F.U.B.A.R. Nation

Fucked Up Beyond All Recognition

Ohio, Inc.

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Governor John Kasich’s Crusade to Privatize Ohio

Ohioans should have known what they were buying. John Kasich’s history and dubious achievements are well documented.

  • Kasich is an ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) Member and was prominent in the membership organization’s formative years. ALEC is the anti-government,  anti-tax, anti-union, anti-regulatory, anti-corporate accountability organization, funded in large part by the Koch brothers and other right wingers.  ALEC corporations craft special interest legislation to hand off to ALEC Legislators in exchange for free junkets and vacations and corporate campaign contributions.
  • Kasich was Managing Director for Lehman Brothers, the financial services firm that ushered in the financial crisis with the largest corporate bankruptcy in U.S. history. While spiraling downward under Kasich’s leadership Lehman helped relieve Ohio pension funds of $480 million dollars while earning Kasich a $432,00 bonus in 2007 in addition to his hefty salary.
  • Kasich’s From the Heartland which he hosted on FOX News put an O’Reillyesque right wing spin on the news. Rupert Murdoch was subsequently accused of improper contributions to Kasich.

Kasich was no pig in a poke and yet, despite his baggage, he narrowly defeated incumbent Ted Stricklen, despite being behind in the exit polls (an increasingly common occurrence in Ohio’s suspect Ohio election apparatus in the 21st century).

Kasich is now busy running the ALEC/Koch Brothers playbook on all fronts:

Transportation: Kasich refused federal money for high speed rail sending money and private sector jobs to other states.  Where would Ohio be today it we had opted out of the Federal Interstate Highway System?  Kasich also recently leased the Ohio Turnpike to a private corporation.  Replacing good paying jobs like toll booth workers (and the tax revenue such jobs provide) with minimum wage jobs fits with the ALEC union busting goal that is helping to insure that the U.S. will lead the word in income inequality and aggravate future budget deficit by suppressing the tax revenue stream.

Education: Kasich and the GOP promote a voucher program that subsidizes private schools for the wealthy. The charter school amendment would shift power to private companies like Akron based White Hat Management and remove a requirement that Charter schools be monitored by a sponsor.

Prisons:  Kasich sold the Lake Erie Correctional Institute, a state owned prison, to Corrections Corporation of America (an ALEC member which has spent years lobbying to put more people in prison for longer) for $72.7 million. He also appointed CCA’s Managing Director, Gary Mohr, to be head of Ohio’s Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections. Some inmates at privately owned prisons perform work for private corporations for as little as $.23 an hour.  Other prison sales are likely to follow.

The Environment: Kasich and the GOP have moved to gut environmental regulations and to turn State Parks over to corporate extractors for oil and gas drilling, including the controversial “fracking” process which risks polluting ground water. Expanding timber harvests is also on the agenda.

Kasich’s JOBSOHIO, a privatized version of the Ohio Department of Development (coupled with the Issue 2 contested SB5 which strips Ohio public employees of their collective bargaining rights) has an underlying purpose of replacing livable wage jobs with corporate cost friendly, minimum wage jobs without benefits.

Under Kasich, Ohio is on the fast track to becoming a privatized corporation beholden to shareholders and investors rather than the State’s citizenry. Maybe a political high speed railroad is in the State’s future after all.

 

Written by fubarnation

November 21, 2011 at 1:36 pm

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ALEC: American Legislative Exchange Council

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If fascism is the offspring of the marriage of state and corporate power, ALEC is the bride’s womb

ALEC’s tactics and operations mirror those of registered lobbyists but, unlike them, ALEC enjoys tax  exempt status. This feat is accomplished by getting special interests and legislators together as ALEC Members to discuss the nation’s problems. The offshoot of these corporate  sponsored paid vacations for legislators and their families is that special interests get to write our laws and hand them off to the purchased lawmakers. The Legislator dues amount to $50 a year, most often paid by the taxpayer, whereas corporations contribute thousands to tens of thousands (and sometimes millions from major  funders like Koch Industries) for the privilege of serving as our shadow  government.

