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The Parable of the Orange

The Parable of the Orange

Heated political arguments are common in a democracy, but there’s something unique about our present situation. For all our wrangling, we have achieved precious little comprehension of opposing positions. Our discussions seem to bog down into insults, in which no commonality of facts, much less values, can be established. Sometimes, distant opinions are best understood indirectly, through allegory or metaphor.

Consider this scenario. My religion states clearly that oranges are a symbol of evil which should neither be eaten nor displayed. Your religion is based on the orange, using it in prayer, worship, and holiday feasts.

I insist that government act to ban the sale of oranges and prevent them from appearing in schoolbooks. You want schoolchildren to celebrate an orange-themed holiday and for oranges to be distributed to the public for free. Who wins?

Answers vary, but consider this possibility. There are far more adherents of my religion than yours. After a period of some contention, an order develops in which my values become the default national standard, but yours are “tolerated.” In enclaves of your faith, oranges may be sold and eaten, though not in public. Oranges may not appear on television. Across the country, outside your few neighborhoods, an orangeless society prevails. Orange-eaters are greeted with suspicion, derision, and occasional violence.

Over time your orange-eating people congregate in cities where your peculiar practices can go mostly unnoticed by the wider population. You are gradually joined by other groups with their own practices, all mingling while also protecting their unique identities. Those cities develop an intellectual and cultural dynamism not seen elsewhere under the stultifying rigidity of a softly, but relentlessly-enforced majority culture.

That cultural dynamism quietly feeds an economic dynamism. Tolerance and diversity in culture fosters tolerance and diversity in ideas. Openness to ideas means openness to risk, luring entrepreneurs, thinkers, and investors to these hothouses of experimentation and freedom. Economic growth eventually reaches a tipping point, creating a powerful economic engine. Almost anyone who wants to participate in the booming wealth of the country must make their peace in some manner with these culturally complex cities.

A powerful pull of opportunity draws the most promising young from around the country to these places. In the urban cultural cauldron, a new agreed order must develop. Unable to lean on a shared religion or culture, common public standards evolve based on empirical facts rather than shared traditions. Surviving in that order means living under the anxious energy of relentless ambiguity, tolerance, and empathy. Unconsidered assumptions about the nature of the world become troublesome baggage.

Through the lens of empirical facts, the advantages of oranges are immediately apparent. Older prohibitions become quaint. Armed with an education and loosened from their attachment to tradition and religion, otherwise decent, pious young people experience oranges.

Folks back home; parents, cousins, aunts and uncles, see pictures of the young people they raised living in these cities and eating the evil fruit. Media emanating from those morally compromised culture centers drop their prohibition on broadcasting scenes involving oranges. Young people bring oranges home on visits in an outrageous insult to tradition. Children raised in those environments grow up eating oranges, to the mixed horror and envy of their cousins in smaller towns, the “real” areas where the most virtuous people live.

Urban elites describe the scriptural prohibition of oranges as a mere metaphor, symbolic at best, not to be taken seriously. Scurvy sores, once revered as a symbol of piety, become an object of ridicule.

Moving to the cities to participate in the economic life of the country comes to involve far more than a cost burden. Cultural obstacles are daunting. Companies and social institutions in those cities have entirely abandoned the quaint, pious habits of the old ways. Merely getting a job in one of those places would expose a person to oranges at every turn. Cultural piety develops into an economic and even educational burden, breeding resentment among those still attached to tradition.

Urban dwellers who have abandoned tradition grow healthier, wealthier, freer and more sophisticated while conditions in the more conservative countryside deteriorate. Eaters of oranges see themselves as open-minded, tolerant, and inclusive. They see the opportunity and prosperity they enjoy as freely available to everyone who wants to experience it. They fail to recognize the quiet, painful cultural obstacles that keep their country cousins isolated from emerging opportunities. In the countryside, these “open-minded” elites are seen as snobbish and condescending, out of touch with realities for real folk. City-dwellers are often willing to accommodate the religious needs of orangehaters, but the pious are not looking to be tolerated. For generations, their values have been the de facto national identity. They want their identity restored to its rightful dominance.

Those country cousins find a leader who promises to restore their power. He hails their resistance to empirical knowledge in favor of traditions – the superior truth of faith and culture and race. He celebrates their scurvy and promises to return their influence. Everyone knows he eats oranges. There are pictures of him eating oranges. Yet he presents himself as the grand champion of ‘The People,’ that pious majority who abstain from the corrupted fruit.

City dwellers point to the broad freedom and prosperity brought by their order. The orange-haters insist that the numbers are rigged. Facts are just another way for the corrupted to lie. Their suffering is beyond measurement, beyond empiricism. Their injured self-image is a reality that can’t be mitigated by GDP or employment figures.

As long as they can muster the numbers to win elections, the good, pious folk, the true “people,” have the chance to rid their country of the dreaded, debased orange. Those with the temerity to eat it in public will face wrath and intimidation. It will be stripped from school curriculum, removed from public media.

This will be a contest of money, power, education, and sophistication versus pure outraged numbers. Everything about this contest weakens and impoverishes the country, including those pious devotees who press the battle, but they don’t care. It isn’t about money. It isn’t about what’s best for the country in any measurable way. It isn’t about scurvy. They are fighting to restore their dignity and the order of their values. They will happily dismantle the country itself for the chance to feel powerful and respected once more, lords of the ashes.

The smaller core of true believers cannot be persuaded. No scientific papers on the health, economic, or moral value of the orange will ever influence them. No reference to the number of jobs that depend on the orange will buy their acquiescence. Roused from passivity by the sight of the hated orange on TV or in movies, they will not relent to reason. If a tolerant, free, prosperous order based on facts will survive, it must fight. True believers must be exposed, isolated, separated from the marginal followers, and defeated.

It might end well. Some effort at understanding what drives this resistance might provide the key to defusing it. Or it might end with the prosperous, free urban centers overrun and repressed. From Renaissance Florence to Industrial Liverpool, urban diversity and runaway innovation often sparks retrograde resistance. Outcomes are never assured. Science, facts, and reason do not always win. A future based on science or scurvy hinges on our willingness to wage a winning fight.


  1. This little story is veeererrryy interesting:

    I am openly and unapologetically and starting to become actively involved in the resistance to Trump. To those who ask why I won’t “give him a chance” I say “Because he refuses to clean up his act (on multiple levels)”. I refuse to praise the emperor’s new clothes. But you Trump supporters/apologists/toleratetors ought to consider the implications of this story. IF it is true that the worst things said about Trump are coming from his own people and he’s just 1 week into his term, what does that say about his fitness for the job?

    1. The FACT that potus refused to release his tax returns, refused to put his assets in a blind trust, is breaking emolument laws right and left (contract on postal building, many many others), is openly flaunting his relationship with Putin and Russia, is so incredibly unpresidential in his tweets, comments, and shows so little interest or application to doing the study involved in developing good judgement as the nation’s leader, his personal history of adultery, vulgarity, and stiffing small contractors….Gosh, isn’t this enough?

    1. This text got my attention:

      “Although the more equal countries often get their greater equality through redistributive taxes and benefits and through a large welfare state, countries like Japan manage to achieve low levels of inequality before taxes and benefits. Japanese differences in gross earnings (before taxes and benefits) are smaller, so there is less need for large-scale redistribution.”
      So I guess one way to solve inequality is to raise wages? I would support that. I would choose a higher minimum wage for work performed over a basic income just for existing.

      1. There are many people who are “not” working…( retired, seniors, disabled, haven’t been able to find work, or simply choose not to work), and it is not an insignificant number. The value of the basic income is that all people would receive the same stipend.

