In Debt or Indentured Part Three: Healthcare

People Politico In Debt or Indentured HealthcareThis is the third part of a multiple part series taking a deep dive into our current political and economic crisis in America. Partisan politics, unfettered corporate spending and recklessness along with a shift in our social acceptance of debt, is having far reaching and potentially devastating affects on our way of life, on the American Dream. With each installment we will take a closer look at some of the major pieces of this very complex puzzle and try to understand them and bring them into perspective. Use this opportunity to take a broader look on the political and social economic state of America and how each of us, as a small pieces of the puzzle, can make a difference.

In Debt or Indentured: Healthcare

Understanding the debt that will be incurred through education, a mortgage, and credit cards to a certain extent can be prepared for or at least decided upon as the benefit outweighing the cost of the debt. The unexpected has become another trove of debt for the American middle class especially in the form of health care, health services, and chronic illness. The Washington Post columnist Sarah Lovenheim in her article titled “New Study: Bankruptcy Tied To Medical Bills” reported that as of 2007 sixty-two percent of all bankruptcies in America were related to medical expenses. Within that sixty-two percent is a surprise, eighty percent of those that filed for bankruptcy were covered by insurance (Lovenheim). Even though many middle class families feel that it is critical to have health insurance to protect them and their families if sickness or an accident were to strike, this insurance oftentimes will not cover the entire cost of the care required. Couple the out of pocket cost to afford health care insurance with the deductible costs if the insurance is used, and add in the maximum payment from the insurance company, then compound this all with the rising number of Americans living with chronic illnesses and a picture of a middle class struggling to hold on to a system that is failing them clearly emerges. Again like college grants, Medicare and Medicade have been established  to assist the elderly and the poor a while the middle class is left holding debt for all of their expenses since they make too much for help from the government and not enough to afford the care they need.

Healthcare in this country is a huge problem and we will look at this topic specifically at a later date. For now, just understand that sudden, unexpected and even protected healthcare issues can be absolutely devastating to Americans on top of everything else we must endure.

That’s it for this part of In Debt or Indentured. We hope that this has given you some important things to think about. Use some of what you have learned here to look beyond the mere message our politicians are presenting to what the ramifications of these actions has on all of us Americans. Our country started down a slippery slope over a decade ago. We seemed to have stopped the free fall it had become, but do not fool yourself. We are still on the precipice of another long fall. Let’s just hope we all can learn, and grow, from the last spill we took.

Check back soon for the next installment of In Debt or Indentured.

In Debt or Indentured Part Two: Education

People Politicon In Debt or Indentured - EducationThis is the second part of a multiple part series taking a deep dive into our current political and economic crisis in America. Partisan politics, unfettered corporate spending and recklessness along with a shift in our social acceptance of debt, is having far reaching and potentially devastating affects on our way of life, on the American Dream. With each installment we will take a closer look at some of the major pieces of this very complex puzzle and try to understand them and bring them into perspective. Use this opportunity to take a broader look on the political and social economic state of America and how each of us, as a small pieces of the puzzle, can make a difference.

In Debt or Indentured: Education

Another way the many middle class families have come to see the equity in their house is as a way to afford higher education for their children. As tuition prices for university and college educations have continued to explode, it became unreasonable for American families to be able to just save their way to a higher education for their children. Instead of demanding intervention from their government, the American middle class looked to their hidden savings in the form of home equity. For those that did not own their own home though the options dwindled to scholarships, grants and loans. With availability limited for students to receive scholarships and grants, many students are forced into borrowing in order to gain their degree. Writer and Editor Marcia Clemmitt dives into the ways which college pricing and affordability have changed over the past three decades in her report “Student Debt Is the College-loan System Fair?” Clemmitt observes, “Many analysts call current education-debt level truly alarming, arguing that college loans saddle students with long term burdens that can affect their choice of jobs and ability to shoulder other responsibilities such as mortgages.” The fear of analysts exemplifies that, as soon as, those students graduate from college, they have debt already strapped to their backs. Interestingly, these analysts are not only worried about the graduates’ ability to chose the job they want but the analysts are concerned that these students will not be able to get into the next big debt adventure for many adults…a mortgage.

