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The #Culturalinertia of Social Media

Title graphic created with DALL-E-2 AI text to image creator

On October 29, 1969, ARPAnet delivered its first message; a “node-to-node” communication from one computer to another, and the internet as we know it was born.

In 1976, Ward Christensen invented the XModem file transfer protocol. It was released to the public in 1977 and the world as we knew it would never be the same again.

Social Media didn’t begin with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or TikTok.

It is not going to end there either, regardless of what happens with those services over the next few months or years.

Long before Facebook and Twitter were created, those of us who pioneered online social media were doing so on CompuServe, GEnie, and then Prodigy, AOL, and Myspace.  Before Spotify and YouTube there was Napster.  Before Napster we had FidoNet and others like it.

Before all of those we had dial-up BBS systems with messages boards, text chat rooms, and slow as hell file sharing.

I have been a part of all of it since I obtained an Apple IIe and 300 baud modem in the late 1970s.

In the mid-to-late-80s, I worked as a customer service and tech support representative, content moderator, content creator, design advisor, and alpha/beta tester for the General Electric Network for Information Exchange (GEnie), which General Electric created in 1985 in partnership with Ameritech.   During my time there, I also served as the Technical Editor and content contributor for John C. Dvorak’s (now out of print) public user’s guide to the service.

I present this information here to show that on the subject of electronic social media, I have been not just a user, but helped build and shape it through its early stages, and have been involved with using it, through all of its iterations and evolutions since the very beginning.

On this subject, I can legitimately claim a bit of expertise.

BBS Systems

CBBS, the first computer- based bulletin board system on record, was established in 1978.

Originally, the service served as a space for scientists and engineers to share and brainstorm ideas and knowledge. 

However, it didn’t take more than about two years for the spin-offs to start; presumably, by many of those same people looking to use them for more leisure based and, in some cases, illegal communications.   ISCABBS, the largest BBS in the world was created by the University of Iowa and was still up and running in 2019.

As computers started allowing other computers to connect to them, online hacking immediately began.  Hackers migrated to services like Demon Roach Underground, OSUNY, and Plover-NET.  What you know now as the “Dark-Web” had its origins here.

The porn industry also found its space on these services in the early days.  First as text stories, then ASCII art, and finally image sharing.  Rusty n Edie’s BBS was raided in 1993 by the FBI and sued by Playboy in 1997.

Terrorist groups and criminal organizations also created and maintained BBS systems to communicate with each other before law enforcement found ways to tap in and decipher the communications.

And yet, while all that was going on, great leaps in both science and engineering began to happen specifically because the people pushing those fields forward now had a way to communicate almost instantaneously across borders, continents, and oceans with a method that was far more substantial and productive than a one-on-one telephone call, or even a conference call.

Hobby and gaming groups formed as well, connecting people with similar personal interests but different national, ethnic, and professional backgrounds, from all over the world in a way we had never seen before.

This interactivity and blind connection fostered two things.

It removed the barriers of race, religion, gender, and political differences from personal interactions.  We had no way of knowing those things about someone unless they told us, and most didn’t bother telling anyone until a strong enough bond had been built that the relationship itself would challenge those innate beliefs about those differences in ways people would never otherwise experience.

I am a firm believer that this ever-burgeoning electronic global community was a massive, but generally unrecognized and/or unacknowledged, part of the fall of the U.S.S.R. and the destruction of the Berlin Wall.  It also provided many with the information they needed to continue anti-war protests because the information being exchanged between individuals was exposing the misinformation and disinformation rhetoric governments were putting forth in the media to justify those war efforts.

However, just like there have always been criminals, there have always been Internet trolls. The Internet also gave some people a shield of anonymity to begin freely putting forth hateful beliefs, rhetoric, and false information without personal recourse or recompense.

Social media, in all its forms, has reshaped every aspect of our lives both online and off.  It has changed how we communicate with family and friends, as well as complete strangers.  It has changed how we do business.  It has changed our global socioeconomics and our geopolitical views and policies.

Anyone telling you not to talk about the things that are important or interesting to you on social media because “No one can change anything by whining online” is full of shit and just trying to get you to stop pushing the boundaries of their own personal comfort zone.

~Tim Shehane

All of this still continues across every social media platform that ever was, or will be, invented.

Generational Differences in Usage

The Baby Boomers created the Internet as a long-distance information sharing tool.  Gen-X created social media as we know it currently as a connectivity method in a quickly expanding world of rapid international business growth and development.  Millennials, or Gen-Y, were the first generation raised with that connectivity being a major part of their personal social, educational, and professional development.  Members of Gen-Z live their lives out loud on social media as it – and its associated technology — serves as an integral part of every aspect of their lives. 

In the early stages, the old principles of public decorum ruled the public spaces on the Internet.  Most people conducted themselves online the same way they did offline, by avoiding the taboo subjects of politics, religion, and personal bigotries and biases except in small groups that had already proved themselves to be like-minded on any particular issue.  The Baby Boomer era mentality of “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all,” was the primary content moderation guideline.

As Gen-X became more casual with the usage of the Internet for non-job related communication and tasks, the moderation guidelines changed, and the echo chambers we have now began to develop through self-segregation of users with others who shared their beliefs.  But they were still leery of putting too much personal information online for potential employers and business contacts to see if that information could be used against them in any way.

Gen-Y (I am not using the term Millennial here because it is too often used as a derogatory slur) threw caution to the wind and started posting all kinds of personal information and private thoughts online for the world to see.   This gave birth to a new profession:  the Social Media Influencer.  These social media influencers achieved celebrity status as they monetized their audience reach by stealth endorsements of products and services for others to buy.

Gen-Z has been raised almost as much by these influencers as they have been by their friends and families.  Their lives are akin to the Truman Show, lived as much online for the entertainment of others as they are offline for personal growth and satisfaction. Just this week it was reported that a young woman in France is allowing her subscribers on OnlyFans to dictate all of her personal life decisions. As a result, she has quit her internship and ended a toxic relationship, among other things. 

Understanding these generational differences in social media usage helps both businesses and cultural influencers to better serve their audience and also to weaponize the knowledge with their marketing algorithms to better manipulate their targets.

Social Media and Celebrity

Maintaining a celebrity status in our modern culture almost requires a person to become a social media influencer to hype projects and endorsement products. Going viral on social media can make or break a celebrity overnight.

Even those few celebrities who maintain no social media presence cannot avoid the affects on their personal and professional lives due to other members of their industry, allies, rivals, fans, and haters posting about them on social media.

After making a music industry connection at a Holiday Inn party, singer Halsey was able to get access to a studio to record her first song — “Ghost.” She posted it to her SoundCloud account once it was finished. Within an hour, she said she logged onto her Twitter account only to discover her account was blowing up. The next morning she had multiple record labels begging to sign her.

