A note to President Obama while you’re here in Dayton

Barack, hope and change worked last time. And, yes, you’ve done amazing things in the first 4 years- like the affordable health care plan.

But, we’re still hurting here in Dayton Ohio. This is the Main street you talked about- the one where jobs aren’t what they used to be. Where our homes are losing value because the banks threw our neighbors out, and then the houses had their copper plumbing and wiring stripped bare. We’re the ones who’ve had to pay for $4 a gallon gas while the oil companies made record profits. We’re the ones who continue to see our health care costs rise.

Mitt Romney isn’t the enemy right now. What the enemy is people who’ve lost hope. They aren’t as likely to go out and vote for you as last time.  You’ve failed to clearly talk about what you can do if re-elected. Concrete, clear, concise changes that will make things get better. So, here’s a short crib sheet:

  • Stop corporate welfare through “economic development” tax breaks, job creation breaks, relocation assistance by any government entity lower than the federal level- where all incentives will be available to anyone who qualifies- not just the big donors to campaigns (yes, there is a correlation and we look like a pay to play state). Mitt’s right, government has to stop picking winners and losers.
  • If you want to see small business take off- it’s time to give the GSA a lesson in what’s reasonable for a small business to fill out to do business with the federal government. We need a GSA EZ schedule for true small businesses, $6 million a year or less is a start- but, I’m talking about $1 million or less. 250 pages of paperwork isn’t doing anybody any favors.
  • Speaking of government contracting- we have these areas called HUBzones that are struggling to see investment. How about an innovative way to force investment- unlimited H1B visas for companies that locate offices in these distressed areas- as long as the employees all live in the zone? I think we could eliminate HUBzones a lot faster that way and solve some immigration issues as well.
  • Then there’s Wall Street. It’s time to change the culture upside down. Investing isn’t done in a flash and you don’t invest in a company for 12 seconds. That’s roulette. Either put a transaction tax in place, or tax the hell out of anything held less than a year. And to remove volatility, let’s start with the only tax break on stock holdings is on actual dividends- not on trading values.
  • When it comes to the commodities markets- take the speculators out and shoot them. If you aren’t actually purchasing corn, sugar cane or jet fuel, you can’t bid on it. End of story.
  • Health care is totally screwed up as well. Since when were hospital administrators worth 10x a year more than actual doctors saving lives- and all, while calling their hospitals non-profits? Let’s get honest, if you are a non-profit, you aren’t going to get to skip out on paying property taxes etc and pay your CEO $4 million a year. That’s for profit. It’s 10x what you make. And, don’t tell me a company like CareSource, which is entirely funded with tax dollars should be paying their CEO $3 million a year because they are saving the taxpayers money, the VA doesn’t pay their people that way, and they are doing a much better job with a much less healthy community. Non-profit means non-profit. Let’s get that straight.
  • While you and Mitt keep arguing about tax rates- most of us don’t really believe that’s the enemy. We get taxed plenty and the cuts you make aren’t really as important as reeling in credit card interest rates, bank fees, and when the bank slaps on an insurance policy at 8x the cost of the one you’d have bought had you still had a job.  Tax rates aren’t the problem- the gap between the haves and the have nots is the problem- and it’s time to talk about it in real terms. So- above and beyond, while the poor kids have been off fighting in America’s longest war, the rich haven’t had to sacrifice a thing. They’ve gotten richer by shorting America. Buying up devalued real estate, playing positions on Wall Street than encourage offshoring jobs. This has to stop. It’s pretty simple too- just explain that until unemployment drops below 8% there’s a rich people tax. It can also be in place as long as US men and women are dying protecting their wealth. War used to cost everyone, now, it’s only affecting the poor.

These ideas don’t make for sound bite slogans- or slick promises that can’t be kept like creating millions of jobs (I’m in advertising and we’re not allowed to make claims we can’t back up- you should have to live by those rules).

