I Don’t Need You Poisoning my Water!

Lies, lies; it’s all lies. I don’t trust what the government or big corporations say about water pollution—or anything else having to do with the environment. They tell you what you want to hear so you won’t start ranting and raving. Without it, however, there would be more Flint, Michigans. I do make my voice heard when an issue like clean water becomes a concern. There are far too many cases of toxic poisoning in key areas of the country, not to mention the entire world. It takes effort, but it is the role of government and utility companies who want to exist within the law to make sure our drinking water is safe. Laws are fairly recent, all things considered, and opinions about fluoride have been varied over the last century. I suppose this is the case for other chemicals that may be beneficial but also harmful. For me, it is best for them to stay out of it. Stop the additives like fluoride. Sure, it is said to prevent cavities in kids, but is that my responsibility? Certainly, a municipal government does not have the right to add stuff we don’t want or need. Kids can use fluoride enriched toothpaste.

Many faucets now have built-in water filters, just as they have instant hot water. This must be profitable for the manufacturers given the concern afoot. I hear they sell like hotcakes. They just didn’t have it when I first chose my kitchen or bathroom faucets. Now it is a routine feature. You can use filtering systems without a faucet, but I find there to be too much cleanup of the plastic containers. If you want to improve your water and make it potable and pure, opt for a faucet accessory as your best bet.

Water tastes terrible in many places, encouraging citizens to think that it is polluted. So, additives are used in great volumes to improve the situation. Wary of what the utility company is doing, in line with the law or not, I have resorted to using a reverse osmosis filter in my kitchen faucet. It will improve the taste first and foremost, and equally important it will remove chemicals like fluoride. I know that chemicals in water in certain parts of the country are not lethal or we would certainly hear about it. The media and people on Facebook are quick to jump on perpetrators of pollution. There are far too many historical cases for us to ignore the problem. I count on the pubic to raise an outcry, but I must take matters in my own hands at this point apart from complaining to the officials. Installing a filter may be a symbolic gesture, but it makes me happy and more apt to drink my own tap water. I do not find it to use bottled water to wash my face or brush my teeth!


Should You Trust the Big Banks?

Certain causes are dear to my heart, but I am often on a rant about any type of shadiness in business or politics. After all, I am the Field Commander of the March Against Corruption. I want to shine a light on the dark side of the world, especially those corporate monsters who abuse their power. Today it is all about the large banks. There’s new legislation in the works where citizens will no longer be able to sue large banks for anything — even though banking practices have led to market crashes, fraudulent accounts being opened (Wells Fargo) and even the potential identity theft of millions. So, what should you do with your money? I don’t trust the “big banks.” How about you?

I think we should do something else with our money and we aren’t making much interest anyway. Bank accounts are supposed to be the safest investment but, in reality, they have made up this huge lie. You lose ground to even modest inflation. The bank is the worst place to keep your money as you are way behind other investors. There are safe vehicles out there that guarantee your principal, even in market downturns. This brilliant investment is an indexed annuity and it works in tandem with the S&P 500. Another way to survive is to put at least a good deal of your money in gold. Either way, the banks won’t be able to screw with my money. It is a matter of principle.

Speaking of gold, I have this crazy idea to get a gold panning kit from https://www.findingafortune.net/best-gold-panning-kits-and-gold-sluice-reviews/. I saw one on Shark Tank and was taken with the process. It makes since given my current attitude toward gold. What fun to go out with friends for a day to a known spot where this precious metal has been found from time to time. We could enjoy the nice weather, sit by the river, have a picnic lunch, and hopefully get rich. Ha! Seriously, I love the idea just in case it works. With the right instruction and tools, I hear that it is entirely possible. There are specific places you must go. Looking into the subject, I found all kinds of kits. We have come way past the old metal dish with sieve. Now you can get cool plastic buckets designed just for panning. Sure, you get a few rocks along the way to riches, but some are nice to look at. Kids love it for sure. Maybe I am a big kid at heart. I just wish I were in Fairbanks, Alaska. This is the gold panning hot spot in the United States. Our local river once had a lode, so I am going to take my chances. You can’t lose if you are out with friends for a good time.

The Gold Prospector’s Association of America has steered the way for my new endeavor. They warn you that you can’t take gold dust home as it flows right through the barrier in the bucket. I don’t have big expectations, but I am set for a good time.


