Thursday, November 29, 2012

Albuquerque Minimum Wage - Give Me A Break!

Tragedy Strikes in Albuquerque
 City Council
What's left when you have tea bags without billionaires?

See, the usual "operating scheme" for Republicans is to attempt to win power through elections without ever actually proposing any policy whatsoever which might be a clue as to their after election plans.  This was absolutely the case in the last national election.  The GOP completely abandoned all hope that any idea which was running loose in their swarm mind had any possible political traction.

Just as anticipated,  the over financed GOP governors and state houses conducted a violent anti-democracy effort, much of which was founded on a gaseous claim of non-existent voter fraud.  Registration lists were "purged" of likely Democratic voters; ballots were literally ripped from the hands of anyone without either a lawyer or a lobbyist to protect them; and every voter with a wrong sounding name, wrong colored skin, the wrong kind of lover or anything else "wrong enough" to catch the attention of the christian bigots in charge of the democracy was effectively vaporized by the "local patriots" as they "purged and purified" voter registration logs all across the country.

Happily, none of this worked for beans.

As a consequence, we are now seeing, among other things, the "great unravelling" of the Rovian "super genius" plan to cheat in places like Ohio.  That part is somewhat reassuring.   The "sword of justice" which sliced and diced the midnight "computer breakdown" in the Secretary of State's vote counting den was deliciously thwarted by the out of control citizens in the now famous Anonymous movement.

The House election was not nearly as satisfying for those who love democracy.

In Pennsylvania, for instance, a large majority of the votes cast for House seats were cast for Democrats, but the "clever" redistricting inflicted by the entirely Republican Pennsylvania State government ushered in an almost "perfectly purely" GOP crowd of snotty Pennsylvania tea bags.

All of this would amount to nothing more interesting than a typical MeanMesa ranting session if the toxic brew had not been insinuated into Albuquerque city politics, too.

The "first wave" was already history.  During the mayoral election last time, a highly suspicious "Democrat" lurched into the race as a parasitic competitor to split the vote with Albuquerque's old Democratic Mayor.  The result?  Even though well over 60% of the votes cast were for one Democratic Mayor or the other, we got a well lubricated Republican Mayor instead.

That would be, "well lubricated" with fairly rancid ALEC oil.  Remember, New Mexico is the fifth largest natural gas and oil producing state in the union.  Naturally, there are plenty of shady Texans skulking around our Round House making anti-democracy mischief pay dividends in "campaign contributions."

Speaking existentially, somewhere in this universe there is still an actual Republican platform with policies and promises about relevant issues.  This would be a platform that Republican candidates could, after adopting as the foundation of their campaign, go ahead and actually win an election.  It would be an election victory because they would have convinced voters that they had a winning idea.

We haven't seen this in a long time.

These days the Republican candidates call the President a Kenyan, fulfil psychotic misogynist dreams about women, their childhood and their mothers and give speeches like wet dreams of starting wars.  To win elections, they buy voting machines, dream up schemes, cheat, trick, lie and manipulate any voter uneducated enough to buy into their tricks one more time while they violently rip the ballot from the hands of other legal, registered voters.

Albuquerque Minimum Wage: Three Innocent Mysteries

1. The First "Innocent Mystery"

How did the City of Albuquerque even come close to ever having a Republican controlled City government when the voters of Albuquerque have consistently, repeatedly, continuously and dependably always voted a Democratic majority into the City Council?

At first, no one was too worried about these developments -- specifically, the "election" of a Republican Mayor when the vast majority of voters had voted for a Democratic Mayor -- because there was a collection of stalwart Albuquerque Democrats elected to a majority on the City Council.  By large majorities over the years, Albuquerque voters have selected Democrats to sit in the majority role on the City Council.

We did this because we wanted the "general flavor" of the City Council's decisions to exhibit Democratic Party ideas.  There have been plenty of peccadillo's when this didn't turn out to be the case, but those were usually temporary.  There is no evidence anywhere that Albuquerque voters ever wanted a Republican majority on the City Council.

However, in a more and more frequent "turn of events," Republicans who haven't so much as a ghost of a chance winning an election if their records are discussed, keep "winding up" with a controlling majority of all sorts of things.

Now, Republicans could say that they now enjoy this unanticipated good fortune because voters were attracted to their superior platform and policy, but there was never any platform or policy involved in this -- unless we wish to consider the platform and policies of New Mexico ALEC.  Those would not have anything to do with Albuquerque voters because those policies are authored by corporate and ideological looters from elsewhere, that is, from "elsewhere's" which are "somewhere else" besides New Mexico.

Of course, ALEC only controls a tiny bit less than half of the Round House, but after the last election, we will have to very confidently toss the Prosecutera Maxima, Governess Martinez, into the ALEC clutch of "owned assets." In this last election the Governess took off the gloves and directly channelled boat loads of out-of-state ALEC cash at a couple of her favorite Democratic irritants in the Round House.

2. The Second "Innocent Mystery"

What was the possible intention of the referendum on the ballot to test public political opinion about the minimum wage increase proposal?  Was the "typo" on the referendum petition forms an accident or a predictably stinky Republican trick?  Was the referendum actually a "agree with us" or get nothing pitch from the Republican Mayor and his ALEC backers out of sight behind the curtain?

