The Bernie Madoff Syndrome: How Grover Norquist Did What He Did by Rick London

    

 Whether we admit it or not, to a certain extent we all played “the popularity game” in junior high and high school.

     Hopefully, by the time most of us got to college, we were humbled by the fact that the world was much bigger than the walls of our tiny lower education walls, and there would always be someone stronger, richer, cuter, smarter, more talented, etc.

     And that’s a powerful lesson.  Unfortunately and obviously, not all of us grew out of it.

     Bernie Madoff was able to pull off what he did by using “The High School Popularity System”.   If you remember, the way it worked was to find someone in your grade (or higher) who was more popular than you.  You befriended them, and basically held them hostage.  If your other friends were nice, you made the introduction and the recommendation.  If they weren’t nice, they were banned from your “in group for life” or in the case of high school “until you graduated”.

      Oddly enough, as strange as it may sound, a great many never grew out of that adolescent game.  In fact all those who donated money to Bernie Madoff knew that he was “friends” with Steven Spielberg and a host of other Hollywood icons. Maybe, just maybe if they donated enough to his charities, they too, could finally get the best revenge that they never got enough of in their youth “popularity”, or to which it is referred in adulthood “money, power etc etc yawn”.

      As strange as it may sound, this is the exact model of Grover Norquist.  He drew up a simple pledge that he knew would appeal to the wealthiest in the country (no new taxes).  But something went wrong.  The more savvy among the wealthiest such as Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Walmart Political Super Pac and others, saw through his little game.  Though the Walton kids continued to give money to the GOP (after their candidate Jon Huntsmann lost, the Walmart SuperPac for the first time ever gave more to Democrats than Republicans this election term).  Why?  You tell me. 

      But the Congresspersons who signed it did not.  They felt by signing the pledge, they could then go back to their constituents and say, “Listen, vote for me and I can get you in with some mighty fancy people through this guru named Grover Norquist” (though I doubt they even mentioned his name as they wanted credit for pulling off this magic.)

      The Congresspersons also knew this would appeal to the wealthiest in their own district, giving them yet more leverage in their own districts by offering them untold millions in tax loopholes.

       After the smoke settled, and people realized the little high school game Bernie Madoff was playing to lure his contributors, he went to prison.  As the political dust settled and voters figured out that Norquist couldn’t guarantee a damned thing except that he was willing to “Pledge An Allegiance” to the wealthiest of this country, not to the flag (and for which it stands) decided to move to the Independent Party, or just go ahead and vote for President Obama.  They’d played the game in high school, and many were way too old and smart to play it in adulthood.  

       Besides, such pledges were always temporary and subject to human behavior, moods, health and a million other things.

      There’s a lesson here.  Vote for a candidate who will do the best for the entire country. When the entire country is healthy, so is everyone. 

      Consider that Bill Gates and Warren Buffett didn’t buy into the strange little high school GOP ploy. In fact even WalMart with all its flaws, didn’t either.  And if you’re smart (and now out of high school), neither should you.

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Rick London is a writer/designer/cartoonist living in the Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas with his wife Lee Hiller-London who is a popular nature photographer and has a blog Hike Our Planet.   London f0unded the Internet’s #1 offbeat cartoons & funny gifts Londons Times Cartoons in 1997.

 

 

 

Never Ever Be Condescending To Those On Entitlement Programs By Rick London

Am not sure why so many of the ignorant of the Top 1% (and the giant parade of 1% wannabes) gloat about “this entitlement society being so sorry”.  Poverty, the need for food stamps, disability assistance, social security and/or government assistance, is very rarely (if ever) the fault of those suffering in poverty.  Nine times out of ten, the person receiving assistance needs it to live due to physical or mental/emotional and in many cases misdiagnosed or  not-yet-diagnosed illness, or a multitude of other legitimate reasons.  Most have never gotten proper medical care. Some have gotten state care, which is often “the basics” at best.  Under The Affordable Health Care Act, they will get dignity and health, something that is deserved by every single American.  A right?  You bet it’s a right.  So is food. No child should go to bed hungry…ever.   Is the system ever abused? Of course it is.  But the percentage is so low, it does not warrant shutting off or cutting back such programs.

 

Ask any economist/scholar.  An entitlement society is a natural reaction to bad business, bad business management, bad hiring/firing, cash-hoarding businesses/entrepreneurs – resulting in money staying stagnant in one region, and a million other bad business decisions.  People don’t just wake up one day and say “I’m going to be poor and ‘get stuff’ from the government”.  More often than not, government assistance is a very last resort, and even then, the recipient has exhausted his/her ideas of how to make their lives work, when everything is gone; and promises of help or hope never arrived. 

 

They more often wake up poor because, generally, they have horrendous business leaders in their cities, and the government was forced to come in and helped.  When I say horrendous that can mean anything from insensitive to self-absorbed to lack-of-vision to not understanding that an entire community is an ecosystem, and what happens in the poorest of neighborhoods affects what happens in the wealthiest and vice versa. 

