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Discussing the history, challenges and vision for participatory democracy and a sustainable, fair economy.Socio-Economic Alchemist
Updated: 43 min 40 sec ago

I'm Proud to be a Liberal

Sat, 2015-10-24 22:29

As we move rapidly toward another crucial election cycle I wanted to reflect and share why I’m a proud liberal. There are many attempts to intentionally misrepresent what liberal means and I reject them. I do believe that the generosity of Americans during national tragedy and other times is what truly defines the majority of Americans as caring, hard-working liberals too.
As a liberal I want every American to reach their potential. Every American should have the opportunity to be well-educated, self-reliant and productive – to lead a satisfying life. I also understand that the greatness of any society isn’t derived from any single individual. The Apollo program didn’t begin and end with Neil Armstrong. It was about all of us working together as Americans to make a lunar landing possible. Together Americans have accomplished great things –and together –we can again.
I often hear a great deal about “Big Government”. I do not want “big government”. I don’t want “small government”. I want government that is efficient, transparent and accountable to all of us –not just the obscenely wealthy. And I most certainly don’t want a government that is so big –it insinuates itself into a very personal and difficult decision between a woman and her doctor.
I am not anti-wealth. However I make an important distinction between those that have gained wealth through innovation, risk and monumental effort (creating companies and sometimes entire industries) and those that simply want to take wealth through loopholes, rigging the economic system and not creating anything other than a weaker America.
I want retirement security for our elders. No one living on fixed income should ever have to choose between medicine and food.
I’m grateful for the Affordable Care Act –it has given millions of Americans access to health insurance. Nevertheless I want high-quality universal healthcare for all Americans. Healthcare that transforms the system from expensive, emergency and reactive medicine to proactive, preventative management as a key to controlling skyrocketing costs. And I want to reform the pharmaceutical industry or “Big Pharma” to control healthcare costs. No one should have to go bankrupt in order to pay for the care of a loved one suffering from a catastrophic medical condition such as cancer or ALS.
I want sustainable economic growth that creates opportunity and fairly rewards workers and management for their hard work. No worker should have to subsist on taxpayer funded social welfare while executives are shopping for another summer home. And I believe a woman performing the same work as a man should not earn less than her male counterparts.
I believe that “Trickle Down economics” is not economics –it is a massive fraud perpetrated by the obscenely wealthy on the working class and poor. The American economic engine is the middle class. When the majority of American working families are thriving –the American economy grows –and America becomes stronger. When wealth is just concentrated at the top –and a few crumbs drop down –that is not greatness –it leads to a climate of fear, anxiety and uncertainty for most Americans.
I want a system of law enforcement and justice that works for every American. No mother or father should have to worry when their child leaves the house to go to work, school or anywhere and is targeted because of the color of their skin. We cannot be a nation of racism rooted in ignorance and blind hatred.
I believe in well-funded infrastructure –our bridges, highways and mass transit systems. Infrastructure represents the lifeblood of commerce –it’s how we move things from manufacturers to store shelves. It should be safe, reliable, fast and efficient.
I believe in the beauty of America –our coastline, mountains, valleys and forests. I believe in our system of State and National parks and monuments –so we can protect pristine beauty for future generations of Americans.
I believe in an America that takes responsibility for its mistakes and injustices of the past –an America that learns from them and strives toward justice –in foreign and domestic policy.
No election should be bought and paid for by a mega-corporation, a small group of obscenely wealthy individuals, a foreign government or a mysterious organization with a group of people hiding behind its legal structure. We need to massively restructure campaign finance law so every voter knows who is funding each candidate, issue or ballot initiative with strict limits on contributions.
I am fortunate to live in Oregon. We have a legislature that protects and expands voter rights. In other legislatures across the country there is clearly a fear of democracy –where they have disenfranchised voters, closed offices where people could obtain necessary documentation made mandatory to vote (disproportionately affecting people of color, the elderly and working poor) and have gerrymandered districts to maintain control regardless of the majority will of the people.
Education is the foundation for a strong, competitive America. I want the best public education system in the world so future generations of Americans will be prepared to handle unprecedented environmental, energy, security and geo-political challenges offered by a rapidly changing world. We need well-paid teachers, small classroom sizes and the resources to not only educate however to create a life-long commitment to learning in every citizen. I believe in an America that invests in more schools –not more prisons.
College and University must be affordable. If we saddle each new generation with growing school loan debt –we will not be able to employ our best and brightest in areas of public service –teachers, professors, research scientists, government or non-profit organizations.
I believe in affordable early education and quality childcare for working single parents and families.
We can no longer tear families apart through immigration policies that no longer serve America. We must create a meaningful path to citizenship for people that work hard and are as committed to the American dream as we are. The Statue of Liberty has the quote ““Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” This opportunity has led to our diversity and richness as a society.
We must not infringe upon people’s right to own guns. However –we must have the mechanisms in place as a society to ensure responsible gun ownership. As long as there are guns there will be accidental shootings and violent crimes in which guns are used. While we cannot yet ensure that anyone squeezing a trigger is a responsible gun owner -we must recognize that guns are weapons of death and carnage –as proven every day in America –and we must do all we can to prevent accidents and gun violence regardless of the protests of extreme fundamentalists of the NRA and other fringe domestic groups.
Whether you are a teacher, a plumber, a firefighter, a soldier or a nurse –you should not have to pay more in income taxes on a percentage basis than an investment banker, Wall Street executive or CEO. Similarly if you own a small to mid-size business –a restaurant, a kite shop, a roofing company –you should not be subject to the same taxes, regulations and fees of a large mega-corporation. We must reform our system of taxes and regulation to encourage investment in America –not hording cash offshore. We must not provide economic incentives for mega-corporations to close facilities in America and shift operations elsewhere around the world to avoid paying workers fairly. We must provide the opportunity and resources for our small “mom and pop” businesses to thrive. We must restore “Main Street” America through proper and fair economic incentives.
We believe in a strong, well-funded and well-equipped military –so we don’t have to go to war. We believe in diplomacy and strength as the core of our American character –and view war as an absolute last resort. We prefer to work with the international community as a strong, benevolent partner –instead of a foreign policy best described as “Let them hate us as long as they fear us”. And when we must send our military into harm’s way –we do not invade the wrong country and create complete regional chaos –and we have an exit strategy. And we believe in honoring and helping our veterans adjust back to civilian life.
We must embrace scientific research –and use it to guide our governmental policy and investment. We cannot ignore the reality and impact of climate change. We are again fortunate in Lincoln County and as Oregonians to have elected officials that respect our best, brightest most educated minds that have warned us about climate change for many years (just as a link was once made between smoking and lung cancer). In spite of the massive money used by the Koch Brothers, Exxon Mobil, Chevron and others to create confusion and delay- we must act boldly and rapidly to protect the only home we have.  I’m very grateful for Oregon legislators like Senator Roblan, Representative Gomberg and others that voted to extend the provisions of the Clean Fuels Bill. What is lost in the constant lying about the bill in mailings and letters to local papers (probably funded by Big Oil) is that Consumer Reports, a long trusted non-profit research organization, continues to stand behind the passage of the Clean Fuels bill and its provisions because it expands competition for fuel and for the positive environmental impact. We must transition from oil, coal and fracking to solar, wind and other safe, clean and renewable alternatives.
If we truly aspire toward democracy –we must be a well-educated and informed society.  Not only should we be investing in education –we must make real journalism thrive again. As media has consolidated and television, radio and print media have slashed costs in order to create profitability –our access to unfettered information has greatly suffered. Without a well-funded “Fourth Estate” that properly seeks and reports factual information –we get the result we have today –opinions and perspectives funded by the obscenely wealthy telling you who to blame, telling you that fracking is good, labeling GMO’s are bad, immigrants are bad, climate change is a Democratic plot and war is good. From our local newspapers and media –through national news –we must have organizations dedicated to the pursuit of the truth. We need publications that aren’t afraid to call out lies and misinformation whether by a public official, an opinion piece or other form of intentional attempts to mislead the public.
I am proud to be a liberal –because liberals are about empowering individuals to be self-reliant however we also recognize that beyond the individual there is greatness in what we accomplish together. When we work together as a society our young nation creates fairness, justice and opportunity for all.  We become a beacon for what is possible for the rest of the world and America leads by example.

