Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Response to Nothing Left To Stop

(See: Just Above Sunset : Nothing Left To Stop)

Concerning this Post Office business:

Something I wish we all were discussing is, shouldn't the United States Post Office go back to being a regular department of government, like it used to be? Maybe Biden should tout that idea, or even campaign on it.

My belief is that, before we choose whether a service should be performed by government rather than the private sector, we need to decide if…

(1) We the People think it’s an essential service, and one that we’re willing to cover the losses for with our taxes, and

(2) that it can’t either be performed at all, or can’t be performed adequately for the country’s needs, if left to the private sector.

Given the fact that most people think that, in its present state, it can’t do the job we want it to — that is, deliver letters and packages anywhere in U.S. jurisdiction in the world, no matter how far away, for the same price — and by “people", I mean not just “normal people” but also Republicans! — then it should go back to being a governmental department. It’s really just that simple.

Whether it can pay its own way shouldn’t even be a consideration once it's been determined that the American people think it’s an essential service of government.

The way this is being presented is, if it's having financial problems, then we need to “privatize” it — remembering that the word “privatize”,  in this case, is just another word for “abolish”. There’s no need to convert the Postal Service into a private company that isn't able to handle our needs, since there are already private companies out there doing that.

And who do we have to thank for a Post Office Department that suddenly can't perform the functions it had been doing for hundreds of years? 

First, there was President Richard Nixon, who, following the settlement of a nationwide postal strike in 1970, abolished the "Post Office Department” and, for some obscure reason, converted it into the United States “Postal Service”, an "independent establishment" of the federal government which, though still under the thumb of the government but with no help from taxpayers, will now be required to support itself.

And then, in 2006, something else happened to make it even harder for the service to pay its way. This is from Eric Levitz in New York Magazine:

The Postal Service’s financial problems are largely an artifact of a 2006 law that arbitrarily requires the agency to pre-fund 75 years worth of its retirees’ health benefits.

Its status as an independent, self-sustaining agency is also relatively novel and unnecessary. The federal government could cover the Postal Service’s annual losses for about $14 billion a year — which is roughly one-tenth of the amount of money that Congress has added to the Pentagon’s annual budget since Donald Trump took office. 
Our country can easily afford to sustain an unprofitable public institution that provides 600,000 Americans with good jobs, and 90 percent of all U.S. residents with a service they approve of.

Nixon gave libertarian conservatives what they’ve always wanted, even though the American public never has, and apparently did so after little if any public discussion. We the People are now going to have to undo these so-called reforms foisted upon us by the likes of Donald Trump, and then pay more attention from now on.

First of all, do we demand that the Pentagon, for example, “pays its own way”? God knows what foolishness that would lead to  and in fact, there’s been some consideration by this president to rent out the army as sort of a mercenary force to countries willing to pay the freight.

For the same reason, we should not expect the White House itself to earn enough to cover expenses to run itself. How? From tour ticket sales? Maybe the building could be converted to a hotel, complete with four-star restaurant? Maybe they could charge to have a photo taken with the president! (You think he hasn't considered that idea?)

Speaking of which, it might be a good idea from now on for us to put a cap on how much the White House can spend. If we do that, then maybe some corrupt president wouldn’t assume the rest of us should pick up the cost of his flying Air Force One to Florida every weekend, and then charge us rent to house Secret Service agents.

The idea should be that, after a certain amount, the president could foot those bills himself. And if he decides not to pay for housing the agents? He could just leave them behind in Washington. No skin off our teeth!

But that’s just one of many American reforms a President Biden could promise, another being getting rid of the Electoral College, which most of the country should, by now, be ready to admit has not served us well.


Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Response to Hurting God

 (See: Just Above Sunset : Hurting God)

Jason Mulder, an evangelical Christian in Sioux Center, Iowa, says:

"I feel like on the coasts, in some of the cities and stuff, they look down on us in rural America. You know, we are a bunch of hicks, and don’t know anything. They don’t understand us the same way we don’t understand them. So we don’t want them telling us how to live our lives.”

