Tuesday, June 17, 2014

To Congress and President Obama: No New Wars!

Due to the growing chaos in Iraq, there has been a recent push to re-start the nearly decade-long Iraq War.  While President Obama has explicitly ruled out "boots on the ground", he is still considering airstrikes.  Which will likely accomplish zilch on the ground except for pouring gasoline on a raging inferno.  And then we will still be puzzled as to "why do they hate us"?  SMH.

To Congress and Obama, please stay out of Iraq.  Please don't keep propping up an autocratic regime over there that was actually the root cause for the recent political instability.  And even if we did send in troops, the best it would do is provide temporary relief that will evaporate shortly after leaving.  And clearly the USA is NOT in any position for another decade (or decades) of war.  The time for war is in the past.  Our own country is falling apart.  And if you win the wars at home, there will be no fighting anymore.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Take Back the Flag

Just pointing out that today is Flag Day.  But this blog looks no different today because we display the Stars and Stripes every day.

To all the ignorant fools who burn it, remember what it is that you're really burning, and all those that fought and died for it. Those who consider themselves to be on the political left would be better served by "taking back the Flag" and waving it proudly, so it is not perverted into an ultra-right-wing symbol by the fascists. Make it clear that the government policies you oppose are not in the national interest. And let everyone know that you can just as strongly love this country as you fear its government.  In fact, plenty of true patriots often do feel that way, and as Jefferson once said, "dissent is the highest form of patriotism."

The Flag is not Republican, Democrat, liberal, conservative, or belonging to any other faction. It is the American Flag, and it belongs to all of us.   Live free or die!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Reflections on the Isla Vista Killings

On May 23, a deeply disturbed young man committed yet another mass killing, resulting in the deaths of seven people (including himself) and injuring thirteen others.  The mass murderer, whose name we refuse to mention so as not to make him famous, stabbed and shot his victims as well as ran some of them over with his car before crashing and then shooting himself.   As the TSAP has done with previous mass killings, let us now reflect on this senseless act of horrific violence and analyze its likely causes.

The 22 year old man who did this has been dubbed the "Virgin Killer" because his motive for doing so was to get revenge against women because he apparently couldn't get laid.  Yes, you read that right, and he most likely never heard of Paging Dr. Nerdlove.  In fact, he wrote a nasty 141-page manifesto detailing his rage and his plans to act on such rage.  While it is easy to dismiss him as just another loony, aberrant, lone-wolf killer, the fact is that he was profoundly influenced by a highly misogynistic culture.  People like him are simply the tip of a very large iceberg of misogyny, as one can see at various "men's rights advocate" (MRA) and "pick-up artist" (PUA) websites (which we refuse to link to, but you can Google) as well as the mainstream media and political culture.  It is very telling indeed that he described his twisted machinations as a "War on Women", a phrase often associated with what many of today's Republican politicians have been doing in terms of rolling back women's reproductive rights (and by extension other rights as well).  He was also apparently very racist as well, and we know how racism and sexism often go together especially in the reich-wing world.  Need we say more?

Thus, while lots of people like to place the blame on guns or mental illness or even video games for this tragedy, it should be painfully obvious that the real root cause of it was patriarchy and the misogyny that inevitably goes with it.  And the reason why people like that as well as various politicians are lashing out so much right now is because patriarchy is currently in self-destruct mode and is on its way out.  Indeed, patriarchy is essentially wetiko writ large, so the sooner it ends, the better.  The futurists all seem to agree on one thing:  the future belongs to women.  And when they finally do take over, they will remember exactly how they were treated, so it really behooves us fellas to clean up our act sooner rather than later.  As John Mellencamp and India Arie would say, if you're not part of the future, get out of the way.

What to Do about Afghanistan?

The other day, Obama announced his plan to leave a residual force of 9800 American troops in Afghanistan after combat operations officially end this December.  That residual force will be cut in half at the end of 2015, and reduced to a negligible level at the end of 2016.  So much for pulling out completely this year.

Though far less than the roughly 100,000 troops at the peak years of 2010-2012, leaving nearly ten thousand troops in Afghanistan after 2014 seems rather pointless.  All that would do is leave our troops in harm's way without actually providing a significant amount of security.  It's better to rip the band-aid off quickly rather than slowly.  We already got Bin Laden and over 80% of the high-ranking Al-Qaeda members years ago, so why are we still there?  Yes, there is indeed a high risk that the Taliban will take over once again, but that will likely happen regardless of whether we pull out now or 10, 20, or 100 years from now.  Thirteen years of war and occupation is more than enough, and indeed it has been America's longest war, even longer than Vietnam.

Let's face it, Afghanistan is basically a lost cause at this point.  Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, the Persians, the British Empire, the Soviet Union, and now the American Empire have all learned the hard way that such a country simply cannot be conquered for long.  So let's make good on our promise to pull out this year.  And when we do so, the TSAP has a great idea to keep the Taliban and other forces of evil at bay, and we are only half-joking about this one.  Upon leaving, our troops should give every Afghan woman an AK-47 or M-16 and tell them to take over their country, and mow down anyone who stands in their way.  And given the deplorable way that women have been treated over there for thousands of years, the powder keg will finally blow.  Of course, the powers that be in the USA would never want to do that, absolutely not.  After all, they wouldn't want women in this country getting any ideas, now would they?