Anyway- you will be speaking in Island Park in 30 minutes- and I’m not there, because I have to work in my small business that employs 7 people. But, I wish you the best on November 6th. Unfortunately, I can’t believe that we can count on the best man winning, thanks to Citizens United, and us having the best politicians money can buy- but, I hope your backers can out spend Mitt’s people so we might have a chance at not going backwards.

Thanks for reading. Now, go out and talk about specific plans you can implement. I’ve given you some starting points. You’re welcome.

A reminder of politics of a different time

We as Americans are quick to point at other countries as corrupt- as having barriers to entry for foreigners, of having politicians who must be paid off to be able to do business. Yet, it’s tough to look in the mirror and realize that we too, have become as corrupt and politically immoral.

In a discussion at the dinner table with my father, a political science major,  I posited the theory that the huge expenses of television advertising have helped drive the politicians to graft. This was after reading a piece in the New York Times about corporate gifts to endowments named for politicians:

The donations from businesses to the endowments ranged from modest amounts to millions of dollars, federal records show. And the lawmakers, who include powerful committee chairmen or party leaders, often pushed legislation or special appropriations sought by the corporations.

via Current or Former Lawmakers Linked to Endowments Made by Corporations – NYTimes.com.

This country is paying to play on steroids. My father says it goes back to the days of Boss Tweed and Tammany Hall. I don’t disagree- but, the amounts at play and the openness are becoming more evident in my eyes- either because of the Internet and its flow of information, or just because the amounts required have turned it into a high-stakes game.

What we pass off as political dialogue these days is disappointing- and the art of debate is long lost. Even with our great orator president- the message was “Hope” instead of action.

Up until George W. Bush made his mark on history- Jimmy Carter had the rap of being a bad president because of tough financial times. “It’s the economy, stupid” was the rhetoric that sent him packing, yet- GWB got a hall pass by many for his backing of policies guaranteed to fail. I came across this clip on YouTube- and it made me think- which is what I try to do here with you- and so I’m sharing it: Hunter S. Thompson covering Jimmy Carter.

Now, for many, putting the words Hunter S. Thompson together with the word journalist is a stretch- just as putting my name together with the word electable, but the claims that his exposé on Carter was part of what helped Carter win over Ford make it at least worth consideration.

Watching that clip, and comparing what passes for political rhetoric today- should inspire all citizens of the United States to demand more than the 30-second spot and sound bite politics we’ve come to expect. That Carter was also the first and only president or candidate to interview with Playboy- also speaks to Carter’s willingness to step outside the lines of what a politician is supposed to be and say.

The reason I began writing this blog was to counter the persona painted of me by the Dayton Daily News Editorial board, who’ve done a masterful job of mangling every idea, or thought I’ve shared with them. I’ve often wondered how Rolling Stone was able to publish Thompson- since he didn’t fit the mold of journalist any better than I fit the political mold.

Being honest- and saying what one believes needs to be said- despite the audience, is something I strongly believe in, and have paid a price for doing for the last 20 years in this city. I’m watching with amusement as the Dayton Daily News still offers a link to Bill Pote’s Dayton Most Metro on their site as a local blog- as he starts to solicit advertising to compete with them. So far, despite scooping them numerous times, and running for office a few times (in comparison to scoops)- they have never once linked to this site. For the record- although my stats are on par with what DaytonMostMetro just announced, and have been for over a year- I’ve not monetized this site due to concerns about being attacked legally by the powers that be- preferring to keep this a personal opinion site and retaining protections. DaytonMostMetro- as a feel good, happy news site, with multiple- authors and the support  and endorsement of local non-profits doesn’t have to worry about the same issue.

It’s sad to say that political thought is now limited often by liability, but that comes with the times. It’s not enough to own a printing press anymore to publish- but, having the financial backing to be able to afford one is part of what decides how much risk you can afford to take as a publisher.

As a last thought- I wondered why we have so many quotes from Ben Franklin- and realized it was because, like me, he was a publisher. Considering the economics and costs of distribution in his day- I wonder what his readership was, and how it compares with mine (Wikipedia to the rescue: He sold about ten thousand copies per year (a circulation equivalent to nearly three million today via Benjamin Franklin – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.) So far this year, 202,000 visits by  86,225 unique visitors and about 111 gb of data transferred.