The facts behind rising college costs are murky at best, but much has been attributed to state budget constraints and rising costs for services. Regardless of the reasons for the ballooning costs, student loans have far exceeded them by rising 375 percent from 1982 to 2005 (Clemmitt, 879). The debt being incurred by middle class Americans is phenomenal with total college debt surpassing America’s credit card debt in 2010 (Tompor). Part of the reason that college debt has become such an issue for the American middle class families is because there are safeguards in place for low-income families where they qualify for government grants and financial assistance. On the other hand, most middle class families do not qualify for these subsidies from the government and are instead made to rely on loans to pay for their further educations (Clemmit, 880). This has meant the cost to graduates has been growing substantially and as reported by Justin Pope for The Huffington Post titled “Average Student Loan Debt: $25,250” the debt for the average student is a large burden to leave school with. Graduating students were also met with nine-point-one percent unemployment (Finnegan). Priming students to become accepting of debt has been what the American middle class has come to embrace as their trade-off for participation in the American Dream.

That’s it for this part of In Debt or Indentured. We hope that this has given you some important things to think about. Use some of what you have learned here to look beyond the mere message our politicians are presenting to what the ramifications of these actions has on all of us Americans. Our country started down a slippery slope over a decade ago. We seemed to have stopped the free fall it had become, but do not fool yourself. We are still on the precipice of another long fall. Let’s just hope we all can learn, and grow, from the last spill we took.

Check back soon for the next installment of In Debt or Indentured.

In Debt or Indentured Part One

People Politico In Debt or IndenturedThis is the first part of a multiple part series taking a deep dive into our current political and economic crisis in America. Partisan politics, unfettered corporate spending and recklessness along with a shift in our social acceptance of debt, is having far reaching and potentially devastating affects on our way of life, on the American Dream. With each installment we will take a closer look at some of the major pieces of this very complex puzzle and try to understand them and bring them into perspective. Use this opportunity to take a broader look on the political and social economic state of America and how each of us, as a small pieces of the puzzle, can make a difference.

In Debt or Indentured – Introduction

The American middle class is now swimming in debt that is pouring in from every direction. The middle class is faced with stagnant wages coupled with inflationary prices on energy and food, health insurance costs that continue to grow well beyond the rate of inflation, education debt, exorbitant cost of child care, and a dwindling number of well paid job prospects even for those that have higher education. These aspects coupled with The Great Recession have driven workers to stay in jobs that demand longer hours and with more tasks at the same rate of pay. Fear of unemployment and the debt that they owe has driven many American middle class workers to feel lucky to just have a job. They do not speak out because of their debt that they owe on credit cards, car loans, mortgages, and the steadily rising educational debt incurred by today’s students. With bankruptcy law changes that were heavily lobbied for by the banking industry and credit card industry, have made it virtually impossible for average Americans to qualify for bankruptcy bargaining to reduce the most of common middle class debts.

American household debt has been on the rise as credit became more available to middle class workers during the mid 80’s, 90’s and the first half of the 2000’s. With this new access to credit the Americans middle class families just as their government began to spend well beyond their means. Associate professor and Department Chair of Personal Finance and Planning at the University of Missouri Robert O. Weagley reported in an article for Forbes Magazine titled “Big Difference Between Chinese and American Households: Debt” that “The average US household debt is 136% of household income […] if we include federal borrowing, the United States number increases an additional $109,792 per household, to $224,303 per household or 266% of average household income.” This is a dramatic number that demonstrates how the American middle class has become reliant on cheap credit and borrowing. Professor of Economics at New York University Edward N. Wolf explains in his working paper “Recent Trends in Household Wealth in the United States: Rising Debt and the Middle-Class Squeeze—An Update to 2007” that “Indebtedness, […] skyrocketed in the early and mid-aughts [2000’s]; among the middle class, the debt-to-income ratio reached its highest level in 24 years.” Acquiring debt in America has not only established a way for Americans to live outside of their means through the use of credit cards, it has become blasé to go into debt in order to pay for a college education, afford transportation, buy one’s house, and even make daily necessity purchases. This has not always been the case in America.