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Hell AND High Water, Coming to A Coast Near You

It's worse than we thought.  Two new recent reports have found that the Antarctic ice sheet has already begun to melt due to climate change, locking in 4-12 feet of sea-level rise that cannot be readily reversed.  It is basically unstoppable. In other words, the nightmare scenario is looking increasingly likely to be the case.

So what can we do to mitigate the worsening climate crisis?  The most obvious thing is to end our addiction to fossil fuels yesterday, since that is the primary driving force for the problem we are facing.  President Obama's plan to limit carbon pollution from power plants is an important step in the right direction, but unfortunately it doesn't go far enough.  We need an actual carbon tax at the minimum, a la Carbonomics.  Indeed, the TSAP includes that in our Great American Phase-Out plan to phase-out fossil fuels completely by 2030 and transition to 100% clean energy.  Of course, we also need a complete paradigm shift away from our addiction to growth for the sake of growth, the ideology of the cancer cell.  Because all Ponzi schemes will collapse given enough time, and our Earth is far too precious to subject to such a scheme.

As we have said numerous times, we need to leave room for Nature, lest it not leave room for us.  We were warned decades ago, and we ignore the environment at our own peril.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Happy (Belated) 5th Birthday, TSAP!

We recently realized that it has been five whole years since the TSAP was founded on April 12, 2009.  During these five years, the TSAP has been evolving while America keeps regressing and declining.  So what have we learned during the years since we were first founded?  Here is a partial list:

  • Our entire economy is one big Ponzi scheme for the most part, run entirely for the benefit of the elites at the expense of the rest of us.  (We kind of knew that already, though)
  • Social Security should NOT be cut--it should be expanded, reformed, and eventually replaced with a guaranteed basic income for every American regardless of age.
  • Austerity is a VERY bad idea overall, and don't drink the Kool-Aid!  Just look at Greece and the rest of Europe.
  • The Gold Standard is really NOT a good idea after all.  Public banking should replace the Feral Reserve and their debt-based funny money instead.
  • Money is just a tool, for good or evil.  The REAL root of all evil is wetiko.  Look it up.  Then look inside yourself.
  • The futurists all seem to agree on one thing:  the future belongs to women.  Indeed, it is they who will save the world--with or without the TSAP and its founding leader Ajax the Great.
We apologize for being at least somewhat wrong on those things in the past.  Mea culpa.  But otherwise, the TSAP has been right about just about everything else.

Let America be America again--for real this time!

Monday, April 28, 2014

The Root of All Evil: Unmasking the Wetikonomy

The TSAP has recently discovered a parasite lurking in our midst.  This parasite is not one that you can see, but its evil works are apparent just about everywhere you look.  It is a mind-virus that digs deep into our subconscious and subverts our thinking in a manner that causes us to act against our best interests.  And its name is wetiko--essentially the root of all evil.

The concept of wetiko was discovered a few years back by Paul Levy, author of Dispelling Wetiko:  Breaking the Curse of Evil.  The word itself comes from Native Americans, who apparently coined it to describe the sort of destructive collective psychosis that they had observed and were too often on the receiving end of when the white settlers came and wreaked havoc upon them.  Levy apparently had a spiritual awakening and realized exactly what the root of all evil was, and describes it well in his book.  It explains evil far better than the Western concept of evil ever could.  Basically, this disease hides in the dark recesses and blind spots of our psyches, and causes us to behave in utterly destructive ways without really understanding why.  And just like a vampire, sunlight is the best disinfectant.  So let's expose it and defeat it!

What does this have to do with our economy?  Apparently just about everything, since the lion's share of it consists of what Levy calls the wetikonomy.  Basically, our economy (especially the bloated financial sector) is one big Ponzi scheme and shell game designed to benefit the very few at the top at the expense of the rest of us.  It is designed to rob from the poor (and what's left of the shrinking middle class) and give to the already ludicrously rich.  And it is based on lies and illusion, essentially wetiko writ very, very large.  The few financial players that run this toxic and corrupt system are known as Big Wetikos, most notably the debt pushers and financiers that are conning the rest of us.  And it perverts the whole economy, as it is dependent on the debt-based funny money created by the Big Wetikos.  As the Verve so eloquently noted in their song Bitter Sweet Symphony, you're a slave to money then you die.  Clearly it doesn't have to be this way.  But there is so much coercion (subtle and not-so-subtle) in the system that most people just go along with it while sleepwalking to their own doom and unwittingly perpetuating the wetikonomy, while the plutocrats laugh all the way to the bank.

We all need to wake up to the truth, and finally defeat this parasite for good before the shadowy elites succeed in scuttling this once-great nation.  And the TSAP will work very hard to wake up as many people as possible in order to achieve this goal.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

One Dollar, One Vote

America is now officially a plutocracy, with a government of the rich, by the rich, and for the rich.  That is basically what the Supreme Court effectively ruled today in McCutcheon v. FEC.  The decision completely lifted all limits on individual campaign contributions, building on the travesty that was the Citizen's United ruling from five years ago.  So it's apparently not enough for corporations to be considered people and money to be considered speech--the plutocrats wanted ALL of the speed bumps to domination removed.  Not like those speed bumps were super-effective to begin with, but those two landmark decisions together now make it virtually impossible to rein-in the influence of the elites on what's left of democracy in America.

