Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Isn't it time to stop The Trail of Tears?
  The United States is a country of laws, not a nation
  of similar peoples - denying that could destroy us

It is important to understand the language surrounding American bigotry as the United States wades into its most conspicuous government sanctioned racial/ethnic discrimination since the end of slavery in 1864 or the end of Indian Wars in 1924 or the end of legal segregation with Brown v Board of Education.

According to Wikipedia:

    ..."Hispanic" is a...term that only refers to persons of Spanish-speaking origin or ancestry....
    The term "Hispanic" was adopted by the United States government in the early 1970s during the administration of Richard Nixon after the Hispanic members of an interdepartmental Ad Hoc Committee to develop racial and ethnic definitions[for census and statistical use] recommended that a universal term encompassing all Hispanic subgroups—including Central and South Americans—be adopted.

It is enlightening to know the term was developed by a committee during the Nixon Administration. That certainly explains a lot. Consider this in 2011 from people who ought to know:

    So what’s in a name? When it comes to the terms Latino and Hispanic, quite a bit. Let’s take Latino for instance. Latino refers to individuals from Latin America. While that may sound quite general and inclusive, it’s actually quite the opposite. The term Latino leaves out our friends from Spain, with whom we have strong language, historical and cultural bonds. It also leaves out folks from the Caribbean, who have such a strong influence on our culture. How can we leave out people from Puerto Rico, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Curaçao and others?
    Not only does it leave out groups who should be included, it also includes groups who perhaps don’t share the same culture as the group being identified. French Guiana, located in South America, would be considered Latino, even though their language and culture are French. What about Suriname, also in South America? They’re Dutch! Belize in Central America has English as their primary language. As does Guyana in South America, which was previously a British colony. And if we want to raise even more eyebrows, what about Brazil? The largest country in Latin America shares a lot of cultural traits, but not the language. Or what about Latinos in the United States, which is, after all, not part of Latin America?
    It seems like the term Latino ill-represents who we are as a community.
    Does the term Hispanic fare any better? Not really. Hispanic was originally used to denote a relationship with Hispania, or more specifically, Spain. So it referred to countries that had been formally ruled by the Spanish Empire. Hispanic is now more commonly used to refer to people who are from Spanish-speaking countries.
    While that may seem a broad enough label, it is limiting in many ways. Do third generation immigrants from Honduras living in the United States no longer count as Hispanic if they don’t speak Spanish? Are we really excluding Brazilians, with whom we share so much culture and history? Does one have to speak Spanish to be Hispanic?

One really has to understand the historical geography of the Americas to understand the new permission for ignorant bigotry contained in the word "Hispanic" developed by a committee in 1972.

As we are taught in elementary school, "geography" is about the nature and relative arrangement of places and physical features of the Earth. "Historical geography" is more complex, as explained by Wikipedia:

    Historical geography is the branch of geography that studies the ways in which geographic phenomena have changed over time. It is a synthesizing discipline which shares both topical and methodological similarities with history, anthropology, ecology, geology, environmental studies, literary studies, and other fields. Although the majority of work in historical geography is considered human geography, the field also encompasses studies of geographic change which are not primarily anthropogenic. Historical geography is often a major component of school and university curricula in geography and social studies. Current research in historical geography is being performed by scholars in more than forty countries.

Migration (human not birds) is a significant element of historical geography. Human migration is physical movement by humans from one area to another. Evidence of human migratory movement indicates that humans, individually and in groups, have for thousands of years migrated seasonally and have for thousands of years migrated with the intention of settling permanently in a new location. Heck, the normal American today is doomed to move at least ten times in their lifetime. Assuming most of those moves are not into the house next door or to an apartment upstairs or to s parent's basement, in the context of human history most Americans are migrants temporarily domiciled.

The year 1491, the year before Columbus first sailed from Spain setting off the European settlement of the Americas, creates a starting point for a new story of historical geography in the Americas. It is a complex story of migration with the intention of settling permanently in a new location.