I am proud to be a liberal.

And this new poll just announced ...

Wed, 2015-09-16 18:51

There is new Election 2016 poll data released every five minutes.  While it's moderately entertaining -it is a generally mindless activity.

If as much attention was devoted to understanding the stated positions of the candidates, how their stated positions align with voting patterns and who is funding them we would be reasonably informed by the time we needed to cast our ballot (provided we have not already been disenfranchised by state and local government controlled by Republicans -or we disenfranchise ourselves for the GOP by not engaging in the process).

Instead we now seem to have a system by which "Candidate X" says something outrageous -everyone offended by "Candidate X" demands an apology -and the results of a new poll is published showing the impact of "Candidate X's" statement.

This is coupled with the fact that (and already in early voting states) millions of dollars are flowing in to purchase political ads and commercials which allows you to fundamentally say anything -repeatedly.

For example imagine a dark political ad (I know it's a stretch):

Screen is black -then slowly the image of a hungry young child appears. A voiceover begins "How many times did candidate Y vote to support a Hungry Children initiative? ... zero times." Screen fades again to black with a "Paid for by the Citizens Against Child Hunger."  Subsequently a new poll showing Candidate X gaining ground and Candidate Y slipping. What is lost is that there is no "Hungry Children initiative" (because it may have been called "Healthy Families" or many other reasons) and "Citizens Against Child Hunger" may really be an industry group led by Monsanto, WalMart and/or the Koch brothers.

The manner in which we elect candidates to represent our interests at all levels is deeply flawed. Would you hire a personal assistant to work in your home without interviewing them, checking references and gaining insight as to how they will help you?  When we vote to elect a representative -the consequences of poor choices are much higher. Poor choices in representation can lead to invading the wrong country, raising taxes on the poor and working class -while lowering them for the obscenely wealthy, eliminating environmental regulations meant to protect our air, water and forests; eliminating worker rights and protections, appointing people to our courts that believe that justice is for those who can afford it.

We must demand a thorough examination of candidates for local, state and federal office. A series of 100's of hours of checking voting patterns (or other candidate history) and how they align with stated positions and grading them. Providing detailed, transparent disclosure information on how the candidates are funded. And once the field has been reduced to a manageable number -then a series of debates.

Polling every five minutes is nothing more than another distraction -meant to shift us from demanding a deep examination. There is no substance. The polling emperor is wearing no clothes.

A Celebration of Workers -Happy Labor Day!

Mon, 2015-09-07 20:01

Labor Day
This weekend many of us are celebrating the last throes of summer (I'm working -however it is for a good cause -so I'm not bitter about it. Generally not too bitter -that is until I see the picnics on the beach, the kite's drifting by and the happy sounds of families playing).
American's work hard -we work longer hours, and generate more productivity while taking less vacation than anywhere else in the world. We do this to provide a better life for ourselves and our families.

The real war on American workers
Over the past few generations -the American worker has been an unwitting participant in an all-out economic war. Through tax policy, privatization and the attack on labor unions the quality of life and political power of the American working class has been effectively marginalized. In Lewis Powell's confidential memo to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in August of 1971 -he describes an America where labor has become too strong politically -and he provides the strategy which has led to the growing economic disparity today between the obscenely wealthy and everyone else. Powell was later nominated to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court by Richard Nixon.

Battlefield: Tax Fairness
For every hour we work we generate value. Some of that value is hopefully returned to us. Some of the value may go to the owner of the business we work for. Some of the value may go into government to pay for roads, highways, bridges, schools, police, fire and defense (a great deal goes into defense). Some value may go toward our retirement security. The value that is generated goes to us, ownership and government. In the late 1970's the federal income tax rate for those earning more than $200,000 per year was 70%. Over the course of the Reagan Administration -taxes on the wealthiest American's fell to 28% while increasing for the middle class. This means that for the average worker -for each hour -you were paying the government more -to make up for the wealthy paying less. Tax policy (income taxes, estate taxes, taxes on investment gains and corporate taxes) are just one battlefield in which the average American worker is losing.

