Sep 22, 2016

Parsing the Election: Shining Objects, Lies and Misdemeanors

As this election campaign unfolds, it's very obvious that what passes for voting choice based on issues and policies is a thin layer of he-said she-said, shiny objects, and bullshit arguments. Then there is the very small group of low-information voters who will probably determine the winner. They waft from one candidate to another, as the polls indicate. Yeah, like a horse race at a carnival game whereas the horses advance by how much the "playing" public sprays water into a hole. 
Oh, what an entertainment it is to watch this race for the most powerful office on earth. We've seem to have lost the sense of scale, seriousness, comparables, and the sight of the big picture. 

Somebody has to call the truth. We are a nation of people who are ignorant how their government works, what policies work or not, and ignorant as to the fundamental differences among the candidates their parties and what they truly stand for. The media for the most part readily cater to this ignorant audience, further perpetuating the lowest common denominator. 

Some news media,like Fox News, openly say that their aim is to cater to their audience and peddle propaganda--and this is more honest as compared to the so-called mainstream media that want to self-identify as professional and truth-seeking. The truth is that when a lie is uttered by an official or a candidate, you call it a lie. If there's proof to the contrary, you don't accept a lie as one side of a story and give it equal value, be it that Obama was not born in the US or that the earth is flat.

Another sad but very real fact is that most people aren't truly rational or open to reason, especially in the heat of the game. You are a rabid fan cheering for your team and you only see your team being robed by the refs or the system, while you hate the illegitimate s.o.b.s of the opposing team. Then there's a small section in the stadium (half filled, because the rest of the population don't really care for this sport) that goes back and forth cheering for the team that does the latest trick or puts on the field the cutest cheerleaders.

Oh, the Humanity....

So, everybody is freaking out about the EpiPen these days because the company that makes it decided to up its price by hundreds of dollars. It's not the only time a drug company does such a thing if it has a monopoly and wants to maximize profit. Congress gets on the act of shedding crocodilean tears and holds public inquiries deriding big pharma execs for being ..inhumane. A chorus of other interested parties chimes in to say how they care about the public's health and the plight of the consumer. Oh, it's about people's health? Then it's Obamacare's fault! The right points out that it's the high deductibles people have to pay under the ACA (Obamacare) that have patients feel they're being gauged. Hahaha.

Let's cut through this bullshit. First, reporting the story--as done by most media--is a disservice to the public. It's another case of perpetuating a lie and not truly examining an important issue.  OK, let's start from the top. Why shouldn't a capitalist company try to maximize profit? Isn't this what the free-market conservatives advocate? Supply and demand is the ingenious mechanism that serves the consumer Adam Smith argued. The conservative goddess Ayn Rand was not in favor of a system of a social safety net because this is morally bad.

But, people may be hurt, suffer or die if they don't have access to certain drugs and health care? Oh, really? Is this a problem? Then what do we do about it besides feeling bad, curse at the drug companies, Obamacare and whomever else. Do we need to put in place a system to take care of those in dire need? Who should pay for it. Why are drug prices so high? 

The more you think about it, the more you realize that some regulation, oversight, and social safety net is necessary in some sectors of society! Oh, and why capitalism should work primarily in the direction of the big and powerful? 

Instead of Congress pretending to care about the ..poor patients, it should pass a law to allow Medicare and Medicaid to negotiate drug prices. Currently they're prohibited from doing what capitalism purports to want: competition!  Further, as Bernie Sanders points out, we can import food from all over the world but we cannot (illegal) to import even brand-name medicine/drugs from Canada at a fraction of what they cost in the US!  I happened to have witnessed scores of buses filled with senior citizens at the US-Canadian border around the beginning of the month. They're buying drugs they need but can't afford in the US! This is illegal, by the way, but the authorities probably think it's either bad publicity or unkind to arrest those senior citizens.

Steal Millions of Dollars with no Penalty (but don't get caught smoking weed)

Wells Fargo [see story here] abused its customers for 5 years, creating millions of accounts and charging fees without the knowledge or permission by the customers. This is not the only bank that has been abusing the consumers. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB*) fined WF $185 million for this. Is anyone going to jail? No! Get caught smoking weed in most of the US and you get a criminal record!

Republicans came out complaining why WF was allowed to do this.  Well, because the banks can and will if left unsupervised. Who knew, right? I mean take a look at Wall Street in the 2000s, or any other era. The GOP has systematically opposed anything that would interfere with the "free marketplace" including the CFPB. 

Now, why can't there be a class action suit against WF? Because the law allows the banks to stipulate in the contract when you open an account with them that you agree not to sue and not join others who may have similar grievances. You must go to arbitration, where a judge hired by the bank resolves the dispute. But if you have no other recourse, you accept the offer.  Similar case with employers, like Fox, where a sexual harassment case must be settled via arbitration.

Oh, and what happens to the big bosses that know of, or even encourage the abuses? Sometimes they lose their jobs, poor slabs. Ailes got a $40 million severance, and WF CEO gets $ 125 mil. package. That kind of money buys you lots of therapy I reckon. 

Now back to parsing this election......   


* This is what a modern state (country) should do, protect the consumer. Which political party do you think favors this? Beyond personalities, which party do you think would promote consumer protection? This election is about progress and what we want the government to do for us, right?....