        I absolutely support raising the minimum wage in addition to the GBI because it is going to be a heavy lift politically to pass a GBI. We shouldn’t wait on this or hope it will happen. We have several states who passed increased minimum wages and I hope those results will spur more interest and support nation-wide. As long as Republicans rule, I doubt a GBI will pass unless it can be shown to reduce over all costs for a broad array of existing benefits.

    2. I could see how class warfare would lead to divisions and less trust between the haves and the have nots, and how the have nots would be adversely affected as a result, but I am wondering why the haves would also suffer? Does their depression and alcoholism result from guilt over having so much? Because they’re socially isolated? Because they fear the have nots?

      1. I also wonder . . . in societies with more equality, where does the power lie? Is income so equally distributed that power is also evenly distributed? Who do people look up to in the more equal societies? Members of certain professions, and not necessarily the wealthiest? Teachers, maybe?

      2. I don’t think it’s accurate to assume that the “haves” (whatever your definition…income, race, gender, education) suffer from increased alcoholism or depression as a result of their class status. In fact, their class insulates them from even knowing the problems “have nots” face. To be brutally frank, most white “haves” (not this writer) think the “have nots” are getting what they deserve and more. Medicaid free services, food stamps, welfare, etc.

        I learned something interesting (an aside but relevant to understanding how the “haves” insulate themselves from the have nots) and that is: “Texas, unlike other states, does not require an employer to have workers’ compensation coverage. Subscribing to workers’ compensation insurance puts a limit on the amount and type of compensation that an injured employee may receive – the limits are set in the law.” They don’t “have” (there’s that word again) to offer it in TX and when workers incur injuries on the job for a company that doesn’t offer WC, the only recourse they have is medicaid or personal insurance. There are lots of ways those who “have” benefit from depriving others….It’s not accidental, it’s a deliberate choice.

      3. Here in the US being self-sufficient, or at least the IDEA of being self-sufficient, is valued over all else, and not so much wealth, or any particular profession, which explains why the idea of dependency, or what APPEARS to be dependency, creates so much resentment within our society.

      4. I would have to know what Duncan meant by “healthy” before I could comment accurately, Tutta. If he means emotional health by virtue of being a person who has a clear and compassionate sense of their place in the world and that of the people he shares that world with, then I’m on board. If, he means that they are physically healthier in more of a socialized society then I would agree that when one is living in an unequal society, the well off may be vulnerable to the consequences of poverty, i.e., exposure to communicable illnesses, crime, violence. Maybe Duncan will weigh in with a little more explanation,

  2. In the past 48 hours the leader of the u.s has:

    1. Stated that america should have “taken the oil” from Iraq, and “maybe will get another chance”. BTW, that is considered a war crime by international laws.
    2. Told ABC reporter on national television that people that said that voter fraud was a lie are “fools”.
    3. Fired the opening salvo in a trade war with a country that does 593 billion in trade (2015 numbers) ), ostensibly as a “negotiation”.
    4. Has now made it clear that he plans with talking with the leader of russia (Saturday) before he talks with the leader of Germany.
    5. Wiped out 4 of the top people at the State dept.

    But hey, writing/phoning your congressperson, running email campaigns, and marching in the streets, that will make a real impact on a cabal who does the things I just listed.

    When Bannon today said “the media should just shut up”, that should have made it clear to all what kind of regime is in charge.

    Like I said in my last posts, which I was castigated for, there is only one option left, and we have come to that option real real fast. For those that think me crazy, watch for the first time there is a demonstration over a pipeline (looks like the aboriginals at Standing rock have asked the protestors to go home, so it won’t be there).

      1. You should read up on the Weather Underground and then get back to me on the success of resorting to violent tactics to make a point. They pretty much derailed the anti-war movement in the 60s. Nixon was later able to enlarge the war into Cambodia and Laos, with horrific consequences.

        Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

    1. This is a battle for hearts and minds, and won’t be won by resorting to violent tactics.

      Do you seriously think that MLK and Ghandi faced an easier road than we do?

      Tell me–which garnered more sympathy for the IRA: the bombings or the prison hunger strikes?

    2. Dinsdale – You are correct in all the horrible actions you cite. The idea of using violence to solve these problems is one that will cause more harm than good. There is not a single one of us who has a viable solution right now. I am not castigating you but cautioning you. I do not want to see Americans take up arms against one another. Think of how little provocation it would take to incite members of the KKK, bikers, alt-right and others who support Trump. That doesn’t mean we don’t stand up for our beliefs, but that we understand the situation before we engage. And yes, we are going to endure some horrible changes in democracy as we know it, but we have to fight back in a different way. Will it work? Maybe not. But I won’t advocate violence as a solution. This man is a democratically elected potus, as abominable as he is. EVERYONE who voted for him OWNS their decision and their vote. They have to live with that. WE have to live with him.

      I hope you will work through this time without resorting to violence, but within the constraints of law, it is your choice as to how to proceed.

    3. Dinsdale:

      violence committed by political groups works for the state. Violence committed against political groups works against the state.

      If violent resistance is what you seek, it’s not to throw Molotov cocktails, it’s to stand in the way of an armed advance.

      There is a lot of debate over whether ‘peaceful protest’ works. It does — when it’s in a place it doesn’t belong, saying things that shouldn’t be said aloud, and confronting people that shouldn’t be confronted.

      But violent protest never works.

  3. Two articles worthy of your time. The first illustrates how poor leadership filters down in red states. I posted a link earlier regarding constitutional issues raised by feds threatening to do same thing to mayors/states. In this case, it’s a governor against a local sheriff….in democratic Travis County. What’s interesting is that Mayor Sylvestor Turner made the same statement in behalf of Houston and so far, Abbott has been mum in regards to taking action against him.

    The second, well – you just can’t make this stuff up.

    1. Oh, this is sweet. HWNSNBS is threatening dems with a senate filibuster push if they don’t move on his remaining cabinet picks and if they stall his SCOTUS pick…

      Ha! Take That, Mitch! You were thinkin’ maybe you run the Senate? Heck, old oranges can sign EO with one hand and run the Senate with the other… out Ryan….you may be next!

      REALLY? Potus has been in office 6 days and he’s making threats about a delay in confirmations? Let’s see: Obama’s nominations were stalled by the dozens for lower court positions, various cabinet department heads, and, of course, ignored for almost a year for SC nominee Merrick Garland…..

      Cry me a river….

      1. Mary, I am curious. What is the procedure to remove a SC judge? Is there some way of removing this new appointee, say 4 years from now, if by some miracle democracy is restored? I realize the concept is draconian, because that would mean ANY existing judge could be removed.

        But does such a procedure exist?

      1. Speaking of honor and integrity. Senator Cruz’ name keeps turning up in some pretty dark corners. About the only thing I agree with the GOP on is their disgust for this man. Holier than thou, shame on you Sen. Cruz – AGAIN!

        “The day before Donald Trump’s inauguration, a new interfaith coalition of clergy announced their launch with a press conference urging the new president to designate the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization. Such a designation might allow the government to expand its surveillance and targeting of American Muslims. Earlier this week, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-FL) introduced legislation calling on the State Department to report to Congress on “the designation of the Muslim Brotherhood as a foreign terrorist organization.”

    1. The OUTRAGE!!! Oh, wait ….

      “The departures were discussed at State Department Thursday morning meetings and a statement said all politically-appointed officers were asked to submit letters of resignation by the outgoing administration of Democrat Barack Obama in coordination with Trump’s.

      … “This is not unusual, it’s not a mass protest or a show of indignation,” said one senior U.S. official.”