Late-night talk show host James Cordon recently found out just how much damage social media can do to a well curated public persona.

Actors Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively, who each have a massive online following, recently had to post pictures of their newborn child to social media so the paparazzi would stop swarming their house and spying on them in an attempt to get the first photos for the public.

Business Use and Misuse

Businesses have entire departments, actually entire industries, dedicated to social media data harvesting and evaluation.  This information is collected at every single level of interaction and collated in every possible way that can be imagined.  Once collated, it is analyzed and sold to anyone that wants to leverage it.  Nearly every business wants to take advantage of collected data, whether to reach and engage their target audience or influence and manipulate each target audience for their own purposes.

Businesses have been monitoring employees’ social media postings for years and will quickly use personal postings made away from work as a reason to fire someone for cause if they post anything negative about the company itself or harmful to the company’s reputation for a known employee to be saying or doing.

Coca-Cola famously fired an employee whose photo was taken while he was drinking a Pepsi while wearing his delivery uniform back in 2003.  This was just the excuse the company needed to fire a pro-union worker.

Today, nearly everyone knows that they can get a person fired from their job by filing complaints with their employers about that person’s misconduct, both online and off, even when away from work if it can be posted to social media.

While this is a valid and powerful way to disempower those racists, bigots, and fascists that shouldn’t have any power or influence over the lives of those they hate and/or fear, it also means that people cannot have a single bad/off day anywhere without fear of long-term repercussions.

Government Use and Misuse

Obviously, governments – and those that want to control them – could not overlook the power and influence of the growing Internet, but it was growing faster than they could regulate or restrict its usage and availability.  By the time they could pass any laws to do so, the World Wide Web interface was developed making it and all its information more available to nearly everyone with access to electricity, a computer, and a phone line.  Just as they started to get a handle on that, the social media platforms and their BBS message boards, chatrooms, and encrypted file exchanges changed it all again.   Then smartphones came along and disconnected many of the users from the traceable landlines law enforcement could easily monitor.   With few exceptions, the changes and advancements in how we use technology are nearly always at least a decade ahead of the governments’ ability to regulate and monitor that technology.

Not surprisingly, those in government, or those that wanted to seize governmental power, quickly become adept at using that technology as well for propaganda distribution, misinformation and disinformation campaigns, and illicit surveillance to their advantage.

We have seen firsthand in recent years how social media can be used to plan and coordinate a massive non-violent political protest to affect change as well as coordinate and plan an armed and murderous insurrection siege attempt upon the United States capital during a joint session of the full Congress.

We have seen firsthand how one state or national government can use social media to socially engineer influence over the international and domestic governmental policies and procedures of other states or nations.   We have also seen how they can create public animosity or distress for each other.

Donald Trump would have never been able to successfully become President without social media. The vast majority of the damage he created while President may not have ever been fully known or understood without social media cutting through the official press narratives.

We have seen firsthand how social media can be used to spread the truth about important events to those that might not otherwise ever hear it and how it can be used to convince others that those events either never happened or were something else entirely.

Where Do We Go from Here?

The Internet, especially social media, is the most powerful and influential tool of cultural change ever put into the hands of the general populace, and with the invention of smartphones, it is literally in our hands all the time.

How we use that power, and allow it to be misused, is entirely up to us.

I am doing my best to weaponize it in my ongoing lifelong battle against willful ignorance, racism, religious bigotry, toxic misogyny, fascism, and the gradual slide toward Corporate Feudalism that seems to be driving our economic policies.

What Will You Do with It?

It is up to you what kind of influence you will let the Internet, social media, and those adept at wielding them as weapons, have over your life.

It is also up to you how you will use them as vital tools in making your life, and the lives of others, better.

What kind of citizen will you choose to be?

What kind of person will you choose to be?

Whatever choice you make; social media is creating a real time record of your involvement in our society and culture through this period of time for future historians.

How will you choose to be remembered?

Coming Out

Let’s start the upcoming weekend off with a #culturalinertia article by Jessi Hempel for Time Magazine about “coming out” that reminds us of a few important things.

The first is that while we normally, and rightly, use the term in reference to people who are not cisgender “coming out of the closet” it can be much more than that. It can be no longer keeping any important aspect of your identity secret; whether you are hiding it from your family, friends, social groups, coworkers, employers, neighbors, the public in general, or even yourself.

Generally, people keep these aspects secret to prevent ridicule and rejection, whether the secret is innocent and harmless to others or not. Sometimes it is done out of a concern for self preservation. Those who disapprove of the secret aspect of your true identity might react violently. Many parents have been known to kick their own kids out of their homes or worse, drive them to either runaway or commit suicide to escape. Violent hate crimes are committed all the time for people who openly display their non-traditional gender identities, sexual identities, or religions.

But these aren’t the only aspects we hide.

We may hide some talents or skillsets, we may pretend to be smarter or less intelligent in order to fit in or not be intimidating, we may be afraid to talk about the hobbies we enjoy or the genres of entertainment we prefer. It could be we are hiding a polyamorous relationship, or a romantic couple could hide their own mutually chosen power dynamic from others.

The advent of social media has made it easier for adults and even some teens to at least partially come out with their secrets. And for the most part that can be a good thing. Suppressing a key aspect of your identity is often toxic for our mental health.

However, it has also opened the way for many to come out with the toxic and harmful aspects of themselves. I contend that this is also good from a #Culturalinertia aspect.

When these people self-identify and begin to live their own lives out loud it shows us who needs to be disempowered, and which people and businesses to avoid or cut loose from our own lives.

Ultimately, coming out is about choosing to accept whatever personal consequences there may be for freely being your authentic self in all situations.

When doing so causes no personal harm to any other person, there should be no consequences.

Inflation: Moral Dilemma or Fiscal Inevitability?

“Putting People First, It’s The Economy, Stupid!”

~James Carville and Bill Clinton

The Old Thinking

The U.S. Federal Reserve  announced on Wednesday Sept 21, 2022, its third consecutive 0.75 percentage point rate increase for money lenders.  Then the Chairman, Jay Powell, warned that at least one more such increase would be coming later this year, with the likelihood of more necessary next year to bring inflationary rates back under control.

Despite those announcements, he could not rule out that these rates would be high enough to prevent a full economic recession.

A September 13, 2022, article from Investopedia defines inflation:

“Inflation is a rise in prices, which can be translated as the decline of purchasing power over time. The rate at which purchasing power drops can be reflected in the average price increase of a basket of selected goods and services over some period of time. The rise in prices, which is often expressed as a percentage, means that a unit of currency effectively buys less than it did in prior periods. Inflation can be contrasted with deflation, which occurs when prices decline and purchasing power increases.”

