The One Trillion Dollar Farm Bill To Provide Money for Wealthy Corporate Farmers

The Republican Congress, both the House and the Senate have been crying “Wolf” over the Trillions of dollars in deficit, but when there is money to be distributed to their wealthy constituents, the response is radically different.  If one looks back over the last 60 years or more, the only people who have benefited from farm bills have been wealthy farmers and large corporate farms.  The number of people engaged in farming has fallen from more than 30% during the depression of the 1930’s to less than 3% at present.  Even large family owned farms have become incorporated, because the cost of machinery to operate a farm has become extremely expensive, so that the  one farm, one family owned farms have become almost extinct.

The latest version of the farm bill cut food stamps which provide people with low incomes with affordable sources of food.  My question is why we provide wealthy farm corporations with  the equivalent of corporate food stamps and deny our needy, underemployed, and unemployed citizens the food they need to live?  Another issue which was not addressed by the Farm Bill was the potential problem of genetically modified foods.  Currently, a snip of DNA can be attached to plant DNA which alters the basic structure of the plant.  For example, a snip of DNA can be attached to a given plant which provides the equivalent of Roundup which we use to kill weeds in our yards and gardens and fields.  Spraying  Roundup around a plant does not alter the genetics of the plant, but attaching a snip of DNA to plant so that it kills weeds that grow around the plant,  means that we may be eating Roundup when we eat a carrot, corn, lettuce, etc.  For example, I was exposed to Agent Orange when working for an irrigation district for two years.  We had Agent Orange on our hands, in our face, and when we ate our lunch because we were spraying willows and other plants which grew in the irrigations canals and inhibited the flow of water in the canals.  I became very allergic to all kinds of foods and would break out with watery blisters on my hands and with severe sinus infections.  This went on until my late thirties.

Agent Orange is 245t and 23d combined and is a growth hormone which causes the plants to grow themselves to death.  I used Agent Orange when I was 18 and 19 which was long before it was used in Vietnam to clear the jungles.  It took the Department of Defense years before Agent Orange victims were compensated for the problems it caused the soldiers who were exposed in Vietnam.  About four years ago, I called the Oregon Department of Agriculture and told them about my exposure.  The official who answered the telephone asked me if I wanted sue the State of Oregon.  I told him not at this late date which was 5o or more years later.  I do know it causes prostate cancer which I developed in my late 60’s.  The children born to women in Vietnam were often born with birth defects due to the exposure of the parents to Agent Orange.  If one looks up Agent Orange, you will also find Agent Blue, Agent Green, and so on depending upon the combinations of chemicals which have been combined.

At present, there are no double blind tests given to animals and people when a plant is genetically modified.  Monsanto, for example can genetically alter a plant without any oversight.  If a drug is developed it has to go through at least three different stages of double blind tests to determine the possible effects of the drug on humans. Genetically modified foods should be subjected to the same kind of tests before they they are sold to the public.  The Farm Bill had no such restrictions  and it will cost the taxpayers more than one trillion dollars with support by the party of no–The Republican Party.

Operation Stupidity in the State of Tennessee

Walter  L. Bell, Ph.D.

You would think that Senator Corker and  Governor Haslam of Tennessee would take pride in a well trained workforce in their state, but they chose to threaten workers if they chose to form a union at the new Volkswagen Plant in their state.  The German meaning of Volkswagen is peoples wagon  or folks wagon.  It was designed to be cheap enough to be available to the average worker in Germany.  Although the design was basically approved prior to World War II, it did not come into production until 1946 after the war.  The Germans have always valued engineering with highly qualified workers.  In fact a now deceased German friend, who worked on the German missile program during World War II,  told me that the German War machines were so highly engineered that if one broke down on the battlefield that they could not be fixed by the average German soldier.  By contrast, the war machines built by the Allied Forces in World War II were considered sloppy by German Standards, but the US, Russian and other European Allies could repair them in the field and  use parts from other machines that had been damaged but could be placed back in service by the American soldiers, who in civilian life had been rebuilding old cars using parts from junked cars.  When the Humvee was introduced to replace the Jeep, it did not have any armor plating for the IED introduced by Iraq’s insurgent troops, so the US troops without authorization from the US Army did it themselves until the Defense Department finally got around to requiring manufacturers to include armor plate these vehicles.

