Tag Archives: Elizabeth Warren

Holiday Greetings From Planet Elizabeth Warren

US Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) addresses the 2016 Democratic National Convention [public domain via Wikimedia Commons]
It is an election year and I am a political junkie. Therefore my inbox runneth over with political emails. Recently I’ve received numerous such emails (from avowedly “progressive” organizations) alerting me to US Senator Elizabeth Warren’s latest hobbyhorse. “Election Day should be a holiday,” says the Massachusetts Democrat, “so no one has to choose between a paycheck and a vote.”

How exciting! A new “birther” controversy motoring over the horizon in our direction! Senator Warren passed on a presidential run this year but enjoyed considerable buzz and may well reconsider in 2020 or 2024. So I’d like to see her birth certificate — long form, please — with a view toward contesting her eligibility. She’s obviously not from this country, and probably not even from this planet.

The federal government recognizes ten holidays:  New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday, Inauguration Day (in years following presidential elections), Washington’s birthday, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

How many of those do you get off work?

Unless you’re a government employee (or work for a bank), the answer is almost certainly  “not all of them.” And the further down the income and prestige scales your job is, the more likely the answer is “only a few of them, and usually without pay.”

Senator Warren would presumably know this if she was from, or lived in, or even spent much time visiting, the United States.

Surely she would have, at one point or another, shopped at Wal-Mart, or eaten at McDonald’s, or taken in a film (most theaters are open EVERY day, Christmas being the busiest day of the year in the movie business), or traveled by air, or hailed a taxi, on a holiday.

And when she did any of those things, how could she conceivably have avoided noticing the people who make it possible for her to do those things? You know, the workers whose job title isn’t “US Senator?”

Warren’s proposal wouldn’t it make it any easier to vote for anyone who has a hard time voting now. The people who have a hard time voting are the people who don’t get new government holidays off work with pay just because  a light bulb comes on in Elizabeth Warren’s head.

Early voting makes voting easier. Relaxed rules for absentee voting make voting easier. Voting by mail makes voting easier. Turning “Election Day” into two full days, 48 hours from midnight Friday night to midnight Sunday night, would make voting easier.

Calling for Election Day to be made a federal holiday, on the other hand, just gives people good reason to wonder if perhaps US Senator Elizabeth Warren is proof of extra-terrestrial life. And disproof of extra-terrestrial intelligence.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

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Broadband Prices: Bernie Sanders and His Gang of Four Are Out of Touch

Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
Bernie Sanders (I-VT) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Back in 1992, US president George HW Bush stumbled over a grocery store price scanner on his way to re-election. Touring a grocers’ convention, Bush gazed in “wonder,” according to the New York Times, at technology well-known to everyone else. Bush went down in history as “out of touch”  with the real America — and as a one-term president.

How much more out of touch than that do you have to be to assert that “just 37 percent of Americans have more than one option for high-speed broadband providers?”

That’s what US Senators Bernie Sanders (D-VT), Al Franken (D-MN), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Edward Markey (D-MA) claim in a letter to Tom Wheeler, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. The Senators want Wheeler to investigate what they consider unduly high prices in the cable industry for both television and Internet services.

Their sketchy statistical claim results from concentrating solely on local cable monopolies (which are indeed a bad thing) to the exclusion of satellite TV and Internet companies, DSL and television services offered by phone companies, and cellular Internet.

If the Senators answered their own doors and phones and emptied their own mailboxes now and then, they might understand the situation better.

I live in a suburban area, verging into rural. Fortunately, cable reaches my home, and based on my own needs (my family uses LOTS of bandwidth), I chose the local cable monopoly (Cox) for television, Internet and phone services. But my recycling bin overflows with junk mail begging me to switch  to AT&T U-Verse, Dish Network, DirecTV, a local satellite TV/Internet outfit, or one of several cellular providers. Not to mention the telemarketing calls and door knocks.

I have choices coming out my ears (in addition to all those listed, I can carry my laptop to nearly any business district and suck down all the free Wi-Fi I want). Based on a quick review of coverage maps, I’m confident that nearly 100% of my fellow Americans do as well. Some providers offer more or less. Some charge more or less. Which is cool, since people’s needs vary.

Why the sudden crocodile tears over cable Internet pricing? And  why from these four, of all people?

A few weeks ago, Sanders blamed child hunger in America on the availability of too many brands of deodorant. Now he’s concerned over too few brands of TV and Internet access.

All four Senators volubly supported increasing Internet access prices for “the little people” when they backed the FCC’s recent Title II “net neutrality” power grab. Bandwidth infrastructure costs. Since providers can’t charge bandwidth hogs like YouTube and Netflix a la carte to cover those costs, every end user (including your grandmother, who checks her email once a day and looks at a few funny pictures of cats) is going to end up paying more.

The Gang of Four didn’t care about the little people’s Internet bills then. Why should we believe they do now? To put it bluntly, I don’t.  Neither should you.

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

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Trans-Pacific Partnership: Secrecy Plus “Fast Track” Does Not Equal Free Trade

Free trade thumb
Free trade thumb (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

US Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) wants president Barack Obama to declassify details of an upcoming “free trade agreement,” the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Obama’s response incorporates two mutually exclusive claims:  First, that the deal isn’t secret and that Warren’s just tub-thumping to rouse her progressive base; second, that okay, yes, parts of it are secret, but the secrecy is necessary.

Setting aside Obama’s poke at her motivations, Warren is right. The TPP is a bad deal. The secrecy surrounding some of its components is there for a reason: Most of us won’t like what’s in it.

That’s also why Obama is pushing the US Senate to give him “fast track” authority, getting him a straight up-or-down vote as soon as he unveils the treaty instead of having to justify its details and face the possibility of amendment demands.

The first and most important thing to understand about the Trans-Pacific Partnership is that no, it’s not a “free trade” agreement.

Even if we knew none of the details of TPP (we do know some of them), we could reach that conclusion by noticing how lengthy, complex and detailed the negotiations are. Free trade is simple. All it requires is for the involved governments to forswear restrictions on commerce between their nations.

Heck, it could even be done unilaterally. The US could simply announce that it’s lifting all tariffs, quotas and limits from imports and exports, and invite other nations to do likewise. If worry-warts want a poison pill provision for “balance,” that’s easy too: Just mandate that if any nation imposes restrictions on American goods, the worst of those restrictions will be mirrored for all goods originating in the offending country.

TPP isn’t “free” trade.  It’s “managed” trade. Its managers are industry lobbyists and their pet politicians. They don’t care a fig for freedom. Their priorities are easy profits and political advantage.

We already know that in at least one sector — so-called “intellectual property” — TPP is the opposite of free trade, or for that matter freedom of any kind. We know this because whistleblower group Wikileaks procured and released a copy of the treaty’s draft chapter on IP.

That chapter would impose the worst parts of America’s draconian Digital Millennium Copyright Act,  patent system and other anti-freedom, anti-innovation laws on all parties, globally damaging the ability to copy, to improve, to innovate — and bringing de facto Internet censorship into force — all so Disney can wring a few more bucks out of its 88-year-old mascot mouse and Big Pharma can hold the world’s patients hostage to high drug prices for a little bit longer.

TPP is a bad deal for producers and consumers worldwide. Let’s demand REAL free trade instead.

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

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