My cataract experience illustrates our medical reality. Why aren’t our rails treated like freeways? Biden said to show me your budget to show your priorities. Our military budget makes it suspect.
My cataract experience.
We had another blockbuster job report. One would think that the Biden administration would be getting supreme praise. And guess what? Our titans of finance hate it. It means they must pay employees a bit more because the American worker has some leverage. Wall Street expected 225,000 jobs. Instead, 311,000 were created.
Of course, one would think that instead of continued inflated profits, dividends, and stock buybacks, that our corporatocracy would pay their workers for their good fortune. But no! They will inflate prices to pay the extra cost for employees. And the Fed will be complicit in creating false unemployment to solve the corporate-created inflation problem on the backs of every American worker.
Let’s remind Wall Street and our politicians that there are millions of good immigrants trying to get into our low-birth-rate country that would make us the envy of the world if we chose people over corporations.
My cataract experience.
I have had cataracts for over five years. I hate interfacing with our healthcare system. As such, I only visit doctors or clinics as a last resort. I don’t eat a lot of meat. I exercise — most times at 1 AM, three to four times a week. I don’t drink or smoke.
My vision has been getting foggier and foggier and has started affecting my reading. I am in front of a computer most of the day, and the glare is reaching an unbearable point. So I went to the eye doctor. The doctor was shocked that I could read as well as I did. And when they did the glare test in a controlled environment, I was shocked at what I could not see.
Anyway, we determine that I must get these cataracts out as soon as possible. I was very impressed with the staff. The doctor was professional and treated me like a human being. For me, that is huge. I really get good treatment at hospitals, clinics, and doctors’ offices. There are so many preconceived notions that black men must endure, mostly subliminal in that space. My blood pressure doctor was surprised that I wrote a glowing review on Google for him. I pointed out to him that many of us do not get the proper care or patience from doctors. He did.
The doctor sent me to the department, where we discussed money. I will tell the story more completely on the Politics Done Right program at KPFT. Suffice it to say, the upsell of my choices and the cost continue to prove we have a failed healthcare system. Worse, if you have a lot of money, we give you great healthcare. For the rest, they do the minimum. These are not bad people in the office I went to at all. The indoctrination from a failed system is all they know.
Make rails public like freeways.
Freeways and our roadways belong to the public. It gives us all equal access to travel throughout the country. Why are railways not owned by we-the-people as well? Why do we leave ourselves hostage to private companies— conglomerates of investors — to control our transportation circulatory system?
I believe in real free enterprise and real democracy. Capitalism is neither. After all, the largest capitalist country is a communist country. And many other capitalist countries are entering the next stage, which, mathematically, was not hard to predict, fascism. That is the second option available to any system that bleeds the masses.
Free enterprise means that all have equal opportunities to build their own economies without restrictions from not having healthcare, energy, transportation, and a basic income. I will detail this in another newsletter, but I have written about this in my most recent book, “How To Make America Utopia: Take away the economy from those who rigged it.”
Having our railways, a vital part of our economy, in the private sector illustrates an important reality. Our safety and much more are placed in competition with corporate profits — stock appreciation. I was pleasantly surprised that one of my favorite columnists, John Nichols, wrote about rail workers clamoring for we-the-people control of our railways. He published the article “Why Railway Workers Are Calling for a Nationalized Rail System“which expresses the sentiment.
If the derailment of a Norfolk Southern train carrying hazardous materials in East Palestine, Ohio, tells us anything, it is that the corporate CEOs, billionaire speculators and profit-hungry investors who control America’s transportation systems are not up to the job of running railroads.
As Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown told CNN, “There’s no question (that the railroad company) caused it with this derailment because they underinvested in their employees.”
Brown’s angry with the railroad corporations. “They never look out for their workers. They never look out for their communities. They look out for stock buybacks and dividends,” he says. “Something’s wrong with corporate America, and something’s wrong with Congress and administrations listening too much to corporate lobbyists. That’s got to change.”
