Archive for the 'consumer awareness' Category

04
Apr
14

3 Very Needed Changes in the Political System

1.  End anonymous voting, for every office, NOW!

With all of the election fraud, rigged elections and vote tampering that has been reported over the years–especially now, with electronic voting machines–the next logical step would be to remove all anonymity from the electoral process, and make each vote traceable, public and verifiable.

I can hear certain people screaming, already: “But I don’t want people to know who I voted for!”

The problem with that is this: We already know exactly who you are going to vote for, blabbermouth, because you talk about it with all your friends, you have the bumper stickers on your car, you write letters to the editor, and you call to rant and rave on the local talk radio shows. We already know how you vote, so stop whining.

With removing anonymity from the voting process, each person would be able to verify their votes and put an end to vote tampering. Plus, if you’re going to “vote” to (illegitimately) empower someone to rule over everyone, shouldn’t you at least have the balls to put it out there in public?

2.  Put politicians on a similar wage scale as restaurant wait staff.

There are laws on the books that say restaurants don’t have to pay above a $2.13/hour wage, if tips make up the slack toward the minimum wage per hour (the reason why you are constantly guilt-tripped into tipping, even when you don’t feel someone deserved it).

Personally, I feel that employees and employers should be able to work out the terms of their employment contract, voluntarily, but since politicians created this standard, I want politicians to be hit even harder–and lead by example. With that in mind, I propose we end a politician’s pay if he/she receives more than his/her office’s salary level from money made in the private sector.

In other words, if the Speaker of the House makes more than the office’s $223,500/year salary from business done in the private sector, he/she does not get a government paycheck. Period. No pension payments (if “retired”), or any other benefits, either.

You want to cut costs in government? That’s the first place I would start.

3.  Require ALL current politicians to be enrolled in Obamacare, and have to deal with the same level of coverage and headaches that everyone else will have to endure. Maybe that will get the nightmare legislation repealed.

Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg, but a good place to start, until we can eventually abolish ALL of it.

09
Dec
13

Glenn Beck and AMAC

I have been hearing Glenn Beck (national radio talk show host) broadcast his support for AMAC–an organization being touted as being a better, or more “conservative,” alternative to AARP–quite a bit, lately, so I decided to take a look at AMAC to see where they really stood on certain important issues.

This is my opinion of what I read from the AMAC website:

1)  AMAC claims to support an armed citizenry and reduction in taxation.

So far, so good.

2)  USA continuing to borrow money is a bad thing.

Right on.

3)  AMAC opposes government-funded abortion.

I firmly agree. This isn’t about the abortion morality debate; this is simply saying that if you’re going to have one, other people should not be forced to pay for it through taxation.

4)  AMAC supports income tax reductions for all wage earners.

Amen!

There are two or three other things that AMAC supports, but the thing that really turns me off to AMAC is this, taken directly from their website:

“To our members, and on behalf of many other mature Americans across the country, AMAC has already pledged to combat these funding cuts at the Federal level and to continue to educate lawmakers about the popular, robust benefit that is Medicare Advantage.  As part of what will certainly be an ongoing effort to defend MA, an AMAC letter of support for the Cassidy-Barrow initiative was submitted to the Congressional Record and can be viewed on our website and Facebook page.  The Cassidy-Barrow initiative – which has garnered the bipartisan support of more than 80 members of Congress – urges the Majority and Minority leaders of the House of Representatives to protect MA from detrimental program cuts in budget negotiations slated to occur in 2014.”

AMAC is actually fighting to stop a reported $308 billion dollar cut to Medicare Advantage!

Sorry, but I can’t go along with that. I don’t want government redistributing wealth, at all, so this is completely unacceptable.

AMAC also claims to have a Social Security Guarantee plan that would keep this socialist monstrosity of a program solvent for 75 years–without raising taxes, of course, according to their website.

Again, NO REDISTRIBUTION OF WEALTH! Stop propping it up, AMAC!