Okay.  New Mexico is the state that wants to do things other states do, except with our illiteracy problem, we keep blowing it.  This is the place where the incarcerated, convicted murderer was accidentally released from the state prison -- twice.  This is the place where the team in charge of handling the multi-billion dollar state "rainy day" fund is led off in hand cuffs.  This is the state where 14,000 convicted drunk drivers have been re-issued their driver's licenses months or years before they got off probation.

So, are we making "too big a deal" out of this "typo" business?

If MeanMesa were going to consider this question in a make believe fairy land where Republicans weren't eagerly acting out the roles of some dark clone between Jim Crow and Al Capone,  we could swallow the possibly "too big of a deal" idea.  In the real world -- no such swallowing.  It looks from here like the entire GOP -- federal, state and city -- has had a psychotic break.

Albuquerque Minimum Wage 

Hike May Be Stopped By Typo

AP  |  Posted: Updated: 09/06/2012 4:39 pm

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A referendum aimed at increasing the minimum wage in Albuquerque may not make in on the city's ballot because of an unexpected roadblock — a typo.

City officials say the proposal is misworded and written in a way that requires employers, like restaurant owners, to pay themselves more and not their employees more. And since more than 12,000 people signed the petition as written, restaurant owners promise a legal fight if the proposal is approved.

"The measure would also require that starting in 2013, employers of tipped employees like waitresses and waiters be paid at least 45 percent of the minimum wage in cash wages from their employers," the referendum reads.

Still, the Albuquerque Journal reports ( that city officials are in disagreement over what action is needed to place the item on the Nov. 6 ballot. The intended proposal would increase the minimum wage for most employees from $7.50 to $8.50 an hour. It also would change the law for employees who receive tips.

"If it goes on the ballot and passes, then the people, the restaurant owners, are probably going to file a lawsuit against the city, based on the language that was put on the ballot," said Councilor Ken Sanchez, a co-sponsor of the petition, told KOB-TV.

Rebecca Glenn, a spokeswoman for the group pushing the proposal, said state allows typos to be fixed on proposed ordinances.

However, Sanchez said it may be shelved because of too many legal barriers.
City councilors also are considering allowing the typo version of the proposal along with a corrected one to appear on the Nov. 6 ballot.

It appears action of some sort must be taken under state law, which says a governing body must first adopt an election resolution.

Huffington Post

MeanMesa TOTALLY wonders what was the name behind the hand which introduced this nearly disastrous and incredibly suspicious typo.  If the "players" in this near fiasco had enjoyed even a modicum of respectability, it might have been dismissed without the drama of the conspiracy theory.

One more side of this "second, innocent mystery" has to be mentioned here -- the WalMart side.  Just as the clear voice of Albuquerque voters was emerging from the election results, a separate kind of populist statement was wafting up from WalMart parking lots across the city.

More or less independently of the minimum wage issue, pathetically paid WalMart employees accompanied by plenty of local residents who could speak without fearing the consequences of the ruthless suppression confronting the employees, were saying:

a. that, exclusively for matters of social decency, WalMart employees needed to earn a living wage;

b.  that the rest of Albuquerque's tax paying society was tired of subsidizing the corporate profits by continuously picking up the tab for medical care, food stamps and the rest of the tax financed "safety nets" required to sustain the otherwise unsustainable WalMart labor force; and,

c. that -- although perhaps a bit more quietly -- Albuquerque voters were completely "over" the "direct channel" influence that the WalMart corporation seemed to enjoy with just about every department of the city government including the Mayor's office.

There really is something here which will not bear the light of day.  That something is WalMart's business model in general and specifically its labor model.  They both stink.

3. The Third "Innocent Mystery"

Part 3, here, is the bit which falls closest to the "Give Me A Break" criteria.

Could the Albuquerque City Council dump the minimum wage increase referendum?  Here are three short articles from the Albuquerque area which are "must read" items for those wishing to understand what's happening.

From A Female New Mexican's Political Point of View

Monday, September 10, 2012

Albuquerque a Republican Run and Owned City

First Mayor R.J. Berry is elected to run our city. His police force is more concerned with protecting sex offenders and preventing property crime to care about any other crimes. His administration is fighting tooth and nail to prevent low-income individuals from getting a pay increase. Our city has the most job losses of any city in the state and also cities in surrounding states. 

The city council is about to become a supermajority controlled by republicans. You can be sure that things will not go well for city employees who are union members. The council will back any plan for things like not putting large construction projects on the ballot for the voters to consider. We will see pet republican construction projects pass with no voter input in the future. 

The Bernalillo County Commission is also about to lean to the right as the governor will appoint either a republican or a fake democrat to the position being opened by Commissioner Michelle Lujan Grisham. Grisham is running for congress and gave up the position so that a democrat could be appointed to the ballot this November. 

The problem with all of these changes is that no one appears to care in the Democratic Party. Candidates are either charging large prices for pay-for-view events in the city or they are moving their events north and south of our fair city. The State Fair Parade, which has been a big deal in the past, is looking like just another no show this year by candidates and the party. Democratic voters have nothing to talk about or attend that would encourage their desire to vote in the November election. 
Why should anyone care if Bernalillo County becomes a republican haven in our state? Well let us just say that without our county someone being elected to a statewide race has very little hope of winning. Our city and county is the largest voting bloc in the state. 

