My Response to “The Untruth Keeping You From Getting Rich”

Written in response to this Opinion Piece by Mr. Green.

Sorry to say it, Mr Green, but I believe what you’ve said isn’t entirely true. Certainly, individual initiative and personal responsibility are to be valued and uplifted. But these are not the only ideals a person should aspire to. Buried is the notion of civic and public responsibility, the notion that we are, not only responsible for ourselves, but we are responsible for each other.

It is a simple fact that many people are motivated primarily by personal gain. And, if pursued responsibly and without harm to others, such pursuit of happiness can very well be a virtue.

But there are others who are not firstly motivated by personal gain, but by a call to service, by a pursuit of knowledge, or by a simple need to care for others. These soldiers, first responders, teachers, scientists, medical personnel and even lawyers and politicians do not always achieve the level of wealth of a CEO or a major investor or of an owner of a corporation. Are these people to be scorned or pitied simply because they don’t involve themselves in a race for personal riches? Are they to be devalued? And what is their worth if it is not in the transient money of our world?

They are of intrinsic value to society due to their service. It is not their wealth that is their worth but the good of their work — to themselves and to us all. The individualist-centered ideology you describe ignores these people and their personal callings, boiling all value down to ‘wealth generation’ and ‘profit motive.’ But what of our satisfaction in good work? What of our satisfaction in creating a better tomorrow? This progress ethic is entirely overlooked. Indeed, it is even denigrated.

Your point of view generates unfairness because it is entirely centered in a competitive profit motive. And if this is the only ideal, people will do whatever they can — cheat, game the system — to win. This system rewards the vicious and the ruthless. It rewards cheaters. It rewards monopolies and cartels who establish dominance. Such a system, over time, will grow more and more unfair. We see this in action every time a pure free market is attempted. The system fails as too many people attempt to game the system. The most recent financial collapse is a case in point, the savings & loan crisis, the great depression. History shows there is no such thing as rational self interest. Self interest must be reigned in and tempered with rationality.

And as for fairness, the system now is dreadfully unfair. You have one class in control of ever greater power and wealth lobbying endlessly not only to increase that power but to reduce the share and enfranchisement of others. You have the wealthy investors who endlessly push to lower wages, angling more and more for a greater share of profits. At the same time, these individuals push to reduce their responsibility to the very society that has enabled them the opportunity to achieve so much. In doing so, they deny the opportunity of those who come after them.

Fairness is not a value to those with this world-view, helping others is not a value. Instead it is take what you can, when you can. This is not to say that all wealthy act in this way. In fact, there are many wealthy who are paragons of service and social responsibility, who should serve as examples for us all. Who call for greater responsibility from those of their station when it is needed (yes, that means sometimes paying higher taxes) and who also recognize the necessity of fair wages, living wages, and providing reward and care for a lifetime of virtuous work. These people are not the problem.

The problem comes from those with the ideology and belief that validates only greed. That does not recognize the need for service. And that does not consider for the needs of others or of the long-term progress of the society that afforded them the opportunity for such great success. And it is these takers that deserve every ounce of ire. They are as harmful and destructive as they are myopically self-serving. The new bandits and robber barons who never look beyond the shallow walls of their petty fiefdoms to see whom they have harmed.

This is not the American ideal, this shallow loot and pillage, this demonization of the government that is the very affirmation of our ability to cooperate and pool resources for endeavors far beyond the scope of a single man or a single lifetime. Some realize that a service to this cause, to this democracy, is a far, far better thing than a base service of animal desires. And it is the sight of this virtue that you have lost.

Bill Clinton’s Stunning Truth Telling at Democratic Convention Unmasks ‘Republican Alternative Universe,’ Provides Overwhelming Case for Obama Re-Election

We all know that Bill Clinton had personal reasons to be upset about Obama’s defeat of his wife Hillary in 2008. That said, Bill’s own passion for America’s future has long out-weighed his personal concerns and he has been a stalwart supporter of Obama ever since his election.

Now, Bill adds passion and truth-telling of historical value in order to support an American revival and rejection of republican policies that only benefit the wealthy and which have caused so much harm over the last 12 years.

Clinton’s resolute ballad was not a speech of glittering generalities and platitudes. Clinton instead delivered with passion, verve, grace, and eloquence a number of stunning facts the likes of which should make even the fact-immune Paul Ryan stand up and pay attention.

Clinton began his speech by noting the stunning difference between jobs growth of Republican and Democratic administrations, showing that Democrats are twice as effective at jobs creation as Republicans over the last fifty years. Clinton continues by chiding Republicans for their obvious hatred of Democrats and stunning failure to work with Democrats over the past four years of devastating obstructionist policies.

Clinton noted “I’m working all the time with Republicans, Democrats and Independents. We focus on seizing opportunities and not fighting all the time… The politics of constant conflict… doesn’t work in the real world. What works in the real world is cooperation.”

Cooperation, not conflict and competition, was a running theme throughout Clinton’s speech.

“Los Angeles is getting Green… because Republicans and Democrats are working together.”

“Unfortunately the faction that now dominates the Republican party doesn’t see it that way. They think government is always the enemy they’re always right and that compromise is weakness… They beat a republican Congressman with almost a 100% voting record on every conservation score because he said he realized he didn’t have to hate the President to disagree with him. Boy that was a non-starter and they threw him out.”

“One of the main reasons we should re-elect Obama is that he is still committed to cooperation.”

Clinton gracefully connected the concept of cooperation to the highest aspirations of democracy. He appealed for a democracy that was “an honorable enterprise that advances the public interest.”

Clinton continued to reveal the stunning lack of cooperation of republicans, noting that they’d turned democracy into a blood sport when they claimed their #1 goal, two years before the election, was to make certain Obama didn’t get re-elected.

