Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Socialism's Purpose

Two New National Polls Show Clinton Leading Trump

These polls are:

Public Policy Polling survey done between August 26th and 28th of a random national sample of 881 likely voters, with a margin of error of 3.3 points.

NBC News Poll done between August 22nd and 28th of a national sample of 24,104 adults, with a margin of error of 1 point.

Reaction From The Racist Right

Political Cartoon is by Clay Jones at

The U.S. Has Met Its Quota Of 10,000 Syrian Refugees

(This photo of Syrian refugees is from

Last September, President Obama promised that the United States would accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. That was a rather pathetic goal, since those refugees were created in large part because of American foreign policy and military actions -- but at least we have achieved the goal. White House advisors said the 10,000th Syrian refugee arrived in the U.S. yesterday. About 80% of the arriving refugees have been women and children.

The four states receiving the most refugees from Syria are California, Michigan, Arizona, and Texas. Those last three states all have Republican governors who had declared they would not let the Syrian refugees into their state. Of course, that was nothing but political theater. Those governors knew they did not have the authority to do such a ridiculous thing. They were just playing to the teabaggers that elected them.

Even though the United States has accepted only a fraction of the number of Syrian refugees that other Western nations have admitted, it has been a controversy in this country. That's because the the Republicans (and their presidential candidate) have opted to base their campaigns on fear by trying to demonize the refugees. They claim the United States doesn't have a good vetting process in place to insure the refugees are not terrorists. That is just not true.

Here is the very tough vetting process a refugee must go through before entering the U.S.:

Not Racist ?

Political Cartoon is by Pat Bagley in the Salt Lake Tribune.

The Case For A Guaranteed National Income In The U.S.

The following is an article by Paul Buchheit (pictured) at Common Dreams:

We'll have to do something drastically different to employ people in the future. Our jobs are disappearing. The driverless vehicle is here, destined to eliminate millions of transport and taxi-driving positions. Car manufacturing is being done by 3-D printing. An entire buildingwas erected in Dubai with a 3-D printer. Restaurants are being designed with no waitstaff or busboys, hotels with no desk clerks, bellhops, and porters. Robot teachers are interacting with students in Japan and the UK. 

There are plenty of naysayers and skeptics, of course. The Atlantic proclaimed, "The job market defied doomsayers in those earlier times, and according to the most frequently reported jobs numbers, it has so far done the same in our own time." But this is a different time, with no guarantees of job revolutions, and in fact a time of unprecedented machine intelligence that threatens the livelihoods even of doctors, teachers, accountants, architects, the clergy, consultants, and lawyers

Most of our new jobs are in service industries, including retail and personal health care and food service. The only one of the eight fastest-growing occupations that pays over $33,000 per year is nursing -- and even nursing may give way to Robotic Nurse Assistants. The evidence for downsized jobs keeps accumulating. A US Mayors study found that 'recovery' jobs pay 23 percent less than the positions they replaced. The National Employment Law Project estimates that low-wage jobs accounted for 22 percent of job losses but 44 percent of subsequent job gains. Business InsiderHuffington Post, and the Wall Street Journal all concur: the unemployment rate is remaining low because of low-paying jobs.

We're fooling ourselves by believing in a future with satisfying middle-class jobs for millions of Americans. It's becoming clear that income should be guaranteed, so that recipients have the wherewithal and incentive and confidence to find productive ways to serve society. 

Evidence from Research 

Credible research overwhelmingly supports the concept. A World Bank analysis of 19 studies found that cash transfers have been demonstrated to improve education and health outcomes and alleviate poverty...concerns about the use of cash transfers for alcohol and tobacco consumption are unfounded. An MIT/Harvard analysis of seven cash transfer trials found "no systematic evidence that cash transfer programs discourage work." The Brooks World Poverty Institute found that money transfers to the poor are used primarily for basic needsBasic Incomes have been shown to lead to reductions in crime and inequality and malnutrition and infant mortality. 