Pay Attention to This one, Parents!

In my march against corruption, it is not limited to social and political ills, although there are plenty around to attack. Lately, I have been on a rant about defective products as well as insufficient information about their function and safety. While it is not always a matter of serious injury or life-threatening peril, when it comes to children, any harm must be avoided no matter how small. Therefore, we have standards in this country about full disclosure. It is not so in countries like China where it was discovered that toys were made of deadly lead (or are painted with it). Nothing about the danger of sucking or biting into these toys is mentioned in the packaging. The consequence can be poisoning, illness, or death. Manufacturers think mistakenly that if there isn’t bad press, they can get away with their errant practices.

I know that kids love trampolines for fun and frolic. While adults enjoy the exercise (they produce a good sweat), children can bounce and rebounce forever. Witness the ubiquitous bouncy house found at their birthday parties. However, not much attention is given to their negative side. It is time someone exposes the truth about these playthings before a bad accident happens. Parents have their heads in the clouds about something seemingly harmless, perhaps because they think of trampolines as athletic equipment in mini size. In point of fact, the small ones are the worst. The larger sizes can accommodate a lot of flailing about and can support two or more children at once. Not so with the little ones. Kids can fall off and hit their heads on the rim of the device or an object nearby on the ground. If your Trampoline Choice is cheap and of poor quality, the tethers can break and the otherwise taut surface may cave in.

I feel that brochures that come with any size trampoline should have clear illustrations for the kids as well as written safety instructions for the parents. It comes down to ethics pure and simple. Let’s put pressure on the cheaters of the world to come clean. In the case of the trampolines, be honest about safety issues. They are not always associated with defects, but poor instruction in how to use the device. When it comes to a trampoline, there is a protocol of usage going from simple to more advanced moves. Starting with a knee tuck, the jumper can progress to half and full twists, seat landings, flips, somersaults, straddles, and pikes. As the moves become harder, the danger increases. You can injury a knee, an ankle, a calf muscle, or your back if you do not learn the proper posture, timing, and balance.

The rant is over and my words to parents with trampoline-loving kids is done. I hope you are heeding my words and putting a kibosh on usage until everything is better understood.


Taking Care of What Matters

Friends are a priority in my life. I can be engrossed in fighting corruption at its roots and take a breather to take care of what matters—helping a friend. One night, I got a call and she sounded in a panic. She had hurt her back and was laid up in bed. Some neighbors were coming over to check on her and she was worried that they would find the place a mess, causing her much embarrassment.

She didn’t have to ask. I volunteered to pop in as soon as I could. It’s a good thing that she has the best upright vacuum I’ve seen, so it would be really quick to run it all over the floors, after when I would straighten up and cook a meal. I am no saint. Anyone would do the same for a friend in need. I would certainly appreciate it if something happened to me to put me out of commission.

I think we need to contemplate our priorities and make a check list of our responsibilities. We get so busy that we forget the near and dear in our lives. Do you call your parents regularly? Do you have a relationship with a sister or brother? Are friends able to contact you to help in a pinch or are you an isolated sole? Would you ever vacuum for someone infirmed?

Sometimes we must step out of our normal boundaries when duty calls. My normal ones are social and political corruption of any kind. I stood aside this time and was at the ready as domestic help. In fact, I don’t even vacuum at home.  It was a good lesson in extending yourself. Not only are good friends a priority, but they are my life. I talk a lot about other things, but I felt I needed to express my love and concern for others once in a while. A blog is a great way to open up new paths to self-understanding.

My friend got better and I only had to clean and vacuum a few times. The last time I showed up to do my “job,” she greeted me with a plate of fresh homemade cookies and her specialty coffee. It was a small thank you but was absolutely enough. She didn’t have to go on and on about my loyalty. With the best of friends, you can read each other’s mind. Before I get maudlin, I want to reveal one more thing. I have lost friends before due to stupid arguments and I want to caution you to never let a disagreement go that far. You can have your differences, even about politics, and stay friends. Nothing is worth giving up the treasure that is a true friend. I hope I can help someone again as it gets me to look past my mundane life. Yes, we need to attend to the corruption in the word, but we also need to nurture the people in our lives.


Rally Time!