They also explain that basic measure of selected goods is referred to as the Consumer Price Index.

“In the U.S., the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) monthly collects the prices of some 94,000 items from a scientifically selected sample of goods and services to assemble its representative basket.2 The numbers are then adjusted to ensure price changes don’t reflect improvements in product quality, and weighted in proportion with consumer spending patterns derived from a separate survey of about 36,000 consumers in a given year.

The reason for the increase then, is that the government, and economic analysts, have historically believed that the most effective way the government has to curb out-of-control inflation in a supply and demand capitalist economy is to make it more difficult and expensive for people and businesses to borrow money.

This, in turn, is expected to lead businesses to cut back on potential raises and hiring, and ultimately force layoffs that will increase unemployment.

The higher interest rates on credit lines and borrowed money, as well as the diminished income and loss of employment, will force most consumers to cut back on their expenditures, especially their discretionary spending.

The driving force of this thinking is that we need lower wages and higher unemployment to reduce the demand creating a surplus in supply which will force goods and service providers to drop their prices. 

The always present inherent danger is that it is an extremely fine line to walk before it becomes a full-blown devastating economic recession or even worse, another Great Depression.

It isn’t just the United States that operates this way, Central Banks around the world are making similar decisions using the same reasoning.

Historically, these methods have been mostly successful, even though those hovering at the poverty lines would argue otherwise.  The difference in a single percentage point can be the difference for many families between poverty, and lower middle class.   For others, it can mean the difference between being able to afford their place to live and the food and medicines that keep them alive or having to choose between them.

This leads us to the issue that economists, and governments, seem to be finding that these same old “tried and true” methods aren’t working as well as they should be expected to in our current situation.

To understand that we must first expose the flaws in the old thinking.  Then we must examine what is different about our current situation than in previous times.  Only then can we begin to identify and implement real, lasting solutions.

The Flaws

Checking back in with Investopdia, we learn that:

“An economy is a complex system of interrelated production, consumption, and exchange activities that ultimately determines how resources are allocated among all the participants. The production, consumption, and distribution of goods and services combine to fulfill the needs of those living and operating within the economy.”

However, far too often in modern times, we conflate the strength of the economy with the strength of the stock market.   As noted above, for the companies to maintain record profits, they need to be able to price gouge while still meeting the demand those prices dictate.  So, a strong stock market needs the income disparity that creates a massive gap between an impoverished populace and a much smaller group of wealthy consumers willing to pay much more for most items.

For example, consider Disney’s recent open admission that they want fewer attendees at their parks than they were hosting prior to the temporary pandemic guest restrictions, all paying much more to be there.  They are intentionally pricing themselves out of being an achievable destination dream for an even larger segment of the populace than before.  They are depending on income disparity to protect their new post-pandemic record-breaking profits.

The only way to truly measure the strength of an economy is to measure the ability of it is poorest members to obtain a sustainable quality of life.  Instead, we tend to measure it by the strength of corporate profitability and stock market value.  This is a #Culturalinertia issue that must be changed.

The next flaw in the old thinking is the pool of people we base this measurement upon.  

The voluntary monthly survey of buying habits is filled out by roughly 36,000 people.  But only people who have the time to fill it out, the means of submitting it properly every month and are willing to share their buying habits with the government.  36,000 such people from a population of 330,000,000.  

That’s a sample size of 0.001%.

The margin of error on any analysis of such an insignificant sample, especially one already distorted by the issues mentioned above, is so substantial as to render any predictive assessments impossible to make accurately.  It is all just guesswork based on anecdotal evidence and invalid historical comparisons.

This brings us to an evaluation of what is different about the current inflationary issues than those previous instances we are comparing it to.

The Current Situation

The current inflation the government is attempting to curb is not simply one of just supply and demand market fluctuation.

During the pandemic, demand for fuel dropped considerably as much of the world went into mandatory lockdown, work from home, and social distancing protocols.  This did not stop fuel companies from raking in massive record-breaking profits.   They did this by manufacturing a supply shortage.  Knowing the pandemic would eventually end or be brought under control, they still choose to decrease their production instead of building a surplus for the eventual demand surge as everything returned to normal demand levels.

Then as demand did begin to normalize Russia invaded Ukraine and government sanctions from the U.S. and European Union on Russia created an additional slowdown in predictably available global supply.  This fabricated supply shortage allowed them to again raise rates far beyond what the market would normally bear without the war to blame it upon.

In turn, the additional increase in fuel prices drove up the cost of transport cost of all goods and services across all markets.  However, despite the last 20 weeks of falling fuel prices, the cost of those goods and services has not been readjusted accordingly.

This indicates that the inflation we are seeing across the board is not a true result of supply and demand fluctuation nor is it a result of changing fuel costs.

It is simply that corporations are seeing an opportunity to drive up prices while scapegoating the public into accepting the blame for the price increases.

Other companies, also looking to rein in their own costs without losing profits, are engaging in “Shrinkflation” practices.   Instead of raising their prices, they are downsizing their products without lowering their prices.  This means consumers are still absorbing the inflation rates, they are just getting less in exchange for doing so.

On the labor front, employers complain that no one wants to work, while unemployment is at record lows.  The problem is really that they don’t want to give up shareholder profit margins, lower executive pay, and lessen executive benefits in order to be more competitive in courting workers with better starting salaries and better entry-level benefits. 

They want to maintain that wage gap, because as we learned at the start of all this, it is deemed necessary to keep inflation down.   The main workforce can’t have too much buying power for our economy to work the way we have established with our #Culturalinertia.

The Short Term Fix

The most obvious short term quick fixes to all of this are simple:

Instead of punishing consumers for business practices that drive up inflation, focus on regulating the business.  Set price caps on products and services at no more than a specific percentage above the cost of making and providing them.  Pass laws to prevent ridiculous wage and benefit disparity between entry level workers and executives within the same company.

The Long Term Solutions

I’ve already outlined a good bit of the long-term solution in an article I posted here on April 2, 2021, as the COVID vaccines were starting to open the world back up.  That article was called “Creating A Better Normal” and you can read the entirety of it here.  

It is interesting to note in hindsight that at least part of what was proposed there was included in Biden’s pandemic relief and recovery, and it proved successful.  Most of our current economic problems began when those relief efforts were discontinued and before those recovery efforts could reach full effect. 

It is also interesting to note with that same hindsight that Trump’s attempt to solve the problem from a corporate standpoint instead of a general populace approach greatly exacerbated all of the problems raised in both this article and my 2021 article, as well as opening up a huge opportunity for corruption that is only now being fully exposed.   