Battlefield: Wages
Another significant battlefield is on wages. Beginning in the late 1980's -and as American worker productivity was continuing to climb higher -Executive salary was skyrocketing. It's easy to understand why. An easy example is as follows. Let's say you own a business and you employ 100 workers and you pay them $8.00 an hour (above the $7.25/hour minimum wage). Those workers are each responsible in producing $50,000 of profit each year for your business. You now have $5,000,000 of profit at the end of the year.

A) You could pay a bonus to each of your workers of $40,000 each -and still pay yourself a bonus of $1,000,000. You could also double the wages of your workers (to $16.00) and hour -and if your business remained the same year over year -you'd still have a significant profit at the end of the following year.

B) You could pay a bonus (dividends) to shareholders of $2,500,000 congratulate yourself with a $2,500,000 bonus and buy each of your workers a turkey (while encouraging them to apply for Food Stamps and other taxpayer funded benefits -you know, the WalMart business model). And by the way -you own a majority of the stock and collect most of the stock dividends.

Most CEO's and executives opt for the "WalMart" wage model. The chart above serves as evidence of that fact. And is also important to understand why "trickle down economics" is really nothing more than a massive fraud perpetrated upon American society by the wealthy (and the GOP party that they control). What do you think is better for the economy? One person with $5,000,000 in their pocket (you know, the "job creator") or one hundred workers with $40,000 each to spend. This is why an American worker making a living wage -reaping a decent amount of value from his or her productivity is so vital to our economic strength (and America). It is the working class/middle class engine that fuels American strength and growth. The consolidation of wealth (and power) to the top 1% works incredibly well for the 1%. It makes us more fragile as a nation -it weakens America and diminishes the future we could all have.

In an article from The Atlantic by Gillian White, Jan Rivkin an economist and senior associate dean for research at Harvard said "From the end of WWII until the 1970s productivity in the U.S. and median wages grew in lockstep. But from the late 1970s until today we've seen a divergence, with productivity growing faster than wages. The divergence indicates that companies and the people who own and run them are doing much better than the people who work at the companies."  In other words -the workers create value (profit) -and this productivity or value is taken from them with a pat on the back and a "thanks, you might get to do this again tomorrow" and it is paid to the executives.

Let's face it. Trickle down economics works beautifully. It does precisely what it is designed to do -move money, power and quality of life from the poor, working poor and middle class to the obscenely wealthy. It is not a failed economic theory. And it's not accidentally stupid. It is massive legalized fraud -and every time someone votes for the GOP they are simply perpetuating the stealing of our quality of life -and that of our children and grandchildren.

Battlefield: Time
We are working longer hours and harder -for less. And the GOP response from Presidential Candidate Jeb Bush? "You aren't working hard enough". Nevertheless -take a look at the chart below. When we work harder and longer -we have less time with our families, less time to raise our children, care for our elders or become involved in our schools and community. We live paycheck to paycheck and are ruled by fear, anxiety and economic uncertainty. When we are fearful -we are easier to control.

Battlefield: Unions
Our historical struggle to unite and collectively bargain has been under siege since Reagan fired all of the Air Traffic Control workers (the PATCO strike of 1981).

Since that time -Union power has continued to be attacked by "Right to Work" or anti-Collective Bargaining initiatives (which are really thinly-veiled Orwellian phrases for employers can do whatever they want, anytime they want), the "WalMart" business model, the offshoring of manufacturing and other jobs and the Koch-brothers funded attack on Unions led by Scott Walker in Wisconsin, John Kasich in Ohio and many other GOP candidates and elected officials. The attacks are waged through legislation, ballot initiatives and court challenges that effectively diminish the political strength of Unions and the ability for workers to collectively bargain for fair wages and benefits. While Unions must modernize and recognize that they must advocate strongly for workers -they must also work collaboratively to derive the best outcomes for the workers they represent and society as a whole. And we must honor and remember all those that have struggled, fought and died so we can unite and demand that our work is valued properly, that we can rebuild the American dream and that we are all brothers and sisters together working for a better life for our children and our future.

Don't Read This ... Nothing to See Here ...

Fri, 2015-08-07 18:28

The Fall 2015 Fox replacement for the popular show "American Idol" is the GOP Debate series. It is spectacle and theater that even has some of my left of center friends talking about "if you had to, which of them would you vote for?"

Of course the debates are entertaining. Laugh In was funny, Saturday Night Live -occasionally funny. Curb Your Enthusiasm? -always funny. However to think any of the candidates offered by the party working to destroy the hard fought gains in civil rights, voting rights and women's rights; promotes a foreign policy equivalent to "Let them hate us as long as they fear us" -a policy of perpetual war (paid for in blood by our poor and working class -and in future generations of indebtedness) -while ensuring that everyone has a gun or assault rifle would be acceptable as President is irreconcilable and irresponsible.

Nevertheless -it is a spectacle -and it is successfully distracting us. The real issues as I see them are

  • The Iran Nuclear Agreement (which will avoid yet another long, protracted war in the Middle East -and all of the horror that manifest in war -for generations).
  • The growing inequality between those that have and those that don't in America stemming from tax and economic policy from the disastrous Reagan administration.
  • The regressive attack on women's rights, racial justice and voting rights. 
  • The attacks on our environment (Keystone XL, the Gulf Coast has a dead zone from the BP catastrophe, the negligence by All American Plains leading to the pipeline disaster in central California and now Shell is on their way to destroy the Arctic). 
  • Attacks on environmental protection and regulation.
  • Attacks on Unions and the middle class.
  • The war on education and intellectual capability. 
  • Ignorance-fueled discrimination against people by those hiding behind "religious liberty" as a means to hate.
  • The attacks on tax fairness that subvert a progressive tax system such that the wealthy and corporations legally avoid their responsibility to America.

