Category: Social justice

The American Way of Poverty by Sasha Abramsky

book jacket text on cardboard photoThe American Way of Poverty: How the other half still lives by Sasha Abramsky (2013)

The book is full of tales of woe, so much so that you would think that politicians could not ignore such a reality. I considered suggesting sending this book to legislators, but their collective entrenched delusions would not comprehend these stories as FACT. Neither would they see this situation as SYSTEMIC. The few unfortunate cited are exceptions, not the standard way of this great America life, contrasted with their own economically secure collective multimillion dollar personal life experience.

The tyranny of the majority now in government at state and federal levels is deliberately eliminating every possible aspect of the common good. Proudly dismantling the safety net. The stupid people that voted for the monsters remain deluded that they will be better off.

The American Way of Poverty is divided into two parts. Broadly speaking, the first part of the book tells the stories of the impoverished people I met around the country, whereas the second part of the book maps out a broad set of policy discussions and connections between issues that any meaningful national level attempt to tackle poverty will have to include. These include tax reform, the welfare system, wages, access to healthcare, changes that could be made in the criminal justice system, changes in how America deals with addiction and mental illness, reforms in the foster care system, and many other area that overlap with poverty. (p. 330)

Note the link in the paragraph above goes to the web site for the book and contains some of the interviews and oral histories.

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Raising the Floor by Andy Stern

book jacketRaising the Floor: How a Universal Basic Income can Renew Our Economy and Rebuild the American Dream by Andy Stern (2016)

This is a good book. I am buying this book. I do not agree with everything he says in the book, but the writing is clear and broad in scope. I was reminded of something I knew, that Alaska changed their state constitution to provide a basic income to all resident citizens from the money oil leases and such brought into the state by putting all that money into a dedicated fund to share the wealth. And a Republican governor did it.

I have some doubts about the purported takeover of technology for jobs, but that is probably a prejudice or failure of imagination on my part due to my lack of education and experience (pre-females being allowed to take shop in public schools). It is like watching magic to see a video of the automation that puts car parts together, or the mind blowing details of how the new Bay Bridge was built. Or when I saw the giant machine used to drill out the tunnel under the English channel. For that matter, every day I took the New York subway, especially though the tunnel under the water from Queens or when I drove through the Holland Tunnel and did not drown, well, it just doesn’t seem possible that mere mortals could figure out how to make tools and how to use them to accomplish such feats.

We have people who cannot make change correctly so cash register machines had to be modified to contain a function that simply told workers what the correct change should be. Icons are used instead of words, although I have to say, from a user interface point of view, this actually is a good thing on many levels: multilingual, faster, and more accurate. Translating the abstract concept of FRIES by having a little graphic of french fries in the container eliminates a lot of cross-brain work translating the letter symbols into a word and then punching a value of numbers in the register.

Trust is the number one criteria for people to accept a lot of the mechanization and technology. As a grocery shopped, you select a product based on a posted sign for a particular price. When the item is scanned at the register, can you remember the price of all the items selected to ascertain if the automated system actually priced it as the sale take listed or maybe it added a penny or a dime. Who actually watches the $$ values that are being rung up and are confident enough in their recollection to contest a price? Peer pressure of people standing in line waiting for you, the inability of the register clerk to know anything beyond what the computer tells her is right, having to call a manager over to assess the situation and go back to the shelves to check the sign, all to save 2 cents on a $2.00 purchase. Not a scenario to encourage questioning the accuracy of the technology. Even self-serve registers have this problem, or worse, because you have to do the scanning yourself while watching accuracy and then do the bagging too, again with people standing there impatiently waiting while you try to figure out why your credit card swipe is demanding a pin number you don’t have and it just seems wrong to push the red cancel button to continue.

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This Land is Their Land by Barbara Ehrenrich

book jacket title is this land is your land but then your is scratched out with bright red marker and replaced with theirThis Land is Their Land: Reports from a Divided Nation by Barbara Ehrenrich (2008)

One of my favorite essayists, I read this book before, but picked it up again to see how much that was true then is true now. Sardonic is the word used on the jacket copy to describe her tone and I would add wickedly funny for those of us with very dark senses of humor in dark times. Good jibes, or maybe the right word is “snarky” and that is what I aspire to when I write my reading posts. Sadly, must work much harder to get to her sharp, concise, and clever turns of phrases. As an example, here is a random clause from the chapter titled “Heating Bill from Hell(p. 26): “But no, it turns out, as usual, the flip side of misery is gluttony.

This is a comment while she discusses situations like the coincidental massive increase in heating bills after a hurricane. Turned out, they were not necessarily simply the result of extreme weather. She cites six oil company CEOs having combined salaries (2008-ish) of $33 BILLION.