If Senator Corker and Governor Haslam of  Tennessee had the workers interests, instead of their own political interests in mind, they would not have tried to intimidate the workers at the new Volkswagen plant.  A well trained workforce, who the management of the plant is willing include in the running of the plant, should be a desired outcome by management in any company.  However, the Southern States have pursued discriminatory policies in both voting and worker rights since President Lyndon Johnson signed  into law his Great Society Legislation, in 1964 and 1968, which included laws for civil rights for all citizens regardless of race.  It is no secret that workers at the Volkswagen plant would include racial diversity with bargaining rights and employee representation.  The German government has pursued these rights and has encouraged technical training because they understand that a well trained workforce can compete with any workforce in the world, and are also the most loyal workers in the world because they are not discriminated  against because of  race or ethnic origins.

My origins and sympathies are with the South, but when it comes to racial and ethnic discrimination, labor unions, voting restrictions, and other rights of the citizens of the United States in any region, I have no patience with any part of the United States which denies equal rights of its citizens to work, to organize, and to prosper.  This is the reason the United States has become a magnet for other citizens of foreign countries who discriminate against the rights of their own citizens.  The United States entered into a new era when the Supreme Court of the United States signed the Citizens United law which made a corporation a person. I would not be surprised if ALEC is behind this with its billionaire backers, such as the Koch Brothers.  ALEC has been against labor unions, voting rights, and many other measures which guarantee equal rights of all our citizens.

If the State of  Tennessee and the rest of the Southern States would still like to join the Union, known as the United States of America, we would welcome them as long as all their citizens are granted the freedom and dignity enjoyed by the more enlightened states.  The Supreme Court Justices who claim that voting rights are not mentioned in the Constitution should read it again because neither are atomic bombs, nuclear accelerators, and many other scientific  and technical devices such as modern operating rooms, computers  in classrooms and homes, and also televisions.  So for a state such as Tennessee and many other states north and south, east and west, to prevent and threaten their citizens from voting or participating and bargaining for salary, working conditions, and pay is backward and discriminatory.

 

 

Extreme Poverty in the United States

Walter L. Bell, Ph.D.

I recently viewed a TV special on poverty in the Portland, Oregon Metropolitan region where families were interviewed about their attempts find long term employment so that they could feed and house their families. It was the most depressing film I have ever seen on the subject. I know about poverty first hand because I grew up in a family of eight during a time when my father was in ill health due to working eighteen hour days as a contractor on irrigation projects during the great depression. We did have one advantage the people in the film did not have. We lived on a farm which we took out of the sagebrush as part of the homestead act which no longer exists. Under this act we paid $80 for 80 acres of land. We not only had to clear the land, but over a period of seven years, one had to make improvements such as building a house, improving the land and be able to make a living on the land.

In the film about poverty in Portland, Oregon, the unemployed people do not have the opportunity that we had to grow our own food, build our own house, and live in a place without the constant threat of having to move out and live in shelters or in their cars. This depressing film showed people evicted from their apartments or homes because the jobs they had were no longer available because the economy had gone from bad to worse starting in 2008 or earlier. Over and over, the people being interviewed stated that they had always worked and enjoyed working, but because of the 2000 depression they lived under the constant threat of being on public assistance which the latest US Congress failed to extend before they recessed to go home to their states. The grand bargain that Rep. Paul Ryan(Republican) and Sen. Patty Murray(Democrat) got passed in both the House and Senate voting did not include extending unemployment for these unfortunate people who will have to live out or their cars, or in a public shelter, or try to get food from the volunteer outlets which do not have enough food to go around. These people are not the mythical 47 per cent that Mitt Romney was deriding in his speech to the wealthy. They are people living under the constant threat of starving and living in unsanitary conditions. The primary reason for this problem is that we have allowed our largest corporations to relocate in foreign countries in order to escape having to pay taxes and pay workers a living wage which includes pensions for retirement. In the community where I live, we have a Wallmart Superstore being built, not because we need the store, but because one wealthy land owner got on the city counsel and was able to get approval for this ill advised project. The city violated the open meeting laws by passing this project without the people of this community approving or having an opportunity to vote on it. Wallmart is the face of corporate America which likes to claim that the United States is the wealthiest nation in the World, but that wealth extends only to the millionaires and billionaires, and not the other 99% of the population of the United States.