In my personal opinion, if organizations like AARP and AMAC were truly concerned about the well-being of Seniors, they would both advocate for an immediate end to Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, etc., push for a truly free market in heath care, and have all of the money that people have paid into that government slush fund returned to them, immediately! AARP and AMAC won’t do that, because Social Security turmoil keeps both of them in business.

I can’t understand why people fight so hard for Social Security, in the first place.

With Social Security, we constantly hear of delayed benefits (sometimes years), difficulties in applying, denial of benefits, politicians using SS as a slush fund (with lots if IOUs in it, already), no actual government obligation to pay anyone (written in the law), having to secure attorneys to secure payments, and then the benefits that do come are a drop in the bucket compared to what the People have been forced to pay in. Why in the world would you want to protect that?!

Is AMAC better than AARP? AMAC seems to be much more in line with things I support (armed citizens, tax reductions, stopping Uncle Sam from borrowing more money, etc.), but neither of them goes far enough, for me, since they both seem to want to make sure government never loses its power in the area of Social Security.

If either AMAC or AARP decide they want to shake off their support for socialism, I’ll be willing to give them another look. Until then, I can’t support either one.

23
Oct
13

Fashion: An Exercise In Collectivism

Everywhere you turn, you are being bombarded with ads for the latest “fashion trends” and “latest styles.” These messages attempt to get you to buy new clothes, phones, accessories, etc. so you can feel “hip,” “cool,” “stylin’,” “up-to-date,” “in”…whatever.

The Fashion Media have a vested interest in promoting the latest decrees from the clothing industry, because it’s a symbiotic relationship, for profit; the manufacturers come up with new styles, and rely on the media to promote them. In turn, the media rely on new trends to generate money from selling magazines and advertisements. If they don’t get a lot of traffic (web page views), or sell a lot of mags, they can’t make the big bucks.

All of this is designed to make sure you do not stay satisfied with what you have for very long, so that you will spend money to get more stuff when they tell you it’s time to do so. And just like mindless sheep, you follow right along, because you don’t want the rest of the Herd to look down on you, or ridicule your lack of compliance with the fashion police.

It’s all about peer pressure, because people with low self-esteem either want to be “cool” like everyone else, or they don’t want anyone else to break free and think for themselves–which means the insecure will actually have to re-evaluate their decisions and purchases, and they don’t want to take the risk that they might have been stupid idiots, all this time. The Fashion Police can have none of that, if they are to remain cool!

On a related note, the Dr. Pepper commercials of late have me shaking my head. I hope others see what I see in them: Pepper drinkers claiming to be individuals, all while wearing the same red shirts, drinking the same soda, and all grouped together in a pack. That is just another way advertisers sell collectivism: Disguising it as individuality.

The thing that really chaps my hide the most is the barrage of commercials, around the time school is about to start, targeting kids with fashion peer pressure–and the parents who then scrape and save in order to give their spoiled, insecure children the fashion, brand-name items they feel they need in order to “fit in.” Disgusting!

If you really want to raise healthy, happy children that will go on to be healthy and happy adults, teach your children to be satisfied with who they are and what they have. And don’t say it can’t be done, because I’m living proof that it can–and I’ve been that way (a nonconformist) since I was a young child, and I helped raise a couple of kids to be secure adults.

I see ads for “empowerment” seminars, camps and self-esteem workshops. Seriously?! Why don’t you try telling the Fashion Police to piss off, and learn to be happy with whatever it is that makes you the happiest and most comfortable? Don’t worry about the Herd and what they value this month; we all know it’s going to change soon, anyway. You will have saved a lot of money, in the process!

And how many times have you looked back on pictures of yourself from 20, 10, maybe even just a couple of years ago and said, “Oh my goodness! What was I thinking? That’s hideous! I can’t believe I ever wore that!” If that’s the nature of fashion, and you’re going to look back and be embarrassed anyway, why not be comfortable and do your own thing? And you never know; what you choose to wear might look a lot better in pictures, in a few years, than what the current “trend” says you should have worn during that time.