Her pithy response: “Forget hurricanes; this is a greed storm.

Considering we have now reached the point where Republicans are not even pretending that government is for the HUMAN people. The neoliberals (DINOs) and the rest of the gang of thieves in Congress have been pushing “individual responsibility” like sheer willpower can actually make food magically appear on a table in an imaginary home. The U.S. government provides something like 50 BILLION dollars to multinational oil conglomerates in subsidies AND oil leases to drill on U.S. territory, WITHOUT MAKING A DISCOUNT PRICE AVAILABLE TO AMERICANS, or even a U.S. first requirement for our OWN oil.

She continues with, “What are the companies going to do with all the money?

But as we all know too well, all the rich people or corporations got their money by their own hard work and risking of their hard-earned (inherited) wealth. I’m sure they would all pass a lie detector test when asked, “Do you rely on government for any assistance to make your fortune?” “Of course not,” they would reply. Such is the nature of cognitive dissonance that is pervasive in our contemporary world in particular. They don’t consider the sweetheart deals for businesses built into the IRS tax code to be anything less than their rightful due. Maximizing tax deductions is legal and if the technique like carried-forward interest is immoral but legal, well that just makes taking the deduction good business. I looked up the whole boondoggle at one point, good enough to grasp it, but apparently no well enough to retain, repeat or retrieve the citation for the description.

The point she goes on to make is that of course the company is not going to spend one thin dime on anything for their employees or the community.

In fact, we no longer have any expectation that businesses will do ANYTHING voluntarily to pay workers a living wage or to “give back” to the community possibly. The concept is ludicrous.

The for-profit businesses pay property taxes, well theoretically, unless they have been gifted with tax “incentives” to locate there (like sports areas often are) and other fees for local services, like sewer and fire and police protection.

But since the sports arena gets a tax break just to be there, ALL the people in the community have to pay whether they want to or not (TYRANNY OF THE MAJORITY). They have to pay even when they never go to any sports event, never want to go to a sports event, and can never afford to go to a sports event. Their tax dollars are paying for the share that the sports teams don’t have to even though the owners make millions and pay themselves millions and pay the athletes millions of dollars. The woman working two jobs to make her mortgage payment that includes property tax while earning a variable amount of $20,00 to $35,000 a year (gross pay) IS NOT ACTUALLY THE ONE who should be covering the sports arena costs or anything to do with it.

Instead, the businesses should be PAYING THE CITIES with trust funds for employees who have no job when there is nothing going on at the stadium. Or maybe pay HIGHER property tax because THEY HAVE THE MONEY so that low wage workers in their little homes don’t have to cover for millionaires.

THE FALSE SECURITY OF LABOR LAWS
There are many slick little tricks built into our labor and safety laws. One common one is the exemptions for “small businesses” with employees of 50 or less.”  You get a job, you think you have some kind of protection against discrimination or other abuse by management but gosh darn it, the law is not there to protect you because of an arbitrary number of employees as a floor before a labor law applies. Wrong and exploitive it may be, and illegal in a business with 51 employees, but legal such exemptions remain. Of course the bigger companies complain like stuck pigs that their “free” market is rigged by this gift to 50 and under companies. But their solution is NOT to eliminate the floor so all employees have the same rights. Their solution is to exempt themselves, essentially eliminate the worker protections.

Business is NEVER ABOUT YOU. It is always about PROFIT. More now than ever before and to the point that it is a faded memory of when that was not the case.

Furthermore, AT THE SAME TIME, these same people and their puppets declaim any GOVERNMENTAL responsibility to provide protections, regulations, recourse, and benefits to the employees. So they get to deny any obligation to people (employee or community) and then PAY LOBBYISTS to make sure that the politicians do not do anything that would break the crushing hold they have on the wage slaves that make their excessive profits and not giving a damn that people, their employees, are struggling to make ends meet.

Actually, they probably do care, but in a perverse way. If people are struggling to make ends meet, they are going to be docile, subservient, and CHEAP workers because unlike the immortal corporations, people have been enslaved to wage earning to live. The debt industry is keeping them there as well. And the high prices we pay for merchandise from the two or three manufacturers of Made in China goods is just another method of taking from the people.

We pay too much, for too little quality, made for cheap by other nations’ workers, with no actual choice other than one brand or another (maybe three), and we pay sales tax to fund city services but not enough to do the job and the corporations do not have to pay local sales tax, only their employees do. And the employees have to pay their property tax, the gas tax, the fees, the cost to park, the cost to ride the bus, the list is endless. Because they are HUMANS and they need these things to live, to earn a living, to support their families, and prepare for medical conditions, save for colleges, save for retirement, save for long term care, and there is not enough money to pay for all the city services that keep a community maintained well, safe, healthy, and so on.