Credit card debt in America exploded during the 1990’s through to the beginning of the Great Recession when credit became scarce and liquidity dried up as banks became unwilling to even loan to each other in fear of what bad debt the other bank might be holding. During this time period of easy qualification and exorbitant credit limits being doled out America’s binged. Writer Susan Tompor reported in her 2010 USA Today article “Student loan debt exceeds credit card debt in USA” that revolving credit in America stands at $828 billion, this included credit card debt. As Americans have become more accustomed to hearing numbers in the trillions, this number may have lost some of its sticker shock, but to put that into prospective, this is $2,760 owed by every man, woman, and child in America (based on a citizen population of 300 million). Although new lines of credit have been reduced following the financial collapse in 2008, existing borrowers have continued to use their credit cards. Karen E. Dynan and Donald L. Kohn said it well in their Federal Reserve report, “The Rise in U.S. Household Indebtedness: Causes and Consequences.” Dynan and Kohn claim “substantial evidence suggests that households are not always fully rational when making financial decisions” when discussing the American willingness to go into debt. Though Dynan and Kohn are primarily focused on housing debt they identify one of the reasons Americans have been willing to use credit cards so frivolously. The drastic rise in housing prices through the 1990’s into the mid 2000’s gave a false impression to many middle class American families that they were richer than they actually are (Dynan and Kohn, 6). By seeing the equity in their housing as actual banked money, many middle class Americans lived well outside their means knowing that they could refinance or sell their home and still end up with a net profit overall. This of course turned out to be a folly when housing prices plummeted during the economic down turn leaving many home owners upside-down in their mortgages.

That’s it for this part of In Debt or Indentured. We hope that this has given you some important things to think about. Use some of what you have learned here to look beyond the mere message our politicians are presenting to what the ramifications of these actions has on all of us Americans. Our country started down a slippery slope over a decade ago. We seemed to have stopped the free fall it had become, but do not fool yourself. We are still on the precipice of another long fall. Let’s just hope we all can learn, and grow, from the last spill we took.

Check back soon for the next installment of In Debt or Indentured.

2012 Presidential Race Begins in Earnest

reflecting-fountainWith Rick Santorum ending his bid for the presidency in the 2012 election, the real race for the presidency has begun.

Are you excited? I hope so. I hope the nasty vitriol of the past year coming from both parties (ironically a lot of it from the GOP, aimed at their own party) has not soured you on the process. If you are a normal person it probably has. I guess that’s a good thing, at least it shows that there are still people out there that get disgusted by the inhumanity that we see in candidates when they are trying to defame each other.

During this time of terrible turmoil in America, we need to have leaders that are fighting for America, and not just their own political parties. We need leaders that are willing to work with each other to progress the United States into its next great chapter. We need a government that fights for equality in all of its citizens.

So even if you are already sick and tired of the mountains of trash talking, misleading, finger pointing and hypocrisy I urge you to take a deep breath and keep on plowing through the political general election season. Now is not the time to give up and toss in your vote to whatever “side” you think you are on.

Now is the time to time to kick up the heat. Now is the time to push all potential presidential candidates to come forward and be truthful about what they have done, what they stand for, and what they most want to achieve. It is time to call them out on the pandering and political positioning.

We now know that the main contest is going to be between the incumbent, President Barack Obama, and the GOP front runner Mitt Romney. It doesn’t mean these two will be the only choices, though. There are a few others that will still likely be running, including Ron Paul. Dr. Paul has quite a bit of support. And there will be others.

We have six months and change left to go before the general election. We have been inundated over the last year as the GOP goes through the long and arduous process of selecting their nominee to run against President Barack Obama. Now the real fight is going to begin. If we think it has been ugly to this point watching the Republicans go at each other’s throats, imagine how nasty it is going to get when the different parties start attacking each other.

Now is the time we need to pay attention. Now is the time we need to call them all out for their pandering and misdirection. Now is the time to hold the media accountable for their reporting.

A Civil Tongue in Politics

A Civil Tongue in Politics

Now is the time we need to be sure that we are using our heads, not our hearts, to follow this political struggle. The gloves are coming off and we need to be ready. We can’t let them push the people out of the debate. We can’t let them marginalize the citizens of the United States. We can’t let their unfounded lies go unchecked and unchallenged. We have to make sure that the truth of what and who these politicians are becomes common knowledge, not what one party or the other wants us to think.

We need increased honesty, integrity, and accountability in all things revolving around politics. We need to be sure this process becomes better. The only way to do that is to make sure that we, The People, shout out loud and proud that we are fed up with the declining and dysfunctional state of our political environment.

This can happen if we come together as a unifying force for truth in action, accountability for inaction, and serious repercussions for those that find it easy, more fun or entertaining to degrade, slander or otherwise defame each other. Responsibility, respectability, and courage are needed from everyone involved to make this a reality.

I will stand up, speak out, and form my opinions based on fact-based reality. I will not shut my mind to differing opinions and ideas of others. I will keep the discussion respectable and open. I will work to find common ground between those around me. I vow to be a better citizen, will you?