Let’s all make a point, today, to consciously reject fashion trends and develop our own individual styles. If you happen to like something that just happens to be “trendy” at the moment, fine–but don’t do it just because the fashion industry pressures you to do so.

Let us teach our children to believe in themselves and be happy with who they are. Let us break down the building blocks of collectivism and assert our individuality and freedom of expression. Let’s not be slaves to the corporate machine that tells us we have to set aside perfectly good clothes, and buy new ones, simply because some fashion clown says we should.

If you want to take a serious stab at collectivism, fashion is a good place to start.

01
Aug
13

Racism: Divisive Nonsense

The Trayvon Martin case has turned into an excuse for more racial division, on both ‘sides.’

For the last two days, ESPN has been repeatedly broadcasting a story about Eagles football player, Riley Cooper, over some remarks that were supposedly very racist in nature. (I haven’t bothered to research it, because, frankly, I just don’t care about this crap anymore.)

That’s right; I couldn’t care less, anymore.

We can’t get upset about the NSA spying on everything we do; militarizing police, along with increased police checkpoints and home invasions; government takeover of healthcare (just as Hitler once did, and then rationed); high unemployment; gas prices; gold market manipulations; currency devaluation; killing innocents with drone strikes in foreign lands, etc. No, we have to start a civil war over derogatory comments that deal with the amount of pigment in someone’s skin.

And it seems that the same evil things (murder, rape, robbery, etc.) can occur, and the same names can be used in certain places and in certain social circles without any problems, but as soon as someone with a different type of skin pigment uses the same word, or does the same atrocious act, then people want to get upset.

When someone says that blacks are ‘this,’ or whites are ‘that,’ they are basically saying, “People who have a [choose dark or light] type of skin pigment are [insert favorite racist stereotype, here]”–and that’s about as ridiculous as it gets.

It isn’t skin tone that makes people who they are; it’s what is in their hearts that counts. And I’ve seen undesirable behaviors on display in every race, so no race can claim any kind of superiority over another.

Another thing that bothers me about racial division is censorship: As soon as someone makes a “racially-insensitive” remark, the news media jump on it and plaster it on every screen, in every newspaper and constantly repeat the story, over and over again, in an attempt to get you to “watch what you say!”

Sorry, but I don’t support that “political correctness” garbage; I think people should be free and open to say whatever they feel–no matter how idiotic or atrocious we may view it to be.

And I don’t care if people want to throw a racial slur at me; it’s just words! Sure, it can be irritating or hurtful, but as soon as you show it, they know they got to you. If you brush it off and ignore them, they soon learn that the tactic is ineffective and stop using it.

Personally, I would much rather someone come right out and say exactly what’s on his mind and in his heart, because it’s a more honest reflection of who he really is–and it gives me the opportunity to better weed out the ‘bad apples’ and avoid those people.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be shaking hands, hanging out, or doing business with people who secretly hold venom within. I would never want to censor their speech, but I certainly don’t have to be around them.

Government loves to distract the nation from the truly serious issues (and it’s failures) with issues of racism and tales of the “unfair.” Stop buying into it, and keep the spotlight on issues that should be uniting us, instead of dividing us!

Racism. So, what?

17
Jul
13

Free Times Newspaper Using Absurd Scare Tactics In An Attempt to Limit Competition in SC’s Healthcare Industry

In the July 17-23, 2013 issue of Free Times (Columbia, SC), writer Corey Hutchins asks: “If there was an MRI scanner next to the cricket cage in the back of Skeebo’s bait shop—and it was closer or cheaper than one at your local hospital—would you trust your life to the guy selling nightcrawlers to find out if your chronic headaches might be cancer?

“Weird question.”

Yes, weird question.

The tactic, employed by Corey Hutchins, is called “Reductio ad Ridiculum”: The logical fallacy of extending someone’s argument to ridiculous proportions and then criticizing the result.

You see, Free Times is attempting to scare you, and SC lawmakers, into continuing support for a permitting process known as “Certificate of Need” (CON). Governor Nikki Haley vetoed the $800,000 funding for the agency, and now certain special interests are attempting to scare the public into pushing for a reversal.

