I am currently in communication with two customers Amazon recently banned and stole $100,000+ of gift card balance from. Yes, these customers may have been receiving kickbacks via Amazon GC to evade income tax, but this money belongs to the IRS, not Amazon. When will it end?
How about FEDERAL ESCHEATMENT of confiscated and stale Internet gift card balances under the interstate commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution? REMOVE the incentive for Amazon to steal gift cards by requiring they turn the funds over rather than padding their stock price.
Federal escheatment will cut red tape for small businesses on the Internet who don’t have the resources to set up a subsidiary in an escheatment-free state and deal with escheating unclaimed gift cards to each customer’s state of residence for customers with addresses on file.
Some people are confused thinking that I boycott Amazon. I shop on Amazon and even invest in their stock. It’s not like I have access to some magical S&P499 index fund that omits Amazon.
Trump throws baseless red meat to his base all the time. Democrats’ can throw red meat too, based wholly in facts.
As the first Green Beret ever elected to Congress, Michael Waltz touts that he fought for you in combat. Now, he fights for our incompetent draft-dodging pussy-grabbing liar-in-chief. Let’s send a message to Michael Waltz to end the bromance with Trump or go down in electoral flames with him!
Disclaimer: Paid for by Richard Thripp for Congress. I am not sure if this disclaimer is required, and didn’t actually pay anything to put this petition on Change.org.
Richard Thripp, Ph.D.
Democratic Candidate for U.S. Congress (FL-06)
Never forget that being a sycophant for Trump automatically gives us the high ground. He lies, cheats, sexually assaults women, takes us to war. His associates are in jail and top-level appointees (Tillerson, Mattis, etc.) resign in disgust or disgrace.
I have always heard that politics is a sleazy business, but I had no idea until doing Web searches on fundraising of how bad the actual situation is. A 2018 Democratic Congressional candidate says that party leadership only has the goal of raising money—the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) will only support candidates who raise $200,000 or even more in a quarter, basically giving the message of “we don’t give a shit who you are, young man. Just show us the money.”
Even worse, if you are successful in winning a Congressional seat, both Republicans and Democrats demand a grueling schedule of “dialing for dollars” where as a freshman Congressman you spend 30+ hours a week in a dank cubicle begging and pandering to donors for money:
Rep. David Jolly: “It is a cult-like boiler room on Capitol Hill where sitting members of Congress, frankly I believe, are compromising the dignity of the office they hold by sitting in these sweatshop phone booths calling people asking them for money. And their only goal is to get $500 or $1,000 or $2,000 out of the person on the other end of the line. It’s shameful. It’s beneath the dignity of the office that our voters in our communities entrust us to serve.”
This work eschews actual legislating. Congressmen are chastised for attending committee hearings, even pertaining to important legislation relevant to their districts, because dialing for dollars takes preeminence. Party leaders even give you a script for each potential donor that includes key background information about their work, political concerns, and even their children’s names, so you can coerce them into donating.
Once you have donated to a politician, it’s sort of like having put in your phone number for a car dealership… you will be bombarded with telemarketing calls from politicians asking for more and more money. They may even be outside your district, or worse, an incumbent presiding over your district with a wink-wink-nudge-nudge that you should donate or face ruination for your small business.
Two days ago, I spoke with Ambassador Nancy Soderberg, the 2018 Democratic candidate for the district I’m running in. She said that money is key and politics is a nasty business. The DCCC set a goal for her of $250,000 in a quarter, which she reached—in fact, she trounced Republican Michael Waltz in fundraising with $3.2 million compared to his $2.0 million, plus $3 million from super political action committees (PACs) funded by Michael Bloomberg. Nevertheless, she lost by a wide margin (56% to 44%). She noted that Trump voters have a Pavlovian response to whatever he says, which rang true for me being that I have fervent Trump-supporting family, used to be a Trump supporter myself, and was born and have lived in Volusia County my whole life, which is a Republican stronghold.
The very schedule of Congress itself is built to enable hours and hours of telemarketing calls. The House only meets for a couple hours a day and adjourns for valuable lunchtime hours so Congressmen can file across the street to dank cubicles to sell their souls to wealthy patrons. Even senators are not immune, although they do most of their calls from their cars and only have to go up for election every 6 years instead of 2.