The Cost of a Vote in 2012

people-politico-five-dollar-billsNone of us like to think that the millions of dollars spent by presidential campaigns are trying to buy your vote. However, that is in fact the case. So I thought I would take a minute to look into what a vote costs in America today. I was shocked, and I think you will be too, so I’ll try and ease you into this a bit. Politics have changed dramatically in the time after the Citizens United Supreme Court decision.

The Supreme Court’s decision on Citizens United basically removed all caps on contributions from corporations and unions to political campaigns. It has been widely accepted through our history that money influences politics, corrupts democracy, and takes the power from the people and puts it in the hands of those with money. The Supreme Court’s decision put democracy more firmly into the hands of the corporations by allowing unlimited spending on elections.

Spending on elections was out of control before this decision, and now it’s incomprehensible, it’s a joke, and we the people are the punch line.

There are a few things we need to know about making a rough guess about the amounts of money being spent to win your vote. In most cases they can’t actually trade money directly for your vote, so instead they use advertising, media, new outlets,, pundits, the internet, you name it, to get their message and their brand out to you. Unfortunately there is very little regulation regarding the insane and often false things they say to sway you one way or another. When there is regulation, they will get around it by using a 501c/PAC combination to absolve any involvement and responsibility. If you think this is a joke, watch this series masterfully done by Stephen Colbert of the Colbert Report. He actually creates his own PAC, then turns it into a Super PAC, and ends up with a million dollars donated. Really.

How Money Corrupts Congress--and a Plan to Stop It

How Money Corrupts Congress--and a Plan to Stop It

PACs have to disclose who gives them money. However, a 501c is a tax-exempt organization that does NOT have to disclose donors. All a person or corporation need do to circumvent the disclosure rules is contribute money to the 501c. The 501c then gives to the PAC and the PAC does what it wants with the money. It’s money laundering on a breathtaking scale. A candidate could pour money into the 501c and get it right back through the PAC. Sickening and totally legal.

So now that we know how it’s done, let’s see how much money it takes to buy a vote.  That’s what all the money is ultimately there to do. I’ve rounded the numbers for ease of understanding. A few thousand here or even a few million there will not make much of a difference in our completely broken election system where billions of dollars are involved.

In 2010, it is estimated that there were about 236,000,000 registered voters. According to this data, we can estimate that the registered voters will increase to 240,000,000 in 2012. Going by prior voter turnout numbers, we can expect 50% or so to turn out to vote in the upcoming Presidential Election. This gives us the first part of our equation: 120,000,000 votes.

How much money is going into getting those 120 million votes? This number is difficult, because campaigns want to keep this number as quiet as possible.  So first we’ll look at how much the politicians are raising themselves. This is required to be publically disclosed and it is the number most often reported. Over the last year we can see that a total of almost $380,000,000 was raised by politicians.  We can assume that over the next 6 months the money will flow in faster than in the last year. It is probably conservative to say that this total will reach $800,000,000 by November. Many analysts are saying that campaign spending will easily break a billion dollars. But we’ll use $800 million for our calculations.

Next we need to try to determine the contributions to PACs and Super PACs. They are required by law to disclose their finances, but with over 7,500 listed in the Federal Election Committee’s database, there are bound to be errors.  To make it easy, we’ll use this information. You can find the information here: Adding it all up gets us $1.7 billion from 2010 to 2011. For ease of calculation, we’ll round that number down to $1.5 billion to use for 2011-2012. This gives us $3.2 billion for these two years of PAC and Super PAC fundraising.

With no cap on how much money can be contributed to an election, candidates are looking at three to four times the amount of money they had to spend in the past.  They can spend the majority of it on    sleazy ads, misinformation campaigns, robo calls, spamming, and whatever else it takes. And the best part is, the candidates are “completely separated” from the PACs and Super PACs. If someone gets offended or if an ad backfires, the candidate can throw up their hands and claim plausible deniability.

Math Time!

  • $800,000,000 (candidate money) + $3,200,000,000 (PAC money) = $4,000,000,00 or a cool 4 billion dollars. Easy to remember.
  • 120,000,000 voters.

Now all we need to do is take the money spent on elections and divide that by those who vote. Gravy!

  • $4,000,000,000 (Money) ÷ 120,000,000 (Votes) = $33 and change.


Well that doesn’t sound too bad, you have 33 bucks don’t you? So to put in your equivalent support as a citizen of the United States you should toss $33 to who you support.

The problem is that it doesn’t work out that way. Our democracy is supposed to form and control our government on a 1 to 1 basis, but now with these new rules we are getting further and further away from the 1 to 1 vote working.

