On Unrestrained Capitalism and the Environment

Slaughter the rhino
so a foolish old man
can enhance his virility;
the cocktail of millionaires

Oh no child
there aren’t any more of those;
now you can see them only on History
been none of those since the 21st century

Forests?
Well down at the tip of the botanical garden
all fenced off
you can see a small one

used to go on forever
uncharted, stretching far as the eye could see
surrounded by itself, holding us
‘cause being there felt so good

not that I know ‘cause I’ve never seen one
Now it’s used only for honeymoons
where young couples can love
in the illusion of paradise

And the sky used to be clear
and blue
like the oceans
once teeming with fish and birds;

No child;
there are no more rhinos or tigers
only stuffed or on line
the last two elephants are in the Cape Town zoo

And I thought of Sol 
dying in his euthanasia chamber
in the hallucinated city, tears in his eyes
listening to the music, watching the screen.

.

How close are corporations to acquiring de-facto nationhood? In this country they have already acquired “personhood”; a corporation, a legal construct, can now have religious beliefs and political views. Don’t ask me how. Corporate money can be contributed to support political candidates. Yet corporations convicted of crimes cannot go to prison nor have any been “executed” – their corporate charter withdrawn for criminal activity.

The  now moribund TPP agreement, (remember that?) which none of us was allowed to read apparently went a long way toward granting corporations powers previously reserved to national governments, such as overriding environmental regulation – suing for “damages” caused by new rules or regulation in a signatory country.  Of course when the Emperor Trump withdrew from the deal these were not the reasons he gave when he criticized it. He simply wanted a “better deal” (read more profitable) for America.  Besides, it was an Obama deal and all traces of Obama are to be erased like an Egyptian Pharaoh defacing  the name of a hated predecessor.

Oh well.

Meanwhile we celebrate Earth Day each year with little media emphasis on the notion that global capitalism is the greatest threat to our natural world.  Why do you think the right wing is so opposed to the idea of man-made climate change?  Because the idea is a direct assault on capitalism.

To exist, capitalism cannot accept limits to growth; capital must constantly expand its production and hence consumption; it must break down barriers to expand markets and access to natural resources for raw materials and exploitable sources of labor. Since capitalism is inherently expansionist it eventually and inevitably must degrade the environment. Because of its expansionist quality, capitalism inevitably destroys the natural conditions of production (land, water, other resources, and labor).

Several years ago I saw a t.v. news report that Oklahoma had replaced California as the earthquake capital of the United States. During the past several years Oklahoma has suffered more seismic activity because of……drilling and fracking.

https://www.ecowatch.com/confirmed-oklahoma-earthquakes-caused-by-fracking-1882034344.html

Capitalism destroys rain forests, over fishes the oceans, pollutes fresh water, belches into the air. Capitalist profit is the reason poachers kill the rhinoceros for it’s horn. Capitalism is in the end not sustainable. The problem remains what to do about it.

Unfortunately most of those in the environmental movement in general, are unable to think outside of capitalism. It appears inconceivable to most people that there might be a future economic system that isn’t capitalist. You certainly won’t hear it in school.
One would think that, if they fully understood the role of the normal workings of the capitalist system in causing environmental havoc, people with concern for the environment might begin to understand that another social, economic and political system is not just possible, but essential.

There is no shortage of “ideas” about what to do — live more simply, recycle your plastic water bottles, purchase “green” products, purchase carbon credits to offset the global warming effects of an airplane trip, impose a tax on all fossil fuels (a carbon tax), etc.

All these ideas give the illusion that it is possible to solve the ecological crisis without confronting capitalism as a system. And it is capitalism’s necessity to grow the economy forever and the single overriding goal of obtaining more and more profits that are at the heart of the environmental problems we face.

“Green” or “sustainable capitalism” is an oxymoron. The very heart of the system — production of goods and services to make profits, which propels growth — excludes the possibility of capitalism being anything other than a system that has environmental destruction as a by-product.

But does it benefit all of the people or just the few?

