Tag Archives: Middle class

Five Things Ben Carson Doesn’t Get

Terrance Heath

Two more candidates joined the race for the Republican presidential nomination on Monday. Of the two, retired brain surgeon Ben Carson is the one likely to have the most impact. That makes it frightening how much Carson just doesn’t get.

Carson went back to his roots to announce his candidacy for the nomination. On an auditorium stage in Detroit — his estranged hometown — he recounted his troubled, poverty-stricken childhood and then launched into a speech that revealed just how much he doesn’t get, for a guy who wants to be president.

What Ben Carson Doesn’t Get About The Safety Net

Carson’s humble upbringing is an important part of his narrative. His rise to becoming one of the top neurosurgeons in the country and a best-selling author is impressive because it starts in the poverty-stricken streets of Detroit and a fatherless home headed by a single mother with little education. Carson attempted to preemptively rebut those who would point out that his childhood experience of poverty doesn’t seem to inform his political positions.

There were many people who were critical of me, because they say Ben Carson wants to get rid of all the safety nets and welfare programs, even though he must have benefitted from them. I have no desire to get rid of safety net programs for people who need them. I have a strong desire to get rid of programs that create dependency in able-bodied people.

This is a blatant lie. Carson pointed out that his mother worked “extraordinarily hard,” often at two or three jobs, “trying to stay off welfare. And the reason for that,” Carson said, “was that she noticed that most of the people she saw on welfare never came off of it.” Carson either forgot or neglected to mention that his mother turned to the welfare system to meet family needs her earnings could not.

In his book “Gifted Hands,” Carson writes that his grades improved after he got free eyeglasses from a government program:

By the time I reached ninth grade, mother had made such strides that she received nothing but food stamps. She couldn’t have provided for us and kept up the house without that subsidy.

What Carson doesn’t get about the safety net is that there are plenty of “able-bodied” people who receive some form of government assistance, and it doesn’t make them any more “dependent” than it made his mother. There are plenty of people who work “extraordinarily hard,” who have to rely on the safety net — not because they’re “dependent,” but because they don’t earn enough to afford essentials like shelter, food, medical care and transportation without assistance.

If Carson is really concerned about “dependency,” he should take on the $70 billion per year we spend subsidizing the oil industry, or the $20 billion a year we spend on farm subsidies, before taking assistance away from families who are where he used to be.

What Ben Carson Doesn’t Get About The “Turmoil In Our Cities”

Carson alluded to the unrest in Baltimore; Ferguson, Mo., and other cities where unarmed black men have been killed by police.

The past couple of weeks, there has been a great deal of turmoil in Baltimore. I spent 36 years of my life there, and we see the turmoil in cities all over our nation. We need to start thinking about how do we get to the bottom of this issue. I believe the real issue here is that people are losing hope, and they don’t feel life is going to be good for them no matter what happens. When an opportunity comes to loot, to riot, to get mine, they take it — not believing that there is a much better way to get the things that they desire.

What Carson doesn’t get about “turmoil in our cities,” is that in cities like Ferguson, Baltimore, and Detroit, people lose hope because their isn’t much of any way to get the things, or the life, they desire. That’s because jobs have disappeared from these cities, in large part due to economic policies and trade deals that made it easier for businesses and corporations to ship jobs overseas, where labor was cheap and unorganized, and environmental protections were few or non-existent.

In cities like Detroit and Baltimore, the loss of manufacturing jobs hit black communities the hardest — and black men in particular — because they were disproportionately represented in those jobs. Those jobs didn’t require a college education, but provided good wages and benefits that lifted many families into the middle class.

Not only are those jobs gone, but they have been replaced by low-wage jobs that provide no pathway to the middle class. That’s unlikely to change as long as we subsidize businesses and corporations that don’t pay their employees a livable wage.

What Ben Carson Doesn’t Get About Health Care

He didn’t dwell on it in his announcement speech, but Carson is so opposed to the Affordable Care Act, a k a Obamacare, that he’s compared it to both slavery and 9/11.

● In a speech at the 2013 Values Voter conference, Carson said: “You know Obamacare is really I think the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery. And it is in a way, it is slavery in a way, because it is making all of us subservient to the government, and it was never about health care. It was about control.”

● Later, in an interview with the Daily Beast, Carson said that Obamacare was the worst thing to happen to the U.S. since the 9/11 terrorist attacks: “Because 9/11 is an isolated incident. Things that are isolated issues as opposed to things that fundamentally change the United Sates of America and shift power from the people to the government. That is a huge shift. You have to take a long-term look at something that fundamentally changes the power structure of America.”

