Gray Matters Radio Episode 25: Is AOC’s Green New Deal Possible? Is It Communism? We Ask The Professor To Weigh In

Ever since Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez unveiled her Green New Deal, politicians and pundits have been either saying it is a communist trojan horse or progressive thinking that will save the planet. In my years as a therapist, whenever you see that big of a spread between people’s interpretation of something you know the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

With something as complicated as the Green New Deal, we decided that if we were going to take this to The Gray, we needed someone who actually understands history and macro economic theory. So we once again enlist the knowledge of The Professor, Richard DeVine to help us understand the economic feasibility of the Green New Deal and what the effects of a 80% tax rate would be on people making more than 10 million dollars.

Since The Professor actually lived through real communism during the 60s, we asked him to weigh in on any fear that he has about The Green New Deal and what he really thinks of the progressive wing of the Democratic party.

Joining me in the studio as always is The Armchair QB himself, Bill Reed, to keep me honest and firmly in The Gray. Gray Matters Radio airs every Monday and is exclusively distrubuted through The Reporters Network. 

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Gray Matters Radio Episode 26: The Big Business Of Legal Marijuana

I remember in college sitting around with my friends and talking about what it would be like if marijuana were legalized. Most of our visions centered around going to the local mini-mart and buying a pack of Marlboro Green. How far off could we have been? Just go to any state where marijuana has been legalized for medical or recreational use and you will quickly see that this business is not only here to stay, but whoever was able to get in on it is going to make lot’s of money.

But with all of that money has come the very corporate practices that most marijuana patients/enthusiasts are completely against…in fact the yin to their yang. In my own home state of Ohio, we had a legalization bill voted down not because the people didn’t want to legalize it, but rather the people behind the bill wanted to have a monopoly where they were the only ones allowed to grow and sell it.

Fast forward a few years and Ohio passed medical marijuana legislation but ask anyone who wanted to open their own dispensary and they quickly found out that corporate interests in the form of outside money and previously owned dispensaries were the only people having their applications approved. Not only that ,just the other day there was an advertisement from former Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner about a marijuana industry seminar that helped people invest in the marijuana industry. My how far we have come!

If this wasn’t enough to show how corporate interests and monopolies are taking over the industry, the financial banking companies have started taking advantage of dispensary, growers, and merchandisers in the industry in the form of only offering high risk billing and payment solutions. This comes in the form of outlandish credit card processing fees and banking fees which costs these companies hundreds of thousands of dollars every year. Its monopolistic because the same companies that refuse to process their payments are the same companies starting high risk processing companies leaving them no options but to take the higher rates.

This is going on across the country and the hypocrisy of politicians who were completely against it 5 years ago are the very same people now allowing these practices to happen. The only thing that changed was the fact that this a billion dollar industry now and the special interest groups have now gotten politicians in their back pocket.

To help us discuss this topic we are inviting Sami Spezio & Dominic Buccilla from Gray Matters Radio’s new sponsor Canna Group The Canna Group LLC was founded on a platform of 30+ years operational experience as consultants in the merchant services industry. Our Mission is to consult and empower business within the dynamically evolving cannabis industry to understand how implement electronic payments into their operation plan. We offer expert knowledge on the ever-changing laws that allow all cannabis businesses, from seed to retail, to accept and utilize debit-based card transactions in a safe environment that will eliminate the risk of cash-based business.

As always I am joined by my co-host the Armchair QB himself Bill Reed to help keep me sane and safely in the gray. So help us tackle the problem of addiction by listening and sharing our show, airing every Monday exclusively on The Reporters Network 

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The Ends Do Not Justify the Means Anymore in Politics

The infamous line “The Ends Justify The Means” from Machiavelli’s The Prince has been bouncing around in my head more and more lately. It is a particularly scary mantra for a counselor to think about because it is a mindset that can justify even the most heinous of acts.

I have been thinking about it more and more lately because as a counselor in private practice, I am on the front lines, I am in the trenches with regular Americans, I am the person with their finger on the mental health pulse of America and I am not liking what I see at all.