The spectacle IS American Idol's Fall season replacement on Fox.

Let's not forget for a moment what is really going on -and what is really at stake. It is well past time for all of us to unite and demand that "We the People" not the Koch brothers, the NRA's, the extreme fundamentalists of any faith, the Exxons, Chevrons or "Defense" industry are represented by our Government. Our Government is not separate from us -it is an extension of our civic engagement, voting -and carefully monitoring our elected officials so they are in fact representing the best interests of American society -not a particular party or of the wealthiest Americans.

Climate Denial -Response to an Opinion called "Unsettled", Newport NewsTimes, August 5, 2015

Wed, 2015-08-05 19:52

Response to an Opinion called "Unsettled", Newport NewsTimes, August 5, 2015
We are very grateful to Rep. Gomberg and Senator Roblan for their leadership -and to the 2015 Oregon State Legislature overall in this past session. While Mr. Folkers note appears fittingly in the "Opinion" section -I do hope the NewTimes will follow with at least 97 peer-reviewed articles written by Climatologists that have not been paid by Big Oil or Koch front groups to deceive the American public about climate change.I'm not sure where SB941 (Background checks for gun sales) fits into an opinion about climate change -however every responsible gun owner (and law enforcement representative) I know would prefer to keep guns out of the hands of the emotionally disturbed, people with restraining orders and convicted felons. While legislation certainly provides no guarantee -it makes it access to guns more challenging. When it is more difficult to obtain and possess a weapon -gun related crimes drop significantly -all around the world. This is statistical fact.Climate change is not a political issue at all. Based upon his disrespectful statement about former VP Al Gore it is clear to me that Mr. Folkers has been deceived into believing that it is. Rigorously collected trending data from NASA and the Climatic Research Units -two of the most trusted entities on climate research positively connect the dangerous trending rise in planetary surface temperature. This is accelerating rapid, readily observed decrease in Arctic sea ice and permafrost and leading to unprecedented climate events around the world.One of the climate "deniers" cited in Mr. Folkers' Big Oil marketing piece is a chemist, not a climatologist. There is no doubt Leslie Woodcock is smart and well-educated man. However if you have a heart ailment and 97 heart specialists told you that you needed a procedure in order to live -and a proctologist told you it wasn't necessary -what would you do? Personally, I'd have the recommended heart procedure, wouldn’t you?Mr. Folkers further misinterpreted physicist John Cook -either willfully or due to ignorance -and in either case irresponsibly. Studies by Naomi Oreskes and later by John Cook clearly conclude that that there is a 97.1% consensus among peer-reviewed climatologists that climate change is real.  ( denial -which has led to public confusion and inaction is an absolute threat to our existence -and that is why the term now has a very negative connotation. Vast amounts of money have been expended by the Koch brothers, Big Oil, Coal and Fracking industry  -as there is significant revenue and profit to be made (without regard to environmental damage or societal risk). The delay in taking profound action provides additional opportunity to derive record quarterly profit –while putting all of our lives, our children’s lives and generations yet to come at risk.

"Things Go Better With Koch" announces GOP

Sat, 2015-08-01 23:18

Not a real Press Release ... or is it? 
For Immediate Release:Wichita, Kansas - August 1, 2015 - Koch Fertilizer LLC, a division of Koch Industries is a market leading provider of well, you know has completed its acquisition of the Republican Party (GOP).With this acquisition Koch Fertilizer strengthens its leadership position as a global provider that delivers powerful and effective excrement to the rapidly growing market of working poor and poor in America and around the world. This will also streamline accounting operations -no longer will Koch Industries need to funnel massive amounts of funding through nefarious front-groups in order to buy members of Congress or State and Local government. 
"We think this will provide an excellent opportunity to gain access to all of the funds in the social security system while completely eliminating pesky labor unions." said a Koch spokesperson.
Post-closing -Koch will control the U.S. House of Representatives, State Legislatures in Kansas, Wisconsin, Texas, Florida, Ohio, Arizona and the across the deep South.
About KochKoch Industries are a world leader in subversion of democracy, destroying the environment, obfuscation of climate change to delay critically-needed action and own more elected officials and candidates than any competitor. They are also widely recognized as instrumental in continuing Ronald Reagan’s work with regard to the evisceration of labor unions.
About the Republican Party(GOP)The GOP is recognized as a leader in implementing policy that has allowed the consolidation of wealth and power to the obscenely wealthy through lower tax rates, the work to eliminate capital gains and estate taxes and the preferential treatment of trillions of dollars shifted to offshore banks by their donors. They have been instrumental in limiting women’s rights, invading the wrong countries, destroying the public education system and making higher education unaffordable. They have also helped eliminate American jobs by creating incentives to shift them overseas; are working to keep women, our elderly and people of color from voting; continue to obstruct efforts to address climate change; advocate for discrimination based upon not being a christian white male; work closely with the NRA to ensure that even (white) people with severe mental health issues can be heavily armed and pass laws such as “Stand Your Ground” allowing white people to shoot people of color because of a hoodie.
For more visit:

A Broken Promise

Sun, 2015-05-03 18:35

There was an America that was promised to me in my youth.

It was a strong, diverse and vibrant America. With liberty and justice for all.
For ALL.