Below is a slightly updated version of the solution I proposed:

So, what might a new normal look like?

Let’s look at a few things.

Imagine the true freedom created for the people of “The Land Of The Free” if we could make this thought exercise a reality.

Embrace work automation. Allow and encourage every single job that can be automated to be.

End all corporate tax avoidance loopholes and increase the tax rate for businesses that draw over a few million net profit per year.

Create a single payer universal health care program that separates health care from employment, freeing corporations from having to provide and fund health insurance packages for their employees as well as eliminating the insurance premiums that consumers pay just to be insured, the vast majority of which fund the insurance companies’ business model, not the actual health care.

The health insurance industry could still thrive as a supplemental insurance covering voluntary procedures outside the scope of the government subsidized care.

Establish an income tax free, minimum living wage, universal income for all adults.

All people would then be free to pursue their own interests with their time and money. The vast majority would seek out training and work in the fields that actually interested them to supplement their income, instead of just choosing to work anywhere that would give them the paycheck and health care to survive long enough to work more.

Any income above and beyond the universal minimum living wage would be taxable.

Primary education could return to a focus on developing critical thinking and life skills, rather than churning out an economic workforce. A renewed focus on STEAM education; Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math; instead of the artless approach of STEM, thus renewing the nurturing of creativity across all fields of study. It could even proceed at an individualized pace instead of a uniform pace measured by one size fits all testing.

Make state funded colleges tuition free for those who want to pursue a higher education. Private colleges could still charge whatever they wanted but would need to find ways to further enhance their curriculum and experience to entice students from the state colleges to give those students a higher return on their investment.

Companies would have to compete for quality employees in those positions that could not effectively be automating, providing opportunities for those with a focused interest and ability in such fields to advance both themselves and their employers while increasing their available income for their families.

Imagine the productivity and creative advancement of such a society.

One where everyone who was working wanted to be there and was appreciated and rewarded well for being there.

One where the arts and entertainment were advanced by nurturing the creativity of those drawn to them and they had the time and ability to seek the training to enhance their skillsets.

One where people were freed to focus on raising their kids instead of depending on schools to do so while they toil away at seemingly meaningless and thankless work just to survive.

One where the impoverished were not forced to choose which necessities of life to live without each month, or turning to crimes of necessity, just to survive.

Every individual that wanted to could become a sole proprietor of a small business for others interested in the goods or services they were interested in creating to purchase. If successful they’d supplement their income, if not, there would be no harm done to anyone and they’d still survive to pursue their other interests if they failed.

One where a representative government of the people, empowered by the people, would focus on being for the people that empowered it.

We could once again establish a socially democratic republic based on regulated capitalism with a conscience, protecting consumers, the environment, and the volunteer workforce needed to keep it all running smoothly.

Of course, there would be people content to live upon the minimum universal income, but they would be doing so by choice, not necessity, and they would still be contributors to the national economy as consumers of the goods and services created by those choosing to do so.

Programs like SNaP, CHiP, and other social safety net services would become obsolete because those needs would be taken care of other ways.

All other programs subsidizing shortcomings in corporate wages could be eliminated.

At this point, we truly would be the land of the free.

Nobody would owe their soul to the company store.

The poorest among us would have a sustainable quality of life lacking none of the necessities to survive.

Imagine the wonders that such a society could create where everyone was free to pursue their interests and achieve their full potential.

Imagine how we would advance the culture of not just our nation, but the world, with the work product of people in such an unburdened society.

50 Days

In 50 days the members of the 2022 to 2024 congress will be determined.

As a result of Trump’s efforts with the 2020 census to undercount minority and immigrant communities, Republican states have greatly increased their gerrymandering efforts, and the Trump tainted Supreme Court bench has allowed those efforts to remain in place for this midterm election cycle, even while declaring many of them unconstitutional.

This means the House is likely to flip back to a Republican majority led by Kevin McCarthy as speaker, if the Republicans don’t go completely nuts and give it to someone like Marjorie Taylor Green or Matt Gaetz.

The Senate is a different story.

Democrats currently hold a tie breaking majority, on paper. But that majority is greatly hindered by Senators Manchin and Sinema. Both of whom will remain in place until after the 2024 elections.

This means they actually need to win at least 2 seats to hold a real, effective majority.

Meanwhile, the Republicans only need to gain a single seat to reinstate Mitch McConnell as Senate Majority Leader. I guarantee that one of his first steps as leader will be to eliminate the ability for Democrats to filibuster any bill he wants to pass.

If Republicans, due to that gerrymandering that will likely secure the House for them, also gain a supermajority then they will be able to override any veto Biden attempts

There are also more than 35 gubernatorial seats up for election this cycle, along with an equally staggering number of Lt. Governorship, states’ Attorneys General, and Secretaries of State, and school board seats.  The importance of these offices cannot be overstated with the recent Supreme Court rulings on “States’ Rights” to religious oppression, election gerrymandering, denial of womens’ rights, and limiting/restricting health care access.

Do not let any of the hype about a “Blue Wave,” or “Roevember,” or insurrection backlash creating an enhanced turnout lull you into a sense of overconfident complacency.

Make a plan now.

Make sure you are registered. Make sure you cast and submit your ballot properly, whether in person or absentee. Make sure to help at least one other person do the same.

The Republicans have made it clear that the future of our democracy, all of our rights, all of our health, all of our education, many of our marriages, and quite a few of our lives are actually on the ballot this year.

Act accordingly.

You have 50 days.

We Are Right To Demand Better.

“Alina of Cuba” is based on the real-life story of Alina Fernandez, who is one of Castro’s nine known children. Fernandez is known for being critical of the Cuban government and her father’s rule. Actress Ana Villafane will star in the film as Alina.

John Leguizamo is correct that casting James Franco as her father, an aging Fidel Castro, is a cultural appropriation mistake for any movie producer to be making in our current day an age, especially when there are plenty of Latino/Latinx actors capable of giving a far more authentic performance in the role.   Leguizamo is wrong on one other aspect though, more on that later.

ABC news

The producer, John Martinez O’Felan, gave a response which actually makes all aspects of this worse.

For example, he defends the casting by saying Leguizamo, one of the more successful Latino actors working doesn’t understand what being Latino in modern America actually means.  Despite the fact that the character being portrayed isn’t a modern American Latino, but a historical figure who was the President of a Latino country.

“For one, let’s take a historical look at true Latinism in today’s mass culture of Hispanics, because a territory does not define a person’s blood trail. What I mean when I say that is that to be ‘Latin’ means of Hispanic, Portuguese, Italian or Latin American heritage and roots, all of the branches of the root of being ‘Latin.’ So to me his statements can create a great talking point for our people, because his comments represent the confusion and identity crisis in Hollywood right now within the Hispanic community in America who claim to only identify as Latin.”

