Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Haves & Have-Nots (and the Unions)


The Haves and Have-Nots
(and the Unions)

The present administrations (federal, state and local) are adamant about lumping people in two categories – the Haves and the Have-Nots. The middle class, particularly the upper middle class, is a dying class. Many of those people who were among this group are still trying to live the good life – at the expense of burying themselves in debt.

When the economy is booming it’s OK for those in control – the lawmakers, who are almost exclusively part of the Haves – to share the wealth. If a bill is introduced to increase the minimum wage…why not? Another to extend unemployment benefits…sure. Then there’s another vote – on the funding of the free school lunch program…passed. Tax breaks and incentives are routinely doled out to big businesses and universities as they expand their operations and threaten to move to a more tax-friendly location. When the country’s economy is flourishing (and therefore there is less urgency to these programs) the votes are always there to push them through – even in a Republican controlled body.

When the economy slows down, however, support for social programs and bills designed at aiding the Have-Nots suddenly disappears. It’s now down to an “us against them” mentality for our lawmakers. Bills are introduced which are designed to allow the Haves to hold onto their wealth – tax cuts for the wealthy or reduction of the capital-gains tax are the orders of the day. When discussions turn to social programs the attitude is generally, “We took care of them is the last session, now is the time to be tightening our belts, not the time to be digging ourselves a deeper hole”. This, despite the fact there is a much greater need for these types of programs in a tough economic climate. The first ones to feel the effects of this belt-tightening are the Have-Nots. The next ones to feel the pinch are the state and municipal unions.

When the politicians are ‘circling the wagons’ to desperately keep their budgets in the black, the first thing they do is turn to their Tough Times Playbook. Right there on the front page, between ‘No increases in programs that don’t generate income’ and ‘Increase incentives to big business to stimulate the economy’ is ‘Demand give-backs from unions’. Listed in this section, under the heading ‘Strategies’, are suggestions on how to make the union workers seem over compensated. Suggestions such as, ‘Compare their salaries with the lower income manufacturing and jewelry industry workers’. ‘Point out that the citizens are paying for the union member’s pension’.

There are also sub-sections on topics to avoid. ‘Don’t allow the unions to compare their compensation with decent-paying companies such as the public utility workers – gas company, electric company, telephone company, etc.’. These companies pay better wages than the state and municipal workers receive and have generous benefit packages. ‘Don’t allow the unions to compare their salaries to successful private employers in the area. Companies such as the Providence Journal, Textron, Blue Cross, etc.’. These non-public companies have good compensation packages and incentives for their employees – far and away more generous than those of state and municipal workers.

Above all else, the number one subject to avoid is wage, benefit and perks packages for CEO’s and upper management of large corporations that have benefited from tax breaks and incentives. Even when these figures are estimated by reporters or others, the only defense (there is no reasonable defense) is to ignore the questions until media and public attention can be successfully diverted in another direction. These people are, after all, the constituents who finance the campaigns that will keep them in office. They will also be the corporations that will employ these politicians after they leave “public service”.

This is the point we find ourselves in at this time. Until a Democrat takes the White House I fear we’re in for more of the same.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Democrats Don't Have All the Answers...


Democrats Don’t Have All the Answers

Democrats seem to be losing credibility with the middle-ground Independent voters in this country. This is evident in the fact that after 8 years of Bush disasters in the White House – especially in light of gas prices, a failing economy, a complete failure of the housing and mortgage industries, AND the disastrous war in Iraq – voters are even considering voting Republican again!

I realize that my opinions are not indicative of the Democratic Party (many of my opinions are in contradiction to the apparent Democratic platform), but I am a staunch believer and supporter of many of the Democratic base-line principles. These principles include (but are not limited to) support of pro-labor initiatives which protect American workers in safety in the workplace, fair compensation and fair taxes. I also support and defend the pro-choice side of the abortion issue, and continuation (with modifications – see below) of the welfare system – we can’t simply turn our backs on those families who are currently in no position to provide for themselves.
I support the Democratic view of stimulating the economy as opposed to the Republican view, which is too focused on providing overly generous incentives and rewards to big business.