Stand up for business and political corruption and join my blog readers. We can all rant and rave together and make our voices heard. I am not trying to be funny, although I do have a good sense of humor. But I draw the line when it comes to the dark side of things. I hate the idea of the little guy getting screwed and it happens all too often. I want to help the naïve and experienced see reality in its true light. There is so much information on the Internet that there is no excuse for ignorance. However, this is another topic about which to give an opinion.

Shining a light on corruption takes responsibility and I have enough for us all. I encourage you to march right up to every corrupt political and corporate monster and demand our due. Get the picture? Remember that old movie lie, “I’m mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore?” (Network, 1976) It’s also a Twisted Sister lyric. Are you worked up yet? If not, give me time. I believe in the power of the citizens at the grass roots level. While there are a lot of movers and shakers out there, it is my time to participate.

But let me turn to another topic today to cool things down. I recently attended an outdoor rally in support of political change and the organizer stood on the back of a pickup using the best tailgate speakers I’ve seen to address the crowd. T be clear, these portable speakers operate on a rechargeable battery giving them up to fifty hours of non-stop use. I mention this because they are a dynamic and powerful system with Bluetooth connectivity and a power bank. They use an app for control. They are perfect for public speaking. They come with an AM/FM radio with a bright clear display. What I noticed the most was the microphone.

I was totally inspired by the speaker’s words and advanced preparation to reach the crowd. I just want to pass the word on. In fact, I am thinking of starting a petition on Change.com. A rally is a very effective way to excite a crowd and get people moving in the desired direction. Whether you are for or against the federal government, scream a hearty no to abortion, or want freedom of religion for Scientology, there are hot issues right now to debate. Don’t sit back and relax and let the status quo reign.

Are corporations polluting our natural resources and cutting down our precious forests? Should Native Americans have special privileges with regard to their land? Is it time to get rid of the Electoral College? I can think of countless questions that need answers. While I am not ready yet to reveal my political affiliation, I want to fight for basic rights such as the right to bear arms. Of course, I believe in free speech. I will not be stifled or suppressed.


Have We Learned Anything From Flint?

Thanks for joining me today. I am here on a “march against corruption.” Anything that smacks of the dark side of politics or a shady business deal is fair game for this blog. Stay with me. My tone is testy because I am tired of business as usual and am campaigning to make changes. I need others to jump on the bandwagon. I will tackle one issue at a time by shining a light on sneaky politicians and corporate monsters. I am sure you can recite a few. Let’s stand against these bulwarks as unsupressable little guys, and gals. Watch for my petitions in the near future.

I have water on the brain, and not the way you might think. I am not a hydrocephalic. I am obsessed with tainted water after reading this blog, the kind we saw damage residents’ health in Flint, Michigan. It was a huge scandal. Public water was poisoning citizens for years and no amount of local protest made a difference until the media got wind of it. Then boom! The word was out and powerful. It became a subject of great interest and water sources around the country were being investigated for pollution. Fortunately, no one panicked (except in Flint). It was not as great as found in Michigan, but still an issue of concern. Since then, we have come to wonder what is in our tap water floating around? I know that there is a lot of alien stuff.

I imagine assorted creepy things, but the water still passes muster. The regulators are fairly lenient in my book. Even though my local water utility company assures me that the water is up to standards, I am skeptical. I don’t trust officials as a rule. This should come as no surprise. I have elected to install a water filter in the house (called a whole house model) just in case. No little flimsy attach-it-yourself unit on the kitchen sink that will wear out in a week. I got a full-scale quality system that uses the reverse osmosis process. I am guaranteed, if even by a salesman, that this is the best method. It works by exerting pressure on water as it passes through a semi-permeable membrane. That’s it. No additives that might leak into your water source. It is pretty economical given the savings on your water bottle purchases, which can add up if you follow the eight glasses a day rule.

I drink with satisfaction knowing that I am safe from water-borne disease. I still think of the poor people in Flint who got sick, some seriously. There is one thing you should be able to count on in life in this modern country, and that is the purity of your water. The government should supply victims with free filtration systems and also pay all medical costs. This goes without saying, but it doesn’t happen. They remedy the problem and expect compliance. People are now on their own.