But what should the change be? Railroad Workers United, an inter-union solidarity caucus of rank-and-file railroad workers that has championed worker and community safety, is making the case that “since the North American private rail industry has shown itself incapable of doing the job, it is time for this invaluable transportation infrastructure—like the other transport modes—to be brought under public ownership.”
“Railroads are systematically destroying the freight rail system,” explained Ross Grooters, a locomotive engineer who co-chairs RWU. “We need public ownership of this critical infrastructure to correct freight railroad problems—just like all other U.S. transportation infrastructure and other rail systems around the world.”
RWU’s argument for public ownership explains that corporate speculators have, in their pursuit of profits, put the industry on “an irresponsible trajectory to the detriment of shippers, passengers, commuters, trackside communities, and workers.”
The group detailed a litany of issues:
“On-time performance is in the toilet, shipper complaints are at all-time highs. Passenger trains are chronically late, commuter services are threatened, and the rail industry is hostile to practically any passenger train expansion. The workforce has been decimated, as jobs have been eliminated, consolidated, and contracted out, ushering in a new previously unheard-of era where workers can neither be recruited nor retained. Locomotive, rail car, and infrastructure maintenance has been cut back. Health and safety has been put at risk. Morale is at an all-time low. The ongoing debacle in national contract bargaining sees the carriers—after decades of record profits and record low operating ratios—refusing to make even the slightest concessions to the workers who … have made them their riches.”
RWU members say that, under public ownership, many if not all of those issues would be better addressed.
It is time for us to examine what parts of our economy belong in the commons and what parts belong in the free enterprise sector.
Cut the military budget.
Biden said to show me your budget to show your priorities. Our military budget makes that statement at best suspect. Common Dreams posted an article titled “Progressives Say Military Budget Should Be Cut as Biden Floats $30 Billion Increase“ that we should all read.
Progressive lawmakers on Thursday voiced dismay that President Joe Biden is requesting a nearly $30 billion increase in U.S. military spending just months after the Pentagon failed its fifth consecutive audit, admitting it could not properly account for more than half of its trillions of dollars in assets.
Biden’s budget framework for fiscal year 2024 calls for $886 billion in overall military spending—up from the current level of $858 billion—with $842 billion going to the Pentagon. More than half of the $1.7 trillion of discretionary spending in Biden’s proposal is reserved for the military, which would get $170 billion for weapons procurement and $38 billion for nuke modernization.
Defense Newsreported that the president’s budget would boost spending on “new drones, combat jets, hypersonic missiles, and submarines.”
Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said in a statement late Thursday that the president’s Pentagon blueprint requests “$26 billion more than Congress allocated in the previous budget—which itself was $63 billion more than the $773 billion the President requested for FY2023.”
“This is a never-ending cycle of increased funds without accountability,” said Jayapal. “There is simply no reason for taxpayers to continue to pay for outrageously high budgets rife with waste, fraud, and abuse. A recent CBO study confirmed that the Pentagon could cut $100 billion per year without compromising on national defense. This is long overdue. Progressives in Congress have been at the frontline of this fight for decades, and we will continue to push for sensible, targeted defense policy that prioritizes our national security over profit-hungry military contractors.”
Given that roughly half of the Pentagon’s annual budget has historically gone to military contractors such as Lockheed Martin and Raytheon, the National Priorities Project (NPP) noted Thursday that around 25% of Biden’s total discretionary budget would likely wind up in the coffers of private companies.
“This military budget represents a shameful status quo that the country can no longer afford,” said Lindsay Koshgarian, NPP’s program director. “Families are struggling to afford basics like housing, food, and medicine, and our last pandemic-era protections are ending, all while Pentagon contractors pay their CEOs millions straight from the public treasury.”
This is a shame. I suggest one examine what the United States is doing around the world compared to China. It will shock many.
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