What We Have Learned From The Past Election

May 3, 2017

No, not the one in 2016 (that’s so yesterday). The recent one this past Tuesday, May 2nd. But first, as an opening act, Analysis would like to go back a little to a pre-election announcement, one not directly concerned with “local” politics (though all politics is local). On April 21st The Newark Advocate reported local civil engineers Jobes Henderson’s upcoming change of ownership. Actually the announcement was more in terms of their leaving the business on account of that pesky old ACA (Health insurance costs factor in Jobes Henderson sale Kent Mallett , Reporter). But the buried lead in the article was that they were being bought out by Hull and Associates which itself didn’t seem to be too bothered by that pesky old ACA (well, not enough to keep them from growing larger by buying out Jobes Henderson). Hmmmm, curious how business and the market work. Back to the election which is already in progress (CNN refused to run a political ad for the 2020 re-election of the current apprentice, er, president). The events of this past Tuesday refuted the leadership of Licking County’s own “brand” Commissioner (and the Advocate’s go to commission spokesperson), Tim Bubb. A minor, within the GOP family, dust up occurred between County Auditor Mike Smith and the commish. Seems the commissioner took it for granted that the business of government is business, and assumed 911 services are not unlike parks, aging or disability services, to be franchised separately by the county. Au contraire said Mr. Smith shortly before the election (Analysis finds it is always better late than never). The business of county government IS social concerns, and services like 911 are just that. The levy proposal was just a property tax increase dressed up like a township fire or school levy (and we all know what happens when you mix lipstick and pigs). The voters, those who bothered to vote, agreed. What we’ve learned: That capitalism is about capital. That the market is predicated on capital, and not social concerns (remember Jobes Henderson?). That government is about social concerns and services – keeping the water safe to drink, ensuring that sewage disposal is treated properly, maintaining public health and safety in more ways than that (including police, fire, emergency rescue and their dispatch), etc. May 3rd NPR’s Market Place reported, as a side bar, that on account of the current environment of mergers and takeovers, even large companies like General Mills are taking steps to avoid getting gobbled up (both literally and figuratively) (well, OK, they want their products gobbled up, literally). Mr. Bubb has been the champion of public subsidy for business and the market through everything from tax credits, specialized individual infrastructure improvements, to funding Grow Licking County, Newark Port Authority, yadda, yadda while cutting services in public transportation, Jobs and Family Services, housing and public health. With the recent election Analysis finds an inkling of discernment. The business of government isn’t “all about jobs.” The business of government is not to subsidize and fund the market. The business of government is social service, and government needs to address that concern.

Encore (Non) Performance

April 19, 2017

“Ensuring that we have the basics in place — fiscal strength, lower taxes, proper regulation — opens the door for us to sell our state across the nation and across the world.” (Ohio’s current Governor John Kasich in his 4-4-17 State of the State address). Future Ohio Governor wannabe (but current Ohio Attorney General) Mike DeWine addressed the opioid epidemic in Pickerington recently (DeWine would require opioid education as governor Trista Thurston , Reporter for Gannett’s Lancaster Eagle-Gazette, 4-19-17). The current governor touted his Start Talking initiative as counter acting the opioid drug epidemic in Ohio. The wannabe governor touts a mandatory K through 12 “Just Say No” curriculum to counteract the epidemic (following the trail of tears footsteps of Nancy Reagan and Ohio’s DARE program). “”I don’t know any other way of doing it,” DeWine said. “It can be done without a great burden on the schools.”” Another unfunded mandate on Ohio’s public schools (sans charter/private) embraces the current governor’s three basics (fiscal strength, lower taxes, proper regulation). In addition, Thurston notes “The communities faring the best throughout the epidemic, DeWine said, are the ones where people have watched it get so bad and decided to do something themselves.” (without state involvement, or cost). DeWine sees the state’s role in terms of his recently begun pilot program, “Since about half of the children in foster care throughout the state are there because one or both parents are addicted to drugs”. “The pilot program will provide specialized services, like intensive trauma counseling, to children. It will also offer increased access to drug treatment to parents of children referred to the program.” “So far $5.5 million has been committed to the pilot.” In his State of the State Governor Kasich committed $20 million from the Third Frontier Commission to develop a high tech silver bullet solution [no pun intended]. “The current opioid crisis is different than other drug epidemics, DeWine said, because it’s impacting everyone.” Thurston concludes her report by quoting the wannabe governor: “”We have a crisis,” DeWine said. “If ten people were dying a day of some strange new plague, we would treat is as a health crisis.”” So why don’t you? What’s stopping you? Analysis finds that treatment for a public health crisis of this dimension would be in terms of beds in detox and rehab centers, beds that were immediately accessible. It would be in state budgeted funding for all the children affected by the loss of caregivers produced by this epidemic (essentially Ohio’s new orphans), not just a pilot enterprise. It certainly wouldn’t emphasize nor rely on high tech silver bullet solutions, K-12 curriculum additions, or Start Talking programs.

