Sunday, November 18, 2012

State Of The Unions...

I posted this to Facebook the other day, and it prompted a lot of discussion, so I thought I'd throw it out here for people to consider.

"If employers provided a fair wage, safe working conditions, reasonable hours and some kind of opportunity for their workers to advance within the company, there wouldn't be a need for Unions.

However, when left to their own devices, employers choose to under-pay their employees and reward themselves with huge salaries and bonuses. They leave workers in conditions that are physically dangerous or

harmful to their health. They want overtime with no pay, longer work weeks and throw some kids on those assembly lines while you're at it. They don't want to provide health care or benefits. They want to pay less than minimum wage to "bring jobs back" to our country, the same jobs they shipped out, so they wouldn't have to pay the minimum wage.

If employers weren't such dicks, workers wouldn't have to be such dicks.

And that's why Unions exist."

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Veterans Day

My profile pic on Facebook today is my Dad, Kenneth Nutting Gelder, during his time in the Army Air Force during World War II. The Air Force used to be a division of the Army, before becoming it's own military branch. He was a Gunnery Sergeant and earned a number of medals and honors, flying more than 50 missions.

As I understand it, the "deal" at the time was, if you flew 50 missions, you were given your ticket home. Fifty times in the air was enough risk, as far as Uncle Sam was concerned, and if you made it to that mark and you were still alive, they let you go. (My favorite band, the Tragically Hip, coincidentally has a song called "Fifty Mission Cap")

Dad flew his 50th mission near the end of the war, when fighting was at some of its worst. His commander called him in and told him that he was released, but that they were asking men if they would stay to help finish the job.

Dad said yes, and flew several more missions, where he could have lost his life. When I asked him what made his stay, he shrugged - literally, shrugged - and said, "We had a job to do."

Thanks, to my Dad, and all the Fathers and Sons before and since who have sacrificed for all of us. Let's try to make sure no one else has to remember a loved one lost to war ever again.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Predictions & Considerations

So, this is it. November 5, 2012, the day before Election Day.

Although many early votes have been cast across the country already, absentee ballots mailed by those who can't make it to the polls, etc., the big day is tomorrow, and an anxious nation waits to see what the results will be.

I made a couple of predictions on today's show, and I'll share them with you again, here. I think President Barack Obama will win re-election. I believe he will pull in somewhere between 280 - 290 electoral votes, and I think he might edge out the popular vote, as well.   However, I'm not confident enough to say it's a lock or a shoe-in, even with pollsters as reliable as Nate Silver claiming 80% odds that Obama will win by a sizable margin.

Partially, that's because I'm a little nervous about declaring anything a "sure thing." After the results of the national elections during 2000 and 2004, I consider very little in politics and voting as a sure thing. In other part, it's due to the overwhelming support some of my friends are throwing behind the Romney/Ryan ticket, support I can't fully understand.

I worry that we may run into lawsuits and legal actions following this election, much as we did in 2000. Florida is already having problems with early voting; the Northeast has been slammed by Sandy and left many people displaced and unable to vote; a number of States are running anti-voter fraud initiatives that are more like voter suppression tactics.  I hope we have a clean, clear winner, so we can get back to the business of running (or ruining) our country quickly.

I'm not voting for either of the two major party candidates this election cycle; I live in California, which will go to Obama (alright, I guess that's one result that can almost be considered a sure thing), and my vote is not as necessary here as it is in a swing state. So, since I support the idea of more voices in the national conversation, I am going to support and vote for Dr. Jill Stein, the Green Party Candidate. I've interviewed her on my show, I support many of her stances, and I appreciate her on a number of personal levels. Those are the things that add up to support for a candidate, to me.

If I lived in a swing state, or a state where the candidates were polling neck and neck, I would support Obama for re-election over Romney, 100%, no question. I have many reasons for this, first and foremost being - I think he's done a decent job, given the circumstances. I remember an Onion headline the day after the election in 2008 that read something like, "Black Man Gets World's Shittiest Job," and I couldn't help but both laugh and agree. We all knew whoever took over the office of President in 2009 had their work cut out for them.