8 years ago, I could not tell you one single time that I had a client or a family come into my office with one of their presenting issues being anger or anxiety about politics or the media. Well take that back, when I was in community mental health I saw schizophrenic patients who’s primary delusion was political conspiracy theories. But aside from clients with severe mental illness I never saw or heard it. Now, I would say that 50% of the clients in my office are bringing up issues that are based on our current political and media climate.

I literally have clients telling me story after story about how politics are destroying their families, friendships, and jobs. For example, I had one client recently tell me they broke their wrist after punching a hole in their wall out of frustration arguing with a roommate about whether democrats were communists. I had a family call me out of fear for their son because he was so angry after the government shutdown that he was yelling at anyone who would listen and were worried he was going to hurt someone. I had a client start having panic attacks after Trump was elected and was worried about him bringing the world to the end. 

Don’t believe me? How many stories in the news have we seen of people getting into altercations at rallies both on the right and the left? Just this morning we had a BBC reporter “severely assaulted” by a man at a Trump rally. Every week we see some story about somebody getting fired from their job because of something political they posted to their social media accounts. We never saw things like this happening 8 years ago and yet every week we see a story about how politically motivated assaults, protests, etc. and people getting arrested or hurt. 

Just look in your own lives for a minute and ask yourself how many people do you know have been affected by our political climate? Hell, in my own circle of friends we had people who were able to get past somebody sleeping with someone’s girlfriend, but we have divisions now within this group because of the 2016 election and the comments that people have made to each other.

All of this is the collateral damage from a political and media climate that uses fear, anxiety, and division as their playbook to get their bases activated and to get ratings. I know this because people like myself were recruited in grad school to be human factors specialists for these entities to help them understand how to use our knowledge of the human psyche to get people to think what they want, what to pay attention to, and how to motivate them to vote.

When you talk to anyone in the media or a political campaign about their tactics, they simply use the logic that “The Ends Justify The Means”. Whatever it takes to get their candidate elected or to get their ratings is justifiable and in the end is worth it. They will even justify that the other side is doing it so if we don’t, they will win so we have no choice but to do this.

But do the ends justify the means anymore? The truth is that the collateral damage being caused by this mindset and these tactics is a cancer on society that is destroying it from the inside out. The ends do not justify the means anymore because what is the point of winning an election or being a media company that helps get a candidate elected if there is no country left to represent in the end? That is where we are at as a country and we need to look in the mirror and ask ourselves what type of country do we want to be and what are we willing to sacrifice to get there?

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Its Not Fake News Anymore Its Fake Reality

It seems like there is no such thing as a down news day anymore is there? So far this morning we had Roger Stone being arrested for lying about his involvement with the Wikileaks investigation and now it was just announced that LaGuardia Airport  just shutdown any incoming flights because of a lack of air traffic controllers due to the government shutdown.

Whew…exhausting isn’t it? Already I have been scanning the comment sections of various right/left news websites and it is almost like a social psychology experiment…only this one isn’t in my textbooks from graduate school but actually happening right now. It seems like we are at a crossroad with our perception of reality and understanding what we are seeing all around us. 

It is called accommodation and assimilation or simply how we incorporate new information into our construction of reality. When everything fits…no problems just make room and come on in. But if the information that we see is vastly different than what we know…then it creates a problem called cognitive dissonance. That dissonance creates a lot of angst and anxiety and we have a few choices. We either accept that what we believe is wrong, sit with that angst, and restructure what we believe. But in many cases we don’t want to change what we believe, the angst and anxiety is too much so we try to either discredit all of the information that we are seeing or we try to change (accommodate & assimilate) the new information into our reality. That is exactly what is going on right now with our political climate and it is scary as hell. Because of the game that politicians and the media is playing with our psychology to get ratings and votes, they have pitted everyone into a black & white reality, using emotion to intensify those beliefs, and down right make us doubt the reality that we see (fake news). So people on the comments sections and the news are making people go in two directions.