      1. I think you missed the part where these officials were people that have served Republicans and Democrats and for some reason they cannot serve this administration. It may not be an outrage but it sure is telling.

    1. Turtles, my main concern has always been the Supreme Court. I don’t like Trump personally, but Hillary was a horrible candidate in multiple ways and her election would have swung the Supreme Court in a liberal direction for decades to come.

      The Obama administration has failed my family and community.
      My sister has no health insurance because she can’t afford it. Her husband and children are covered through her husband’s job. Their combined income makes them ineligible for Medicaid by a few thousand dollars. She has to make a choice between having health insurance and buying food and clothes for her three kids. Where is the compassion for people in her situation?

      My husband and daughter both lost jobs. My husband was happy to take early retirement, but it was much harder for my daughter who had just bought a house.

      The area I live in has been hit hard economically. The Obama administration definitely contributed to the downturn with its focus on overregulation. At the same time, the EPA released millions of gallons of toxic sludge into one of our beautiful clear rivers.

      I can’t defend everything Trump does, but if he doesn’t screw things up as much as the previous administration did, I’ll be happy.

      1. ***My sister has no health insurance because she can’t afford it. Her husband and children are covered through her husband’s job. Their combined income makes them ineligible for Medicaid by a few thousand dollars. She has to make a choice between having health insurance and buying food and clothes for her three kids. Where is the compassion for people in her situation?***

        So, presumably you voted for Bernie Sanders, right?

        What on earth are you talking about? Nothing you said there makes the slightest sense in the real world. Out of pure, morbid curiosity, I am dying to know how a human mind synthesizes a pathway from the concerns and policies you just expressed to support for Donald Trump (or any other Republican who was won an election in the past 25 years). Apart from the nonsense about regulation you parroted, you just laid out the natural, best argument for rejecting the entire Republican Party, along with the moderates in the Democratic Party, in favor of a candidate from the Democratic left.

        Apparently, the Obama Administration failed your family by failing to enact single-payer health insurance and failing to strengthen the welfare state. That conclusion would make some sense. Is that where you’re going here.

        Has the whole world gone completely insane?

        Maybe it’s true that Bernie Sanders would have enjoyed more support in ’16 than Clinton. That may be the direction the whole country is headed once we’ve purged our bad tamale.

      2. It seems more and more clear every day that what I thought for decades was a national movement in favor of markets, trade and capitalism was never anything more than a white nationalist reaction to the civil rights movement. All the talk about trade and commerce and capitalism was just a temporary accident of the fact that this movement rose up inside the GOP. When push came to shove, that political bloc abandoned economic freedom and any other freedom in a heartbeat for a glimmer of a chance to shove their religion (in other words, their culture) down other people’s throats and protect the essential white character of the national order.

        Out there somewhere there’s a future President knitting together a nightmare appeal based on an enormous expansion of the welfare state, universal health care, a national religion, school prayer, a blanket federal abortion ban, a new national police force, and a de facto elimination of immigration. The Populasaurus rises. God help us.

      3. Chris, my sister was previously covered by her husband’s health insurance, but premiums for her coverage are now too expensive. Adding her to the policy would cost over $600 which they can’t afford.

        Unfortunately, their income places them in a place where the Affordable Care Act doesn’t make health care affordable. With all the extras a plan is supposed to cover, prices for even a basic plan is too expensive, and if she does develop a medical problem, she would still have to meet a high deductible and out of pocket bills typical of a catastrophic plan – which would actually be the best option for her if the premiums were affordable.

        Ironically, my sister said that if they made a few thousand dollars less, she would be able to qualify for Medicaid.

        She is among the millions who have been hurt not helped by the passage of the ACA.

      4. Stay with me here.

        First, how do you find a linkage between the ACA and premiums costing too much? To put it more directly, what would that policy have cost before the health care exchanges were available? And yes, I have an answer for you there…

        Second, can you describe for me how a Trump rather than a Clinton administration makes that situation better?

        Third, how exactly does the ACA, by failing to include your sister, make the situation worse than what existed before? If I follow you here, your only complaint is that someone else is getting something that isn’t available to her. In other words, the only failure of the ACA here is that it did not include a public option.

        Fourth, you know that Sanders and any other Democrat on the left of the party would have simply fixed that problem by giving everyone access to Medicare/caid, and enacting a small upper income tax increase (about 4%) to completely cover it. Am I wrong in starting to feel like Bernie Sanders might have actually beaten Donald Trump by winning support I never would have anticipated?

        I feel like I’m learning things here. Don’t like what I’m learning, but still…

      5. I have wondered that myself, Chris. Our son – a big Bernie supporter thinks he definitely would have been able to defeat HWNSNBS. Of course, that’s history.

        You make universal coverage sound like a negative. I don’t agree. I favor universal coverage funded by all with a VAT so that everyone contributes according to their means and everyone can participate regardless of means.

      6. Chris, my sister’s situation is one of the reasons why Hillary lost the Rust Belt. (Yes, I’ll admit Bernie and his socialist policies probably would have won.)

        People in the lower middle class have not seen their lives improve. Hillary provided no hope of anything changing.

        For people who are white and low income, they have the additional bonus of being labeled a racist by people like you if their situation sucks and they complain about it.

        My brother-in-law is a decent person, a great husband and father, a hard worker and intelligent. He does not have a college degree although my sister does. During the campaign, Democrats did nothing to win him over. In fact, he was placed in a category and derided as a racist, religious, uneducated white male.

        My sister would be in a category that the Hillary team wanted to woo, but she was insulted behalf of her husband. They completely alienated her.

        BTW, I’m still trying to figure out how you expect to gain voters by calling them racist on a constant basis.

        Bye, bye Rust Belt. The blue wall was pretty although imaginary.

      7. Chris, my sister’s situation is worse because her husband’s employer had always covered her along with her husband at a small cost. To cut expenses and meet requirements of the ACA many employers have stopped the spousal help given in the past. Other employees have had hours cut so the employer can meet ACA requirements regarding health care.

        My sister’s situation is a reason why I think that Obamacare should be completely repealed and replaced with something better and fairer.

      8. Nope. There is a logical problem here and we need to address it. You chose your sister’s situation as an example, so let’s stay there for a moment.

        Are you saying that her husband’s employer dropped her coverage b/c of the ACA? You switched from her situation to the Trump-infamous “many” in the middle of that explanation. That would be a VERY bold claim, something never before documented. It would, in fact, be explosive. It is hard to imagine how Trump or any of the other Republican contenders would have failed to raise this devastating flaw in the ACA in the campaign.

        In other words, it sounds like exactly the kind of fake-news manufactured claim that influenced the outcome of the election. That matters.

        It matters because some claims move people regardless whether they are credible. Some claims fail to move people even when are as obvious as the sunrise. These folks weren’t bothered by a racist, but they were willing to vote for a guy who will make that health insurance policy even less accessible than it is now without even feeling a blink of concern.

        What I’m getting here is not that Sanders might have won (these health care “concerns” sound like a distraction), but that lots of “nice” people have been waiting for decades for their chance to elect a cretin.

      9. You didn’t answer any of my questions. And to clarify, your sister and her husband sense that they are being called racists because they voted for a racist (I am inferring the voted for Trump, it was not expressly stated). In fact, they chose someone who campaigned as a Fascist and earned the endorsement of Neo Nazis and the KKK. Voting for Trump doesn’t exactly clear up that “misunderstanding,” now does it.

        Those questions are important. How does any of this have anything at all to do with voting for Trump rather than Clinton, or for that matter, Obama? Are you telling me that they would have voted for Sanders, who was very explicit about fixing that problem?