People don’t have the money. THE BUSINESSES MAKING MILLIONS IN PROFITS have all the money with no conscience or legal obligation to pay for their employees health insurance, or day care, or parking, or maternity leave, or a living wage.

Or, as the author more eloquently (and more briefly) puts it:

Of course the oil companies could reach into their pockets to help people with fixed incomes, low incomes, and no incomes stay warn this winter. Not that the oil executives are totally unaware of those people’s plight. Questioned about it by a CNN reporter, one such executive kindly suggested that it was “the responsibility of government” to help the needy. And we thought all those CEOs hated “big government”! But he wasn’t offering to pay WINDFALL PROFIT TAXES to help the government  —  already strapped by war and tax cuts for the wealthy — in this mission of mercy. (p. 27)


WORKPLACE BULLIES
One of the worst things I have heard is that some employers now still are legally allowed to dictate when and often employees can use the bathroom. Well, that was an issue in 2008 that the author brings up as well.

It is common knowledge now that keeping “hydrated” is important. So many people are walking around with water bottles, it has become a very competitive industry, albeit one that is as corrupt and the next using carcinogens in their plastic. But if you keep hydrated, there are consequences, and of course, women suffer the consequence more often and with additional inconveniences like fertility that may require them to use the bathroom more than once every four hours exactly when such a pleasant break from the job is permitted.

Women have one less muscle in the bladder somewhere (I was told) and that makes it harder for us to “hold it” as long as men can. Be pregnant and squish that bladder for 9 months plus passing a 10 pound bowling nearby for 24 or 36 hours of “labor” and it is no wonder than most women need to use the bathroom more than some schedule obsessed little tyrant supervisor might prefer. When did this happen? Or maybe the question should be, why didn’t this “bullying” as she calls it, be made to stop.

book jacket showing a public toilet

I could go on with examples of what could be called “bullyless bullying,” in which no aberrant individual can be blamed. [Systemic/structural bullying]  There’s the matter of bathroom breaks, for example, which can be perilously infrequent , and not only for the elderly and the pregnant. The title of the one academic book on the issue tells it all: Void Where Prohibited: Rest Breaks and the Right to Urinate on Company Time.

In this chapter she discusses how RANK allows people to abusive their subordinates without guilt. And everyone is above someone. If you are the lowest of the low men on a totem pole, you still have your wife to go home to and beat up or the dog to kick. That is what having a higher rank means: you are entitled to do whatever you want to anyone different, smaller, weaker, “other” person or creature to you. She remarks that workplace hierarchies can be something other than abusive but I don’t think so. I don’t think she does either:

We may be carrying hierarchy–and it’s evil twin, “rankism“–to an unnecessary extreme in the workplace. . . . American employers [are] creating a workplace culture of “organizational totalitarianism” marked by “degradation, intimidation, and terror,” with the terror stemming from the CONSTANT THREAT OF BEING FIRED, LAID OFF, or “right sized” out of a job. The result, he [anthropologist Howard Stein] argues, is that, “is one sense, the spirits of tens of millions of American workers have been broken.”

Employers take note: one of the first casualties of an overly authoritarian workplace is creativity and its byproduct, innovation. You’re not going to venture a breakthrough idea if you know you’ll be IGNORED or you won’t get the CREDIT for it or for that matter, your bladder is bursting. Which is why the most dynamic enterprises of recent years have been the dot-coms and other hi-tech companies, where dress codes and punch-in times are often abandoned for a freewheeling, less hierarchical corporate culture.

Authoritarian workplaces can also be counterproductive when the fine points of hierarchy — that is, office “politics” — begin to take precedence over getting the job done. (p. 117)


This book of essays has sustained the passage of time so that everything she said about the country then (2008, so probably was written but not published before the crash) is still true, and even more so than then. In an early chapter, THAT SINKING FEELING,  she provides some stats about wealth inequality. As horrific as her numbers were then, it is well documented that inequality is much worse now. These stats are from a Paul Krugman article in the New York Times (book page 92):

. . . that those in the top 10 percent of the income distribution have been seeing gains of only [!!!!] about a percent a year, or a total of 34 percent between 1972 and 2001. In the same period, those in the top 1 percent of the income distribution saw a gain of 87 percent, and those in the top .01 percent registered a gain of 497 percent. That’s right, four hundred and ninety-seven percent. 