Underage Alibi

April 12, 2017

As previously posted, Ohio’s tax revenue continues to come in far short of the previous projections. Previous budget income tax cuts were passed based on the Reaganomics that income tax cuts will yield job growth, spur investment, etc. Analysis finds this logic to be disingenuous with the actual policies implemented by the GOP (whether legislative or executive). In a 4-11-17 Ohio Public Radio piece entitled “Lawmakers Scrutinize Kasich’s Proposed Tax Cuts As Ohio’s Revenue Miss Mark Again” Karen Kasler records the following interview observations: “The state says its March tax collections came in $203 million dollars below estimates. That brings the total shortfall for this fiscal year to $615 million – more than half a billion dollars. And it’s led by income tax revenues that are $448 million dollars less than had been projected. Budget director Tim Keen admits those numbers are a surprise, but says there are a few things that could be to blame – including the withholding growth rate, which he calls shockingly low. “Our withholding out of people’s weekly or biweekly paychecks is much lower than we expected, which is driving a good portion of the underage,” Keen said.” In answer to questions regarding the previous projections and the actual lagging economy by State Senator Vernon Sykes “Keen responded by saying that tax cuts have increased the state’s competitiveness. And he also said slow population growth has hurt revenues, but that lowering the income tax can help with that.” Also in Ohio news this past week is the deportation proceedings of Maribel Trujillo Diaz, a 41 year old Hamilton mother of 4 who sought refuge in Ohio 15 years ago and is an upstanding citizen (according to her church and fellow citizens). Indeed, this obsession with deportation has been national news for quite some time, 2016 as well as 2017. Analysis finds part of the GOP’s disingenuous logic to center on the justification of an improved economy as a result of various tax cuts and tax shifting while ““Our withholding out of people’s weekly or biweekly paychecks is much lower than we expected, which is driving a good portion of the underage,”” It is not rocket science to conclude that although the tax cuts may have spurred low unemployment numbers during the Kasich administration, the actuality that these jobs pay little accounts for the “underage”. Even more disingenuous GOP logic is the alibi that “slow population growth has hurt revenues” while actively hunting down those who contribute to the state’s population count as well as revenue in order to jail and expel them.