The first is that people don’t want to believe that Trump has done anything wrong and that he is actually in the right and there is a deep state working against him, which is being played now as the FBI is a corrupt and illegitimate organization that cannot be trusted and the FAA & Air Traffic Controllers are democratic hacks who are not showing up and politicizing the shutdown and trying to make Trump look bad. The second way people are looking at this is that our President is completely corrupt, a liar, a tool of Putin and all the people around him are getting arrested for lying and obstruction of justice and it is just a matter of time before he himself is charged. Moreover this side is looking at the Laguardia shutdown as evidence that something awful is going to happen and that Trump is trying to create chaos on purpose create an environment that will usher in his master plan in the same manner of the Homeland Security Act after 9/11.

If you think I am lying go read the comments sections and go around the internet. There is literally an article on the Huffingpost with a 2014 Interview with Trump saying that a crisis is needed in order to make America great again. We are in a climate where people think our most sacred institutions and positions are so corrupt that we cannot trust them and are working under the guise of a foreign country. People are so dug in to their beliefs that they are either totally ignoring all the evidence around them or finding some way to make it fit their existing beliefs. Its like a 10 year-old trying to find some way to still believe in Santa…only this isn’t Santa we are talking about…its our very government, our reality, our way of life, and our future. How can it have gotten this bad? What can we do about it? We want to know your thoughts and we will bring it up on the air!

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The Nation That Won’t Jump Out Of Boiling Water

It is amazing what we can get used to as a human being. After 15 years of seeing clients, it still amazes me how even in the most messed up situations people can find a way to normalize it so they can cope with it better. In traumatic situations like war or war-torn societies it literally is the only coping strategy that people have to stay alive and not think about how awful and scary their situation is. Its literally the difference between life and death.

The only draw back of that coping strategy is that in one situation it helps you survive…in other situations it is the very thing that will ensure your demise. How is that possible you ask? Simple, a solider’s brain will adapt and turn off many of the emotions that they would normally feel by seeing a dead body or seeing somebody blown up in front of them so they can keep functioning and stay alive. A child in a war torn nation will not react to seeing blood splatters and bullet holes on their streets so they can keep functioning and survive. It works in those environments but what happens when we get used to things that we shouldn’t get used to?

That is the crux of where we are at as a country right now. Emotions can be something that overwhelm us in traumatic situations and need to be turned off so we can survive. But emotions are also a huge warning system to let us know something is not right and the emotion will not go away until we fix the problem. That is where this defense system goes awry because we can get used to anything and by not feeling the emotion we are not outraged and if we are not outraged we don’t care and we don’t do anything about it. Therefore nothing is done and nothing changes and we are okay with things that surely are not okay.

So here we are 30 days into a government shutdown, our country more divided than ever, people hating each other more than ever, families being torn apart from the current state of division, media personalities openly celebrating the illness of a supreme court judge, children being used as pawns by the media and politicians for their own gain (shooting victims, MAGA Hat Boy, immigrants, etc.), victims of crime being de-humanized for political gain, nothing being able to get get done in our government….the list goes on and on.

Things are not good in any way shape or form but like a frog in boiling water or a solider in a war zone…we are somehow okay with all of this. If anything, the media and the political campaigns are actually stoking that intense emotion for their own gain and unleashing against each other for their gain. So instead of being angry at the actual people who are creating the mess, we are directing that anger out on each other where the only people who win is them. Why are we okay with any of this that is going on? Things are so messed up and the collateral damage that I see in my office is just staggering. It makes me so angry that I almost can’t see straight. 

This is why The Reporters exists…its for everyone who is tired of seeing all of the problems of the world and is not okay with it. We are not going to pit people against each other for clicks or viewers…we are uniting us to think for ourselves, see the world for what it is, and direct our energy into taking actions that will be a catalyst for change. 

I think the words of John F Kennedy summarize our mission statement the best: 

We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win, and the others, too.[11]

 

 

 

 

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Re-branding Democrats & Republicans As The Bloods & Crips

Want to know what is wrong with our government right now? Okay there are a ton of things wrong with our government but I want to point out one big one today. When I did crisis intervention work in college I got to work with young gang members when they wanted to get off the streets to lay low for a few days. Each time. I used the opportunity to learn about gang life and why they made the decision to join a gang in addition to why gangs fight the way that they do.

