A few days ago I wrote a piece about the future of coal in WV and mentioned the community of Welch, WV, the county seat of McDowell County. I know just a little about Welch because of once having some amateur radio friends in the area and by selling the local school system a bunch of computers back in the early 1990s.
The assistant superintendent of schools told me that Welch was one of the most economically depressed areas of WV and a large percentage of the residents were on some sort of welfare or relief. There was so much welfare money coming into the county that K-Mart built a brand new store on the edge of town to keep the money from going to Walmart in neighboring Bluefield and Princeton.
$100,000: That’s the expected cost to NYC each time Trump goes home for a visit. Since he plans to go home every weekend it becomes major dollars. Plus, each visit means a significant gridlock as his motor brigade travels to and from airports. Maybe this is why he only carried 10% of the city’s vote.
Ted Koppel did a feature on McDowell County, WV yesterday morning. I’ve been there many times having supplied the school system with computers back in the 1990s. Even then it was a place holding on by its teeth and such appears to be truer today. The entire region is tied to coal and coal has died. Coal died but not, as a couple of minors claimed, from government regulations.
Coal died because of:
It’s a filthy source of energy.
Mining it reeks havoc on the land.
The greed of the mine owners.
The mine owners having to be forced into environmental stewardship.
An ever decreasing demand for it. Increasingly energy is being provided by newer, cleaner, and more sustainable sources
Historically coal was used to generate electricity, manufacturer iron and steel, and heat our homes. Today we make electricity with wind, solar, and natural gas. Today we don’t make iron and steel, we buy it from China. Today we heat our homes with natural gas, propane, geo thermic heat pumps, electricity and other cleaner, cheaper, and more efficient means.
Months ago, in a primary far, far, away, Michael Moore warned us to never discount Trump’s potential to become the next president; and of course, we did. Turned out Moore had his ear closer to the working American’s ground and understood just how deep the anger was.
I knew people were pissed and I knew that pissed people often turn to crazy people to get unpissed. But I also had a lot of faith in the basic goodness and intelligence of the American people. I believed that in the end the majority of Americans would refuse to associate their vote with the hate and anger that fueled Trump’ race to the White House. Well I was wrong. What I learned is that too many people have the ability to look straight at things that are racist, misogynistic, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic, and anti semitic and not see it. Trump descended that escalator on day one and stuck a knife in the backs of every Latino in America and his army of supporters ask, “Duh, what racism?” He referred to Hillary Clinton as, “Such a nasty woman.” His followers said nobody respects women more than Trump.
Since 2000 I’ve spent a lot of time drinking coffee with area farmers and here’s what I saw. I saw farm income in every category except government subsidies, double or better. I saw farmers making so much money they were forced to buy new machinery, new grain storage bins, new equipment buildings, and lots of shiny brand new 4X4 pickup trucks with full crew cabs and dually rear wheels.
While things aren’t as good as they were they still aren’t bad.
Given the announced increases in Obamacare premiums it’s important that people have accurate information about what it means and how you may be affected. I found this article in the New York Times and it’s certainly worth your time. Pay special attention to the roll a “functioning” Congress needs to play in the fix.
Figuring out how Obamacare is faring has always been hard.
It’s been hard because many Republicans are rooting for the law to fail and try to make any flaw sound existential. And it’s been hard because we in the media haven’t always done a good job covering the law. We tend to sensationalize its problems, rather than distinguishing between routine ones and truly worrisome ones.
The recent spike in premiums — raising the cost of many insurance plans — is a real problem. But it’s also contained to the smaller part of Obamacare’s coverage expansion, and it’s a problem that could be easily solved by a functioning Congress.
First, some context: The 260 million or so Americans who receive health insurance through their employer, Medicare or Medicaid (including through Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion) are unaffected by the prices increases. The increases instead apply to the 10 million people who buy coverage on one of the private-insurance exchanges established by the law. Even among those 10 million, the vast majority receives government subsidies that will largely or partly cancel out the price increase.
So why do I say the price increases are a real problem? Because those insurance exchanges are vital to the idea of universal coverage in this country. Without them, many people who don’t qualify for government insurance or aren’t covered through their job will be stuck without good medical care.
The spike in premiums is a sign that not enough healthy people are signing up for the exchanges. Without healthy people to balance out the sick, insurance stops being insurance and becomes terribly expensive.
The basic solution is straightforward. It involves increasing the subsidies for lower-income families — while also increasing the penalties for people who refuse to sign up for health insurance. The overall cost of this fix would be modest, and a better functioning Republican Party would have no problem agreeing to a compromise. It would preserve a robust role for the private market, after all.