Here is an email from local activist Michael Bernstein.  Want to know more?  Check out the links included (below).

Albuquerque city council might repeal minimum wage increase passed by 66% of voters

Did you vote for the minimum wage increase in Albuquerque? The Mayor and City Council might just decide to repeal it:

"Council President Trudy Jones, Councilor Dan Lewis and Mayor Richard J. Berry were all on the record before Tuesday's vote as being opposed to a minimum-wage hike. With five city councilors considered friendly to the mayor and a sixth likely to be appointed once current councilor Debbie O'Malley moves over to her newly elected post on the Bernalillo County Commission, the votes may be there for a repeal."

If, like me, you feel that the expressed will of the people means something, you might want to contact the City Council and Mayor and let them know:

Albuquerque City Council (image source: Michael Bernstein)

And here are excerpts from the ALIBI article.

Weekly ALIBI
Editor's Note
A Simple Majority
Councilors can override the will of the people

Marisa Demarco
November 22, 2012

The voters made it pretty clear.  They would like to see the Burque'a minimum wage go up by $1 per hour.  The measure wasn't even as controversial as it was made up to be in the run up to the election.  A decisive 66% of the elctorate gave the raise a thumbs up.

The minimum wage would hit $8.50 in the city and tipped employees would slowly see more money until they are paid about $5 per hour in 2014.  The minimum wage would also be tied to the cost of living, meaning automatic increases as things get more expensive.

Though Burquenos did their civic duty and weighed in on this topic, it's possible for city politicians to squash their votes.  Turns out, it's pretty easy.  A simple majority of the City Council -- that's five out of nine councilors -- and the mayor can undo the votes of 139,604 people. (The number of people in favor of the raise comes from unofficial results listed on the Bernalillo County Clerk's website.)

I called the city, and asked: Which issues that appear on a ballot can councilors override?  Any ordinance or legislation, said spokesperson Dayna Gardner.  The process is a familiar one.  A measure to undo the minimum wage hike would be introduced by a councilor or the administration (Mayor's office).  It would head into a committee and then back out with a recommendation.  The Council would vote it, and the mayor would sign it.

Six elected officials can use their position to undo the wishes of the very electorate that put them into power.  This blows my mind.  And it's not just because of the Alibi's endorsement team favored the minimum wage hike in our Election Guide.


Local politicians make the decisions that will immediately affect your life.  How are the side walks in your neighborhood?  Does your kid have up-to-date textbooks in her classroom?  If you call 911 in an emergency, are you confident help will come quickly?  That's the kind of stuff that hits their desks.  Even better, sometimes those issues are directly on the ballot, like the wage raise and the Passeo and I-25 overhaul.  Vote, I tell people, because your opinion matters.

Councilors Trudy Jones and Dan Lewis took a stand against the new wage before Election Day and told KRQE after it passed that they were looking into repealing it.  There are five conservatives on the Council who usually vote in a block.  The mayor is a noted righty, too, and he wasn't crazy about the pay raise, either.   On election night, though, he was talking sense: "Our bosses -- the voters -- have spoken, and I would be doing what I did if I didn't believe in the will of the people," he told ALIBI in a response to a question about the minimum wage.

It's unclear what the rest of the Council would do if the same question came to a vote.  Four lefties, Ken Sanchez, Ray Garduno, Isaac Benton and Debbie O'Malley -- are dead against a repeal.  Benton's spokesman said in an email to ALIBI that it's unlikely such a measure will actually come before the Council.

Still, it's repugnant that drowning out the clear voice of the voters is being considered.  Rules in Albuquerque should be strengthened so this  kind of thing can't happen and the rights of the voting public are protected.

And if they somehow manage to overturn a vote cast by thousands of citizens, use the only civic resource you have left: Vote them out of office next time around.

Call or email our conservative councilors and the mayor, and tell them what you think.

Brad Winter  --  768-3101

Dan Lewis -  768-3189

Michael Cook  --  768-3136

Trudy Jones  --  768-3106

Don Harris  --  768-3123

Mayor Richard Berry -- 768-3000

MeanMesa is carefully anticipating getting completely out of control if we see our ballots being shredded by the latest bunch of drooling neo-con amateurs.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The State of Health Care: The Desonide Story

So You Thought That ObamaCare Was Fixed
After getting the green light from the Supremes, it's working, right?

This is not a posting about a drug or even about a disease.  MeanMesa is an old geezer who gets his medicine from Medicare via the Part D Pharmaceutical benefit.  

This means a couple of things.  Since the country was briefly consumed with consideration of the ideology of Medicare during the Presidential election of this year, MeanMesa thought that this would be a good time to tell a short story about using the system.

The "other thing" has everything to do with costs.  The major theme of the ideological "chit chat" was about reducing the costs of "entitlements."  

Of course, the reactionaries among the oligarch party would never rest for a single moment in their absolute commitment to persuading every citizen of the entire country to consider programs such as Social Security and Medicare as "entitlements."  The Republican Party and its owners firmly believe that they are, in fact, "entitled" to the "entitlements," themselves, even though, of course, we of the tax paying "little people" class actually paid for these "entitlements."

Further, as is the case with every consideration of a Republican Party "position" on anything at any time, there is a deception, and it is a deception which must be dislodged before any actual observation can be made.