Rich Joe used to be capped at a $2,500 donation. But now he can give his $2,500 personally to the campaign and can also funnel in $1,000,000 or more  from his company, trust fund, dividends or whatever.

Money equals influence in our government, and the increased flow of money from corporations and unions magnifies their influence.

Influence of Donations Before Citizens United

Poor Joe throws in $33 to support his one vote. Rich Joe throws in his $2,500 to support his vote. Rich Joe’s influence on his candidate is 75 times more than Poor Joe’s. That in itself shows the system was sad, broken, not working as intended.

Influence of Donations After Citizens United

Today Poor Joe throws in his $33 again to support his candidate. Rich Joe throws in his $2,500 and also donates $1,000,000 dollars from his company. Again, Rich Joe’s influence is obviously more, but by how much? His influence is now a staggering 30,378 times more than Joe’s! This one person/entity now has tens of thousands of times more influence than Poor Joe in the elections.

I don’t even know what to think about this. I am disgusted. I am appalled. I am horrified that we allowed this to happen to our country.

Checkbook Democracy: How Money Corrupts Political Campaigns

Checkbook Democracy: How Money Corrupts Political Campaigns

With these billions of dollars intended to influence us, and with the mountains of lies about their opponents, and false promises about themselves, it is no wonder our government and our country is screeching to a halt.

We have allowed democracy to be taken away from us. We have literally sold it. We have allowed a plutocracy to take its place.

When the wealthy control the country they do whatever they can to not only increase their wealth but consolidate it. That is exactly what we are seeing now.

With the caps lifted, they can literally spend whatever it takes to convince us they are not doing exactly what they are doing. The facts are in front of us. I have presented many here and you can look for yourself all over the place. We are swimming in the evidence of the fall of our democracy but so many would rather drown than to think about this.

This cannot endure or our country will not. We have already fallen behind because of our broken and crippled system. We are being surpassed by many other countries in almost every sector you can think of. The power has been taken from the common people. We are simply being outbid.

It’s time you did your part along with those around you to stand up, speak out and shout out that you want your vote back and demand it can’t be outbid anymore.


Speak Out Against GOP War on Women

move-on-war-on-women-ad-people-politicoHere is a new ad that was just released by This ad is making the rounds quickly and even getting a nod from Bill O’Reilly. Though he doesn’t agree with the message, he does think it is powerful in its delivery.

Why is the ad so powerful? It shows women quoting some of the horrible things that prominent members of the Republican Party have said about women and reproductive rights. The actors then announce that women are not happy with these statements and wonder what is going on with the GOP.  And it’s true; it has been truly disturbing to hear misogynistic comments that have come not just from showmen trying to increase ratings, but presidential candidates and others in public office.  Mitt Romney has said he agrees with these statements, he just may have not used those exact words to agree.

I don’t know what they are thinking on the Right, and perhaps that is why I get so frustrated with them at times. But this time, I really don’t understand who thought that declaring war on women is a good thing? What do they hope to gain out of such blatant disregard and disdain for women? Seriously!

Here are a few short words from the women featured in this ad at

The brave women who appear in this ad are throwing the words of Rush Limbaugh, Rick Santorum, and others back in their faces—helping to expose their archaic views. Three of these women shared their reasons for putting themselves on the line to bring women’s voices to the debate on women’s health:

Katherine: “I’m outraged that there is even an argument about insurance coverage for female contraception, much less the right to contraception itself.”

Ann: “Lack of reproductive choice has been at the heart of multiple generations of premature death, trauma, and suffering in my family.”

Michelle: “As the mother of a 3-year-old daughter, it is my duty to protect and fight for HER rights and her future.”

Katherine, Michelle, and Ann are part of a nationwide movement standing up against the GOP’s war on women. All of them need your support to continue the fight.

Take a look at the ad for yourself and really sit back and think about what these statements say about the people who wish to represent us. And though we can categorize these as “women’s” issues, I guarantee you they affect each and every one of us.

Women are at the forefront of this argument, as they should be, but they are not the only ones that will be, and are, affected by these atrocious attacks on civil liberty. Birth control and contraception has had a huge society changing effect on all of us. We know this. We have seen the changes over the last quarter century. And we a thousand or two years of more history to compare it to.

Come on now People!

