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Saturday, November 24, 2018

It's NOT free speech to yell "FIRE! in a crowded theater if there is no fire.


Way back in 1919, the U. S. Supreme Court with Chief Justice Oliver Wendel Holmes presiding, ruled unanimously that the First Amendment, though it protects freedom of expression, does not protect dangerous speech.

But judging from the dark, defaming, and divisive nature of the political ads that ran during our last election... and the one before that... and the one before that, etc., IT WAS is dangerous time for the us. We seemed to villainize the opponent to vote against rather than to elect the person we think the best, or as a coach might say in a basketball/football press conference after the game, "It may not have been pretty but a win is a win."

Voting "against" someone rather than "for" another has become an accepted practice. Why? Because, statistics show--shame on us--it works. As voters, we are dupes. We have accepted democracy and privilege as something we really don't have to work too hard to keep, because it is "our heritage." OK, but for how long?

"I am   (insert candidate name hereand I approve this message."
Have you noticed that every political ad by a candidate has this message read or said at the end of the ad? In 2002 when Republicans and Democrats could still compete with respect, a bill was passed to "Stand By Your Ad" as part of the bi-partisan Campaign Reform Act. The thought was that no respectable candidate would want to be seen as demonizing his/her opponent, and by endorsing their own ad, gave notice that the candidate actually wanted to say what the ad stated.

Well, the assumption a candidate would be ashamed to be so bashing of another respected opponent was wrong. In politics today, many candidates have proven they have no shame. And thus, Congressional job approval by the people has dropped precipitously from 84% in 2002 to  a ridiculous 20% in 2018. (That's true. Look it up.)

Congress  has lost the credibility of the American people. And that is where we stand today. And if we, as a People, continue to "take the bait," we deserve no more than what we have elected.

Typically, if more than half of us vote in any election, that makes headlines. That means, our future is decided for all of us by the half that vote. And it's even less than that if you figure that only 26 percent of those who vote constitute a voting majority... and in Presidential elections with the Electoral College system, it could be even less than that as it is not always the popular vote that wins.

Just think... our future in the hands of just 25 percent of our population. Sounds pretty unfair, no matter which loosing side you are on. What kind of a legacy are we leaving our children, our future?

Is that the democratic way we are so proud of?  Sadly, it seems to be. It's no wonder we are so divided and angry at one another. In a 1955 movie, The Night of the Hunter, actor Robert Mitchum played a vengeful man. He had his hands tattooed "LOVE/HATE"

This is us today.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Money, Money, Money... always sunny... in the rich man's world.

This is Jeff Bezos, world's richest man, worth just spare change short of $100 billion, all self made.

He IS Amazon, Zapos, Audibooks, etc. and also The Washington Post newspaper among other incredible things now and to come.

Amazon, which he started in 1996, is valued at about $1 trillion (that's $999 billion, 999 million, 999 thousand, 999 hundred and 99 cents... plus a penny) and  employs 600,000 people. He's pretty big... and impressive too.

Just recently Amazon expanded its Seattle headquarters to New York City's Bronx, Arlington Virginia and Nashville after hosting a one year bidding frenzy among 238 cities in the U.S, Canada and Mexico that want in on the action. Yeah, they picked three locations instead of one... more incentives and more opportunities opened for the giant, I suppose.

Cities went crazy trying to lure the still growing giant, offering everything from free zoo tickets (true) to billions of dollars in incentives and other crazy things to lure the giant plum.

"CHOOSE ME! CHOOSE ME!" they all cried.

In  the end, Amazon's winning choices brought $5 billion in tax incentives from the "winners" with a few more bucks down the line in various other ways. All this is to be generated in lieu of taxing the giant... and shorting the revenue expectations of the municipalities who need money to fund education, repair subway systems and roads or other trivial things municipalities need to keep life flowing, especially now that each of the three new headquarters will house up to 25,000 employees.

Money talks. When you have money people, cities, government want to throw more money your way, whether you need it or not.  For the rich and very rich, it's the game.

What this will mean for the people in those "winning" locations is not yet known, but for sure, growth will be a challenge to their way of life, cost of living and convenience. Best answer: We'll see.

The theory, of course is that Amazon will bring more jobs, more people and more revenue, which it will. But how will that play out for the common folk as lifestyles will be dramatically changed.

So the question: Why chase Amazon with dollars when Amazon needs them more than they need Amazon? It's an upside-down look at how the moneyed work the system as we fall into line.

Disclaimer: There is nothing wrong with being rich per se. It is amazing that the tech world has so dynamically changed our world and a great many of the top one-percent have earned their way to the top. But giving the richest of the rich "the farm" just doesn't seem like the way it should work. I suppose though, you can't catch a big one if you don't use bait.

Remember, It IS Nuts out there.

Now for fun, hum along with one of ABBA's best songs, the one that gave this post it's name:

Agnatha, Benny,Anni-Frid, Bjorn

Money, Money, Money
I work all night, I work all day, to pay the bills I have to pay
Ain't it sad
And still there never seems to be a single penny left for me
That's too bad
In my dreams I have a plan
If I got me a wealthy man
I wouldn't have to work at all, I'd fool around and have a ball
Money, money, money
Must be funny
In the rich man's world
Money, money, money
Always sunny
In the rich man's world
Aha aha
All the things I could do
If I had a little money
It's a rich man's world
It's a rich man's world
A man like that is hard to find but I can't get him off my mind
Ain't it sad
And if he happens to be free I bet he wouldn't fancy me
That's too bad
So I must leave, I'll have to go
To Las Vegas or Monaco
And win a fortune in a game, my life will never be the same
Money, money,