        Clinton also promised to fix it, by the way, but she was more cagey about it. She promised to create a public option and extend Medicare down to age 55. Not as radical as Sanders (she was trying to win votes from people like me and your sister), but she would have fixed the problem you describe.

      10. My niece and my daughter’s former husband both qualify for or get some subsidy help for insurance off of the ACA marketplace. Both are pretty radical right wing. I have talked to them and basically they are angry because they do not get health care for free. And are convinced that others (mainly of darker skin hue) are getting it for free. The man complains he has to pay a small penalty at income tax time for refusing to get health ins. he could afford. But has no problem showing up at the ER stiffing paying customers with his medical bills. The niece pays a little less than 900 per month for two adults, one over 50 and one child. Insist that she gets no subsidy and would of paid much less before the ACA. Sad fact is most of the white working class has no problem with the welfare state as long as they get cut in and someone else pays. My former employer still subsidizes my health care. I pay only about 1/4 of the true cost. Trying not to be a hypocrite. I believe in both capitalism and socialism. Health societies and economics always have both. We do not have to reinvent the wheel of health care. Other countries already have tried numerous ways. Socialized medicine works and single payer with private insurance for those who want and can afford it with subsidies for those who need them both work. Problem is both cut the middleman’s profit out or way down and provide effective counter bartering power to powerful special interest so profit margins are more normalized. Eventually we will at least move to 20th century health care and maybe even to the 21th century. But greed being what it is I expect fierce opposition along the way.

      11. Chris, Is Hillary against women’s rights because she and Bill accepted money from speaking engagements and through their foundation from countries and individuals with horrible records on human rights and abuses of women?

        Both candidates were deeply flawed. My sister didn’t like Trump either, but how can you say that Hillary would have changed things? She was a candidate that would say whatever she thought her audience wanted to hear. When has she ever been known for her truthfulness? Even the Podesta emails note that she is known for being a liar.

        One of my brothers would have probably voted for Bernie Sanders if he had run. He leans Democrat. I didn’t discuss it with him. I heard he supported Trump. The company he works for moved factories to Mexico. He has to go there periodically to fix problems. He’s seen the misery caused by moving jobs overseas. I believe Trump would have tremendous appeal to him.

        I’ve recently come back from Ohio and was able to discuss the election with quite a few friends and relatives. My parents still watch MSNBC and think Obama is great. I have emotional scarring and PTSD from having to watch with them. Be kind. 🙂

      12. objv – You may want to do some checking on your sister’s situation. You may be able to help her. When you say “My sister has no health insurance because she can’t afford it. Her husband and children are covered through her husband’s job. Their combined income makes them ineligible for Medicaid by a few thousand dollars” I asked an insurance expert, and she says, “unless they are separated or divorced a family plan is a family plan”.

        I’ve never heard of a company covering children but not the spouse. Please have her check into it further.

      13. Did your brother in law insult minorities, women, or the gheys?

        If not then there was no reason to think anyone has labeled him a racists. I recall one of the selling points on Trump was his willingness to toss out PC terms. But low and behold when the tables are turned all we see are a bunch of whiners whining Our wittle fee fees are hurt.

        Where is the compassion for people in her situation?

        It probably got lost on the amount of compassion you demonstrated over the years towards BLM, minority rights, those seeking safety from gun nuts, the poors on welfare, and every other hobgoblin the RW has sold you and you repeated over and over again like….over-regulation.

        It has been said here people vote for their own interest that the issue is that others do not understand that reason.

        You make every argument in the world that would most likely land you as a Bernie supporter. But no he is a socialist, can’t have that.

        You and your family are upset because Hillary called racist, misogynistic people “DEPLORABLE. I am assuming you and your family are not those things, amirite? But somehow you are able to overlook the admissions of sexual assault and racist comments from a misogynist, that has screwed over his workers and small business. Somehow those comment you could overlook those things and y’all were not offended.

        BTW: That accident with the gold mine water would not have happened if there had been regulations forcing mining companies to clean up their mess after discontinuing operations. You blaming the EPA is like blaming the doctor because your gunshot wound is bleeding.

      14. Stephen, Health care for free would be a nice option if everyone could get it. 🙂

        You make a good point with your examples of your relatives.

        My husband’s sister and her family are on Medicaid and don’t have to pay anything. Her husband is disabled and she has to stay home to take care of him. Since they live in California, she also gets paid to be his full-time caregiver. I do not envy them in the slightest. (They live with my mother-in-law. Lord help them.)

        If my husband’s sister has to go to the emergency room, she doesn’t have to worry about her bills. Again, I do not envy her at all.

        If my sister has to go the emergency room, she’ll be on the hook for thousands. It will take months to pay off and she and her husband will have to tighten their belts quite a bit.

        It’s not that I don’t think my sister shouldn’t pay anything. It’s just that there is an inherent unfairness among people with lower incomes in that some don’t have to pay anything and some just a little more prosperous have to pay a great deal in proportion to their income.

        Like you, my husband and I get subsidized insurance through his previous employer. Last time I checked, they covered approximately half of our premium and will continue doing so until we turn 65.

      15. Turtles, I seem to remember the Gold King Mine was operational during the 1800s and closed in the early 1900s. Trying to hold the mine responsible is like going after the architect of a house built in 1850 saying it should have been built to current code.

      16. So when they closed it they could not clean it up That region was active till 1991 to be exact. The state could have required those miners to clean their shaite up then or in 1923 but they didn’t. Now we get to blame the EPA for trying to fix leaking water fills poisoning the water.

        It’s just that there is an inherent unfairness among people with lower incomes in that some don’t have to pay anything and some just a little more prosperous have to pay a great deal in proportion to their income.

        So again, you state you want universal health care yet at every turn defend and vote for those that promise not to enact such a program and then have the nerve to hold it against those that do. That unfairness is what you keep supporting.

        Oh yeah, guess what such a system is going to require them regulations you were complaining about. Your comments just do not add up.

        There has to be something we are missing here because you sound like a bigger liberal than I am. Or is it only when it benefits you and yours that socialism is OK, everything else that does not directly benefit you….well we do not need that at least till you do.

        I am sensing a pattern here.

        When Trump guts 75% of regulation and you start drinking lead in your water and your food gets you sick I guess it will be the EPA and USDA’s fault. Not yours.

      17. Turtles,
        Some mining in that area still occurs to a limited extent. However, the Gold King Mine was abandoned in 1923. Who do you go after to clean it up almost a century after it shut down?

        I don’t object to common sense regulation and cleaning up toxic areas caused by problems long ago, but the environmental nightmare caused by the EPA blunder is inexcusable. Some of the people most affected were Native Americans who drink the water and give the water to their livestock and who water their fields with river water.

        It seems callous of you to not seem to care about what happened to them. If an oil company had done the same while drilling in the area, wouldn’t your response be much different?

        BTW, the spill still probably affects water in this area when the water gets stirred up after rains and snow melt. Here’s a nice cup of river water containing natural lead, mercury and arsenic. Cheers, compliments of the EPA!

        Maybe I am a bigger liberal than you are. 🙂 I do care about people other than family members. I used my family as an example because they are representative of a different income levels and their access to healthcare. People in upper income levels and the poor do well with Obamacare. People in the middle – not so much.

        Don’t you care that this was one of the issues that cost Democrats the election? Don’t you want it fixed?

        I don’t claim to have all the answers on healthcare. All I know is that what we have is not working for a large number of people and they are unhappy.

        I’m not thrilled with Trump and don’t feel the need to defend everything that he does. He was the only alternative to Hillary. Enough said.

