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May 16, 2011


Bud Byrd

I am always amazed by the selfishness of some who rail against government helping people in need, people who may have different circumstances from their own while at the same time they strenuously fight to protect governments' help for themselves. Your Medicare example is an excellent case in point.

I am one of the diminishing group of Americans who is fortunate to have a defined benefits pension from our former employer and who also enjoys the social security check written on government paper (actually electronically deposited) each month. Do I feel that I earned each? Yes, I do.

I suspect that most 'tea-partiers' feel that they too, have earned their Medicare and Social Security benefits ...assuming of course that the crusading tea-partier is of the age eligible to collect such benefits.

The difference that I feel, not being a tea-partier, versus what seems to be the underlying beliefs of those who are partiers is embedded in my philosophy of supporting those less fortunate than ourselves. I don't offer my support in a sense of do-goodism. I support the more liberal stance as a national security issue.

We are fast approaching a time in this country, with wealth concentrating in the very few, wherein the masses may uprise against the few.

Just look around you. Unemployment is about 9% if you use Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers, but actually much higher if you include all who are truly unemployed or so under-employed as to be unable to support themselves and their families in today's economy. Are some people responsible for their own unemployment? Of course they are. But should we view even the most irresponsible as human waste to be disposed-of and not to be helped? I don't think so.

Aside from the unfortunate, the truly helpless, young people in the hundreds of thousands are coming out of college today and by necessity moving back home with their parents. They are doing so, not because that is their preferred path, but because there are no jobs. How long will this educated class stand by and wait for the economy to improve, for jobs to become available? The doom and gloom factor has a high multiplier when you are bright enough and well educated enough to understand that things can be better. How long will they wait, languishing away at their parents home, unemployed or under-employed?

Upheaval in the near future is inevitable. Will it be in peoples' attitudes in the way we choose to govern ourselves? Will it be in an uprising of the have-not's demanding and if necessary forcibly taking from the haves? I don't know, but I think we are ripe for a great confrontation. My hope is that it plays out at the ballot box and sane people prevail.

My fear is that insanity and self-interest will trump an orderly transition to a more egalitarian society, one based on our capitalistic history, but one that understands that any system in its purest form, whether the extremes of the libertarian or the extremes of the socialistic is patently unfair and unworkable. In the end for us to survive as a nation, we must all become 'absolute' pragmatists. I hope that we are capable of making the transition from the extremes of our current ideologue tendencies.


One striking observation I made while working in America during Hilary Clinton's first attempt at reforming US Health Care is Americans' somewhat irrational fear of any major social reforms contemplated by the US government. The cost of social security, abuses of it seem to be big concern, further amplified by perceived prospect of US Government becoming "socialist". From my experience (I have grown up in Communist Poland, and live now in Australia) the social security is wasteful and open to frauds as anything else administered by government bureaucracy. One should not however look at the cost of the social security alone. It is necessary understand that social security is there to remove desperation from people's lives. I mean the kind of desperation which historically has proven to lead to major social upheavals and crime. That is why I am happily paying my high taxes in Australia and enjoying social stability and low level of crime, and above all universal health insurance. While US experience was exciting and stimulating for me I think all Americans could do with a little less crime and riots and the ones among them without health insurance should not be made to wait for the next Democratic Government. Viewed as a necessary cost of social stability and low crime the social security actually makes good business sense.


It's amazing how little we understand about capitalism. Especially the boom and bust cycles that are intrinsic to capitalism. In the chip industry, the boom and bust cycles happen like clockwork, every four years. And every four years the chip industry says "it will be different this time..."

Karl Marx documented these boom and bust cycles in the mid-19th century yet we still think we can do away with them. If we do, then it's not capitalism, it'll be something else...

What if capitalism retained its boom and bust cycles but their effect did not cause starvation, poverty, war, etc...? Can we keep the good w/o the bad? Or do we toss the baby with the bathwater each time...?

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