All posts by Richmond Shreve

Believe in Free enterprise?

I’m a capitalist. I believe in free enterprise and I respect entrepreneurs who risk everything, confident they can build a thriving business because they believe they have something valuable to offer the rest of us.

But, I think that a person should always be willing to reassess how their beliefs serve them. My belief in free enterprise is no exception. Too much that’s going wrong in the world is driven by narrow business interests that conflict with the common good and public wellfare.

Jim Hightower thinks so too. He attacks Monopoly Power in his October pamphlet The Hightower Lowdown.

Continue reading Believe in Free enterprise?

Conflict Entrepreneurs

“Let’s you and him fight!”

That’s the mantra. Some people enjoy the drama they cause by triggering a confrontation and fueling the configuration. It’s akin to being an arsonist – a social arsonist. The result can be devastating to any community of shared interest.

Karen Tibbals names this destructive game in her current blog post:

I’m seeing a lot of this in the political mail I get from the GOP. Half truths and outright lies are employed to fuel outrage and villify the motives of the Democrats and all those who criticize Republicans.

It’s particularly distressing that these tactics attack proposals and policies that have socially desirable reforms such as stopping tax fraud and closing loopholes. The GOP attack on reforms that would allow the IRS to spot high dollar tax evasion and enforce the law earned three Pinocchios from the Washington Post’s fact-checkers.

“Disinformation is how you transform democracy. This is death by a thousand cuts.”

– Maria Ressa, journalist & 2021 Nobel Peace Prize winner

Nonetheless, Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA), restates the falsehood in his current email blast, the theme of which is to denigrate Democrats and exalt Republicans as virtuous defenders of truth, freedom, and the American way. Never mind the GOP’s determined efforts to stonewall voting rights or the investigation of the instigators of the January 6th insurrection.

Toomey

750 A Day Dead

They waited too long. They believed the wrong people. They didn’t take it seriously. They exercised their right to be wrong. They procrastinated.

And then they died!

Ninety thousand (90,000) over four months, that is the estimate of how many have suffered needlessly and died horribly because they didn’t get a Covid-19 vaccination.

 Approximately 90,000 covid-19 deaths could have been avoided over four months of this year if more U.S. adults had chosen to be vaccinated, according to a study published Wednesday, as the disease caused by the coronavirus became the second-leading cause of death in the United States.

The estimate by researchers backed by the Peterson Center on Healthcare and the Kaiser Family Foundation focused on deaths of U.S. adults from June 2021 — when the report says coronavirus vaccines became widely available to the general public — through September.

But around half of those preventable deaths occurred in September because of the spread of the more contagious delta variant, easing of social distancing rules, and the lower vaccination rate among younger adults, according to the study.

In September, covid-19 was the leading cause of death for adults ages 35 to 54, while it was the second-most common reason for mortality among the larger population, even when including data for children under 15, the study showed.

“The overwhelming majority of covid-19 hospitalizations and deaths continue to be preventable,” the authors said.

  During the January-February period, the worst days of the pandemic so far in terms of the number of fatalities, covid-19 was the most common cause of death for Americans, the study showed, surpassing the usual culprit — heart disease — during that period.

Washington Post Oct. 14, 2021

750 a day is tragic. And then there is the collateral damage of spreading the curse of Covid-19 to those they love and to others close enough to share a few of their final breaths.

The GOP’s Moment of Truth

Sometimes things have to go very wrong before they come back right. I hope we have reached the moment when rational Republicans decide to sink the extremist wing of their party instead of riding it to power and scuttling the democracy they have sworn to serve virtually every time they were installed in an official position.

Heather Cox Richardson gives an excellent summary of what is now going public about GOP loyalists having a moment of truth, an opportunity to change course and purge their party of its cancerous extremism.

October-11-2021-by-Heather-Cox-Richardson-Letters-from-an-American

HCR’s article has links to other current articles. If you have strong feelings about democracy, now would be an excellent time to make them clear to the Republican elected officials in your district.

And vote your conscience at this and every election going forward.

A Poet?

Last month I was honored that my poem Patina was published in the Pennswood Village Voices. This particular edition was the first all-poetry issue. Previous issues are devoted to a mixture of memoir, short fiction, and poetry. Our community includes many academics and professionals whose work has been published commercially, so I am particularly pleased that I made the cut.

VV210925

Mint the Coin

Various writers, tongue-in-cheek, have urged that the Treasury Secretary mint a one trillion dollar coin and use it to buy back debt. This would resolve the debt ceiling crisis.

Whoa!, you say. If they just print more money, won’t that cause inflation? Maybe not. Money is created and destroyed all the time. Your bank routinely makes loans it doesn’t have the funds to cover. It is not required to have deposits equal to its loans. When the market price of housing, soybeans, or General Motors stock fluctuates, money is created or destroyed.

In its essence, money is only a promise to pay. We rely on the Federal Reserve to impose monetary policies that keep us as close to 2% annual inflation as they can. It’s an art, not a science.

The unknown is whether minting the coin would alter the world’s faith in our promise to repay.

There is little question that failure to raise the debt ceiling would cause the US to default on its existing debt. This would certainly shake faith in our monetary promises because we would be breaking them. So maybe the risk of minting the coin is small relative to the alternative of certain default.

Here’s my suggestion. Let’s mint eight of those $1T coins. Put Mitch McConnell’s likeness on one side and the GOP elephant on the obverse. Use them one at a time during Biden’s presidency to pay down the deficit and keep the economy rolling. Why eight coins? That’s about equal to the record-setting deficit that accrued under #45’s four-year term. So, it would be bold political theater to remind us all that the GOP is not fiscally more responsible than the Dems. Quite the opposite – they are willing to scuttle the economy and throw us into recession to game the political system.

https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/09/debt-ceiling-mint-the-coin-explained.html
Krugman joins the fray!https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/01/opinion/biden-coin-democrat-republican-debt-limit.html
https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2021/10/05/trillion-dollar-coin-faq/
https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2021/10/05/trillion-dollar-coin-faq/

News We Trust

How to know what information is trustworthy has grown in importance since Sue Mehrtens and I wrote our books on the topic. Political propaganda is now openly fostered. It’s not just spin, it is deliberate campaigns of tactical disinformation that target vulnerable groups in our electorate.

The national media also skews left or right to segment the market for their “product” — the shows that command big advertising revenues. Regrettably, journalistic integrity suffers.

On Tuesday, September 28, I hosted a panel of local journalists who spoke about how they know the truth. I was expecting to get stories about tells of the sort that poker players look for. You know, a nervous flutter of the eyelids, the use of phrases like “let me be perfectly clear,” and such.

I got much more. The three journalists spoke candidly about how very hard it is to get to the truth, and what it costs them in emotional energy and stress. I’m sharing the video here because I think you will find it both inspiring and reassuring to know that local news has people of this level of integrity.

Subscribe to a local paper, contribute to public radio and TV, donate to organizations that do investigative reporting without political motive — in doing so, you defend democracy and the independence of the working press.