The one constant to gang warfare mentality is that it is an endless game of retribution. They killed one of our guys and now we have to kill two of theirs. They stole one of our cars so now we are going to blow-up one of theirs. It is an endless cycle where each group just focuses on what the last salvo was and using that as reasoning to launch their next one.

Sound familiar at all? It should because that is what our politicians are using as rationale for everything that they do. Just this morning Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell said “Democrats have made a marketing decision to obstruct Trump”…but damn that sounds familiar…where have I heard it before? Oh yeah, remember in 2010 right before you took back control of the house and senate:

John Boehner:  “We’re going to do everything — and I mean everything we can do — to kill it, stop it, slow it down, whatever we can.”

Mitch McConnell summed up his plan to National Journal: “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”

You see, this is the world we live in where everybody has a short memory and we justify what we are doing because they did it to us. Then they act incredulous when the other side is literally doing the same exact thing they did a few years ago. Why do we let them get away with this? We look at the Bloods and the Crips and shake out heads at the violence they ensure on each other and wonder why but then democrats and republicans do the same thing only instead of it being a poor neighborhood being held hostage it is an entire country. The Democrats and Republicans just need to get it over with and change their colors to bloods red and baby blue crips.

 

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The Reporters Op-Ed: Donald Trump Delivers A Oval Office Address

Listen to “The Reporters Op-Ed: Donald Trump Delivers A Oval Office Address” on Spreaker.

 

In case you didn’t hear, President Trump gave his first oval office address to the nation to make his case for why the ends justify the means in shutting down the government to get his borderwall. How did the president do? Well he didn’t even use the term border wall until 7 minutes in to a 11 minute speech so take that for what it is worth. And because it is our first broadcast you get a bogo deal with tonight’s show, you also get to hear what we thought of the double doink twins Chuck and Nancy retort to Trump’s speech. We will give you a hint, it was equally as worthless.

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The New Political Litmus Test: Willing To Look Foolish If Its Best For The Country

You know what is really pissing me off about this shut down? It’s not the fact that the government is shut down…okay I am pissed off about it but why waste a good blog opener right? I am pissed off because I keep hearing something that no elected official should ever say…that being that they or the party would look weak/foolish if they gave in to the side on this border wall debate.

I am not trying to sound naïve here folks and pretend that politics is all about power, leverage, and optics. But have we grown so cynical about our elected officials that we don’t sit back and go wait and damn minute here…we elected you guys to make decisions that are best for this country and here you are saying to the whole fucking world that you can’t make the right decision for the country because it would make your party and yourself look weak?

I mean is anybody else sitting here reading this and going WTF? We can sit here all day long and saying that we are putting “America First” but in what world is putting America first when you would put your own interests and your own parties optics first and make a decision or lack of a decision that puts regular American citizens last?

Can you imagine how our marriages would look if every time we got into an argument with our spouses we never compromised or put aside our pride? Oh wait…I have seen that dynamic in my office right before a couple divorced because when one spouse was unwilling to let go of something because it made them look bad that was the second the marriage was over. We compromise in a healthy marriage and let go of our pride because our goal is to stay married and have a healthy marriage because that is the only option you have.

Its difficult in a marriage when you choose the person that you are with but in congress, it’s an arranged marriage so what makes us think when we don’t even pick the person we are with we don’t have to compromise? That is because the political parties goal isn’t to compromise and work together…its to totally dominant and win all the seats so they can’t compromise. Sounds like we are all the collateral damage of their war doesn’t it?

Maybe we should begin to use a new litmus test with the candidates from both parties? That litmus test should be are they willing to look foolish or make their party look weak if they know it is best for the country? It may not sound like a big deal but if they are willing to do that, maybe they are willing to put aside their civil war for the best of the country and start making decisions again. Because if they aren’t…they have no place seeking elected office

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