Successes in North America 

One of the earliest experiments with guaranteed incomes was the "Mincome" (minimum income) program conducted in the town of Dauphin, Manitoba during the 1970s. The results were never made clear, partly because of a change to a more conservative government, which put the program's records in storage, unevaluated. One study, however, found improved health outcomes for the recipients of the basic income payments. 

In the U.S., the Alaska Permanent Fund has thrived for 35 years, even with anti-socialist conservatives in power. Texas has long employed a "Permanent School Fund" to distribute funds from mineral rights to the public education system. Wyoming has used a similar "Mineral Trust Fund" to help eliminate state income taxes. Nebraska distributes low-cost electricity from a publicly owned utility. Oregon has used the proceeds from wind energy to return hundreds of dollars to households. Vermont has proposed "Common Assets Trust" to raise money from taxes on pollution and pay dividends to residents. A pilot basic income experiment is set to begin in Oakland

Numerous Native American communities have instituted guaranteed income programs, both in the form of shared benefits from casinos and as "land trusts," which recognize the common ownership of natural resources. Notably, according to a Duke University analysis, the establishment of the Eastern Cherokee Indian Land Trust has resulted in fewer behavioral and emotional problems among the community's children, relative to neighboring communities. In adulthood, recipients had less depression, anxiety, and alcohol dependence. 

Even the concept of providing grants to homeless people seems to work. In both Utah and California, trial programs have led to stable living conditions for dozens of formerly homeless people, with few conflicts or behavioral issues within the communities, and at a significantly lower cost than the alternative of temporary shelters -- especially if people without homes are given jobs, as in a new program in Albuquerque. 

Successes in Europe 

A 2005 program in Britain added support to the argument that the reduction of poverty promotes family stability, rather than the other way around. Efforts to increase family income, especially through work opportunities, resulted in "sharp and sustained decreases in material hardship for the most vulnerable families," and, in the cases of households with children, more spending on family needs and less on alcohol and tobacco. A broader studyof 18 European countries found "increasing employment commitment as social spending gets more generous" -- in other words, dividend payments encourage people to work harder, rather than the other way around. Now Finland is readying a wide-scale guaranteed income program, and cities in the Netherlands are preparing similar experiments with such "basic income" payments. Despite an initial rejection of a basic income proposal, citizens of Switzerland continue to advocate for a Guaranteed Income plan that would provide $2,600 a month tax-free to every adult, and $650 to each child. 

Successes in Africa 

A program in Uganda followed young people who were given cash grants with twice the typical annual income. After four years most had invested their earnings in vocations, causing their earnings to rise by 40 percent or more, an outcome that generally lasted well beyond the four-year study period. Women overall earned more than men. As summarized by the authors of the study, "The grants are typically invested and yield high returns...even among poor, unemployed and relatively uneducated women." 

In Namibia, a two-year program yielded remarkable results, reducing poverty from 76% to 16%, child malnutrition from 42% to 10%, and school dropout rates from 40% to almost zero. A Unicef-funded study in India recorded the same positive health effects, with particularly noticeable improvements among the disabled population. 

The charity Give Directly, which has been highly rated by the charity research organization GiveWell, provided cash transfers to poor rural households in Kenya. Results showed increased spending on food, medical needs, and education, with very little used for alcohol and tobacco, and with similar outcomes for both males and females. According to the authors of the study, "Transfer recipients experience large increases in psychological well-being." 

Almost Everyone Likes the Idea 

The Guaranteed Income concept is not a left-right issue, it is not welfare for the poor or the rich, it is not blessing or bane to any exclusive segment of America. Whereas liberals see it as a means of lifting millions of Americans out of poverty, many conservatives and libertarians endorse it as a means of decreasing government intervention and promoting individual choice in spending decisions. Individuals as diverse as Milton Friedman, Martin Luther King, and Charles Murray have all promoted the concept. 

