Truth, Justice, and the American way. TRUTH: Helping to correct people's misconceptions about history, science, and the state of the world. JUSTICE: Meant in the biblical sense. Fair treatment of other people, rational laws, and assisting the disadvantaged. THE AMERICAN WAY: A classless society where everybody has an opportunity to meet their potential and for economic advancement, regardless of race, ancestry, religion, gender, or sexual orientation.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Some Issues I Am Passionate About

A survey by my congressman started me thinking about these issues, why they are misunderstood, and to try to find solutions.

Concentration of Wealth is Dangerous

1) To restore the US economy for the long term, the US has to restore a more fair distribution of wealth (similar to the 1970's). History tells us that concentration of wealth among a few people eventually leads to revolution. As wealth concentrates, first people protest; then the protests become more violent and become riots (the US is entering this stage); then people attack the wealthy, just because they are wealthy; finally this leads to a revolution (the French Revolution is an example of this progression, but there are many examples).

a. One way improve the distribution of wealth is to prevent people from becoming wealthy, just because their parents were wealthy (inter-generational inheritance). So the first step is to restore the inheritance and gift taxes (almost eliminated by President Reagan) and close the trust loophole (the largest inheritance tax loophole).

b. The inheritance and gift taxes must be over 50% to avoid run-away wealth concentration (it is simple mathematics).

c. An inheritance tax rate of 75% with no tax on spousal inheritance and a large exemption should be implemented. The exemption should be equal to the 75th percentile of annual income (75% of families earn less than that amount each year). The spousal inheritance exclusion prevents making widows or widowers homeless because of inheritance tax. The large exemption is a simple way to provide a sliding scale tax (we don't want to tax the bequests of the poor).

c. To close the trust loophole, any trusts (other than spousal trusts) should be taxed upon payout at the same rate as if the entire amount had been inherited as cash.

National Healthcare Would Improve Our Overall Health

2) A comprehensive national healthcare system would save billions of dollars and provide better care to most people than the current US jigsaw puzzle. This program can be funded by removing the Social Security Premium cap (the limit on how much people pay into the Social Security Fund). Comprehensive health care means no deductibles, no premiums, medical coverage, preventive care (including birth control, STD prevention, health education, and so on), mental health coverage, prescription coverage, dental care, eye care, and eye glasses (with a limited amount paid for frames). Cosmetic surgery would not be covered, but reconstructive surgery would be covered. This definition of comprehensive care is developed from studies of health care experience in North America and Europe.

a. Payment of health care providers should be negotiated to approximate the total payments allowed by current PPO-10 policies, after adjusting for the facility, equipment, and insurance costs paid by the health care system, not the doctor. The payments to health professionals should be annually adjusted for inflation based on spending at the 75th percentile of annual income.

b. Education loans should be paid by the government for all government employees. Ten percent of the total loan amount should be paid for every year of government employment.

c. The wholesale cost of a prescription should be limited to the lowest wholesale price charged any national health care system + 50% (to correct for currency exchange).

d. The lack of national health care has been discouraging foreign companies from building facilities in the US, reducing US employment.

e. Abortion should be covered, especially when the pregnancy is the result of a crime. If abortion is not covered, then the living expenses for the mother must be provided during the pregnancy and recovery. This is normally, 6 months of paid leave.

f. Almost 80% of US residents are in favor of national healthcare (at least after it is explained to them). Even most doctors and hospitals are in favor of national healthcare. It is the health insurance companies who have bribed enough members of congress to block a "Single payer healthcare system" or national healthcare.

Realistic National Economics

3) As anybody who has consulted a qualified economist knows, as spending increases, the entire economy improves more than twice as fast. The wealthiest people tend to spend less than half of their income. Those earning the median income or below are spending all of their money. Because inflation is causing a loss of income, people are borrowing on credit cards to make ends meet. Total US credit card debt now exceeds the US government debt. Economists say the middle class is the engine that powers the economy, so we must concentrate on the middle class.

a. The median income has decreased to less than half of 1975 levels, relative to inflation.
This has moved most of the middle class close to the poverty line. To avoid living in poverty, all adults in a family are forced to work. This results in people delaying having children, having fewer children, and not being able to care for the children after school.

b. Raising wages would improve the economy immensely, especially raising the minimum wage,
because those on minimum wage spend all that they earn. Many in "middle class jobs" are actually living in poverty. Raising the minimum wage will also raise the salary for "middle class jobs". Raising the minimum wage will pay back double in improvements in the economy.

c. In times of economic downturn, government spending pays back triple in economic improvement, even if the government has to borrow the money. Government investment in infrastructure improvements also continue to pay returns over time.

d. Austerity programs in times of economic downturn are counter-productive, as has been shown by macro-economic analysis of the EU (European Union). However, this is the solution chosen by many countries and one of the parties in the US congress.