In addition to founding fathers like the Kochs, alumni involved in ALEC’s formative years included Robert Kastner and Tommy Thompson of Wisconsin, John Engle of Michigan, Terry Branstad of Iowa and John Kasich of Ohio all of whom went on to become  Governors or members of Congress. The recent crop of Koch State Governors including  Walker in Wisconsin and Kasich in Ohio have been aggressively running the
ALEC/Koch playbook. For example, Gov. Kasich is currently busy selling off Ohio’s prisons to ALEC member Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) for a fraction  of their value. CCA is the same corporation that was allowed to write Arizona’s  new Immigration law so they can pack their privatized prisons at taxpayer  expense.

The ALEC playbook includes the following goals:

  • Downsize government by starving it of tax revenue and privatizing its functions.
  • Eliminate  regulations on corporations so they can pollute the environment and exploit
    workers without restraint.
  • Eliminate  corporate accountability for reckless behavior by protecting them
    from lawsuits.

In other words, ALEC favors the style of unfettered, predatory capitalism that allowed  the financial industry to bring the American economy to its knees. And on our knees is exactly where David and Charles Koch would like 99% of Americans to spend  their lives. The 2011 ALEC priorities are privatized education, union busting, corporate  deregulation and voter suppression. They also want to prevent health care  reform and further reduce taxes for corporations and the wealthiest individuals while privatizing or eliminating Medicare and Social Security. Sound familiar?

With 2010 elect Republican Governorships and Legislators in place with numerous ALEC members  expect to see a slew of legislation with Orwellian names like the union busting  Public Employee Freedom Act.

ALEC and the Koch Bros., with their inherited billions, want to usher in an American neo-feudalism with Lords and indentured Serfs. Guess which one you’ll be.

For more information on ALEC, visit http://www.alecexposed.org.

 

Written by fubarnation

October 5, 2011 at 6:58 pm

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Circling the Drain

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When I moved to Cincinnati many years ago I was greeted with a chorus of welcoming. People told me that I had moved to the best city in the world. Now, while I think it’s great to be proud of your town, no matter its faults, there was a certain hollow ring to the unquestioning boosterism.

When I asked about their points of reference, i.e., where else had they lived or visited, I was astounded by their paucity of travel. Most had never been out of the country and many had never been out of the tri-state.

Denial is a wonderful thing, a friend of mine is fond of saying. It keeps you from having to confront any number of uncomfortable truths.

The current patriot fever reminds me of my early experiences with Cincinnatians. The U.S. is the greatest country on earth unless, of course, you know that it isn’t. If we have any hope of fixing the mess that is the U.S.A., we’re going to have to get out heads out of the sand (or our asses) and have a look around.

America, the Fat

Obesity Rates:# 1    United States:  30.6%   
# 2   Mexico: 24.2%   
# 3   United Kingdom: 23%   
# 4   Slovakia: 22.4%   
# 5   Greece: 21.9%   
# 6   Australia: 21.7%   
# 7   New Zealand: 20.9%   
# 8   Hungary: 18.8%   
# 9   Luxembourg: 18.4%   
# 10   Czech Republic: 14.8%   
# 11   Canada: 14.3%   
# 12   Spain: 13.1%   
# 13   Ireland: 13%   
# 14   Germany: 12.9%   
= 15   Portugal: 12.8%   
= 15   Finland: 12.8%   
# 17   Iceland: 12.4%   
# 18   Turkey: 12%   
# 19   Belgium: 11.7%   
# 20   Netherlands: 10%   
# 21   Sweden: 9.7%   
# 22   Denmark: 9.5%   
# 23   France: 9.4%   
# 24   Austria: 9.1%   
# 25   Italy: 8.5%   
# 26   Norway: 8.3%   
# 27   Switzerland: 7.7%   
= 28   Japan: 3.2%   
= 28   Korea, South: 3.2%   
  Weighted average:  14.1%    

America, the Stupid

  • The U.S. ranks 19th, world-wide, in high school graduation rates.
  • The U.S. ranks 21st in literacy (tied with 26 other nations for 21st place).
  • 25% of U.S. High School students never receive a diploma (over 40% of black or hispanic students drop out).