Guaranteed Jobs 

Perhaps most importantly, a guaranteed income could relieve some of the pressure on our newest generation of young adults, who are deep in debt, underemployed, increasingly unable to live on their own, and ill-positioned to take the entrepreneurial chances that are needed to spur innovative business growth. A recent Gallup poll found that nearly 70% of workers don't feel 'engaged' (enthusiastic and committed) in their jobs. A guaranteed income will offer young people the freedom to choose appealing work. No other group of Americans could make better use of an immediate boost in income. 

Paying For It? 

Several ways have already been suggested, and the extended list, detailed at You Deserve Facts, includes: 
  • Collecting from Corporate Tax Avoiders
  • Collecting from Individual Tax Avoiders
  • Financial Speculation Tax
  • Military Cuts
  • Progressive Income Tax
  • The Reduction of Regressive Taxes
  • Wealth Tax
  • Carbon Tax
  • Land Tax
  • Patent Reform
  • Share of the Research Benefits
  • Safety Net Savings

Strange Support

Political Cartoon is by John Branch at

Don't Like The Minimum Wage ?

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Liberal Contributions

Newest National Poll Has Clinton With A Seven Point Lead

These are the results of the new Monmouth University Poll -- done between August 25th and 28th of a random national sample of 802 registered voters, with a margin of error of 3.5 points. It shows Hillary Clinton currently enjoys a 7 point lead over Donald Trump.


Political Cartoon is by Andy Marlette in the Pensacola News-Journal.

Obamacare Has Reduced The % Of Uninsured To 10.8%

The Republicans, and their current presidential candidate (Donald Trump), continue to claim that the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) has been a failure. As the chart above shows, that claim is ludicrous.

Before Obamacare went into effect in 2014, about 17.3% of all Americans had no health insurance -- and many more had insurance plans that were grossly inadequate. Now all insurance plans must have a level of coverage that protects the insured, and the number of uninsured Americans has dropped to 10.8% in 2016. That means about 20 million Americans have insurance now over the number who had it in 2013. Those 20 million now have access to life-saving preventive care.

Obviously, Obamacare has been a big success. However, that does not mean it is perfect. That 10.8% who still don't have health insurance is unacceptable. In the richest country in the world -- the country that spends more on health care per capita than any other nation -- no citizen should be without health insurance. No other developed nation has over 10% of its population without health coverage. They cover all their citizens, and there's no reason why the United States shouldn't do the same.

No reason except that the Republicans refuse to recognize adequate health care as a right of all citizens. They have tried over 50 times to repeal Obamacare, without proposing any sensible plan to replace it -- and their presidential candidate has promised to repeal Obamacare if elected. Their actions have shown that they simply don't care about the health of Americans. That's demonstrated in the Republican-controlled states that still refuse to expand Medicaid (an action that would reduce the number of uninsured significantly below the current 10.8%).

On the other hand, Hillary Clinton and the Democrats want to improve Obamacare. They want to cover all Americans with health care, while reducing the cost of drugs and medical care. They know that Obamacare was just the first step toward better health care for Americans.

This is just one more reason why Democrats must be elected up and down the ballot in the coming election.

The above chart is from a recently released Gallup Poll -- done between January 2008 and July 2016 of a random national sample of 2,415,499 adults, with a margin of error of only 0.08 points.

Radical Fringe

Political Cartoon is by Stuart Carlson at

Another Poll Shows Arizona Is In Play This Year

Arizona is normally a safe state for Republican presidential candidates, but this year is different. A couple of polls recently have indicated that the Democratic candidate could actually carry Arizona in the November election. Now another poll shows the state is very close.

The poll is the OH Predictive Insights Poll -- done between August 25th and 27th of a random sample of 728 likely Arizona voters, with a margin of error of 3.63 points. The survey has Clinton with a 1 point lead over Trump -- well within the poll's margin of error. That means this poll thinks the presidential race is a dead heat in Arizona right now.

