Monday, October 24, 2016


Are you tired of hearing all the anecdotal evidence coming from people who are suddenly paying higher health insurance premiums? If so, you might want to remind them why their policies may have been so cheap in the past.

Think about it.

Before Obamacare you could be rejected for treatment if you had a pre-existing condition, even if you were all paid up for your health insurance premiums.

How silly were pre-existing conditions? Pretty silly. Actually, they were pretty bad.

In many states a woman that was sent to the hospital because they got beat up by their husband could be denied health coverage. The thinking was if they had previously been beaten up by their spouse statistics show they are more likely to be beaten up again. Ergo, they should have known better, which made their subsequent injuries a product of a pre-existing condition.

So, yeah, spousal abuse could be grounds for denying health coverage to women.

What about those yearly or lifetime limits? If you had a crummy policy - and many Americans did before Obamacare - many people found themselves in situations where the insurance company simply said, "Too bad, your yearly (or lifetime) limit has been reached. We're not paying any more."

The good deal they once thought they had (on the premium side) was actually a bad deal (on the coverage side).

Here's the real fun part. The same idiots who are complaining about Obamacare costing too much were/are the same idiots who complained (or would have complained) because they were denied coverage, forced out of the hospital, or forced into bankruptcy because their coverage was either limited or maxed out. There's more (like yearly rebates under Obamacare) but you get the point.

Think about this the next time your friend tells you they don't like Obamacare.

- Mark 

Friday, October 21, 2016

WEEKEND READING (Oct. 21, 2016).

Cigar worker(s), Cuba.

Right wing extremists are a bigger threat to America than ISIS (Newsweek).

Stephen Hawking: Greed and stupidity are what will end the human race (The Intellectualist).

Germany reunified 26 years ago, but some divisions are still strong (Washington Post).

How Congress quietly overhauled its insider-trading law (NPR).

How America's $19.6 trillion debt would rise or fall under Trump or Clinton (Fiscal Times).

Hillary Clinton for President of the United States (Foreign Policy).

Comedian Jim Jefferies exposes the truth about Donald Trump (Policy.Mic).

Trump's one public service was exposing the misogyny of the GOP (NY Magazine).

The question no one is asking about Donald Trump (Washington Post).

The governing cancer of our time (David Brooks / NY Times).

Trump's refusal to accept the results of the election is not 'suspense' - it's treason (Reverb Press).

Bakersfield: the parallel-universe where Donald Trump is still surging (The Guardian).

The 7 stages of grief when a loved one supports Trump (Scary Mommy).

Why facts don't matter to Trump's supporters (Washington Post).

Donald Trump, the worst of America (NY Times).

Albert Einstein: The Negro Question (1946) (On Being).

What, Congressman Steve King asks, have nonwhites done for civilization (NY Times)?

White Americans long for the 1950s, when they didn't face so much discrimination (Washington Post).

Racism, conservatism, and low I.Q. go hand in hand, according to study (Psychology Today).

Dallas mayor calls Bulls**t on open carry: It didn't help during shooting, and made things worse (If You Only News).

Why black lives don't matter to the NRA (Think Progress).

Instead of arguing about guns on Twitter, Neil de Grasse Tyson just laid out the numbers (Upworthy).

Cops: Minnesota mom beat and starved enslaved nanny from China (USA Today).

Meet the for-profit company training police to shoot without hesitation (U.S. Uncut).

The 7 biggest deadbeat states who mooch off taxpayers all vote Republican (Politics USA).

History tells us what may happen next with Brexit & Trump (Medium)

Comcast fined $2.3 million for improperly charging customers (NPR).

- Mark


I'm not sure if I've posted this before, but it's funny enough to post again ...

- Mark 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016


In tonight's presidential debate several things stand out. First, Donald Trump is prepared to not honor the election results when Hillary Clinton wins. Second, Donald Trump believes Hillary Clinton is a "nasty woman" because she says things he doesn't like to hear. Finally, apart from not knowing what he's talking about when it comes to foreign affairs, Donald Trump is too gutless to say he'll cut Social Security benefits, even though he's made it clear that he would do so in the past. 

Prompting the discussion on Social Security was moderator Chris Wallace's misleading question/commentary that Social Security is an "entitlement" that's running out of money. Let's make two things perfectly clear: Social Security is not an "entitlement" (it's an insurance program) and it's not going broke (it has a surplus). 

Since the next news cycle is sure to focus on Donald Trump's decision to question either the results of the election when he loses, his fidgety posture and interruptions, and his "nasty woman" comment I want to set the record straight on Social Security. 

Posted below is a piece I wrote almost 4 years ago for the Bakersfield Californian: "The 'Social Security is going bankrupt' Lie." 

It's late so I'm not going to update the numbers. I'll do this in a later post, when I update the entire essay. But know one thing. Whatever issues Social Security has are exaggerated and, quite frankly, misleading. Enjoy ...