Using that cutoff date, everybody living today in North, Central, and South America and the islands offshore therefrom is descended from Afro-Eurasia migrants - except "full-blooded" indigenous peoples of the Americas called "Amerindian" in Quebec, the Guianas, and the English-speaking Caribbean Islands. "Amerindian" will be used in the rest of this post to refer to those "full-blooded" indigenous peoples.1

Migrants. We don't call them that. We call them "immigrants." An "immigrant" is a person who takes up a permanent residence in a country after migrating there from another country. An "emigrant" a person who migrates from a country to take up a permanent residence in another country.

Country. A "country" is a particular geographic area with its own government. Here's where folks get confused because a "country" is not a "nation." Per Wikipedia:

    A nation (from Latin: natio, "people, tribe, kin, genus, class, flock") is a large group or collective of people with common characteristics attributed to them — including language, traditions, mores (customs), habitus (habits), and ethnicity. By comparison, a nation is more impersonal, abstract, and overtly political than an ethnic group. It is a cultural-political community that has become conscious of its autonomy, unity, and particular interests.
    Joseph Stalin's Marxism and the National Question (1913) declares that "a nation is not a racial or tribal, but a historically constituted community of people;" "a nation is not a casual or ephemeral conglomeration, but a stable community of people"; "a nation is formed only as a result of lengthy and systematic intercourse, as a result of people living together generation after generation"; and, in its entirety: "a nation is a historically constituted, stable community of people, formed on the basis of a common language, territory, economic life, and psychological make-up manifested in a common culture."
    Others have conceived of a nation as being united primarily by racial characteristics, whose common history, language, and culture was the product of shared ancestry. Adolf Hitler said of nations: "What makes a people or, to be more correct, a race is not language, but blood". Hitler often criticized civic nationalism, in contrast to his ethnic nationalism, saying "It is almost inconceivable how such a mistake could be made as to think that [an African] or [an Asian] will become a German because he has learned the German language and is willing to speak German for the future and even to cast his vote for a German political party."
    The nation has been described by Benedict Anderson as an "imagined community" and by Paul James as an "abstract community". It is an imagined community in the sense that the material conditions exist for imagining extended and shared connections. It is an abstract community in the sense that it is objectively impersonal, even if each individual in the nation experiences him or herself as subjectively part of an embodied unity with others. For the most part, members of a nation remain strangers to each other and will never likely meet. Hence the phrase, "a nation of strangers" used by such writers as Vance Packard.

In other words, the United States of America is a country in the sense that it is a particular geographic area with its own government. That's a firm fact, one of those things that can be verified. And John Adams made it clear that "it is a government of laws, not of men."

Then there is the imaginary, abstract, impersonal community known as a "nation" that, as defined by Stalin, "is a historically constituted, stable community of people, formed on the basis of a common language, territory, economic life, and psychological make-up manifested in a common culture, as a result of people living together generation after generation." Hitler goes one step further by saying "what makes a people...is blood."

Traditional Deplorables in the United States think the U.S. is a nation - their sense of identity aligns with the nationalism views of Stalin and Hitler. There is some delusional thread that embraces the "one nation under God" phrase in the Pledge of Allegiance, a phrase that is basically at odds with the Constitution and our history.

The United States is a new country lacking "people living together generation after generation." It is not "a people" made by common blood heritage but a particular geographic area into which migrate a multitude of people from around the world seeking a government of laws, a country not the bigotry of a nation.

The United States is a country, not a nation, it's a fact, not an imagined or abstract fiction.

Let's pretend for a moment that someone of Irish-American descent who can think was sitting in that committee that came up with "Hispanic" back in 1972 who said: "OK, we've got "Hispanic" but we don't have a term for people whose ancestors spoke English and came from a country in which the legal language was Engllish - so how about 'Britanic' as a choice on the census form!"

If that happened, we can imagine someone in 2011 pondering about "Britannic" Americans who themselves or their ancestors immigrated to the United States. We can include the English, Welsh, Scots, Irish, Guyanese, Belizeans, Kenyans, South Africans, Australians, Chinese from Hong Kong, etc., all of whom have the same cultural and economic backgrounds ...oh wait, not really... but just as much as the all the Hispanics have the same cultural and economic backgrounds.

And then, of course, there were immigrants from France, Germany, Sweden, etc. They aren't Britannic Americans so we really ought to have categories, for instance one that include folks from, say, France and Cote d'Ivoire, Haiti, Madagascar, etc., where people speak French as a legal language.