Clinton then turned to celebrate the massive number of successes achieved by President Obama. He noted his skillful halting of a recession that could have been as bad as the Great Depression. He noted the numerous months of jobs growth. He showed how Obamacare was already helping, how it had extended the life of Medicare.

“When President Obama took office the economy was in free fall, it had just shrunk 9 full percent of GDP, we were losing 750,000 jobs per month. Are we doing better than that. The answer is yes!”

Clinton relentlessly reapplied a job scoring set of facts that showed how damaging republican policies had been to US employment, showing that Republicans blocked a bill that would have resulted in a million extra jobs created just last year even as they opposed the rescue of the auto industry that saved 1.1 million jobs and created over 250,000 additional jobs since 2009.

But Clinton didn’t only criticize. From point to point he pivoted to supporting solutions. To providing a clear rationale and policy platform for continued recovery. He supported Obama’s student loan policies, he supported his recovery efforts, he supported Obama’s immigration reform policies, and he celebrated the principles of inclusion and equality in the American system.

Perhaps most eloquent was his defense of Obamacare:

“Let’s take a look at what’s actually happened so far. First, individuals and businesses have already gotten more than a billion dollars in refunds from insurance companies because of a little law that requires 80-85 percent of your premium to go to health care not profits or promotions. And the gains are even greater than that because a bunch of insurance companies have applied to lower their rates to comply with the requirement. Second, more than 3 million young people between 19 and 25 are insured for the first time because their parents policies can cover them. Third, millions of seniors are receiving preventive care all the way from breast cancer screenings to tests for heart problems and scores of other things and young people are getting them too. Fourth, soon insurance companies, not the government, the insurance companies will have millions of new customers many of them middle class people with preexisting conditions who never could get insurance before.

“Finally for the last two years… after going up at 3 times the rate of inflation for a decade, for the last two years healthcare costs have been under 4% in both years for the first time in fifty years. So, let me ask you something. Are we better off because President Obama fought for Health Care reform? You bet we are!!”

Clinton went on to gracefully deconstruct the Republican’s lies about cuts to Medicare by 716 billion dollars.

“That’s the same attack they leveled against Congress in 2010 and they got a lot of votes for it. But it’s not true. Here’s what really happened. You be the judge. There were no cuts to benefits at all. None. What the President did was, to save money by taking the recommendations of a commission of professionals. To cut unwarranted subsidies to providers and insurance companies that were not making people healthier and were not necessary to get the providers to provide the service. And instead of raiding Medicare, he used the savings to close the donut hole in the Medicare drug program. And to add eight years to the Medicare trust fund so it is solvent until 2024.

“So President Obama and the Democrats didn’t weaken Medicare. They strengthened Medicare.”

Clinton continues by showing that Ryan’s plan keeps the same savings, but, more darkly, Romney’s does not. So, in the end, Romney makes Medicare insolvent, through his plan, by 2016.

Listening to Clinton’s speech it is impossible to continue to take seriously almost any of the Republican’s assertions during this election. They are revealed for what they are. Blatant falsehoods. But, more important, these falsehoods are destructive in so many ways it takes a 45 minute speech by Clinton to lightly, albeit gracefully, and with strength, touch on just how destructive.

Clinton showed pathos for all those who would lose their coverage. Who would lose their hopes for decent health care. Who would be unfairly taxed under republican policies. And his passion in this fight shows that he has transcended the role of political leader and taken a solid stand for economic justice in the United States.

The man who led the strongest economic expansion in United States history makes a very compelling case. If you haven’t yet seen his speech, I urge you to watch and to share with your friends. His speech is a matter of historic importance. For he clearly defines our paths — one that offers very real hope, and another that offers little more than decline.

Chevy Volt Breaks Monthly Sales Records Again

America’s most customer-loved automobile broke a new monthly sales record this August. According to GM, sales figures for the Chevy Volt exceeded 2,800 vehicles for August. The Volt’s previous best sales month was March at 2,289 vehicles.

So far this year, the Volt has sold over 13,000 automobiles in the US and is on track to sell nearly 20,000 by the end of this year. Worldwide, the Volt has already sold over 25,000 vehicles in 2012.

In 2011, the Volt was the highest-rated vehicle for customer satisfaction. This despite a wide-ranging political attack by republicans and oil-special interest sources to discredit the vehicle.

The Volt’s revolutionary engine system allows the vehicle to travel for 40 miles in an all-electric mode before switching to gasoline assisted driving. Many Volt drivers report making it more than 1,500 miles between fill-ups in day-to-day driving.

If large portions of the US vehicle fleet were made up of cars like the Volt, it would drastically reduce oil imports. Just a 30% market penetration of plug-in electric hybrids could cut US oil consumption by as much as 2.5 million barrels per day. That’s more than twice the domestic oil produced via Eagle Ford and Bakken combined.

In addition, the Volt emits far less in the way of greenhouse gasses. According to the EPA, the Volt emits 84 grams of carbon per mile averaged over its lifetime. In comparison, a similar-sized combustion engine sedan emits four to five times as much carbon over its lifetime. Considering that personal vehicle transport accounts for 20% of CO2 emissions, a world-wide adoption of vehicles like the Volt could cut total emissions by as much as 15%.

This beneficial reduced fuel demand, however, is likely to eat into oil company profits. Which is probably one reason why the Volt has drawn flack from certain media and political circles. Increasingly, these sources have towed the oil industry line in messaging, both denying global warming and simultaneously attacking any replacements for fossil fuel energy. This destructive attempt at market domination would result in vast harm to technological progress as well as call into question the future health and even continuance of civil society should the worst impacts of climate change emerge.

So one should take any such dissuasion with a grain of salt. These aspersions hold no value and result only in harm to US interests and world climate security.

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