But his response is made worse yet, by falsely claiming that Leguizamo’s public complaint is an attempt to cancel him and his movie by being an attack on feminism as a whole because the film is focused on a female character (Castro’s estranged daughter).

 “Moreover, I’ve also spent 16 years developing this around and with the support of Ms. Fernandez, and took the time to find a female as the lead with Cuban roots, so he’s also attacking the feminine focus on this title unfairly. This is a film based on a Latin female immigrant living in America who is of historical importance, led by a Latin woman, and I’m just an underdog who is making it, so it’s kind of disappointing to see our work getting attacked by someone we thought would celebrate it. If he hates it and wants to ban it, oh well, I’ll still probably watch his movies because he’s been one of my favorite actors for the last 30 years.”

This despite the fact that Leguizamo clearly stated:

“I don’t got a prob with Franco but he ain’t Latino!”

He should though.

Franco has in recent years been so credibly accused of sexual harassment/assault by five different women that his presence on set of any female centric film is, in and of itself, an attack on modern feminism.   Those accusations have been so credible that several of Franco’s long-time friends, costars, and filmmakers have refused to work with him on future projects.

Finally, O’Felan states that he isn’t a “Hollywood producer”:

“Moreover, I’ve never met Leguizamo but felt the calling to address the fact that he’s attacking me and my work based on false information because I’m actually not Hollywood as he’s insisted: I was born as a 4th generation Hispanic from Texas from an Iberian/ Indigenous Mexican, and have been the visionary behind this project since its beginning.”

John Martinez O’Felan is the CEO of Mankind Entertainment, the lead producer and manager of the film, which is being directed by Miguel Bardem from Mankind Entertainment, and produced in association with Maven Pictures and Redbud Studios.

Movie makers can do better, if they want to.  

We are right to demand better in all aspects of our culture.

If you think that entertainment news, such as this, isn’t important, consider two things. 

First, any society’s entertainment choices directly reflect that society’s interests and tolerances, as well as offers a chance to push the boundaries of both and create shifts in the #Culturalinertia.

Second, attempt to go any single calendar month without allowing any professional arts/entertainment in your life. No books, no audiobooks, no TV that isn’t true news broadcast (no opinion shows), No streaming shows or movies, no music, no professionally made paintings or portraits.  

Then evaluate the impact that eliminating the arts and entertainment had on your emotional well-being.

Freedom

About 15 years ago now, I spent a few years working with the San Antonio chapter of a charitable organization called “SERTOMA” (SERvice TO MAnkind). Each year, I served as either a Committee Chair, Judge, or both for a scholarship essay contest local middle school kids on their summer break were invited to enter.

It was the same essay prompt every year: answer the question “What does Freedom mean to me?”

Every year we’d get a range of answers from kids of all walks of life.

It was amazing, thought provoking, and sometimes heart wrenching to see the differences between what freedoms some of us take for granted and what freedoms some among us are still having denied to them.

One young Black girl wrote about her great-grandfather and grandfather fighting across World War II, the Korean War, and Vietnam in service to this country, only to be denied the freedoms they were sent overseas to defend upon returning home.

One young child of both Hispanic and Native Peoples’ heritage wrote about what it meant to his family to have established here in what is now known as South Texas before America was even colonized. The cycle of losing and regaining freedoms as six different national flags have been hoisted over the land they have always occupied creates an entirely different perspective.

A first generation female immigrant from a war torn country in West Asia and North Africa (a region most Americans incorrectly call the “Middle East) offered an entirely different perspective.

A Muslim boy who often found himself persecuted by his public school peers, and even school staff, had yet another viewpoint to offer us.

All stood in contrast to those of multigenerational American families of North European descent.

Today my teenage daughters — who share very recent Hispanic and Germanic heritage through their mother’s genetics and a true multigenerational melting pot mix of Northern European and multiple of the Native Peoples’ tribal nations from my side — would give you a very different answer than they would have a few years ago.

So, this Independance Day, I am going to assign you the same starting essay prompt:

“What does Freedom mean to me?”

After you have answered that question either in writing or at least as a thought exercise, I’d like you to be honest with yourself about your answers to these follow-up questions:

1. Have the recent Supreme Court rulings on voters’ rights, womens’ rights, and health care rights and religious freedoms changed your answers at all from previous years? If so, how?

2. Should all Americans have the same freedoms?

3. If you answered “No” to question 2, what specific freedoms do you feel should be denied to which specific people; explain why? (Do women have a right to personal body autonomy? Do women have a right to Health Care Privacy under HIPPA protections or not? Do interracial couples have a right to marriage, or not? Do same sex partners have a right to marriage or not? etc…).

4. If you answered “No” to question 2, do you have the moral fortitude to be open and honest with your answers to question 3? If not, why not?

5. If you answered “Yes” to question 2, what are you willing to do to ensure all have access to them? Would you vote at every opportunity no matter how inconvenient it is made to do so? Would you help those being denied their rights to circumvent unjust laws? Would you use your privileges or even give them up to help others attain equal access to the same rights? Would you offer you time and/or money to candidates working towards securing those rights for all? Would you run for office yourself? What tangible commitments are you willing to make today so we an all have true freedom?

Photo credit: Glen Le Lievre

When Failed Insurrectionists Rewrite Laws

There are several important things to note regarding the sweeping 6-3 party line ruling of the Trump tainted Supreme Court on New York’s concealed carry law (New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen) today.

The single most important one being that the majority opinion was penned by the Justice whose wife just helped plan, fund, and carry out — with multiple seditious domestic terrorism militias — an armed and murderous attempt to overthrow our halls of Congress and assassinate the Vice President and Speaker of the House along with other members of Congress.

As justification his ruling states that we must honor America’s long history of unrestricted gun access while disregarding the fact that the NY law being challenged has been on the books for nearly 120 years and has been upheld by the SCOTUS bench before. It also disregards the long history of American cities and states attempting to curb gun violence stretching all the way back into the “old west” when visitors to many towns had to turn their guns in at the Sheriff’s Office upon arrival.

As such this will overturn similar laws in at least 6 other states, and will lead to Red Flag laws being challenged and more perpetrators of domestic violence attacks being allowed to obtain firearms again.

But wait, there’s more.

The ruling actually contains this sentence:

“After reviewing the Anglo-American history of public carry, the court concludes that respondents have not met their burden to identify an American tradition justifying New York’s proper-cause requirement,” meaning that a review of American history (where British law holds influence and English is the primary language) says we cannot put a law in place that requires a person to explain why they need to carry a concealed firearm in public to be permitted to do so.