A place where you could look to the sky or oceans and think of exploration, science and math.  
Where every child born would have the opportunity to learn without fear.
Where regardless of race or belief, academic achievement in school would be rewarded with affordable college or university –so we could educate the next generation of doctors,  scientists, lawyers and educators.
A place where we recognized our past injustices as a nation and protected voting rights for all people.
Where we valued our elders and did not diminish their quality of life through attacking their retirement income and security.
Where we recognized and balanced individual responsibility with societal responsibility.
Where we recognized we needed to fund and maintain a well-equipped and technologically superior military defense capability –not to the point where every man, woman and child in America spends over $3,300 per year each on our national military budget.
Where broadcast news was information we needed to make good decisions as individuals, families, communities and as a country. Not propaganda from those that have amassed obscene wealth repeated by the corporations that they own to keep us distracted and divided.
Where “…give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” was not just a fading slogan on a statue.
Where we were not simply acquiescing to the pressure to extract profit from and ruin everything that belongs to all of us –the oceans, the mountaintops, our rivers and streams.
A place where we built and MAINTAINED great things –roads, highways, bridges –our infrastructure.
Where we all felt keeping assault rifles or semi-automatic guns out of the hands of known criminals and/or those that are mentally unstable was a good idea.
Where we honor our veterans returning home with care, jobs and security.
Where all hard work is recognized and rewarded,  the right for people to get together and collectively bargain for decent, living wages is respected and protected.
A place where justice is equal –not privatized prisons filled with young people of color while those that have stolen wealth from each of us, destroyed our environment and have dramatically weakened America accumulate more wealth so they may purchase more elections.

A place where love is love.
Where people are people and corporations are not.
Where speech is speech and money is not.
Is it too late?

People that are working to take all they can from the middle class and poor would like it to be. 
It’s only too late if we allow it. If we give up. If we don’t vote. 
Together we can reclaim the promise America once held.
Together we can.

Our Choice Between a Strong America and a Weak America

Fri, 2014-11-07 19:27

Near the end of 2008 America was on the precipice of economic collapse –which would have also had a severe and lasting impact upon global markets. Since 2009 we’ve experienced a long slow recovery from the cliff.

There are numerous issues we must face quickly as Americans or America will perish as a footnote in history –characterized as a “nice try”. We can either be remembered as the society that recognized our strengths and addressed our weaknesses –or we can be known as a once promising society that waited for magic to happen until it did not.
The vital issues as I see them:The Corruption of the Political and Judicial EnvironmentInfluence of money on elections and representationRemember one of the key issues in the founding of America - “No taxation without representation”? When we each cast a vote (assuming we do and that our vote is counted), we have an expectation that our elected officials will advocate for our interests. Regardless of your political ideology –do you really believe that my vote versus a million dollar check from Exxon Mobil or General Electric or Monsanto will have the same value with our elected officials? 
The Constitution and Bill of Rights established an intent for representational fairness. Furthermore, three branches of government were created to provide greater protection against the corrupting influence of wealth. My friends that are very liberal with affinity with the green party are justified in their anger and frustration with the present system. My libertarian friends are absolutely correct as well. Unless you are the person collecting the check from Exxon, GE, Monsanto or the Koch brothers –you are completely justified in your alarm, frustration and anger. 
So why are we fighting each other instead of the system that is subverting the American system? –More about that later.
Under our present system it takes generally takes massive amounts of money to run a successful campaign. GMO labeling is a great example –where despite the will of the people –citizen initiatives for GMO labeling have been narrowly defeated due to being outspent by opposition from the likes of Monsanto, Pepsi, Kellogg’s and others by 10 – 1 or more. Media purchases (commercials on TV/Radio, newspaper ads, magazine ads and direct mail are all incredibly expensive.
In recent years the perfect storm was intentionally created to erode our ability to have a representative government. The conditions were set forth by the evisceration of the “Fairness Doctrine” (see - which had provided a mechanism for equal, balanced and honest broadcast time and the recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings in “Citizens United” v. the FEC and McCutcheon v. the FEC. 
More coming ...Influence of money on appropriations
Voter RightsVoter ResponsibilitiesGrowing economic inequalityTax code and policyMinimum versus living wages
Healthcare costsProactive/Preventative versus reactive costsIndividual responsibilityFood/Beverage/Tobacco ResponsibilityEmployer versus FederalMilitary costsEducationRacism and Gender inequalityPrivatizationEnergySecurity and DefenseDomestic SecurityMediaImmigrationDrug Policy, Police and PrisonsAcknowledging our Imperfect HistoryCultural Societal Illness What Can We Do?

Quiet and Unquiet Heroes -Labor Day 2013 Reflections

Mon, 2013-09-02 20:40
I am grateful for all of the sacrifices of those that stood up to massive wealth and formed our labor unions. There are many heroes that marched together (often at great peril) so that we could enjoy holidays, weekends, competitive salaries and benefits.

The massive wealth (such as the Koch Brothers and the WalMart/Walton heirs) that are continuing to buy Congress and State Governments (Rick Perry, Scott Walker, Rick Scott, etc) -in order to undo collective bargaining and eviscerate unions are weakening America faster than any terrorist organization could. The erosion of the middle class (which was the driving force behind the strength of the American economy) continues to threaten the economic health of America -and leads us to trade our long term future for short term needs.

While labor needs to modernize and align with the overall goals and objectives of American society -without them our children would be staring into a future of flipping burgers for minimum wage until they turn 70 and their retirement security is replaced with a job as a greeter at WalMart.

So for the AFL-CIO, the SEIU, AFSCME and all other labor unions in America and around the world -I celebrate this day with you -and hope we can celebrate far more in the upcoming 2014 and 2016 election cycles!

What Progressives Can Learn From Massively Parallel Computing Architectures

Tue, 2013-06-18 22:30
Massively Parallel Computing Architectures and the Progressive Mindset.

Recent discussions with friends and peers prompted me to share some key perspectives on progressive versus neoconservative behavioral styles.

My observation back in 2003 was that the neocon machine is very much like a mainframe (highly-centralized) computing architecture. They readily work together toward a common goal -and behaviorally it is much easier for them to work together on common interests. Their behavioral style lends itself well to a typical hierarchical structure and many are happy to passively follow along with the centralized plan or platform.

Progressives are highly individualized and don't necessarily follow along with any plan. Progressives question authority and do not generally respond well to a rigid hierarchical structure. We respond more to peer to peer structures -and are (in my observation) similar to a massively parallel computing architecture. The biggest obstacle we face is that there still needs to be some generally accepted plan to achieve a progressive outcome and while we may all be focused in our respective areas of passion and advocacy -there still needs to be a mechanism to communicate with each other, articulate a cohesive vision or platform and work toward it in a mostly autonomous manner (consistent with our behavioral style). For massively parallel compute architectures to be successful -there must be a messaging and coordination layer -which orchestrates activity between all of the autonomous "nodes". This layer (or backplane) is what remains largely undefined (from my perspective) and when we finally develop an adaptive "backplane" we will be able to drive a socio-economic and political agenda that just might save the planet and humanity (provided we are not too late).