In this case, the deception is to be found by examining one of the "owners" of the Republican Party, that is, the massively corrupt pharmaceutical corporations, Big Pharma.  Big Pharma was a Big Presence in the Congress during both the health care "debate" and the Part D Pharmaceutical Medicare "debate."  Big Pharma pumped hundreds of millions of dollars worth of "campaign contributions" into candidate coffers during both spectacles.

Not all of the coffers where attached to Republicans, either.

Senator Max Baucus, (D-Montana) replaced the late Senator Kennedy (D-Massachusetts) as the Democrat in charge of ushering ObamaCare through a cynically hostile Senate.  Baucus got enough cash from Big Pharma to retire.

MeanMesa wishes that he had.

These comments are, of course, only a bit of preparation for the actual tale to be told in this post.  That will be the story of a single episode of "dealing with Medicare."
As mentioned before, this post is not about a disease, a medicine or a cure.  We're talking instead all about cost, policy, procedures and effects of the Part D Pharmaceutical program.  This is a story of what it's like to deal with Part D.

The Desonide Story

First, we should briefly address the question of what, exactly, is Desonide.  For both speed and convenience, we need look no further afield than our trusted WIKI.
Desonide is the generic name of a low-potency topical corticosteroid that has been available since the 1970s. It is primarily used to treat atopic dermatitis (eczema), seborrheic dermatitis, contact dermatitis and psoriasis in both adults and children. It has a fairly good safety profile and is available as a cream, ointment, lotion, and as a foam.
Corticosteroid Desonide (Wiki)

It's also important to note what Desonide is not.   It is not a brand new "discovery drug" which is a miracle cure and which costs $10,000 per milligram.  Desonide is an old drug, developed in the 1970's as a kind of generic skin lotion.

MeanMesa's Medicare Doctor, after noticing that these old hands were dry and itchy, prescribed Desonide.  MeanMesa's pharmacy filled the prescription and hand over a small squirt bottle full of the skin lotion.  After applying the lotion to the skin where the problem had been found, MeanMesa discovered that the Desonide prescription was, in fact, "just what the doctor ordered."

The skin on the hands and arms improved almost immediately.

"Business-wise," the transaction also seemed quite routine.  When the prescription was ready at the pharmacy, the co-payment was $5, typical for a Medicare Part D medication.

However, when the end of the month rolled around, MeanMesa received the also routine "Monthly Medicare Part D Statement."  That statement lists the costs that Medicare Part D has paid, month by month, through the year for prescriptions.  The reason that the "Monthly Medicare PART D Statement" is interesting at all is because it is precisely where one's approach to the dreaded Medicare Part D "doughnut hole" will first be seen as it approaches.

Although most Americans, interested or not, have, by now, been unavoidably informed about the "infamous Medicare Part D doughnut hole," during the "debates" about "fixing" Medicare, perhaps a quick recap is still in order.

To satiate the "cash appetites" of not only Republicans who worked for Big Pharma, but also a fair number of Democrats who would have very much liked to have exactly the same very lucrative "part time jobs" -- Democrats such as Senator Baucus -- an ideological "cap" was placed on the Part D legislation when it was being passed at 3 AM in the House of Representatives, sliding along on a rancid wave of under the counter checks and over the counter arm twisting. (Ezra Klein/Washington Post story here.)

That "ideological cap," a precursor to Palin's famous "death panels" under a different name, set out the rules for using the Part D benefit.  Each year,  Medicare will only pay the insured part of pharmaceuticals up to a certain point.  When that point -- $4800 -- is reached, Part D simply quits paying until a much higher point is reached -- in the cases when the Medicare recipient somehow survives the "doughnut hole" -- then, the shattered, bankrupt Medicare "parasite" is once again covered under what is termed as "catastrophic coverage."

Of course, by that time, it is precisely the coverage which has become catastrophic, not the illness.

Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz would musically call this place "somewhere beyond the doughnut hole."

So, as MeanMesa was reviewing the monthly costs paid by Medicare Part D on the statement, something quite peculiar appeared there.  It was the insured portion of the cost of the Desonide lotion.


Yikes!  At that price, MeanMesa's doughnut hole was galloping towards a show down a long time before the end of the year arrived and the Medicare Part D coverage could be "reset" for another year.  There were, after all, some other important medications which had to be procured under that pre-doughnut hole Medicare coverage.

Of course, even though the Desonide had been very effective, MeanMesa decided to not further torpedo the already dwindling pre-doughnut hole balance shown on the monthly Part D statement balance.  The hands and arms would just have to suffer through it.  $235 was simply too much to pay for the relief.

Move the calendar ahead a few months.

Now, hands still itching and peeling, it is nearing the end of the "Part D Year."  Because every reasonable economy had been put in place through out the year, MeanMesa finds November's Part D balance to still be a ways shy of hitting the doughnut hole!  In  fact, there is enough coverage left to at least consider taking a risk and re-filling the Desonide prescription. 

The prospect was that the Medicare Part D balance could handle one last, $235 prescription refill since there was only a month left in the current Part D period.

MeanMesa called the pharmacy to refill the prescription.

However, when it was time to pick up the prescription, there was more bad news.  The pharmaceutical company which makes Desonide had quit making the little bottles of lotion.  The nice pharmacist, however, offered up an alternative.  He told MeanMesa that Desonide was still in stock and available as an ointment cream.