e. The US economy started to falter in 2006 when housing prices began to drop. This triggered the 2008 banking debacle (corporations gambling with money instead of prudent investment).

f. Because congress has been trying to cut government spending (Austerity Programs), the US still has not recovered from the downturn that started in 2006.

g. The US government has been basing many decisions on "Trickle-down economics" since 1983. Trickle-down economics has always been contrary to economic theory. It was clear by 1988 that Trickle-down economics was a failure, but one of the major US parties still bases their platform on Trickle-down economics. Trickle-down economics failed, because it assumes almost all of the income for the wealthiest people will be either spent or invested in US companies. This assumption was wrong. Things have gotten worse as international investment has increased.

Preventive Healthcare for Children

4) Child preventive health care should be mandatory, except when it is explicitly prohibited by the guardian(s) religion. Except for the religious exception, refusing to provide preventive care for children is child abuse.

Biggest Presidential Mistakes

5) The biggest mistakes made by presidents since 1980 have been:

a. Drastic reduction in gift and inheritance taxes and other taxes on the wealthy. This has caused a dramatic redistribution of wealth from the middle class to the wealthy. This disproportionate wealth is nearing the insurrection point - the point where people begin violent riots and attack the wealthy for being wealthy.

b. "Free trade" treaties with countries that do not observe human rights, environmental protection, and fair wages. Election campaign donations by large corporate interests have caused the US government to make decisions that harm US workers. Import taxes should be raised to reduce the cost differences and bring the jobs back to the US. It is important to make sure that digital products are properly valued so that import taxes can be assessed.

c. Ignoring common sense when it comes to economics. The rich do not drive the economy, the middle class drives the economy.

d. Allowing run-away corporate mergers is hurting consumers. The largest corporation in a sector should not be allowed to merge or to branch out into related fields. A merger that creates the largest corporation in the sector should only be allowed if it is in the public interest and the corporation is required (and monitored) to avoid monopoly-related behavior. Any corporation with more than 49% of the business in a sector should be required to divest enough to reduce its business in the sector to less than the second largest corporation in the sector. Divestment will not harm the public, because divestment is like a stock split.

e. Deregulation or privatization of publicly owned or insured organizations. Allowing Banks to merge with Investment Firms (AKA Gambling corporations that buy derivatives or junk bonds) is the best example of deregulation costing hundreds of Billions of dollars. Privatization of correctional facilities increases costs while reducing the level of security and care.

f. The law currently states "A corporation's primary responsibility is to its stockholders". This has caused corporations to concentrate on stock prices and quarterly profits, while ignoring the big picture. This should be revised to "A corporation's primary responsibility is the long term health of the corporation and the nation, to preserve the stockholders' interests".

Retirement Funds

6) Worker salaries and retirement funds are a fiduciary responsibility of employers (meaning that the employers act as a trusted agent to assure that the funds are properly handled). Employers should never borrow from retirement funds and retirement funds should always be diversified (instead of invested in the employer's stock). Retirement funds and similar funds should not be commingled (mixed) with other funds (technically a felony). Corporate bankruptcy should not affect retirement benefits.

Social Security Funds Have Been Mishandled

7) Congress has been reducing Social Security payments relative to inflation as a way to reduce the federal budget (but these funds are supposed to be separate). Social Security recipients have been promised that payments would be annually adjusted to make up for inflation. To restore payments to the promised level, inflation should recalculated based on purchases of people at the poverty line, beginning at a basis year, such as 1966 (the favorite basis year of economists). To avoid budget problems for the government, the payment corrections should be phased in (over 5 years?).

a. The Social Security Savings Fund should not be commingled (mixed) with the general fund (this would be a crime for anybody except the government). Social Security, Medicare, and so on should be funded separately from the federal budget. The federal budget is funded by taxes, but Social Security is an insurance policy.

b. The Social Security Savings Fund should be invested in US Treasury Bills (loaned to the government). Any funds that have been placed in the general fund should be repaid in Treasury Bills. This would repair the commingling that has made accurate accounting of the Social Security Savings Fund impossible.

C. The baby bust (years with low numbers of births) that initiated the creation of the Social Security Savings Fund (under President Reagan) did not cause the expected reduction in the number of US workers. Immigrants made up the difference. So no changes have to be made to "Rescue" Social Security.