Really, using language is not a way to determine ethnic or cultural commonality among peoples except as a means for the Britannic American culture to classify people they want to discriminate against.

That's the problem with "Hispanic" - no such thing exists as a common race, ethnicity or culture. Consider, for a moment, Cubans as Hispanics compared to Mexicans.

The basics regarding the population of the small island nation of Cuba (42,426 sq mi) is it has a population of 11,232,305, which is 64.12% White, 9.26% Black, 26.62% Mulatto/Mestizo. Oh, and they speak Spanish.

And then there is Mexico, the 13th largest country in the world at 761,610 sq mi, 18 times larger than Cuba.

    With a population of 119,530,753 as of 2015, Mexico is the most populous Spanish-speaking country in the world, the second-most populous country in Latin America after Portuguese-speaking Brazil, and the second in North America, after the United States; the third-most populous in the Americas after Brazil and the United States.
    The large majority of Mexicans can be classified as Mestizos, meaning in modern Mexican usage that they identify fully neither with any indigenous culture nor with a particular non-Mexican heritage, but rather identify as having cultural traits and heritage incorporating elements from indigenous and European traditions.
    By the deliberate efforts of post-revolutionary governments the "Mestizo identity" was constructed as the base of the modern Mexican national identity, through a process of cultural synthesis referred to as mestizaje. Mexican politicians and reformers such as José Vasconcelos and Manuel Gamio were instrumental in building a Mexican national identity on the concept of mestizaje.

Oh, and they speak Spanish.

What many outside the United States, and a few inside the United States, are aware of is that the phrase Trail of Tears originated from a description of the removal of the Cherokee Nation in 1838 from the State of Georgia begun under President Andrew Jackson in violation of a Supreme Court order.

In the Worcester v. Georgia ruling written in 1832 by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall were these words which recognized the concept of "nation" as separate from the land mass legally subject to the Constitution:

    Indian Nations have always been considered as distinct, independent political communities, retaining their original natural rights, as the undisputed possessors of the soil.... The very term "nation" so generally applied to them, means "a people distinct from others."

The Trail of Tears was part of an ongoing genocide conducted by White Americans against the Amerindian population. A few years after The Trail of Tears incident, that genocide continued as a war of conquest against a country that today is 90% Amerindian or Mestizo (mixed Amerindian-Spanish) - Mexico. The so-called American Indian Wars occurred across the North American continent from the time of earliest colonial settlements until 1924.

White Americans were, and still are today, bigoted against the Amerindian and "half-breed" ethnic group.

Just this week President Donald Trump said in his weekly address that he went to Nashville, Tenn., to lay a wreath at the grave of President Andrew Jackson, who "fought to defend forgotten men and women from the arrogant elite of his day." Jackson knowingly and deliberately violated a Supreme Court order leading to the "Trail of Tears", though I'm sure that is not what Trump admires, except one has to wonder about all the things he has said about Mexicans.

One of the difficulties living in the United States is confronting the denial by Neoliberals that they aren't prejudiced against people based on the language they speak and their ethnic appearance. One of the fun things is to offer this photo array of young citizens of other countries and ask them to identify where these people live:

Yes, two of the pictures are of Mexicans - pictures B and C. (Those in A and D are Sicilians, a region of Italy.) 

As I posted elsewhere, for relevant history on Irish-Mexicans, read about the Saint Patrick's Battalion, highly revered in Mexico. In the mid-1840's Irish and other Catholic immigrants had the impression that the those so revered descendants of English immigrants shouldn't be forcing members of the Army to worship in Protestant services and those Irish had the impression that there was little difference between
  • British colonial bigotry as they had experienced it in the Ireland they were escaping and 
  • the American Manifest Destiny populist political movement bigotry as it affected Mexicans and Native Americans.
Embracing their English Protestant heritage must have seemed to the Irish immigrants like an odd choice for people living in the home of the first revolution against British colonialism. But like all things American, it was confusing. What they didn't understand is that some (not all) of the folks in the 13 Colonies did not like some British taxes and other policies. So like all successful anti-tax, anti-government American politicians they struck a blow for democracy and freedom by starting a war and killing people....