Political speech has changed, journalism has changed, the question in my mind is “when will we change?”

I’d take a Jimmy Carter story by Hunter S. Thompson over what passes for both political speech and journalism any day.

Capping salaries- without any punishment for bad behavior?

Paying $18.6 billion in bonuses is shameful, but we don’t want the money back. From now on, you have to cap pay at half-a-million a year, but, don’t worry, after the taxpayers save your asses, you can buy the company back from us for pennies on the dollar and be even richer.

President Barack Obama capped salaries for senior executives at financial institutions receiving government assistance at $500,000, the U.S. Treasury Department announced Wednesday.

Additional pay must be in restricted stock that vests after the government has been repaid with interest.

Treasury issued a new set of guidelines on executive compensation after reports of lavish bonuses, extravagant entertaining and even expensive office redecoration have surfaced at institutions that received billions in bailout money. But the new rules will not apply retroactively to existing investments or programs already announced.

“These measures are designed to ensure that public funds are directed only toward the public interest in strengthening our economy by stabilizing our financial system and not toward inappropriate private gain,” a Treasury release said.

via Obama caps salaries for financial execs receiving government funds – Dayton Business Journal:.

How about real regulation? Why not cap salaries as a multiplier of lowest paid worker? Add a kicker of a reduction in salary of the CEO for any reduction in work force. Hire more- get paid more, fire- take the heat. Until these policies actually have some sort of relationship to actual corporate governance, this is nothing but a smoke-and-mirrors PR ploy.

Redistribution of wealth: Obama vs. McCain

Before I start, I’m going to remind everyone of something said by George H. Bush that helped him win an election: “Read my lips, No new taxes.” It was a lie.

So before you get caught up with “Obama is a socialist” or “McCain is better for business because he won’t “redistribute your wealth” remember, campaign rhetoric has very little to do with the real world.

The real world has already redistributed wealth. It’s been happening progressively for the last 150 years- since the birth of the Industrial Revolution and the entity known as the Corporation. Even Henry Ford who was an iconic figure in this transformation of society from agrarian to industrial, understood that it didn’t do any good to build cars that cost so much his workers couldn’t afford, so he had two options- make his cars cheaper or pay his employees more. Ford did both and was one of the engines that started to create the “richest nation in the world.”

And, while we still live in splendor compared to many countries, over the last 30 years, we’ve been doing it on borrowed money. Credit cards, second mortgages (marketed as “Home equity lines”) and negative savings (where we borrow more, and save less) have transformed us from powerful world beaters, to a nation of deadbeats. In the rush to feed our insatiable quest for more right now for less, we’ve traded our great manufacturing engine started by Henry Ford in for a “service and information economy” where we don’t make things anymore or worry about our employees ability to buy the products that we now outsource the labor from third world nations.

So, what this really means is that we’ve been redistributing wealth all along. Your money has been either siphoned off by the billionaires of Wall Street, CEO’s of huge corporations that forgot Henry Ford’s lessons, or by third world nations like China who makes everything sold at WalMart.

Your wealth has been redistributed, only you weren’t paying attention. The media, the government and those who’ve had their hands in your pockets have had no interest in telling you this, because media and government have been getting bigger and the people who’ve been digging in your pocket have gotten insanely rich. The gap between rich and poor today in the United States is exponentially larger than it was in feudal times when Kings demanded servitude. We can only continue on this path for a short while longer before we will have a revolution- just like the Boston Tea Party.

John McCain is not one of us little people by any stretch of the imagination. The grandson and son of Navy 4 star admirals, he’s led a life of privilege along with his service. In his campaign for the presidency he has looked for any number of attacks to sway the public, the great number of us who are suffering the worst through this pillaging of our great nation. McCain’s last stand is that Barack Obama, the candidate with the funny name, different skin color and a true American dream story of rising above our circumstances to achieve greatness- is somehow going to take more away from the people who’ve already lost it all in some stunning sleight-of-hand, where you can squeeze more money out of a nation that is teetering on the verge of financial ruin. This is pure, unadulterated B.S.