When hospitals, nursing homes, and other facilities want to add new medical services, build or purchase new medical equipment, they must demonstrate a “need” to a South Carolina regulatory agency. The agency then determines whether or not the organization will be allowed to have it.

<sarcasm>Yay, freedom!</sarcasm>

Corey Hutchins says that such regulation is “supposed to keep costs in check.”

On that point, he is correct—but those prices are kept “in check” at a high price, due to limits on competition and the inability to purchase high-dollar equipment for business expansion (economic stimulus, job creation, etc.).

Let’s call CON by its real name: Protectionism. The healthcare lobby is one of the strongest voices in the halls of government, and CON is used by many of those voices to try to limit competition and protect the profits of well-established medical firms—and that means higher costs, for YOU.

So what if “Skeebo” wanted to buy an MRI machine?

First of all, I doubt a corner “bait shop” would have the money to purchase a mega-bucks MRI scanner—and part of the reason why they cost so much is because government limits how many can be purchased, and by whom. Again, those costs are passed along to YOU, the patient, in the form of higher procedure costs and insurance premiums.

Second, if “Skeebo” did purchase an MRI scanner, got training to “certify” his expertise with the device, offered shorter waiting room times, charged less, was more conveniently located, and gave a more personalized level of service and care, why wouldn’t I choose “Skeebo” over the high-priced medical facility that was located several miles away?

That’s exactly why they are being limited. Like I said, protectionism.

Corey Hutchins basically says that anything other than tight control of your healthcare options is throwing the industry into “chaos.”

Governor Haley said, “The Certificate of Need program does three things: restricts access, drives down quality and drives up costs”—and she’s absolutely right.

Apparently, “my body, my choice” only applies to abortion. Everything else having to do with my body must be regulated, limited, controlled, taxed, permitted, licensed and manipulated.

So, Free Times, will you promote choice in everything concerning my body, or will hypocrisy rule the day?

19
Feb
13

When it comes to privacy, ignorance can be destructive

Let’s start off with tablet computers. Do you realize the terms to which you are agreeing, when you download an app to your phone or computing device? Have you even stopped to look?

Apps that you download require you to give them permission to access areas of your device, such as your address book or activity logs. Some apps, like those from Amazon and eBay, also require that you give them permission to access your camera and video functions.

Why does a shopping app need access to your camera and the ability to record videos? Think about it.

Other apps even go so far as to require permission to contact people in your address book, without notifying you. So, it isn’t enough that the app might send you unwanted spam or advertisements; you’ve also opened your friends up to the annoyance, as well. (Thanks, buddy!)

In addition to apps, “smart” phones and tablets–and, now, Windows 8–employ “location services.”

Location services can help you find a gas station or restaurant in your vicinity, or even help you navigate through an unfamiliar part of town–but that same GPS technology is allowing certain companies to keep a running record of everywhere you have been. They can also compare logs of other users, to see who interacted with you at those same locations, to determine who your friends and colleagues are, as well.

By scanning your location history, companies can determine that you prefer Hardee’s burgers and shopping at Macy’s department stores–or that you stop by the adult video store or strip club on your way home from work on Friday nights.

Put all the data together that can be collected from these apps and devices, and you can build a nice profile of anyone, anywhere.

It should also be noted that savvy divorce lawyers are getting phone location records to use against people in court, and the US Government has one up on the former Nazi Germany: They no longer need to ask to see “your papers, please.” Now, all they have to do is look at your location logs and social network posts to see where you’ve been, where you’re going and with whom you’re going.

Speaking of social networks, let’s talk about Facebook.

If you haven’t seen the video, below, I HIGHLY recommend that you watch it:

You may never look at Facebook the same way, again.

Next, let’s talk about monitored alarm systems and home/car controllers.

First of all, NOTHING on the Internet is secure. NOTHING. There is no such thing as 100% secure, so never let anyone tell you otherwise.