She also notes earlier on the page an Associated Press article stated that “the BOTTOM 25 percent suffered a DECLINE from a net worth in which their assets equaled their liabilities in 2001 to owing $1,400 more than their total assets in 2004.”

She concludes this chapter where I too will conclude, where she responds to the criticism of a New York Times columnist, David Books, that she has “an overly negative view of reality” and being out of touch with “the broader society.” Condescending little prick.

Brooks cheerily reports that “only19 percent of American males and 27 percent of females are in poverty — a percentage that is “probably much smaller than most progressive commentators would estimate.” If you average 19 and 27 percent, weighting for a 51 percent female population, you get an overall poverty rate of 23 percent. To my mind, a 23 percent poverty rate is totally outrageous, especially when compared to the federal government’s faux poverty rate of about 12 percent. So are falling incomes for the college-educated middle class and mounting plunder for the plutocrats at the top. Maybe I’ve been living in the “broader society” after all.

You and me both, sister.

 

 

 

 

The Age of Sustainable Development by Jeffrey D. Sachs

book jacketThe Age of Sustainable Development by Jeffrey D. Sachs (2015)

This is a book worth reading despite some egregious realities that are not even touched on at all (disability). It has a massive scope ranging from poverty and economics to healthcare and fertility, biodiversity and climate change, and more. With pictures! And graphs!

More than a bit depressing and overwhelming too since we humans were gifted with brains and mainly chose to use for exploitation and degradation of all of earth and life of all kinds.

I wanted it to read the chapter (11) on “Resilient Cities”

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The Americans with Disabilities Act plus a History book

The Americans with Disabilities Act, 2nd edition, revised and updated by Margaret C. Jasper. Oceana’s Law for the Layperson Legal Almanac Series (2008)

It has only been since 1990 that the ADA was signed into law “to give civil rights protections to individuals with disabilities similar to those prohibiting discrimination on the bases of race, color, sex, national origin, age, religion.”

This Almanac examines the ADA, and entitled to under the Act. The areas governed by the ADA are explored, including employment, transportation, public accommodations, state and local government services, and telecommunications. This Almanac also gives a brief overview of legislation designed to protect the disabled in areas not covered by the ADA.

The Appendix provides selected provisions of the ADA, sample forms, and other pertinent information and data. The Glossary contains definitions of many of the terms used throughout the Almanac.

The book includes information on some other legislation and programs on related to disability. At 8 years past date, it serves only to describe what was written then. I don’t know what all possible additional laws or programs have been implemented, but one of the most critical has to be the 2014 passage of the ABLE Act now coming online for a number of states. There are three amendments in Congress that would amend the passed legislation to “fix” some issues, like the modification from the proposed original bill that had NO AGE LIMITATION to one that requires severe disability before the age of 26; this is just wrong on so many levels. Wrong because it means that if you get in a car crash two days before yours birthday and become paralyzed, you MAY OPEN an ABLE account. If you get in a car crash on your 26th birthday, though equally disabled, you may NOT open an Able account. The ABLE account allows disabled individuals, their family, and anyone else that would care to, to give up to $14,000 a year tax free into a disabled person’s ABLE account to be used for necessary expenses (quite broadly defined). For example, new tires, dental work, even vacations. But the real purpose is to exempt the ABLE money from counting against the mean-spirited conservative policy of requiring MEANS TESTING to prove substantial impoverishment in order to access any government services, including Medicaid. So if I as a disabled person could use  weekly help to manage vacuuming and other household actives, I have to pay out of pocket until I have only $2,000 (varies by state) in assets leaving no funds for ANYTHING that would be common expenses like copays, deductibles, possibly insurance for the 20% portion not covered by Medicare, and a host of other costs necessary to stay in my home and keep my car payments up and the car running so that I can still live a life beyond mandatory reduction of all assets so that I would be completely dependent for housing, transportation, food and count myself lucky to get any assistance at all given the new regime in the federal government. I did make a concerted effort to try to get the amendments passed (they remain stalled in committees) before the new Congress but to no avail. There seems very little likelihood that anything for a social safety net will be passed under the new administration.

To save myself from having to detail how the book is organized, here are some little images for you to get a sense of the content. There is no index so the only way to guess where a topic might be covered is from the Table of Contents.

