Eat the Rich

“This elite group is worth $9.1 trillion, up 18% since last year.” – Forbes

That’s $9.1 trillion divided between about 2200 people.

Poor conservatives are too stupid to realize that they’re digging their own graves.

Most believe they’re billionaires in the making.

It’s a safe bet that when working-class Republicans die, they’ll be a few grand in debt, and the collectors will go after their children.

Capitalism works….

Booze is a Hard Drug

I saw this when I was a kid.  It said that each was basically the same, i.e. a bottle of beer was the same as a glass of wine, which is the same as a shot of booze.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

While it may be true in the literal sense, the reality is quite different in practice.

Booze is the hard stuff.  If a person ever develops a drinking problem, the odds are high that it will be related to booze.  Whether it’s delinquency, spousal abuse, or drunk driving, booze is always a much greater factor than beer.

I’ve been seeing advertisements for booze on television lately, which is alarming.  They might as well be advertising for cocaine, or methamphetamine, because the potential for addiction and destructiveness is basically the same.

Seeing booze ads on TV again is a prime example of what I hate about our world: money decides all.  Even if lives are ruined or lost, if it makes money, the money will win.

I don’t want to be a hypocrite.  I love my tequila, but a degree of responsibility is in order here.  Booze is not “just like beer” and to imply as much will place thousands of lives in very real jeopardy.

Pros & Cons, and Professional Cons

President Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, recently lost his security clearance.  He was only privy to those highly classified documents for over a year, so what could go wrong?  Anyway, we all know what he was up to: making business deals.

Bet your bottom dollar, Kushner was using his position to leverage new business “arrangements” for himself and his family, which of course includes Trump.

One down, two to go.

And in the “I can’t believe it’s not butter” department, a major gun seller has just decided to stop selling assault rifles.

Pinch me, I’m dreaming.

We all know what this means: it means we need to stop by Dick’s and buy ourselves something nice.

Rest assured the gun nuts will be “up in arms” about this so-called “assault” on their freedom to be insane…so we have to counter their bullshit by planting as many of our own daisies as possible.

Come on!  Let’s be a Dick about it.

Union-Busters Suck

Many if not most Republicans are vehemently opposed to the idea of workers unions.

They say it’s because paying dues is unfair to workers, but we all know that’s a bunch of malarkey.

The truth is that unions are effective.  The truth is that Republicans only care about the upper classes, which happen to be the same people who own corporations, which happen to be the same people in control of wages.

Yes, the people who own corporations “control” the wages.  Wages are not left to the whims of the so-called “free market.”  Prices might be, but not wages.  Corporate America collectively controls the wage indexes, and they do so with a coordinated, yet unofficial, effort.

When corporate America “collectively” does something, they are in effect working as a union.  So what we have is one union, the corporations, against another, the workers.  But most workers have no union, and corporate America is dead set on keeping it that way.

A union is power.  A union is leverage.

And unfortunately, in today’s political climate, a union is a social animal well on its way to extinction.  The masses have been thoroughly brain-washed into thinking that we only deserves the crumbs of wages we’re given by the rich.

If you want to get rich as a laborer, work harder!  If you want to get rich, you must first make some one else richer.

True Leadership is Needed

The left has no real leader at the moment. That is probably the biggest problem we face: no real leadership.

We have no coordination, no action-oriented objectives.

Voting is not enough.  If voting were enough, we wouldn’t be in this mess to begin with.

We have prominent people who are in a position to say what we’re all thinking, and that’s fine, but it won’t accomplish anything.

We need action, and we need coordinated action, and that can only be achieved under the direction of a true leader, or group of leaders working together.

Until that happens, we’ll keep flailing and fighting and…losing to the greedy imbeciles on the right.

On Nuclear Energy in New Mexico

If New Mexico ever gets snookered into building a nuclear power plant, you’ll know we got fooled, and fooled good.

Nuclear energy is not an option. If New Mexico were a submarine or an aircraft carrier then yes, nuclear energy might make sense. But in a land as rich in sunshine and wind as this enchanted state, nuclear power would be a huge mistake, and a gigantic step backward.