 America, the Violent

 Gun Ownership 

No. Country Guns per
100 residents
Year Comment
1  United States 90.0 2007  
2  Yemen 61.0 2007  
3  Switzerland 46.0 2007  
4  Iraq 39.0 2007  
5  Serbia 37.5 2007  
6  France 32.0 2007  
7  Finland[5] 32.0 2008  
8  Greece 31.8 2010  
9  Canada 31.5 2007  
10  Sweden 31.5 2007  
11  Austria 31.0 2007  
12  Germany 30.0 2007  
13  New Zealand[2] 26.8 1993  
14  Saudi Arabia 26.3 2007  
15  Angola 20.5 2007  
16  Thailand 16.0 2007  
17  Australia 15.5 2007  
18  Mexico 15.0 2007  
19  South Africa 13.1 2007  
20  Turkey 13.0 2007  
21  Argentina 12.6 2007  
22  Italy 12.1 2007  
23  Pakistan 12.0 2007  
24  Spain 11.0 2007  
25  Russia 9.0 2007  

Military Expenditures

Country Military expenditures – dollar figure Budget Period
World $1100 billion 2004 est.
Rest-of-World [all but USA] $500 billion 2004 est.
United States $623 billion FY08 budget
China $65.0 billion 2004
Russia $50.0 billion  
France $45.0 billion 2005
United Kingdom $42.8 billion 2005 est.
Japan $41.75 billion 2007
Germany $35.1 billion 2003
Italy $28.2 billion 2003
South Korea $21.1 billion 2003 est.
India $19.0 billion 2005 est.
Saudi Arabia $18.0 billion 2005 est.
Australia $16.9 billion 2006
Turkey $12.2 billion 2003
Brazil $9.9 billion 2005 est.
Spain $9.9 billion 2003
Canada $9.8 billion 2003

 

America, the Sick

The WHO ranks France as the best overall health care system in the world. The United States ranks 37th while Canada ranks 30th. The following are the WHO rankings from 2000:

  1. France
  2. Italy
  3. San Marino
  4. Andorra
  5. Malta
  6. Singapore
  7. Spain
  8. Oman
  9. Austria
  10. Japan

The United States spends the most money in the world on its health care system, as a percentage of GDP, and ranks 37th in overall performance. We are only ranked 50th in life expectancy.

America, the Incarcerated

Prison population per 100,000 inhabitants
Country Prison population
per 100,000 inhabitants
United States
of America
756
Russian
Federation
611
New
Zealand
186
Australia 157
United
Kingdom
148
Netherlands 128
Canada 107
Italy 104
South Korea 104
Germany 95
Turkey 91
France 85
Sweden 82
Denmark 77
Japan 62
Iceland 40
India 22

 
America, the Broke

 

External Indebtedness

Country External debt
US dollars
Date Per capitaUS dollars  % of GDP
 World 56,900,000,000,000 December 2009 est. 8,422 98%
 United States 13,450,000,000,000  June 2009 43,758 94%
 United Kingdom 9,088,000,000,000  June 2009 147,060 416%
 Germany 5,208,000,000,000  June 2009 63,493 155%
 France 5,021,000,000,000  June 2009 80,209 188%
 Netherlands 3,733,000,000,000  December 2009 226,503 470%
 Spain 2,410,000,000,000  June 2009 52,588 165%
 Italy 2,328,000,000,000  December 2008 39,234 101%
 Ireland 2,287,000,000,000  September 2009 515,671 1004%
 Japan 2,132,000,000,000  June 2009 702,714 205%
 Luxembourg 1,994,000,000,000  June 2009 4,028,283 3854%
 Belgium 1,354,000,000,000  December 2008 126,188 267%
 Switzerland 1,339,000,000,000  June 2009 182,899 271%
 Australia 920,000,000,000  December 2009 est. 42,057 92%
 Canada 833,800,000,000  June 2009 24,749 62%
 Austria 808,900,000,000  September 2009 97,411 212%
 Sweden 669,100,000,000  June 2009 72,594 165%
 Hong Kong 655,100,000,000  September 2009 92,725 311%
 Denmark 607,400,000,000  June 2009 110,216 196%
 Greece 552,800,000,000  June 2009 49,525 167%