This is a picture of a typical dual citizenship Mexican-American, Louis C.K. His paternal grandfather, Dr. Géza Székely Schweiger, was a Hungarian Jew whose family immigrated to Mexico. He married Rosario Sánchez Morales, a Catholic Mexican. They had children, one of whom was C.K.'s father. C.K.'s parents met at Harvard University, where his mother was completing her degree in a summer-school program. When C.K. was a year old, his family moved to his father's home country of Mexico, from where his father had earned a degree from the National Autonomous University of Mexico prior to graduating from Harvard. C.K.'s first language was Spanish; it was not until after the move back to the U.S. that he began to learn English.

Of course, there are American's who still think like this:

Isn't it about time we Americans embrace the idea that the United States is a country of laws that embraces all of humanity, not a nation of similar peoples who despise all others? Isn't it time to stop The Trail of Tears resulting from marching people across imaginary lines we created?

1 The politically correct police may find this use of "Amerindian" objectionable. The problem is that even if one uses "indigenous people" it is inaccurate as "indigenous" (except as it has been distorted and stretched by the PC police) means "originating or occurring naturally in a particular place". In the context of discussing human migration, the only continent on which any group of humans could be considered as "indigenous" rather than "migrants" is Africa.

"Amerindian" delightfully reflects the finest abilities of Europeans to screw up facts, a heritage currently embraced by the leading white folks in the United States.

The Amer portion of the term comes from "America" which is named for an Italian merchant who worked for the Florentine commercial house of Medici, Amerigo Vespucci. He was the first guy who, after sailing on some Portuguese ships, made it clear in writing that European explorers had stumbled onto a second super continent.

The indian portion reflects the fact that Columbus thought he landed in India and termed the locals "Indians" which in itself is ironic because "India" is a European screwup not reflective of what the locals in India called their land which is Bhārat (

So the completely erroneous etymological sources of the term "Amerindian" reflects both the fact that the folks here before 1492, ranging from the Inuit in the Arctic to the Kawésqar of Tierra del Fuego, did not really have a name for the supercontinent and the fact Europeans were basically incompetent.

It is worth noting here that local groups living on the supercontinent at that time did not all have common genetic or language characteristics, though there are indicators of common ancestry among some, if not most, groups.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Privatizing the federal government's purpose
  Let's run government like a business - ensconce
  research results, obscure future plans, secrete
  executive activities, avert unwanted publicity

Have you ever wondered what would happen if someone decided to "run government like a business" particularly when it is a huge government like the U.S. government?

 Is the model General Electric or Google which while creating stuff must be focused on making a profit and gaining an advantage over competitors?

It is a common statement, frequently heard. "They" should run government like a business! So what does that "private" model mean for the "public" sector?

Well, GE and Google hide their research from competitors and the public and don't discuss publicly future plans except to give the organization a positive public image. Company top executives perform their tasks in private. Companies do their best to avert unwanted publicity and "eliminate" whistleblowers. Events such as toxic spills are hidden by private companies. They have large public relations budgets. Everyone at the top seeks huge personal financial gains.

This seems to the model preferred by the Deplorables in the Rust Belt and the South for our government.

And so we now have a President who believes government should be run like a private business as do the vast majority of voters who elected him. He and the folks in his Administration are struggling a bit with a structure set up by people who thought the public's business should provide full access to information about the activities of their government and its executives.

But as summarized this weekend by this article appearing in McClatchy newspapers around the country:
Wondering who is visiting the White House? The web-based search has gone dark. Curious about climate change? Some government sites have been softened or taken down. Worried about racial discrimination in housing? Laws have been introduced to bar federal mapping of such disparities. Federal rules protecting whistleblowers? At least one has been put on hold.

Since taking office, the Trump administration has made a series of moves that have alarmed groups with a stake in public access to information: historians, librarians, journalists, climate scientists, internet activists, to name a few. Some are so concerned they have thrown themselves into “data rescue” sessions nationwide, where they spend their weekends downloading and archiving federal databases they fear could soon be taken down or obscured.