Say No to GMOs

You find yourself wanting to make healthier choices so you decide to eat more salads and vegetables. You think you’re doing the right thing for your body only to find out that the food you’re eating isn’t really food at all. It is Frankenfood, some kind of genetically modified monster product that is actually giving you cancer or food allergies or something else.

So what are GMOs? Here’s where things get gross. Scientists take genes from something – and it could be anything, a virus, bacteria, bugs, animals, or even people – and force it into the genes of something else.

Want to know why scientists are doing this? Money. Supposedly, if they genetically modify seeds, they can make them hardier and grow better. That makes them cheaper and easier to take care of. And while that sounds great, consider this: they patent and manufacture the seeds. So if you’re a farmer living downwind of a GMO crop, you could be sued if you’re found selling cross-contaminated produce, even if it literally blew onto your land by the wind and was unintentionally grew where it landed or pollinated your own crops by bees.

Granted, we’ve been doing things like cross-breeding animals to create more useful species and we’ve been grafting plants in order to develop new and more beautiful flowers forever. However, we’ve never taken, say, a bacteria and spliced its DNA into a seed in order to make it toxic to bugs. And if it’s now toxic to bugs, what does that make it to people?

Another concern is allergies. If you’re allergic to something – like wheat, say – and scientists use genes from some wheat that has been found to be pest resistant in a new form of corn? Congratulations, you now have a corn allergy.

Now that I’ve told you how GMOs are made and why, let me tell you what products are the most modified: corn, soy, canola, and sugar beet. And while you might not necessarily eat a whole lot of, say canola or sugar beets, they’re hiding in your food. For example, sugar beets might be used instead of cane sugar in something you eat. Or it might be used in the feed given to the animals you eat.

And when I say hiding, I mean just that. While other countries – and most of the American public – agree that companies should be required to label anything made with GMOs, the United States government disagrees. Nobody has to tell you anything about that Frankenfood you’re eating.So you may think you’re eating corn, but really you’re eating corn with pig DNA. And they don’t have to tell you anything about it.

You know why? If you guessed special interest groups have lobbied to keep the American consumer in the dark, you’d be right! People don’t like to think their food has been messed with, so in order to sell it to you, they just don’t tell you what’s in it! You can read labels all you want, but they’re just going to say “sweetener” or “oils” or something just as vague. Heck, it can even say “sugar” on it for sugar beets – technically it is true!

You can’t even protect yourself against these monsters in your own food! And who knows what kind of long-term health effects there are going to be? It’s not like we have any idea what we’re really doing, shoving DNA where it doesn’t belong. How do we know that it isn’t going to cause damage to our own bodies when it has already created nasty byproducts like superweeds?

It’s just wrong, is what it is. And the people who benefit are the laboratories who make these monster seeds, not the farmers and certainly not the public! We should demand, at the very least, that these GMO foods are clearly labeled so that we all know what to avoid!


What’s Net Neutrality?

Net neutrality is the one thing standing between us and a fair internet. If I wanted the government or corporations to regulate what I can and cannot see on the internet, I would move somewhere like China or North Korea.

Let me explain it a little better. Net Neutrality means that every site on the internet is treated equally. So if you’re a little book store and you’ve got a website, your site is treated the exact same way toward consumers as a big corporate giant. Every site is given the same internet speeds by ISPs and therefore, nobody gets an advantage over anybody else as far as accessibility goes. You get to have free and open access to sites regardless of what your ISP thinks of them.

Net neutrality means free speech. It means all things are neutral and fair.

I know what you’re thinking: that sounds great. It sounds like it gives the people exactly what they want regarding the internet: the freedom to connect with the sites, products, experiences, and people that they want to interact with, without fear that someone is stepping on their rights.

So what’s the problem?

Your internet service provider is the problem. It’s simple, really. I’ll give you an example. Say your ISP is your cable or satellite company, and they would rather you use their streaming service than somebody else’s. So…they charge other streaming services ridiculous amounts of money to reach customers at the exact same speeds they give themselves. If the site can’t pay the fees, they are regulated to a slower internet speed. Now, as the customer, which site are you going to use? The one that has to stop and buffer a million times, or the one that works quickly? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

And what if your internet company, unbeknownst to you, is a believer in the flat earth theory? So then they decide that any site that has a picture of the earth from space, or any site that says anything about the earth being round at all is just going to be blocked from your internet. Without net neutrality, there’s nothing to stop them from doing so. Now I picked a bit of a ridiculous example there, but imagine the damage it could do with a political candidate that your ISP doesn’t agree with or something the CEO objects to for whatever reason?

