Student Debt Forgiveness

I plan on voting in the Democratic primary, providing we still have a choice on March 10–a week after super Tuesday.

I will not vote for a candidate who offers across the board student debt forgiveness. This is simple bribery and shows a lack of presidential character. It is also fundamentally unfair. More on that in a minute. First, why are college costs increasing so quickly? Mostly due to cheap and easy student loans, backed by the government. The government handing out “free” money to students made colleges hike fees, increase administrative costs, and generally grow their budgets to absorb all of the money the government is artificially pumping into the system. This has served to push many, otherwise deserving, folks out of the educational system. Government policy created the problem. Want to decrease the costs associated with higher education? Remove the artificial bloat that poor planning has created.

Back to that fairness issue. So, what if your parents worked 2 jobs so that you could go to school debt free? Many do. All the while the neighbor lived profligately, taking vacations, working a single job and saddling their children with debt. Now we are going to bail them out? That is ridiculous.

How about the students that put themselves through college? Working the whole time, their grades suffering because of it. Perhaps taking extra time to get their degree? All to avoid burdensome debt. Compare this to someone who lived off their loans, spent their weekends drinking and lived profligately (there is that word again). Now we are going to reward the second? This is ridiculous (and there is that word again.)

Besides having a loose relationship with the truth, Warren’s debt forgiveness plan rewards the profligate and does not pass the ridiculous test.

Sure, college is expensive and it saddles folks with debt. But the sad fact is that we are a service economy and there are not enough college level jobs for all. So free college is just more government debt, with no real benefit except for rewarding the profligate.

A better plan would be to increase the Pell Grant to make community college free for all. Meanwhile, help fund trade school. And simultaneously start making it more difficult to obtain student loans (these are essentially unsecured debt, no better than credit card debt).

But what about the 1.5+ trillion dollars debt already out there? There can be some forgiveness, but with a cost to the borrower. Enter a field that we struggle with finding enough employees for, get some limited debt forgiveness. Volunteer to work with under-served populations, get some debt forgiveness. Re-locate to an area that needs your skills, get some debt forgiveness.

Got a degree in art history? Get a job at McDonalds and pay your fucking loan back.

We also need to start cracking down on the scofflaws who choose not to pay their debt back. Start taking bank accounts and cars from those who are in arrears.

I cannot consider voting for a candidate that offers bribes for votes. That would be both profligate and ridiculous.

Profligate: recklessly extravagant or wasteful in the use of resources.

Ridiculous: absurd, inviting or deserving of mockery.

 

I Hope Tulsi Gabbard Runs 3rd Party

I would vote for her.

Last election I sat it out.  Of course I found Trump abhorrent. However, Clinton’s record was terrible. From years of scandal to advocating war in Libya, she left a lot to be desired. Probably the deciding factor in deciding not to vote for Clinton was her touting the support of Henry Kissinger, America’s most despicable destroyer of human rights.

Tolstoy taught me that choosing the lesser of 2 evils is still choosing evil. I voted for Bill Clinton his first term, he bombed Iraq within hours of taking office. I have not chosen evil since then.

I find the 3 leaders of the Democratic pack to be too old for the presidency. The two oldest presidents ever were Reagan and Trump, both of whom showed marked mental deterioration while in office. Warren, Biden, and Sanders all would be older than either of these two when taking office. I like Mayor Pete, if he is the nominee I would vote for him.

However, even with a large field of candidates vying for the Democratic nomination, only one is anti-war, Tulsi Gabbard. Ending American Empire is my single biggest issue, no other candidate has come close to addressing it.

This is not to say that Gabbard is a perfect candidate. But she has not promoted the extra-Constitutional overreach of executive power, she supports all of the Bill of Rights, and she genuinely seems interested in drawing down American Empire.

For those reasons I would not hesitate to cast a 3rd party vote for her. I can think of no stronger message to send to the criminal duopoly parties that business as usual must end. I feel strongly enough about it that I would do so, even at the risk of giving Trump a second term.

Midterm Elections 2018, Gut Response

Net result: Republicans expanded their control of the Senate while the Democrats took control of the House. The bottom line is that there was no blue wave, essentially there is no backlash against Trump’s first two years in office.

Random thoughts in random order.