Some people say that since solar and wind are finally making headway, we should take their subsidies and give the money to nuclear instead. The notion is so profoundly illogical that the mind struggles for a metaphor. It’s almost like saying “Since smart phones are doing so well, let’s stop building cell towers and invest in land lines instead.”

Step back in time to the 1980s. Imagine if somebody said “Wow, personal computers are really taking off. Let’s stop R&D on those, and start building bigger mainframes instead.”

With few exceptions, nuclear has never really been a viable alternative energy source.

Exhibit A: No nuclear power plant has ever been built, anywhere, without a massive infusion of taxpayer money.

Exhibit B: In 2011, the Union of Concerned Scientists found that the total subsidies paid and offered to nuclear power companies from 1960 to 2024 generally exceeded the value of the electricity produced.

Exhibit C: Since 1958, more than 120 nuclear power plants were started and never finished due to cost overruns.

To make matters worse, nuclear energy is simply more expensive than traditional sources. As an example, where traditional sources might cost around 0.89 cents per kilowatt hour, nuclear energy can cost as much as 1.04 cents. Since we’re living in an era where energy can be traded across the country via power-lines, it’s altogether possible to build a nuclear power plant that generates electricity nobody wants to buy.

Nuclear is a big investment in terms of money and time. From start to finish, an operational nuclear power plant can take as long as 10 years or more to complete. Why? Because we’re not just building the plant, we’re establishing an intricate, exceptionally high-tech logistical system that has to run like clockwork or the whole thing grinds to a halt.

First we have to secure the uranium. Second, we have to enrich the uranium at special processing plants. Next we have to safely transport and store the activated material. Then we use it. Once used, we have to discard the nuclear waste safely. Not surprisingly, the taxpayer usually gets stuck with the bill for this last phase.

Nuclear energy is an exceedingly complex way to do a simple thing. Fissile nuclear material gets hot, really hot, hot enough to turn water to steam, which in turn spins electrical generators. The uranium “fuel rods” are useful for about 6 years. Sounds good, until you realize we generate about 2,300 tons of nuclear waste per year.

So after 6 years of energy, we’re left with thousands of tons of a useless, deadly nuclear byproduct which can last about 10,000 years. This means that for the next 10,000 years, someone will have to monitor it, measure its degradation, and be able to move it should some unforeseen complications arise.

10,000 years of lethal hazard for 6 years of limited, regional energy? That’s not a good trade-off. And who’s going to pay for minding the waste? How many companies stay in business for 10,000 years?

All of these negatives don’t even touch upon the very real possibility of something going catastrophically wrong. Then we’d have a Three Mile Island, or a Fukushima, or a Chernobyl, or worse.

Who gets stuck with the bill if something goes wrong? We do, the taxpayers, of course. That’s Business 101: privatize the profits and externalize the costs.

Whose ecologic system will be irreversibly impacted? Ours. Whose DNA will risk cancerous mutation? Ours. And you can bet money few of the shareholders of that nuclear facility will live anywhere near the contamination.

While I’m no fan of Wall Street, it’s telling to note its whims and fancies. The stock exchange isn’t crazy about nuclear power, and hasn’t been for decades. Way back in 1985, Forbes Magazine wrote that nuclear power was “the greatest managerial disaster in business history…only the blind, or the biased, can now think that most of the money has been well spent.”

Regardless of what we think of big investors, we should heed sound advice, forget about nuclear, and learn to look forward, not back. Just as coal has no future, neither has nuclear. It’s ironic, since one was made of dinosaurs, and the other was born of war, two things best left in the past.

Sophie’s Off to College

Paul’s daughter, Sophie, was heading off to school, starting her junior year of college. She’d be twenty-one soon, old enough to buy her own beer, and drink cocktails at the dance clubs. Old enough to go to jail. Twenty-one, and she’s an adult. Overnight. Just like that.