One of the biggest problem areas for the Democratic Party in this Novembers elections, both federal and local, is the proposed policies on illegal immigration. The people see clearly that illegal immigrants are costing this country an incredible amount of tax revenue – in uncollected taxes for wages earned AND in tax revenue being spent on social, educational and health related programs. Democratic politicians and candidates throw the political double talk at the voters and attempt to place our economic problems elsewhere. While the areas they point to are certainly big contributors to our economic woes, so to are illegal aliens.

It is often stated that these illegal workers are doing the jobs that Americans will not. This is absurd. Many Americans may not do these jobs for the same wages or under the unsafe working conditions as the illegals, but pay American workers a fair wage and give them safe and healthy working conditions and they will. Some jobs (ones that are vital to our economy) can even be assumed by Welfare recipients as compensation for their cash benefits, food stamps and health care (see below).

I believe that as long as Democrats are associated with the extreme left-wing fringes of the party (giving away the store to everyone with a sob story without the need to earn their keep), those independent swing voters will be tempted to vote Republican.

I say these things as a person who firmly believes in most of the Democratic core principles and is in stark opposition to most Republican principles. I reserve the right to love my city, my state and my country while complaining about those issues where I disagree with policy. I also reserve the right to call myself a Democrat and complain about what I consider its weaknesses or flaws, so if you disagree with this post state your views without resorting to name calling or labeling me as a fair-weather Democrat or traitor or…


“A society is ultimately judged by the way it treats its least fortunate members.”

I believe that we, as a people, have the obligation to take care of those members of our society that have to struggle to survive. The burden of this care would, rightfully, fall on those citizens who work and pay taxes. It is more important to protect the welfare of individuals unable to provide for themselves than to maximize profits for businesses or safeguard earnings of those who are living a comfortable lifestyle.

That being said, business profits and safeguarding hard-working individual’s earnings are also important. This is why I believe that we should be searching for ways to maximize the impact of every dollar that we spend on government assistance programs, not seeking to eliminate these programs altogether.

Welfare benefits should only be given to people who work a minimum of 20 hours for their state or local government, or for governmentally approved agencies – the number of hours required would depend on the amount of benefits they are receiving. Those with newborn children would be exempt for 6 months after the birth of the child. Those with severely handicapped children would be exempt for as long as they are the primary caregiver to that child. Handicapped individuals who are unable to provide for their own care would be exempt, also.

The state or city or town would provide free day care centers staffed primarily by welfare recipients. These day care centers would also provide reduced fee service for families who were not on government assistance.

Emergency medical treatment would be denied to no one. Free preventive medical treatment would be available via neighborhood clinics to all children under the age of 18 as long as the parents could provide documentation of the child’s citizenship or legal residency status.

Public schools would provide free education to all citizens or legal resident aliens. School lunch programs would provide a free lunch (lunch only) to all students. Welfare recipients would be utilized as school lunch workers and monitors. Teachers’ aides jobs would be filled by welfare recipients. School bus monitors would be welfare recipient, as would be crossing guards.

Other able-bodied individuals should be put to work repairing, improving and cleaning our infrastructure. In farming areas welfare recipients can be utilized in picking fruits and vegetables – those jobs that utilize illegal aliens to work at slave wages. The farmers can pay the government the equivalent of slave wages in order to keep food costs down.

At any time a person applies for governmental assistance of any kind they would be required to show proof of citizenship or immigration status. Anyone not able to provide such proof should be immediately referred to ICE.

Federal, state and municipal workers would be required to check citizenship or immigration status of any person they encounter in the course of their duties who appear (for whatever reason) to be suspect. Hospital and medical clinic workers would be required to do the same.

There will be no government money spent on illegal aliens – with the exception of emergency medical care. In the case of emergency medical care being provided to an undocumented or illegal alien, ICE shall be notified immediately.

Any government money spent on medical care involving intervention of a substance abuse problem of any kind shall be limited to 1 time only.

No affirmative action or quotas of any kind – for any reason. If this is truly to be a land of equal opportunity it is time to do away with any such advantages and truly treat everyone as equals.

Require all non-English speaking people in the U.S. to be registered in a English as a 2nd language course.

Reinstate, at least in some degree, the federal windfall profit tax for big business and corporations.

These are but a few of the things we could do to provide care for those despondent individuals in our midst while safeguarding the tax dollars paid by those who work hard for their money. After an initial adjustment period I believe this system would be far more fiscally efficient and responsible. It would also encourage people to get off the welfare system at their earliest opportunity.