All that would be required was to get the prescribing Medicare doctor to change the prescription with the pharmacy.  Cringing, MeanMesa sheepishly asked the Pharmacist what the alternative Desonide prescription would cost.


The $17.00 Desonide Cream works great.  MeanMesa's hands have not only quit peeling, but MeanMesa's Part D doughnut hole is also not yet chomping at the front door of the Galactic HeadQuarters like the vicious wolf licking his cops for one of the Three Little Pigs.

The Point

The point is simple.  All across the country stories similar to the Desonide tale are unfolding daily.  There is simply no telling how many zillions of Medicare dollars Big Pharma is sucking through its straw like a strawberry milk shake on a hot afternoon.  Here's the point.

Universal single payer health care.

Enough said.  We're waiting.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Meet Cameron

MeanMesa is pleased to introduce Cameron Sapien, a guest contributor to the staff of Short Current Essays

Cameron Sapien
Cameron is a young New Mexican who shares MeanMesa's deep concern for sustainable paths for our state's economic development.  His contributions to posts here on the blog will deal primarily with new ideas for social and economic growth in our area.

Cameron is an under graduate student at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, where he studies community and regional planning.  As a life long New Mexico resident, Cameron is anxious to tie his own experience of growing up in our state to issues of opportunities for New Mexicans now; he is also adequately suspicious to the ever more expensive and continuously less effective course we've been on to accomplish something like this recently.

"Adequately suspicious?"

MeanMesa has never been particularly interested with, shall we say, "in the box thinkers," so, being "adequately suspicious" amounts to showing up at MeanMesa's Galactic HeadQuarters with roughly the right things on one's resume.

Cameron will be helping prepare a series of MeanMesa posts which propose some interesting new ideas on this topic, so be sure to join us as another chapter of MeanMesa unfolds.  

We have to solve this problem soon.  Young New Mexicans like Cameron are literally stuck -- stranded with an economy which won't work for them and a state government which won't fix it.  Every day, week or year this simply continues along the direction it follows now, the more and more young New Mexicans are suffering permanent, life long damage to their chance at some reasonable prosperity.

So, as Eddie Schultz would say, let's go to work.

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Wisdom of Just Walking Away

Debt forgiveness. King Hammarapi receives divine law from God Samas. (image source)
The Gigantic Republican Bankster Debt Scam

There has been much talk about the gigantic debt and debt guarantee which lurks behind the financial calamity of the Great Republican Recession.  Some estimates range as high as  sixty times the planetary Gross Domestic Product.  The current planetary GDP is around $70 Tn US dollars.  Sixty times the planetary GDP is around $4,200 Tn.

For the mathematically challenged, $4,200 Tn is:


We can zip around some of the colossal economic wreckage as we attempt to convert this ridiculously high number into something more comprehensible.  The Bush autocracy's blind, unilateral, vicious banking de-regulation "released the Kraken" when it came to making us unwilling "national enablers" for the addict behavior of banking and brokerage thugs.

The present economic problems in the European Union can be traced directly back to the same feeding frenzy.  European governments in Greece, Ireland, Spain and Portugal jumped into the "high yield" promises of the mortgage securities market like drunken junkies diving into an Olympic pool full of cocaine.

We can pause for a moment to repeat one of MeanMesa's favorite quotes, the words of Vermont Independent, Senator Bernie Sanders:

"Not everyone had a hard time during the eight years of the Bush Administration.  The top 400 income earners in the country saw their net incomes INCREASE by $630 billion."

More assistance for the mathematically challenged:

The United States National Debt is around $14 Tn.
$630 Billion is around 5/8 of $1 Trillion.
As individuals, the average take of those among this crowd
 of 400 is roughly $1.5 Billion per each.

Money Lenders, Temple, Credit Default Swaps.  (image source)

The massive US debt is a well documented fact.  The even more massive monster lurking out of sight in the shadows just behind it may be a tiny bit more difficult to actually "touch with a finger," but it's there too.  However, we know where the debt came from; we just don't have much of an idea of exactly where it went.

One of MeanMesa's favorite graphics shows us the origin of around $6 to $8 Tn of it, although this is only the visible part of the thing.  Since the owners of the Republican Party obviously expect us to eagerly cut spending on most of the things we like the most -- while we keep paying taxes, of course -- it's clear that they believe that we owe someone this money.

Follow the red bars.  Add them up for a grisly total.  Ronald Reagan hit the "first trillion" not long into his disastrous fiscal policy.  Remember that "debt" means money borrowed.  These shills not only emptied our pockets, they emptied treasuries all around the word. Also remember that all that red ink began to not only accrue interest, but also inflate as we bumped our way down hill to where we are now.

Our country is now best characterized as the unlikely amalgam of good credit and bad debts.

So, What's This About "Walking Away?"
Audio Greatness - open in new tab: 

The main part of this incredible scam is founded on the idea that, as normal citizens of Earth, WE are the ones who owe this money.  Solving this disaster is really only complicated when the main part of that solution is about US paying back all this money. 

We didn't borrow this money.  We didn't spend this money.  Further, this money wasn't spent to purchase something for us.  Our part amounted to simply signing the note -- a commitment executed by the GOPCon looters who, at that time, controlled the government, and a commitment which we found ourselves powerless to avoid.