Hear that?  That's the sound of Thomas Jefferson and many other Founding Fathers rolling over in their graves.  Absolutely disgusting indeed!

So what's a third party to do now?  How can we possibly compete against the elephant/jackass corporate duopoly now that the odds are even more stacked against us than ever before?  That leaves We the People with one and only one option left:  revolution.  "Wait...did he just say what I think he did?  OMG!!!"  You got that damn right, bitches!  But our idea of revolution is NOT like the French variety from 1789, since we all know how well that worked out.  A violent revolution would only lead to more violence in the long run, as any self-respecting history buff will tell you.  So that's out.  What we mean is more what like these folks have in mind.  Non-violence may indeed sound like a sucker's game to the jaded, but remember what Dr. King said.  Our choice is not between violence and non-violence, but rather between non-violence and non-existence.  And the real suckers are the sheeple who would rather just "go with the flow" off the cliff like lemmings while the elites just laugh all the way to the bank.  So what are we waiting for?  As Rage Against the Machine would say:
It has to start somewhere, it has to start sometime.  What better place than here, what better time than now?
And indeed, true words have never been spoken.  So let's roll!

Monday, March 24, 2014

End This Depression NOW--For Real This Time!

The latest news shows that the Dow Jones recently reached a record high, and remains above 16,000.  Corporate profits are at a record high, and even the unemployment rate has FINALLY dropped to a 5-year low of less than 7%.  So by these numbers, some people seem to think that the recession is finally over for good.  Happy days are here again!  So cue the music, Maestro:

HALLLELUJAH!  HALLELUJAH!  HALLELUJAH, HALLELUJAH, HALL.....er, wait a minute.  Seriously?  This is the kind of thing that passes for "recovery" these days?  Please.  The majority of Americans would certainly NOT consider happy days to be here again!  Certainly not with sobering statistics like these:
  • A real unemployment rate (U6) that is actually in the double-digits (13%), and not falling nearly quickly enough.  In fact, when long-term discouraged workers are included and added to U6, it reaches nearly 25%, and has actually risen since the phony "recovery" began in 2009.
  • A labor force participation rate that has fallen to a 35-year low, reflecting (in part) those discouraged workers who simply gave up looking for a job.
  • A poverty rate that remains stubbornly higher than in 2009, as evident in the record number of people on programs like SNAP (food stamps).
  • Near-record levels of income and wealth inequality, approaching Gilded Age levels.  The top 1% controls nearly half of the nation's wealth, while the bottom 80% are left to fight over crumbs.
  • Falling real wages, with a real minimum wage that is at least 30% lower than in the late 1960s despite a doubling of productivity.
  • Cities declaring bankruptcy.  Detroit is the canary in the coal mine.
  • Record levels of student loan debt ($1 trillion), combined with considerable unemployment and underemployment of college graduates.
  • A national debt of over $17 trillion, and growing despite fairly harsh austerity measures.
  • A real inflation rate that is nearly 10% when measured the way it was in 1980 and earlier.  Combined with the real unemployment rate, the real "misery index" would be a whopping 22-33.  Ouch!
So by just about any rational measure, we are still stuck in a pretty deep depression.   In fact, the progressive site Daily Kos coined a new term to describe it:  stagpression (a combination of stagnation and depression).  So why the huge disconnect between corporate profits and the stock market with the reality on the ground?  The answer is pretty simple.  Our government has been giving money, favors, and tax cuts to the rich and mega-corporations for years now, and what have the plutocrats done for us in return?  Sit on their massive cash, pay CEOs more, cannibalize their workforces, and buy back (i.e. manipulate) their own stock to paper over their declining sales.  And historically, what do they do if they get higher marginal tax rates?  Re-invest more in their own businesses and/or hire more workers.  Counterintuitive, yes, but it actually makes sense when you think about it.  As for "quantitative easing", the Feral Reserve has been printing trillions of dollars out of thin air, and nearly all of it goes to the big banks (i.e. the plutocrats) where it certainly does NOT trickle-down in any meaningful way.  To date, both fiscal and monetary policies have consisted of weak and inefficient half-measures, where the benefits accrue to the elites while the consequences (inflation, debt) accrue to the rest of us.  Thus, the rich get richer, the poor get poorer, and the middle class continues to shrink.  And the customers become too broke to buy anything, and the economy continues to stagnate or sink even further in a downward spiral.   No wonder our "recovery" has been so hollow!

So how can we break this vicious cycle for good, before the resulting bubble bursts leading to the next big crash?  The answer is really quite clear:  adopt the TSAP party platform ASAP.   But since it is unrealistic to expect either corporate party in the elephant/jackass duopoly to take up an entire platform that literally threatens their own interests, we have devised a list of the highest-priority measures to take before the inequality-fueled crash of 2016 happens:

  1. Raise the top marginal tax rate to at least 50% (if not 70%) for incomes above $1 million, and simplify the tax code by removing loopholes geared towards the wealthy.
  2. Reduce the corporate tax rate to 20-25%, remove all loopholes, and tax only retained earnings.
  3. Reduce tax rates for the bottom 80% of Americans, and un-tax small businesses with earnings less than $100,000 per year.
  4. Raise the minimum wage to at least $10/hour if not higher, and index it to inflation from now on.
  5. Remove the "sequester" cuts ASAP, and sharply increase funding for infrastructure, education, green energy, and other crucial goals to put Americans back to work.
Of course, it would even better if the entire TSAP platform were adopted, but doing just these five things alone would probably be enough to, in the words of Paul Krugman, "end this depression now".  Because that's what this "recession" really is.  And ending it is long overdue--five years overdue to be precise.