The ruling was issued the same day that the federal Congress prepares to vote on its first major (although weak) bipartisan gun restriction bill in decades, signaling to members that the court will likely strike down any law they pass regardless of how they vote, giving Republicans an easy excuse to back out of their pathetic attempt at compromise.

More importantly though, the ruling will negate many public safety laws and protocols that have been or may be introduced by federal, state, or local authorities throughout the nation by placing a new and ridiculous bar that must be hurdled before safety restrictions can be implemented. If this ruling had been made 3 years earlier it is likely an additional million people would have been lost to the COVID pandemic.

The end result is that this ruling will make all of America less safe, and do so in ways for which a gun in your purse or holstered to your side won’t provide any viable protection.

And that is exactly what Ginny Thomas and her co-conspirators wanted.

Clarence and Ginny Thomas putting the coup back in couple.

Shocking Revelations?

For a moment, let us set aside the few new revelations that were given to us as part of the House Select Committee’s first public hearing on the insurrection attempt led by Donald Trump and his coterie of sycophants, and engage in some real talk about the primary underlying issue.

Based on the reporting and social media commentary following the hearing, everyone seems remarkably shocked at the extent of the conspiracy aspect behind all of this.

I cannot fathom why.

We knew it was a conspiracy all along, long before Donald J. Trump became a part of it.

How did we know?

The short answer for the “TL:DR” (Too Long: Didn’t Read) folks is simply:

History has shown us time and time again that it is impossible for a single person to gaslight hundreds of millions of people into intentionally harming others and themselves for what appears to be the personal benefit of only that one person. Doing this requires a massive support group engaged in coordinated implementation of a well organized, thorough plan. In this case, that plan was generarions in the making. Trump wasn’t its architect, he was just the newest face of the movement.

If you’ve been reading the books and articles of people like Timothy Snyder and following people like Dr. Heather Cox Richardson on social media, you should already have a good idea of what the long answer is going to be. If you’ve been following me on social media at all since 2011, the same should be true. But most people haven’t been putting the pieces together.

Here is a detailed look at what helped get us here.

After the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln wanted to “heal” the divide between what at the time were the Northern Republicans and the Southern Democrats. So, he made several concessions to those southern land owners and former slave owners who had led a treasonous insurrection against our own government. They took every opportunity to systemically entrench support of their “Lost Cause.” It went beyond just putting the failed treasonous military generals in high government positions, which was bad enough.

The 13th Amendment which made the freedom of the slaves a Constitutional Right was itself amended to allow that slavery could legally continue as long as people were convicted and imprisoned first.

This immediately led to the creation of laws that criminalized being Black and started the racial disparity in our justice system. When the 14th Amendment gave them the right to citizenship, many states went further making it illegal for former prisoners to exercise their consitutional right to vote or hold office, so once they managed to get out of prison they’d have no means of working within the system to enact necessary changes.

Thus began the Dredd Scott and Jim Crow eras.

This continued until well into the 20th Century and the Civil Rights Movement.

Then in 1964, Democrat Lyndon B. Johnson dared to sign the Civil Rights Act. The bill enraged and disenfranchised the southern White “DixieCrats” so much that they abandoned the party.

Richard Nixon saw this as a path to power. He would bring Roger Stone along with him.

He immediately began recruiting them to the Republican party by pandering to their racism and Evangelical religious bigotries. This movement of the southern White elite essentially forced both the Republican and Democrat parties to completely swap their social and political ideologies and policy platforms. The sudden Evangelical embrace of anti-abortion politics as a wedge issue was part of Nixon’s courting of the racist White religious right.

Nixon began the dismantling of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal which had helped end the Great Depression and for the previous 50 years ensured that America would become the wealthiest and most powerful nation in the world by taxing corporations and elevating the middle class.

It was during the Nixon era when Congress separated the minimum wage from the inflation rate so employers no longer had to provide cost of living wage increases when necessary.

However, Nixon got caught committing illegal acts from the highest public office in our nation, a position commonly revered as the “Leader of the Free World.” When the coverup failed to keep those acts from reaching the public eye, his party members knew the only way to save themselves was to force him to resign before the impeachment trial exposed them too. So they did. His condition for that resignation was a full pardon, which was granted by his VP and successor to the presidency, allowing him to avoid any and all legal repercussions for his actions. And also preventing him from testifying as to whom in his party, and the government, helped him commit those crimes and helped him try to cover them up.

Then Ronald Reagan came along. As Carter successfully negotiated the release of the American Hostages being held in Iran, Reagan was working through back channels to ensure that release didn’t happen until after his inauguration so it would appear his administration secured it rather than Carter’s. This was the foundation of the Iran-Contra hearings that came later, that led to Oliver North’s immunity deal on three federal charges in exchange for his congressional testimony.

While in office Reagan spent a few years intentionally ignoring the HIV/AIDS epidemic because the primary victims seemed to be intravenous drug users and people who were labeled at the time as homosexual. It wasn’t until powerful and influential people, who were formerly closeted members of what is now the LGBTQQIP2SAA community, began announcing their own diagnoses that he could no longer ignore it. Countless people needlessly suffered and died because of his administration’s intentional mismanagement of the early years of that epidemic and the false narratives about how the disease could be transmitted.

He also enacted the nationalization of Trickle-Down economics that has disempowered much of the middle class created by FDR’s New Deal.

And, this will be important later, he vetoed journalism’s Fairness Doctrine Bill. Organizations like FOX News, Breitbart, Rush Limbaugh, and Alex Jones’ InfoWars, couldn’t exist today if he had allowed it to pass.

But the worst thing that came from Reagan’s tenure was pushing the public narrative of individual American exceptionalism and the belief that everyone who was successful became successful on their own through nothing but hard work and determination instead of through the help of supportive friends, family, and community. This became even more destructive with the conflation of all social service programs as “SOCIALISM” and just to be sure they managed to lump all the varying types of socialism as well as communism together under that one “evil” label. This had been going on for quite some time, but dismantling the fairness doctrine really accelerated the way conservative media outlets could package their propaganda.

Then came the the first of two Bush Presidents. The first was pretty much just an extension of Reagan. He did appoint Justice Thomas to the Supreme Court, although it wouldn’t be until decades later that we would learn that Clarence was only serving as his wife’s proxy on the bench.

Before the second Bush came Bill Clinton, who after playing the saxophone on the Arsenio Hall Show embraced being called America’s “First Black President,” despite not being Black. His entire campaign was about embracing Corporatism in compromise with the modern Republicans and forcing all of American politics just a little bit further right with each of his political compromises as he tried getting conservative independents to support him.