The $4,000 Trillion figure comes from totalling up the financial and banking doo-dads, many of them guarantees that our alleged creditors be "made whole" in the event of any defaults or other interruptions in the cash flowing into their bunkers.

Now that the steam organ is silent, the clowns are whimpering and the unregulated three ring banking circus is buried under its own flaming Big Top tent, those "interruptions" and "defaults" are swarming all around us -- thicker than gnats on a sweaty preacher who just saw his mistress arrive at the ice cream social.

Does this mean that the whole planet has to commit economic suicide so 10,000 human billionaires won't be "inconvenienced?"  This might have been the "very best, sweetest wet dream deal imaginable" to the lurch jaws in the Bush Crime Family, but it tastes rather sour to the rest of us.

In fact, extremely sour.

What can be done?  The "bondholders" will instantly trot out some nonsense or other from their King James Bibles if there is so much as a murmur of default, and Mr. FOX Murdoch, the Australian fascist and servant of the oligarchs -- each one of these same oligarchs horrified at the prospect that he might be the next ox to be gored -- would rush into action, declaring that none other than Jesus himself commanded that we hand all this loot over and hand it over right away, too.  

Not a problem.

It turns out that the ancient Pentateuch of the the old King James actually contains the instructions for handling a moment such as this one.  Suspecting that many of MeanMesa's visitors are not serious bible-readers, this following little passage -- apparently the words of Moses -- is included here for your convenience.

Deuteronomy 15:1-11

The Year for Cancelling Debts

15 At the end of every seven years you must cancel debts. 

This is how it is to be done: Every creditor shall cancel any loan they have made to a fellow Israelite. They shall not require payment from anyone among their own people, because the Lord’s time for canceling debts has been proclaimed. 

You may require payment from a foreigner, but you must cancel any debt your fellow Israelite owes you. 

However, there need be no poor people among you, for in the land the Lord your God is giving you to possess as your inheritance, he will richly bless you, 

if only you fully obey the Lord your God and are careful to follow all these commands I am giving you today. 

For the Lord your God will bless you as he has promised, and you will lend to many nations but will borrow from none. You will rule over many nations but none will rule over you.

If anyone is poor among your fellow Israelites in any of the towns of the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward them. 

Rather, be openhanded and freely lend them whatever they need.  

Be careful not to harbor this wicked thought: “The seventh year, the year for canceling debts, is near,” so that you do not show ill will toward the needy among your fellow Israelites and give them nothing. They may then appeal to the Lord against you, and you will be found guilty of sin.

10 Give generously to them and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to.  

11 There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your fellow Israelites who are poor and needy in your land.

Go ahead and make a "Deuteronomy and Sausage sandwich" for your favorite oligarchs.  They can have a snack while the rest of us "walk away" from their monumental mischief.  Tell them sternly that we don't intend to ever let them do this again.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Israel Palestine: A Post Cease Fire Primer

Bathing Events in Useless History

MeanMesa sends probably too much time in the tortured domain of the social media.  This last week has presented an endless -- and quite vitriolic -- reiteration of all the historical torment between the parties to the now tenuous cease fire over the border between Israel and Gaza.

There are thousands of pictures which could be inserted in this post.  Almost every one of them shows an outrage in Gaza or in Israel, and every outrage shown in one of these pictures shoves solutions a bit further back into the mayhem.

Gaza. This post is not about the past or even the present.  It is about the future. (image source)
The world doesn't need another one sided recitation of the litany of errors.  Every argument which can elevate one side to justifiable violence while relegating the other to justifiable victimhood has already been made too many times.  If hope itself hasn't understandably slipped, at least interest probably has.

Take another quick glance at the photo above.  You know what life is like where this boy lives.  Think about what your life was like when you were this age.  Think about where you were living.  Think about what that place was like.

Are there solutions?

It's a poetic question, perhaps one which begs a musical tune of some sort.  If there are solutions, they certainly seem elusive.

The naysayers are quick to offer up the road weary, hackneyed stoicism.  There were no fewer than six links on MeanMesa's Google which posed the question: "Who Has Won The War?"

"This war has gone on for years."  "These two sides can never reach a peaceful coexistence."  "It is hopeless to continue to try the same things over and over.  They will never work."

MeanMesa thinks that there may some actual value in that last one.  The "same things" are really not ever going to offer a solution.  However, what's missing in the current discussion is any reference to "things" which aren't the "same things."

Through the years, this blog has proposed a number of rather innovative solutions to this enduring conflict.   Settle into your easy chair on one of these chilly fall nights, and have a read.  The links below are to a few of the articles posted on this little blog over the past few years.  

If you see any ideas which you think might be constructively added to policy, speak up -- there really are those in power who are quite interested in some "out of the box" thinking.

You won't even need to give credit to Short Current Essays.

Links to MeanMesa articles 
about Israel and the Palestinians

The Kalashnikov Paradox and the Gaza Solution Enlightened Export of 2nd Amendment Democracy?

 A Two State Solution: From Vapor to ConcreteObama's Foreign Policy for the 21st Century How Can We Help You? 