Capitalist profit  is the reason we grow all the food we need but millions are hungry. Capitalist profit is the reason there are so many poor while there is so much work to do.  Capitalist profit is the reason we kill the rhinoceros so that an elderly billionaire living in the far east can get an erection.

Capitalism is the reason our Great Leader doesn’t give a rat’s ass how many die so long as the stock market remains strong.

P.S. – We can start with highly restrained, regulated capitalism, a mixture of private and  public sector.  Yes I know – there’s that “slippery slope toward socialism” again. Capitalists always say that.

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Orchids

by Pamela T. in chalk and colored pencil

🙂

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Pumpkin Picking Day!

Today we’re going to pick out a pumpkin at the pumpkin patch! 

So many pumpkins!

Decisions decisions!

The Headless Horseman passed by!

So hard to choose!

I picked this one!  Nice huh?

Mommy painted this one!  Nice lips!!

Now I can relax over a game of “Lion King!”

🙂

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On Four More Years

Well the Presidential election is eleven days away.  Some 50 million people have already voted, including Toritto and his two daughters.  The last “debate” is over and now its just a race to the wire and mud slinging.  Its the time of “anything goes.”

I fully expect Trump to be trounced in the popular vote; he will lose it by the millions.  That however doesn’t mean he will lose the election.  He lost last time by 2.9 million votes but carried enough states by slim margins to win.  Piling up millions of votes in New York and California will not get Biden elected if he loses the swing states by a single votes.

America is not a democracy when it comes to picking a President.  Twice in the last 20 years the President has lost the popular vote yet won the election.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I am hopeful.  Turnout has been well above 2016 and millions are voting for the first time.  If the election is close, Trump will not go quietly and he will have his packed Supreme Court in reserve to stop counting votes or continue to count votes as necessary.  There will of course be “wide spread fraud” at work if he loses.  Only a landslide can make him give up power.

On the other hand no one thought he would “win” the last election.  Taking a deep breath, one must think about what we can expect with 4 more years of Trump.

Beginning with Covid it is clear that the White House wants Americans to grow numb to the escalating death toll and thousands of new cases a day; that Americans will live with the virus being a threat.  Schools must reopen, businesses operate at full capacity, football stadiums filled, Disney World back in business.  There is little thought of empathy for the health and welfare of the workers, students, patrons of the bar and restaurant.

The President believes all of these actions to stem the spread of the virus are only being done to hurt him politically.  He wants us “back to normal.”  He knew early on the virus was a menace, yet he lied about it.  “It will go away.”

As for casualties well “if they die, they die.”

As for his policy agenda, well he has none.  He never has.

There is his silly wall, of course. And he is inordinately proud of the fact that he signed off on judicial appointments that were chosen in advance by the Federalist Society, apparently not realizing that “accomplishment”would have been carried out by any Republican president who could hold a pen. Likewise with the huge tax cuts for the rich and the bloated military budgets.

He took credit for the strong economy he inherited and he believes it will rebound from the current disaster as soon as people accept all the sickness and death from the coronavirus as the natural order of things and get back to work. And there are his massively overrated “trade deals” and foreign policy disasters.

But none of that is really what Trump has learned about being president and they’re obviously not what interests him going forward. The experience Trump has gained during his tumultuous four years in office is that the presidency is immensely powerful and he can get away with anything.

His post-impeachment purge will be child’s play compared to what he’ll do in a second term. With henchmen like Attorney General Bill Barr, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe newly emboldened by Trump’s re-election, I don’t even want to think what will become of those the president considers his political enemies in a second term.

From the sound of his speeches and comments over the past several years, it’s clear he believes his enemies are not just elected officials or the so-called deep state.  He routinely speaks of “bad, evil people.”

He means us; those of us who don’t want him as President.  We saw what happened a when Trump came close to provoking a military insurrection by demanding that active duty troops be brought into the streets of America. It can’t have escaped anyone’s notice that Trump was energized by this confrontation with protesters and was  obsessed with it.

It was tempting to see this as merely Trump ginning up his base for the campaign. And there is an element of that, to be sure. But Trump’s real agenda from the beginning has been to turn back the clock to a time in his mind when the country was safe and secure in the hands of police and political leaders who knew how to keep the “bad, evil” people in their places.  Trump has been waiting for Black Lives Matter his whole life.