But if we could do just one thing that could be done to end the stagpression quickly, it would be this:  replace "quantitative easing" (that really only benefits the rich) with direct payments of about $2000 per person or so to ALL Americans, yesterday.  It would take an Act of Congress to enable the Fed to do such a thing, but it would be well worth it.  Of course, followers of the TSAP know that we have long advocated a guaranteed basic income (citizen's dividend) for all Americans period with no strings attached, ideally funded via various kinds of tax revenue such as carbon taxes and financial transactions taxes.  But this alternative means to the same end would be the next best thing, at least temporarily until our other ideas get implemented.  And if it happens, the depression will be over and full employment restored within a year or two--provided it does not end abruptly without some of our other measures to replace it next year.  So what are we waiting for?

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Phony Recovery

A recent study, by the Wall Street Journal of all places, confirms what the bottom 99% of Americans have long suspected for years: the so-called economic "recovery" of the past five years was essentially a joke all along.  In a nutshell, corporate earnings are at a record high, while revenues have been flat for the past five years.  In other words, consumer demand is low because customers are broke, and companies have mainly been "growing" their earnings by cutting cannibalizing their workforce and buying back (i.e. manipulating) their own stock to paper over their flat or declining sales.  All while they sit on trillions of dollars.  It's a zero-sum game, and a vicious cycle.  Thank you, Captain Obvious! 

So how can we break this vicious cycle before the resulting bubble bursts leading to the next big crash?  The answer is really quite clear:  adopt the TSAP party platform ASAP.   But since it is unrealistic to expect either corporate party in Washington to take up an entire platform that threatens their own interests, we have devised a list of the highest-priority measures to take before the inequality-fueled crash of 2016 happens:

  1. Raise the top marginal tax rate to at least 50% (if not 70%) for incomes above $1 million, and simplify the tax code by removing loopholes geared towards the wealthy.
  2. Reduce the corporate tax rate to 20-25%, remove all loopholes, and tax only retained earnings.
  3. Reduce tax rates for the bottom 80% of Americans, and un-tax small businesses with earnings less than $100,000 per year.
  4. Raise the minimum wage to at least $10/hour if not higher, and index it to inflation from now on.
  5. Remove the "sequester" cuts ASAP, and sharply increase funding for infrastructure, education, green energy, and other crucial goals to put Americans back to work.
Of course, it would even better if the entire TSAP platform were adopted, but doing just these five things alone would probably be enough to, in the words of Paul Krugman, "end this depression now".  Because that's what this "recession" really is.  And ending it is long overdue--five years overdue to be precise.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

State of the Planet Address 2014

On January 28, 2013, the President will give his annual State of the Union Address.  And every year since 2011, the TSAP has been giving our annual State of the Planet Address around January 20.  Yes, we know it is a bit of a downer to say the least.  So sit down, take off your rose-colored glasses, and read on:

Our planet is in grave danger, and has been for quite some time now.  We face several serious long term problems:  climate change, deforestation/desertification, loss of biodiversity, overharvesting, energy crises, and of course pollution of many kinds.  Polar ice caps are melting.  Rainforests have been shrinking by 50 acres per minute.  Numerous species are going extinct every year.  Soil is eroding rapidly.  Food shortages have occurred in several countries in recent years.  Weather has been getting crazier each year, most likely due to climate change.  We have had numerous wildfires, floods followed by long periods of drought, and a "storm of the century" at least once a year for the past few years.   We need look no further than Superstorm Sandy (which was partly caused or at least enhanced by global warming) to see how crazy our weather has become lately.

None of this is an accident of course.  These problems are man-made, and their solutions must also begin and end with humans.  We cannot afford to sit idly by any longer, lest we face hell and high water in the not-too-distant future.  Our unsustainable scorched-earth policy towards the planet has to end.  NOW.

While we do not invoke the precautionary principle for all issues, we unequivocally do for the issue of climate change and any other environmental issues of comparable magnitude (we support the Rio Declaration's version, to be precise). With no apologies to hardcore libertarians or paleoconservatives, in fact. We are not fazed one bit by the naysayers' pseudoscience (*cough* Rush Limbaugh *cough*) as it does not really "debunk" the scientific consensus on anthropogenic global warming. The only serious debate is about how fast it will happen, and when the tipping point will occur. It is not a matter of if, but when. And the less precarious position is to assume it is a real and urgent problem. We need to reduce CO2 emissions to the point where the CO2 concentration is at or below 350 ppm, ASAP.  And it is currently at an unsustainably high level of 400 ppm, and growing.

Solving the problem of climate change will also help to solve the other ecological crises we are facing, for they all ultimately have the same root causes, not least of which is our insatiable addiction to dirty energy.  However, there is a right way to solve it, and several wrong ways.