Contraception is About Women’s Health Not Politics

women-concerned-about-health-careWe have all heard the arguments recently and they are getting louder and louder. The most recent attempt at hamstringing women’s health care came at the hands of a horribly conceived and widely misconstrued bill known as the Blunt Bill. Even though it was narrowly defeated (51 for to 48 against), I think it is important to take a moment to talk about what this bill and other legislation like it would really do. In many ways it is amazing to even see birth control and contraception even being an issue. This argument was out in politics a quarter century ago. It not only seemed to be settled but we also have seen decades of benefit from birth control being widely available and accessible. As this proves our memories are short and our reason can be clouded. Let’s take a loot at a few of the main political arguments.

Contraception is Used For Much More Than Prevention of Conception

Different kinds of contraception are used for more than just birth control by millions of women. The Pill is used to alleviate a range of women’s medical conditions. To assume contraception is strictly used to stop conception would be to exclude nearly half of all women who use it.

Depending on what study you look at (or which side of the argument you are on), upwards of 15-20% of women taking contraception do so for purely non birth control related reasons. This number is impossible to narrow down since every study has minor variations in what and who meets their criteria. Regardless of this though, the fact remains that millions of American women use contraception for other reasons than birth control.

There is a reason contraception has been touted as one of the greatest inventions of the 20th century. Impacts go far past the simple impact of stopping conception. Attempting to legislate contraception from a standpoint of birth control misses the real crux of the issue and therefore misses the real consequences or benefits.

Stop Legislating Religion

Religious beliefs should not be put into legislation. In fact legislation based of belief or faith should be cleared completely off the table. In a time of technology, information and the ability to process huge amounts of information, we should be legislating from facts and data:

  • It would cost an estimated 18 billion dollars a year in unintended births that would need to be covered by families, insurance companies, or the government.
  • There is no quantifiable data whatsoever to suggest that having access to contraception turns women into mindless rampant fornicators. In fact, if this was the case, perhaps contraception would have to be covered by insurance companies just as Viagra is.
  • If women can no longer afford to treat medical conditions prevented by this medicine, larger health care expenses would loom in these women’s futures.
  • And what of the quality of life for unwanted children, especially those that end up with severe psychological damage because their parents cannot care for them. What is the cost of foster care for 18 years of a child’s life?
  • Can we discount the responsibility of the great many Americans that know they cannot afford or otherwise give a child what is necessary and need to have a good childhood and family experience? What about the majority of Americans, who understand they can only afford one or two children. More children than they can afford means less opportunity for everyone in the family.
  • Republicans should certainly understand that what this legislation entails is a corporation, contracting with another corporation (the insurance company), and having the ability to tell the second corporation how to run its business, while possibly interfering with state legislation requiring insurance companies to cover this prescription in the same way it covers other prescriptions.

And if you are just not the “show me the facts” kind of person and want to go from the gut, go with your belief. Pope Benedict XVI has told you what your belief should be by saying that healthcare is an “Inalienable Right” and said it’s the moral responsibility of all nations to guarantee access to health care for all of their citizens.” I doubt the Pope meant only those that can afford it, should get it.

When Advocating Freedom Don’t Legislate Against It

Another big side of this argument that continues to astound me is that the same groups that shout so loudly about freedom are the ones pushing so hard to eliminate freedoms for anyone that might have a different opinion.

Freedom : Noun ~ Ability to act freely – a state in which somebody is able to act and live as he or she chooses, without being subject to any undue restraints or restriction.

Freedom talks about an individual’s right to choose what is best for them, not the right of a corporation or religion to dictate what is best for that individual person.

This is why the government, corporations, and religious organizations should not interfere with the insurance companies they partner with in covering contraception. The individual person can make a choice based on their own beliefs, ideals, health conditions, lifestyle choices, or any other reason whether or not they will use contraception.

It is not the employer’s business what a person’s life is outside of their job. It’s not the church’s right to have intimate details on its employee’s health. Our health care system is such that the majority of Americans receive health insurance through their employers. Your employer should not determine what will be covered by a third party healthcare plan.  It is up to the government to make sure we have access to the best health care and the personal freedom to choose what is best for us.

Further Reading About The Benefits of Birth Control

Voter Suppression in Politics

voter-infoMore voter suppression arguments are out there this year and if you ignore the indignity of the voter fraud and just look at the numbers involved, it would be very easy to solve this issue. Especially when you look at the very low numbers involved in actual voter fraud versus legitimate votes getting mixed up, tallied wrong, lost or the myriad of other things. The bottom line is we need to work on getting people out to vote, not stopping those that do vote.