With that in mind, think about the monitored cameras you put in your homes, as part of an alarm system–cameras which are often supplied for free, by the monitoring company, to sweeten the deal.

What you may not realize is that you have basically put a camera in your house that can be watched by someone else, maybe an alarm company tech guy or a hacker.

In addition, since government has requested millions of phone location records as part of its homeland security nonsense, it is not unreasonable to think that government has also gotten court orders to monitor security cameras.

In a related story, users of Microsoft’s Kinetic camera attachment for the XBox 360 give Microsoft permission to monitor the camera (read the terms of use that you must agree to, before you install it), so you’ve basically setup a webcam for Microsoft to watch you, if they desire.

Same goes for vehicle services, such as OnStar, Blue Link, Safety Connect, etc. You basically have a GPS locator on your car and a microphone transmitter/receiver in your car. I think you know where I’m going with this, by now.

Lastly, being able to turn your car or house lights on, with your “smart” phone, is pretty convenient and cool, right?

Again, think about it; anything you can do over the Internet can be done by someone else with skills–or self-proclaimed “authority” (cops, government).

05
Sep
12

Modern Superhero Movies and their Political Statements

Being an all-things-Batman mega-fan, since I was a child, I attended the midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises. When I walked out of the theater, I remember feeling angry, extremely disappointed and even a little betrayed.

In my personal opinion, The Dark Knight Rises wasn’t much of a Batman movie; it was just another cop/Homeland Security movie, with a little bit of Batman sprinkled in, just so they could call it a Batman movie. They could have called the movie a different police-sounding name, and substituted a kickboxing cop for Batman, and they wouldn’t have had to modify it very much. Disgusting!

The movie was just conditioning to get you to believe that cops and Homeland Security will always be a part of your life. The Powers That Be want you to get used to it and obey–and give them even more power over your life. It was also a gross mischaracterization of, and smear against, anarchy and revolutions against tyrannical government.

After taking some time to reflect, I’ve looked back over some of the more recent “superhero” movies, and thought long and hard about the messages they seem to send–and I’m not happy about most of them.

The previous Batman movie, The Dark Knight, seemed to send this message: “Your privacy must be compromised, so the ‘good guys’ can keep you safe.”

Sorry, but that’s not a compromise I’m willing to make–and “good guys” is a very subjective term. Personally, I don’t consider anything having to do with government to be “good”–especially police.

I got this message from Iron Man 2: “You cannot be trusted with powerful weapons. Such things must be turned over to government. If you do not comply, government will take them from you.”

Sorry, Uncle Sam. In the words of Tony Stark (Iron Man), “You can’t have them!”

On the other hand, there have been some movies with a positive political message.

In the movie, The Matrix, the “Matrix” was a system run by machines that have taken over the world. Humans were kept asleep and connected to the “Matrix” system (a metaphor for government) that gave them a false reality and used their bodies as human batteries to power the machines.

A group of rebels that had been literally “unplugged” from the Matrix, and who saw the world as it truly was, were covertly attempting to free other minds from the system of control while avoiding being killed by the machines’ virtual “agents.”

If you’ve ever heard a freedom activist talk about being “unplugged from the Matrix,” or “taking the red pill” (the red pill allowed the main character, “Neo,” to wake up and sever his connection to the Matrix).

The message in The Matrix was that freedom was something worth putting your life on the line to restore.

The same message could be found in V For Vendetta.

In V For Vendetta, the lead character, “V,” was the disfigured product of evil, government experiments. Having survived, he vowed revenge against those who had experimented on him, and against the government who now ruled over the citizens with an iron fist–complete with a dictator, curfews, corrupt officials, a fabricating news organization and raping police officers.

“V” helped to transform the People from cowering citizens into folks who flooded the streets in a united rebellion against tyranny.

In the future, as you’re watching movies, be sure and look for hidden messages and meanings. Some films are nothing more than political propaganda and conditioning, while others can be very inspiring.

Pass on those that send a negative message.