Written by fubarnation

September 27, 2010 at 1:38 pm

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Dear America

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Dear America,

I didn’t want to break it to you this way but you haven’t been listening. We’ve been together for a long, long time and we’ve had some good times but also some bad ones. This is a really, really bad time. I guess the whole ”in sickness or in health, for richer or for poorer” stuff wasn’t sincere. Well, I don’t intend to stick around for the “till death do us part” scene because I’ve had it. You promised to change but you aren’t really trying. You’re not the same country I loved way back when and you seem to be getting worse.

This is not about the current economic bad times. Maybe they’ll pass like they have before (although I’m beginning to wonder this time). It’s about your violent tendencies. And your profligate ways. It’s about your wastefulness and slovenliness. About the company you’ve been keeping at tea parties: shrill, ignorant, selfish and mean-spirited people. And about your arrogance and the way you treat our guests and neighbors. It’s about your coarseness and lack of appreciation for the finer, non-material aspects of life. But mostly it’s because you’re a whore. There, I’ve said it. I’ve held it in too long. You’re a slut and a whore who’ll do anything for anybody who has enough money and power.

You know I can’t afford to leave right now. I wish you would go but it doesn’t work that way. I’m just putting you on warning. First chance I get, I’m gone. I want out. I want to date other countries. I want to fall in love again.

There’s always pain and sadness in parting. Things are never all bad or all good. And I’m sure my new country will have her flaws but I can’t imagine I could ever hook up with another as psychotic as you. 

Okay, I’m done complaining. I just want to leave and start over. It’s okay to blame me. You said it a million times, “Love me or leave me.”

Don’t feel bad. Maybe it’s me and not you. Maybe it’s all my fault.

But I don’t think so.

Mick

Written by fubarnation

September 18, 2010 at 7:46 pm

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Incarceration Nation

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Incarceration Nation 

Incarceration is simply an extreme on the continuum of the surveillance society that defines a Police State. The only condition more extreme is summary execution so we might as well start here and work backwards.

BP is using prison labor to clean up the oil spoiled beaches of the Gulf. After wrecking the local economy and destroying the livelihoods of tens of thousands, BP is using a cheap and plentiful slave population to wipe itself off after ass-fucking our environment.

The U.S. incarcerates more of its citizens than any nation on earth. More than South Africa. More than China. More than Russia. More than any banana republic dictatorship. More than anyone! The U.S. has less than 5% of the world’s population but almost a quarter of the world’s prisoners.

The U.S. is one of the most violent nations on earth (and, not coincidentally #1 in gun ownership) with a murder rate 4 times that of Western Europe but our burgeoning prison population is being fed by incarceration of non-violent offenders. The single biggest contributor to the prison population explosion is the War on Drugs. Not a war on alcohol or tobacco but, you know, a war on “their” drugs.

Rates of violent crime have been falling for decades but you wouldn’t know that from watching the 6 O’clock news or reality TV. When I tell suburbanites I live in Cincinnati’s urban core, they react with surprise. When I tell them I live in Over the Rhine, they react with alarm. They think criminally insane blacks roam OTR’s streets murdering and raping every white they encounter (though, presumably not in that order) because that’s what they hear from corporate media propaganda. Corporate media whips the populace into a frothy, frenzied hysteria causing elected judges (in most countries they are civil servants insulated from political pressure) to dole out excessively harsh penalties so they can appear to be “tough on crime” to their scared-shitless constituents so that privatized prisons remain stuffed to the gills with taxpayer subsidized inmates so that corporate fat-cats who own prison stock can get richer. The fat-cats also own the corporate media so they crap out more fear mongering propaganda. See how this works?

