Daily Topics - Friday January 11th, 2012

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Hour One: "Brunch With Bernie" - Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) takes your calls


sfpauly's picture
sfpauly 7 years 11 weeks ago

Thanks Thom for having Bernie on today. I called and raised the issue of repealing the 2006 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act which was designed to bankrupt the USPS. It seems that no congressperson has brought up simply repealing that act in order to save the USPS. All solutions put forward are changes to the Service including reducing service. There is a petition on the Whitehouse.gov site that asks President Obama to urge Congress to repeal what began the destruction. It would be great if you could give it a plug in order to boost interest and gain a response from the President. Here's the link: https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/urge-congress-repeal-postal-accountability-and-enhancement-act-2006/nykngcHv

Thanks for doing what you do.

Loyal daily listener since you took the place of Al Franken! (6-years?)

hammerhead954 7 years 11 weeks ago

"I live on a boat and need permission from the coast guard to operate (the boat)" WTF? this is simply untrue! You need to be state registered or federally documented; that's all! There is no ability requirement or USCG licensure required unless you are in the business of carrying passengers.



poorehouse's picture
poorehouse 7 years 11 weeks ago

Thom, you have stated how can a few men with assault rifles would not be able to fight against our tanks and Apache helicopters. When I watch the news and the footage of the war in Afghanistan I always see small amount of men with AKs, grenades and maybe some shoulder ground to air misses taking on the great American War machine. You would think that we (America) should be able to roll in with superior fire power and win that war in days instead of the years, and billions of dollars, that we have been there. It seems to me that Guerilla warfare has stopped modern technology or at lease held it back a number of times.

I would never under estimate a good resourceful man defending his home and family. From what I understand from history is that not what the revolutionary war was about simple men with their hunting rifles going against the superior British army to protect what they thought was right?

tina in colorado 7 years 11 weeks ago

I think in addition to training on how to USE guns an additional REQUIREMENT should be HOW TO STORE them. THE best ways to keep them out of the hands of children and people like Lanza. If they are locked up and/or the ammunition is locked up, it would help to deter. imho

Reed.Young's picture
Reed.Young 7 years 11 weeks ago

There's a question I wanted to ask Senator Sanders, but I couldn't get to the phone in time to hear anything but a busy signal.

It's a difficult question to ask briefly, and while I would like legislation to this effect, I'm really talking about a broad cultural phenomenon which I would like to see and end of, so this forum works better anyway. First, what I would have asked on the air, in briefest possible form: "Senator Sanders, would you introduce legislation to close the unofficial 'incompetence' loophole that has allowed those responsible for destorying half the value on the Dow Jones in 2008, and those responsible for invading Iraq based on false representations of fact, to evade accountability"? Now, to put this question in context, and present my case for such a law.

When a physician harms instead of helping a patient, it is called malpractice and the resulting lawsuit often puts the guilty doctor out of business regardless of whether they were malicious or "just" incompetent. I think this principle should be applied more widely, especially to work that has global ramifications. I think that accepting a paycheck always constitutes a de facto representation of some competence in the field of work for which one is getting paid, and that therefore incompetence is never a defense. When you're being paid to do a job, you're being paid to do it right not to "just do your best" like you're a five-year-old. If you can't do it right, you have no right to any payment for work you're only capable of screwing up. If the people in charge of AIG, Citi, et al, crippled our economy out of incompetence rather than intent, then they are still guilty of fraudulently representating their own competence when undertaking the roles that put them in charge of those institutions, in positions that their incompetence cost trillions of other people's dollars. What matters is not whether their intent was to deprive GM workers who showed up on time every day for decades of their pensions. What matters is that that damage was done, and irresponsibility and incompetence on Wall Street did that damage.

Similarly, widespread acceptance of the narrative that the fallacious WMD in Iraq were products of "faulty intel" (egregious incompetence) rather than (wilfully) falsified intel seems to have been the reason that invasion has not been punished as a crime against humanity. Bush, et al effectively submitted a plea of incompetence to the court of public opinion, and the American public rather willingly accepted it and exonerated them. But to hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis as well as a couple thousand of our own soldiers who died, literally for nothing, it makes absolutely no difference whether they were killed because Bush and his boys are incompetent, or whether they were killed because Bush and his boys concocted a nefarious plot to invade Iraq for oil.

They're dead.

They shouldn't be.

Incompetence is not a valid defense. "It was just a mistake" is a meaningless remark which does nothing to lessen the damage done, nor the recklessness of undertaking responsibilities one is not competent to perform properly. None of us would accept incompetence as an excuse from a physician who injures us, or who harms or kills somebody we love. It is also immoral to accept incompetence as an excuse for disastrous policies that affect millions of people. Those responsible knew when they accepted their jobs that their decisions would affect millions of people. And if they weren't competent to do those jobs right, they knew that, too, but they took the jobs anyway, for the money, the power and the prestige, not any spirit of public service. If they screwed up because they're incompetent, that does not make them innocent. If they screwed up because they're incompetent, then when they took their jobs they knew they weren't competent to do those jobs, and they knew they were putting millions of innocent people at grave risk, and that makes them morally culpable. We must stop letting them off the hook legally.

As I understand criminal law, it may not actually be possible to take intent out of the equation in criminal cases. But in civil law, at least where it concerns financial liability of financial professionals, they are paid so much on the premise that they know what they're doing that incompetence should never be considered a relevant defense, nor even a mitigating factor. When the financial systems of the developed world were thrown into chaos by a few people who are paid millions of dollars to know just one subject, finance, we needn't have fussed about whether they intended to do so before we deprived them of their income. The results clearly show that they were never worthy of their salaries, much less any bonuses, even if they "didn't mean to do it." That's a five-year-old excuse, but it worked! What a world.

The more you're paid, the more that expertise is what you're being paid for, and the less anybody should ever excuse you for fouling up.

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