The State Of The State Of Ohio’s Opioid Epidemic

April 6, 2017

A blizzard of angst filled soul searching follows the presidential election, current administration, continuing to this day with “how did this happen?” Etc. Many are not so surprised, more bemused in that all of this was in plain sight. Intentions as well as actions today are simply a continuance of what was stated, promised, and actively displayed before. ‘Nuff said. Within his recent (4-4-17) State of the State address, Ohio’s Governor John Kasich’s lips pronounced “Ensuring that we have the basics in place — fiscal strength, lower taxes, proper regulation — opens the door for us to sell our state across the nation and across the world.” This mantra was repeated multiple times, even more through fragments. Sounds pretty clear. No mystification of priorities, intent, or course of action here. He also had this to say about Ohio’s Opioid drug epidemic, though he didn’t call it that (Name thing I guess. Been there, done that with the current pres’): “Last year, Highway Patrol troopers had their largest single heroin, meth and prescription pill seizures. Ohio was one of the first states to create prescribing guidelines for doctors. We’ve linked our medical providers into our pharmacy system to slow doctor shopping and for the first time we’re registering pharmacy technicians. We’ve expanded access to the overdose-reversal drug to first responders, pharmacies and families of those addicted. And we created Start Talking! to encourage more adults to talk to children about the dangers of drugs. In all, we’re spending nearly $1 billion a year.” And “That’s why today I’m asking the Third Frontier Commission to provide up to $20 million to help bring new scientific breakthroughs to the battle against drug abuse and addiction. These funds will target existing, proven ideas that simply need an extra push to be brought to the fight — ideas like using a simple device that connects to someone’s ear that can relieve pain and block the effects of opiate withdrawal.” Finally “We love our children and care about our neighbors, so we’ve got to deliver this message to them: “Don’t do drugs or you will destroy your life and you will destroy the purpose for which the good Lord created you.”” Not a word, or dollar, for rehabilitation. Analysis considers the implications of this abdication of leadership, the vacuum formed by Kasich’s overriding priorities, intent, and course of action. Indeed, historically US public health epidemics have been met by an equally public response of sanatoriums, recovery centers, and public health initiatives (all notably absent with the governor’s approach). History has lectured us extensively on what happens in a leadership vacuum (South East Asia, Syria/Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.). Add to that Kasich and the GOP’s historic preference (and reliance) on a religious response to education, social welfare and public health concerns. Here is some of what Kevin Lewis O’Neill writes in an essay entitled “On Hunting” (Critical Inquiry Spring 2017):

““We hunt men,” Alejandro said, “to save them.” Locked up inside a Pentecostal drug rehabilitation center for his use of crack cocaine, Alejandro participates in his pastor’s hunting parties or grupos de caceria. At the outer edges of today’s war on drugs, Christian vigilante groups scour the streets of Guatemala City with singular intent: to pull users out of sin by dragging them into rehab. And so, in the middle of the night, when the capital is an absolute ghost town, three or four recovering users drive with their pastor to the house of an active user.” “As a part of economic restructuring – which has included the privatization of state enterprises, the liberalization of trade, and the relaxation of government regulation [sound familiar?]– less than 2 percent of Guatemala’s total health budget addresses issues of mental health, with its hospitals flatly denying medical service to those patients seeking support for substance abuse.” “Pentecostal drug rehabilitation centers, when taken in the aggregate, have six thousand beds.” “Guatemala’s prisons sit at 250 percent capacity; the hospitals do not accept users; and Guatemala’s only mental institution understands drug use to be well outside the scope of its mission.” “More important than numbers, however, are the visceral truths that Pentecostal Christianity promises its people: Salvation is real; hell is eternal; and Jesus loves you. Another imperative also follows. Often stamped onto Pentecostal print media, with an allusion to sin as well as the hunt, it announces: escape for your life. One effect of this faith is a growing network of informal and largely unregulated Pentecostal drug rehabilitation centers. These sites warehouse users against their will inside of onetime garages, factories, and apartment buildings. Each has been repurposed for rehabilitation with razor wire, steel bars, and iron gates. Inside, pastors practice teoterapia, or theological therapy. This is a mix of Pentecostal theology, twelve-step programming, and self-help psychology. Its working assumption is that captivity will give way to conversion. It does not. Yet this bald fact has not slowed down the growth of these centers, and for good reason. Again, these centers provide a practical solution to a concrete problem. Drug use is up. State resources are down. And Pentecostalism is the discourse of change. [Sound familiar?] The net result is a shadow carceral system infused with Pentecostal imperatives about not just sin and salvation but also about who can be hunted and why. It is a theological construction that carries concrete consequences. Today more Guatemalans find themselves literally tied up in Pentecostal drug rehabilitation centers than locked up in maximum-security prisons.” Lest the reader think that, not being Pentecostal or Guatemalan, Ohio’s Governor along with the current US Attorney General are not in the hunt. Au contraire, “there are some thirty thousand men in Philadelphia alone with warrants out for their arrest.” (O’Neill)