The 'Social Security is going bankrupt' lie

Here we go again. The Republicans are using debt and tax negotiations as cover to push a dystopian market dream that includes erasing Social Security as we know it from our economic lives. To do so, the GOP is trying to convince America that Social Security contributes to our national debt and is, in the words of Paul Ryan, "going bankrupt."
Both are flat-out lies. Here's why.
Let's remember that Social Security is a self-funding program. It has contributed absolutely nothing to our debt load. In fact, over the years we've contributed so much to our nation's Social Security account a $2.7 trillion surplus now exists.
Congress has raided these surpluses every year. In return we get government security notes. According to the GOP, because these securities are "just IOUs" -- and we're running budget deficits -- we don't have to pay our nation's retirees back. 
Put another way, congressional Republicans are saying America no longer has a legal or moral responsibility to honor its financial obligations.
Anyone who's read the U.S. Constitution (specifically, Article VI) knows we have a constitutional duty to pay our bills. We've done it since the American Revolution. We did it during the Civil War, the Great Depression, and even through the world wars. Still, the GOP argues that since we don't have $2.7 trillion on hand we don't have to honor our Social Security deal, and should cut back on promised benefits.

Hey, I have an idea. Since we don't have $16.3 trillion on hand to pay our national debt, let's not pay our creditors either. Take that China -- and Saudi Arabia -- and Japan -- and everyone else who's lent us money. Or let's cut a deal and pay our creditors 75 cents on the dollar.
As silly as this sounds, it's essentially the argument congressional Republicans are making when it comes to the $2.7 trillion we borrowed from Social Security. 
And the silliness continues.
After the 2008 market collapse, Congress did virtually nothing as the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department forked over more than $4 trillion to Wall Street and America's financial sector. But that's not all.

Via an alphabet soup of new loan, credit and guarantee programs (TALF, TSLF, PPIP, Legacy Assets, etc.), the American taxpayer is on the hook for an additional $13 trillion. That's right. More than $17 trillion has been made available to bailout, backstop and pay off the bad bets of the crony capitalists on Wall Street. 
Yet, congressional Republicans say we can't find $2.7 trillion to pay back the seniors who helped fund and build the American Century.
The irony here is that the GOP not only believes it's OK if we don't honor our financial obligations, but many argue we need to "privatize" Social Security if we want to fix it. Huh? 
In real simple terms, "privatization" is GOP-speak for sending the trillions of dollars now running through Social Security accounts to Wall Street (which makes privatization a backdoor bailout in perpetuity, on so many levels).

What gets lost in all the "cut back" and "privatization" double talk is one simple fact. There's no problem with Social Security if we simply honor the Constitution, and respect the contract we made with our nation's seniors.
Still, let's say the GOP gets its way. We become a banana republic, and pick and choose which debts we honor. At worst, our seniors get 75 cents on the dollar after 2033. 

However, as I argued more than six years ago, Social Security isn't in trouble if we:

* Rescind the Bush tax cuts. Rescinding all Bush-era tax cuts brings in around $4 trillion over the next 10 years. It's almost $1 trillion if we target just the top 2 percent. Projected Social Security shortfalls disappear under these scenarios.
* Remove the payroll tax cap. No one pays a dime into Social Security after they earn $110,100. Removing the cap keeps Social Security solvent into the 22nd century.

Rather than discuss these issues, congressional Republicans prefer to scare America about Social Security's future "insolvency" so they can cut back on senior benefits today. Not so coincidentally, they also get to argue that government programs, like Social Security, don't work, while maintaining tax cuts for the rich.
An added bonus for the GOP and its financial backers is how this story line lays the groundwork to sell America on a Wall Street Social Security privatization scheme -- a bailout in perpetuity.

Social Security isn't headed for bankruptcy. What's bankrupt is the moral code of congressional Republicans. It's why they're putting ideology and the interests of Wall Street above the Constitution, and our promise to America's seniors.
Mark A. Martinez, Ph.D., is the author of "The Myth of the Free Market" and a professor of political science at California State University, Bakersfield.


Finally, in case you missed it, Hillary Clinton gave an adult answer when it came to outlining what needs to be done if Social Security does run into trouble.

- Mark

Tuesday, October 18, 2016


Dolores Huerta co-founded the UFW with Cesar Chavez. She's still fighting for justice and the ideas that make the American experience come to life ...
- Mark 

Monday, October 17, 2016


My friend and former colleague from the department of economics here at CSUB, Dr. David Berri, makes an interesting observation about the role of the state in society. While pointing us to this interesting Bloomberg article on libertarianism - a utopian philosophy that argues for minimal state intervention - he makes it clear that "libertarianism's time has come and gone."

Specifically, Berri writes:

Great discussion of why libertarianism -- as a governing philosophy -- doesn't work. 
I tend to believe that those who like this idea -- much like Marxists -- tend to see the world as either/or. But the answer to most problems is "it depends". Sometimes the solution to a problem is more government. Sometimes it is less. Sometimes it is hard to tell. Life is complicated and simplistic answers (i.e. "we don't want government' and "we don't want capitalism") really don't work very well.

Put more simply, as I wrote in my book, "The idea that the state has been, should be, or can be simply an umpire in society is supported neither by history or market experience" (p. 8). Ultimately the state creates the conditions under which wealth is created. Period.

The moment we get back to understanding this simple point will be the moment we start moving to a better place as a society.

- Mark

Here's a classic YouTube clip, which I've shared previously, that provides insight into what the Libertarian Paradise in Somalia looks like ...


Bill Maher has some thoughtful comments on the presidential election ...

- Mark"

Thursday, October 13, 2016


The NY Times was asked by Donald Trump's legal team to retract the article, Two Women Say Donald Trump Touched Them Inappropriately, which appeared in their paper yesterday (Oct. 12, 2016).

Here's their response to Team Trump's Demand for Retraction ...


I'm not sure about you, but I think the NY Times just did this ...

- Mark

Hat tip to Jose for the NY Times link.