004 with my Sun Trust check #576.  This week, I get a bill from a collection service, GC Services Unlimited Partnership, claiming I owe AT&T $26.68 for long distance services.  Excuse me, but I thought I’d changed my long distance service back to Bell South, in accordance with my contract, and I never got a bill for any long distance service from AT&T.  Now it’s in collection?  How did this happen?  At this point I am so confused about who is supplying what to whom that I don’t know whom I owe, how much I owe or why I owe it.  Maybe you can figure it out, because frankly, I can’t abide your telephone menus, underinformed and misleading “customer service representatives,” and the maze of regulations, special deals, packages, contracts and other garbage you confuse people with under the guise of progress.  I’m including this GC Services Limited Partnership bill with my letter to Mr. Dorman of AT&T, and sending this letter to GC Services Limited Partnership, to let everyone know that I am happy to pay any money I really owe, and I’ll pay it directly to the CEO of AT&T if he can prove I owe it.

Meanwhile, Bell South is no better.  My latest bill from Bell South shows I’m being charged $8.44 plus $14.90 per month for internet service, when I was told the service was $10.95.  This is for a service I never received software for, have never used, and now no longer want, because it is much more expensive than I bargained for.  So, I will pay my Bell South bill, minus the bogus internet service, and will send a copy of this letter with my payment for the telephone service I actually have received.  This way, the folks in Bell South’s accounts receivable department will know to contact their CEO if they have a problem with it.  The Bell South telephone menu maze includes raucous advertising while its victims are on hold, and I can’t count on getting good information or services if I do get in touch with a so-called human being at the “Reach Out and Touch Someone” hall of fame.

As for Mr. Powell of the Federal Confusion Commission, I contend that governmental policies obstruct rather than assist communication, and communications would be much more efficient if government would get out of the way. The people who suffer most are the small fry customer-voter-taxpayers like me who get caught in these hopeless mires of entangled over-regulation, while the corporate giants slip through the control measures with hefty campaign contributions and a few token fines. All I need is a clean and simple list of services and prices, a la carte, from all the communications players, so I can make wise business decisions based on what I need. Spare me the one-size-fits-nobody packages and the long-term contracts. I am a loyal customer if I get good value for my time and dollar.  So, Mr. Powell, if you could get these corporations to simplify their price structures, and publicize them, I can make my decisions accordingly.  Then I can get back to doing my job to earn the income to pay the taxes that pay your salary.

By this letter I want everyone to know I will honor my contract with Bell South until it expires.  I believe this includes long distance service, as it was before the fated month of August, 2004.  Cancel the so-called internet service, which only exists on Bell South’s bill.

I believe I want AT&T for the internet, but let’s see the price in writing first, and I want AT&T to send its bills directly to me instead of to a collection agency. If you don’t want me as a customer, I will understand and will look somewhere else or do without.

Finally, I’d like to remind all of you that the telephone and internet will never surpass the old fashioned letter for clear communication.

Sincerely,

Katharine C. Otto

cc:        Nick Gillespie, Editor-in Chief, reason magazine;  Paul Gigot, Editor of the Editorial Page, The Wall Street Journal;  Donald E. Graham, Chairman, The Washington Post;  Cynthia Tucker, Editorial Page Editor, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

 

 

 

 

 

IS THE DEMISE OF THE RFS IN EISA 2007 AT HAND? — Stop Mandatory Ethanol Blog

Anyone else notice anything strange about Trump’s cabinet appointment process? There is only one secretary level cabinet appointment left: Secretary Of Agriculture. Why is SOA the last appointment? Is there some controversy within the new administration already? Remember, Trump campaigned in the heartland, pandering to the corn state voters, promising he would not repeal the […]

via IS THE DEMISE OF THE RFS IN EISA 2007 AT HAND? — Stop Mandatory Ethanol Blog

This blogger gives detailed and valuable information about the ethanol mandate passed by Congress in 2007.  I stand firmly for absolute repeal of this mandate by the 2017 Congress and hope others see the wisdom of getting this law off the books.

 

On War and Prisons

chatcthsnew0706

November 20, 2016

The following is from my files, originally written in 2006, updated in 2016:

Wars have historically accounted for the largest overhead and subsequent debt in this nation’s history.  Each war renders us less free, and the taxation that results is like a whip across the backs of already burdened taxpayers.

Long, protracted wars that look more and more like witch hunts, drain the economy, individual initiative, and forward momentum.  From 2001 to 2010, combined wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan cost taxpayers $4.4 trillion. (Source:  Congressional Research Service, from filipspagnoli.wordpress.com blog site.)

Economists are busy predicting the future they want, but they can’t hide the reality of street-wise individuals whose disposable income is their bottom line.  The bite of excise taxes on the basics–like certain foods, energy, telephone, gasoline–is disproportionately higher on those whose incomes are lowest, so they are first to feel the pinch.  This is the population that becomes desperate enough to deal drugs, work under the table, break into homes, and take other crisis-mode measures to survive.  Drug laws make the black market profitable, without the bother of background checks, drug screens, employer references, and other rules that limit legitimate employment options.  While there may be exceptions, those who now crowd our prisons consist largely of people whose lives are chronically dysfunctional rather than evil.

Society has let them down by not equipping them for survival in a civilized context.  Beginning with elementary school, they are not encouraged to try.  They are allowed to slide by on substandard work until they fall farther and farther behind.  As the distance grows, the child gravitates more towards others like him, those who have no appropriate role models at home or at school.

They often become the casualties of another war, the “War on Drugs.”  The International Centre for Prison Studies (also on filipspagnoli.wordpress.com) blames the War on Drugs and the “Three strikes you’re out” federal policies for the fact that incarcerations have quintupled in the US since the early 1970s.  The United States, with 0.07 percent of its population in jail or prisons, incarcerates more citizens than the top 35 European countries combined.  Forty percent of inmates are black, and 25% are non-violent drug offenders.

Once in prison, these kids, now adolescents and adults, still get no basic skills training.  Nothing is expected of them in prison, either.  Any meaningful activity, education, or work is withheld from them, except in the most token format, so there is no opportunity in prison to re-tool their lives to live differently on release.

Society does itself a disservice by allowing this to happen.  The oversight costs much more than money.  From the prisoner’s perspective, housing and food—two of his biggest expenses on the outside—are covered by his confinement, so theoretically, he might be able to focus on education or training . . . perhaps for the first time in his life.  If society made basic skills, useful work (within reason), or other productivity a part of prison life, it would make more effective use of its taxpayer dollar both in terms of paying current incarceration costs and preventing crime on the streets.

The push to build more prisons is based on this lose-lose scenario that prioritizes punishment over rehabilitation.  That’s why crime escalates to fill the available space, but recidivism accounts for a significant percentage of the prison population.

Our jails and prisons have become substitute housing for the homeless.  As “blighted neighborhoods” are replaced by “revitalized areas,” more displaced indigents will find their way to prison, down one path or another, because they have nowhere else to go.