Unedited

April 4, 2017

Analysis goes short. The Abra Cadabra of headline juxtaposition on the front page of the 4-4-17 Newark Advocate was irresistible. The large cap “Kasich, Others Tout New Amazon Center” directly over the smaller cap “Licking Co. files foreclosure on Longaberger Basket” invites “Now you see it. Now you don’t.” Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the Advocate’s new editor came out this past week. No big surprise in that it was the interim news editor, Ben Lanka. He even took the time to pen a personal column to introduce himself. Unnoticed (or should we say Un-edited) was the disappearance of the editorial/opinion section from the everyday, week day paper. Great for Gannett’s bottom line. Terrible for Newark’s readers’ need to know (you know, “Inquiring minds” and all). Gone are divergent points of view columns. Also the editorial cartoons (another reason for why “editorial cartoonist” has vanished from high school career day). And finally, absent and forever gone is the editorial itself, once a point of pride for most publications, expressive of the local news outlet’s leadership role in the community. But hey, Newark now has a new editor for its paper. As he puts it, “I’ve always believed as a journalist my most important role is to give a voice to the voiceless and to hold those in power accountable.” Analysis indicates that, without an everyday editorial/opinion page, this has the potential of being more magical than Penn and Teller!

We Report, You Decide

March 29, 2017

 

Obamacare will implode. So say the GOP president, congressional representatives and local enthusiasts. The popular media focuses on the incongruity of 8 years active oppositions, and over 60 legislative bills to end the Affordable Care Act. And yet it remains “the law of the land.” Stephen Koff of cleveland.com thinks otherwise. In a 3-29-17 article entitled “Did Republicans sabotage Obamacare? Ohio insurers owed $100M they’ll likely never see” he looks at how any success was undermined in advance. Analysis finds this to be worthwhile, especially considering that the current chief executive interprets government to be by decree, without regard of legislative involvement or intent. Most of his priorities are being promulgated and enforced by executive order. As the chief executive, he would differ little from his predecessors in eliding enforcement of existing laws. Could the implosion of the ACA be one of them? Mr. Koff points out that the ACA, like the expansion of Medicare prescription drug benefits during the Bush presidency, relied on government underwriting of risk for its initial years of operation. “One way of protecting them involved a concept known as a risk corridor, a way to guard insurers against inaccurate projections. At the ACA’s full start in 2014 no one truly knew what the enrollment mix would be — young, old, healthy, sick — and how much insurers would have to spend on medical care.” Koff explains “With risk corridors, insurers made their best estimates when they priced their policies and offered them for sale. The projections were based on actuarial principles and double-checked by state insurance officials and HHS. If insurer projections turned out to be wrong even after all that checking and a company made a big gain, the company would have to share part of it with the losers through the risk corridor program, maintained by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS, a division of HHS.” But a funny thing happened on the way to affordable healthcare, “Under risk-corridor rules, no company would give up all its gains, and no company would be able to recoup all its losses. But it could recoup enough to stay in business.” “Obamacare passed narrowly when Democrats had majorities in Congress. Republicans never liked it. So in 2014, as both parties hurried to pass a year-end spending measure that was already overdue, Republicans managed to work in a small but meaningful change to the Obamacare rules — specifically, the risk corridor rules. They required that the risk corridors be self-funding, or what is known as budget neutral. That meant any money paid out to insurers would have to come from money coming in from other insurers. Key to this: CMS would not be permitted to draw from other accounts if the risk corridors lacked enough money. Democrats arguably left themselves open to this change by not being more specific when drafting the ACA. Yet it’s clear Republicans knew this would create problems. Some even bragged about it.” The article quotes one of Ohio’s Senators: “”There’s no question,” said U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, an Ohio Democrat, “that efforts to undermine the ACA’s risk corridors program drove insurers out of Ohio’s marketplace and starved our state’s CO-OP of the resources it needed to get off the ground, leading to less competition and higher prices for consumers.”” Newark’s 12th congressional district’s representative chose to address his constituents through a spokesperson: “”Obamacare is fundamentally flawed,” Olivia Hnat, spokeswoman for Rep. Pat Tiberi, said when asked about Republicans using the risk corridors to undermine Obamacare. Tiberi is on the House Ways and Means Committee and chairs its subcommittee on health. “The individual mandate is failing to patients in the marketplace,” Hnat said. “No matter how much the government subsidizes care or props up the insurance market, the individual mandate hasn’t worked and it is just one reason why Obamacare is on an unsustainable path.”” Analysis concludes with the article’s beginning. “The provision slipped into a spending bill in late 2014, after the Affordable Care Act was under way, restricted the government in making payments. As a result, some insurers have been forced to pare down their medical networks, cut their markets or leave Obamacare altogether — contributing to the higher premiums for customers and insurer withdrawals that Republicans point to as proof of the program’s failure. Republicans say they were just preventing an ill-advised insurer bailout because, they say, Obamacare was bound to fail. But Democrats and some health policy analysts say Republicans purposely sabotaged the Affordable Care Act by denying promised payments to insurers at a crucial time.” Analysis ends with those inimitable words of Fox News: “We report, you decide”