        Some ideas:

      18. Mary, quick question. How do you manage to watch MSNBC? I confess that my parents seem to like it but the anchors are so dour and look as if their dog just died. Is that why they have such terrible ratings? Luckily, I had my Kindle along and was able to catch up on my reading. 🙂

      19. @ojbv:

        I do hope you’ll pardon me for intruding and putting my own proverbial two cents in on this, but I’d like to contribute my thoughts nevertheless…

        >] “Chris, Is Hillary against women’s rights because she and Bill accepted money from speaking engagements and through their foundation from countries and individuals with horrible records on human rights and abuses of women?

        That has absolutely nothing to do with your sister’s situation and what could’ve made it better. Moving on.

        >] “Both candidates were deeply flawed. My sister didn’t like Trump either, but how can you say that Hillary would have changed things? She was a candidate that would say whatever she thought her audience wanted to hear. When has she ever been known for her truthfulness? Even the Podesta emails note that she is known for being a liar.

        Let’s examine that for a minute, shall we? On the one hand, regardless as to whatever you think of her, Hillary Clinton has been intimately involved with national healthcare reform and its politics from Bill Clinton’s failed reform attempt in the early 90s all the way up until now. You can like her positions or think they’re the spawn of Satan, but the woman knows the issue like the back of her own hand.

        And on the other hand you’ve a man (and I use that term loosely, mind you) whose difference in professional experience is about as great as the gap between the heavens and the earth, who says the ACA sucks and we’re going to replace it with something “so, so much better” and “much less expensive and better for everyone”.

        Now, with all due respect, you can stand there and point out Hillary Clinton’s many, many flaws all you want until you turn blue in the face, but that does not answer the key question and, really, only serves as as a transparent distraction. Based solely on their merits with respect to healthcare, who would you rather have in charge? I think the answer quite obvious.

        >] “One of my brothers would have probably voted for Bernie Sanders if he had run. He leans Democrat. I didn’t discuss it with him. I heard he supported Trump. The company he works for moved factories to Mexico. He has to go there periodically to fix problems. He’s seen the misery caused by moving jobs overseas. I believe Trump would have tremendous appeal to him.

        Why? What is Trump going to do that would in any significant way bring about a change that would help your brother? I agree with you wholeheartedly that technological change that moves jobs overseas is a real problem (which is why I so strongly support a basic income), but the fact of the matter is is that business’ tax cuts (which Trump says he wants to cut) would actually accelerate that problem, not solve it. That would hurt your brother.

        >] I’ve recently come back from Ohio and was able to discuss the election with quite a few friends and relatives. My parents still watch MSNBC and think Obama is great. I have emotional scarring and PTSD from having to watch with them. Be kind. ?

        Though he certainly made more than his fair share of mistakes, President Obama is a fine man worthy of our respect. As for your emotional scarring, well…

      20. I’m not thrilled with Trump and don’t feel the need to defend everything that he does. He was the only alternative to Hillary.

        Does not make him a better one. You make a claim that the health care law does not help the middle class so instead of supporting the person that is committed to making the law stronger, you have supported Trump and over the years those that promise to make it worse for everyone. Is that your concept of caring about those outside of your family,if it does not help you and yours then burn it down so no one benefits.

        Guess what? The well-to-do are not affected by your actions but the poor are definitely going to get hurt. But who cares because STIGGINIT

        Thank you for answering my original question. It was truly enlightening to see the mental gymnastics that a Trump supporter goes through to justify their choices.

      21. Turtles, I was disgusted to read the headline in the business section of the Houston Chronicle today: “ACA Sign-UP Efforts Ordered Killed.” 1/27/17, B1.

        Sign up was scheduled to end on the 31st of January, but evidently things were going a little too well for some in the WH. The order was issued: “All television, radio, and online advertisements on how to enroll were discontinued on Thursday, said the former HHS press secretary. They are clearly trying to sabotage the law,” he said. Enrollment had been running ahead of last year but a surge in last minute sign up must have been “unacceptable”. Thus, $5M in pre-paid ads were pulled…part of a “cost-cutting” effort. Many people see this as an effort to block people from getting coverage.

        Poor, and sick people have no seat at this WH table. Just die, why don’t ya.

      22. If you truly cared about having a conservative on the Supreme Court and jobs and trade, you would have voted for McMullin or Johnson.

        Instead, you voted for a fascist who spent his first week in office prioritizing legislation that directly targets millions of American citizens with undue threat.

        Your actions mean more than your words. You voted for a fascist. Say what you want about it, it’s not going to change what you’ve done to your fellow citizens.

    2. Mary, I know that you are pretending to ignore me, but why blame me for Trump? Isn’t it obvious I don’t like many things he’s said and done? Didn’t Democrats lose 1000 seats in various elected positions over the course of the last eight years? Doesn’t that tell you that Democrats are doing something wrong? Aren’t you at all interested in trying to figure out why?

  4. An interesting hypothesis as to why Boss Tweet tells so many blatant lies:

    Concerning the drama over the inaguration attendance vs protest attendance, I have no doubt that Trump’s bloated yet delicate ego is a contributing factor (look at his disgraceful behavior in front of the CIA memorial). But undercutting the independence of people working for him by demanding that they spin the blatant falsehoods is quite plausible too. The big Achilles heel of this approach is mentioned at the end of the article, but not expounded upon: Trump demands absolute loyalty (to the point of you sacrificing your dignity and integrity), but he does not give absolute loyalty in return. My prediction – he is going to be plagued with leaks for as long as he’s in office, as staffers who hit bottom under the stress of working for him turn on him.

    1. HWSNBN doesn’t just “burn” bridges, he blows them up. Staff will be treated badly because he is a bad person. If he gets in the way of the GOP master plan, he will be discarded…someone in a back room is taking notes, keeping records.

      Heard last night on MSNBC that the T corporation has just doubled the entry fees for new members to join his Del Largo golf community in FL to $200K. Timing coincidence? In a blog comment a potus supporter justifies what his ethical conflicts this way: “The man and his family have already taken financial hits in his run for the presidency. You may believe he needs to sacrifice more, but lots of us don’t. Divesting himself of a business is not the same as putting passive investments in a blind trust. I don’t expect him or his family to make financial sacrifices, on top of the sacrifices he is already making to run this country. If he profits from being president, so be it. That is nothing new as the same can be said for all his predecessors.”

      So, there you have it. the I don’t give a s**t potus supporter. And, the rest of us hope he will be held accountable?

      Read more:

      1. “If he profits from being president, so be it. That is nothing new as the same can be said for all his predecessors.”

        Except his predecessors profited AFTER they left office. Just more IOKIYAR hypocrisy.

    2. As I am certain you agree, those who are spinning the alternate facts HWSNBN is insisting upon, DO NOT HAVE to work for this person. Personally, I believe there is something more fundamentally flawed in potus mental state than ego.

      Yet another but very interesting post-election analysis – this one from The U of VA Center for Politics headed by Larry Sabato. Personally, I don’t care what motiviates HWSNBN, but we must try to understand those who voted for him as they are key to elections in 2018. HWSNBN is following though on his campaign promises – so far- not that “we” like what he is doing, but his base put him in office to do these things. That is going to matter with an election that is less than 12 months off where it is highly possible that the GOP could gain the 60 votes they need to avoid filibustering. McConnell has shown he plays a long game and he may be willing to wait for this outright win to avoid having to go nuclear as his House colleagues want him to to rush through their legislation.

  5. I didn’t care if people ate oranges or didn’t eat oranges. I didn’t eat oranges, but I minded that the people who hated oranges were so uppity about oranges: if they didn’t want to eat oranges, they could be like me and just not eat them.

    I never, at a gut level, could really understand what was so worth getting upset about over oranges, and even as I get upset about people who hate oranges, I still cannot understand their upset. Orange hating is baffling to me.