The Confiscation of Pensions by State and Local Governments

Walter L. Bell, Ph.D.
If you have been reading the press and watching the news lately, you may have noticed that cities like Detroit and Chicago and states like Oregon have looked to use pensions as a means of balancing budgets. Pensions were set up so that workers of all kinds could invest part of their salaries in a pension which was controlled by law with fiduciary experts who were supposed manage those pensions, with strict guidelines governing the actions of the managers who could be sentenced to prison terms for fraud and other misdeeds. One of the states leading the move to provide pensions for public workers was Wisconsin, until Scott Walker became the Governor, and decided to use those monies to balance the state budget. Scott Walker is a member of ALEC, a secretive organization made up of Corporations, Lawyers, Legislators, millionaires, billionaires, and mostly Republican Senators and Representatives, at both the State and National levels.

Cities like Chicago and Detroit have confiscated pension funds through bankruptcy and other means to build sports arenas. A federal judge ruled that in the instance of bankruptcy, that a city such as Detroit could confiscate pension funds to pay for the misdeeds of organizations such as ALEC, city managers, corporations who set up operations offshore to escape federal regulations and taxes, and use pension monies to pay for the misdeeds of others. In short, it appears that retirees, and union workers have no rights to the money that was set up for their retirement.

Several administrations, starting with President Reagan and including Presidents Bush, President Clinton and President Obama have turned a blind eye to the plight of union workers except when looking for donations for campaign funds. We have Raume Emanuel, the Mayor of Chicago, Secretary of Education Arnie Duncan and also the former Superintendent of Chicago Public Schools who have denounced Public Schools in favor of Charter Schools where teachers must work ten hour days and are not allowed to join unions. Supposedly the teacher’s unions protected inept teachers from being fired, so the way to fix the problem was to create Charter Schools and work to eliminate unions including teachers’ unions and industrial unions as well. In addition, since our industrial complex has been sent offshore where workers are paid so little that they cannot feed their families, that leaves the few existing unions pension funds to be plundered by persons like Walker and Emanuel in order to build sports complexes in both Chicago and Detroit as well as in other cities.

In order for the Republican Party to gain traction they have lost in recent elections, they have refused to raise the minimum wage, and have allowed corporations to fire workers who try to join unions. One of the most prominent of these is Walmart, which until recently had been a member of ALEC, until it withdrew its membership because it feared more adverse publicity because it sells more guns than any other corporation. The latest Republican fiasco is to eliminate unemployment for workers who have been unemployed for more than a year. This will leave people who have not been able to get jobs in the United States because those jobs have been shipped offshore. Like WallmartMcSrooge, we have RepublicanMcSrooge, a party which has abandoned the Middle Class workers in the United States.

Automobile Safety

Walter L. Bell, Ph.D.

Chrysler is now a private corporation whose directors thought they were immune from lawsuits caused by faulty parts for cars manufactured when the company was a public corporation. The directors of the new private company must have forgotten that they received money from the United States government to bail them out of bankruptcy. Their refusal to fix the gasoline tanks was a stupid decision because in assuming the Jeep brand, which has been the most successful in producing income for the previous public corporation and the current private corporation, it shot itself in the foot. Can you imagine the pain and suffering caused by the victims who survived a rear end collision and caused the gasoline to fill the entire passenger compartment which then ignited and either burned its victims alive or permanently scared the surviving passengers for life?