Surveying the Map to Peace Another Small Step toward solving the Israeli Palestinian Conflict

The Problem with American Influence 

MeanMesa's Contribution to the Middle East Peace Talks Conditions in the Geopolitical Arena of the Peace Talks

The Tragedy of Stasis, The Fear of Change Israel's World Steps Aside

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Maddow on Issues

 Dr. Maddow Addresses 
Favorite Hill Billy Election Issues

Dr. Maddow (image source)

On her television show, Dr. Rachel Maddow offered this following brief recap of some of the things that we, as American voters, were allowed to discuss during the Presidential Election of 2012.  It's no surprise that a similar list, albeit a much scarier one than this more than likely, could be prepared containing the things that we should have been discussing in 2012 -- Presidential Election or not.

Ohio really did go to President Obama last night. And he really did win. And he really was born in Hawaii. And he really is legitimately the President of the United States, again. And the Bureau of Labor Statistics did not make up a fake unemployment rate last month. And the Congressional Research Service really can find no evidence that cutting taxes on rich people grows the economy. And the polls were not skewed to over sample Democrats. And Nate Silver was not making up fake projections about the election to make conservatives feel bad. Nate Silver was doing math. And Climate Change is real. And rape really does cause pregnancy sometimes. And evolution is a a thing. And Benghazi was an attack on us, it was not a scandal by us. And nobody is taking away anyone's guns. And taxes have not gone up. And the deficit is dropping, actually. And Saddam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction. And the Moon landing was real. And FEMA is not building concentration camps. And UN election observers are not taking over Texas. And moderate reforms of the regulations of the insurance industry and the financial services industry are not the same thing as Communism. Rachel Maddow [The Rachel Maddow Show, MSNBC Ch. 209, Albuquerque 7-8 pm WEEKDAYS]

We have to use the word "allowed" because when two parties are required for a "two party discussion,"  both must agree that a specific topic will be discussed.  When one party doesn't agree to discuss that topic, the discussion cannot happen.  Of course, one side of the "discussion" could step forth and discuss the topic, but that would simply not be the same.

When one of the parties decides that there will be no "two party discussion," there isn't one.  In such a case, that particular discussion is, then, "not allowed" to transpire.  We prefer to call this "good political strategy," but it is, actually, a smelly first date between adolescent election fraud and treason.

Had each of these "veracity peccadilloes" been uttered by some forlorn dirty shirt preacher turned politician standing in the dust in front of a recently harvested wheat field somewhere in the bible belt, both Dr. Maddow and MeanMesa could have probably just smirked and walked away.

They weren't.

These ridiculous little "dog whistles" were brazenly repeated over and over and over on one of the most power wing nut entertainment networks in the country.  Worse, millions -- yes, millions -- of our fellow citizens "took the bait" every time the rancid little tid bits were offered -- and they were offered a LOT.

Now, we would have expected this sort of behavior from FOX News and Comedy.  Noted Australian fascist, CEO Rupert Murdoch, has never sniffed a rotting dumpster that he didn't like.  This time around Rupert's "trained clowns" included some heavy weights in the GOPCon Looters Club, specifically Karl Rove -- a pudgy, balding and tragically frustrated, little petty miscreant who managed to snake $100's of Mn's from billionaires who were otherwise so stingy that they would have happily murdered the last whooping crane for a nickel.

It's not a happy story, but many of these same misdirections that Dr. Maddow noted can also be detected and scratched forth from the "alphabet networks," ABC, NBC, CBS and PBS.

The whole point here is simple.  We REALLY have to quit listening to these sources of managed, corporatist news.  The credibility of the Walter Cronkite days is history.  There is NOTHING which will be "reported" by these sources which should have ANYTHING to do with how you vote.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

New Mexico: Recovery Jump Start or Marshall Plan?

The Election is Over.
MeanMesa is Back.
Let's Get To Work.
This is no time to be "lolly gagging" around.  We have an economy to rebuild. (image source)
Transforming New Mexico Into
 Silicon Valley - Over Night
Don't hold your breath, but hang onto your check book.

There is an absolutely fascinating neo-conservative conversation rolling along in New Mexico.  It seems like any plan which might possibly assist New Mexico's economy must first pass through a "supply side" litmus test before it can continue on to reach the play ground of New Mexico's over-financed "denial Disney Land" -- it doesn't matter, of course, whether the ferris wheel has been installed in the Round House or the Albuquerque Mayor's office.

The ALEC induced "supply side" checks authored in Santa Fe usually have more zeros in the pay slot than their counterparts drifting silently around behind the "famous closed doors" in Albuquerque mayor's office, but their sheer matter of scope fails to make them any more valid -- that is, any more representational -- than the more local grift.

Returning to the neo-con conversation, it may be notable for many things, but it is certainly notable for its longevity and durability.  It seems to remain the theme song even after an perpetually unavoidable, reliably depressing series of failures.  Although the astounding variety of schemes has run the full gamut of ALEC-neo-con "bright shiny objects," there is, in fact, a common thread.

In each case, the basic model seems to be a disturbing repetition of the preceding one with just a tiny bit more lipstick.  The common thread is found in the relentless, overly eager chorale of the ALEC cheerleaders.  They must all imagine that their scam is going to unfold in Alabama or New Jersey instead of New Mexico.

It is extra discouraging to count the number of supporting votes these expensive monstrosities receive from state Democrats.

We're Already Dancing as Fast as We Can

Every one of these dreams really does run along predictable tracks.  In each effort, some fragment of New Mexico's economy suddenly begins to behave just like an economy somewhere else!  A shard of desolate, nearly worthless real estate is suddenly -- almost magically -- transformed into an exact replica of Silicon Valley with thousands of happy, well paid employees, courageous, innovative management and smiling stock holders lounging around a country club pool.