The TSAP endorses the ideas embodied in Steve Stoft's new book Carbonomics, most notably a tax-and-dividend system that would tax carbon (i.e. fossil fuels) at the source, and give all Americans an equal share of the revenue generated from this tax.  (Note that our proposal to tax natural resources and pay out an Alaska-like citizen's dividend already includes this.)  Yes, prices for various things would undoubtedly rise due to this tax, all else being equal, but the dividend will allow Americans to pay for this increase. The average American would in fact break even, but those who (directly or indirectly) use less energy than average will effectively pay less tax, while the energy hogs will effectively be taxed more, as they should be. Thus it is certainly not a regressive tax, and may even be mildly progressive. This is both the simplest and most equitable way to reduce carbon emissions as well as other forms of pollution, not to mention waste of dwindling non-renewable resources. The real challenge is getting the feds to accept something that won't directly benefit them (in the short term).  Carbonomics also includes other good ideas, such as improving how fuel economy standards are done, and crafting a better verison of the Kyoto treaty.  

In addition to the ideas in Carbonomics, we also support several other measures to help us end our addiction to fossil fuels once and for all.  Our Great American Phase-Out plan would phase out all fossil fuels by 2030 at the latest, via alternative energy, efficiency, and conservation.  One good idea to further the development of alternative energy would be the use of feed-in tariffs for renewable power sources.

We support ending net deforestation completely, and putting carbon back in the ground through carbon sequestration. One method is known as biochar, a type of charcoal made from plants that remove carbon dioxide from the air, that is subsequently buried. This is also an ancient method of soil fertilization and conservation, originally called terra preta.  It also helps preserve biodiversity. 

We've said this before, and we'll say it again. We need more nuclear power plants as well. Nuclear emits no greenhouse gases directly, and even indirectly it pales in comparison to fossil fuels. Done properly, it is just as green as solar photovoltaic power, produces less radiation than coal power, and is much safer than in the past (and even those dangers were exaggerated). Since nuclear plants take many years to build, we need to get cracking ASAP. Nuclear power is not a substitute to renewables; it is a necessary complement to them since we need a continuous power source as well, not just intermittent power. Our nation's irrational fear of all things nuclear needs to die NOW.  Right now.

But the biggest elephant in the room (make that the elephant in the Volkswagen) is overpopulation.  It does not make for pleasant dinner conversation, but it must be addressed or else all other causes become lost causes in the long run. We absolutely need to have fewer kids, or nature will reduce our population for us, and the latter will NOT be pleasant to say the least. The TSAP believes in voluntarily reducing the total fertility rate (TFR) to 1.5-1.9 children per woman to do so, along with reducing immigration dramatically, but let us be clear that we do NOT support draconian and/or coercive measures of population control (like China has used).  We believe more liberty is the answer, not less.   But the current tax and benefit incentives that perversely reward having more than two children need to be jettisoned at once.  Fortunately, America's TFR has recently dropped to below 1.9, though it remains to be seen if that is a secular trend or just a temporary blip.  But clearly we cannot keep growing and growing, that's for sure (in fact, we need to shrink). And our insatiable addiction to economic growth (despite being recently decoupled from well-being) is also part of the problem.  Growth for the sake of growth is clearly one of the most asinine obsessions our nation (and world) has ever had.  Put another way, we need to leave room for Nature, lest it not leave room for us.

Bottom line: we need to take the environment much more seriously than we do now.  We ignore it at our own peril. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Flush the TPP Now!

The latest news on the diabolical machinations masquerading as a "free trade" deal known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is that "fast-track" legislation has now been introduced to Congress.  We have previously noted how the TPP is a very, very bad deal for everyone but the elites and mega-corporations.  In a nutshell, it would basically remove all obstacles to complete corporate control over all of us.  From worker rights to environmental protection to food safety to Internet freedom and much more, We the People would lose a massive amount of power to our global corporate masters as a result of this Faustian bargain.  The fact that the TPP will most certainly destroy countless jobs in this country (like NAFTA did) is merely an afterthought compared to the rest of its pernicious effects upon our nation (and any other nations foolish enough to sign it).  And fast-tracking this deal would allow it to easily bypass the usual safeguards that would otherwise kill it before it even has a chance of passing.

So tell your representatives in Congress:  Do NOT allow it to be fast-tracked.  Flush the TPP now, before it's too late!

R.I.P. Net Neutrality

Today on January 15, 2014 at 11 am, Net Neutrality kicked the bucket--for now at least.   A federal court struck down FCC regulations designed to prevent broadband Internet service providers from favoring certain Internet services at the expense of rivals.  Essentially, they can now charge more for some services to have access to higher speeds than others, creating "fast lanes" and "slow lanes", and thus making the formerly open Internet more analogous to what cable TV companies do.  And that's not a good thing at all, since a few mega-corporations would be able to afford to use the "fast lanes", while the rest of us get stuck in the "slow lanes", creating yet another unfair advantage for the wealthiest and most powerful among us.  As if they didn't already have enough privileges as it is.  Even the very concept of free speech is at stake as well.