Summer Vacation Update

Political Cartoon is by Steve Sack in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

Clinton And Trump Supporters Are Angry At Different Entities

Supporters of both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are equally angry with the U.S. Congress (82%). That's no surprise, since poll after poll has shown that Republicans, Democrats, and Independents all have a very unfavorable opinion of this Congress.

But when you shift the view away from Congress to other entities, the Clinton and Trump supporters have very different views. A whopping 96% of Trump supporters are angry with the federal government in general, but only 36% of Clinton supporters have that same anger.

The views are reversed when it comes to corporations. About 70% of Clinton supporters are angry at the giant corporations, while only 36% of Trump supporters share that anger.

This makes sense, since Clinton and the Democrats want to give the government more power to regulate and tax corporations, and Trump and Republicans want to give corporations more power to act without government regulation or taxation.

The chart above represents the results of a new Rasmussen Poll -- done on August 23rd and 24th of a random national sample of 1,000 likely voters, with a margin of error of 3 points.

Could We Be That Lucky ?

Political Cartoon is by Rob Rogers in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Clinton Releases A Comprehensive Plan For Mental Health

(This caricature of Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine is by DonkeyHotey.)

While Donald Trump still campaigns on his plan to divide Americans, Hillary Clinton (and Tim Kaine) continue to campaign on how to make life better for all Americans. Toward that end, Clinton has now released a comprehensive plan to insure the mental health of Americans. Here is what she wants to do:

Hillary Clinton announced her comprehensive plan to support Americans living with mental health problems and illnesses—by integrating our healthcare systems and finally putting the treatment of mental health on par with that of physical health. Nearly a fifth of all adults in the United States, more than 40 million people, are coping with a mental health problem.[1] Close to 14 million people live with a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.[2] Moreover, many of these individuals have additional complicating life circumstances, such as drug or alcohol addiction, homelessness, or involvement with the criminal justice system.[3] Veterans are in acute need of mental health care, with close to 20% of those returning from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars experiencing post-traumatic stress or depression.[4] And the problem is not limited to adults: an estimated 17 million children in the United States experience mental health problems,[5] as do one in four college students.[6]

Americans with mental health conditions and their families need our support. The economic impact of mental illness is enormous –at nearly $200 billion per year nationwide in lost earnings[7] —and the human cost is worse. Too many Americans are being left to face mental health problems on their own, and too many individuals are dying prematurely from associated health conditions. We must do better. To date in this campaign, Hillary set out policies that will direct support to individuals with mental health problems and their families—including a detailed agenda to support military service members and veterans, an initiative to end America’s epidemic of drug and alcohol addiction, and a robust caregivers’ agenda. Today, she is building on those proposals with a comprehensive agenda on mental health. Hillary’s plan will:
  • Promote early diagnosis and intervention, including launching a national initiative for suicide prevention.
  • Integrate our nation’s mental and physical health care systems so that health care delivery focuses on the “whole person,” and significantly enhance community-based treatment
  • Improve criminal justice outcomes by training law enforcement officers in crisis intervention, and prioritizing treatment over jail for non-violent, low-level offenders.
  • Enforce mental health parity to the full extent of the law.
  • Improve access to housing and job opportunities.
  • Invest in brain and behavioral research and developing safe and effective treatments.
As a down-payment on this agenda, Hillary will convene a White House Conference on Mental Health during her first year as President. Her goal is that within her time in office, Americans will no longer separate mental health from physical health when it comes to access to care or quality of treatment. The next generation must grow up knowing that mental health is a key component of overall health and there is no shame, stigma, or barriers to seeking out care.

To read a more comprehensive discussion of each of the bullet points above, you can go here.

Fracking Hypocrisy

Political Cartoon is by Mike Stanfill at

White Supremacy

Monday, August 29, 2016

The Perfect Dictatorship

Presidential Support Among Religious Groups In The U.S.