When we think entitlements we often think of welfare, food stamps etc.  And of course much entitlements go to these programs, and these programs are not bad.  A lot of families (including children and babies) do not go to bed hungry because of them. 

      Around 1930, colleges were going to make it affordable for WW1 Veterans who became homeless but under GOP Herbert Hoover’s administration to go to school.  The government promised a 10K bonus to every returning soldier. Not one got a penny.

 

 Local businesses promised to help, but didn’t.  They were going broke too, under the government of Hoover who was privatizing everything just as had run his huge business conglomerate similar to Bain Capital which Mitt Romney had run.  Colleges said they would lower their prices but couldn’t  because business leaders failed them (and they ended up living in villages of cardboard boxes and tree bark called “Hoovervilles” where most of them died before FDR was elected and founded the GI Bill enabling them to go to college). 

Many in America were against the GI Bill.  They called it “communism”.  Do you think of it that way too? I don’t. At ALL. I’m proud of to live in a country that has such a decent program for honorable men and women who served our country.  Many of them need food stamps and I salute them.  It is their right to eat too.  Anyone who would take that away from them should have to walk a mile in their boots in a war zone.  They might change their minds.

 

So if you are against entitlements, you better add the GI Bill to your list of “Evil Socialist Programs” because it is a socialist program.  Most capitalistic societies like ours have such bills. Australia, UK, Canada, Israel and other of or top allies.  We call them “socialism” in their countries…we call it “The GI Bill in ours”.  It’s socialism, and some socialism is very good.  No country, including ours is 100% capitalistic in which the government has little or no duties.  Hoover tried that and it drove us into the Great Depression within a year of his election.

 

In other words you really do think like Mitt and his 47% (even if you don’t think you) because without the government and its entitlements, all our returning soldiers would be living in boxes and never step foot on a college campus. 

 

The majority of our military’s pay is so low they have to get food stamps to live; even app. 7% of military officers.   And they are giving their all to keep us safe.  You, GOP should be a shame. I hope you’re thinking this through long and hard; that is, your alleged hate of those who “feel entitled”.  Because most of them are.

 

Without The Affordable Health Care Act millions of children would be turned away from treatment due to preconditions.  Many of their parents are disabled or ill. Many are homeless.  There are a million reasons people are in situations they are in (due to fate), and they aren’t “evil” nor is it a “punishment from God”.

 

In addition, keeping the poor down, or not giving them a hand up, creates a vicious cycle that ends up costing the wealthy much more than helping educate them or create jobs for the poor.  We are all creatures of habit.

 

 Though people of all stations in life may get into trouble with the law, drugs, alcohol etc., when the poor do, it often ends up more costly. Why?  The poor are more likely to go to jail, due to lack of proper legal counsel than a person of means who can afford a nice rehab and then back to work or training for a new job. And who pays? You do….I do…or our taxes do.

 

And the cost of housing and feeding a prisoner is about 30 times more costly than a college student.  But since you are so into punishment for “just being poor”, it must be worth it to you.  You need to look within.  That is not the way a civilized advanced society acts.  In fact the very opposite.

 

 So isn’t it in our best interest to try to help them become educated?  To make sure they have proper health care?  And if they can’t work, get enough government assistance to live with dignity? If you don’t think so, it might be time to look within, and know there are people much wealthier than you, who think the same thing about you…and me.  And what do you think of those people’s narrow minds?  Pretty dumb people, aren’t they?  If only they knew how to think things through.

 

No matter how one may feel about this past Presidential Election, or the wealthy, or the poor, or entitlements, one does not have to have a considerably high IQ to know that the GOP politicos and news talking heads who continue to carry the “It was the way the message was delivered” torch are only fools fooling themselves.  It was the message.  Many of them are finding that out. 

 

 It’s easy to blame Mitt Romney, but I don’t think of any other person who could have delivered their message more effectively. It was a rancid horrendous message that is being used in Iran and it appears now Egypt and several other Middle Eastern countries.  It is called a theocracy. 

 

  A theocracy will not work in America.  Do you think by my thinking or saying that that I am anti-religion or anti-Christianity? Anything but. In fact so pro-religion and Christianity (and any other spiritual path one might choose that works for him/her) that I write this blog.  I know that on its own, in a community, helping a community, doing what it does best, a church, synagogue or mosque can be a Godsend to many. It enhances any community.

 

  A lot of people who are not affiliated with a religious community also contribute greatly to our society. When religion becomes legislated it becomes the opposite of what it was meant to be.  For that reason, our founding fathers escaped Merry Old England by the skin of their teeth.  Did they hate Christianity?  No. They simply saw what became of it when it (or any religion) decides to run the government.  It becomes very nasty.