Previous presidential transitions have triggered fears about access to government data, but not of this scope. “What is unprecedented is the scale of networking and connectivity of groups working on this, and the degree it is being driven by librarians and scientists and professors,” said Alex Howard, deputy director of the Sunlight Foundation, a group that tracks transparency in government.
The Trump people have a point.

Why do we need an Environmental Protection Agency if it can't do its research privately, out of the public eye, until it figures out how people can make money on creating toxic pollution? What on Earth are they in business for? Hampering other profit-making businesses that are not direct competitors with the EPA is not consistent with the idea of running government like a business!

So the new CEO and his people must begin by taking control of what information is available about the company's government's activities. And then they will go about creating a favorable image that sells to their identified market segments. They are adding to the line of products offered by corporations owned by them and their friends - hotels, casinos, steaks, ties, coal, oil, and now government. It's running government like a business.

This running government like a business stuff all should make the Deplorables in the Rust Belt and the South happy until it makes them sick. But that won't be a problem, as they will die since they won't have access to medical care.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

It will affect your healthcare unless you're rich
  The American healthcare funding dispute pits the
  rich against working class employment and wages

Only Americans would piecemeal their implementation of universal healthcare.

Beginning in the 1930's with Franklin Roosevelt, and coincident with the rise of the pharmaceutical industry, the Democrats struggled with how to provide modern healthcare to everyone, finally giving us Medicaid in 1965 and Medicare in 1966 during Lyndon Johnson's administration.

George W. Bush and a Republican Congress got into the mess designing and approving Medicare prescription drug coverage that's weird, isn't adequately funded, and caters to corporate pharmaceutical interests.

Now Donald Trump and another Republican Congress are struggling with what may be impossible - a properly designed and adequately funded revised Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) - through a bill in Congress called the American Health Care Act - that doesn't tax the rich and the major corporations but caters to the interests of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

We know the ACA, well some know it, as ObamaCare, a nickname which as explained by The Atlantic came from discussion of politics in a healthcare management trade journal in its March 2007 issue talking about probable party primary candidates and their policy proposals described as "Giuliani-care", "Obama-care", "McCain-care," "Edwards-care," and "Hillary-care." For some reason we never can talk about the subject with any sense of emotional detachment and didn't before the 2008 Presidential election.

Blame it all on The Greatest Generation.

Article 25, Paragraph 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states:
Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
"The Greatest Generation" did commit to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which as Wikipedia explains "arose directly from the experience of the Second World War and represents the first global expression of what many people believe to be the rights to which all human beings are inherently entitled."

Now we're not really good at assuring all our people are receiving an adequate standard of living. In this post we're only concerned about health care. So do we believe everyone has the right to adequate medical care in the event of sickness? What exactly is meant by the term "adequate"?

The fact is that the vagaries of healthcare systems everywhere do not assure that someone who has a stroke while in one locations will receive the same treatment that someone 200 miles away may be receiving for a stroke at the same time.

So the first human emotional hurdle to overcome in order to embrace any concept of universal healthcare is that no healthcare system will ever deliver the same level of care to everyone at any particular point in time.

It will always be an unfair system, unless and until we reach a time where robots programmed exactly the same provide human healthcare in facilities equipped and supplied exactly the same. For now we have to depend upon that most unreliable method, the human being.

The second human emotional hurdle to overcome in order to embrace any concept of universal healthcare is how to pay for it so that it can be universal in a more or less non-socialist economic nation.

In 2015 Gross Personal Income for all Americans was about $15.46 trillion. Our Gross Personal Income is all our income before deductions and all the various types of tax credits and other confusing things we do on our tax returns before we calculate our taxes.

In 2015 our National Healthcare Expenditure was about $3.21 trillion. National Healthcare Expenditure means all the money spent on doctors, hospitals, prescription drugs, therapists, etc.

One way of looking at the American healthcare cost problem is that we Americans spend about 20% of all our personal income on healthcare.That is what universal healthcare would cost, 20% of our gross personal income.

Of course, some people - we'll call them "the currently healthy"- aren't currently incurring any costs for healthcare. And some people - we'll call them "the currently ill" - are incurring hundreds of thousands of dollars in costs.

