Monday, October 29, 2018

Week of 10/29/2018

If You Don’t Like What You See, Then You Need To Vote!
This article goes to every registered voter in America.  If you are not registered to vote by now, it’s already too late.
If you’ve already voted through absentee ballots or early voting (if your state allows it), then, thank you.  I’ve done so as well.
But for the rest of you who are eligible and registered to vote in America, you need to pay attention to what I have to say. 
I’m not going to give you the lie that liberals and progressives and the media always say about “this is the most important election ever, and this time we really, really, really mean it” because that is an outright lie.  *Every* election is important!  Every single one of them!  So to say that this election is important, when the exact same thing was said in every previous election is just disingenuous.
But I will tell you that this is your opportunity to do something about the madness and the insanity that the GOP-dominated tyranny and a narcissistic self-professed nationalist president have been imposing on America and the world.  You can’t control what Narcissist Donald Trump and his gang of fascistic GOP sociopaths do while in office, but you do have this one opportunity to change who stays in office.  And that only comes through your vote.
There has been a lot that has been going on since Narcissist Trump won the White House that has been an embarrassment.  Whether he is throwing tantrums on Twitter or acting like a petulant child in front of European leaders, or sucking up to tyrants while attacking our allies, or voiding all sorts of treaties just so he can supposedly “renegotiate” them, or invoking trade wars that are already being felt in our economy, or bullying members of his own cabinet like a third-world dictator, Narcissist Trump has been pissing on everything his White House predecessors have built and established.  And he’s done so with no fear whatsoever of reprisals, because he knows that the sociopaths in the GOP-dominated legislature will do nothing to stop him.  Not one goddamned thing.  They are afraid of him and of his cult followers.
But while Narcissist Trump’s tenure is not up for a vote this time around, the sociopaths in the GOP-dominated legislature are.  And in Narcissist Trump’s eyes, it is still all about him.  He believes that *he is* the GOP, and that it is an extension of him.
So I will make this as simple and as direct as I can…
If you do not like what Narcissist Trump and his acolytes and the sociopaths in the GOP have been doing, then you need to vote.
If you don’t like how Narcissist Trump is waging trade wars at the expense of our economy, then you need to vote.
If you hate that Narcissist Trump sucks up to tyrants like Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un and behaves like a schoolgirl with a crush on them, then you need to vote.
If you object to Narcissist Trump’s endless assault on journalism, calling them “enemies of the people” and being complicit in the assault on the press, including the physical assault on one American journalist and the brutal murder of a US resident journalist, then you need to vote.
If you are furious at the news that a diehard Trump supporter just tried to murder all of Trump’s political enemies through mail bombs, then you need to vote.
If you are furious that a self-professed nationalist just slaughtered eleven people in a synagogue on October 27th because he hates immigrants and refugees just like Narcissist Trump, then you need to vote.
If you are furious at the wave of hate and open bigotry that is bubbling to the surface ever since that self-professed nationalist Narcissist Trump came to power, including some of the most recent and blatant forms of racist aggression, then you need to vote.
If you are angry at how the GOP steamrolled-in Trump’s appointees after spending eight years committing open acts of insurrection, then you need to vote.
If you hate that Brett Kavanaugh is now a Supreme Court justice and how that came about, then you need to vote.
If you hate the various efforts committed by members of the fascistic GOP to suppress your vote and to deny your right to vote, then you *really* need to vote.
If you are disgusted by the blatant and rampant hypocrisy being committed by the supporters of Narcissist Trump, holding him blameless for the things that they have crucified others for in the past, then you need to vote.
In short, let’s get brutally honest here… if you do not like what has been going on in the past two years, then you need to exercise your right and your responsibility as a registered and eligible voter and vote for change.  That is your duty as an American.
No march will change things.  No number of pink caps will change things.  No hashtag will change things.  No letters to the newspapers will change things.  No amount of protests will change things.  No calls to your local officials will change things like voting will.
Do not listen to what “the polls” say.  The polls lie!  The only polling that matters is the ballot box!  Everything else is nothing more than fantasy politics.  Never trust what you hear about those polls, especially when it is favorable to your candidate.  The only reason you hear about those other polls is to either scare you into voting or to lull you away from voting.
And, yes, the Democrats are horrid.  But are they that bad that you would allow what Narcissist Trump and the sociopathic GOP have been doing to go on?  Because what you’ve been seeing now is far from the worst.  There is no “bottom” when it comes to narcissists or sociopaths.  There is no concept of “bottom” with those kinds of people.  You only have to look at world history to know just how far down things can still go.
You’ll notice that I haven’t addressed the Trump supporters at all.  Do you know why?  Because they already know the importance of voting!  Not only do they know it, but they’ve been voting all this time.  Every election.  Primaries, caucuses, mid-term elections, local elections, every single one.  It’s the rest you that haven’t.  It’s the great unwashed that just don’t “have the time” or “don’t know” or “don’t care” that gave way to Narcissist Trump and his cohorts. 
It is the apathetic majority that have become the silent accomplices to what Narcissist Trump and the sociopaths in the GOP have been doing.  You are Trump’s greatest weapon, because he expects you to still not give a damn and still not vote on Election Day.
So, after what you have seen for the past two years, if you are still not motivated to do the one thing that will voice your objection to the actions of Narcissist Trump and the sociopathic GOP, then you are complicit in their activities.  You are allowing things to go on as they have been, and you are giving these people permission to go even further.
And if you don’t like what I’m telling you, then vote anyway!  Just remember that what happens after Election Day is on all on you.  The world is watching, and history will judge us all.
I did my bit.  I carried out my responsibility.  Can you say the same?

