Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Manchin's Not the Only One at Fault

About the only thing Joe Manchin hasn’t done in his mostly one person crusade to thwart President Joe Biden’s agenda is flash his Republican Party membership card.


Ostensibly a Democrat, Manchin has singlehandedly sabotaged Biden’s presidency. Yes, Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema has been a naysayer as well, but Manchin has been the alpha donkey of dissent, given that with the Senate evenly split 50-50 between Democrats (with their Independent colleagues) and Republicans, all Dems must stay together to give Vice President Kamala Harris the deciding vote to pass any legislation.


Manchin has made me into a prophet, a seer of political fortunes, for back in February 2021 I wondered which Joe had more power to control events, Biden or Manchin? (https://nosocksneededanymore.blogspot.com/2021/02/which-joe-is-president-biden-or-manchin.html)


So far Manchin has his hand on the legislative lever. If Biden wants to gain control, he needs to campaign hard, in person, for Democratic Senate candidates in Pennsylvania, Arizona, Ohio, Iowa, Georgia, New Hampshire, Nevada, North Carolina, and for as many House candidates as he can fit into his schedule. 


Not much of a positive nature will happen if the House flips Republican. If Democrats hold onto the Senate—by that I mean securing enough votes to not have to rely on Manchin and Sinema—at least they would be in a position to fill federal administration and judicial appointments, especially Supreme Court vacancies should they occur. 


Manchin is an easy target for progressive/Democratic ire. But the real tragedy is that Republican senators where the plains are frying, cattle are starving and thirsty, where floods are sweeping away lives and homes, where water is too scarce to cultivate fields, where unrelenting wind is blowing topsoil away, where glaciers are melting, Republican senators from those regions refuse to act to save our environment. 


Not one GOP senator would sign onto Biden’s bill to save the planet. They’ll all be dead in 20 years or so when payment for their failure to act will come due. But their children and grandchildren will be alive. How do they sleep at night with the knowledge that their legacy is a doomed existence for their progeny, for Earth?



Americans lead a cushy life. Even at a national average cost of $4.52 per gallon, regular gasoline costs less in America than almost anywhere else in the world ($4.19, cash or credit, at my local Costco today). 


Our municipal drinking water is among the best on earth. Yet, we are willing to pay an average of $9.60 per gallon for the freedom to buy bottled water. That’s right—bottled water costs more per gallon than gasoline!


“Last year, the share of household budgets devoted to food was 7.1% in the U.S.; it was higher in European countries like the U.K. (9.4%), Germany (11.7%), France (15%), Spain (15%), and Italy (16.5%), according to Euromonitor International, a London-based market research firm” (https://qz.com/2078132/the-us-spends-far-less-on-food-than-europe-but-thats-changing/).


Nobody likes inflation. It’s running at an ugly, scary 9.1% in the United States. While our rate of change between the first quarter of 2020 and 2022 has nearly quadrupled, it’s miniscule compared to Israel’s 25 times rate. (Here’s a graph from Pew Research Center showing inflation’s growth in 43 developed world countries: "https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2022/06/15/in-the-u-s-and-around-the-world-inflation-is-high-and-getting-higher/ft_22-06-08_globalinflation_2/".


The last dramatic spike into double-digit inflation happened in the late 1970s-early 1980s. Back then most Americans lacked what they take for granted today—a low-cost provider of consumer goods. 


By 1985, Walmart had but $6.4 billion in sales from 756 stores. For fiscal 2022 ended January 31, Walmart sales in the U.S. hit $466.8 billion from 5,342 stores and Sam’s Clubs. 


Many economists credit Walmart’s aggressive low pricing with keeping inflation down through the years. Add on Amazon’s 2021 sales of $469.8 billion and the impact of low price providers is doubled. 


Of course, there’s a downside to all the merchandise they provide and Americans crave. Much of it comes from overseas sources. Manufacturing jobs have been lost in America. Though more people are working today than ever before, most Americans lack confidence in the country’s and their economic outlook.



Calendar Season: I’m swamped with picture calendars. And peel-off return address labels.


One of the “benefits” of donating to a variety of social welfare causes is the “freebies” they inundate you with, before and after a donation is proffered. 


Calendars and return address labels are among the favorite tokens of their appreciation, leaving me to ponder if I prefer the animal photos from the World Wildlife Fund or the birds depicted in the National Audubon Society calendar, or the magnificent landscape photography of the National Park Foundation, to name but a few of my solicitors? 


It’s a tough choice, especially when they each send not one but multiple calendars. Even more challenging in my case—I prefer a Jewish monthly calendar. Fortunately several Jewish funeral homes provide them free to temple congregants, assuming one attends High Holy Days services in the early fall each year.


As for the return address labels, given my use of email and instant messenger rather than letters or postcards, what am I supposed to do with all those labels? 


 

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