The more boldly liberal solution is to create a so-called public option on the exchanges — a government insurance plan anyone could buy. In a Times Op-Edtoday, Jacob Hacker — one of the architects of the public option — makes the case for it.
I’ll confess to being torn about whether the public option is a more complex solution than the current problem requires. I encourage you to read Hacker’s piece – and also this recent Times piece raising questions about the public option. If you have thoughts after doing so, send me an email, at Leonhardt@nytimes.com.
HO HO HO: Analysis predict that Amazon will do about $44.6 billion in business over the coming holiday season. Amazon is also planning on hiring 120,000 seasonal employees to get all the orders packed and shipped out the door.
Throughout the current political season politicians have talked about jobs and making promises to bring back to America and/or create millions of good paying jobs. We all know that plentiful good jobs began drying up in the 1980s and there is no single cause of it.
A major cause has been the exportation of millions of manufacturing and service jobs to nations with wage rates far lower than America. We’ve all been to Walmart and seen the Made in China label on much of what they sell. Who hasn’t dialed a customer service number only to end up talking with a technician in India with a dialect we Americans have difficulty understanding. Well, all those manufacturing labels once read, Made in America and those service people were somewhere in the lower 48 states.
It is just too difficult to write an individual comment regarding every utterance of bullshit that comes out of the Trump campaign. So, I starting a page of running comments and positions and was going to call it Trumproids. Then I remembered just how highly Donald thinks of himself, hugely God like, so I’m calling it HIM-roids. Here’s a few to get things started:
10/7 – Video/audio tape uncovered showing Trump at his misogynist worst. His apology is to say Bill Clinton has said worse.
10/7 – Trump makes the totally bogus claim that the Border Patrol is allowing illegals into America so they can vote for Hillary.
10/7 – Against DNA evidence Trump still denies the Central Park Five were wrongly accused.
10/5 – The conservative Wall Street Journal has found a pattern of Trump contributing to the state’s attorney generals whose offices were investigating his businesses.
10/5 – Trump’s former tax account said in multiple interviews that It was Ivana who understood taxes more than Donald. That Donald is not the tax genius he claims.
10/5 – Trump’s questionable charity may be in trouble in dozens of states. Attorneys General all over America are looking into the legal status and activities of the Trump Foundation.
10/4 – Trump told Pennsylvania steelworkers that America would be rebuilt with Pennsylvania steel. Most of Trump’s recent projects were built with Chinese made steel and aluminum.
You live in a small town far, far away and you are part owner in a small privately owned corporation that is a OEM supplier to the auto industry. At the peak of your company’s growth you employed over 600 low and semi skilled workers. Life was good and the future looked bright.
Then came rising energy cost in the 2000s coupled with an almost complete collapse of the economy in 2007-08. Car sales began to plummet, orders began to dry up, and your company began to lay off workers. At rock bottom you were down to less than fifty employees and struggling to keep the lights on.
On Monday, October 3rd I watched an interview with a Trump advisor regarding Trump’s likely non-payment of income taxes. She was all about him being a business genius who was smart to work the tax system to his advantage. I also watched some of Trump’s Colorado rally where he pretty much did the same.
During the relatively prosperous years of the Bill Clinton administration Trump made business decisions that ran his casino-hotel business into bankruptcy and a loss of near $1 billion. As reported in the NY Times this set him up for a loss that may have freed him from federal income taxes for the next two decades.
Donald Trump’s refusal to release his federal tax returns has become a major issue in the 2016 campaign. Trump insist his being under an IRS audit prevents this records from being made public but even the IRS has said such is not correct. In the first presidential debate Hillary Clinton claimed that trump paid zero federal income taxes during the two years his records were made public in order for him to file for casino licenses in New Jersey.
Today the New York Times released information it has uncovered about Trump’s 1995 tax return. I don’t know how they obtained the data but the Times says that in 1995 Trump, due to major business mistakes involving his casinos and airline, filled a business loss of $916 million. Tax experts who have reviewed the documents say this large a loss could wipe out Trumps tax liability for as much as eighteen years. Put another way, Donald Trump, because of poor business tactics, may have paid zero federal income taxes for eighteen years,
When I was 18 years old, a senior in high school, and working part-time on the school’s maintenance crew for $.50 cents an hour I filled out my first income tax return. It was what was known as the “short form” and I made a mistake.
I used the chart that was provided in the instruction manual and mistakenly took the personal exemption not realizing that the exemption was already figured into the chart. Thus, I took two personal exemptions. Even though my income wasn’t enough to justify a tax liability I had nevertheless not done things correctly.
HYPOCRISY: What do you imagine the reaction would have been if Hillary Clinton revealed she had not paid federal income taxes because she “was smart.” Or what about President Obama or any other leading liberal politician?