Clinton and his administration became embroiled in multiple personal and professional scandals, including Bill’s workplace infidelity with interns which led to an impeachment hearing that would teach American teens that committing sexual acts without intercourse doesn’t legally count as sex, the Whitewater scandal, and the fact that they used Black prison labor [see 13th Amendment’s continued legalization of imprisoned slaves reference above] to staff the Arkansas Governor’s mansion while in residence there. That last might well explain why he was so willing to push the center right while compromising with the former DixieCrats.

During Clinton’s tenure, House Speaker Newt Gingrich would take full advantage of both Clinton’s desire to compromise with Republicans and the various scandals to further the only Republican policy platform agenda that had been in place since Nixon. That was to subversively support White Nationalism, Toxic Misogyny, and Religious Discrimination to keep the people divided, to use the War On Drugs and the War on Poverty to wage war on all marginalized people suffering from drug addiction and poverty in the world’s wealthiest nation instead of providing them the resources they needed to improve their lives; because doing so made them easier to control under the guise of maintaining “Law and Order,” “The Rule Of Law” and protecting “Family values.”

It was at this point FOX News was founded by Australia’s Rupert Murdoch. Murdoch weaved White Nationalism and misogyny into everything he did at the network and everything the network put on the air. He created a 24/7 entertainment empire that would serve as a recruiting and indoctrination service for violently angry White men in exactly the same way that other multinational terrorist organizations recruited and indoctrinated their own terrorist cells.

Following Clinton was the second Bush administration.  Which would capitalize on the American media’s conflation of all Muslim ethnicities into one giant anti-democracy terrorist organization.

“W.” would use the well established Republican relationship with American Evangelicalism to stoke the religious bigotry of our nation’s militant right after the 9/11 attacks of 2001 and unleash the world’s greatest military power on the wrong country so we could secure the oil reserves of that nation.   Considering his family’s fortune and power was built upon the oil industry, this was no doubt a remarkably self serving action that cost millions of lives of all those involved and entagled us in a war that would span decades.

He would also use the incident to justify creation of Department of Homeland Security and issue executive orders that would later be codified into law by Congress to bypass the 4th amendment rights of any and all citizens it wanted if it could meet the lowest possible standards of suspicion of a national security threat.   This would be used by increasingly militarized police departments around the nation to wage war on increasingly marginalized communities of color.  It was at this time, that privatized White Nationalist militias really began to see a surge in their membership as angry White men took up arms to protect our country from Black and Brown people attempting to immigrate here both legally and illegally.

Meanwhile, Roger Ailes became CEO of FOX News, Fox Television stations, and 20th Television.  Ailes had served as media consultant for Republican presidents Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and George H.W. Bush as well as for the first mayoral campaign of Rudy Giuliani.  He would maintain Murdoch’s history of racism, religious bigotry, and misogyny in every aspect of the business, but he was also instrumental in turning the outlet into nothing more than a Republican propaganda machine.   The company’s own legal team would argue in court, against slander and libel lawsuits, that the outlet was nothing more than sensationalist entertainment and could not seriously be considered a legitimate news source.

It was the George W. Bush administration that appointed John Roberts to the Supreme Court as Chief Justice.   The Roberts’ court would almost immediately begin stripping away the political power and civil rights protections of the populace and relocating it into the hands of the world’s wealthiest people and corporations.

Then a mostly unknown Black freshman Senator did the unthinkable.  

He galvanized the nation’s people of color, most especially the women of color, to overcome the centuries of efforts to prevent them from having any political power to not only show up, but to do so in such numbers that those efforts would be rendered meaningless.   Even more miraculously, he did so without disenfranchising the White moderates and liberals who embraced his message of cooperative hope for the future.   And even more miraculously than that, he did it with a decidedly “Muslim sounding” name in the aftermath of 9/11 and the Iraq wars.

Barack Obama was the greatest societal unifying force of a generation.   He pushed social services.  He pushed for getting as many Americans as possible health care knowing he’d never get Republican support for Universal heath care.

The only people who saw him as divisive were the racists who were never going to accept him because of his name and/or skin color.  Many people think he didn’t do enough, but what he and his team accomplished against the most aggressively obstructive Congress was nothing short of astounding.

Prominent Republicans looked at his success and said “never again,” and — probably for the first time — meant it.

The Senate Majority Leader at the time vowed, literally at the inauguration, to do everything possible to ensure Obama would be an ineffectual one term president.  Authoritarian and fascist leaders of foreign governments lined his pockets and that of other Republicans to help him, as did quite a few major corporations and organizations, not the least of which were Russia and the NRA.  

To Obama’s credit, he accomplished much, including getting re-elected to accomplish more.

McConnell and the Republicans fought him every step.   And their biggest complaint, even as he offered them exactly what they demanded in their compromise negotiations always boiled down to “But he’s a Black Muslim,” even though he was Christian.

This is where Donald Trump finally officially enters the picture in August of 2015 to announce the presidential campaign he had been threatening for years. At this point in his life, his one true skill is simply self-promotion.   Russia’s former superspy and current president, Putin, had been grooming him for years.

They funneled money to him and other Republicans through the NRA and his money laundering real estate businesses whose primary clientele was the Russian mafia.  His behind the scenes campaign advisors included Roger Stone, Roger Ailes (and several of his fake news network’s superstars), Newt Gingrich, and media shock jocks Rush Limbaugh and Alex Jones.

Publicly, during the campaign, Republicans put up a pretense of hating Donald J. Trump and everything about him.   He had a tendency to talk too much and “say the quiet parts out loud” exposing motives and plans before they could be snuck passed the general populace until it was too late.  He was also at constant risk for sex, ethics, discriminatory, and other legal scandals popping up from his past and present.

However, his donors had much deeper pockets (being mostly adversarial foreign governments) and his advisory team had much more power, experience, reach, and political clout than any of his opponents.

Angry, racist, White Americans loved the fact that he was unabashedly racist and willing to say what they wanted to hear even when everyone knew he shouldn’t be saying it.

Ultimately, when he won the primary, the Republican party agreed to support him for President.  They would protect him from accountability if he would sign off on their desire to stack every federal bench with judges who would be willing to put party platform before their duty to their office.   All three RNC finance chairs from this period were subsequently convicted on various felonies.

The son of a sitting Supreme Court Justice would use his position at a bank to funnel a billion dollars of funding to Trump with a loan no other bank would have made.   The loan appears to have been a funnel of Russian money, not the bank’s own assets.

That Justice would later take early retirement for Trump to seat an additional member on the bench for at least another two generations of furthering the Robert’s court agenda.

McConnell, with the help of all Republicans, literally broke American parliamentary procedures to steal a Supreme Court bench seat from the Obama administration.   Conservative media helped them justify it.

The death of civil and women’s rights champion Ruth Bader Ginsburg would make a third seat available to entrench the Republican agenda on the bench for those generations.