Monday, October 22, 2018

Week of 10/22/2018

Wild Lottery Fantasies Hide Nightmares
One billion dollars.
Let that amount sink in.
One. Billion. Dollars.
That was the estimated amount of the Mega Millions jackpot on October 19.  And with no winners for that drawing, the number is expected to possibly double that by October 23rd.
That is a staggering amount of money for any one person to win.  If a single person won that, they would instantly be considered one of the richest people on the planet.  With the operative word being “considered”.
But for all of the hype surrounding a lottery of that size, there’s a lot about it that people just do not consider.
First, let’s get the obvious one out of the way.  In all likelihood, you will never win that amount.  The odds are so high that you would have a better chance of running for President of the United States against Donald Trump and win than you are in winning the grand prize in any lottery, never mind one at a billion dollars.  There are so many things that you would have a better chance at doing or experiencing than winning a lottery that to list them all would take days.
And yet we still dream big.  Because it only takes one ticket to win.  And with our greedy predatory malevolent business world working against most of us, actively working to screw us over at every opportunity, it’s natural for us to wish that the universe would give us a break.
Yes, it’s natural for us to dream big, and lottery people know this, which is why they hype up the grand prize.  It’s gambling, no matter if it’s run by the state or by casino owners.  The house always wins.  Well, with the exception of Donald Trump.  Trump is the only person who could put his name a casino, or a several, and still end up losing. 
And yet we still elected him President.  Go figure.
So, yeah, it’s natural for us to wish we could win a staggering amount of money to wipe away the sins of a greed-fueled economy and retire with comfort.  But let’s get brutally honest here... it’s still just that, a wish.  And, even if we do happen be graced by luck and get that winning number, we still will not get all the money that is hyped.
Let’s suppose that – in an alternate hypothetic timeline - you did win that $1 billion Mega Millions jackpot from October 19th.
The first thing that you’d find out is that you really did not win one billion dollars.  Yes, you’ll be photographed by the media in a huge celebration and your name and face will be published around the world hold a giant fake check for “One Billion Dollars”, but it would be just that... fake.
What you would get instead would be a contract that you would have to sign with two options.  You can either sign into receiving an annuity that would – in theory – pay out to that one billion dollars over a couple of decades, or you could sign to waive that annuity for a much smaller amount up-front.  More along the lines of $450 million.  That doesn’t sound as impressive as “One Billion Dollars”, but it’s still nothing to sneeze at.  You could still live quite comfortably with that much money.
Why not take the annuity, you ask?  Well you could.  One billion over thirty years - which is the annuity for Mega Millions - is still roughly $33 million every year.  The math is a little complicated for it, but basically you’ll get a small amount at first and then over the next 29 years that number gets bigger and bigger.
But, still, that’s 30 years before you get all that money.  What if you wanted to buy a small island?  Or finance your own run for the White House? Or buy that corporation that you’ve always said you wanted to buy out just so you could pay back your boss for making your life hell?  $33 million won’t cut it.  You’d have to save up to make those kinds of big dreams reality.
And that’s presuming that the annuity will be there to pay out all the way to the end.