● The health care plan on Carson’s website is about as sparse and vague as the GOP plans for Obamacare “replacements.” Beyond re-establishing “a strong and direct relationship between patients and their physicians,” the only idea he has is an old one: health savings accounts, which by definition favor the well and wealthy. Republicans have been pushing health savings accounts since 2006.

What Carson doesn’t get about Obamacare is that, despite its imperfections, the health care reform law is popular with the majority of Americans. A recent Bloomberg poll showed that 63 percent of Americans think the law should be left alone, or allowed to work in order to find out how it should be changed. Only about 35 percent want Obamacare repealed, and most of them are people the who aren’t impacted by the law.

That’s because it lowered the number of uninsured Americans, and increased the number of Americans with access to care without increasing spending on medical care. In fact, it’s coming in 20 percent under projected costs. The number of uninsured has fallen by more than 11 million since the law’s passage, and is now at a seven-year low. More than 16 million Americans now have affordable, quality health insurance thanks to Obamacare — including presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who once swore to repeal “every word it.”

What Ben Carson Doesn’t Get About Climate Change

For a man of science, Ben Carson doesn’t get what the big deal is about climate change. “As far as I’m concerned, that’s irrelevant. What is relevant is that we have an obligation and a responsibility to protect our environment,” he said in an interview in Des Moines, Iowa. “You can ask it several different ways, but my answer is going to be the same. We may be warming. We may be cooling.”

What Carson doesn’t get about climate change is what the GOP doesn’t get. Not only is there a consensus in the scientific community, but (as with the next issue) Americans have moved past the GOP on this issue. A Yale/Utah State University poll showed that 63 percent of Americans think climate change is happening, along with 99 percent of the counties in the country.

What Ben Carson Doesn’t Get About Marriage Equality

Despite the issue currently being before the Supreme Court, Ben Carson didn’t mention marriage in his announcement speech. Perhaps he finally learned his lesson. Carson managed of the biggest gaffes so far this campaign season when he told CNN’s Chris Cuomo how he knew that being gay is a “choice.”

Ben Carson, the prospective 2016 presidential hopeful beloved by Tea Partiers, told CNN host Chris Cuomo on Wednesday that he believes homosexuality is “absolutely” a choice—because “a lot of people who go into prison, go into prison straight, and when they come out, they’re gay.”

The former neurosurgeon went on, “So did something happen while they were in there? Ask yourself that question.”

While the rest of the country cringed, the scientific community called Carson out, noting that decades of research shows that sexual orientation is inborn, not chosen. (Something so obvious that even Florida Sen. Marco Rubio can grasp it, or at least pretend to.)

After becoming the focus of near universal ridicule, Carson decided that he just wouldn’t talk about the issue anymore. What Carson doesn’t get about marriage equality is that he won’t get away with that on the campaign trail. The GOP base is light years behind the rest of the country, and they will demand that he says something about it, especially when the court’s decision is announced this summer.

What Jeb Bush’s Plan Would Do For Jeb … a repost & a reminder


Jeb Bush’s Tax Plan Would Save Him $773,677 A Year

Jeb Bush apparently knew what he was doing with his own trickle-down tax plan: inflating his own bank account. According to a new analysis from the Center for American Progress Action Fund, Jeb Bush will save approximately $773,677 a year—almost 15 times the median family income in the United States—in tax breaks under his tax plan. Bush’s adjusted gross income in 2013, based on his 2013 tax return, was $7,274,764, so clearly he benefits significantly from reducing the top tax rate from 39.6 percent to 28 percent. Bush’s income included a combined $730,898 of taxable interest, long-term capital gains, and dividends that qualify for reduced tax rates, meaning Bush would further benefit if the top tax rates were lowered to 20 percent on these sources of income, as his tax plan proposes. Here are some ways Jeb Bush ensured he would benefit from his tax plan:

  • Jeb Bush and the very wealthy can deduct more from their taxable income under Bush’s plan. Though the media says Bush’s tax plan closes loopholes and eliminates deductions, Bush would actually receive $138,572 of itemized deductions under his plan, compared with the $56,980 he actually took in 2013.
  • In his tax plan, Jeb Bush makes money by repealing part of the funding for the Affordable Care Act. Despite the fact that the ACA has succeeded in bringing quality, affordable health insurance to nearly 16 million Americans, Jeb Bush would get a tax cut of $33,023 from repealing the 3.8 percent net investment income surtax that helps fund the ACA.
  • Jeb Bush’s tax plan ensures the Bush family won’t pay estate taxes on their accrued wealth. Though only the wealthiest 0.18 percent of estates paid any estate taxes in 2013, the Bush family would likely benefit from Jeb Bush’s elimination of the estate tax at the expense of critical programs. This would be on top of the income tax savings Jeb Bush receives from his plan. The estate tax is a significant source of revenue, generating about $237 billion over 2016-2025 under current law. As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities warns, “If the estate tax were further weakened or repealed, other taxpayers would have to foot the bill for these programs, face cuts in the benefits and services provided, or bear the burden of a higher national debt.”