The Current State Of The State Of Poverty

March 27, 2017

 

The Ohio Association of Community Action Agencies released its State of Poverty 2016 report last week. The first part is a synopsis of sorts, the final pages are the statistics and tables for each category, area, etc. Of note:

The FPM [Federal Poverty Measure] is based on annual household income, and as such, fails to distinguish between longterm and short-term poverty. Using a monthly poverty threshold along with data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP), a national household survey designed to track participants over multiple years, the Census Bureau estimates the number of Americans experiencing chronic and episodic poverty. The chronic poverty rate is defined as the percentage of the population in poverty every month in a 36-month period, whereas episodic poverty is defined as those in poverty for at least two consecutive months in a 36-month period. [Ohio has a] 16% official annual poverty rate, 32% episodic poverty rate. The episodic poverty rate in the United States is twice as high as the official annual poverty rate. Asset poverty is a measure of the financial cushion needed to withstand a financial crisis (i.e. medical emergency, job loss, etc.) and stay out of poverty for three months. Assets can be liquid or non-liquid. Liquid assets are those which can be easily exchanged for cash (e.g., gold, savings accounts, government bonds). Nonliquid assets typically must be sold (e.g., cars, homes, businesses). A household is considered asset poor if its combined assets are worth less than three months’ living expenses at the federal poverty level (FPL) threshold. Similarly, a household is considered liquid asset poor if its liquid assets alone are insufficient to meet those expenses. Nearly half of Ohio households lack the liquid assets needed to stay out of poverty for 3 months.

A family of two adults and two school-age children in Ohio needs an annual income of at least 146% of the federal poverty level to be self-sufficient. A single parent with 2 children must work 109 hours per week to reach self-sufficiency at minimum wage. A family of one adult, an infant, and a preschooler needs to earn at least $45,715 a year to be self-sufficient. Nearly one third of households led by a single female live in poverty; that rate increases to 43.1% among single women with children under 18. Married couple families where neither spouse works still have a lower poverty rate (9.3%) than single female householder families where the householder works full time.

Food insecurity, defined by the USDA as limited or uncertain access to adequate food, affects millions of people nationwide and hundreds of thousands of Ohioans. Children are particularly affected by food insecurity; nearly one-quarter of Ohio’s youth are food insecure and 20% of those children are likely ineligible for federal nutrition assistance, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). However, college students are also affected. Twelve Ohio colleges and universities have food pantries on campus.