Paul, Sophie, and mama Tina had spent an intimate morning together. After a big breakfast, strong-brewed coffee and the sweet smell of maple syrup permeated the house. The mood was festive, as if a rebirth had come. A grand voyage was about to commence. Sophie’s car was in the garage, all gassed, serviced, and almost packed.

Since mom had cooked breakfast, Paul and Sophie packed the car. As dad tossed the last of Sophie’s rucksacks into the trunk, a small one-hitter pot pipe fell and bounced with a awkward clack on the concrete floor. Both father and daughter saw it. As the blood drained from Sophie’s surprised face, Paul nonchalantly picked up the pipe and tossed it in the bag. He zipped it shut, placed it in the car, and gently closed the trunk.

“Daddy, that’s not mine.”

“I know dear,” Paul said. “Just forget about it. Let’s keep this between us.”

“I mean it,” Sophie continued. “I was keeping it for a friend. I just forgot about it. Trust me.”

“I know. No biggie,” Paul said with a smiling, dismissive optimism. “I was young once, too.”

Tactfully, he changed the subject, and asked Sophie if her car was road-ready. Buoyed by the diversion, father and daughter returned to the kitchen almost as if nothing had happened. Almost. They sat for a while at the table, trapped in a thorny silence, waiting for mom to tie up some loose ends before Sophie would hit the road.

The phone rang. It was Kay, one of mom’s nosy neighbor friends. Paul always called her “Okay Kay” because the woman was never wrong about anything.

“I got it!” mama said, taking the phone and stepping into the next room. It was a blessing in disguise.

“Dear heart,” Paul whispered to Sophie, sitting with her intimately at the kitchen table. “I’m not worried about the weed. If you drink a little beer and smoke a little herb, you’re probably going to be okay. It’s the hard stuff that kills you.”

“But it’s not mine!” Sophie quietly protested.

“I didn’t say it was,” Paul chuckled. “I’m just saying, if you ever want to buy some herb, give me a heads up, and we’ll get you a medical marijuana card, okay? On me.”

“Really?” she said.

“Yeah.”

“But what if I don’t qualify?” she asked.

“We’ll make it so you do. You leave that to me.” Paul leaned back to eaves drop on his wife and Kay. They were gossiping about their girlfriends. He had tons of time.

“The beer and the herb doesn’t get you,” Paul said. “The hard stuff does, and booze is the hard stuff, too. Don’t drink any of that jungle juice they serve at frat parties. At best you’ll wake up covered in puke. At worst, you’ll wake up in a stranger’s bedroom with a bad feeling in your stomach.”

Sophie rolled her eyes. “I’m not an idiot, daddy.”

“True,” he said. “But you are a day dreamer, and sometimes you don’t pay attention. Remember back when you were a sophomore? And you thought the sinking of the Hindenburg started World War Two?”

“Ancient history,” she huffed.

“You’re going to be twenty-one soon,” he said. “So if you go to a liquor store and buy some beer, you’ll get beer, not pot. Likewise, when you go to a marijuana dispensary you’ll get marijuana — not cocaine, or meth, or pills, or heaven knows what.”

“Daddy!”

Paul leaned back again to eaves drop on his wife and Kay. They were gabbing about men. He had all day.

“Those drug dealers will see you coming a mile away, kiddo. Sometimes they’ll tell you they’re out of pot, and offer you some coke instead. Sometimes they’ll give it to you for free. Don’t touch it. Avoid the hard stuff. They’ll say it’s all the same, but it’s not, not by a long shot. Remember that, okay?”

Mom hung up the phone. Kay was Okay. The final act had come, and sharing their fond goodbyes the family parted with gentle hugs and recalcitrant tears. Watching Sophie drive off to school, Paul waved as Elton John sang “Daniel” on the kitchen radio, and the sweep of time stood still.

I don’t know exactly what happened to Sophie after that, but I do know this: she graduated from college, was never arrested for drugs, and she didn’t die from an overdose. On the grand scale of things, that’s enough.