Jeb Bush may claim his tax plan will jumpstart the economy. But as Harry Stein, the Center for American Progress Action Fund’s Director of Fiscal Policy, points out as part of Time’s coverage of Bush’s plan, “we already know how things turned out after the first Bush tax cuts: federal budget surpluses turned into massive deficits and instead of widespread economic growth we got the Great Recession.” Even the conservative analysts at the Tax Foundation acknowledge that the top 1 percent would benefit the most from Jeb Bush’s plan and cost $3.6 trillion over 10 years, adding about $45,946 per child under 18 in the United States to our debt burden.

BOTTOM LINE: Though Jeb Bush and the very wealthy can certainly afford his tax plan, the middle class cannot afford another failed trickle-down plan. As Harry Stein puts it, “At a time when middle-class programs like Social Security and Medicare will need more revenue over the long-term to meet the needs of an aging population, this plan is simply not sustainable for the nation.”

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Living with or taking over Wildlife habitat …

ELkOne day while I was minding my own business, I received an email from the fish and wildlife department. I signed up to get email from them but not out of malice or some secret plan to track their actions but some of them gave me chills sadness and great disappointment… and that was my first reaction then it made me remember the elk kill that happened in 12/11; I was reading local online news when I saw an article about an elk kill that was going to happen the following Monday.

It went on to say that there was a golf course built in the area and after two years the course was suffering from damage so a request for containment was obviously put in and approved. This story just gets worse as the silly and ugly of it all becomes known and the obnoxious takes over. The article stated about 30 Elk encroached the land of this golf course and that a schedule of Elk Kills would start on Monday. I am becoming more upset and decided it is time to call. The contact person was great but he said that there were only about three making life miserable for the golf Course owner. The dept. had arranged a kill with the Owners of the golf course and between you and me, the kill did not sound kosher. The kill was not announced so the community and the area’s tribes were left out as well and like many other developments, this golf course was built in wildlife habitat.endangeredWhales

I am not against sport fishing or hunting but this is not the definition of it…more like legalized poaching, which is wrong on so many levels.  My dad our family, hunted and fished, but in the good way.  Anyway, I decided to put the original article and my entry out into the airwaves to see what would happen. Thank goodness some in the community heard about the upcoming kill, demanded the kill be stopped. The area’s tribe stated they did not know about the kill, they also stated some of the land where the kills would take place was on sacred land, which made me relax because unless or until a mutual agreement is made the Elk would likely be safe. If they needed the meat, far be it from me to obstruct as long as the tribe and that area’s food banks are filled for the local communities. I cannot say that was on their minds though as an employee stated, “If they had just kept it quiet the commotion would be less.” Fortunately, they delayed the Elk kill.

Unfortunately, in a different part of the Pacific NW, not only are they hiring to help with elk kills they have a wait list of volunteers and paid helpers to “round” up the elk, which is sick to an outsider. You might be wondering why be sick, well, because not too long ago Elk were reduced to questionable numbers and five years later WA State decides to thin them out again. The only answer would be that developers are eyeing the land and the offer might be tough to reject.outofharmswaywolves

My email inquiry is below; I did call as well and was asked to email…sorry


I just had to respond to an email, which I guess I subscribed to on a regular basis. First, I want to state that I have nothing against hunting but I really do not understand why these elk kills not hunts are put on if the elk are truly not harming anyone. If someone could explain to the public who decides the kills are needed why how many and what could be done other than the every 5yrplan or so. I have to ask because the available wildlife habitat seems to be shrinking. At one point, the number of elk was very low and an increase of building roads and or homes in wildlife land. I am not the only Washington resident that misunderstands, and some object to the kills. I am no expert but who is invading whom. I received an email looking for volunteers, who included the following:  “The department’s management plan calls for reducing the herd size to bring the number of animals into balance with available habitat,” Junker said.  I said, this seems like a legal poach and bringing the number in balance with the available habitat is only as big as the next golf course or family center or housing development. I just do not understand who gets the meat, hopefully to ALL Native American Tribes … who, should be the “hunters” by the way or the areas food banks but the whole “Volunteers” needed to facilitate access for elk hunts” sounds the opposite of what hunting is all about.

orca whales facing high levels of pollution and endangerment

Their response:

Thank you for contacting the Department of Fish and Wildlife. I am forwarding your e-mail to our Wildlife Management Program, so they can address your concerns.