However, all is not lost just yet.  Rest assured that the ruling will be appealed, and also remember that the FCC can simply write new rules that reclassify broadband as a telecommunications service, which would get around the court ruling entirely and enable them to restore our free and open Internet with the stroke of a pen.   Of course, that would put them at loggerheads with the corporate giants who currently control broadband, and these companies have tremendous lobbying power in Washington.  And given the venality of most members of Congress these days, the corporations could still potentially achieve victory at our expense.  Our job as concerned citizens is to prevent that from happening.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Legal Weed Off to a Great Start

Two weeks ago on New Year's Day, history was made when retail cannabis shops began selling weed legally in Colorado, who legalized cannabis via a 2012 ballot initiative.  And all indications show that it has been a great success so far, with essentially no significant problems.  There were so many customers buying so much that many pot shops sold out within the first week, but now it seems that there will be plenty of ganja available for the foreseeable future.  In 2013 the feds agreed to look the other way as long as certain protocols were followed in states where cannabis is legal, and it seems that they are keeping their word (for now).  Washington State also legalized cannabis, but it will be a few months before the first retail outlets open over there.

Will any other states legalize cannabis anytime soon?  Probably, and it looks like Alaska and California are among those who are trying to get a legalization initiative on the ballot this November.   Since it's already legal in two states, adding California to the mix would greatly tip the balance in favor of national legalization, if history is any indication.  For alcohol Prohibition, New York and California were the first to repeal it in 1923 and 1932, respectively, and as they say the rest is history.  The latest poll numbers are even more in our favor than they were in 2010, when California's Proposition 19 just narrowly failed.  Thus, it's just a matter of time, and the TSAP predicts that national legalization will occur within 5 years from now, if not sooner.

To all the prohibitionists and drug warriors out there, we have one question for you:  How does it feel to be on the wrong side of history?  Because we wouldn't know about that.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Happy 100th Birthday, Feral Reserve!

The Feral Reserve has now turned 100 years old.  For the past century, the Feral Reserve (not a typo, since they are really no more "federal" than Federal Express) has been in charge of our nation's money supply and interest rates.  Owned by the big banks and run by a few unelected individuals, this Creature from Jekyll Island has had enormous financial power over us all for the past century.  They have created numerous business cycles, serious inflation, and made a killing by charging interest on the money they have printed while getting the nation into ever-deeper debt.  And it's long past time to end it.

As recently as last year, the TSAP party platform called for abolishing the Fed entirely and going back on the gold standard.  But we have discovered a much better way instead.  What is America's best kept secret?  Look no further than North Dakota, the only state to avert the Great Recession--it's called public banking.  Because it works.  The TSAP now believes that the Fed should be replaced by a truly public national bank.  One that is fully accountable to the people, and lends money to the goverment interest-free.  The power to create money should be returned to its rightful owners--a government of We the People, not a faceless quasi-private entity controlled by a cabal of international elite bankers.  And if we were to nominate a chairperson, it would have to be Ellen Brown, author of Web of Debt.

What better time than now?

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Deal or No Deal?

Looks like Congress finally passed a budget deal to get us through the next two years, just in time for the holidays.  The deal was made between Paul Ryan (R) and Patty Murray (D), and the compromise not only avoids another government shutdown in January, but it also alleviates some of the worst fears about austerity in the future.  Both sides grudgingly gave up a little bit of what they held dear in order to avoid larger sacrifices on their part, and even Bonehead himself went along with it.  As a result, the three most popular programs (Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid) and Obamacare are no longer on the chopping block for now, and the most damaging sequester cuts are reversed (or at least made more flexible) for the 2014 fiscal year.  So, cue the music once again, Maestro:

HALLELUJAH!  HALLELUJAH!  HALLELUJAH, HALL.......err, wait a minute.  Seriously?  There is really nothing to be rejoicing about, since Congress merely did what they are normally supposed to do every year--pass a freaking budget on time to prevent a shutdown.  Furthermore, it's not like it's a particularly good deal either.  The budget includes cuts to military pensions, no extension of unemployment benefits, no reversal of November's food stamp cuts, and many remaining parts of the sequester--all to protect massive tax loopholes for the rich and mega-corporations, which remained untouched despite the need for new revenues.  And the looming debt ceiling showdown in February remains unaddressed, which the Repugnicans will most likely try to exploit once again when the time comes.  But all this is the logical consequence of negotiating a compromise between a right-wing extremist like Ryan and a moderate centrist Democrat like Murray--we end up splitting the difference and getting a deal that is, on balance, actually even further to the right of the status quo just to keep the ax away from our most crucial and popular social progams.  Long story short, Congress is still broken, and is clearly FAR from being fixed anytime soon.  So one more time, we will say it again to them:


Except for a very few of you (Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Tammy Baldwin, and Alan Grayson), we will send ALL of you packing in 2014.  Goodbye, and good riddance!  Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Just Say No to the TPP!

The latest so-called "free trade" agreement being proposed, known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, is basically NAFTA on steroids.  We all know what NAFTA did to American jobs as well as workers in all three countries involved, and it wasn't good at all.  We can clearly expect such terrible trends to only accelerate should the TPP come to pass.  That alone is reason enough to vote "no", since we all should know better than to fall for something like this again. 

But what makes the TPP particularly scary is what it actually does to the rights of We the People.  At least under current law, from local communities all the way up to the federal government, there still remains some power that we have to regulate the behavior of American corporations.  We understand the need for checks and balances against corporate excesses, after learning the hard way time and again.  But the TPP would essentially subordinate any such power to the "international standards" that the corporations involved in the partnership have agreed to, and practically forbid any local standards that are stricter.  Thus, our government would be forced to relax any standards that could be considered a "trade barrier" as a result of the cleverly-written trade rules.  In fact, the bulk of the agreement deals more with these arcane rules rather than with traditional trade matters.  So it should be obvious what the TPP really is:  a corporate coup in disguise, that will allow corporations to run amok even more so that they do now.  And if we weren't a full-blown corporate plutocracy before, we sure will be after it comes to pass.