 

I wouldn’t want my religion running government, nor would I even think of inflicting that on anyone.  With all its faults, and it has it’s share, it doesn’t need to be muddled with a business as dirty as politics just to give it more power.   Neither does yours.  Really.   Yours is beautiful just as it is.  Don’t try to ruin it like the Tea Party came very close to doing; and…may still try again. 

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Rick London is an author, songwriter, cartoonist and designer living in the beautiful Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas with his Nature/Photographer Wife Lee Hiller-London founder of Hike Our Planet.  London launched Londons Times Offbeat Cartoons & Funny Gifts in 1997 and they’ve been Google #1 ranked since 2005 and Bing #1 ranked since 2008.  He has 3 books published on Amazon Kindle and One coffee table book at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  He has created 80,000+ licensed gifts & collectibles bearing his cartoon images at LTCartoons.com.

Hey GOP: It’s The Message, Stupid (Not The Delivery)

  As you know, many (REAL) Republicans voted for President Obama.  When asked what went wrong, most Tea Partiers are saying “It wasn’t the message, it was the way it was delivered”.  Let me give you a subtle hint…..WRONG!  What you were offering was not even close to Conservative. It would have been the biggest government in the history of the world.

  Privatization of important government functions ala Herbert Hoover which led us straight into the great depression.  Sending immigrants born and raised here to their parents homeland?   Virtually legalizing rape so you can criminalize abortion?  Feeling the adrenaline run of old white men sending young men overseas to die for whatever reason?  Policing everyone’s bedroom to make sure they were behaving? (I imagine behaving means “anything but what our own Republican Patreaus does”). Making certain gays did not get equal rights to the rest of us.   You get an A+ on delivery.   We heard everything perfectly.   The message was what killed you. It was/is dismal.   Do you have any idea how big a government that is?  Even an inkling?  And how horrendous it would make our country in all the rest of the world’s eyes?  A government like that is like “Stalinism on Steroids”; so much larger and every bit as evil as Stalin’s Soviet Union its uncanny.   And you think it was the way the message was delivered.

 Might want to get back to Karl and Grover on that one. They led you astray with that too; not to mention taking all your money with guarantees of a grand victory.  You’re not mad at me. If you have any sense at all you’re mad at them and the fringe right of your “party”.  THEY brought you down. Not Obama, not me, not anyone but them.   Look within when something is that very wrong.  It can be fixed, but anger is a luxury you can’t afford (unless it is directed properly and released) so you can move on from it. 

The people have spoken.  We do not want America to go back to the dark ages.    We do not like abortion, but we also are educated enough to know that the pro-life movement is so archaic, it causes millions of more abortions than it prevents.    They have become the party of “More Abortions And Dangerous Ones”. The pro-choice movement has become the party of less abortions, much less,  in medical environments and prevention using contraceptives, education, and family planning.

We don’t want your message.  Rewrite it, edit it,  sugar coat it, make it even seem sane (if that is possible).  We don’t want it.  If its good for you. Live it.  Exchange those values in your religious institution. You are not converting us or anyone else via government. That is a theocracy, and that is why we have gone to war for years……to fight theocracies due to how evil they are.  In just religion, these ideas are benign and fine.  They are for you. They are not for  you to impose upon us, any more than I would impose my beliefs upon you.  Make sense?   And I am a strong believer in G-d and I have much faith.  But if you don’t that is fine with me.  In fact I demand it.  Be you, because that’s all you can be.  If you start being me, then you’ve lost you. 

America wants Planned Parenthood as it saves lives.    We don’t want a theocracy.  Really.  If the die-hard Tea Partyers want a theocracy, find a place and form one and “Theoc away to your heart’s content”.  We’ve seen your little power game and have no interests.   America is a melting pot of all races, creeds, religions etc and before long,  all of us will have equal rights (in spite of you). 

You can join us (far right) but you have got to learn to behave.   You don’t set the rules.  America does.  And lately, you’ve proven you do not want to play by America’s rules (the Constitution).  If they bother you that much, I bet anything we could talk an airline into offering free one way tickets to ANYWHERE you’d like to go.  Because if you try this again, (Block & Blame: What your Congresspersons did to Obama),  you will see your party so voted out, you will try to remember the name of it.  Really.  Don’t get mad at me. I’m just listening to the word on the street and passing the word.    Now lets go be Americans or lets bid each other farewell.

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Rick London is a writer, cartoonist and designer living in the Ouachata Mountains of Arkansas. He founded Google’s #1 ranked offbeat cartoons and funny gifts Londons Times Cartoons & Gifts and several other mainstream online shops like Rick London Designs featuring wisdom quotes gifts and cartoon sites that feature famous people in his cartoons. He is married to nature/wildlife photographer and gift designer Lee Hiller-London of the Lee Hiller Designs Brand.