Can you see how this would be a problem?

It’s not to give you the best customer experience, or even the most fair. It’s all about how much more money they can make on the side, charging companies to compete for better service and then weeding out the small guys. They’ll line their pockets while we are given less and less choice on the internet, our browsing gets slower, and the content we want is increasingly put out of reach of our patience or disappears altogether. And the guy who is supposed to be in charge of the FCC, who oversees communications like the internet, is an ex-phone and internet provider CEO. How is THAT guy going to be objective? Of course he’s against it! He worked for one of the very companies that stands to benefit the most from getting rid of the rules!!

I say we march on the FCC and tell them to keep net neutrality rules in place!


Who Benefits from a Healthcare Mess?

Healthcare in this country is a mess. The old system wasn’t working, the new system doesn’t work, and now that it is broken in a bunch of ways they can’t even agree on how to put it back together.

So they’re just going to let it destroy itself and blame the other guy.

In the meantime, the rest of us (because you know that everybody in Washington has insulated themselves from the situation. They have created a sweet program for themselves and have made sure that it’s affordable for themselves and their families, since they appoint themselves their own salaries, raises, benefits, and retirement packages. Our own military doesn’t get to do that, and they’re ACTUALLY in service to this country.) get bigger and bigger hospital bills and premiums, have our policies canceled, and watch doctor’s offices and hospitals close their doors all around us because they can’t get paid.

Clearly, having the insurance industry in such a mess is not going to benefit the people who depend on health insurance to keep themselves and their families alive. I’m losing money hand over fist for less and less care. And the doctors, nurses, and the technicians aren’t making enough to even pay back the loans they were forced to take in order to pay for that fancy education they need to give us the best care they can.

In other words, you’re getting billed $10 for a single acetaminophen at the ER not because it costs them that much, but because they’re trying to recoup some of the money that Johnny-No-Insurance isn’t going to pay off of his bill. And why doesn’t Johnny have insurance? Because his premium’s too high for him to afford food and his diabetes medication at the same time, so he only goes to the ER when he’s in insulin shock.

Of course the crux of the problem here is that the medication would be cheaper than all those ER visits over the long run. However, the insurance company doesn’t pay enough of the price – but they will pay for some of the ER care when he’s about to die from this disease he can’t even treat. And there’s nothing the hospital can do except take care of the guy and then send him on his way with a “See you again real soon, Johnny.” Until he drops dead from diabetes complications.

So, the question remains, who is benefitting from all this? Politicians rode healthcare right to the ballot box and won, and haven’t delivered on a single promise to make things better for the people. You want to be really disgusted? Look up how much the CEO of Aetna made in 2015.I’ll save you the trouble. It was 17.3 million. That’s right. They’re not covering your surgery because they consider it an unnecessary procedure, and cutting off your physical therapy because you should be better by now, and that ONE GUY is making 17 million dollars.

You know where a lot of that money comes from? Stock. So he doesn’t care whether he’s running the best insurance company with happy customers who are getting the best deal for their premiums. Instead, he’s concerned over how much more he can eke out of his stock price because that money goes right into his own pocket!

This type of corruption and disservice to the people needs to stop.


Was the TPP Really Such a Bad Deal?

You may have read or heard a lot about the Trans Pacific Partnership over the last little while and found yourself wondering exactly what it is supposed to be. Don’t worry. I’ll explain it to you in a way that doesn’t have any spin.

In the simplest of terms, the TPP was an agreement that was supposed to benefit 12 countries that bordered the Pacific Ocean. It would allow for easier trade between these countries by decreasing tariffs and making it easier to get one country’s products into the other 11.

The 12 countries involved were: the United States, Canada, Mexico, Chile, Peru, Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, Brunei, Australia, and New Zealand. And the products affected by the TPP would be mostly automobiles, meat and produce, pharmaceuticals, and technology.

If you’ve noticed that China’s not on that list and now see the items that we’re talking about, you’re beginning to see why this was such an interesting concept. China makes cheap stuff and ships it just about everywhere. The TPP was a way for these countries to form an alliance together, mostly against Chinese-made goods.