    But I’m quite fond of kiwis, and I just saw Orange Hater in Chief run on a campaign of suspecting all fruits of being oranges — all while eating oranges;

    and when I see Orange Hater in Chief, who both eats oranges and forceably chooses not to differentiate between oranges and other citrus fruits, pointing at a reporter eating a banana and yelling “THAT MAN IS EATING AN ORANGE!”;

    and when a significant enough population of the Orange Haters look at the reporter, clearly holding a half consumed banana still in its banana peel, and agree that that banana is an orange;

    and when the Orange Hater in Chief promises to cut funding for research into scurvy, and also starts the process of ending fruit farming in total;

    I’m at a loss of what to do, and get so frustrated it makes me want to choke Orange Haters to death with oranges.

      1. This is good analysis and makes perfect sense to me. You don’t get to HWSNBN with fact-based arguments, you get to him by embarrassing him. We need to frame our arguments in a different, more effective way.

        “From a TPM Prime member: “Trumps is doing the same thing with vote fraud as he did with birtherism. It worked last time, and if we don’t think through careful counter measures it will happen again. Basically, he repeats the same bald faced lie over and over so that people who want to believe it eventually do. He does not need us to believe it, just his base. Clearly, from the birther thing you can see that counter facts are not an adequate response. We tend to respond to his false assertions with fact about the assertions. I think that will fail. We need to address the messenger not the message. That means go directly after his insecurity about not having the popular vote. Make it clear that he looks weak, wimpy, pathetic. Elizabeth Warren is the only person Dem or Rep who seems to have been able to do this effectively so far.”

  6. OK, it’s getting late. Time for a mental break from all the heavy stuff. From a comment to a WaPo article discussing the wall HWSRN (he who shall remain nameless) is going to build:’ (credit: MSquared)

    “Two guys, an American and a Mexican, are out walking together one day. These 2 guys come across a lantern. When they rub it, a Genie pops out of it.
    ‘I will give you each one wish, that’s two wishes total,’ says the Genie.

    The American said, ‘I want a wall around America, so that no neighbors or infidels can come into our American land.’ With a blink of the Genie’s eye, ‘POOF’ there was a huge wall around America.

    ‘Hmmmm’, the Mexican asks, ‘I’m very curious. Please tell me more about this wall.’

    The Genie explains, ‘Well, it’s about 150 feet high, 50 feet thick and completely surrounds America. Nothing can get in or out.’

    So the Mexican says, ‘Fill it up with water.’

  7. What the democrats and anyone else who is concerned about the current situation need is this: a plan put in place ASAP detailing how we are going to defuse Trump and Co. in the event of another 9/11 type situation. We’ve already seen what happened with Bush, a similar situation with Trump could be much, much worse.

      1. Well, that’s sort of a truism, considering they are where all the people and industry are. On a percapita basis, correcting for SSA, all other entitlements, federal employment, I don’t know. Had no luck with a quick search for figures. Doubt it’s the case for Flint, though. Or Detroit. Or Milwaukee. So is the point that if you are say, Austin, you’re OK, but if you’re East St. Louis, you ain’t?

      2. Guess the cities wouldn’t be prepared to defend their citizens and businesses against federal charges of income tax evasion. Maybe that’s yet another argument against it. But this is fantasy. Hell, is a city the sum of its parts, or just the rich suburbs? What about a state? We’re all in this together at the end of the day, and cities like San Francisco haven’t exactly covered themselves with glory protecting their citizens by playing fast and loose with immigration laws. Immigration is (logically) a federal function and responsibility. Cities that refuse to acknowledge this fact should do so at their financial peril. I should add here that I think our immigration laws are totally FUBAR, but …

      3. I read an interesting article yesterday that explained what specifically the Austin sheriff objects to in the sanctuary city mandates. The main objection is not that local law enforcement disobey federal law about reporting the name, etc of an undocumented individual they are holding in custody, but that they do not support holding these individuals who may have been picked up for a minor offense, able to pay bail, things check out their story, serve what little time is required per the infraction, “just because” they are undocumented. They feel immigration issues are a federal domain and if they want to detain a person beyond reason, they should produce a warrant. And, that’s where things break down.

        Warrants are harder to get than browbeating sheriffs and mayors to simply comply with a verbal order. And, they should be. So, this issue of undocumented apprehension, detention and processing can result in people being held without recourse for weeks and months with no warrant.

        I’ll try to find the article because it helped me understand the objections better. There is also the issue of how local law enforcement works within these communities to build trust and communication which heavy-handed procedures destroy.

        For me, the hypocrisy has always been that the people who enter and stay in the US are working somewhere. Their employers NEVER get held accountable for hiring undocumented workers and even more heinous, paying them pitiful wages and withholding no taxes. The housing, road, and agriculture industries have used these people for their own purposes and defied the law. Do you really think we’ll find white people to pick melons, work on roofs in the 100 degree summer heat, or lay asphalt in same temps?

        I didn’t agree with much GWB stood for in his presidency, but I have always believed in worker permits that allow immigrants to come in for work purposes and exit and return. All permitted. Canada has been doing this for ions and it works there. I can understand the financial burdens for caring for people who aren’t contributing and entering illegally, but the people I have met who have told me they are undocumented are some of the hardest working people out there. Does that make it ok to enter illegally? No. But what is needed is a fair, sensible immigration policy which has never happened either…. why not? Has it been because illegal immigration plays so well to fire up the base?

        There have been several articles in the Chronicle and elsewhere about sex trafficking into the Houston area. This is a huge, tragic problem and looks at the perils of immigration from yet another perspective.

        This is a complicated issue. It is a human issue and it does need to be dealt with responsibly. DACA was a humane attempt to help the innocent children of undocumented people find a legitimate place in the only world they know so that they can become productive citizens. How you deal with the remaining 11 million undocumented people is going to require a sense of fairness and cooperation that America has not yet been able to demonstrate on this issue.

      4. Here’s an excellent explanation of the sanctuary city confusion as it relates to division of authority. It seems old Scalia himself weighed in on the separation of powers aspect that impacts the sanctuary city conflict between local and federal authority. As stated before, it’s complicated, but the threat to withhold federal funds to local authorities will likely produce a legal challenge (as it should) and is extremely heavy-handed. I don’t think many people understand the sanctuary city issue from a legal perspective. It might be useful to learn because this is not quite as simple as it’s being made out to be.

      5. Also.

        >] “It’s Austin, San Francisco, and the like that are being threatened with funds being cut off. It just occurs to me that takes a lot of chutzpah, why shouldn’t it be the other way around?

        Chutzpah is one word for it. Blatant stupidity would be more accurate, IMO. President or not, you can’t go all gangster and unilaterally yank funds from cities all across America just ’cause you don’t like what they’re doing. New York, as a prime example, would be ready to take Trump to court within a New York minute to fight and they seem pretty confident, if de Blasio’s demeanor is accurate, they can win.

        More broadly speaking, a lot of the cities that Trump’s taking target are in, you guessed it, California, or in other words, ground zero for the anti-Trump movement. Part of me thinks that good ol’ Cali would like nothing more than to take on that fight if only to set the example and stick it to Dear Leader and, being the economic giant it is, prove that if you’re going to cut off your proverbial nose to spite your face, there are real world consequences for that. That kinda matters when you’re president.

  8. It is interesting to note that most of the silly ideas, (er, help me out with an exception here), that hobble societies, like the evil orange notion, are religious in origin. They stem from a human propensity to believe things based on bad evidence, or none at all. This tendency is at the root of it all.

