Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Empathy Deficit Disorder

Latest column from Robert Reich - follow link to original.

These Republicans are INSANE!
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http://robertreich.org/


Commenting on a recent student suicide at an Alaska high school, Alaska’s Republican Congressman Don Young said suicide didn’t exist in Alaska before “government largesse” gave residents an entitlement mentality.
“When people had to work and had to provide and had to keep warm by putting participation in cutting wood and catching the fish and killing the animals, we didn’t have the suicide problem,” he said. Government handouts tell people “you are not worth anything but you are going to get something for nothing.”
Alaska has the highest rate of suicide per capita in America – almost twice the national average, and a leading cause of death in Alaska for young people ages 15 to 24 — but I doubt it’s because Alaskans lead excessively easy lives.
Every time I visit Alaska I’m struck by how hard people there have to work to make ends meet. The state is the last American frontier, where people seem more self-reliant than anywhere in the lower forty eight.
It’s true that every Alaskan receives an annual dividend from a portion of state oil revenues (this year it will be almost $2,000 per person), but research shows no correlation between the amount of the dividend from year to year and the suicide rate.
Suicide is a terrible tragedy for those driven to it and for their loved ones. What possessed Congressman Young to turn it into a political football?
Young has since apologized for his remark. Or, more accurately, his office has apologized. “Congressman Young did not mean to upset anyone with his well-intentioned message,” says a news release from his congressional office, “and in light of the tragic events affecting the Wasilla High School community, he should have taken a much more sensitive approach.”
Well-intentioned? More sensitive approach?
Young’s comment would be offensive regardless of who uttered it. That he’s a member of the United States Congress — Alaska’s sole representative in the House – makes it downright alarming.
You might expect someone who’s in the business of representing others to have a bit more empathy. In fact, you’d think empathy would be the minimum qualification to hold public office in a democracy.
Sadly, Young is hardly alone. A remarkable number of people who are supposed to be devoting their lives to representing others seem clueless about how their constituents actually live and what they need.
Last week New Jersey Governor Chris Christie groused to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, “I’m tired of hearing about the minimum wage.”
No doubt some in the audience shared Christie’s view. It was the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, after all.
But many of the Governor’s constituents are not tired of hearing about the minimum wage. They depend on it.
New Jersey has among the largest number of working poor in America. Some 50,000 people work for the state’s minimum wage of $8.25 an hour.
This isn’t nearly enough to lift them out of poverty. The state’s cost of living is one of the five highest of all states.
In any event, doesn’t hearing from constituents about what they need go with the job of representing them?
Christie went on to tell his audience “I don’t think there’s a mother or a father sitting around the kitchen table tonight in America saying, ‘You know, honey, if our son or daughter could just make a higher minimum wage, my God, all of our dreams would be realized.’ Is that what parents aspire to?”
A minimum-wage job is no one’s version of the American dream. But Christie is wrong to suppose most minimum-wage workers are teenagers. Most are adults who are major breadwinners for their families.
Christie seems to suffer the same ailment that afflicts Alaska’s Don Young.
Call it Empathy Deficit Disorder. Some Democrats have it, but the disorder seems especially widespread among Republicans.
These politicians have no idea what people who are hard up in America are going through.
Most Americans aren’t suicidal, and most don’t work at the minimum wage. But many are deeply anxious about their jobs and panicked about how they’re going to pay next month’s bills.
Almost two-thirds of working Americans are living paycheck to paycheck.
And they’re worried sick about whether their kids will ever make it.
They need leaders who understand their plight instead of denying it.
They deserve politicians who want to fix it rather than blame it on those who have to depend on public assistance, or who need a higher minimum wage, in order to get by.
At the very least, they need leaders who empathize with what they’re going through, not those with Empathy Deficit Disorder.

The Red Cross’ Secret Disaster by Justin Elliott and Jesse Eisinger, ProPublica, and Laura Sullivan, NPR October 29, 2014

Please follow this link to "Pro Publica".  It documents the massive failure of The Red Cross after Sandy and Issac.  Once again it seems we are beset by folks who think the appearance of "action" is more important than anything "real". 

Our society really is falling apart.  I'm not even sure that they mean well.

Since it is a rather long piece, I'll just post a very short excerpt  --  please follow the link to the original.
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http://www.propublica.org/article/the-red-cross-secret-disaster

In 2012, two massive storms pounded the United States, leaving hundreds of thousands of people homeless, hungry or without power for days and weeks.
Americans did what they so often do after disasters. They sent hundreds of millions of dollars to the Red Cross, confident their money would ease the suffering left behind by Superstorm Sandy and Hurricane Isaac. They believed the charity was up to the job.
They were wrong.
The Red Cross botched key elements of its mission after Sandy and Isaac, leaving behind a trail of unmet needs and acrimony, according to an investigation by ProPublica and NPR. The charity’s shortcomings were detailed in confidential reports and internal emails, as well as accounts from current and former disaster relief specialists.
What’s more, Red Cross officials at national headquarters in Washington, D.C. compounded the charity’s inability to provide relief by “diverting assets for public relations purposes,” as one internal report puts it. Distribution of relief supplies, the report said, was “politically driven.”
During Isaac, Red Cross supervisors ordered dozens of trucks usually deployed to deliver aid to be driven around nearly empty instead, “just to be seen,” one of the drivers, Jim Dunham, recalls.
“We were sent way down on the Gulf with nothing to give,” Dunham says. The Red Cross’ relief effort was “worse than the storm.”
During Sandy, emergency vehicles were taken away from relief work and assigned to serve as backdrops for press conferences, angering disaster responders on the ground.
After both storms, the charity’s problems left some victims in dire circumstances or vulnerable to harm, the organization’s internal assessments acknowledge. Handicapped victims “slept in their wheelchairs for days” because the charity had not secured proper cots. In one shelter, sex offenders were “all over including playing in children’s area” because Red Cross staff “didn’t know/follow procedures.” ..........................