Grandparent caregivers often struggle financially since many already live on a fixed income that does not increase when they gain custody. Nearly one in three grandparent households live in poverty while less than one in five traditional parent households are in poverty. Ohio has nearly 40,000 grandparent-caregiver households. One in five grandparent caregivers live in poverty According to a national report, one in three grandparent caregivers who are solely responsible for their grandchildren, without parent involvement, live in poverty. The poverty rate for grandparents decreases in older grandparents (those 60 and older).

Over the last 15 years, the population of Ohio has grown by only 2.4% but the poor population has grown by 54.1% Urban areas have seen a decrease in population over the last 15 year period but a substantial increase in population in poverty Suburban areas have seen the largest increase in poor population between 2000-2015, at 76.0%

 

Some specifically Licking County Statistics:

From 2015:

Overall poverty rate of 12.6%

Children under 18   17.4%

Seniors 65 and older   5.1%

Family poverty rate   9.2%

Married couples with related children   7.4%

Single women with related children   41.9%

Childhood food insecurity rate 2014   21.8%

Children both food insecure and ineligible for food assistance in 2014   7.4%

K-12 students receiving free or reduced price lunch 2016   37.2%

Population receiving SNAP 2015   13%

Population enrolled in Medicaid December 2014   22%

Population having no health insurance 2015   9.1%

Unemployment rate in 2015   4.4%

 

 

 

 

Tiberi’s Teleconference Town Hall

March 21, 2017

Place or space, this is a topic of discussion for many academics and those inclined to the abstract. That discussion itself forms a space (where the topic is discussed). You remember “Space, the final frontier”, in Star Trek, where each week a different topic was broached? And who could forget “MySpace”? The ancient Scandinavians, as well as other northern Europeans, had what they called a “Ding” (thing). The “Ding” was a gathering place where people all came together to decide what is of concern to the group, needed to be named and treated as such, and what is not (in today’s language, what is an issue and what is not, and what to call it – “Leak”, “Alternative Facts”, Trumpcare”, etc.). An etymological vestige of this can be found with a word like “fireplace.” Think giant rock concert without a band or stage (among the rocks!). The naming and deciding were determined at a place, though the gathering as well as the place was referred to as a “Ding”. Independence Hall is a place where representatives of various American colonialists came together and formed a “Ding” that determined what mattered and what didn’t, and what to call it (since this was pre memory chip, they even put down some of what they named in writing, the better to remember the thing). So is a town hall a place? Is a town hall meeting a “Ding”? Ohio’s 12th congressional district representative obviously doesn’t think so. He equates town hall with robo calls by the NRA, boiler room “charitable” solicitations by Bears In The Air, and all the other myriad of menu driven, voice interactive phone and internet connected device conversations (real or imagined). Even the health care providers have gotten in on it, calling their policy holders to remind them they haven’t been getting sick enough! Analysis can almost imagine a late night stand up doing a monologue of Representative Tiberi reclining in his Lazy Boy, eating wings and quaffing a cold one, barefoot in his Crocs while wearing a bath robe (with a monogrammed T just like the president’s), watching old Chuck Norris movies with the sound turned down while conducting one of his teleconference town halls and reaching for a napkin to wipe the zesty ranch dribble; multi tasking at its finest! And why not? After all, communication devices provide a space for folks to comment or vent, located no place. Pre-screening is de rigueur for max constituent convenience and legislative efficiency, all of which can be easily programmed! Analysis likens Representative Tiberi to a long haul truck driver who is constantly on the phone with his wife and kids to stay in touch whenever he can. Ask him and he will tell you that this insures a wonderful relation with his family (as long as he stays on the road away from home). But he loves and cares and provides for the wife and kids! It’s just better for everyone that he not find himself in that place called “home.”