1) The Democrats overplayed their hand on Kavanaugh, showing that #metoo has limits.  I didn’t really understand the intense opposition to Kavanaugh, he was as good as we would get with Trump and a Republican senate; that battle had already been lost in 2016. Sun Tzu teaches that if you want to win a war then you must choose your battles carefully. This is a lesson that the Democrats never learned. So the Democrats wasted their political capitol on a battle that was never winnable, energized the Republican base in the process, and it cost them some seats in congress.

2) Democratic leadership is not very likable. Every republican running for the House ran against Nancy Pelosi. She is a lightning rod (it is insignificant if rightly or wrongly). She is an astounding 78 years old, how can she be the face of the future?

3) Trump is smarter than we give him credit and his base is passionate. I have no idea what Trump believes in, I’m not sure that he knows, but he has re-shaped the Republican party in his image.

4) As of right now, I don’t see anything blocking Trump’s re-election. It would seem the Democrats are lining up a clown car of Septuagenarians and Octogenarians to challenge him in 2020. I am old enough to remember when the Republicans were the party of old stodgy people, my, how times have changed.

5) Our government is based on the checks and balances of 3 parts of government. Unfortunately the legislative branch has ceded its power to the executive. This imbalance makes us wobbly at best and headed for a serious crash at worst. Trump is not the problem, he is but a symptom. We need to fight the disease while managing the symptoms.

Last Minute Election Thoughts

We should know the results fairly early.  Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, and Virginia polls all close at 4 PM PST.

The media are pretending that Pennsylvania is in play, I think this is just to keep us in front of our TVs.  There are 9 states in play: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Of these nine, I think three will go to Obama quickly: Ohio, Nevada, and New Hampshire.  That leaves him just 6 electoral votes short of victory.

If Romney does not sweep Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida (all close at 4 PST) then it is over.  Florida appears to be close, Virginia leans Obama, and North Carolina leans Romney.

Predictions: Odds are at least 50 to 1 for an Obama victory.  And we will probably know the definitive answer by 8PM PST.

None of this is meant to imply that it makes one whit of difference who wins.  While the media hypes this election as one of the most vitriolic in history, I think we have never had an election where the candidates agreed on so much.  And maybe that is why they resort to name calling, there are no differences in their political leanings to debate.

Catch the results here.

Election Eve…ho hum…

Tomorrow we will elect either Tweedle Dee or Tweedle Dum to be president, and nothing will change.  Obamacare will be implemented as scheduled, the Federal debt will continue to balloon, foreign intervention will continue to escalate, sabres will be rattled at Iran, the presidential kill list will be continued, the sun will continue to rise in the East and set in the West.  Never has a presidential election hinged on so little.

3rd parties were kept out of the debates and so we had mutual masturbation sessions where nothing of import was discussed.  What would a President Romney administration be like?  It is the night before the election and we have no idea, but I suspect it would be very much like a President Obama administration (which really is not all that different from a President Bush administration).

And the cycle will continue until we wake up one day to find that we are paupers living in a third world country.

Choosing a President

Per usual, the nominations were already decided before we had a chance to vote here in California.  Our choices are, once again, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum.  Two political hacks with nearly identical ideology.

My liberal friends are aghast when I tell them that it really doesn’t matter to me who wins, because I can’t tell the difference.  It always puzzled me that they would challenge this assessment…until recently.  I finally figured out that it is our placing different levels of importance to the issues that guides our belief (or non-belief).

While I won’t here challenge their beliefs, I do want to lay out mine.  When choosing a president, these are the issues that I find of the most import (in no particular order).

  1. Decentralization
  2. Human/Civil Rights
  3. War/Imperialism
  4. Planetary Stewardship

Let’s take a quick look at each in turn.

Decentralization: I want to be free, there is no compromise on that.  Increasing centralization places increasing limits on personal freedom.  The further away I am from the power structure, the more I am confined by the soul-less bureaucracy.  For every proposal. I ask, “Does this centralize power or does it lend itself to a dispersal of power?”  I look at a candidate’s record, I listen to his/her rhetoric, and I attempt to determine if the candidate’s platform lends itself to a devolution of power.

Human/Civil Rights: I care about human rights on a global level.  Will the candidate respect human rights, will the candidate ostracize those who violate basic human rights?  I don’t think we can impose human rights, instead we need a leadership that will lead by example.  This includes not allying ourselves with tyrants.  Civil rights are an extension of human rights but at the national level.  Neither Tweedle Dee or Tweedle Dum respect Habeus Corpus, a cornerstone in protecting us from government overreach.