The consequences of a Trump re-election will be profound in terms of policy. Trump has begun to move away from Congress as the vehicle for new laws and what he can’t jam through a (likely Democratic) House, he’ll enact through executive orders. Where executive orders won’t work, he’ll use other measures to destroy programs he doesn’t like. As the head of the federal government, he has great latitude to damage agencies.

From the right to choose, health care, immigration, the postal service, public education, welfare programs, protections for unions, the environment, national parks. social security, the one or  two more Supreme Court Justices he may get to choose  – one could go on and on.

I have trouble identifying any group or issue helped by Trump in the last four years other than the tax cut for his billionaire friends.  My taxes actually went up and I know I paid more in income taxes than he did.

His authoritarianism will be given full rein.   The campaign’s current focus on “law and order” has nothing to do with rule-breaking and everything to do with authoritarian displays of state power.  As President, he’s learned that lying and propaganda have several benefits. They undermine the authority of the free media. They create an environment in which facts are political, in which there is no objective authority, and this weakens his opposition. And his lies particularly the obvious ones, become a demonstration of power because no one can stop him from telling them.

“In a second term, we can expect Trump to undo the protections of speech and who may wield it. He will continue to attack the free press and more fully ignore those who don’t offer Pravda-like coverage. He and the judiciary will weaken media protection, going after individual reporters and media outlets. He will allow increasingly militant supporters to threaten and attack protesters while using “freedom of religion” and other excuses to carve out zones of free speech. It will all be a steady, slow erosion such that political enemies take risks speaking out, while supporters are given bigger and bigger platforms to spread Republican Convention-style lies and propaganda.”

We will fall into a uniquely American fascism.  Eventually his minions will attack dissidents – those evil, nasty people who oppose him.  If you believe it can’t happen here you haven’t read your history.  If you think there would be no American who would serve as a guard at a concentration camp, you need only look at the faces at a Trump rally.

The Reichstag is burning in slow motion.

Would the blue states begin a soft succession by ignoring the President?  What would he do?  Who knows.

Will the US have fair and free elections in 2024? Our status as a true democracy will be tested within four years: it’s that stark. If Trump is re-elected, he will, through instinct and intention, undermine the norms and structures that make democracy possible. In 2024, we’ll have an election. There’s a real question whether it will be like those which  have come before, or something like the “elections” Vladimir Putin allows.

I am 78 years old.  This may very well be my last Presidential election.  It is the most important in my life time.

VOTE AS IF YOUR LIFE AND THE LIVES OF YOUR CHILDREN DEPEND UPON IT!

Choose Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

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Road North – A Re-Post

I went down to forensics yesterday
they asked for a sample of DNA
They had found some bones
yet unidentified.

I turn and turn
like an apple being peeled
At home I dust the plastic flowers
surrounding your picture brother.

Today they opened a bag of bones
which they say is you
I laid them out on a table
counted the few.

There is so little of you brother
a shattered femur
a clavicle, three ribs
a skull with four holes.

Can it be there is so little of you?
I put your bones in the bag
signed for you and
brushed the dirt from my hand.

I did not tell anyone
I had received so little of you
not even your wife and children
How can so little be a brother?

Spent more than an hour
arranging your few bones
in the bottom of a coffin
only it knows how little it holds.

The gangs came smiling to your funeral
and momma whispered “Es hora de ir”
your brother, your wife and children
have taken to the long road north.
.

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Clark and the Passage of Time

toritto circa 1945

Why does time go faster as we age?  It doesn’t of course, but it sure seems to go faster.  Life seems to pass so much more quickly as we get older.

There are several theories for this phenomenon, common to all people.

I’m not a  psychologist (so psychologist bloggers, feel free to chime in), but seems to me the best answer for this phenomenon is that the early years are full of first-time events – your first date, the birth of your first child, that first big vacation, etc. First occasions are novel events and we tend to make more detailed and lasting memories of those first times. When we repeat the event, year after year, it is less likely to make a unique or lasting impression.