Exxon Hates Your Children

Wed, 2012-12-05 15:45

We at absolutely love and support this commercial from Oil Change International and The Other 98%. While we really need funding -so do they to get this project on the air and into millions of homes. Please visit to find out how you can help sponsor this important broadcast.

GMO Lobbying, Consumer Right to Know and alonovo

Sat, 2012-11-10 19:25

Please share far and wide! will soon be providing easy to use information on the web and mobile devices -as to which Companies supported consumer's right to know about products containing GMO's -and which companies are on the wrong side of history.

While great organizations like California Right to Know will continue the political fight -lets hit bad companies in their most sensitive spot. You know ... right in their quarterly results.

EU Implements "Robin Hood" Tax

Sat, 2012-10-27 17:25

This is excellent. The reason is that speculative short term investment is seeking to transfer capital and wealth -and this tax will raise the cost of speculative transactions (thus encouraging longer term capital investment that adds jobs while growing/strengthening the economy). It's really a tax on gambling -and goes to the heart of some of our thoughts about transfers of wealth as opposed to meaningful creating of value.

The case for alonovo ...

Mon, 2012-10-22 20:08

The fundamental reason that the alonovo concept is becoming more relevant than ever is that we spend much of our societal focus now debating issues that were resolved (or should have been) long ago. The fact that we debate women's rights, fair pay, anti-discrimination, trickle-down economics and foreign policy that is war and not diplomacy focused is due to economics. The last few generations have embraced policies that have directed the flow of capital to companies (and their investors) that add little to no value -they externalize their costs through pollution, plundering resources, abuse their workforce and corrupt government. Koch industries, WalMart, Halliburton, Big Oil -are all leading examples of such entities. As a people until we either insulate the political process from money (unlikely post-Citizens United) -the market is the place where we can add the engine that can connect demand affinity to companies operating in a fair and sustainable manner -which tends to drive capital to more evolved, socially responsible management and investors. It also provides natural societal protection against companies externalizing costs (as Chevron does -in Ecuador as well as in Richmond, California) where governmental protection and/or judicial relief may ebb and flow with the political landscape -consumers can make value-aligned decisions.

David versus MONSANTO...

Thu, 2012-09-20 19:35
As Californians fight to win a Yes on 37 campaign (proper labeling of Genetically Modified Organisms, or GMO's), massive amounts of money are being poured in by Monsanto, WalMart and other companies and lobbyist groups to defeat the measure.

The fight serves as a reminder as to why political lobbying by corporations (and especially in light of the "Citizens United" U.S. Supreme Court decision -connecting money to speech -and tenuously connecting corporations as "people with free speech rights") typically erodes societal protections for the pursuit of profit.

Monsanto has gained a great deal of exposure (which they continue to attempt to avoid) for their continuing strategy to control world food supply. This -as well as the strategy they use to gain more power -through intimidation -is sinister -and I believe that if more people were aware of their egregious behavior -we would all be working together -Democrats, Republicans, Greens and Libertarians -to revoke the corporate charter of Monsanto.

In is unusual and noteworthy when a small farmer faces the legal team afforded by one of the worlds largest multinational corporation -and wins.

The following article -written by friend and attorney Oscar Michelen describes the counter strategy employed by the small family farmer that not only beat Monsanto -but established important legal precedent to hopefully be a foundation for other small farmers to stop Monsanto and others that attempt to grow revenue and profit through legal intimidation.

Executive Pay Ratio's, Walmart and Rob Walton

Wed, 2012-09-19 20:59
Equitable executive compensation is an important factor in assessing corporate behavior. People that have driven innovation, assumed great personal risk and have created successful new businesses or even industries should be rewarded. Inher
iting a significant amount of wealth and reaping the rewards of prior generations creates no jobs or value -unless that wealth is directed at improving the quality and dignity of life. While buying four Ferrari's may help the vast network of Ferrari mechanics -it really does very little for America or the world. 

Rob Walton is a poster boy for inherited privilege and is a compelling case study for progressive and fair taxes.
And is another reason you will never find us at a Walmart.
Image courtesy

The Rising Costs of Low, Low Prices

Wed, 2012-05-02 19:50

Wal*Mart  (and people that consume from Wal*Mart) are creating a secondary wave of horror. Unionized stores (such as family-owned Raley's, HQ'd in Sacramento) are being squeezed between Wal*Mart prices and their unions (UFCW) and there may soon be a strike. As a result -more consumers will shift to Wal*Mart (as opposed to crossing picket lines at Raley's and other grocers that are in contract negotiations -Safeway, SaveMart) and potentially cause non-union consolidation in the supermarket and retail store industry in Northern California. 
While the UFCW should make every attempt to negotiate and advocate on behalf of its members -there should be constant and growing pressure to unionize Wal*Mart -and hold it accountable to pay fair/living wages and benefits to its workers. Without such pressure -Wal*Mart will continue to finish the job started by the Reagan administration -the elimination of collective bargaining. 
For those that don't think unions serve any purpose anymore -the next time you are enjoying a BBQ on a weekend, the reason there is a weekend is because of unions and collective bargaining. Don't think for a second that the extreme wealth behind Corporate America would implement any policy that did not involve transferring additional wealth to themselves -through our labor, Monday - Friday and Saturday/Sunday if they can. This is why the Koch Brothers are funding cheerleaders for wealth such as Scott Walker in Wisconsin. Placing political and economic pressure on unions at a time in which they have been weakened -the multi-faceted attack on unions is an attempt to remove a significant protection society has against extreme wealth and power.