 

Spiritual Break

March 14, 2017

Whatever became of all the statistics and figures that flooded the media after the financial meltdown of 2008? You know, the various accounts of who owns what, and how much of what is earned goes where, etc. Things like that 43% of all Americans have no net worth, perhaps even owe more than they can pay (“choosing” to make health insurance payments via credit card is akin to Pay Day lending). Or that the majority of wealth generated during the first (and following) years of the recovery went to the top 1% of Americans, mostly to the top .6% at that. Have they just ceased to be, gone away? Almost as a Trump precursor, Ohio still preferred the business first gospel of John Kasich, electing him governor although Occupy “occupied” much of the discussion around these matters in 2010. Six years later, as a presidential wannabe, John touted the “Ohio economic miracle” for getting out of recession. Come 2017 he engages his fellow Republicans with Ohio being in a recession. In or out, how are we to know? Today all is “leadership, predominant influence, or domination” by the GOP (the dictionary definition of “hegemony”). Representative government is determined by apportionment of voting districts through this party’s actions. Policies, agendas, and priorities are determined by their super majority legislature, executive and judicial branches of government. Ditto on the Federal level. Is it any wonder all talk of who owns what, and how much, has ceased? How can this be returned to relevance? Today’s news is that Ohio is only second to Nevada in terms of gambling population, yet in the past year the state’s share of revenue from gambling casinos and lottery tickets has dwindled. Also down has been the state’s revenue from income taxes (no mystery there as the governor and legislature have and continue to favor cutting income taxes). In addition, revenue from retail sales taxes has dropped, along with the commercial activities tax. Liquor revenue is the exception, but that is taken by JobsOhio. The recent report by JobsOhio shows a 10% decline in new jobs over previous years (which cannot be verified independently, even by State Auditor Yost, so the reader must take JobsOhio’s word for it). The party of hegemony continues to promote, advocate and act in accordance with cutting taxes and cutting services – locally, state wide and federally. Ditto was done drastically with the speed of business in Kansas, only to have failed miserably. Ostensibly “employers” are saying jobs go unfilled due to lack of skills (even though Skill Games parlors abound). The stock market is at all time record highs. Someone is generating wealth to purchase stock at those prices. Who is accumulating wealth from all these “economically sound and prudent” policies? (refer to above for a clue) The major manifestation of late term capitalism, enabled by the hegemony of “business first” government, is the overwhelming preponderance of positive attitude – if you contribute or support making lots of money, then you are amazing, fantastic, a quality American. If you inhibit or impede that through regulation, criticism or “quality of life” concerns, then you are worthless – demeaned and disparaged. Any wonder? (refer to above for a clue) In Mexico, along the border, are factories and workshops known as a maquiladora. Mass produced assembly line goods destined to fulfill US consumer desire originate there. Security is tight. Little gets out about workers, conditions and practices within a maquiladora. To speak openly is to invite personal hardship. “In another segment of the video [Yoshua Okon’s “Canned Laughter”, 2006], the workers are taking a break, holding hands and meditating. In case the viewer might be tempted to think that this is a union meeting, the counterpoint to the assembly line, Okon explains that the workers he interviewed told him about mandatory “spiritual breaks” in the maquiladoras; they are organized, in his words, for the workers to be “thankful for being exploited.”” (Even Laughter? From Laughter in the Magic Theater to the Laughter Assembly Line by Anca Parvelescu) Does hegemony likewise demand a spiritual break?

Hail To The Promoter In Chief

March 1, 2017

It is trendy to be popular today – a redundancy, of sorts, since popularity determines trend. Populism, a kind of popularity, is trés, trés trendy today. The language of contemporary populism is a pastiche of clichés, hyperbole and lots of good old fashioned jingoism. In this spirit Analysis looks at the presidential address to congress (2-28-17), and the promotional rhetoric surrounding it. The very folks who give breadth to populism would say that when you see “New and Improved” on a product you know the product will contain less and cost more. ‘Nuff said.