If you have, any questions please feel free to contact us at 360-902-2464 or email us at licensing@dfw.wa.gov.


Thank you for contacting the Department of Fish and Wildlife. I am forwarding your e-mail to our Wildlife Management Program, so they can address your concerns.

If you have, any questions please feel free to contact us at 360-902-2464 or email us at licensing@dfw.wa.gov.


Not much information given

Like I said, I have nothing against hunting and fishing, but what we have here is nothing close and sounds like legal poaching on wildlife that already is dealing with humans that have decided to spread out at whatever cost is just wrong.  If that was not enough, let us talk about the Puget Sound’s Orca. I know even less about orcas scientifically, but I did grow up hearing the story of Namu’s capture. Ted Griffith, the so-called trainer has stories written about him that are not good. Consequently, I have a lot opinions thoughts and feelings about Whales in general.  I feel that our Navy should get a cease and desist letter ordering all the sonar tests stop until they find out if this is indeed affecting our Whales or at least tell the public what the sonars are being used for or against. I also want to know why there are less Orca’s, why has the state sided with whale watchers and why are our grey whales washing up on our beaches. There should not be whales in captivity. The organized elk kills, taking whales off the endangered list are all beyond sad but to hear that Wyoming has planned a massive wolf kill has us all gasping … Why? Because there is no announcement no explanation and leaves some of us wondering what new development is about to shrink wildlife habitat even more.

Hey, call write and email your states Fishing & Wildlife dept. and Ask Questions!

Thank you for contacting the Department of Fish and Wildlife. I am forwarding your e-mail to our Wildlife Management Program, so they can address your concerns.

Bargaining For The American Dream … CAP


Economic Mobility and Union Membership Go Hand In Hand

We all can agree that zip code shouldn’t determine destiny and a child’s economic future should not be determined by his or her parents’ income. Upward mobility and opportunity are the definition of the American dream. But today, the United States has less mobility and fewer opportunities than other advanced economies: a U.S. child born in the bottom quintile of the income distribution has only a 7.5 percent chance to reach the top quintile of the income distribution as an adult. In comparison, a child born in Denmark in the bottom quintile has an 11.7 percent chance of reaching the top quintile as an adult. That child born in Canada has a 13.4 percent chance.

Understanding the challenges to economic mobility are key to increasing it. A groundbreaking new report from researchers at Harvard, Wellesley, and the Center for American Progress does just that: it finds that economic mobility thrives where unions thrive. The data show a strong relationship between union membership and intergenerational economic mobility. Here are some other key findings from the report:

  • Areas with higher union membership demonstrate more mobility for low income children. Low-income children rise higher in the income rankings when they grow up in areas with high-union membership. A 10 percentage point increase in a geographic area’s union membership is associated with low-income children ranking 1.3 percentile points higher in the national income distribution.
  • Areas with higher union membership have more mobility as measured by all children’s incomes. After controlling for parents’ incomes, the report finds that a 10 percentage point increase in union density is associated with a 4.5 percent increase in the income of an area’s children.
  • Children who grow up in union households have better outcomes. Children of non-college-educated fathers earn 28 percent more if their father was in a labor union.
  • Union density is one of the strongest predictors of an area’s mobility. The relationship between unions and the mobility of low-income children is at least as strong as the relationship between mobility and high school dropout rates—a factor that is generally recognized as one of the most important correlates of economic mobility. Furthermore, unions remain a significant predictor of economic mobility even after one controls for several variables including race, types of industries, inequality, and more.

These findings indicate that those who want to increase economic mobility should support unions. “The ongoing decline of unions will make it harder and harder for the United States to reduce inequality and maintain a strong middle class in the future,” explains Richard B. Freeman, Herbert Ascherman Chair in Economics at Harvard University and lead author of the report. Former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers, quoted in New York Times coverage of the report, says the results show “further grounds for concern about the decline of unionism in the United States.”

BOTTOM LINE: There’s new evidence about the importance of unions in America: Economic mobility and union membership go hand in hand. Unions need support to continue their role of reducing inequality, opening doors for workers and their families, and keeping America a place where you don’t need to be born wealthy to get ahead.

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