The chart was made from results of a new Public Religion Research Institute Survey. The survey was done between August 10th and 16th of a random national sample of 2,014 adults, and has a margin of error of 2.6 points.

It shows Hillary Clinton with a substantial 13 point lead over Donald Trump. Trump does have a 39 point lead over Clinton among white evangelicals and a 10 point lead among white mainline protestants. But Clinton overcomes that with an 87 point lead among Black protestants, a 23 point lead among catholics, and a 31 point lead among the unaffiliated (the largest group).

At The Mercy Of Big Pharma

Political Cartoon is by Mike Luckovich in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Republicans Are Still Telling Lies About Social Security

The Republican Party officials have never liked Social Security. They voted against it when it was first proposed and passed, and they have been trying to destroy it ever since. As late as the Bush administration, they have tried to do away with Social Security -- and Bush wanted to replace it with a system of private investments (which would leave seniors at the mercy of the Stock Market, and allow Wall Street to make a fortune off of it).  Speaker Ryan's latest budget proposals would do the same.

To accomplish this, the Republicans have been spreading a series of lies about the Social Security program. The most popular of their lies are that Social Security is going broke and is unsustainable, and that it will be bankrupt before young people are old enough to collect it. Donald Trump recently has added a new lie -- that undocumented immigrants are collecting Social Security. Just another attempt to demonize the Social Security Administration.

The truth is that Social Security is not broke. It has enough money to pay full benefits for another 20 years. It is also NOT going bankrupt. Even after the 20 year period, it will have the money to pay at least 80% of full benefits far into the future. It does have a small funding program though, since it should pay full benefits far into the future. Millions of seniors struggle to live on the full benefit they receive, and could not afford a 20% cut to that benefit. And undocumented immigrants do NOT collect any Social Security benefit.

The Republicans say they have a solution -- to cut benefits now and raise the retirement age. Both would put a terrible burden on seniors. Too many need every penny they currently get -- and those who do hard labor all their lives cannot afford to have the age requirement raised.

There is a simple solution though. Currently, Social Security taxes (commonly called payroll taxes) are only paid on the first $118,500 of yearly income. Any income above that is not taxed at all. That means that those who make $118,500 a year, or less, pay the full 6.2% tax on their income, while those making more than that pay a much smaller percentage of their income. Is that fair? Shouldn't the rich pay the same percentage as the working poor? If the income cap was raised (or even eliminated), Social Security could pay full benefits (and even enhance those benefits) far into the future.

Don't believe the Republican lies. They are just trying to make sure their rich friends don't have to pay their fair share in Social Security taxes -- or any other taxes either for that matter.


Political Cartoon is by Steve Sack in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

Opposition To Same-Sex Marriage Falls Among Religious

It seems that the U.S. really is becoming more receptive to equal rights for all. These charts were made from a new Public Religion Research Institute Survey -- done between August 10th and 16th of a random national sample of 2,014 adults, with a 2.6 point margin of error.

The top chart shows that the support for legal same-sex marriage is growing -- from 48% in 2011 to 62% in 2016. It has enjoyed majority support since 2013 (52%).

Even better is the news that religious opposition is falling among all religious groups (see middle chart). Even the white evangelicals, who had the highest percentage of opposition, is starting to come around. In 2003, 84% of white evangelicals said same-sex marriage conflicted with their religious views. Now only 71% say that -- a substantial 13 point drop. That drop is also similar in other religious groups (and among the general population).

Regardless of their view on same-sex marriage, it looks like the general public and nearly all religious groups don't want businesses discriminating against the LGBT community (for religious reasons). Only one group, the white evangelicals, say otherwise (49% supporting discrimination and 45% opposing it), and even among them it is not a clear majority.

I found this survey encouraging, because it shows that progress is being made toward a country with equal rights for everyone.

Alt-Right Dream

Political Cartoon is by Clay Bennett in the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

The "Orange Menace" Is Misusing His Campaign Donations

(The image above is by DonkeyHotey.)

