Don't petition the White House, Use

Don’t petition the White House, Use

Nov 18, 2012 Aaron Krager No Comments
Secessionists. I first want to say thank you for finally learning something from history. The last time so many desired to rid themselves of a tyrannical president they declared war on the Union. Thus, your use of a peaceful means through petitions on the White House’s site is commendable. Furthermore, each state now finds themselves represented by a petition and signatures from people possibly wanting to secede from the United States. Texas leads the way with more than 100,000 people asking the White House to address the issue. This is the same state governed by Rick Perry who drummed up his base of supporters with calls for seceding prior to his Republican bid for President. The irony seemed lost on him. Governor Perry is obviously not a viable option to lead the cause. He hardly put up a fight against a weak group seeking his party’s nomination. I also question...
The Country Moved to the Left Last Night

The Country Moved to the Left Last Night

The whole campaign season did not just depend upon the presidential race that finally came to an end last night. Yes, the country voted clearly to give Barack Obama another four years in the White House. He received more than 50 percent of the vote and won handily in the electoral college. Yet, it is what happened down the ballot that shows the nation’s move toward progressive values. It appears that Democrats will pick up a couple seats in the lower chamber but the real change happened on the senatorial level. Voters said no way to Republicans Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock after they attempted to scapegoat women and downplay the trauma of rape and sexual abuse. Furthermore, women won in Massachusetts, North Dakota, Hawaii, and Wisconsin for their first terms. All four of them will be more progressive legislators than their predecessors. In Wisconsin Tammy Baldwin will be the...
Republicans, Rape, Life, and Control of Women

Republicans, Rape, Life, and Control of Women

Oct 24, 2012 Aaron Krager No Comments
During last night’s Indiana Senate debate the Republican candidate, Richard Mourdock, did more than stick his foot in his mouth. I believe life begins at conception. The only exception I have for to have an abortion is in the case of the life of the mother. I struggled with myself for a long time but I came to realize life is that gift from God, even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape. It is something that God intended to happen. Mourdock joined a club made exclusively of Republicans but a club that seems to be growing as the November election nears. Illinois Congressman Joe Walsh made a reprehensible comment about exceptions for the life of the mother following his debate. “There is no such exception. With modern technology and science, you can’t find one instance.” Complete crap as this woman explains. Of course who can forget Missouri...

National Politics are Personal too!!

Apr 18, 2012 Aaron Krager No Comments

Corrupt politics tend to turn people off from the entire democratic process. Money and access gets things done in Washington D.C. while causing a sense of disenfranchisement among the American public. In many ways the desire to distance oneself from the political realm seems appropriate. Unfortunately, the only real consequence of tuning out is more of the same.

Once in a while you will hear a story about someone getting politically active because an issue impacted them directly. Lance Armstrong and cancer research. Michael J. Fox and stem cell advocacy. It happens to the average American as well. But the point is that people tend to believe that the political process does not affect them. Add that to the belief we cannot do anything to change political outcomes and we leave ourselves with a system perpetually benefiting the wealthy and well-connected.

Both these beliefs are factually incorrect. Republic Report started a great series of posts by Matt Stoller showing the corrupting influence of money in our political system and how it hurts you as a consumer. Yup, the pocketbook… the checkbook… the bank account… the bottom line… You get the point, it takes its toll and forces us to spend more for services that should cost far less.

In the latest post Stoller laments about the time and hassle it takes everyday Americans to do and file their taxes. Millions utilize tax programs like Intuit’s TurboTax. Stoller takes a jump to connect Intuit’s lobbying expenditures to the hassle and time consumption, but the jump is logical and reasonable.

In some countries, the equivalent of their IRS sends citizens a form listing what they owe. In California, the state has a program called ReadyReturn that lets you do this for California state taxes. You sign it and send it back, and it takes a few minutes. But for most of us, this isn’t how it works. We gather our tax forms and various banking information, and spend the weekend facing a difficult bureaucratic set of forms, hoping we did it all correctly. Or we use a costly tax filing service or software.

Stoller quotes candidate Barack Obama’s pledge to make it easier by doing something similar to California and other nations. It would save citizens 200 million hours of time and $2 billion. A company running tax filing service stands to lose everything with that type of system. They even say so in their investor report, “These or similar programs may be introduced or expanded in the future, which may cause us to lose customers and revenue.” With revenue in danger they lobbied against California’s system and spent more than $7 million since Obama took office (and about the same under Bush).

Those millions of dollars can be for any number of Inuit’s business interests but this direct threat has to be a major portion of their lobbying expenses. Allowing such a system in our politics causes you, the taxpayer and citizen, to pay for a service that many do not need.

In a more intriguing piece Stoller once again notes the cost of corruption in our daily lives. That cell phone bill you pay every month costs a fortune and roughly 80 percent of it comes from the corrupting influence of money and lobbying.

Three Congressmen, Fred Upton (R-MI), Greg Walden (R-OR), and Cliff Stearns (R-FL), received substantial sums of money from Verizon and AT&T. As a result an up and coming company that would endanger the two cell phone carriers’ marketshare found themselves under Congressional investigation and had the FCC revoke a wavier that was needed to do business.

That’s not to say one of the three mentioned above got a briefcase full of cash, called a friend at the FCC, and suddenly the telecom giants got their way. But what did happen is that the two phone companies contributed money to the Congressmen’s campaign and they commenced with pressure in their roles in Congress. Everything then worked out nicely for Verizon and AT&T. Imagine that!

Furthermore, U.S. consumers pay substantially more each month on their cell phone plans. Admittedly, it is difficult to do a direct comparison but the evidence shows a remarkable difference.

Among low-usage (360 calls per year of voice calls, 396 SMS and eight MMS), consumers in the U.S. paid $279.52 while in Denmark it stood at $50.31, Australia at $143.79 and Canada at $195.68. Price differences varied even more between countries for high-usage consumers; Denmark at $182.95, Australia at $370.83, Canada at $ $563.20, while in the U.S. consumers paid $635.85. Only five countries came in higher than that.

Now do you still think it doesn’t matter?

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