The book is very legalese and thus hard to understand anything it says. It tried to group topics together, like employment or public transportation, but in the end reading this book has not been helpful for me to understand what my rights are and seems to rely on litigation to define the rights.  Phrases like “undue burden” are too subjective and if it depends on the authority of a business to decide what are undue burdens, then pretty hard to argue with that.


book jacketThe New Disability History: American Perspectives, ed. Paul Longmore and Lauri Umansky (2001)

p. 375

On January 22, 1907, the Committee on Pensions of the US House of Representatives held a hearing on the subject of pensions for disabled veterans of the Civil and Mexican-American Wars. The hearing began…

lawyer lobbyists spoke for veterans as being worthy and moral and having done their duty thus deserved pension.

First, Brown justifies assistance to disabled veterans not MERELY in terms of their NEED but also as repayment for past military service. He bases their claims before the government not on their impairments alone but also on the MORAL WORTH and SOCIAL WORTHINESS of these men. A survey of modern US disability policy reveals that Brown is far from alone in this view. Many public disability programs were, and ARE, based on PAST CONTRIBUTIONS. For example, the largest federal program that provides case payment to people who have a disability, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), is a social INSURANCE program available only to those who have PARTICIPATED in the PAID WORKFORCE and have PAID PAYROLL TAXES into the Disability Insurance trust fund. While Supplemental Security Income (SSI), a federal income maintenance program, provides cash benefits for those who have never worked, SSI benefits are significantly lower than payments made to most SSDI beneficiaries. In every type of disability policy and program, from veterans pensions to vocational rehabilitation, from social insurance to civil rights, notions of MORAL WORTH and SOCIAL WORTHINESS have played a central role in determining what individuals have qualified for benefits or protections.

Brown also distinguishes among people who are “maimed” and blind, whom he says have been well provided for, and those with rheumatic difficulties, who have not. This kind of distinction has appeared frequently in disability policy in the US. Because of the often piecemeal and ad hoc maker in which public policy has been mae, different levels of benefits ma have been available to people with different types of impairments, even if those differences have not reflected the severity of condition or the economic and social need with which it was associated. For example, blind people have long enjoyed special status in public policy, including vending opportunities in federal facilities and unique tax advantages. This disparity in part reflects the political mobilization of blind people, in which organizations such as the NFB have played a pivotal role. It may also relate to some special cultural meaning of blindness, because of which policymakers and the public have been more willing to extend assistance to blind people than to individuals with other disabilities.

p. 378 –

These veterans disability pensions constituted a “precocious” American welfare state that anticipated Social Security. They reflected what Theda Skocpol refers to as “institutional” cultural oppositions between the MORALLY  ‘UNDESERVING’ and the less deserving that run like fault lines through the entire history of American social provision. (fn 8) By contrast, the first European social insurance and pension programs were offered as categorical entitlements to broad categories of workers and the indigent. Skocpol  notes the distinctive MORAL COMPONENT of the American disability pension programs: they were restricted NOT TO THOSE OF THE MOST NEED but to those who “b their own choices and efforts as young men had EARNED AID.” She concludes that in American public policy, “no matter how MATERIALLY NEEDY, the morally UNDESERVING or less less deserving were not the nation’s responsibility.

Subsequent to the pension program for disabled Civil War veterans, workers’ compensation, originally referred to as workman’s compensation, became the first public policy initiative of the early twentieth century. Workers’ compensation rested on the precept that an injured worker was entitled to redress by his or her employer. While this concept was not new in the twentieth entry, the rise of idustrial capitalism and the ideology of laissez had led to an erosion in workers’ common-law rights to compensation. With the increasing mechanization of industry and accompanying loss of workers’ control over their working conditions, workplace injuries increased substantially. Yet, early in the twentieth century, many workers injured in industrial accidents typically could not obtain either medical assistance or financial compensation from their employers.

In response to this situation, Progressive Era reformers argued for the passage of workers’ compensation laws. These laws required both medical and financial assistance to workers injured on the job. The statutes were modeled on the compensation already being provided to disabled military veterans. But, unlike disabled veterans’ compensation programs, workers compensation initiatives focused on the states rather than the federal government. This state-centered policymaking followed the pattern of pre-New Deal American social policy. It had appeared earlier in the asylum movement. The first state laws were passed in 1909. By 1921, forty-five states and territories had enacted workers’ compensation laws. Later in the century, after extended debate between advocates for worker and the business and insurance industries, industrial diseases were added to the list of conditions eligible for coverage. (p. 379)

In the post-World War II prosperity of of 1956, Congress amended the Social Security Disability Insurance, for workers who acquired long-term disabilities. Though SSDI is a federal ENTITLEMENT, the states have had the responsibility for determining eligibility for the program. Payments are provided to an individual whose impairment, in the language of the 1967 amendments, is of “such severity that he is not only unable to do his previous work but cannon, considering his age, education, and work experience engage in any kind of substantial gainful work which exists in the immediate area in which he lives or whether a specific job vacancy exists for him or whiter he would be hired if he applied for work.

