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Carolina on My Mind


In 2010, over 60 seats changed in the U.S. House of Representatives. The South didn’t change that much because the South was already pretty much in the hands of the Republican Party. And when we say the Republican Party, remember that this is not Eisenhower’s Republican Party, the hero of World War II, the Augusta retiree, who loved golf and who spent so much of his time during his military career in the South.

And it is not the same political party that nominated a Richard Nixon or Barry Goldwater or Bob Dole…or even Ronald Reagan…all tough politicians…and some former veterans. No, this is the Party of Strom Thurmond, a former Democrat who fought against Civil Rights, even after fathering a child with an African-American maid in his own household. Trent Lott, in praising Strom Thurmond, who ran for President to try to keep African-Americans from having full rights as citizens, said the country would be better now if that had happened. African-Americans like Colin Powell, Condoleeza Rice and certainly Barack Obama would disagree.

The current Republican Party is the Party of Jesse Helms, a former Democrat, who left the Democratic Party to work for some of his pet projects. Helms worked against legislation, for example, that would give equal rights to African-Americans to vote or drink at the same water fountains, eat in the same restaurants and ride buses, taking any seat they wanted. And Helms brings us to the states of North and South Carolina.

This hero of North Carolina voted against equal rights for women, equal rights for gays—even after it had been established that being gay was a clearly physiological condition and not a lifestyle choice. He voted against rights for the disabled, against voting rights for any minority. On the other hand, he never saw a military project or a war that he would not support. Although he voted against legislation that had to do with taking care of the mangled bodies of used-up veterans. He regularly spun half-truths into lies and was a blatant racist. That is the true legacy of the man whom North Carolina elected to the U.S. Senate until his death.

Now they have Richard Burr, who is not a blatant racist like Jesse Helms, but simply votes for anything that will keep the bigots happy and the religious nuts happy, so that he can vote against jobs in the U.S., vote against the minimum wage, vote for wars, vote for more oil company pollution, for dangerous mines and vote for cutting taxes on millionaires. Why? Money. He makes good money in the Senate with all the prerequisites and the staff and the contacts. Let’s face it. Almost every Senator who is not already rich becomes rich while a Senator or after he leaves because they work for the corporations while they are there. At least all the Republicans do.

Burr votes for the issues that corporations want. And then they send jobs overseas, like the furniture and clothing business that used to be in North Carolina but is now in Asia and Mexico. He votes to allow corporations to headquarter in the Bahamas and thereby pay no taxes on billions of dollars of income so that North Carolinians pay can pay more or lose government services, like those for the disabled or veterans or the elderly.

Oh yes, he votes against you. Every jobs bill he has voted down was against North Carolinians. Every tax cut he voted for was against North Carolinians. And lest you think that the poor in North Carolina, the 10th poorest state in the Union, are mostly black…think again. The average of African Americans in poverty is almost the same as the national average but the percentage of white Carolinians in poverty is above the national average.

Burr voted for the Republican budget. It changes Medicare into a voucher system. That means that you will have a set amount of money to use for health care, an amount which you have paid in. But not as much as you have paid in. And now you will be asked to continue paying in but you will get less back. And why? Because people like Mitt Romney (and he is one of the lesser super-rich) can live on $20 million dollars a year, while paying less than $2 million of that in taxes.

That is what Richard Burr, the Senator from North Carolina is voting for as you read this. And Social Security? There is a simple fix. We all pay in to Social Security. But, once again, people like Mitt Romney, who pays 15% in income taxes on $20 million, only pays Social Security taxes up to $106,000. If we doubled that and made him pay 7% up to $212,000, we could stop worrying about Social Security for another 75 years by which time we will have changed the entire thing to a savings plus mutual fund type account system.

But that is not what Richard Burr has voted for and wants. He and his Republican pals in the Senate do not want to tax the people with the money. They want to cut Social Security for you. There are only two options—either the rich pay a little more, which they will not notice…or you have your Social Security cut by 20%.

Here’s an example. Someone who makes (only) $480,000 per year takes home $40,000 per month less taxes. To fix Social Security, the additional taxes on this person would amount to another approximately $600 per month. But Richard Burr thinks that it is too much to ask of the half-million-dollar man and instead wants to cut your Social Security from $1,500 per month down to $1,200 per month.

Jesus never mentioned abortion. He never mentioned contraception. He never mentioned taxes, except to say: pay what you owe. He never mentioned gays or war. But he did mention greed and failing to help those in need. He said do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Love your neighbor as you love yourself.

Not hatred. Not envy. Not judgment, because only God may judge you and others. Simple kindness and charity towards all. That means standing up for what is right. Not slavery. Not demeaning your fellow man. Love thy neighbor as thyself.

Carolina on our mind. Who is another Senator from the Carolinas? Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina. Let’ see how Senator DeMint has done for Carolinians. But first, let’s see how South Carolinians are doing versus other states.

South Carolina is the 7th poorest state in the country…seven from dead last…worst. Every 9th person in South Carolina is out of work. Fifteen percent (14.9%) live in poverty and eighteen percent (17.6%) have no health care.