War/Imperialism: These go hand in hand.  War should be a last resort, waged only when your own life is threatened.  A standing army prevents peaceful resolution.  Imperialism is what got us into our debt crisis and will eventually lead to our demise, the same as it has every imperial civilization in history.  The candidates are in lock step on foreign policy, and neither value peace.

Planetary Stewardship: Environmental carnage threatens the future of human existence.  Nuclear waste, desertification, species extinction, de-forestation, and global climate change are all threats to our continued prosperity.  There is a crisis of mass magnitude, but both candidates are business as usual.

If you add my second tier issues of the prison industrial complex, debt, collapsing educational system, and food security; it all becomes pretty clear.  There is no difference between Obama and Romney and the entire election hoopla is a charade played out for idiots.

Looks like I will be sitting another one out.

Prop 19, last minute thoughts (free flow of ideas)

In 1913 California was the first state to make marijuana illegal.  In 2 days it may be the first State to make cannabis legal.

In the earlier, prohibitionist, fight; it took 24 years for the nation to follow.  If we tax/regulate/control cannabis this Tuesday, will it take another 24 years for the nation to follow?

Since the initiative has a “severability” clause, if the main gist of the intitiative is found to be illegal by the Federal courts, we will have 2 new cannabis felonies on the books….and still no legal pot.  I bet we would feel foolish then.

1996 is known as the medicalization of marijuana, will 2010 be the industrialization?

I kind of have warm feelings for the small scale family farms that we have today, a classic cottage industry.  Will those warm  fuzzies carry over to the sterile warehouse grows?

What about energy consumption?  We already have rolling blackouts when consumption is high.  What if 5% of Californian households put a 1000 watt bulb in their closets?  Will the cities go dark?

If this industrialization initiative fails to pass, will we have a good decrim initiative in 2012?  Will the world end if we do?  Or don’t?

Tax.  Control.  Regulate.  Did the initiative’s author, Richard Lee, think this would fire up the base?  Did he take the base for granted and play for the middle?  Will he learn a lesson if this initiative fails to pass?

I don’t think I have ever voted to increase taxes that were not earmarked for a particular item (usually schools or drug treatment).

I currently spend 3 to 5000 dollars a year on pot…  And that is with a very generous employee discount from some awesome friends.  Will I spend less after the initiative?  My current tax on (an average) $4000/year is $350 dollars.  That same 4k will cost me an extra $800 in taxes ($50/ounce), that gets added to the $350 I already pay.  Will the overall price come down?  How?

Is Dennis Peron really a bad guy, as Chis Conrad claims?  I always had a personable likeness for Dennis.

If we vote this down, will the forces of prohibition use it as pretext to attempt to roll back our recent gains?

Can we blame Richard Lee if they do?

I can’t wait for Wednesday morning, it is like Christmas…or Pandora’s box.

Edit: Full disclosure, I earn a living in the medicinal cannabis industry.

Why pot won’t be legalized (California)

This November, Californians have the opportunity to vote on Proposition 19, The Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010.

Full disclosure: I make my living from the medicinal cannabis industry;  if this law passes, I lose my job.

In 1996 Californians passed medical pot by a 58/42 majority.  That initiative was powered by a movement.  The current initiative does not have a movement, it has an industry.  Industry is good for raising money, but not so good at get out the vote activities.  The current initiative is polling at about 44%.

It seems that Prop 19 was written by a small group of people, another thing that sets it apart from 215.  The concerns of the community were never aired, let alone considered.  As a result, there are a lot of people whom one would expect to be for legalizing pot, who have come out against it. [One striking example is Dennis Peron, the mover and shaker who got us medical pot.]

Ok, so that answers the question of the title of this post, because it won’t pass.  But let’s assume it does pass.