From the Daily News Bin:

August 24, 2016

This week’s new Federal Election Commission disclosures have revealed that Donald Trump has been using a variety of creative tactics to funnel his campaign’s donations into his own pocket which have violated the spirit of the law. For instance he keeps raising the rent he charges his campaign for its office space at Trump Tower. But it turns out he also used the Republican National Convention to funnel money to himself in a way which has violated the letter of the law – and now he’s busted.

Even though by some estimates Donald Trump has funneled as much as$8 million in donations to himself through various quasi-legal methods, it turns out to be a fairly small amount of money that may take him down. Trump gave out thousands of copies of his own book to Republican Convention attendees, and then he used campaign money to pay $55,055 to Barnes & Noble to cover the cost of the books. But because Trump makes royalties on that book, his use of campaign funds to buy those books was strictly illegal.

And so even as Trump has bilked his campaign donors into giving him millions of dollars that he’s funneled to himself for everything from fuel his private jet, to inexplicably diverting campaign funds to his own golf courses, it appears that a technicality over a mere $55,055 may be what has finally tripped him up. 

Outreach Or Flim-Flam ?

Political Cartoon is by John Cole in the Scranton Times-Tribune.

Racism - Pernicious And Pervasive

Sunday, August 28, 2016


Our Treasure Turns 100

Political Cartoon is by Pat Bagley in the Salt Lake Tribune.

New Poll Shows What A Strange Election We're Having

All of the charts in this post represent the results of the newest Economist / YouGov Poll. It was done between August 19th and 23rd of a random national sample of 1,300 voters, and has a margin of error of 4 points.

I think the three charts above show what a strange and unusual election we're having this year. To start with, both of the major presidential candidates have a majority unfavorable rating -- with Clinton viewed unfavorably by 53% and Trump viewed unfavorably by 62%.

It gets even crazier when you look at the middle chart above. It seems that a sizable portion of the population actually believes either Clinton or Trump is "evil" -- with 38% saying that about Clinton and 39% saying that about Trump. Frankly, I don't remember an election in which so many people were willing to put the "evil" label on a candidate.

The third chart above shows the percentage that say they could NEVER vote for Trump or Clinton. About 50% say they could never vote for Trump and 47% say the same about Clinton. If this is true, then it doesn't look like there will be the winning candidate with a runaway popular vote (although there could be a substantial margin in the electoral college).

We still have about 10 weeks until the 2016 presidential election, but looking at the charts above, I'm not sure the margins will change very much before we vote. People seem to have a pretty substantial dislike of one candidate or the other, and have already decided who they will vote for. This is not good for Trump, who is trailing in all the polls.

The chart below shows the current support for Clinton and Trump from this YouGov Poll.

Uncaring Care

Political cartoon is by Pat Bagley in the Salt Lake Tribune.

Libertarian And Green Parties Are Not On All 50 State Ballots

There a sizable chunk of Republicans that don't like Donald Trump, and some Sanders supporters that don't want to support Hillary Clinton. Some of these people, who voted in the Republican or Democratic primaries, are now saying they might vote for a third party candidate -- either Jill Stein of the Green Party, or Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party.

But they might be disappointed when they see their ballot. That's because those two parties, while the largest of the third parties, are not on the ballot in all 50 states. They are still trying to get on all state ballots, but it is unlikely they'll be able to do so (and neither party was on all 50 state ballots back in 2012 either).

Currently Jill Stein of the Green Party is on the ballot in only 35 states plus the District of Columbia (representing about 425 electoral votes). Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party is doing a little better, being on the ballot in 43 states plus the District of Columbia. That means voters in 15 states would not be able to vote for Stein, while voters in 7 states would not be able to vote for Johnson.

There's only about 10 weeks left until the election, and states are starting to close ballot access and finalize those ballots. I doubt that either the Greens or the Libertarians will be able to improve their current positions very much.