Disability insurance had been a goal of earlier social insurance reformers in the 1930s and 1940s, but its potential cost and the opposition of business and medical interests had prevented its passage. [fn 14] At first, Congress limited SSDI to disabled workers between the ages of fifty and sixty-four, but in 1960 it removed the lower age limit; nonetheless, to receive full SSDI benefits, individuals must have paid work experience of a least ten years. The attractiveness of the program increased as automatic eligibility for Medicare coverage was tied to SSDI enrollment. Despite its narrow definition of eligibility, participation in SSDI expanded rapidly from its creation on through the late 1970s. Attempts in the early 1980s to reduce the rate of increasing participation by making it more difficult to qualify for SSDI benefits proved controversial. Ultimately, those efforts failed, in part de to political pressures heightened by dramatic media accounts, and in part because the rate of program expansion leveled off in the 1980s. (p. 380)

Some analysts have viewed the SSDI program as a ticket out of the worked for displace workers with limited educational credentials or technologically obsolete skills. Many other have objected to the all-or-nothing work disincentive in the program’s eligibility requirement that force applicants to choose, on the one hand, between receiving income support and medical insurance and, on the other hand, accepting employment, often at low-paying jobs without medical benefits. (in 1999, some of these disincentives were reduced with the enactment of the Work Incentives Improvement Act, although the impact of this law remains unclear.

381

In 1972, an additional federal cash benefit program, Social Security Income, was created under the Social Security Act amendments. SSI replaced previous federal-state welfare programs for people with disabilities (and a separate set of programs for blind people) because Congress considered them too inconsistent and, in some states, inadequate. SSI provides cash benefits to eligible individuals with disabilities who have very low incomes, regardless of their work history (unlike SSDI). SSI’s determination of work disability in similar to SSDI’s, with many of the same ambiguities and problems. Because SSI beneficiaries have very low incomes and the cash benefits themselves are quite modest, individuals eligilble for SSI also automatically qualify for Medicaid, the federal-state health program for low-income and  individuals and families. Like SSDI, few SSI beneficiaries enter the paid workforce after they are enrolled in the program. In recent years, an increasing number of SSI applicants have had psychiatric and addiction disorders, complicating issues of building work incentives into the program.


Once again, didn’t get to finish the post but this is good information so I am going to post anyway.

When re-reading some of it just now, I was struck by the “required wage work” concept cited. Without returning to the text, it does make me wonder if this is an area of little research from back in the day when women were unpaid chauffeurs, caregivers, housemaids, cooks, and bottle washers.

You can buy reasonably priced long-term disability insurance (be sure to pay the whole premium yourself because it is NOT taxable as income when you do this) as an employee at larger businesses and corporations, but as a stay-at-home mom, I am not sure what happens if you become disabled or if you can even by the insurance for an affordable amount as an individual. I will have to look into it once I get caught up (ha ha).

 

 

Down for the Count by Andrew Gumbel

book jacket obscured photo of 1920s menDown for the Count: dirty elections and the rotten history of democracy in America by Andrew Gumbel (2005, 2016)

This is a MUST READ BOOK. Our democracy has been chugging along despite dirty rotten scoundrels, but that is no longer the case. McCarthyism is when I think tipped us over the edge. No, wait, the internment of the Japanese Americans came first. Previously we had been stumbling at least towards some degree of a sense of social justice. But that was killed by Reagan, compounded by Bill Clinton, and destroyed world over by George W. Bush.


Another on the must check out from library again and do a proper review. Listening to a college course lecturer on McCarthyism now on cd so that will be very informative as a background to the future and potential civil liberty crack downs like the Alien and Sedition Act.

 

The Violence of Financial Capitalism by Christian Marazzi

book jacket plain brownThe Violence of Financial Capitalism by Christian Marazzi, Kristina Lebedeva (Translator) (2010)

This is a MUST READ BOOK.

I had to return to the library so will have to get again to add the essay part and quotes. But I decided to hit publish anyway because it is so good and I just want to get the recommendation out there.

Books read, to read, and/or write about

Just found this older list that I planned to do short takes on, but now have returned the books and don’t recall much so have to recheck out, but here is the list for your consideration. Some duplicates with other posts may occur if I did manage to do some write ups but I am too lazy too check each one.