The US Needs Immigrants

8) Natural born citizens of the US are not having enough children to maintain our population and economy. Immigration is important for the health of the US as a nation.

a. To recruit more professionals, the US should eliminate the limit on the number of work visas.

b. Currently the US government imposes a limit on the number of visas issued to people in each nation. Restricting the number of visas by nationality causes an inequality for specific ethnic groups. This violates the 14th amendment (as interpreted by the courts) and should be eliminated. Eliminating restrictions by nationality also fixes several other problems.

c. Removing the limit on migrant worker visas would help reduce the number of undocumented immigrants.

d. The requirement that people can only apply for a US visa from their home country has been a nightmare, because many of these people are not safe in their home countries or cannot afford to return. This has led to an increase in undocumented immigrants, rather than the reduction that was expected from the overhaul of immigration law. The US should eliminate this requirement.

e. People have been arguing that immigrants take jobs away from citizens at least since the 1880’s. The argument is based on a simplified view of the job market. Immigrants have never reduced the number of jobs available for citizens. New immigrants and existing citizens tend to look for different jobs. In addition, spending by immigrants helps to increase the overall number of jobs.

f. As a country whose population is almost all immigrants and descendants of immigrants, the US government should make immigration as easy as possible for those who qualify (do not have a communicable disease, do not have a felony record, and can show that they have either a trade or some other means of support, such as a working family member).

Most of What You Have Been Told About the Middle East Is Lies

9) There is no single Middle East Conflict. People try to simplify things by making the issue Israel versus the "Palestinians", but that is far from the truth. In fact, the problems between Israel and the "Palestinians" were caused by neighboring countries.

a. Israel did not threaten people and cause them to leave. The "Palestinian Refugees" were not refugees, because a refugee is seeking refuge from a life or limb threat. In reality, as part of an attempt to destroy Israel, the Arab League (including Iraq, Syria, and Egypt) distributed propaganda that scared many of the non-Jewish residents into leaving. But, the Arab League made no arrangements to care for the people they chased out of Israel. The UN helped by creating temporary camps in Jordan to house and feed these people, but they left administration of the camps to the Arab League (which had created the problem in the first place). The Arab League radicalized the people in the camps and taught them that "the Jews in Israel must be pushed into the sea".

b. Trans-Jordan (usually abbreviated as Jordan) was designated as the "Palestinian homeland" by Britain in 1922. Radicalization of the people in the camps caused violence against each other and Jordanians. Jordan closed the camps and kicked the people out of the country.

c. One cannot currently carve a "Sovereign Palestinian nation" out of Israel. Because of the radicalization, the "Palestinians" will not agree to peace with Israel. Any nation would require a peace treaty before allowing a separatist group to form their own nation. Until the "Palestinians" are willing to accept a peaceful resolution, they are preventing negotiation for independence. As time has passed, the land available to form a "Palestinian nation" has decreased.

d. When Israel was formed in 1948, all residents became citizens.

e. The Israeli constitution states that Israel is the Jewish homeland and Jews can become citizens on the day they enter Israel - because Israel is the sanctuary for Jewish refugees from around the world. Non-Jews must undergo a naturalization process similar to those applying for US citizenship. This inequality has caused political problems for Israel when dealing with Europe and the US.

f. Many people living in the West Bank or Gaza Strip have committed felonies in Israel, so they can never become Israeli citizens. They are allowed work visas, but they are relegated to the jobs nobody else wants.

Islamic Terrorists Violate the Rules of Islam

10) The word Islam translates as "the people of peace" (Is Salam). The word Jihad refers to the responsibility of Islamic people to convert pagans to Islam (at pain of death). Any group that declares a Jihad against Muslims, Christians, or Jews is not true to Islam, because according to Mohamed, all of these faiths believe in the same God.

a. A splinter group of Alquadar (pronounced Alkyda in the US) formed what the US called ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria). When ISIS became powerful enough, they declared a Caliphate (religious leadership of all Muslims) and the name changed to IS (Europe) or ISSL (US). But this is a conflict between Muslims. Those who claim to be ISSL and commit terrorist acts are working on behalf of Alquadar, not the Islamic State.

b. ISSL is trying to restore the Islamic Empire that existed in the middle ages and they are therefore a threat to all of the Islamic countries.

c. Alquadar and Hamas are significant threats to the US, Europe, Southern Asia, and Northern Africa.

All Nations Must Arrest Terrorists

11) If terrorists attack the US, the US government considers both the organization that trained or directed the terrorists and the country that hosted the terrorists responsible. Sovereign nations are responsible for the actions of obviously violent people living inside their borders. Failure by the host country to assist in the capture of terrorists is an act of war.

a. According to the FBI, US domestic extremists are a greater threat to the US than Islamic terrorism. The problem is separating those who intend to commit violence from those who just hold extreme views. Fortunately, domestic extremists who intend to commit violence are usually not quiet about it.

About Me

My photo
Canoga Park, California, United States
Software Engineer with Ph.D. in Computer Science. I have a deep background in the sciences and in computer-human interaction. I was a college professor for 11 years, followed by over a decade of work in industry.