People before profits. However, I am a firm believer that if you give someone a fish today, you’ll feed them today. If you teach them to fish, you’ll feed them for a lifetime. There should be no multi-generational welfare recipients in this country. Those who are truly in need should be taken care of, but those who are able to work for their benefits should do just that.

"Pointing My Finger at Cicilline"


Pointing My Finger at Cicilline

An opinion written by a ProJo “Editorial columnist” on July 16th caught my eye – David N. Cicilline: Stop pointing fingers at illegals.

First of all, when did ProJo hire Cicilline as an “Editorial columnist”? I have known this for quite a while now but it’s nice to see you finally acknowledge the fact.

What a shameless piece of political side-stepping on the “illegals” situation and shameless political maneuvering on behalf of his on again, off again run for the governor’s job in 2010. Apparently his run is “on” this week.

I’d like to state that I am no supporter of Governor Carcieri – not in any stretch of the imagination. His Executive Order concerning illegal aliens in the State of Rhode Island is the very first action (or proposed action) he’s taken to which I am in agreement – at least in theory.

David N. Cicilline takes advantage of his opportunity to address the entire state via ProJo by stating in his headline that he is defending “illegals”. What follows is a half-hearted, untruthful (or at the very least, misleading) defense of the public and documented positions on this issue taken by himself and his “best police chief in America”.

Cicilline writes eleven (11) paragraphs, but devotes nine (9) paragraphs to attacking the Governor and beginning his political campaign to win his seat. While I agree that RI is in a recession, and I agree with some of the statements he makes regarding the Governor’s anti-taxpayer policies, these are not in keeping with the intended (going by the headline) subject. These are purely out-and-out campaign issues. This was nothing more than an attempt to divert attention away from the “illegals” problem and position himself as a candidate for Governor.

He continually refuses to give direct answers on this issue. Is it any wonder he refused the invitation to appear on O’Reilly’s show? He will never appear with someone if he knows they will not let him dodge the issue with his quick political foot work.

As for his assertion that “Providence has always reported and will continue to report “all” arrests to immigration authorities”, this is a total misrepresentation of the facts. While it is technically true, the number of names sent were far more than needed to be sent. The PPD sent the names of “all” individuals arraigned that day. Also, in most cases, these names were forwarded after the case had already been disposed and the individual had been set free.

As for Cicilline’s assertion that Providence is not considered a “sanctuary city” is completely untruthful. Just ask any illegal on the street’s of Providence. I deal with many people of all types on the streets of Providence. The “illegals” are not limited to people of Hispanic roots by any means – Asians, Europeans, Africans and Middle East immigrants can be just as likely illegal. One of the predominant characteristics of the illegals in Providence (as well as many other locations, I’m sure) is that they drive unregistered and uninsured vehicles, with no operator’s license. This is an everyday occurance at motor vehicle accidents in Providence. Ask the people who break the law in this manner and are only given tickets to pay a fine if Providence is a sanctuary city.

Cicilline goes on to attempt to shift blame for Marco Riz’s release from Providence’s custody to ICE. Not surprising – he found scapegoats for the snowstorm debacle and the failure of the Providence school system as well!!

Saturday, July 12, 2008




I watched on TV the firemen rushing to the scene of the WTC
I watched as the tower fell and knew we had just lost several brothers
But it wasn’t until I saw the firemen running away from the building that I felt the fear

I watched as thousands of firefighters from all over the world gathered in Worcester, MA
I watched as thousands of Worcester citizens silently gazed at us as we marched
But it wasn’t until it was all over that I silently cried and understood

I watched as the smoke and flames engulfed the entire front of the building
I watched as my friends, my brothers, crawled along the hot, smoky floor
But it wasn’t until we recovered the infant’s charred remains that my heart began to break

I looked down in horror at the lifeless and faceless baby lying before me on the floor
I watched as the Medics worked feverishly in an attempt to breathe life back into her lungs
But it wasn’t until the doctor “called it”, that the finality of the moment struck me

I’ve watched from my front row seat as so many tragedies unfold right before my eyes
I’ve seen so many people’s lives irreversibly shattered without any prior warning
But it’s not until the moment has passed, that the pain imbeds itself forever in my soul

Tom Kenney - 2008