Let’s suppose that you sign that annuity, you get that $33 million up-front, and then, next year, the economy crashes, and the company that was supposed to look over and dole out those 29 annual payments goes belly-up.  You may have that initial $33 million, but now you’re out $967 million.  That money is gone, and you won’t get it back.  Ever. 
Don’t believe me?  “American Greed” has done several episodes about greedy crooks in charge of annuities that go belly-up.  Just ask about Mark Avery, who used the annuities of others to finance his fantasies of a private “black ops” air force.  Or Marcus Schrenker, who put annuity money into the housing market and then lost it during the Great Recession.  Nothing is immune from the pervasive systemic greed that is ruining America bit-by-bit.
So, yeah, it’s better to take the smaller lump-sum rather than risk an annuity surviving thirty years.  You’ll get a lot less, but you’ll still get it up-front.
Oh, but wait... then there’s the governments, state and federal, and they want their piece now.
Unless you came into this already wealthy, or unless you’re a corporation, you don’t get the GOP protection from the high taxes you’ll have to pay.  Instead, you’ll have to pay them all.  Right then and there.  So knock off half of that $450 million for federal, and another third for the state and possibly county or city taxes.  That leaves you with a little short of $77 million after taxes.
So you go from holding a fake check for $1,000,000,000 to getting a physical check after taxes of about $77,00,000. 
Still nothing to sneeze at, right?
And now comes the really hard part.
Remember when you made that big press conference with your name and your face shown all around the world holding that fake check for “One billion dollars”?  Yeah, you just put a huge bullseye on your back with that, because now everyone in the world will be wanting that money.  All of it.  Because they think that billion-dollar fake check you were holding is real.
Everyone who knows you will be your best friend and will have an idea on how to spend that money that you just got.  Every charity group will want you to be their new top donor.  Every so-called “financial advisor” will be calling on you to “advise” you on how to spend your money.  Your friends and your neighbors will demand you buy them a new house and a new car and to pay off their debts.  Strangers will come to you saying they have a sick relative that desperately needs money or else they will die.  Relatives that you never knew you had will come out of the woodwork and demand a piece of the money.  If you’re a guy, women you barely knew a long time ago will show up with kids demanding child support, claiming those kids are somehow yours.  Funny how they weren’t “yours” before you were seen holding that fake check.
And if you’re not careful... you will lose all that money and then some.
There’s a guy name Jack Whittaker who won $315 million in Power Ball in 2002.  He took the lump sum.  He suddenly had all those “new friends” that he never knew he had before.  And he said “yes” to them.  Soon he was being robbed on a regular basis because people knew he had money.  He lost his wife.  The two businesses he bought into were losing money.  His granddaughter, his best friend in the world, was killed in 2004.  Her mother was killed five years later.  He’s still working for a living today... in his nineties... because he had nothing left of that money.
And then there’s Abraham Shakespeare, who won $17 million in 2006, lost most of it through his “new friends”, then met a self-professed “financial expert” who committed the ultimate theft.  She killed him, buried him in concrete, and took what was left.
And all because everyone presumes that the money you won through blind stinking luck should really be theirs.
Listen, it’s okay to dream about getting that life-changing money.  But that doesn’t mean that you should be entitled to it just because life has been screwing you over.  It’s screwing us all over.  And if by some twist of luck you should win it, just remember that *it is* life-changing.  Everything and everyone you knew before that moment will change.  Money does that to people.