The wealth is, for the most part, gone, and we’re already going to pay for the greed of those who’ve already stolen our future for years to come. That’s what this bailout was- socialism for the rich. Every American has already committed to bailing out the very bad business decisions of the super-rich, while watching their home values plummet as the foreclosure rates skyrocket.

We, the taxpayers have been funneling money into the largest banks for virtually free, while they continue to raise rates on credit cards, bank fees, and refuse to renegotiate terms.

Before you vote on Tuesday, think twice before you believe that either politician can really change anything, but know that at least one of the two hasn’t tried to scare you into believing that wealth redistribution is something new. We’ve been doing it quite effectively for years, and that’s why so many of us are hurting right now.

I believe that we have to change our system and that voting for Barack Obama is the only true chance at seeing this through. We’ve suffered through eight years of a child of priviledge in the White House, it’s time to see what a true self-made American success story can do.

America: a third world country.

The day has arrived for us to take a serious look at our Nation, and where it has been headed. Although we still pretend to be a Country where “all men are created equal” it now costs a million to be “elected” to Congress and a few billion to buy the presidency. I’ve asked the question before about if we’d become a third world country (this site tops Google for it sometimes), and now, a friend sends me this amazing opinion piece from Vanity Fair by Christopher Hitchens that full out questions if we’re a banana republic, it is online now- but, sometimes VF takes things down, so don’t delay in reading the whole thing. Here is a taste:

“socialism for the rich and free enterprise for the rest.”

I have heard arguments about whether it was Milton Friedman or Gore Vidal who first came up with this apt summary of a collusion between the overweening state and certain favored monopolistic concerns, whereby the profits can be privatized and the debts conveniently socialized, but another term for the same system would be “banana republic.”

What are the main principles of a banana republic? A very salient one might be that it has a paper currency which is an international laughingstock: a definition that would immediately qualify today’s United States of America. We may snicker at the thriller from Wasilla, who got her first passport only last year, yet millions of once well-traveled Americans are now forced to ask if they can afford even the simplest overseas trip when their folding money is apparently issued by the Boardwalk press of Atlantic City. But still, the chief principle of banana-ism is that of kleptocracy, whereby those in positions of influence use their time in office to maximize their own gains, always ensuring that any shortfall is made up by those unfortunates whose daily life involves earning money rather than making it.

America the Banana Republic: Politics & Power: vanityfair.com.

If we didn’t have nuclear weapons and the most advanced military in the world, to go along with our shameless consumption, by every other industrialized nation we fail to represent and respect our people.

In the battles of education, health care, and for a future that looks rosier than today- that have all been lost in a few short weeks, we still have people thinking we are the greatest country in the world to live in. Which goes to show, a good line of propaganda from 1776 can still work, even after its idyllic concepts have all been thrown by the wayside while we danced on the deck of the Titan(ic).

Americans pursuit of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness disappeared thanks to our unregulated greed and “me first” based “independence.” The reality is, we are all in this together, interconnected and inter-reliant. When was the last time you’ve heard two candidates latch onto the same tagline to say they’re different? And the sad part is, how so many people can believe that a failed scholar, from an elitist family, who is well past retirement age, should be the new lifeblood that is supposed to bring us back.

When you’ve got nothing to left to loose, people should look at the last eight years and realize that other than his age, the background of George W. Bush is exactly the same as that of John McCain, except his family was political and McCain’s was military.

If we want to see change, it will be difficult. It will be uncomfortable, but there is only one candidate that can offer us that option: Barack Obama. He is the embodiment of that promise to America, that all men are created equal, and have a real shot at rising above the conditions of our birth. As everything is falling apart, only those that cling to God, Guns and Country with racist undertones would think any different.

America has become a third world country, it’s up to us, to hoist it back up. After all, we just accepted the bill for it.