Wednesday, March 12, 2008

No Fair Way To Fix Michigan/ Florida Primaries

The latest Buzz is that Florida, and possibly Michigan, are planning a “mail-in primary.” How hard is it to understand that the primary ship has sailed? The only options left are A) do not count the votes in any meaningful way, or B) give the residence of these states a greater say then all of the other voters from the other primaries. There are no “fair” options available to those states. Somehow rewarding them for violating the rules doesn’t seem right.

The fate of unbalanced options occurred as soon as a clear winner emerged from the Republican Party. Really as soon as the original primary happened there were huge hurdles to rectify. Holding a mail-in ballot at this point can not justly correct that situation.

To explain one has to accept that 70 to 80% of the country are middle of the road politically. Many of us, myself included, vote in either party’s primary depending on who is the candidate I find most interesting. In Ohio we are allowed to change party affiliation on the day of primary. I believe that is true in Florida and Michigan too.

As an informed voter, the kind you really want voting in elections, ride along with me on my train of thought. Let’s put me in Michigan. So I really like Obama and I am planning on voting for him in the primaries. Then my state moves to violate some DNC rules and vote earlier in the process. The punishment is that the votes won't be counted in the nomination process. They are also violating the RNC rules, however the states voters receive a punishment of a reduction in vote weight, but is not disqualification of my vote. So voting in the Republican primary will allow me to have some influence. Besides that fact that the vote for a democratic candidate in Michigan is simply symbolic, I find out my candidate of choice is not even going to be on the ballot. At that point I am resolved to vote for Ron Paul, who appears on the Republican ticket. I think he is a really great candidate and I would love to see him square of against Obama. My other option is not to vote at all. It is early in the elections and the rest of the country is still voting for 3 to 4 violable democratic candidates. None of them have come to my state to talk or waste advertising dollars. Why would they, my vote isn’t going to count. So I go and switch to a republican party, and I caste my vote.

Now, I knew going to the poles that my vote wasn’t counting on the Democratic side. That is why I didn’t do it. I voted for a Republican nominee. If the powers that be decide to hold another democratic primary, what are they going to do with me? Do I get a vote in both primaries giving me a vote unequal to the rest of the country? If I get a vote, do other more malice intent republicans also get a vote in the democratic primary? Most poles emerging show Obama beating McCain by 4 to 7 percentage points in a general election. They show Hillary in a statistical dead heat with McCain. If I am a staunch right wing republican who likes McCain, given the choice of democratic candidates, I am going to vote for the one that McCain will have the best chance of beating. So really my vote has been given way more strength then all other Americans. On paper, the malice intending right winger and me, a middle of the road moderate, look the same. How are you going to tell the difference between us?

There are other factors that can never be equaled. For example campaigning budgets and resources in the offending states would have to be set up in a hurry to the disadvantage the candidate that followed the rule. All of the sudden a candidate will have to scramble and redirect energy from the original plan. At this point, that would belike sitting on the 9 yard line, 1st and goal. Then all the sudden the referee comes out and says, “Sorry, we are going to move back the goal line 20 yards, hope you don’t mind.” There might be a fair way to do it that I am overlooking, but the current proposal isn’t it.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

The New Poor

The Misperception of Poor:
I was on work assignment in a southern city. I was riding along with a couple of friends I had met from other places around the US. One of them spotted a beggar in the middle of the medium. He made a comment like, “You mean to tell me that guy can stand on the medium all day but he can’t get a job?” I started slowing down to stop next to him. The cars occupants were ushering me on out of some form of embarrassment or anxiety. The one guy says to me, “were you really going to give that guys money?” I said “No way!” Confused I explained to them that I was going to ask him, “What are your financial secrets to success?”

Amazingly that didn’t get any one of them less confused. I explained, “That guy is much wealthier then I am.” There is no way that guy can get credit with no job. What he has is all his. Now me, I have a house mortgage the bank owns, School loan the government owns, two car loans the credit union owns, and $15,000 in credit card debt that I own. If the banks called in both of our accounts at the same time (mine and the street beggar), he would be around $180,000 richer then I am. Each day I slip a little further behind him. Each dollar puts him further ahead. I think the general consensus was that I was smoking something and should really share. I am used to that.

The Middle Class Is Dead And Don’t Even Know It:
Here is the truth nobody wants to admit. The poor people in this country are no longer the welfare recipients, beggars, and degenerate drunks on the street. With the advent of credit, the real poor are the people who consider themselves “upper lower” and/ or “middle class”. These people, me included, are living outside the realm of financial reality. We are not living the “middle class American dream”, but living something that more resembles a Hollywood nightmare. We cling to this term “middle class” like a camper clings to the security of his canvas tent. It is a situation, becoming unable to pay our bills, that always looms outside our campsite like a wild animal waiting to snatch the next of us away. We are all just a job, divorce, accident, or health breakdown away.

How Do You Know Your Poor?:
By economic and accounting definitions we are the poorest Americans. In accounting your “current ratio” is the result of value of your assets (things you own) divided by your liabilities (things that you owe money for). If the number is smaller then 1 then you is broke. If it is just a bit bigger then 1, congratulate yourself, you are officially middle class. You are in the same class as most doctors, lawyers, stock brokers, street corner bums, prostitutes, “exotic dancers”, and state level politicians. Another way to think about it, as I mentioned in the story, is to take all the things you own and determine the cash value. Then take all the current pay off for all your loans and credit lines. The remaining number is your actual “wealth” value. (Assets – debts = wealth).