People being people, "the currently healthy" tend to resent paying the healthcare costs for "the currently ill" and this is true everywhere. Thus Canadians might read this article 'Free' Health Care in Canada Costs More Than It's Worth.

In most nations that have universal healthcare it's difficult to determine what taxes support the program. But rest assured, folks are complaining about taxes because before they pay for any other government program, taxes and fees for healthcare in the amount of 20% of all personal gross income will be collected in a myriad of ways. And then the folks have to pay taxes for everything else government does.

So exactly what happened to the American system for providing healthcare when "The Greatest Generation" was responsible for our society? From Wikipedia (emphasis added):
Before the development of medical expense insurance, patients were expected to pay all other health care costs out of their own pockets, under what is known as the fee-for-service business model. During the middle to late 20th century, traditional disability insurance evolved into modern health insurance programs....

In the 1930s, The Roosevelt Administration explored possibilities for creating a national health insurance program, while it was designing the Social Security system. But it abandoned the project because the American Medical Association (AMA) fiercely opposed it, along with all forms of health insurance at that time.

Employer-sponsored health insurance plans dramatically expanded as a direct result of wage controls imposed by the federal government during World War II. The labor market was tight because of the increased demand for goods and decreased supply of workers during the war. Federally imposed wage and price controls prohibited manufacturers and other employers from raising wages enough to attract workers. When the War Labor Board declared that fringe benefits, such as sick leave and health insurance, did not count as wages for the purpose of wage controls, employers responded with significantly increased offers of fringe benefits, especially health care coverage, to attract workers.

President Harry S. Truman proposed a system of public health insurance in his November 19, 1945, address. He envisioned a national system that would be open to all Americans, but would remain optional. Participants would pay monthly fees into the plan, which would cover the cost of any and all medical expenses that arose in a time of need. The government would pay for the cost of services rendered by any doctor who chose to join the program. In addition, the insurance plan would give a cash balance to the policy holder to replace wages lost due to illness or injury. The proposal was quite popular with the public, but it was fiercely opposed by the Chamber of Commerce, the American Hospital Association, and the AMA, which denounced it as "socialism."

Foreseeing a long and costly political battle, many labor unions chose to campaign for employer-sponsored coverage, which they saw as a less desirable but more achievable goal, and as coverage expanded the national insurance system lost political momentum and ultimately failed to pass. Using health care and other fringe benefits to attract the best employees, private sector, white-collar employers nationwide expanded the U.S. health care system....
Wikipedia also notes:
In 1951 the IRS declared group premiums paid by employers as a tax-deductible business expense, which solidified the third-party insurance companies' place as primary providers of access to health care in the United States.
In other words, some of  "The Greatest Generation" benefited from their employers competing for employees and, like "the currently healthy", those that have those benefits tend to resent paying the healthcare costs for "the uninsured currently ill."

Maybe we could start thinking of it as an employment program. The general press will tell you currently about 12.4 million Americans are directly employed in health care. That's about 10% of people employed. In 1957, 60 years ago, 3% of workers were directly employed in health care.

The problem is those numbers are not correct if you consider the health care industry as a whole. The confusion is that the employment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics under health care does not include anything beyond health care "services" and even there it doesn't include government run hospitals. Here's a more accurate picture comparing 1990 to 2016:

In fact, we need to acknowledge that even the listing for healthcare related above doesn't include those that work in the construction of medical office and care facilities, the sale and management of that real estate, the manufacturing and sale of furnishings to medical care providers, or even the employees of companies involved in providing computers and data services to medical care providers. It is very likely that as much as 20% of American employment is the direct or indirect result of healthcare expenditures.

Using the numbers we have, 21.8% of the job growth during the period of 1990-2016 came from the health care industry. In contrast, the  much overblown publicity of computer/internet related industry notwithstanding, they only accounted for 5.5% of the job growth. The difference is primarily the fact that the jobs in healthcare cannot be outsourced to India or China in order to assure inflated corporate profits to be stored offshore.

But whatever we think, we must start viewing healthcare as our obligation to our fellow humans as we agreed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights right after WWII. And we must understand that whenever we meddle with the healthcare funding status quo we will be impacting employment and working class wages in one of our largest economic segments.