The U.S. prison population is brown. 70% of the prison population is Black or Latino.

America uses incarceration to address socio-economic problems.

Incarceration for Fun and Profit

Private prisons reappeared when the “privatize everything, greed is good” Reagan Devolution was in full bloom. After the Civil War, private prisons farmed out slave prison labor to replace the freed slaves. Because of the abuses, private prisons were abolished in the early part of the 20th Century. Reincarnations like Corrections Corporation of America and Wackenhut lease out convicts just like in the good old days the Tea Baggers want to take us back to. The obvious conflict of interest in providing a market incentive for jailing people resulted in the recent conviction of two Pennsylvania judges who took $2.6 million in bribes to fill a private detention center with over 2 million juveniles, most of whom were first offenders. Private prisons cut every corner from not providing soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes or writing paper to scrimping on health care, clothing, food and training and pay for staff (State prisons pay union wages while private prisons pay close to minimum wage) to failing to offer drug rehabilitation, counseling or literacy programs. And yet, a U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics study found that the promised cost savings from privatization “have simply not materialized”, though the profits certainly have.  

The revolving door of private prisons resembles the military-industrial complex with lobbyists and campaign contributions and P.A.C.’s and would- be regulators owning stock, serving on boards and drawing paychecks from private prison corporations.

The private prison corporations, through their lobbyists at The American Legislative Exchange Council, are behind the “tough on crime” initiatives like Truth in Sentencing and Three Strikes laws that are responsible for excessively long sentences for non-violent offenders. One of the reasons the U.S. has the largest prison population in the world is because we put people in jail for longer than anyone else.  The longer a person stays in prison, the more uneducated, desperate and unprepared he is for the outside world.

But, after all, recidivism is good for business.

Mick

Written by fubarnation

September 18, 2010 at 7:42 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Better Government for All: Health Care

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At Taste of Cincinnati, while enjoying a barbecue sandwich and a Great Lakes beer, a pair of ladies asked if I would sign a petition, the end purpose of which was to exempt the State of Ohio from the new healthcare law (Obama-care they called it). When I said, “No. I don’t think I want to do that,” they looked at me as if I had shouted an obscenity. As they walked away, the elderly of the two turned around as if to head back in my direction. Her partner grasped her by the arm and said something that I could not hear. They then proceeded on their way. Perhaps the older lady wanted to educate me about the petition, maybe she wanted to argue. Maybe the likely Medicare recipient wanted to rail against the evils of socialized medicine.

I’m not happy with the new health care bill either but for, what I suspect are, very different reasons than the petitioners. The new health care bill does not purge the profit motive from the health insurance system. It does not prevent health insurers from maximizing profits by denying health care. It does not establish a European style single-payer system. The U.S. desperately needs a European style health care system. The U.S. needs socialized medicine.

What has confused me most, up to this point, about the health care debate is the lack of interest among private sector employers in divesting themselves of the cost and responsibility of providing health care for their employees. Didn’t we hear, time and time again, how General Motors couldn’t compete with foreign carmakers because they had to fund and manage employee healthcare while foreign competitors got a free ride from their government? Why would U.S. corporations not want to transfer those costs and complexities to the public sector? I think I have the answer.

How many brilliant and creative would-be entrepreneurs are trapped within American corporations because they or a dependant have a pre-existing medical condition? If you or a dependant loved-one is uninsurable (or not affordably insurable) you’d be a fool to let go of the lifeline of corporate capitalist subsidized health care (I say subsidized because corporate health care benefits are untaxed). The current system turns a great many American workers into indentured slaves because they fear for their health and that’s just the way American corporations like it.

There is nothing more threatening to an ossified, bureaucratic corporation than a freethinking, smart, creative, aggressive, lone-wolf entrepreneur who knows he can do things better, faster and cheaper. The corporate, for-profit, U.S. health care system is just another component of the pro-corporate neo-feudalist agenda.

