Thursday, February 24, 2011


The Dictator of Libya is holed up in Tripoli - "from the Halls of Montezuma to these Shores of Tripoli" - our Marines have fought gallantly for centuries. Today's news reports that tanks are circling Gadhafi's hideout. Earlier we learned that armed Libyan helicopters and fighter aircraft were firing on protesters in the streets. Since the United States has been the world's largest manufacturer and exporter of weapons for decades, it is no surprise when we learn that overseas tanks, aircraft, bombs, bullets, and even tear gas canisters are made in the USA.

The American gunman in Pakistan who killed two alleged assailants on the street turns out to have been a former employee of Blackwater and currently is working under contract for the CIA, in "protection." He has diplomatic immunity according to our government. It says so on his passport. We also heard reports that more than one passport was on his person. Is "Mr. Phelps" on a Mission Impossible?

Should you choose to accept our story, there still remains this question for America in the 21st Century: "When will we learn to live in this world as a force for justice, equality, and peace, without war?"

It is time to disarm ourselves of the unnecessary 20th Century weapons for wars we will never fight again. It is time to stop building a military global empire with American weapons assistance and military training of foreign personnel.

Our trillion dollar annual war budget must be trimmed, if we are to afford a decent society within our own borders. A society with justice and liberty for all Americans.

Friday, February 18, 2011


Yesterday in the news two Midwestern politicians declared emphatically, "We're broke!" Minnesota Republican Party Chair Tony Sutton and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, both argued their case for drastic measures to cut state government expenditures. In this angry political winter, apparently "any lie will do" as loud voices shout their talking points. Cut spending! Keep yuour money! Low taxes mean more jobs!

We are a prosperous nation. Wealthy beyond anything previously known on earth. But we also are becoming selfish and insensitive to anyone in need. Unwilling to suggest any shared sacrifice or fairness, when it comes to recognizing human obligations. We are far from broke.

From municipality to township to county, state, and nation - all across America - there is enough wealth within our borders to provide decent support for the most vulnerable among us. Shame on the hypocrites who try to persuade us otherwise!

Governor Dayton has addressed Minnesota's deficit with a balanced and fair budget - with spending reductions and revenue increases. Republicans dogmatically reject any revenue increase from the individual income tax and insist that only spending cuts to education, health and human services must cover the billions of dollars in deficits and overdue deficiency payments, that have accumulated over years to reach a crisis.

Governor Walker across the border in Wisconsin has declared war on the bargaining rights of his public employees - in the name of eliminating a budget deficit about half the size of Minnesota's. With conservatives in control of the executive and legislative branches of Wisconsin government, Walker hopes to roll back the legacy of progressive labor rights and achieve a balanced budget by cutting the take-home pay and pensions of state workers.

Time was when we aspired to be a "Great Society." The threat in our state capitols today is the drift toward a "Selfish Society."

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


The "Social Media" - Twitter, Facebook, et al, is on every news person's lips and fingertips. OMG, WTF,... literary scholars are shocked, shocked that language changes. So must a Blog (Website-Log) from time to time. A limit of 140 characters won't do. My newspaper won't publish over 300 words. (That's Brainerd, not Aitkin)

And a posting on Facebook of more than three or four lines is... BORING! Without a digital photo.

So, on to the Federal Budget, the Minnesota Budget, and the Voter.

The USA pays a slender amount of taxes - local, state, and federal - in comparison to all other industrialized nations. The State of Minnesota - in the last 12 years - has fallen into the middle of the pack in its spending, compared with the other 49 states. We are nowhere near becoming a Cold Mississippi or another Nebraska, but we are moving in that direction

The BIG items in Washington are War (now known as "Defense'), Medical Care for the Over-65, Disabled, and Poor, Social-funded Pensions (Security), and Transportation (air, highway, rail, and space).

The Major State expenditures are Public Schools and Colleges, Human Services (nursing homes, women and child support payments, hospitals), Roads and Bridges, Prisons, Conservation and Parks.

We are the most prosperous people in history! But for several decades we have squandered our largess. The wealthiest have snatched the gains of our rising productivity and invention. Working people and ordinary folks have lost ground - seen an actual flattening of their incomes.

War spending and tax breaks for the upper class have robbed most of us.

Let's be clear. One Trillion Dollars a year - for a decade - has bought us little Defense, a lot of regret, and an enormous loss of opportunity to become a more perfect society.

So in Washington, in the "Defense Department" - let's cut the numbers of aircraft carriers, strategic bombers, tanks and artillery. We won't fight any more 20th Century wars in which all of these weapons were so necessary.

In Minnesota - let's give Gov. Dayton one more individual income tax bracket, so that the wealthiest Minnesotans can pay a fairer share of their wealth towards the public good.

What about these wealthy Minnesotans who may decide to move away and take their businesses with them when their state taxes rise a little? Looking for a poorer state where they can "keep more of what is theirs?"

Well, they are not the ones I want as my neighbors. OMG that's 402 words!

Saturday, February 5, 2011


The Great Recession of 2007 is not over. Far from it.

Today's "News" from the Labor Department reported a surprising drop to 9 percent in the percentage of workers actively looking for work. That's one way of reporting how many in the work force are unemployed. Political pundits are feeding on this report. The sudden drop over the last two months was from 9.8 percent. Manufacturing jobs are now increasing. What about the pay scales of newly-hired workers? Overall, fewer new jobs were created than are needed to keep up with the population entering the workforce.

This writer has been there - in 1970 and 1982. I never filed and took unemployment pay, so I went unreported. Writing about these gaps in my resume took some creative skill. Just like the fictitious reasons top executives give when they "resign" their positions. In news accounts these missing workers (without jobs) are termed "discouraged." They know that after trying for six months, one year, or longer, there just aren't any decent opportunities in their line of work. They will have to face relocation, retraining, or early retirement. They already carry the humiliation of failing to succeed, failing to hold on, and the loss of their dream.

Did you leave to "spend more time with your family?" Or to "manage your personal investments? Truth is, "You were fired!" Terminated. Down-sized. Let go. So now the work force is "leaner" and more productive than ever. Profits are up. Costs are down. But consumer demand depends on cash, bank deposits, and credit.

Welcome to 21st Century America! The era of tax cuts and unemployment. Yet sales taxes have never been higher. Property valuations have fallen, but property taxes are rising. It's all about the Middle Class. Millions are sliding into poverty where many already reside. Recovery? Hardly.