What has Senator DeMint done for you lately? Well, he has tried consistently to remove the inheritance tax. That tax says that in South Carolina, a state with an average annual household income of under $47,000, when a very rich person dies, the heirs—who never actually worked for this money–will pay 55% tax on all income over $5,000,000 or if a couple, over $10,000,000.

So let’s say Daddy Warbucks dies and his estate is $25,000,000. Junior Warbucks and Ms. Warbucks Jr. will get only $17,500,000 after inheritance taxes, before deductions. Remember, now, they won the gene-pool lottery. They didn’t earn a penny of this money.

The New York Times reports that most inheritance taxes ended up being about 15%. That means that Junior and Ms. Warbucks would get something like $22,000,000. Poor Junior Warbucks from South Carolina, according to Senator Jim DeMint. He and his wife can live an average-income life in South Carolina for only 4,400 years before they go broke!

So what does this mean to South Carolina? It means that Senator DeMint is trying to keep from South Carolina money that could be used for jobs. And he is trying to give to people like Paris Hilton more money than they deserve and almost never need. If they are the heirs of multi-millionaires they are usually already rich. As Paris Hilton already is, for example.

How much money are we talking about? It is about $3 billion a year to the government. More in total than many programs that are being cut. South Carolina’s share of that would be at least $40,000,000. Who needs that more…the half of Carolinians whose incomes are less than half of the other Carolinians, those making less than $23,500 per year, or the elderly barely surviving on Social Security, or a bunch of Paris Hiltons driving around in their $80,000 Mercedes convertibles?

Is this what you want your Senator concentrating on? Senator Jim DeMint has voted against every jobs bill that has come up in the Senate since the Great Bush Recession started in the fall months of 2008. He hates unions who try to advocate for workers to get them better pay. (Unless you think that $46,000 a year is great pay and you don’t need more than that.) Why is South Carolina the 7th poorest state in the country and Jim DeMint is out working for millionaires in New York and Boston and Los Angeles?

How about health care? President Obama came into office with a huge number of people not only out of work but once out of work…out of health insurance. Health insurance has been a problem for everyone since before Bill Clinton. Other countries have fixed it, long ago. But in our country, since the Conservatives came to power, about the same time that Rush Limbaugh began lying to Americans and then lying about how he lied to Americans to cost them a fortune…since then, health insurance (since 2001) has gone up about 103%…in other words what used to be $7500 is now $15,000, per year.

So, the President, knowing that the health insurance companies would fight him, took them head on in 2009. He got the bill passed. But Senator Jim DeMint is one of the leaders in trying to get it repealed…in South Carolina, which is the 7th poorest state in the country, with the 4th highest rate of unemployment.

And one important point. In a state where the principal Senator is fighting against regulations on Wall Street, fighting against health care reform and fighting against a whole raft of issues against American women, the new health care reform will make a huge difference.

One of the little-known provisions is that one of the health insurance companies in the exchange must be a non-profit. In other words, a company that will be able to immediately charge 30% less than other health insurance companies for the same services. That, in addition to the other pure-competition features is one of the reasons that this will cut health care costs and one of the reasons South Carolina’ own senator is fighting against it.

We dislike DeMint not because he is a racist, which he seems pretty clearly to be. That’s not important. We dislike him because he is lying and making a few million…mostly poor… people in South Carolina believe that they will not be better off with Obamacare…when in fact they will be much, much better off.

That is why South Carolinians must take at your Senators. They are screwing you, and in addition perpetrating a fraud on some of our otherwise best fellow citizens. When Southerners vote them in, they unwittingly vote for billionaires and against their fellow citizens of South Carolina.

When Southern states vote in enough of these former Dixicrat obstructionist Segregationist Senators, other states can’t get veterans taken care of; they can’t get granny into long-term care; they can’t get health care at reasonable prices or sometime get it at all. The American people, because of these Southern Segregationist Right Wingers, who have found financial support by doing the bidding of billionaires and oil companies, other citizens need to worry about whether Social Security will be there in the long run.

Social Security at one time was less a factor in retirement. We used to have pensions from major corporations, but these same Southern Senators, with George W. Bush, pushed through laws that allow corporations to bankrupt companies and walk away from pensions, then start the companies up again. The pensions are tossed to the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation to administer. So what happens, retirees get no more than half of what they were supposed to get. And who pays it? Not the corporation. We do, American citizens.

In addition, Liberals states have to put up with challenges from ultra-conservatives who can now run unlimited television lies, funded by billionaires, to fool Northern state voters into voting for them. (Because of Neoconservatives that these Republican Senators—mostly from Southern states–put on the Supreme Court.) So, now, states like Wisconsin and Michigan and Ohio have to run more elections to throw out those elected officials who simply lied and then when in office, did the opposite of what they said they would do.

When Southern Senators tell their constituents that Northerners are different, which they aren’t…it’s simply a great political move to hold Southerners down…then all of us lose our civil rights to the super-rich. The result is that men like Rick Scott, who walked away from a large hospital chain with $100 million by cheating Medicare patients out of more than $1 billion dollars can become Governor of Florida, where there are more Medicare patients to cheat than probably any other state. Is he really governor or is he just casing the joint for his next scam?