    1. Many, yes, but only because religion is our most pronounced and organized way of organizing non-linear thoughts. Art rates high too as a way of dealing with non-linear, non-empirical ideas, but organized art is basically religion.

      I still think religion has a valuable role in life. I find it valuable personally. Unfortunately, it isn’t easy to defend religion in this climate. On the ground at present it mostly functions as a method of short-circuiting critical thought and justifying horrors.

      1. EJ

        The poet John Dolan said (I’m paraphrasing) that no matter what your religion’s theology claims to be about, what it actually tends to be about is the needs of your community, and more specificially the needs of the patriarchs of your community. Racists end up with racist churches, greedy people with greedy churches, giving people with giving churches, and so on. As such, religion is only as good as the people that hold it.

        I’m told that historic Black churches were absolutely crucial in the civil rights movement, as were Northern Methodist churches. More recently, the Unitarian Universalists have lobbied for gay rights.

        Interestingly, if we look at regions which have become de-churched (my own country, for example) what we see is that nothing else has sprung up to fill that social niche. Communities haven’t come up with a secular form of local organisation; they’ve simple become less organised, often with further negative consequences.

        I do not believe that there is a God, but whether or not there is one, the belief in one is a convenient thing around which we can organise our communities.

      2. EJ, might I suggest that conservatives have replaced religion with party? The Republican Party has become the nexus for dissemination of message, plotting strategy, annointing leadership, creating laws, generating revenue. Everything else has been subsumed by party power.

    1. My congressman has a significant amount of seniors citizens in his district and we mostly are super voters. Even the most fox trance granny gets riled up if you mess with her Social Security or Medicare. If something gets done granny does not like the next representative will be working diligently to undo it.

      1. Well FL granny is going to be tested. We will see if the old white geezer conservatives buy the sob story Paul Ryan tells them….Now I want to be absolutely clear here: I do not oppose changes that improve the efficiency, breadth or affordability of any of our entitlement programs. In fact, to deny any change is just as short-sighted as change for the sake of change. There are remedies to extend Medicare and SS without converting these entitlements to block grants or vouchers. Unfortunately, doing so would not free up the revenue the republicans are seeking to pay down the debt (a worthy goal) or pay for their tax cuts. Thus, the GOP will once more go to the well of SS, Medicare, Medicaid, and other welfare programs. The VA may come out ok because of its unique position, but even the trust funds for the VA program are running a large deficit….It just depends upon whose goose you want to skewer.

      2. Mary, please, please stop thinking that paying down the Federal Government’s public debt is a good idea. Paying down that debt requires people to pay more in Federal taxes than they receive from the Federal Government in payments for services and transfers. The difference comes out of our savings. If our savings get depleted, aggregate spending in the economy falls, and recession will result.

        Aside from that, isn’t it amazing that budget balancing proposals always target people on Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid?

      3. It’s part of the GOP budget DNA, Creigh.

        I know how you feel about the nation’s debt, and I have stated innumerable times that I am not a proponent of a balanced budget. However, at what point, at what amount, does our nation’s debt create a problem for us that we have to address?

      4. The main driver of our debt was unwise tax cuts and supporting a massive military much bigger than than any other. We spend about what the rest of the world altogether spends .

        Currently we pay about 4.9% of our GDP on Social Security. A increase of about 1.1% would fully fund the program.

        If we would fix our for profit Medical system we would have plenty of money. We pay about double what other advance countries pay for medical care, do not cover everyone and are below all advanced countries in quality and many third world countries to boot. We pay about 17.5% of our GDP on medical care. You can easily do the math and detect a ton of B.S. coming from Paul Ryan and his better way plan.

        I know it is all a matter of priorities. And the leaders are not interested in the welfare of their constituents. Sadly just the basic skill to navigate the internet to find the truth or desire is lacking from many voters. Preferring to be spoon fed nonsense that tickles their bias and fears.

      5. You are correct Creigh. Also our national debt is what really is undergirding our money and many other currencies. It is a call on the productivity of our workers and businesses Big difference in microeconomics and macroeconomics. Most people only think of what personally makes sense for a individual or one company, microeconomics. But what works on the national or worldwide scale is completely different and it’s rules sounds crazy to most people as does relativity to those who only think about newtonian physics.

      6. I don’t know about Newtonian physics, but somewhere along the way, there is a tipping point beyond which it is wise to “check” spending and stop printing new money….I absolutely understand the need for debt – but you’re gonna have to spell it out for me a little clearer when we’re talking about $22 Trillion…I mean, no cap? How much is too much debt? (I hate to digress into a whole new discussion but come on…..)

      7. Same way you assess your debt load. What percent of your income can you comfortable assign to service debt. And if your income growth is faster than your debt growth you will not get into trouble.

      8. The public debt of the United States is far greater than $22T – the $22T is only the amount of outstanding Treasury securities (interest-bearing time deposits of government money, as opposed to reserves and currency). All three of those things – T securities, reserves, and currency, are liabilities — debts — of the Federal Government (and the Federally guaranteed financial assets of the private sector). For all three kinds of money, this debt consists only of an obligation on the part of the Federal Government to accept its money back as payment for tax liabilities. That obligation, regardless of size, can never cause problems.

        That being said, deficits have consequences. If they are too large, there will be too much money chasing a fixed (in the short term) supply of goods and services; that means inflation. If deficits are too small, goods and services offered for sale will go unsold; that means unemployment. But there is no theoretical or practical reason to believe that some given amount of public debt is anything more than a number. It’s all about inflation and unemployment, not about the number. No cap.

      9. You say, “no cap”…are you implying that any amount of public debt (treasury backed) is acceptable as long as we understand inflation is a probable by-product? Is there no point at which reason steps in and says, “go past this point, ratio and you’re cooked?”

        Frankly, I am far more concerned about the disparity between concentrations of private wealth among so few at the expense of so many. That’s a real-time problem with real-time consequences.

      10. “Same way you assess your debt load.” No, you forgot what you said up above, Stephen, about the difference between macroeconomics and microeconomics. Personal debt is completely different than public debt, because personal debt must be repaid in money that the debtor cannot create themselves. Government debt only requires that the government accepts the currency it prints as payment for taxes owed to it.

      11. Sorry, Mary, missed your last post. Any amount of public debt is fine if prices are stable and unemployment is low. If inflation is a problem, Gov spending needs to be cut or taxes increased, to drain buying power. If unemployment is a problem, Gov spending needs to be increased or taxes cut, to add buying power. Inflation and unemployment are real, and fiscal policy should be based on whether inflation needs to be dealt with or unemployment needs to be dealt with. Deficits and public debt should be ignored when deciding fiscal policy, they are just accounting artifacts.

      12. And you are exactly correct to identify inequality as a problem. “Job creators” don’t create jobs, customers with money to spend create jobs. Rich people are fine customers, but there aren’t enough of them to create a healthy economy. A healthy economy must have a broad base, and having 1% of the people hoarding all the money doesn’t work. Also, having 99% of the people borrowing the 1 percent’s money to buy ever-more-expensive houses and college educations only pushes the problem down the road if they aren’t earning enough to pay off the loans. Private debt, as opposed to public debt, is a huge problem.

      13. When the goverment or anyone borrows money is created. If the amount of money is not balance to the goods and services in society you can have inflation or depression. So unrestrain borrowing by government can be bad.

      14. Stephen, basically you’re correct. You know that things are out of whack when you get inflation or unemployment. The number associated with the deficit or debt tells you nothing, and should be ignored for purposes of setting policy.

  9. It’s valuable to place these events we’re experiencing in a wider context, if for no other reason than because they are, in fact, happening inside a wider, global context. The Trump debacle is being heavily driven by race, not because this is a unique American experience, but because that’s the channel through which these kinds of issues are defined and expressed here.