Turns out the headline was "cleaner" than I thought...

President Obama has done a decent job of starting us back on the right track to a full-fledged recovery. The stock market is at all-time high levels. Corporate profits are breaking records. Job growth has been slow, but steady, for the past 30+ months. We have regained many of the jobs lost at the end of the Bush term, when the housing bubble burst and the financial markets were collapsing, and we were all talking about the economy of the world - the world! - tanking beyond repair. That didn't happen, and part of that was due to the stimulus and other actions set in motion by our current administration.

I do not believe Obama has been without fault, or is above reproach, which is another reason I am supporting another candidate this election. I don't approve of the drone strikes that are killing as many innocents as bad guys overseas. I am appalled that he signed and supports the NDAA. He may have released a signing statement that says it would never be necessary to hold Americans without due process on our soil, but if it's so unnecessary, why sign off on it? I think there are other areas he could have been a better President, but it comes down to a choice between two candidates, and when I look at the option of a Romney presidency, I shudder.

Mitt Romney is a politician, and I don't mean that as a title or a compliment. He is the worst kind of politician, a man who stands for nothing solid, but instead bends and molds himself at every stop on the campaign trail to say whatever that group wants and needs to hear, and then hops back aboard his bus or plane to travel to the next stop, and fresh promises that he knows are untrue.

So many experts in finance have looked at his and his running mate, Paul Ryan's, financial strategies and written them off, saying there's no way they can accomplish what they say they will do: cut tax rates 20% across the board in a revenue-neutral manner by offsetting the cuts by closing existing tax loopholes. It isn't possible, especially when you're not willing to specify which loopholes you'll be closing. Some say that EVERY loophole could be closed, and it still wouldn't raise enough revenue to support Romney's plan. And Mitt Romney owes too many favors to close every loophole. After all, do you think Sheldon Adelson is donating multiple tens of millions of dollars to a candidate who will do away with every tax loophole he currently enjoys? Not bloody likely.

I can't tell you Romney's positions on much of anything. One day he's pro-choice, the next he's pro-life with no exceptions, or some, or not. He's going to get rid of Obamacare, which is essentially Romneycare, and replace it with something he hasn't defined. He refuses to answer questions on the campaign trail. He consistently ignores reporters standing a few feet away from him, shouting questions about FEMA (which he opposed, but now supports, after "Frankenstorm" Sandy, caused by climate change he once supported, but now - oh, you can probably guess by now...). That's not leadership. That's not a person I want in charge, someone who ignores the press, changes constantly and has the emotional depth of a snake-oil salesman.

What it comes down to is, I don't like or trust Mitt Romney.

And this doesn't even touch on the fears I have about his deeply-held religious convictions, bordering on cult-like (and apologies to my Mormon relatives, but as an Anthropology teacher told my step-daughter and her classmates once, "The only difference between a cult and a religion is the number of members."), his lack of transparency on his taxes, his shift from "Americans want a leader to take all deductions allowed" to not taking full deductions in 2011 to keep his tax rate above 13%, because the actual rate he could have paid, around 9.8%, might have freaked out a few of the diehards who think "Mitt pays enough taxes, already." Oh, and his donations to "charity" which include over $100,000 to the George W. Bush Memorial Library and $70,000 to the Harvard Business School, among other things.

So, I encourage people to look at where we were, and where we are now. We currently have a leader who has reversed our downward course and has set up back on a slow, but positive, path of growth. We have an opponent who is running on an unachievable platform, who has many of the same advisers that President Bush took with him into the White House who helped tank our surpluses and overall economy, and a plan to cut taxes to create more jobs. Sound familiar? Remember the results of that strategy?

Please vote. Vote wisely, and vote for all of our best interests. We The People need strong, responsible leadership.  I think we have that in President Barack Obama.

Good luck, America.

•   •   •   •   •

"Independent Thinking With Steve Gelder" airs on and, weekday mornings at 10AM Pacific, 1PM Eastern. 

Follow me on Twitter: @SteveGelder

"Follow your heart." "What if my heart is bad with directions?" "Get your heart a GPS."