Of course, along the way, the state or the city ponies up enough "starter money" -- usually, but not always, in the form of tax expenditures -- to build a road or cease collecting taxes for a few years -- and then rushes off to an out of state public relations firm to spread the good news.  As for us citizens, we do our part by believing them.

The annual average for "incentive and motivational" money draining from state and city coffers into relief from normal "business expenses" for these "Gosh are we ever lucky to have them" new enterprises is around $1.3 Bn across the state.

We New Mexicans would love to have a look at these "success stories," a glimpse at the figures revealing how many new jobs were drawn into the state or the city, but -- hold your horses.  The Governor and the Round House just finished having a spat about exactly who would be "researching" and "evaluating" that list.

Presumably, the non-ALEC bunch on the Democratic side of the legislature wanted a chance to look over the wreckage to see how well this was working, but in the end, the Governess transferred the examination responsibility to her in-office staff.  If patterns hold from this point forward, her "appraisal" will ultimately be contracted to some firm in Texas or Arizona after she concludes that her New Mexico experts just simply don't have the expertise.

That would be the "expertise" required to arrive at the right "conclusions."

Facing Facts

Stumbling along with the promise of low cost labor, previously "incentivized" corporations such as Intel and HP are now circling aimlessly in the Rio Rancho desert wishing they had never taken the bait.  Yes, New Mexican labor is cheap.  No, New Mexican labor can't actually build computers, design chips or particularly innovate consumer products that will shock China into an economic stand still.

The other suspicious part of these high tech export industries has to do with markets.  MeanMesa has always been ready to "chirp" out the "demand side" of the nation's economic woes, and the same tune fits just as well when we consider New Mexico as an individual State.

The constantly repeated "integrated into the world market" might be relevant to New York or Los Angeles, but when applied to Rio Rancho, not so much.  For a dozen good reasons, New Mexico can't handle the vagaries of those "world markets."  The style and quality of management skills found in the State don't help much, either.

The current market for cheap, unskilled labor in the US is not one driven by scarcity.  When New Mexico offers this up to prospective new businesses as an incentive to come here, the balloon is already half flat before they're off the phone.  Far too often, what is initially touted as cheap, unskilled labor becomes something equivalent to WalMart where cheap labor is further refined into exploited labor, and low wages must be supplemented by state funded social support, effectively converting State tax money into corporate profit for the Walton pockets.

Whatever the fundamentals supporting the growth and health of the New Mexico economy, we really can scratch off heavily incentivised, highly subsidized, high technology manufacturing right away.  The dream is pretty enough, but the reality is like the now infamous "job creators" who keep consuming resources without producing results.

Our State's version of these "job creators" has plenty of amateurish, crooked politicians and other creatures which have descended here during the night from powerfully parasitic "visitors" such as ALEC.  The incredible collection of expensive repetitions of the "great jobs creation wet dream" amounts to no more than a New Mexican State tooth ache -- a picture of frustration and infuriation about the opportunities we've missed because we were plowing all of our development dollars into these "whirl winds."

New Mexico's future, sustainable economy will clearly not to be ushered in by the likes of Eclipse private jets or German solar panels.  Further, if not the high tech dream machine, then what?

We can start right away.
MeanMesa doesn't like to paint pictures of hopelessness and surrender.  Most New Mexicans are feeling understandably "down in the mouth" about this long series of failures, and the ones who aren't feeling depressed are, most likely, the same ones who were close enough to these boondoggles to walk away with some of that incentive money in their own pockets.
The way ahead will definitely not simply be a matter of "tweeking" the train wreck back onto the tracks.  New Mexico will need something akin to a "state-sized" Marshall Plan, but we can do this.  We can probably even pay for it in a reassuringly straight forward way once we quit wasting our development resources on expensive things that never develop.

MeanMesa has been off the air for a few weeks during the election, but now that's largely complete.  We are officially moving from the "politics phase" to the "governance phase" of both our Federal and State democracies.

This means that it's high time for some good ideas.  And, if we agree that the old ideas haven't worked for beans, the term "good ideas" means "new ideas."  MeanMesa has never been bashful about sharing new ideas, and this is no exception.  Here's the plan.

The blog-bunker already has a rough outline of the legislative work needed to transform the New Mexico economy -- along with a good list of economic development projects which can actually be done.  The picture of what we must demand from our state legislators is also filling out nicely.

Finally, MeanMesa sees the mood of the state beginning to move toward something quite different for our future.  That "something" must be carefully described, planned and, most importantly, demanded.  There is nothing material standing in the way of us moving toward the goals we have.

Here's what's to come.

First, there will be an announcement of a new member to MeanMesa, a co-author who will be adding a stereophonic second voice to some of the posts.  Second, there will be a series of posts which describe specific plans which the legislature should be considering to promote economic development.

Right now, the only folks writing new plans for New Mexico seems to be ALEC.  Naturally, ALEC plans, authored and promoted by outside corporate interests, can hardly be expected to serve the interests of the state.  MeanMesa has the bold ambition of inserting itself into that fray right away.

We'll be visiting soon.

One Final Thing

Every time Barack Obama smiles, an oligarch loses his wings.