Getting People to Vote

We need to get every single American and dual citizen of voting age to vote every single time. We need to ingrain in our children, in our people, the importance and significance of voting. The quality and functionality of our democracy is directly related to how many of its people are involved, educated, informed and acting on their democratic duty.

I would go as far to say that we should PAY people to vote. Invariably people will pay at least some attention and most have some idea of who and what they want out of life in this country. If you were to offer a $500 tax credit for voting in the general elections, it would greatly increase turn out. Just getting people excited and involved would go a long way to make this a better country.

Personally I find it appalling when the reporters exclaim that we have recently had record-setting voter turnout, and the record-setting number is in the 40% range. That is embarrassing, pure and simple. As the “world leader” in advocating and pushing freedom and democracy, we simply have to do better than that.

So I propose this to you: Make it your mission, as a responsible voter, American, and patriot, to get one person you know to register and vote this year. Let’s make those days of seeing 40% of voter turnout something of the past as we tag on 10-20% more.

A Political Fix to a Non-Partisan Problem

The Politics of Disenfranchisement: Why Is It So Hard to Vote in America?

Why Is It So Hard to Vote in America?

With the next wave of voter registration and polling legislation comes another slew of outcries to voter suppression. I understand the basic idea behind the argument; however, the proposed solution is no solution at all.

These pieces of new legislation are meant to tackle the estimated .0002%-5.000% voter fraud that has been reported recently. These numbers vary greatly depending on who, what and where you are looking but with the dozen or so articles, websites and other sources I investigated, the highest was floating around 5% with some as low as .0002%. Part of the reason for this is that we are addressing specifically voter fraud. We are not talking about mistakes in registration, people who have moved from their old addresses, people with the same names, addresses, lost ballots, miscounts, and the myriad of OTHER things that causes inaccurate vote count.

Much of the current legislation that is pending this year revolves around forcing all those that are voting to show valid and up to date photo IDs at the time of voting. This may address the lower end of the vote tally and fraud issues but would leave most of the other horrendous holes and problems with our system in place.

However, legislation to force presenting photo IDs in order to vote is estimated to affect at least 10% of the population that currently votes now, legally and without problems. Many of these voters without photo IDs tend to have lower incomes and are much more likely to vote Democratic than Republican.

This could also affect a much greater number of people that vote from abroad or by mail. Many places have been voting strictly by mail, especially for the smaller elections. If everyone now has to go back to a polling place to vote, won’t that decimate the numbers of people who can vote?

Make Voting Easier Not Harder

There is such a small portion of the population that votes fraudulently it has almost no effect on our current system. The numbers show the problem is nearly nonexistent. 80 fraudulent votes in a general election are not going to make much of a difference when we are talking about millions of people voting.

Instead of further limiting a minority group to vote, and making more difficult what should be an easy process and every citizen’s duty, we should be empowering all Americans to register and vote.

I’m not so proud to be an American when I find out more people vote for American Idol then in a general election. That is unacceptable and shameful.

What we should be doing is passing legislation to move our voting system from the 19th century into the 21st century. We have an archaic system to pick our representatives and run our country.  We should be embracing the newest, best, and most efficient ways to insure our democracy is protected.

Just think about it: we currently trust so many facets of our lives right now to the technology around us.  Why not support improvements in voting technology as well?

It’s easy to say that voting systems can be hacked, of course they can. However, many more people are currently skewing election results with lost ballots, miscounting by hand, going to the wrong polling place, voting as a dead person, you name it. This Pew Research document points out some of the huge flaws we have. Those are the issues that need to be addressed, the problems that need to be fixed.

I know it’s not perfect, no system is. However we have the technology, the know how to do it, we just need the will. Change can be scary but using technology and the computer power of America could and would streamline our voting process in ways we can’t fully appreciate.

We need to get 10-20% more voters voting. Not reduce the number of valid voters by 10% or more.

Here are some links to some more info and some of the specifics in voting issues around America:


Rush Should be Tossed out of the Republican Party

sad-political-stateWell he is at it again. Rush Limbaugh must have had some sagging ratings as he went off on another one of his ignorance-inducing, hate filled rants. His target this time was a female Georgetown University law student, Sandra Fluke, who testified before Congress about contraception. This was after House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) prevented her, or any woman, from testifying about a contraception regulation. After several congresswomen expressed outrage, she was invited to testify before the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee.

Limbaugh offered an apology on Saturday for his ridiculous and rude comments, but it was difficult to find any sincerity in it. Besides, he had already received the headlines and ratings he wanted. He does this about once a year, so it isn’t a slip up. It isn’t a mistake. It is calculated. His action is intentional and it is appalling. Look at his track record and see the regularity with which these things happen, and you will see what I mean.