Just a few examples of some of the more shocking features of the TPP include:  a prohibition on financial transactions taxes (including the kind that the TSAP proposes), no limits allowed on the size of banks, increased monopoly pricing on Big Pharma's drugs, the worst parts of SOPA, increased fracking, and less regulation of public services.  And if these are the "features," we'd really hate to see what the "bugs" are!

The TSAP unequivocally condemns the Trans-Pacific Partnership and any attempt to pass it.  There is really nothing good that will come of this Faustian bargain, except for the elites and mega-corporations who are fighting like hell to get it passed.  And we must fight equally hard to ensure that it does NOT pass, ever.  The alternative is permanent corporate rule over all of us.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Is a 100% Renewable Energy Future Possible?

While many pundits would like to claim that the answer is a resounding "no", there are at least some experts who believe that it is, in fact, possible to go to 100% renewable energy (excluding nuclear and biofuels) by 2050 if not sooner.  This is precisely the holy grail that so many people have been clamoring for.  So what exactly is holding us back?

First, there are technical issues.  The notorious intermittency problem comes to mind, namely that the sun is not always shining and the wind is not always blowing.  Then there is the problem of transmission from one area to another.  However, the aforementioned experts note that a mix of various renewable sources, including hydroelectric, can help fill in the gaps, and transmission lines can be upgraded over time.  Thus, the technical difficulties of renewables are not insurmountable, and are not the biggest problem at all.

Second, there is the issue of materials needed for renewable energy technologies.  While rare-earth minerals seem to get most of the attention, there will also be a huge demand for base metals such as copper.  And much of these materials are currently being imported from countries like China rather than produced domestically.  Of course, unlike fossil fuels, once the materials needed for renewable energy have been extracted, they will last for decades.  And the USA could start mining more of these materials domestically to make us less dependent on foreign minerals.  As for the cost issue, it is worth noting that while solar and wind power have been getting consistently cheaper over time, fossil fuels (especially oil) and even uranium have been getting more and more expensive every year.

But the biggest problems of all are political.  The enormous vested interests in the status quo (i.e. the fossil fuel industry), combined with the lack of political will to fight such interests, is the most significant obstacle to a (nearly) 100% clean energy world.  This could obviously be solved rather quickly, but for some reason it has not been.  Wonder why?

The TSAP fully supports a transition to a completely clean energy economy as soon as possible, by 2050 if not 2030, as noted in our party platform.  The need to end our addiction to fossil fuels grows more and more urgent every year.  And we believe that we can speed up the transition even more rapidly by adding modern nuclear power (especially the thorium fuel cycle) and responsible biofuels to the mix of non-fossil energy technologies.  Combined with increased electrification and conservation, we already have the technology to make the change sooner rather than later.  We have the chance to gain true energy independence and help save the planet at the same time.  So what are we waiting for?

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Sustainable Growth = CANCER

As the old saying goes, growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.  And that saying has never been more true than it is today.

In the long run there is really nothing "sustainable" about growth, either in population or the economy, so let's stop pretending that there is.  Growth by definition requires increasing consumption of resources, and infinite growth on a finite world is literally impossible since it completely defies the laws of nature.  What we have now, and have had since sometime between 1973 and 2000, is better known as uneconomic growth, since it essentially does more harm than good to keep on growing and growing.  Not only has further growth failed to benefit the vast majority of the American people (virtually all of the gains have gone to the top 1%), but we also are starting to run up against the limits of growth.  One recent indicator is the latest UN report on climate change, which shows that greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have hit a new record high as we continue to cook the planet with reckless abandon.  In fact, continuing "business as usual" would almost certainly mean in increase of nearly 5 degrees Celsius (i.e. likely to be catastrophic) relative to pre-industrial levels by the end of the century, and even if we started reducing CO2 concentrations now, it may be impossible to avoid a significant increase in global temperature since CO2 tends to linger for a very long time.  And that's to say nothing of all the other ecological disasters in the making (deforestation, desertification, pollution, mass extinctions, etc.) that all have essentially the same root cause--our insatiable addiction to growth for the sake of growth.

Scientists are telling us in no uncertain terms that we need to change our ways for good, and quickly.  In order to make such changes, we absolutely must end our addiction to growth, which is the cause of our addiction to fossil fuels and other environmentally unsound practices.  The urgency is far greater than most people realize, and is greater than it was even just a few years ago.  We absolutely must transition toward a steady-state economy that is no longer dependent on growth, and we must also put the brakes on population growth by having fewer kids.  And we must do it now, or else we will get both hell AND high water in the not-too-distant future.  To help make this transition and avert catastrophe, here is a list of things the TSAP recommends:

  1. Create a carbon tax on all fossil fuels in which all revenues are returned directly to the people in equal amounts, a la Carbonomics.  We absolutely must put a price on carbon.  Start it at $10/ton for the first year, and sharply increase it every year thereafter, until the CO2 levels are below 350 ppm.
  2. Implement aggressive carbon sequestration, including biochar (terra preta), to put excess carbon back in the ground where it belongs.
  3. Reduce the other greenhouse gases as well, especially methane via landfill gas capture and farm power.
  4. Set a goal to phase out all fossil fuels completely by 2050, if not by 2030.
  5. Go full steam ahead with renewable energy technologies (solar, wind, tidal, geothermal, biomass, etc.), increase funding for research, and encourage their widespread adoption via feed-in tariffs.
  6. Increase the use of nuclear power, especially the thorium fuel cycle which is much safer and cheaper in the long run than uranium. 
  7. Increase public transportation dramatically, and eventually make all vehicles electric.  In the meantime, improve the way fuel economy standards are done, via the classic "feebate" mechanism.
  8. Levy ecological taxes (similar to vice taxes) on all resource depletion and pollution, and/or alternatively use a cap-auction-trade system for basic resources.
  9. Ban fracking immediately.
  10. Craft a better version of the Kyoto treaty.
  11. Move toward fair trade instead of "free trade", which really isn't "free" at all.
  12. Set not just a minimum wage (at least $10/hour), but also a maximum wage, especially for corporate executives.  Alternatively, raise the top marginal tax rate to at least 50% on each dollar above the first million, with no loopholes this time.  We should focus on sharing the pie rather than making it bigger.
  13. Shorten the standard workweek to 30 hours instead of 40.  
  14. Stop obsessing over GDP as a measure of economic well-being.  Instead, separate it into a cost account and a benefit account, or use alternative measures such as Genuine Progress Indicator.
  15. Stabilize (and eventually shrink) the population by reducing immigration to match emigration, and encouraging people to voluntarily have fewer kids.  The goal should be a TFR of 1.5-1.9, achieved without coercion.
  16. Implement all of the other policies on the TSAP platform, including abolishing the Feral Reserve and creating a public national bank.
  17. Let the planetary healing begin!
So the next time someone talks about the supposed need to increase growth, be sure to remind them that bigger is NOT better.  Better is better.  And in this age of uneconomic growth, further growth will only make us poorer rather than richer.

UPDATE:  The super-typhoon that recently ravaged the Philippines and killed at least 10,000 people was basically the worst tropical cyclone ever recorded in the history of the world.  And these kinds of storms will only increase in the future if we continue on the destructive path we are currently on.  We have all been warned.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Obamacare Has Republican DNA

With all the latest fuss about the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, one key fact seems to fly over everyone's heads.  Despite all the Republican attempts to dismantle it, even going so far as to hold the government hostage to do so, many of its core provisions were originally Republican ideas, no matter how much they like to deny it today.  Even some of those who are against it today supported something very similar in the 1990s.  In fact, one can even say that the healthcare law was largely written by the insurance industry for the GOP, since it is virtually a clone of the plan that the industry had originally wanted all along.  Here's a brief history lesson for those who still don't know.

While many of the more progressive Democrats (as far back as Truman and FDR and even Obama himself as recently as 2008) have long wanted some type of universal single-payer system, most Republicans have traditionally balked at the idea, and have proposed their own alternatives that would leave the for-profit private health insurance system intact.  The first alternative came from Nixon, the same guy who gave us the plague known as HMOs.  Nixon's idea was basically equivalent to Obamacare's employer mandate as well as the Medicaid expansion.  (Of course, despite being Republican, Nixon was actually to the left of both Clinton and Obama.)  The next Republican idea was proposed by the Heritage Foundation in 1989, which was the individual mandate that many despise so much, also combined with a Medicaid expansion.  The insurance industry loved it so much (for obvious reasons) that several Republicans from Gingrich to Romney have at attempted to implement some form of it in the 1990s and early 2000s, often including subsidies or tax credits.  When Romney implemented Romneycare in Massachusetts in 2000, by that point most of the plan was largely identical to what eventually became Obamacare.  When Congress finally put it together, the version that passed in 2010 was essentially inspired by Romney who was inspired by Gingrich who was inspired by the Heritage Foundation and who were all inspired to some degree by Nixon.  And that, my friends, is the long and checkered history of the most controversial aspects of Obamacare, which actually turns out to be somewhat of a misnomer.

The TSAP currently supports a truly universal, single-payer system instead of Obamacare or the status quo.  Clearly, Obama never should have trusted the insurance industry in the first place, and should have stuck with his original plan rather than approve the Faustian bargain that would become his namesake law.  In the meantime, however, we believe that Obamacare could become a steppingstone to single-payer if it is given a chance to work, and the Republicans should give up trying to thwart it.  Of course, we still do not support the idea of the individual mandate on principle, and we believe that it should be delayed by a year if not longer, or better yet jettisoned entirely as it is really not necessary.  As we have noted before, the problem of adverse selection is not nearly as large as the mandate proponents believe, and can be greatly ameliorated by simply providing carrots rather than sticks.  In fact there are already such incentives built into the Affordable Care Act, namely the tax credits and subsidies that make health insurance more affordable.   The relatively narrow "open season" for enrollment would also reduce the problem as well.

Additionally, thanks to the law of unintended consequences, the employer mandate should also be further delayed, truncated, or jettisoned since it appears to have led to part-time employees having their hours drastically cut so their employers don't have to offer benefits, and this is a huge deadweight loss.  But everything else in the Act should remain as is until Congress finally gets the intestinal fortitude to implement a single-payer system despite what their corporate masters want.  Anything less would be uncivilized.