Any automobile which has a gasoline tank without a firewall between the gasoline tank and the passenger compartment can drench its passengers in a severe rear end collision. The answer to this problem is a fuel cell which is lined with a neoprene rubber lining which will not rupture under severe collisions. No race car is allowed on the track without an approved fuel cell. In looking at costs, a 22 gallon fuel cell costs about $850.00, from a company named:

RACER PARTS WHOLESALE
411 Dorman
Indianapolis, IN 46202

Monday through Friday, 8:00- 5:00 EST
Local: 317-639-0725
Toll-Free: 800-397-7815

info@racerpartswholesale.com

All the major car manufacturers, including Ford, General Motors, Chrysler, and foreign manufacturers support the race car circuits and know about the safety requirements for race cars. So if you own a car without a closed off trunk such as a Jeep, I would put pressure on the car companies of the cars you own to prove that you have a safe gasoline tank in your car. Remember, we now have a Federal Consumer Safety Agency, thanks to the efforts of President Barack Obama and Senator Elizabeth Warren from the State of Massachusetts, who would have been appointed to head this agency except for the opposition of the Republican Party. She ran against Senator Scott Brown and won in the election when he chose to question her Cherokee Indian Heritage because she could not prove it on paper but had known it from the oral tradition handed down through her family. I have the same problem because the family tradition is that my grandmother was part Cherokee Indian. I have spent much time looking through the rolls of the Cherokee, Choctaw and other Indian rolls without success.

If you use the web browser, OmniWeb, you can find the names, address, and telephone numbers of all the Federal Agencies. Call or write to them and inquire about the safety standards for your model of automobile. Remember your safety and those of your family and friends are at stake. The life you save could be your own as well as people you do not even know–this is known as “paying forward.”

The US House of Representatives and the US Senators Getting Rich

It appears that members of Congress are immune from the laws governing insider trading on the stock market. Suppose a member learns that a firm is going to come out with a new invention that will cause the stock price to increase dramatically. They can use that information to get rich, but if I were working for the same company and used that information to help out a relative, I would be subject to being indicted and possibly sent to prison for the same act. But members of Congress can use such information without fear of reprisal. Retired Senator Judd Greg and his brother made millions over the closing of an obsolete Air Force Base.  This explains why so many members of Congress do not want to increase taxes on  millionaires, because they are protecting themselves from paying more taxes.  No wonder the middle class voters have such a low opinion of Congress.   It is too bad that so many members of the middle class, who are uninformed, do not choose to vote out these millionaires and allow public financing of elections.  Public financing of elections would bypass the need to become a millionaire first or rely upon corporations to buy a Senator or Congressperson in order to become a member of Congress.

The other problem is with the Supreme Court.  We appoint the members of the Supreme Court for life, with no real means of removing them for failure to uphold a balanced view of the law and the constitution.  We have seen the willingness to the Current Supreme Court members to sell themselves to the highest bidder in their Citizens United case making a Corporation a person and allowing corporate money to buy anyone without any moral or  ethical values.  The current crop of would be Republican Presidential Candidates has gathered millions from Corporations, and the Supreme Court has made themselves available for purchase by attending ALEC meetings and have dipped into the Corporate coffers for their own accumulation of wealth.

The Republican Presidential Candidates have made their approval of the Citizens United windfall by using podiums which are labeled “Citizens United.”  I have no doubt that if we have a Republican elected as President, it will be business as usual and that the middle class will continue to decline until we have as a richer class of the “Haves and the Have Mores.”  to quote the Supreme Court Appointed but not Elected President George Bush.  My final admonition to the voters is to become informed, and to vote for those with ethical values which favor the entire population.  We do not need Senators like Mitch McConnell or Congresspersons such as Boener.  We need people willing to compromise and to vote for laws favoring the best interests of this nation.