    In Britain you hear mostly about immigration and class. In Egypt it’s religious fundamentalism and terrorism. In Thailand its the conflict between Bangkok and the “corrupt” rural north. But at the macro level, we are wrestling with the pressures that emerge when technological, cultural, and economic advancements accelerate to a blur and some folks are left behind.

    I find it someone comforting to place this inside a larger context. It feels less like we are an isolated failure. And I think that assessment is reasonably accurate.

    1. I agree with your larger context but while this helps put things into perspective, it doesn’t solve the current manifestation of institutional destruction. And while I think it plausible that low information people react as they do – elect alt-right leaders, etc., while we witness our democratic institutions crumble, those who are empowered – think the GOP majority in the US are not wasting any tears or time to use the opportunity this offers. People who have financial and job security, who are smart enough to understand what is happening (even though we hate it), are only going to be marginally affected. It is the poor – be they seniors or whoever, the sick, the under-educated, our women and ethnic minorities who will bear the greatest losses.

      A CA might be able to fight off loss of federal funds and preserve some semblance of diversity and protection for its people, but the newly elected Democratic female sheriff in Travis County who is opposing onerous sanctuary city restrictions – will not have a friendly governor or legislature at her back nor can she likely function without the $2.8 million Abbott has threatened to remove….The immigration and wall orders released today? They take aim at sanctuary cities as well. Women marched in embarrassingly huge numbers with a clear message of protest – potus reaction? Go on an illegal voter tear – aka, more justification for more voter suppression. Show actual photographs comparing inauguration attendance? That’s merely “alternate facts”. Support renewable energy? Rescind the EO shutting down two pipeline expansions and shut down funding. Rally around the environment? End programs and regulations that protect our water and air.

      Potus is mean. He is vindictive and the people surrounding him – Bannon, Conway, GOP leadership will stoke his ego to achieve their purposes. Watch.

      1. The fox in charge of the hen house has a long history towards immigrants. Every person with the exception of Mattis in this potus cabinet – who seems to be the exception – is terribly flawed – either by their relationship or personal history….not that that seems to matter these days.

        FBI Director Comey is keeping his job…why?

    2. EJ

      That’s a very good point.

      Here in Europe much of it is about immigration, because Europe has spent half a century putting pleasant stuff on their side of a dotted line and unpleasant stuff on the other side. (Physicists call this a “Maxwell’s Demon.”) Our engineering offices are in Dusseldorf; the assembly plants are in Turkey. Our artisan bakeries are in Egypr; the backbreaking agricultural labour is done in Egypt. Our banks are in London; the call centres are in India. Having put all the unpleasant-but-vital things out of sight, we can now pretend that they don’t exist, and don’t need to worry about running policies to benefit the people who work there.

      The end result of this is that there is quite literally one country for the rich and another for the poor. It’s like an American gated suburb but on a vastly larger scale.

      When this breaks down – when reality reasserts itself – then people start to say very ugly things indeed.

      In Britain, this has semi-merged with the Brexit movement. Back home, it was about Greece and now is about refugee settlement. Either way, it’s happening everywhere.

      Chris is right: this is a global thing.

  10. This has been going on since the enlightenment. The battle has not just started. Looking at the arc of history the oranges are losing.

    Like the Borg enlightenment wins by assimilation. It attracts and then converts. I Like you Chris are examples of that. We deal with the hardship of struggle but future people will reap the benefit of our struggle.

  11. Just got through contacting Rep. Crist’s office and had a nice chat with a girl named Sara. Among the plethora of issues coming out today, I decided to focus on Trump’s tweet effectively threatening martial law against Chicago if they didn’t get their crime under control and all the gag orders he’s imposed on the PEA, Department of Agriculture and others. I made very clear that I stand in firm opposition to both of these and that I wanted a public statement denouncing both of them. Said I would call back in a few days to see where we were, so we’ll see what happens.

    Also, just got off the phone with Sen. Nelson’s staff. Unfortunately, all their lines were busy and I couldn’t get through. Try again in a few minutes though. 🙂

    Also, you’re next, Rubio.

    1. You inspired me. Just called Rep. Bill Posey my congressman about the untruthfulness of Trump and his abnormal behavior. I got the feeling I was not the first and the young man I talked too seem to see things similarly. I asked my congressman to watch president Trump carefully and exercise restrain on him if necessary. Unbelievable that I have to worry about the sanity of the guy who has his finger on the nuclear button. What were the people who voted for him thinking?

      1. The book Hillbilly Elegy is a longer read about what people were thinking about when they voted Trump than this shorter, cliff notes version by Rolling Stone, but it is a good read. The problem here is that assuming potus (and the GOP) will launch an infrastructure jobs plan (we have know since 2009 how good that idea was, but….couldn’t get the GOP to come up with the $$…will potus?), build the wall and rigidly enforce immigration laws – the jobs impacted by these two areas are band aids. Still, we all use band aids, right? Just not when a tourniquet is called for. Anyway – food for thought, Turtles.

      1. And, Nelson is a Democrat (-; Let us hope that the GOP representatives from FL are also getting calls….I agree that our liberal reps need reinforcing calls but these others need to have to hear the dissents.

        Don’t forget you can also register your thoughts here:

        A friend sent me this link that offers a way for people to submit info safely. May want to keep this link handy:

  12. Chris wrote: Sometimes, distant opinions are best understood indirectly, through allegory or metaphor.
    I think the use of metaphor or allegory should be subtle and graceful, almost imperceptible, if you want to get your message across to those with opposing views. Your use of the orange as a stand-in for the far Right movement is too blunt, hits the reader over the head with it. All we have to do is substitute the word “orange” with “far Right” or “extreme conservative,” or whatever that movement should be called.

      1. I probably should have just dropped the pretense and stated outright: This is the story of how the Shah’s regime collapsed and Iran sunk into the mire of fundamentalist oppression. Everybody pretty much guessed it anyway.

      2. My perspective differs from yours, Tutta. We are in a political and cultural crisis in America, right now. I don’t think we have the luxury or time for subtlety. The pace with which our democratic institutions are being destroyed compels a direct approach…which Chris acknowledged that he should have simply used.

        I want to know the truth – the whole truth – to inform me and my actions. I always knew this was going to be a very dark time in our history, but reality is shaping up to be even worse than I could imagine. There are no alternate facts, there is only truth. We had all better start looking at current events for what they really are because to soft peddle them out of fear of either offending someone or being too strong in our objections, is to allow these actions to proceed unscathed.

  13. Chris,

    I do not see how a “winning fight” can be a result when one side is very willing to suppress voters from voting and constantly lie, twisting facts. Couple the before mentioned with a large portion of the electorate being either ill informed or just plain stupid. Facts mean nothing to some people.

    Add to all that the fact that so many millions of people are just too damn lazy to get off their butts and vote, even when they can do so by mail!

    I am not a pessimist but by the time Trump’s four years are up, the courts will have ruled that gerrymandering is just okey dokey! That voter suppression is okey dokey!

    People keep saying “He (Trump) can’t do that!”! They (Republicans) can’t do that!” Well, they all can do whatever they damn well please because there is no one in their party that has the gonads, or more likely the personal ethics and standards to stand up and stop them!

    We loose! Republicans win!

  14. re: ‘our willingness to wage a winning fight’ .. I just ran across an app you may already know about … ‘Countable’ which makes it easy to contact the congress critters and voice your Yea/Nays on bills etc.. here is a 2014 article on it, I just signed up for it, very easy to do.

    and here is the actual website

    (I know much more needs to be done than pushing a button on an app, but some days my energy is low)

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