For some reason, the links to a lot of the books are gone. I may have missed one or two, but I KNOW I DID NOT MISS all the ones now missing GoodReads links, darn it. So I’m sorry, but I am not going to spend another hour or more redoing them when I don’t know why they disappeared in the first place.

book jacket with cowboy boot like flag colors

Mary Beth Rogers

Turning Texas Blue: What it will take to Break the GOP Grip on America’s Reddest State by Mary Beth Rogers

 

 

 

 

book jacketIllustrated Great Decisions of the Supreme Court by Tony Mauro (2000)

 

 

 

 

book jacket portrait of Victoria WoodhullThe woman who ran for president: the many lives of Victoria Woodhull Lois Beachy UnderhillGloria Steinem (Translator)(1995)

 

 

 

book jacket with a little rounded flag symbolThat’s not what we meant to do: reform and its unintended consequences in twentieth-century America by Steven M. Gillon (2000)

 

 

 

book jacket with little drawing of American flag

Blasphemy: how the religious right is hijacking our declaration of independence by Alan Dershowitz (2007)

 

 

 

book jacketBetter, stronger, faster: the myth of American decline — and the rise of a new economy by Daniel Gross (2012)

 

 

book jacket with bar code under illustration of capitol buildingDollarocracy: how the money-and-media election complex is destroying America by John Nichols

 

 

 

book jacket with political donkey and elephant and crossGod’s Politics: why the Right gets it wrong and the Left doesn’t get it by Jim Wallis

 

 

 

book jacket photo with George W. Bush and Dick CheneyTakeover: the return of the imperial presidency and the subversion of American democracy by Charlie Savage (2007)

 

 

 

book jacketThe Supreme Court on unions: why labor law is failing American workers by Julius G. Getman
(checked out via ILL)

 

 

book jacket with cartoon of fat bankerThe Age of Acquiescence: the life and death of American resistance to organized wealth and power by Steve Fraser

 

 

 

book jacket photo of suffragettesThe Concise History of Woman Suffrage: selections from History of woman suffrage, edited by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Matilda Joslyn Gage, and the National American Woman Suffrage Association. Edited by Paul Buhle (2005)

 

 

book cover reading right to vote with the r crossed out and changed to F for fight to vote

The Fight to Vote by Michael Waldman

 

book jacketFICTION The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood

 

 

 

 

book jacket photo Newt Gingrich and Bill Clinton

 

The Pact: Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich, and the rivalry that defined a generation (2008)

 

 

book jacket with golden dust panThe Servant Economy: where America’s elite is sending the  middle class by Geoffrey P. Faux (2012)

 

 

 

book jacketWar is the Force that gives us Meaning by Chris Hedges (2002)

 

 

 

book jacketWhat’s the matter with White People: why we long for a golden age that never was by Joan Walsh (2012)

 

 

 

book jacketWriting with intent: essays, reviews, personal prose, 1983-2005 by Margaret Atwood (2005)

 

 

 

book jacketA Disability History of the United States by Kim E. Nielsen (2012)

 

 

 

book jacket photo of Ayn RandAyn Rand Nation: The hidden struggle for America’s Soul by Gary Weiss (2012)

 

 

 

book jacket with hand marking a ballotBending Toward Justice: The Voting Rights Act and the transformation of American democracy by Gary May (2013)

 

 

 

book jacketGive us the ballot: the modern struggle for voting rights in America by Ari Berman ( 2015)

 

 

 

book jacketGreat Cases in Constitutional Law by Robert P. George (2000)

 

 

 

video jacket PBS seriesOne Woman, one vote by Ruth Pollak (2005)

 

 

 

 

[no image] The ACLU Freedom Files: voting rights by Jeremy Paul Kagan (2005)

[no image] The Democratic Party: Opposing Views by Noah Berlatsky

[no image] The United States Constitution: Questions and Answers by John R. Vile

video jacket capital building covered in dollar billsThe Best Government Money Can Buy? by Francis Megahy (2010)

 

 

 

book jacket red elephant graphic part of blue donkeyThe Party is Over: how Republicans went crazy, Democrats became useless, and the middle class got shafted by Mike Lofgren (2012)

 

 

book jacket image of old fashioned keyFICTION The Winter Siege  [large print] by Ariana Franklin

 

 

 

video jacket photo of Ralph NaderUnreasonable Man [Ralph Nader video] by Henriette Mantel (2006)

 

 

 

book jackets tarot card-like graphicsThe New Prophets of Capital:  A deft and caustic takedown of the new prophets of profit, from Bill Gates to Oprah by Nicole Ashcroft (2015) [checked out via ILL]

 

 

book jacketBecause of sex: one law, ten cases, and fifty years that Changed American Women’s Lives at Work by Gillian Thomas (lawyer)

 

 

 

book jacket graphic ear of cornBetting on famine: why the world still goes hungry by Jean Ziegler