During his presidency, Trump would intentionally damage long standing national alliances, destroy treaties, and court authoritarian regimes as he attempted to remove any and all trace of Obama’s successes from the White House history.   To help accomplish this, nearly every administrative appointment he made was to put in place a person who had already publicly stated that the department they would be heading should be completely dismantled and eradicated.  He immediately began dismantling agencies that performed ethics oversite and civil rights protections.

To further his efforts he would stoke and then dismiss as unimportant White Nationalist hatred and violence toward People of Color and non-Christians.  Drive up the recruitment for White Nationalist domestic terrorism cells (militias) and weaponize them against communities of color along with using ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and the Border Patrol to do the same.  He would also openly encourage more racial policing and police brutality against people of color.

With the help of the entire Republican party and their well established media propaganda machine, he would borrow a page from Reagan’s HIV/AIDS playbook and allow over a million Americans to die as he intentionally mismanaged our government’s response to a global pandemic because at the early stages of that crisis the most effected communities were the ones that weren’t among his support demographic.   They would convince their followers to put themselves and their own families at great risk in an attempt to kill off as many of their opposition voters as possible.

He would be twice impeached, once for attempting to blackmail Ukraine’s president for his own personal reelection efforts and to benefit Putin’s efforts to rebuild the U.S.S.R. and again for leading a violent murderous insurrection against the American government to prevent the transition of power to his rightful successor in the office.   Both times the Republican party did everything they possibly could to protect him from consequence and accountability.

All of this is a matter of public record. 

None of it is part of a big investigative reveal discovered at the Select Committee hearings.

We’ve known all of it all along.

History has shown us time and time again that it is impossible for a single person to gaslight hundreds of millions of people into intentionally harming others and themselves for what appears to be the personal benefit of only that one person.   Doing this requires a massive support group engaged in coordinated implementation of a well organized, thorough plan.  In this case, that plan was generations in the making.   Trump wasn’t its architect, he was just the newest face of the movement.

What we have been up against all along is a small group of kleptocrats enabled by adversarial foreign governments to undermine democracy, dismantle the US government, and erode our international influence to create a society of multinational Corporate Feudalism.  And they have weaponized uninformed outrage, racism, religious bigotry, and misogyny to accomplish it.

If you look at it with that in mind, every single decision they have made over the years makes perfect sense.

Trump wasn’t the mad scientist brains behind the whole thing, he was the monster those mad scientists created and unleashed.

Of course it’s a conspiracy. 

It’s a conspiracy that has been fully entrenched within the #Culturalinertia of our nation’s history.

It will continue until we put an end to it, or it succeeds.

Why Bother?

People have, over the years, said to me “Why bother wasting your time on social media arguing about politics? It isn’t like you can make a difference anyway,”

I suggest they look into the many ways, both good and bad, that social media has had an ever increasing influence on the outcome of each election cycle since its invention.

People have, over the years, said to me “Why bother engaging with the trolls just trying to bait you? You know you’re not going to change their minds?”

I point out that It isn’t about changing that one person’s mind. Every person that hears or reads what we have to say in response to those trolls is influenced by that interaction.

They have the benefit of recognizing the absurdity of the logical fallacy arguments and willfully ignorant stances being put forth by those trolls and a reasoned and thorough rebuttal of them along with correct information.

That influence is more easily attained because they haven’t been subjected to any of the emotional triggers of having any of it directed specifically at them.

If even one is swayed toward a more grounded reality from which to build their own opinions, it has been a worthwhile engagement.

Even on a site that only reaches thousands of people a day, tens of thousands per week, hundreds of thousands per month, just a one percent success rate is a greater circle of influence than most of us can attain offline.

People have, over the years, said to me “Why bother voting, it isn’t like it matters anyway?”

I suggest they look at all the gerrymandering and voter suppression efforts being put into place over the years, especially these last few years, to prevent their vote from being cast or properly counted. If your vote doesn’t matter, why is so much money and effort being spent to block it?

There are many ways to make a difference. There are many ways to protest. There are many ways to stump for a candidate. There are many ways to widen the reach of your influence.

By casting your ballot you’ve done more than anyone doing nothing. By influencing just one other person, you’ve done more than anyone doing nothing.

You are shifting the #Culturalinertia.

If the people you influence are also doing their part, you’ve begun to increase your influence exponentially.

Anyone trying to tell you that you cannot, or that it isn’t worth trying, is actually attempting to silence your voice and limit your reach. Call them on it, make them explain why.

“Never give up. Never Surrender.”
~Galaxy Quest

The Rising Cost Of Greed

Inflation isn’t at record heights because of an increase in production or distribution costs or even pay raises for what were considered menial jobs prior to a global pandemic teaching us who the real essential workers actually are.

Inflation is rising at record paces because the leaders and shareholders of multinational corporations are greedy and price gouging.

Already Americans are paying about $250 more per month, per household, for the same goods than they were before the pandemic according to a study by Moody’s Analytics.

If it were true Inflation the corporations behind it would be, at best, breaking even.  Especially, if production and supply chain delays are preventing them from meeting demand.

However, while many local small businesses are failing — some because they didn’t have the resources or capital to adapt to pandemic business needs — the megacorporations are raking in record profits, undertaking massive stock buybacks, and buying up the resources of the failing local businesses.

What the federal reserve is doing in response to it is; therefore, exactly the wrong solution.

Increasing interest rates now will make loans for individuals and new small business startups with new post-pandemic market strategies even harder to obtain.

As a result people will curtail purchases of non-essential goods and services and be even less likely to invest. It will also curtail new home and vehicle purchases.

The real solutions are easy to identify. They would also be easy to implement if we had a majority of members in Congress working for the people instead of lobbyists.

1.  Establish a minimum wage that is no less than a true living wage.

2.  Tie that minimum wage to true inflation so it remains a living wage.

3.  Establish a national single payer health care system that is completely separate from employment. 

4. Close the corporate tax loopholes.

5. Create a tiered wealth tax on those whose wealth exceeds $3M.

The combination of these things would free employers from the need to pay the employer portion of health care plans. It would free people from the leading cause of bankruptcy in our nation, medical expenses. And it would eliminate the vast majority of the government’s need for public assistance programs like SNaP, CHiP, and others that are currently actually used to subsidize the shortfall between employer wages and living wage requirements.

People would be free to pursue the careers that would interest them most and which they would he best at doing, without fear of losing their health care.

This would stimulate the economy more than anything else we could do.

It would also stimulate the creation of more new innovative small business and free market competition than anything else we could do.

Ultimately, the problem with the Federal Reserve’s approach is that it will punish average consumers even more instead of those driving prices up with their boundless greed.