In theory, it would actually benefit trade growth. These countries have a lot of people in them, some of which would be receiving these goods at decent prices for the first time. Allowing things to be traded more easily should offset the domestic loss. In other words, if I now decide to buy a shirt made in Malaysia because it’s cheaper, there’s somebody in Australia buying an American made pair of pants.

However, there was some problems with it as far as the US could see. When looked at in a certain light, it looks like the wrong people would benefit. For example, say a major drug manufacturer decided to make a plant in Chile. The Chilean people would get jobs, which is great, but the company would be the ones benefitting from the cheaper labor and the patents/copyrights that went along with everything – in other words, the drug wouldn’t necessarily be cheaper to anybody, but the company would be making more profits. And the Chilean government would have to abide by whatever labor rules and regulations were enacted in the TPP, which could even wind up costing them money.

There were other issues as well. Some foreign car makers (like Toyota) have plants in the US. This cuts down heavily on the fees and restrictions they would face if their cars were made local to them and then imported here. But if we signed the TPP, people were afraid that the incentive for the auto industry to have plants here would vanish – and with it, those American jobs.

Well, there were some sticking points like these that supposedly got ironed out. Countries would be forced to allow labor unions and protect workers as well as the environment. Food inspection practices had to be more streamlined and uniform across all countries. All this sounds good, right? Maybe not problem solved but the idea of opening up American goods to 11 other countries interested in buying them still seems like a win, doesn’t it?

So why did we decide not to sign it?

Well, the first thing is that our president feels that he can better negotiate deals with these countries individually instead. This way we’d get the best possible deal from each place. Granted, it isn’t something his predecessors were capable of doing, but that’s never stopped Trump before.

But the other reason is that the end agreement, all 5,000+ pages of it, had less to do with trade and more to do with ridiculous policies that would never have flown in a million years on their own. It was simply corporate greed, folks. And so the US did what anybody should do when confronted with a bunch of greedy cheaters: we took our ball and went home.


Lobbyists Ruin Everything

The US Constitution grants us the right to petition our government. In theory, that’s great. If they’re doing something we don’t like and are failing to represent the will of the people, we can step in and there is recourse for us to demand a change.

However, this somehow also gave birth to lobbyists. And, folks, lobbyists ruin everything. If you’ve been asleep for years and have no idea what lobbyists are, I’ll tell you: hired guns. That’s all. They take money from special interest groups. Then they go to various politicians and wave that money around, telling these elected officials that rather than represent the will of the people, they should represent the will of this particular special interest group. And, if they do, there’s money in it for them.

Now, I’m not suggesting that every lobbyist outright bribes politicians with money. But make no mistake about it—they do bribe politicians. They don’t give them the money outright. Instead, they donate to campaigns. They offer up guaranteed votes from their special interest group or union when it comes time for another election. That’s mighty appealing.

Oh, and when these dutiful representatives decide to retire from politics? Guess who has a job with a big fat salary waiting for them? Retired politicians are especially valuable because of the connections they have made in government during their years of “service.” It used to be frowned upon but now it’s become the norm. As if these people don’t make enough money as it is!

So how does this democratically parasitic relationship work? Well, once the lobbyist has bought off their politician, they expect something in return. Sometimes it is a bill that helps further their cause. Sometimes it’s a guarantee that regulations will be changed to benefit them – regardless of whether it helps the people as a whole or not. Then there’s earmarking. This is worse than simple pork in a bill. Earmarking has essentially no oversight and can be tacked on whenever, buried in bills so that nobody else notices. Although it siphons off your hard earned tax dollars for something, it certainly isn’t there to benefit you! Instead, it channels money directly to corporate cronies and special interest groups.

In other words, it takes the people out of the process and replaces them with money.

How is that fair? I have no idea. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court disagreed with me way back in the 1950s when they had a chance to stop this whole mess in its tracks, or at least regulate it in a way that it did good things for the people.

I think that bringing a valuable cause to the attention of elected officials is a good policy. I don’t think money or votes should change hands in the process. And I sure as heck don’t think politicians should be able to wield their influence long after they’ve retired by becoming lobbyists themselves.

That’s why I think we should have a march on lobbyists. They ruin everything.