That new romance? Seems like an eternity between those early telephone calls and the time you bed her, but before you know it, it’s your 20th anniversary.  When you recall your first kisses, early birthdays, your earliest summer vacations, they seem to be in slow motion.   I know when I look back on a childhood summer, it seems to have lasted forever; of course it didn’t.  That’s because when it’s the “first”, there are so many things to remember.  The memories of first time events are “dense,”

Not so with everyday life.  Repetition, like going to work everyday doesn’t make dense memories.   The first time you drive to a new job you are conscious of the time it takes.  After you do it everyday for years you no longer take notice of the time.

And time flies for old people because we do less and less new things.   We have fewer new experiences.  We no longer make dense memories.

The days just slip away, one after another, and we wonder where the years went.

Which brings me to the best part of this post.

Clark Cassius was here this weekend with his mom and dad.  It was nice to see them.  They’ve been absent from my life in person for awhile what with the pandemic and my hospital  stay.  Marie was with me for a time on my return home from hospital but without my  grandson.

So I got to spend the weekend with Clark watching movies and playing Sorry!

Next month is Clark’s birthday.  He was born on the evening Trump was elected and will be turning four,  He already wants to be five and older still but it seems like a very long time to him between birthdays much as it does between Christmases,

When I asked him how old he was going to be, he proudly announced “I’m goning tobe four!”

Then I asked him how old he thought I was.  This question stumped him and took a moment to give it some thought.  I’m sure he considered how he felt about the time between birthdays.

He then proudly announced his answer.

“Fourteen!”

🙂

 

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Antonin and Amy

Well Amy Coney Barrett got through her “hearing” today and will be voted out of committee next week on a strictly party line vote and then approved in the Senate on a party line vote barring any real earthquakes.

She said nothing about her views on anything and when her Catholic background came into the conversation she played the victim of religious bigotry.  The committee chairman characterized her as the first conservative woman on the court, unabashedly pro-life and accepting her faith without apology.

Nice.

She did say one thing however – she is an acolyte of Antonin Scalia.  So what exactly does that mean?

My eldest daughter texted me the day Scalia died  – “Scalia is dead.”

I must admit I felt nothing ; only ambivalence.

I am not one to celebrate a  death; not one to say “good!!  No big loss!”  I guess I feel what I suppose many British felt on the death of Margaret Thatcher.   Many of my readers on the left of the political spectrum were humming “Ding Dong! The witch is dead!.”

Or when Ronald Regan died.

I can’t curse anyone who died of Alzheimer’s.

The right deified Thatcher and St. Ronnie but I didn’t mourn their passing.  I didn’t think they did much for humanity.  They helped themselves.

I mourned Mario Cuomo or perhaps I was mourning what might have been.  He could have been the first Italian American President of the United States.  He was an unabashed liberal and proud to be one.  His speech to the Democratic Convention was one of the greatest in history and had them screaming to the rafters.

But he wouldn’t run.

And Bill Clinton became President with all that means today.   Cuomo became Hamlet on the Hudson.

Today I am thinking about the differences between Antonin Scalia and me.

We were both New York/New Jersey guys, six years apart in age.  Both of us were born to immigrant families from southern Italy. Both of us grew up in similar circumstances and undoubtedly would be comfortable sitting in a Little Italy restaurant having a Campari and soda together.  We could say the same for Mario.

So why did Antonimnbecome an authoritarian of the first rank, a hand maiden of the crazy right?  I didn’t.  Mario didn’t.

Why did Scalia not follow in a long line of Italian American anarchists, socialists, syndicalists and leftist / liberals beginning with Carlo Tresca and Luigi Galleani, ending with the outbreak of war with Italy, the assassination of Tresca and the death of Vito Marcantonio in the 1950s?

The difference in our world view is the result of religion.

Antonim attended Xavier High, a Jesuit military academy in New York.

“Classmate and future New York State official William Stern remembered Scalia in his high school days:   “This kid was a conservative when he was 17 years old. An archconservative Catholic. He could have been a member of the Curia. He was the top student in the class. He was brilliant, way above everybody else.”

