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Seems To Me ...
In April 23 Issue
By John Thompson, Columnist

I've gotten more positive feedback over the last two weeks, the two weeks that I've written about a local issue, than I've ever gotten; Muchas gracias. It's not likely that I'll do much on taking on local issues like that but I might try focusing the column on local things a little more often.

But for the times when I don't, and I'm writing about bigger issues, issues outside Russell County, whether in our nation or the world, I hope you are able to see the relevance to us in those topics as well.

For years I've focused on world events, our nation's foreign policy, our strange society and the state of politics, and I have to admit; I've been a little sidetracked by something personally. I think it's called 'getting a life.' I recently joked that I don't have a life, I just play like I do on Facebook.

So while I'm hearing a lot of things are going on; like how Paul Ryan thinks the best way to stimulate the economy is to further increase tax breaks for the rich while offsetting the cuts with cuts to social programs like Medicare. I read these things and I'm stupefied. These are measures that have nothing to do with reducing the deficit, just increasing the inequality in this country.

The ripping off has become beyond blatant. It's become a double fisted, bird-shooting "up yours" fest. There are lots of examples, but just the Transocean example alone is enough to make one apoplectic. If you hadn't heard, Transocean is the company who was running the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the gulf of Mexico when it exploded, killing 11 and destroying as of yet countless lives, one year ago this week.

And why do these executives, yes, of course the executives, get this massive bonus this year? For the wonderful safety record for last year. Can they justify it? You know they can. Justifying any action has become an art form. But the impression, as far as I'm concerned, is that they laugh at us. Thousands upon thousands of families along the gulf coast whose lives are destroyed watch as those responsible for their destruction laugh it up and take big bonuses.

It's these actions that we, in our small community, must look at and say, "Does this reflect what is going on in the country? Does this reflect what goes on in our state? In our community?"

We've been putting up with this for a long time now. Before, it wasn't so blatant. Oh, occasionally things have leaked about how they laugh at us, like the two Enron employees who, when it came to light in 2004, laughed that fictitious "Grandma Millie" had to pay electricity rates that were skyrocketing, doubling and tripling, while the company raked in the excesses of the overpriced commodity.

Why shouldn't they? They now operate with impunity. In the Savings and Loan scandals of the early 1990's, nearly 2,000 officials and financiers were prosecuted, and a little over 1,000 spent time behind bars (over 800 bank officials). And the current banking crisis, the one deemed "the worst financial crisis since the great depression"? None. Zero. Nada. Zip. It's due to care and deliberation, they tell us… more likely it's an understanding of the attention span of the typical American.

Yes, they laugh. And the corporate owned federal government laughs right along. On Sunday the U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood did his best to let us all know he's a good Tea Party member, or at least that's what his mentality seemed to be. He was on Chris Wallace's show Fox News Sunday to reassure everyone that he was taking care of business as it regards the recent incidences of air traffic controllers falling asleep on the job. Yes, he's going to reassure us all with his ability to call upon our 'rugged individualism' propaganda to make sure we understand that it's all clearly the controllers fault, saying they have to take personal responsibility; "But I also want to emphasize this, Chris -- controllers need to take personal responsibility for the very important safety jobs that they have. We can make changes but when these controllers come to work, they have to take personal responsibility for the fact that they are guiding planes in and out of airports. It has to be done safely. They have to be well-rest and they have to be alert."

It's always the wage slaves fault. When Wallace suggested that other civilized countries were putting extra people on shift so controllers could take a nap if they needed, a practice that works well (but cuts into the profits of shareholders… and that point needs to be dually emphasized, passenger safety and workers having treated like a human being in the 21st century instead of the 16th century, will take a back seat to profits for shareholders and executives)… in Canada, France, and Germany. LaHood was having none of it; why they were already going to make changes that allowed for NINE hours 'rest time' between shifts, up from the EIGHT hours up until now. That people would do something with those eight hours besides sleep is unthinkable… so LaHood assured Wallace, "On my watch, controllers will not be paid to take naps, Chris. We're not going to allow that… They're going be paid to do the job that they are trained to do, which involves guiding planes in and out of airport safely. We want to make sure they're well rested. We want to make that in the workplace there's the ability for them to do their job, but we're not going to pay controllers to be napping. We're not going to do that."

I bring this up because the idea of 'personal responsibility' is being used to abuse and exploit. In fact, you can bet any idea, no matter how good it is in theory, can be exploited by some against the many.

Don't worry, they got around to it being the fault of unions. Wallace drove it home in a couple of questions; questions to which LaHood had to tap dance, but basically saying that after all they've done for the unions, that's how they treat us!

Hey, I have an idea. In the Army if you fall asleep while on guard duty, depending on the situation, you may be not only written up, but even jailed, and possibly shot. Let's do that, all in the name of profit. Don't tell me we aren't becoming fascist. Either corporations are a tool of society, or society is a tool to be used by the corporations. So who's the master? Society over one it's tools, a corporation? Or the tool itself? That's rhetorical, as we've clearly ceded our power to that of the corporation. That's why we have corporate rule instead of a democracy; be it nationally or locally.

I really have to prod myself. As I've been preaching about the coming problems that the growing inequality were going to cause our country, and then watching it finally coming to fruition, attention was not paid by the vast majority. Now, now they're starting to pay attention and questioning why the super rich aren't asked to share a larger burden of keeping the country going, and afloat. Yes, much too late, but now they're asking. And my response seems almost to be to back off. Definitely the wrong time to back off, even though now the internet media is awash in facts and figures and prognostication and analysis… too much, overwhelming.

Next week I will attempt to collate and synthesize all the information regarding the growing inequality.

Recently I've also been coming across very interesting and insightful quotes regarding wealth distribution and a just society; and these quotes range a period of over 2000 years.

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The Times Journal is a weekly newspaper issued on Thursdays. It was first published on October 13, 1949, by Andrew J. and Terry Norfleet.
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