Infrequently Asked Questions -interactions with students from Calif. State Univ. at Dominguez Hills

Mon, 2012-04-23 23:45

Recently I was honored to be asked to guest lecture at California State University, Dominguez Hills. My topic was Corporate Social Behavior and I covered advertising, junk science (see tobacco and oil companies), externalities, lobbying and how consumers can (and must engage) as government regulation, enforcement and protection ebbs and flows based upon the political climate (as does the ability to obtain protection through the courts).

The presentation is available at and the terrific questions and my hopefully adequate responses follow.
Question: Alonovo allows consumers to generally understand a company's values.  But how do you get consumers to care about a company's social/environmental responsibility?  Especially to care enough to stop shopping with a specific company.  Answer: Many people already care and will avoid –generally on the basis of an egregious and very visible event or labor/environmental action. The issue is really sustaining consumer behavior –and not just boycotting/avoidance –but offering good alternatives that will not impose significant economic or convenience barriers.
Question: The website states that when we spend our money to purchase a product or a service we are supporting behaviors of the company. That is understandable but how difficult does it become to choose a company with a positive supportive culture? Many companies outsource, our do not have morally right behaviors, however when money is a main concern on many minds it becomes difficult to ignore other factors. Do you ever think it is a better idea to change the companies behavior or the purchasers support?Answer: True –many companies (large and small) have a vast array of suppliers. We want to hold them accountable for their supplier choices and therefore –supply chain selectivity is one of the attributes we will use to provide a grade. And I think we want to really affect both company and consumer behavior –although our first priority is to mitigate corporate externalities.
Question: I have been following the controversy surrounding the Shell Corporation, and I am wondering how you would frame the issue of sustainability in terms of the oil business?  I think Shell is attempting to drill in Alaska presently, and the oil business is very destructive to the environment--would this mean the focus would be on outside contributions more so than sustainability?Answer: When all companies within an industry segment are poorly rated on environmental issues –we can certainly look at other attributes –such as labor issues, ethics/governance issues, etc (although my best advice would be that if an entire industry is harming a critical social/environmental factor –perhaps we should be abandoning consumption that is perpetuating behavior –ie.- moving to walking, biking, mass transit and electric vehicles to reduce our participation.)
Question: How can we be socially conscious when buying clothes, since very few clothes are made in the U.S. anymore? Is it always possible to vote with our dollars?Answer: Supply chain selectivity allows us to hold GAP, Old Navy and others accountable for their supplier/textile choices. And yes –especially within a sometimes capitalist system (bailing out banks and insurance companies isn’t necessarily a behavior one would expect of Milton Friedman’s idea of a free market) –it is always possible and important to try to do so.
Question: What has been the most difficult part about talking to consumers?Answer: The most difficult is our reach –getting the word out about alonovo is incredibly expensive so we rely on earned media (news stories, blogs and articles about our new/emerging industry).
Question: In your experience, has there been a turn around about how consumers spend their money?Answer: Yes- when there is a sustained action or campaign –there is absolutely direct evidence that consumers will avoid and drive collective action. We hope to evolve and refine such collective action by not only targeting avoidance –but positive alternatives.
Question: What are your techniques to empower consumers?Answer: It comes down to knowledge is power. It really is.
Question: What impact will the outcome of the presidential election have on corporate ethics in the not so distant future?   How much different will things be with an Obama victory vs. a Romney victory?Answer: If Romney wins –alonovo and concepts like it will be even more important –it may be the last piece of societal protection we have against a profit motive that is not tempered by sustainability. We’d also likely see less transparency in reporting of toxic emissions, labor issues and class action lawsuits.
Question: Do you think the major corporations are harmful to society even though they give jobs to a lot of people, how so?Answer: My perspective is that I want an array of legal operating structures for business (such as a corporation) –that best support economic growth and expansion –provided it is accomplished in a manner that is sustainable and will have a positive outcome for society without diminishing our environment, resources and commons. Some corporations that attempt to externalize a significant part of the costs to drive profit –in my mind are criminal.
Question: What made you decide to start alonovo? What experience did you have starting your own company?Answer: I actually didn’t want to start it. I was well-compensated at Oracle –and as I thought of the concept tried to get Working Assets (now CREDO Mobile) behind the idea. When they couldn’t –I felt I had to –when we know that something is right –and has the potential of improving the quality and dignity of life everywhere –what could be more important? While I had not formed a business –I surrounded myself in 2005 with some great mentors with a track record of startup through successful IPO’s (initial public offerings)
Question: Since the founding of have you seen an increase ordecrease in companies becoming sustainably ethical?Answer: There is a decided increase –that I cannot take credit for. It is concern over climate change, ethical concerns about sweatshop labor conditions, media exposure of runaway executive pay ratio and unethical behavior by financial institutions that have created more focus.
Question: What is being rated in the companies what work with amazon? And if their ratings are very low, does amazon stop doing business with them?Answer: We no longer have a relationship with amazon because of their labor and lobbying practices. Nevertheless –we do not seek to cause products to no longer be available (except of course for something toxic or unsafe) –we want to report and then allow consumers to (hopefully) make informed decisions.