“An arch conservative Catholic”.

Scalia went on to Georgetown and Harvard Law and was eventually appointed by St. Ronnie to the Court.  I did not go to Georgetown and Harvard.  I went to night school at City University for my B.A. and made a living.

At the time of his death he was still an arch conservative Catholic.  A member of Opus Dei (so is Clarence Thomas),  He had 9 children.

I am not and never was a good Catholic.

My mother spent her teenage years in a Catholic convent as a “ward of the state” during the 1930s.  When she turned 18 she left, high school diploma in hand.  She had no job.  She had no money.  She couldn’t drive.  My paternal grandmother took her in off of the streets.  Grandma was a red.

And after all those years in a convent my mother never attended a church again.

She insisted that my brothers and I attend public schools.   And she insisted we see how the working man lived.  Religion had no part in our lives.

Though we both grew up in the Italian American experience, just a few years apart in age and living only a subway ride from each other. we ended up with completely different world views.

On every issue, from gender and racial equality, affirmative action, voting rights, abortion, gay rights, marriage equality, money in politics, the death penalty, the right to own guns, Bush v. Gore, Antonin for all his brilliance and education, was on the wrong side.

He raged when the Court struck down Texas’ sodomy laws ranting that it would lead to homosexual marriage – marriage equality.  And indeed it did to Scalia’s dismay.  Still, the sun rose over the Republic.

In an op-ed for The New York Times, federal appeals judge Richard Posner and Georgia State University law professor Eric Segall described as radical Scalia’s positions on cultural issues, in particular homosexuality and same-sex marriage. In their view, Scalia’s positions reflected an apparent belief that the religious stances supposedly held by the majority of US citizens should take precedence over the Constitution in deciding over morality issues. For the authors, that argument characterized Scalia as a theocratic majoritarian.

Scalia opined that it was ok for Oklahoma to execute someone who was 15 years old when the crime was committed, mocking the majority’s claims that a national consensus had emerged against the execution of those who killed while under age, and noted that less than half of the states that permitted the death penalty prohibited it for underage killers. He castigated the majority for including in their count states that had abolished the death penalty entirely.

That’s cold.

In 2008, the Court considered a challenge to the gun laws in the District of Columbia. Scalia wrote the majority opinion in District of Columbia v. Heller, which found an individual right to own a firearm under the Second Amendment. Scalia traced the word “militia”, found in the Second Amendment, as it would have been understood at the time of its ratification, and stated that it then meant “the body of all citizens”.  The Court upheld Heller’s claim to own a firearm in the District.

Scalia’s opinion for the Heller Court was widely criticized by liberals, and applauded by conservatives.  However, Seventh Circuit judge Richard Posner disagreed with Scalia’s opinion, stating that the Second Amendment “creates no right to the private possession of guns”. Posner called Scalia’s opinion “faux originalism” and a “historicizing glaze on personal values and policy preferences”.

Justice Scalia’s world view, IMHO, was forged in his youth – it is a world of hierarchy, sin and place,  Each one of us has to know our place  Antonim could see it in the Constitution and if you could not, you simply did not belong in the same room with him.

His argument against abortion rights is essentially that it isn’t in the Constitution therefore if the nation wants abortion rights they should be legislated and not established by the Court’s “activism” in striking down state laws against abortion.  Notwithstanding that the Court has been striking laws it considers unconstitutional since Justice John Marshall.

One could make the same argument against segregation I guess

No one in the the back alleys of our cities, in those mean little houses in the dismal corners of our great land, where that American dream has been long forgotten, where a rusty coal stove sits in the living room, daddy smells of gasoline, momma is unpredictable, and where there is not a single book, none of these human beings was helped by the god like presence of Antonin Scalia.

He will be remembered by his wealthy friends as a nice, pleasant affable witty Italian American but he was not mourned by the people he might have helped – but didn’t.  His passing might have brought about a heart felt  flood of grief and tears from the poor, the oppressed, the marginalized -but it didn’t,  He never stood with them.  He stood always with power.

He wasn’t dead ten minutes when the pols he slavishly served were talking of his replacement.