Monday, October 27, 2014

Charlie Parker-Donna Lee



Miles Davis(trumpet),Charlie Parker(alto sax),Bud Powell(piano),Tommy Potter(bass),MaxRoach(drums).

Charlie Parker - Dizzy Gillespie Rebop Six 1945 ~ Dizzy Atmosphere



Dizzy Gillespie - Trumpet
Charlie Parker - Alto Sax
Milt Jackson - Vibraphone
Al Haig - Piano
Ray Brown - Bass
Stan Levey - Drums

Charlie Parker - Modern Jazz Quartet Live 1952 ~ How High The Moon



Charlie Parker - Alto Sax
Milt Jackson - Vibes
John Lewis - Piano
Percy Heath - Bass
Kenny Clarke - Drums

Kansas City

I still think they will lose the World Series!

Ideology and Investment

Dr. Krugman's latest column
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http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/27/opinion/paul-krugman-ideology-and-investment.html

America used to be a country that built for the future. Sometimes the government built directly: Public projects, from the Erie Canal to the Interstate Highway System, provided the backbone for economic growth. Sometimes it provided incentives to the private sector, like land grants to spur railroad construction. Either way, there was broad support for spending that would make us richer.
But nowadays we simply won’t invest, even when the need is obvious and the timing couldn’t be better. And don’t tell me that the problem is “political dysfunction” or some other weasel phrase that diffuses the blame. Our inability to invest doesn’t reflect something wrong with “Washington”; it reflects the destructive ideology that has taken over the Republican Party.
Some background: More than seven years have passed since the housing bubble burst, and ever since, America has been awash in savings — or more accurately, desired savings — with nowhere to go. Borrowing to buy homes has recovered a bit, but remains low. Corporations are earning huge profits, but are reluctant to invest in the face of weak consumer demand, so they’re accumulating cash or buying back their own stock. Banks are holding almost $2.7 trillion in excess reserves — funds they could lend out, but choose instead to leave idle.
And the mismatch between desired saving and the willingness to invest has kept the economy depressed. Remember, your spending is my income and my spending is your income, so if everyone tries to spend less at the same time, everyone’s income falls.
There’s an obvious policy response to this situation: public investment. We have huge infrastructure needs, especially in water and transportation, and the federal government can borrow incredibly cheaply — in fact, interest rates on inflation-protected bonds have been negative much of the time (they’re currently just 0.4 percent). So borrowing to build roads, repair sewers and more seems like a no-brainer. But what has actually happened is the reverse. After briefly rising after the Obama stimulus went into effect, public construction spending has plunged. Why?
In a direct sense, much of the fall in public investment reflects the fiscal troubles of state and local governments, which account for the great bulk of public investment.
These governments generally must, by law, balance their budgets, but they saw revenues plunge and some expenses rise in a depressed economy. So they delayed or canceled a lot of construction to save cash.
Yet this didn’t have to happen. The federal government could easily have provided aid to the states to help them spend — in fact, the stimulus bill included such aid, which was one main reason public investment briefly increased. But once the G.O.P. took control of the House, any chance of more money for infrastructure vanished. Once in a while Republicans would talk about wanting to spend more, but they blocked every Obama administration initiative.



And it’s all about ideology, an overwhelming hostility to government spending of any kind. This hostility began as an attack on social programs, especially those that aid the poor, but over time it has broadened into opposition to any kind of spending, no matter how necessary and no matter what the state of the economy.
You can get a sense of this ideology at work in some of the documents produced by House Republicans under the leadership of Paul Ryan, the chairman of the Budget Committee. For example, a 2011 manifesto titled “Spend Less, Owe Less, Grow the Economy” called for sharp spending cuts even in the face of high unemployment, and dismissed as “Keynesian” the notion that “decreasing government outlays for infrastructure lessens government investment.” (I thought that was just arithmetic, but what do I know?) Or take a Wall Street Journal editorial from the same year titled “The Great Misallocators,” asserting that any money the government spends diverts resources away from the private sector, which would always make better use of those resources.
Never mind that the economic models underlying such assertions have failed dramatically in practice, that the people who say such things have been predicting runaway inflation and soaring interest rates year after year and keep being wrong; these aren’t the kind of people who reconsider their views in the light of evidence. Never mind the obvious point that the private sector doesn’t and won’t supply most kinds of infrastructure, from local roads to sewer systems; such distinctions have been lost amid the chants of private sector good, government bad.
And the result, as I said, is that America has turned its back on its own history. We need public investment; at a time of very low interest rates, we could easily afford it. But build we won’t.