Posts Tagged ‘Drugs’

Gaming the System

August 4, 2013

So-called Washington gridlock appears to work for the top one percent of America.  The economy is improving, and CEOs, top management, and professionals are raking it in.  Not so, for most others. That’s probably why it continues, and there is no end in sight.

The average American has seen his income decline over the past few decades, while the affluent American has seen his income dramatically increase.   The income gap between rich and poor is about as great as it was in the Gilded Age when the Robber Barons ran things.  After an anarchist assassinated President McKinley, his successor, President Theodore Roosevelt, became concerned about a revolution and started reforms, things like anti-trust laws to break up the monopolies.  The idea was to save American capitalism by reforming it.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who admired and wanted to emulate his cousin Teddy, took the same tact during the Great Depression, and for the same reason some historians report, to save American capitalism.   While the Russian revolution of 1917 brought on the communist state and the dictatorship of the murderous Joseph Stalin,  and the Great Depression set the stage for ruthless dictators Hitler and Mussolini to come into power in Germany and Italy,  the United States elected a president that promised it a New Deal. He is the only president in American history to  be elected four times to the office.

From about 1937 to 1947 income inequality dropped dramatically. This was brought about  by highly progressive taxation and the strengthening of unions, according to an article in Wikipedia. “And,,” the article says,”regulation of the National War Labor Board during World War II raised the income of the poor and working class and lowered that of top earners.” The middle class was at its peak and a “relatively low level of inequality remained fairly steady for about three decades ending in early 1970s.”

No doubt, the one percent leaders understand the lessons of those times.  When things get bad enough for the masses, they will revolt, maybe not violently in every case, but they will revolt.  There are ways to keep and increase the income gap while preventing revolt, and at the same time funnel tax dollars into their enterprises. They have figured out how to game the system.

Conservatives, including the American Medical Association, fought  the creation of Medicare with everything they had.  President Lyndon Johnson was a master at getting Congress to do what he wanted and he pushed through Medicare.  It was and is a very popular program and costs a lot less to administer – compare 3 percent to 20 percent – than private healthcare insurance. 

Recognizing this fact,  the healthcare industry’s leaders, for instance, obviously now understand that the majority of Americans want the government involved in providing healthcare.  Why not give them tax supported programs, but under the healthcare industry’s terms?

A good example is Congress passing of the Medicare “B” drug plan.   That plan doesn’t  allow Medicare to negotiate prices, which could lower them, but it does help senior Americans pay for their drugs, which means that billions in tax dollars are funneled into the coffers of the pharmaceutical companies. The CEO’s of the top eleven global pharmaceutical companies were paid  a total of $1.58 billion last year.  The top salary was $40 million.  Tax dollars paid a great deal of that.

Now, in spite of all the anti-Affordable Healthcare Act or “Obamacare” propaganda, guess who is not going to lose in that scenario?  The program calls for mandatory insurance for all Americans.  The lobbyists were successful in keeping out a government option healthcare insurance plan,  That was the one sure way of lowering premiums.  Only private healthcare providers will sell that mandatory insurance.  Do the math. 

Yes, the system can be gamed.



General White Leads Victory Coaltion’s Fight to Improve The Image of South Columbus

July 28, 2008

  When people come to the Columbus area to visit the National Infantry Museum, Major General (Ret.) Jerry White doesn’t want them leaving with a bad impression. That’s why he is working hard for the Victory Coalition.


Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Jerry White

Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Jerry White



  He has been instrumental in forming the group of business leaders in South Columbus who are working to improve the reputation of that part of town. They want to put an end to its reputation as a crime infested haven for drugs and prostitution.


  I recounted to him a conversation I had with a young Army wife about why she and her Airborne School husband didn’t live in South Columbus. “Just think of the gas money you could save by living close to the post.”


  “Well, we looked it over. When saw the conditions of some of the neighborhoods with things like cars sitting on blocks in the front yards, we decided we didn’t want to live there.”


  “It doesn’t have to be that way, Dick,” General White told me. “We have to get the city to enforce the laws on things like that in the same way it does in other parts of town. We have to have a greater police presence in South Columbus in order for people to feel it’s a safe place. It wasn’t always like this.”


  I told him that I could remember when it wasn’t like that, when a lot of people from all over Columbus went to South Columbus to go to the nice restaurants like the Coco Super Club. “And,” he added to my list, “the Villa Nova and Black Angus. Black Angus was my favorite,” he said. “A lot of people just don’t understand. They don’t even know why Victory Drive is called Victory Drive, that it’s named that in honor of the great victory that ended World War Two.”


  General White is getting some solid backing in his quest to improve the area. His good friend Sam Friedman recently opened the new Suburban Extended Stay Hotel on Victory Drive.  Columbus’ only USO is located there. The United Service Organization came into being during World War Two to help soldiers away from home fight loneliness with things like dances, ping pong, basketball, and movies. Columbus had a big one on 9th Street  for white soldiers and a smaller one for African American soldiers. Jim Crow was alive and well then. They were packed during the war, but Columbus had been without one for years.


Suburban Extended Stay Hotel

Suburban Extended Stay Hotel



  The hotel, which boasts an impressive pool and patio area for outdoor barbeques, has a military theme, including a General’s Suite, and a model of the new National Infantry Museum in the lobby.


Suburban Extended Stay Hotel Patio and Pool Area

Suburban Extended Stay Hotel Patio and Pool Area



  Two more hotels will open soon, a new Holiday Inn Express and a Candlewood, and a fourth hotel is in the works that will locate on the National Infantry Museum site.


  “We are talking major change,” General White said. We are going to have 500,000 people coming into this area to visit the Infantry Museum. This is going to mean, in addition to the new hotels, restaurants,  4 to 5 hundred jobs. We are working with an already formed group of business leaders called Columbus South in calling on business people in the area to clean up their places, to become a part of the Victory Coalition and change the reputation of South Columbus.”



Georgia Corrections Commissioner Backs LOST

June 26, 2008

  Columbus Mayor Jim Wetherington, Georgia’s former Commissioner of Corrections,  picked up  support by the present Commissioner for his Local Option Sales Tax initiative. James E. Donald, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Corrections, told Rotary Club of Columbus members that Georgians need to come together to do something about the prison problem in the state, and he believes that Columbus folks need to pitch in by voting for the LOST.





James E. Donald

Commissioner, Georgia Department of Corrections 



  He says his plan to stop putting away non-violent drug abusers, who are filling up the state’s prison system, will take the support of strong local police departments. Mayor Wetherington promises to spend the majority of the LOST money on beefing up the city’s safety department.


  It costs the state about 1.2 billion dollars a year to operate its Corrections Department, he said. And Governor Perdue has cut the department’s budget by 38 million dollars. Commissioner Donald says he takes that cut as an opportunity to be more creative about ways to make the prison system work better.  


  Donald, a retired infantry general, hopes judges will start sentencing drug abusers to rehabilitation programs that require them to report regularly to day reporting centers, one of which is being built for Columbus. They go to the centers to be checked to see that they are not violating their probationary sentences and not returning to their old drug abusing ways.


  Georgia,” he says, “has the second highest rate of incarceration in the nation, second only to Florida.”


  He says just locking people up treats the symptom, but not the root cause of the problem itself. If only the symptom is treated, when the inmates are released back into society they return to their old criminal ways. He wants to lean more on crime prevention, education and rehabilitation.


  And he wants us to support Mayor Wetherington’s LOST. Maybe we will, but I know a lot of people, including a number of Rotarians, who are not for the LOST. Me? Well, I’m torn. We’ll get into that in a future post on this blog. Stay tuned.