His education and brilliance benefitted no one but himself.

And it will thus for Justice Amy Coney Barrett.

.

.

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Clark Cassius Has Chosen Wisely!

🙂

.

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Knowing Her Place

The armies face each other
black and white
across a battlefield of squares
dark and light

opening hostilities
the King’s foot soldiers
charge forward,
boots on the center ground

strategic advantage;
How will the enemy respond?
Emulate the Spanish Ruy L
or will it be Sicilian Dragons?

Or perhaps with gambits
bringing the unforeseen;
consequences of a war
of choice.

Knights sally forth
while Bishops bless soldiers
already sacrificed
for love of a King

who commands,
but rarely fights
sitting well protected
in his castle

while his Queen,
consummate warrior
master of the art
takes to the battlefield

defending him,
standing by him, sacrificing for him;
more worthy than him
yet knowing her place

.

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On Reforming the Court

Well the Covid virus continues to rage and Congress is unable to agree on a relief package for the millions of unemployed, those soon to be evicted from their homes, the airline industry etc. but the Senate is full speed ahead to confirm another Theo-fascist to the Supreme Court,  Since Supreme Court Justices are appointed for life, her confirmation will cement minority rule in this nation for decades to come.

Everything she supports is opposed by the majority of the citizens of this nation.  Makes no difference.  The Court has been thoroughly politicized.  Once I believed, and rightly so, that the Court’s first responsibility was to protect the individual and a minority from the tyranny of the majority.  In the space of a decade the Court has changed to where it now imposes the tyranny of a minority.

The table has been turned since 2010  as Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission gave corporations the right to spend unlimited amounts in elections – as if corporations were people.  And Shelby County v. Holder gave states the right to change election laws without the Federal government’s approval.  Both were 5 – 4 decisions.

And let us not forget Bush v. Gore but let us recall previous Senate votes on nominees.

Sandra Day O’Connor was appointed by Reagan and got 99 votes. Antonim Scalia, also a Reagan appointee was confirmed 98 – 0.  Anthony M. Kennedy got 97 votes.  Ruth Bader Ginsburg got 96.  Stephen Breyer got 87 votes.  There was a clear bi-partisanship for highly qualified nominees.

As the Court as become politicized the yea votes have fallen – Clarence Thomas was confirmed 52-48.   Sam Alito only 58 while Neil Gorsuch got only 52 votes.

And Brett Kavanaugh was “confirmed” with only 50 votes.

How many votes do you think Amy Coney-Barrett will get?

The left wing of the Democratic Party has begun mentioning the possibility of adding judges to the Court – “packing the Court” as the right characterizes it.  The right also wants you to believe that this is a completely revolutionary idea.

It is not.  It was been considered at least twice before; once by Theodore Roosevelt and once by FDR.  In both instances the Court was striking down legislation passed by Congress and supported by the vast majority of Americans.

With lifetime appointments, it’s not unusual for Supreme Court justices to serve well past the average U.S. retirement age of 63. (Ruth Bader Ginsberg died at age 87 while still serving on the court and Antonin Scalia died at age 79 while still a Supreme Court justice.)

t in the late 1930s, President Franklin D. Roosevelt wanted to put restrictions on the court when it came to age. Largely seen as a political ploy to change the court for favorable rulings on New Deal legislation, the Judicial Procedures Reform Bill of 1937, commonly referred to as the “court-packing plan,” was Roosevelt’s attempt to appoint additional justices to the Supreme Court for every justice older than 70 years, 6 months, who had served 10 years or more and refused to retire..

“We were in the midst of the worst economic crisis in our history.  Roosevelt’s response to this economic crisis was to engage in a series of programs designed to manage a capitalist system in such a way as to make it work for the average American. And because he wasn’t particularly ideological, he was willing to try all kinds of things.”

Over the course of the Depression, Roosevelt was pushing through legislation and, beginning in May 1935, the Supreme Court began to strike down a number of the New Deal laws. “Over the next 13 months, the court struck down more pieces of legislation than at any other time in U.S. history.  Roosevelt’s first New Deal program—in particular, its centerpiece, the National Recovery Administration, along with parts of the Agricultural Adjustment Act—had been struck down by unanimous and near-unanimous votes.