That may be it right there. Both sides don’t like each other because each thinks the other is telling them how to live their lives — and they’re both right.

Still, any equivalence of the two sides may be imaginary, especially if most evangelicals think of themselves as those “Dordt Defenders” who cast out those who don’t share their religious prejudices. (In fact, not all those on the losing side of the 1619 "Synod of Dordrecht were merely expelled, at least one of their leaders was beheaded.)

As it is, I may indeed harbor a dislike of those evangelicals, although not because they’re Christians — heck, Barack Obama is a Christian and I like him just fine! (I myself am an agnostic, though not an evangelistic agnostic; I don’t really much care what you believe.) In fact, my dislike is more because of their dislike of me and my belief system.

So these evangelicals in Iowa admit that Trump is probably not a real Christian, even though he may be just their local Mafia Don who has agreed, for reasons of his own that they don't care to be aware of, to protect their neighborhood.

But do they really think he was sent by God? If so, my response would be, if you really believe in a God that is good, you almost have to also believe in that other god, the bad one. And so then the question becomes, which one sent Trump?

And if it turns out that he was sent up here, rather than down
, wouldn’t this give credence to those accusations of the "coastal elites”, that those midwestern red states are populated by "naive hicks"?

I like the way E.J. Dionne nails it when he says, “The more religion is associated with right-wing politics, the more alienated from religion progressives become, and the more inclined they are to dismiss religious people altogether.”

Or maybe it’s just that the moderate left doesn’t choose to make deals with Satan!

True, a higher percentage of liberal Democrats may be religiously unaffiliated, but at least we never beheaded anyone because of their choice of religious inclinations.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Response to That Interview

No, Trump's problem is not his staff, or even that he “doesn’t have control” over his reality.

His reelection problems all spring from the fact that he was (1) elected accidentally, and (2) elected as a “minority president”, which he still is.

Donald Trump won in 2016 because his particular schtick appealed to a small bunch of voters who were annoyed that the smart people who were running the country and making the country the way it was were people they didn’t particularly like. 

And, of course, these voters were able to prevail because of America’s stupid "Electoral College" system of electing presidents (which should have been eliminated long ago, but don’t get me started on things we need to do to make this a “more perfect union”) allows a minority group of quasi-crazies who don’t want the same things the rest of us do, if situated in just the right states, to get their way.

But one problem with this is, the quasi-crazies themselves have no idea of how to run a country, which means that nor will their candidate, and also, that their candidate will likely win with smoke-and-mirrors, and smoke-and-mirrors will fail when it comes to actually governance when real problems arise, such as having a heaven-sent prophet (in the person of a kneeling football player, warning that Black Lives Do Matter) ignored for several years, and a predictable global pandemic not being handled the way it should be, and early enough to do some good, the failing of which naturally causes the economy to collapse.

(Yes, Donald Trump was way too showbiz to comprehend what was being asked of him, but maybe it really wasnhis fault! Maybe the fault was with America not taking enough care to avoid electing a natural-born loser — after all, Trump didn't elect himself!)

It’s not that Trump has lost his magic touch, it’s that magic is all illusion, and real crises are not fixed by smoke-and-mirror illusions, which is all Trump has in his toolbox. (He's really what we call a "one-trick pony".)

And as for Newt Gingrich?

“I think it took several months to realize that all the tools that worked brilliantly for four years were not in tune with where the country was,” Gingrich said.

No one should forget that Gingrich was the guy who started digging the hole we find ourselves in today, and the fact that he probably doesn’t realize that is reflected in the fact that he really thinks that Trump’s tools "worked brilliantly for four years”.

The voters who elected Trump, and especially those who eventually came to believe in him, expected him to eventually pay off with something good, but what he ended up delivering turned out to be a huge disappointment, and too late for any of his magic to turn around.

It’s funny watching a discussion amongst his Republican goons about what Trump can do to pull himself out of his nosedive, when the answer seems to be obvious:


(Or so I hope, along with just about everyone else on the planet.)