 

 

 

 

book jacket photo of protestors hemmed in by armed policeProfit over People: neoliberalism and global order by Noam Chomsky (1999)

 

 

 

book jacketRat F**ked: the true story behind the secret plan to steal America’s democracy by David Daley

 

 

 

[no image] The End of Poverty? Think Again by Beth Portello (2010) – heartbreaking

book jacket of protestorsThe People’s Pension: the struggle to defend Social Security since Reagan by Eric Laursen (2012)

 

 

 

book jacketEmpire of Capital by Ellen Meiksins Wood  (2003)[checked out via ILL]

 

 

 

book jacket photo of Milton FriedmanCapitalism and freedom by Milton Friedman (2002) [author I am happy to say died in 2006; he created the false doctrine of neoliberalism]

 

 

 

book jacketIll Fares the Land by Tony Judt (2010)

 

 

 

 

book jacketNation on the Take: how big money corrupts our democracy and what we can do about it by Wendell Potter (2016)

 

 

 

book jacket graphic of Ben Franklin from the $50 bill in bandit maskThe Great American Stickup: How Reagan Republican and Clinton Democrats enriched Wall Street while mugging Main Street by Robert Scheer (2010)

 

 

book jacketThe New Road to Serfdom: a letter of warning to America [listened to book on cd] by Daniel Hannan (2011)

 

 

 

book jacketThe Road to Serfdom: text and documents by Friedrich A. von Hayek (2007)

 

 

 

book jacket with graphic of necktie shaped dollar billWhy we can’t afford the rich by R. Andrew Sayer

 

 

 

 

book jacketThe Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: dispatches from the front lines by Michael E. Mann (2012)

 

 

 

book jacketBill of Wrongs: The Executive branch’s assault on America’s fundamental rights [cd] by Molly Ivins (2007)

 

 

book jacket with stains glass graphic around capitol buildingC Street: the fundamentalist threat to American democracy by Jeff Sharlet (2010)

 

 

 

book jacket photo of the authorDemocracy Maters: Winning the Fight against Imperialism [cd] by Cornel West (2004)

 

 

 

book jacketF*U*B*A*R: America’s right wing nightmare [cd] by Sam Seder (2006) for the innocents out there, FUBAR stands for Fucked Up Beyond All Recognition, and variation of SNAFU, Situation Normal, All Fucked Up

 

 

book jacketUnthinking: the surprising forces behind what we buy [cd] by Harry Beckwith (2011)

 

 

 

book jacket with partial image of the statue of LibertyAll the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the rise of an independent nation by Rebecca Traister (2016)

 

 

book jacketFICTION Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan (2002)

 

 

 

 

book jacketPeople Get Ready: the fight against a jobless economy and a citizenless democracy by Robert Waterman McChesney

 

 

book jacketFICTION The Peripheral by William Gibson

 

 

 

 

book jacket by Thom Hartmann

 

 

 

 

book jacketTheft of a Nation [checked out via ILL]

 

 

 

 

book jacket with portrait of Dred ScottDred Scott and the problem of Constitutional Evil [checked out via ILL]

 

 

 

 

The Samaritan’s Dilemma by Deborah Stone


book jacket with life saving ringThe Samaritan’s Dilemma: Should Government Help Your Neighbor?
by Deborah Stone (c 2008)

The Republicans have spent decades undermining democracy, notably, explicitly stated by St. Ronnie Reagan in his 1981 Inaugural Address:

“In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem, government IS the problem. It isn’t so much that liberals are ignorant, it’s just that they know so much that isn’t so.”

In this simple paragraph he begins the ruthless demonization of the government of the people that he swore to serve and damned the “liberals” for yes, despite the phrasing, being ignorant as well as being delusional. His views have proven long since to have been a disaster for the country by independent thinking Americans. This is a man who bragged about how little (if anything) he read and zeroed out library funding every year of his administration’s budget. Fortunately, Congress put funding back in, but the clear and present danger to democracy represented by defunding the single most powerful force for an informed citizenry, public libraries, represents who the truly ignorant person was when he made that statement.

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Money Driven Medicine by Maggie Mahar

book jacketMoney Driven Medicine: The Real Reason Health Care Costs so Much by Maggie Mahar (2006)

Obviously this book is out of date but it does discuss some of the continual issues that plague the US medical and insurance industries under the great invisible hand of the “free” market rules of supply and demand that result in our citizens paying more and more and having inflated medical prices and drug prices forcing people to choose between food and healthcare.

The fundamental reality is that it is NOT APPROPRIATE to apply the “laws” of supply and demand to healthcare.

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