And so FDR began to think of adding justices to the Court.  His idea met with instant opposition.  When he won the election of 1936 in a landslide, Roosevelt decided to float the plan.

The plan was never voted on in Congress but it roused the Court.  The Supreme Court justices went public in their opposition to it.  “The chief justice (Charles Evans Hughes) testified before Congress that the Court was up to date in its work, countering Roosevelt’s stated purpose that the old justices needed help with their caseload.”

But the Court heard the music.  Several justices switched sides  allowing much of Roosevelt’s future legislation, including Social Security to be upheld when challenged.

When I was a kid grandparents lived with their children and their grandchildren. One of the kids took in their mom and pop while the rest of the kids were expected to kick into the pot to provide for their support.

That’s the way it was before Social Security.

Folks were expected to work until they died which usually wasn’t long. The average life expectancy for a male in the 1920s was 49 years. If you lived longer there was no expected retirement age. You worked until you could no longer work or until you could no longer find work.

Then you were expected to live on your savings. Home ownership at the time was below 20% in the lower working class and the average wage adjusted for inflation in today’s dollars was around $13,000.  Usually old folks didn’t have sufficient resources to live on.

So you went to your children if you had any. It was expected. Grandma usually got one of the children’s bedrooms.  Lacking family to fall back on old folks relied on charity, churches or became “wards” of the county poor house.

The Great Depression effectively put an end to living with your kids – your kids were now unemployed too and the elderly especially were in shocking economic free fall.

FDR desperate to make jobs and faced with massive unemployment came up with 2 ideas.  Cut the workday from 8 hours to 6 or begin sending older folks money to get them out of the job market and shrink the labor force.  He decided on the latter but insisted that workers pay for the program, to be known as Social Security.

The right immediately declared that this was socialism and an impingement on individual freedom and therefore unconstitutional. After all, why should I give you my money so that you can give it back to me when I am old?  I can take care of myself thankyou!

Sounds familiar don’t it?

With a Supreme Court likely to strike it down, FDR turned up the heat with his plan to add justices.  Congress DOES have the right to change the composition of the Court.  The Court is in fact the most undemocratic institution of the U.S government.  Its members are appointed, not elected.  They are appointed for life.  And their word is law.  Kind of like 9 Kings and Queens.

The Court felt the heat and let the Social Security Act stand though it was challenged twice.

Amy Coney-Barrett will be confirmed to the Court.  She is being sent on a mission by Donald Trump to strike down the Affordable Care Act which will cause some 20 million to lose their health benefits.  There is no plan to replace it coming from Congress or the White House.  She has also characterized abortion as barbaric.

With the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the nomination of a polar opposite replacement, only one response makes any sense: Expand the Supreme Court. The only real question is by how much. There are other responses that can do some good — perhaps even more good. But without court expansion, the existing court can, and almost certainly will, strike them down.

Yes, some call it an extreme step. But there’s a more extreme step: Simply ignore the court’s decisions — as some Republicans argued in the 1850s, in response to the Dred Scott decision. More to the point, this is an extreme situation that demands extreme responses. As Boston College law professor Kent Greenfield tweeted on Sept. 21:

15 of the last 19 appointments were made by GOP Presidents. (16/20 if #Trump gets another.)

The last year a majority of the justices were Dem appointees: 1969. Meanwhile, the GOP won the popular vote in the presidential election once in 30 years (2004).

In order to save our democracy it may be necessary to expand the Court.

It’s also been more than 20 years since Republicans represented a majority of voters in the Senate, making the condition of minority rule even more extreme. It’s also self-reinforcing.

American political elites have generally supported the strong form of judicial review that emerged in the late 19th century because the Supreme Court generally tracked with the constitutional views of the dominant political coalition. A Supreme Court representing an entrenched, unpopular minority faction that refuses to allow the popular majorities from the other party to effectively govern would be neither democratically legitimate nor politically stable.

Reform the Court.  Abandon the Electoral College.

 

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