In the interest of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. In the interest of our health and our freedom. Give us socialized medicine. Now!

 Mick

Written by fubarnation

September 18, 2010 at 5:57 pm

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Smaller Government for All: Part 4

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Smaller Government for All: Farm Subsidies

 We might as well start with the facts:

  •  From 1995 through 2009, U.S. farm subsidies totaled $245.2 billion. Yep, B for Billion, that’s ¼ of a trillion dollars.
  • During that same period, subsidies to corn growers alone totaled $73.8 billion. Corn ate up 30% of all farm subsidies.  The U.S. produces 42% of the world’s corn.

Farm subsidies began during the Great Depression when farms were family affairs instead of giant corporations. Today, the top 10% of farm subsidy recipients get 61% of the subsidies. The vast majority of farms feeding from the public trough shouldn’t be called farms at all. They are factories. They are industrial enterprises producing an industrial product. The vast majority of corn produced by giant agriculture can’t be eaten without being first processed as a sweetener or through the intestines of a cow.

Today almost all farm subsidies focus on five commodities: corn, soybeans, rice, wheat and cotton. Supporters argue that subsidies have kept food prices low (more about that later) but it’s the wrong food. The conspicuous absence of fruits and vegetables on the subsidy list means that the food that we should be eating is priced high relative to the food that is damaging our health. What it means is that our tax dollars are subsidizing a very specific, unhealthy diet. What we are getting for our enormous investment in grains is ethanol (gasoline), cheap high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and cheap meat from subsidized feed. HFCS constitutes empty calories that can lead to a unique American condition of being simultaneously obese and malnourished. What we get for this enormous subsidy are enormous citizens. What we get is fat and sick. What we get is an epidemic of diabetes and childhood obesity.

In 1950, Americans ate 144 pounds of meat per capita. Today, the average American eats 222 pounds of meat each year (an increase of 54% in a half century). A common complaint I hear from fellow American tourists when I travel is that portion sizes in international restaurants are too small. I also hear complaints about small cars, small hotel rooms and small showers in the small hotel rooms. All of these complaints are, of course, related. We like big because we are big. The average American is an over-fed beast. Forget that obesity is unattractive, over-consumption of food, especially meat, leads to heart disease and cancer. Americans are literally eating themselves to death.

Cheap corn-based food isn’t just killing us. It’s an illusion that leads us to believe that, because we spend less of our income on food than most other countries, we have a higher standard of living. Farm subsidies are a classic “in one pocket and out the other” scam. The dollar that you save because your food is being subsidized is a dollar (and a whole lot more) that you spend in extra taxes to prop up industrial agriculture and another dollar that you spend on health care because of your unhealthy diet. Americans spend $147 billion annualy on diseases associated with obesity. And we sepnd a third dollar dealing with the costs of illegal immigrants. Since NAFTA, American corn growers have been flooding Mexico with cheap subsidized corn. Since Mexican farmers can no longer earn a living growing corn they have to look for other sources of employment. At the same time that Arizona is passing controversial anti-immigration laws, U.S. agribusiness is actively recruiting illegal workers, to perform jobs U.S. citizens won’t do, through posters and signs in the most desperately poor agricultural regions of Mexico. I’ll bet you didn’t know that.

In addition to distorting prices and encouraging over-production of certain crops, U.S. farm subsidies promote a petrochemical fertilizer intensive, monoculture, factory-farming way of life. In other words, farm subsidies played their small part in the BP Gulf oil disaster by furthering our dependance on oil.

Our farm subsidies are also against World Trade Organization rules but American Exceptionalism knows how to deal with that. In response to Brazil crying foul over American cotton subsidies, our government decided to subsidize Brazilian cotton-growers to the tune of a ½ billion rather than take our cotton industry off the dole.

U.S. farm subsidies are sickening, figuratively and literally. Your government is trying to kill you through corporate welfare.

End farm subsidies now.

Written by fubarnation

September 18, 2010 at 5:54 pm

Posted in Uncategorized