This kind of behavior should be appalling to everyone, no matter your party affiliation.  But the problem is, this type of behavior is encouraged, rewarded, and in many cases seems to be the goal of political pundits. It’s a sad day when someone that is so openly hostile, disrespectful, and downright mean is still defended, praised, and cheered for being some kind of champion of “truth”. This isn’t a champion of anything other than ignorance, hate, anger, and fear.

If Sandra Fluke was your daughter, sister, or friend, would you be proud of her for standing up for what she believes in? What would you think if someone called someone you love a slut because she had the guts to state her opinion about women’s health care? Regardless of your stance in the matter, Limbaugh’s comments didn’t address the actual content of her testimony. He was lewd and childish. Limbaugh’s apologists say he’s an entertainer, and he says shocking things because he is an entertainer.  But this kind of response to an honest testimony is just plain mean.

He is not a champion of truth, or a bringer of justice, or righteously moral. There is no reason, EVER, to act like this. He is once again degrading our system of government to schoolyard name calling, when what we really need is for people to actually LISTEN to the testimony of each side, not try to find the most salacious interpretation.

Unfortunately the Right has perfected this behavior. Unfortunately the public actually seems to support this strange verbal blood sport. And worse, other parties, including the Left are trying to “catch up” to this appalling, horrible, ignorant, and sub human behavior.

What we see on TV, read in the papers, and watch on the internet has a nasty habit of making its way into our home. It’s important to keep our homes civil and moral. I’m not just talking about your house; I’m talking about Our Country, America, our home.

GOP Political Showdown on Super Tuesday

sw_fake_ballot_sa03045Super Tuesday is upon us. Super Tuesday usually refers to the Tuesday in February or March before a presidential election when the greatest number of states hold primary elections to select presidential candidates to run for each party.

This year Super Tuesday is on March 6th and is much anticipated by the GOP. It’s surprising how little excitement really revolves around all of the front running candidates. Most agree that it will either be Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum or Newt Gingrich. My hats off to Ron Paul though, for a good showing in the race. Even after Super Tuesday, he may very well continue running as an independent candidate.

As usual the candidates are going at each other’s throats and spewing as much vitriol at each other as possible. Most also agree that this may be one of the most nasty, underhanded, and venomous bids of the presidential nomination by any party in recent history. One of the biggest contributors to this ugly campaigning are the hundreds of Super PACs contributing millions of dollars to smear and slam their opponents. The beauty (or horror if you like) of this new system is the candidates have to remain 100% “unaffiliated” from these Super PACs. This excuse is used to try to say they have no influence in these despicable campaigns. However, I digress… I’ll discuss the Super PACs and their detrimental effect on democracy in later articles. We’ll see just how nasty they can become for the General Election.

Anyway, after a nice even twenty Republican debates, everyone should have a good gauge of what each of the candidates stands for and what they say they will do with our country should you entrust it to them.

What is even more surprising than the cat fighting going on between a bunch of grown men is how indifferent the entire GOP seems to be about any of their candidates. The mixed messages, the confusion in what they stand for, and the hypocrisy about a great many issues, seems to have weakened and disorganized the party. The Republican party is plagued by flip-flops and missteps. The Affordable Care Act, deemed Obamacare by opponents, is similar to Senator John McCain’s health care proposal from the 1990’s and Mitt Romney’s health care reform plan for Massachusetts. Apparently health care reform is completely taboo now that a Democratic White House has decided to take their ideas seriously. And the mysterious debt ceiling debacle? It should have been obvious that putting the entire nation’s economic future in jeopardy just to oppose President Barack Obama and the Democratic Party was a severe misstep.

However, through all of the GOP’s hardships on their journey of self-discovery, and trying to figure out which candidate best represents their conflicting and confusing ideals, they still all agree that once Super Tuesday is over they will all rally behind the victor. They look to each other and their interviewers in the media with surprise and disgust when asked if they will “fall in line” to support the “other guy” in the General election. They act as if questioning their personal integrity should be a crime. Their responses all fall along the same line, the importance of holding America and its People above petty differences between its politicians is first and foremost. “I will honor the election and refuse to betray my people, no matter what the outcome of Super Tuesday.” If these candidates purport to have so much respect for the candidate the voting public chooses, why has the Republican party had so little regard for the current sitting president, duly elected by the American people?

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