If you look at the text of Prop 215 you will note that it is but a single page long.  A straight forward, no frills, easily understood initiative.  Compare that to Prop 19, 6 dense pages that requires a legal degree to understand.  Look at how the courts had to interpret Prop 215 at each step along the way, then imagine the field day the courts will have with 19 [Maybe we should call it the The Attorney Full Employment Act]

Then there is the little problem of the federal government.  Prop 215 used weasel words (recommendation instead of prescription) to avoid direct conflict with the feds.  The current initiative takes no such steps, they seem to invite federal intervention.  The Federal Controlled Substances Act supersedes state law making the cultivation or sales of marijuana a felony.   If this law is passed, numerous injunctions will be filed on the very next day.

The initiatives authors could have avoided this.  A simple decriminalization would have flown under the fed’s radar.  It would have maintained the cottage industry that has sprung up as a result of 215.  It would have been simple and unambiguous.  Further, waiting for the presidential election would have ensured good turnout to aid in getting it passed.

But this initiative’s author(s) were so blinded by profits and consolidation of the industry that they failed to see that they were setting the marijuana movement back 10 years.  By this rash and greedy action, we all suffer.  It does not matter if the law passes or not, the movement is pinched and stunted just the same.

I don’t vote, so that saves the quandary of how I should vote on the initiative.  [Hint: Tax, Control, and Regulate are not my favorite key words] I mostly stay neutral when discussing it.  I figure that to actively oppose it would require that I quit my job if it failed to pass.

All the hand wringing that the clubs, the growers, the blacks, the rural areas, the south, or the whoever is going to spoil the vote turns out to be nonsense.  The culprits are the initiative’s sponsors, this is the wrong law at the wrong time.  Unfortunate but true.

Edit: So I got a call from someone who had read this asking if I was really against the initiative.  I’m not really against it, I am neutral.  I just think its backers fucked the rest of us over.  To be clear, I SUPPORT THE FULL LEGALIZATION OF MARIJUANA, I like pot.  Unfortunately, this initiative will not give us legal marijuana.  Prop 215 was all about the patients, Prop 19 is ALL about greed and consolidation of the industry.  One was an initiative of the people, the other is an initiative of the corporate marijuana industry (created by prop 215).  As an anarchist, I obviously will not vote for or against it.  It DOES NOT MATTER if this law passes, it will not make marijuana legal.  If I don’t think it matters if it passes, if I think the attempt screwed us–win or lose; that leaves me agnostic on the initiative.  Got it?

Backlash and Proposition 8

So I am up early this morning and surfing the web, I notice there is still a fair amount of chatter about Prop. 8, so I thought I might weigh in with my 3 cents on why it passed.

In California it is almost always the side that raises the most money who wins, fundraising determines everything…the best democracy money can buy.  I do not remember a single initiative that has gone against this, until now.  The no on 8 folks out raised the yes folks by almost 2 million dollars–37.6 million to 35.8 million.

This fact alone tells me that California does not want gay marriage, they went against the money, there it is; we call it democracy.

What I don’t get is where did the no folks spend their money?  I heard many yes on 8 ads daily on the radio…I don’t recall a single no on 8 radio ad.  This means that the no folks did not run ads on conservative radio or it means that the ads were so bland that they are not memorable.  To be honest I don’t know which is the case, either way, it comes down to sloppy campaigning.

In 2000 Californians voted overwhelmingly to define marriage as between a man and a woman, this was the inertia that the anti 8 folks knew they were up against.  But they paid no mind, they ran a luckluster campaign, I guess they thought they could coast to victory…they are idiots.

Election day I saw folks at every corner in Berkeley opposing 8, but right next door in El Cerrito there was a yes on 8 person on every corner…right next door.  The latte drinking Berkeley folks could not be bothered to drive 1 mile to oppose 8, WTF?  Did they think 8 was going to pass in Berkeley?  Are they stupid, or just ignorant?  The mormons bussed in canvassers, could not the gay lobby car pool to the next town?  If they can’t even campaign in El Cerrito how did they expect to win in El Centro?

Immediately AFTER the election the gay folks got excited.  Excuse me dumbass, it is kind of late now.  Mass protests, yadda yadda yadda…to late…maybe someone should have explained to them how an election works, they obviously did not get it.

The opposition to 8 seemed tepid at best.  Knowing the previous vote had gone against them, knowing the other side was organized, knowing this was the defining civil rights moment of our era…they blew it.

It seems the gay community is happier protesting as outsiders than actually doing what it takes to win.

Quit whining, start collecting signatures, the road ahead is made steeper by the ineptitude that was displayed this year, but it is not insurmountable.