How Did We Get Into This Mess?:
The problem started in late 1970's. This is when the “credit card” really started to takeoff. Individual companies learned that they could be more attractive to a customer if they offered a way to defer payment. Introduction of interest was first meant to be a way of punishment and persuasion to get the customers to square their accounts each month. Interest has now ballooned into a multi-billion dollar business. Credit cards lead to credit ratings. Credit ratings give you buying power that you really don't have. Here is where the trouble with our economy is defined. When you match your fake (inflated) buying power against so many other peoples fake buying power, you get an uncorrectable form of inflation.

That is where we are all now. I could easily point fingers at stupid policies like “the ownership society” but no good will be done. No stimulus package, business tax cuts, or cash infusion is going to correct our economic gluttony. We need to go on a diet, accounting for every calorie we financially consume. However, much like if everybody started eating healthy hostess and McDonald's would go broke, so it will have to be with the giant lending companies. These companies hold much governmental influence. It's not going to be easy.

“Foreclosure of a Dream”
There are so many problems caused by the existence of this situation that an entire book could be written about it. To sum it all up though, simply understand that credit had taken all that we hold dear as American values and rights. We are no longer free, hopeful, happy, or liberated in the sense that the founders meant it because of credit.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Why There Is no Fair way To Fix Michigan And Florida's Primaries

There is a growing buzz about whether to count the votes in Michigan and Florida. There really is only one logical answer to this question. NO! I am sorry voters of those states, but you were duped by your state’s DC. However, without scrapping the whole thing and starting from scratch, there can be no truly democratic process. Really, even scrapping and starting anew would be borderline unfair.

To catch up anybody who doesn’t know what is going on, at the end of 2006 beginning of 2007, there was a rush of states who were all trying to push up their primary elections. These states felt going later in the year they would have less influence. They petitioned the National committee. The national committee took a vote, made a contract and said, “no you must hold your primaries no earlier then said date.” That is how we got "Super Teusday". Candidates were all informed that if a state violated the primary date rule, they would be disqualified and their delegates would not count. They were urged to not campaign in those states. Most followed the suggestion and didn’t even get their name on the ballot. Only the craftiest, underhanded, Washington veterans saw it as an Ace in the hole if the elections should be close.

In a really non-democratic move, two states violated the organizations bylaws and held their primary earlier then the date set. So the punishment outlined in the contract came into effect. Cut to the end of the year, the race is close, and Florida and Michigan now want their votes to count. The DNC is saying, “either hold another election at your own expense or sit down and shut up.” The two states are saying that they are not responsible for paying for the huge expense to hold another primary. That is where we are at now.

First, I am here to tell you that it is very late in the year and every state is in play for the democrats and it is going to come down to the wire. (No small part in thanks to my fellow idiots from Ohio proved once again that they have the intellect of an average trained dog and are very good at name recognition.) So Florida and Michigan’s assumption that they would have no impact on the election is debunked. Secondly, they signed that contract; they knew what the result of holding a “mock” primary would be. Why the outrage when the contract is enforced. Lastly, If the state committees are really concerned about the voters rights, they should be happy to pay for the new elections. Hey they can ask Hillary to loan it to them.

This whole thing looks like some child who was told not to stay out all night or she will get grounded. Then she does stay out all night and guess what? That’s right, she gets grounded. She then tries to plead a case that, “it is not fair.” What “isn’t fair” is circumventing the rules as if you have some special privilege. The collective have all agreed, some reluctantly, that a spread out primary with key states and dates going in a certain order is the best way to conduct their candidate nomination. If Florida and Michigan were allowed to move up, what would stop all of the states from moving up equally. Simply logic really. It’s about learning to be patient and waiting your turn.

Here are some hard reasons for not counting the current delegates by the results of the offending election. Many people who might have wanted to vote for the other candidates didn’t go to the poles because their candidate wasn’t on the ballot. What about those people’s votes. Many didn’t go because they understood the rules and knew their vote would not count. As a matter of fact, going to the pole would raise certain limit requirements for future candidates to get on the ballot. That in turn equates to higher costs to get elected. Since many states require candidates to get valid signature based on how many people voted in the previous primary, you might reduce hinder a poorer candidate from entering. Not that I think a single voter in any of those states think that deep into it. But even if just one did. Only one candidate campaigned in the delinquent state. Oddly enough a self-serving spoiled bitch. But hey, “I’m just sayin’”. It isn’t bad enough to award the guilty, but to punish the law biding is another travesty all together.

Even re-holding elections is kind of a party foul. Lets face it, winning campaigns is as much about spending your contributions effectively as it is actually having a good, honest message. Scratch that, because mosts voters are well trained button pushing monkeys, effective budgeting is more important. If you throw new unscheduled election into the mix, are effectively forcing the candidates to re-organize planned spending. In a state where one of the candidates already spent money, the other candidate is at a severe disadvantage. These people thought they were done and many tuned out the debates and the election rhetoric that might have changed their opinions.

There are so many other deeper reason why Florida and Michigan just need to scratch this year and next time listen. The whole thing orchestrated by the Clinton side has an underhanded, divisive, crooked, typical Washington feel to it. But I wouldn’t expect anything less. Slit the delegates down the middle, dish them out, and lets get everybody closer to that magic number.
The only thing worse then having no elections at all is to have corrupt and unfair elections. In the later people don't know they should become active.

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