Question: How can we find out what corporation's motives are or what they stand for or support in regards to greed? For example we know things about wal mart but how can we find out things about other corporations that we are not aware if as the public?Answer: We hope to do that for you –by acquiring data about the attributes that are published on (as well as the sources of such data) we hope to be a one-stop shop to help you and others understand the social, labor and environmental behaviors of a company.
Question: Considering the unique rating system of Alonovo, has there been any cases of opposition and support from different organizations (aside from Amazon)?Answer: We’ve not had any opposition as yet –I suspect we are too small and in our infancy. We’ve had decent support from the executives/ceo’s and CSR leads of companies that are actually evolving toward sustainability –and are anxious to have their results published in a trusted and independent manner.
Question: What benefits or empowerment does the low socioeconomic consumers gain from participating in your program? Seems like this program is designed for the privileged who already have everything they need?Answer: I’m very sensitive to digital and economic divide –I want the service to be available and to be used by all. Realistically –the closer we get to the poverty line and below –the less (if any) price elasticity a consumer has. By focusing those that are using the system on fair labor issues –we hope to direct more purchases toward companies supporting a living wage –and therefore have less people at or below poverty.
Question: Is consumer empowerment a luxury only for the middle class?Answer: Good question –consider this –the success of Cesar Chavez and the UFW –was the impact limited to the middle class? I’d say consumer empowerment through knowledge will benefit all.
Question: How do we empower ourselves as consumers? Is this even possible?Answer: Knowledge is power –don’t perpetuate egregious/harmful behavior by directing your purchases toward evolved/evolving companies whenever possible.
Question: What happens after society is informed about cooperate behavior, but are still forced to shop at these companies because they can't afford to shop at other companies?Answer: What impact do you think there would be on WalMart if 10% of WalMart consumers switched to Costco? The impact on their quarterly results (and Costco’s) would be dramatic and force change. We don’t need everyone to drive sweeping environmental, labor and social reform (although I want everyone!)
Question: How should consumers consider ethical consumerism during economic hardships when companies like Wal-Mart appease consumers' wallets but have unethical practices?Answer: Price elasticity expands and contracts on the basis of economic strength. Nevertheless –even a small percentage of demographic can make a significant difference in the corporate profit/loss statement –and if we can get Wal*Mart (and other poorly performing companies) to start incrementally changing behavior to reacquire customers –I’d be delighted.
Question: What inspired you to create an organization like Alonovo?Answer: I think many people are politically disenfranchised –however economics is the real battlefield. I want to empower our society –so whether it is a Wal*Mart greeter or a textile worker in a developing country –people and planet are treated with respect.
Question: How does Polisner market  to the public and how will it continue to help the environmental movement? Are there any changes that can still be done better? I've not been aware of  until todayAnswer: Yes –marketing and advertising is very expensive –as we develop our product –and when it is ready we will work with media to try to get news stories, articles and blogs about us.
Question: What is your biggest concern regarding corporate behavior?Answer: Really all of it. I think there should be an absolute partnership between business and society. I think economic growth and opportunity is important –but not at the expense of life, nature and the beauty that surrounds us. There is a balance which has been largely ignored for the pure pursuit of profit. As America is the most significant consumer base in the world –it is important for us to drive sustainable and responsible business behavior –and without adequate and consistent government regulation and enforcement it is up to each of us.

Tea Party and Occupy Agree on a Very Bad Tax

Fri, 2012-03-02 16:19
Liberal/progressives generally consider taxes to be an investment in our societal infrastructure. Roads/highways, transportation, education, national security, environmental protection, food/agricultural protection, scientific research and other key initiatives that require such massive scale -they necessitate funding from all of us if we want to participate in an advanced society that provides world-class education and infrastructure.
Conservatives might argue that while some of the infrastructure initiatives are important -private industry can deliver with greater efficiency than government. They will often look to support candidates that want to "streamline or reduce" government in order to minimize the taxes we all must pay.
(Vote on the latest poll! -visit
What would my conservative and liberal friends say if I were proposing to implement a tax of, lets say 20% on all of our income? And this tax was not going to be used to fund any services whatsoever for the public. In fact ... what if this tax was going to take money from all and then write one big check to the wealthiest people in America? If you are a member of the Tea Party -would you support this tax? If you are a member of Occupy -would you?
This tax can't exist, right? Well I hate to share bad news but it does. It's called (in economic terms) an externality. All major for-profit corporations attempt to maximize profit and return as much (profit) as it can to its investors. This is not inherently evil -a profitable company makes money for investors who can then (theoretically) invest in more companies and stimulate growth. The problem is many companies will do all they can to shift what should be their costs to all of us. Because when corporations have less expenses they make more money. Think of it this way -if you ran an extension cord to your neighbor's home and started to take their electricity -you would be stealing (but lowering the costs of powering your home). When an oil company poisons the air in places like Martinez or Richmond, California -or the Ocean (Deepwater Horizon, ExxonValdez), or rivers -they are stealing clean air, water and other valuable resources from all of us -and transferring the costs or expenses of oil energy to all of us. It is a hidden tax.
So while I haven't seen the Tea Party and the Occupy movement shaking hands yet -I hope to see the anger and frustration they both share directed against companies all over the world that are taxing and stealing from all of us as they externalize their costs. Economic growth and profit are not bad -however should be sustainable and fair. Corporations should account for the true costs and not shift them to generally the most fragile and vulnerable populations in America and throughout the world.
We Agree?

alonovo and Netroots Foundation ...

Mon, 2012-02-13 06:38

alonovo research, inc. announces 501c3 fiscal sponsorship agreement with Netroots Foundation.

Sacramento, CA, February 10, 2012 - alonovo research inc. has announced the signing of a fiscal sponsorship agreement with Netroots Foundation. The agreement will provide the operating structure for alonovo to pursue it’s mission -to create consumer and institutional procurement demand affinity with products and services offered by companies that are evolving to embrace a triple bottom line.

George A. Polisner, Executive Director at alonovo research, inc. stated “The agreement will allow us to focus on the identification, acquisition and integration of trusted corporate social behavior (more commonly, corporate social responsibility or ‘CSR’) data, educational content and media creation all in parallel to raising donations and sponsorship to support our work. We have deployed a publicly available prototype at We are very excited to be working under the auspices of Netroots Foundation and have deep appreciation for their work in the areas of justice, equality, economics and participatory democracy.”

alonovo research, inc. is dedicated to providing trusted, easy-to-understand grades relating to real corporate performance on labor, environment and social responsibility areas such as workforce stability, executive pay ratios, lobbying practices, polluting emissions and waste. The alonovo mission is to catalyze a constructive relationship between an informed market demand and the business supply and distribution chain. This accelerates the "race to the top" among businesses that are working to balance life, planet and profit. It has evolved from the concept that originated in 2005.

Netroots Foundation brings together online citizens across America, injects progressive voices into the national conversation and advances the values of justice, equality and community in our nation’s politics. With technology, the information revolution and online communities changing the very nature of civic engagement, we seek to accelerate the understanding and support of this fundamental shift in participatory democracy.

For further information about alonovo research, inc. phone 916.822.4155, or email