But back to Jim DeMint. DeMint has sponsored a program to take senior citizens off Medicare and onto private health insurance systems. South Carolina senior citizens, who voted DeMint into office thinking he would sponsor legislation for them, are not exempt.

One of the features of this is that it would create insurance exchanges that would pool resources of private health care systems to lower prices for senior citizens. And DeMint says it is better than the “government takeover of health care.” Well, the “government takeover” of health care for seniors, called Medicare, has worked pretty damned well for the last 50 years or more.

The problem with it is that Republicans refuse to make the top 1% of Americans, those making about $400,000 and more…much, much more…to pay a reasonable share of taxes in our current emergency. DeMint and nutty Rand Paul, the lunatic optometrist-turned-Senator from the apparently dim-witted state of Kentucky have created legislation that will parallel the Ryan budget.

That budget astonishingly cuts well over $500 billion in programs for average citizens, while cutting taxes…again…for billionaires and millionaires. We now have a top income tax rate of 35%–that’s only on income over something like $500,000. They want to cut that tax rate to 25% and they say it will increase revenues. That is what Reagan said and Bush I and Bush II. So how did it work out?

Those three alone caused $14 trillion in national debt. And Rush Limbaugh and Fox News tells you that these Republicans are being honest with you and really, really love you…while looking the other way so that Wall Street could get rich from stealing $7 trillion in wealth from the American people.

Instead of making drug companies reduce their prices, DeMint voted for the prescription drug bill that makes you pay for drugs at inflated prices (often as much as ten times more than Europeans for example.) This is what he voted for and he voted against forcing pharmaceutical companies to bring their prices more in line with costs or bring U.S. price more in line with what they charge the rest of the world. Now wants you to trust him while he steals your Medicare. He tells you it won’t work. Medicare is doomed. He’s wrong. Here’s why.

His plan, the one that he says will reduce the cost of health care insurance for the government by $1 trillion, will do so because you will personally be paying the health insurance industry, not the government. And there will be no subsidies. Now we have subsidies in government Medicare and the new health care reform act has brought more subsidies for lower income people. So premiums will be lower and those lower premiums will be somewhat subsidized so that people do not have to choose between prescription drugs and food or shelter.

ACA, or Obamacare as it is called, is not a government takeover, as Senator DeMint calls it. It is a new system where the government will say to private insurance companies…you must make a real open-market effort to compete with one another for health insurance business. When that happens in 2013 and 2014 (and this is somewhat the DeMint plan—for seniors only) prices will come down. Only DeMint’s plan for seniors doesn’t make any demands on the insurance industry to bring down prices.

Have health insurance prices ever been lowered by the insurance industry in your lifetime? Of course not. DeMint, sorry to say, works for the health insurance industry against South Carolinians as do virtually all the Republicans in Congress.

The President’s plan, ACA, (Affordable Care Act) also called Obamacare, forces prices down, but keeps private insurance. If prices should not come down fast enough, the government has a fail safe. The states can introduce non-profit health insurance of their own. if they don’t come down, then non-profit organizations can get into the mix as long as they offer the same plans. That will drop prices through the floor–at the very least…30%.

Moreover, while Medicare can control some costs, Obamacare is going to reduce cost in general with private industry finally competing, and if not, competing with multi-state non-profit organizations. So Medicare costs will automatically go down as a result of all health care costs going down. The problem for South Carolinians is this: Jim DeMint knows this and he is not stupid. You can tell that this is not rocket science. So he has to be lying. Why would he lie?

The health insurance industry spent $400,000,000 to try to defeat the health care reform bill in 2009. They have continued to spend similar amounts to repeal it. Jim DeMint continues to carry water for and support every kind of delay and anti-reform action he can—just like this legislation that is already incorporated into the reforms. He does so despite the fact that his state is the 7th poorest in the nation, and his constituents are among the neediest…and it must be said….many more of the needy are white rather than black.

These Senators are not helping Carolinians. The Carolinas have some bad traditions…slavery and segregation were both blights, stains, on the reputations that America has for personal freedom and equality of opportunity. But the Carolinas have some wonderful people and some of the most beautiful countryside and shore in the United States. Strom Thurmond does not represent the best of Carolina; on the contrary he represented the worst in all of us…Northerners have very racist attitudes too. In the south it may be 60-40 in favor of racism, but in the North it is at least 40-60.

That twenty percent makes a huge difference in the kinds of people we vote for. In the North, while Southerners are right to say we have racism…far too much…it is also true that to Northerners race is not an issue in electing our representatives. Jobs, education and other social issues are much more important.

Temporarily, the media, especially talk radio, has generated hateful attitudes. And Fundamentalist preachers in some cases have used hatred to create congregations of the unsatisfied and unhappy losers in a society made up of winners and losers. This has dominated the less sophisticated areas of the country and encouraged bullies and bigots to take over the Republican Party. Some of those same people have found their way into Congress.

In the Carolinas, these two Senators, Burr and DeMint, are prime examples of the way in which seemingly genteel and rational people can use money and media to make the people of two great states vote exactly against their best interests.

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