Politicians are known for “flip-flopping,” but this is not always intentional. They actually know almost nothing about the positions or concerns they endorse, as they are prepared and handed to them by staffers. Their concern is fund-raising, not legislating. The following is from The Huffington Post:
Several members of Congress interviewed for this story said that the time spent fundraising cuts into a wide swath of what could be productive activity.
“It bites into your private life. It bites into your leisure time,” said former Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), who is now being considered for a Senate seat. “You shouldn’t only do what you have to do, you should be able to read. … It cuts into time members spend with each other.”
“Any member who follows that schedule will be completely controlled by their staff, handed statements that their staff prepared, speaking from talking points they get emailed from leadership,” said Miller. “They certainly are going to be asking questions to witnesses at hearings that their staff suggested. If they offer an amendment it will be something that leadership suggested they offer … to try to give them a little boost back home.”
Working a schedule like that as a freshman teaches a member of Congress about the institution’s priorities. “It really does affect how members of Congress behave if the most important thing they think about is fundraising,” Miller said. “You end up being nice to people that probably somebody needs to be questioning skeptically. It’s a fairly disturbing suggested schedule. You won’t ask tough questions in hearings that might displease potential contributors, won’t support amendments that might anger them, will tend to vote the way contributors want you to vote.”
Pressure to raise money is intensified by the requirement that members of Congress pay dues to their respective parties. The dues structure varies based on seniority and committee assignments — the more exclusive of which can carry a hefty price tag. The quality of a committee assignment is directly related to the amount of dues owed, as black-and-white an admission of the connection between fundraising and policy outcomes as can be found.
I will not dial for dollars. Not for my campaign, and not if elected to Congress. Although I already knew new Congressmen have little legislative power without important connections and committee standing, I had naïvely thought it was related to a combination of tenure and expertise. In truth, committee appointments are dangled like carrots to House members who can bring in the most money dialing for dollars. Therefore, if elected I will have little luck influencing legislation on my key issues. However, I can still do useful work as a liaison between federal entities for my constituents, and of course members of Congress get an annual budget of nearly $1 million to hire staff and rent office space toward these ends.
Although I will not be popular among party leadership in my district or in Congress if elected, currently, there is basically no other Democrat running against incumbent Michael Waltz and we are actually already very late in the season. I will continue my campaign free of DCCC support or coercive soul-sucking efforts to fundraise, focusing on visiting local Democratic clubs and caucuses to spread my message. It is not even clear that money always translates into votes, given that Ambassador Soderberg’s money did not, although this may be also a function of the political culture among voters in this district. However, 2020 is a brave and scary time. For all we know, Michael Waltz might be engulfed in a scandal or decide he is tired of “banging his head against the wall” as Republican Congressman-turned-governor Ron Desantis did, or the dumpster fire that is Donald Trump might grow into an all-encompassing conflagration that destroys the Republican party.
If you would like to support me, instead of high-pressure sales pitches pandering to wealthy donors who are destroying the planet, I will only solicit donations to interested parties at in-person events (if any) and via online donations on ActBlue, the same platform Bernie Sanders uses for his grassroots support. Click here if you would like to make a donation.
Here is a bit more about me in response to the Ballotpedia Survey. The survey is quite long, so this is just Part 1. I will complete it later this week.
Hi, my name is Richard Thripp. This is my son, Ricky. I’m a teacher educator at University of Central Florida teaching technology and I studied financial literacy among future teachers. I’m running for Congress in Florida’s 6th district as a progressive Democrat. I think we need a change in government. What we’re seeing now is unbelievable. We have basically seen every promise that Trump has allegedly made be torn down again and again. Now, they’re actually coming for your Social Security and your Medicare benefits, even though you spent your whole life paying into them, as many seniors have in the 6th district. This district has an incumbent Republican who is not a good guy at all. He comes out and he says things that are just unbelievable, [but] it’s [a district] we can WIN. I think we’re going to see that all over the country—what you saw in 2018 [blue wave in the U.S. House]—we’re going to make it even bigger this time, and we’re going to restore the government to what it should be: Working for the people, instead of the special interests and the wealthy corporations that are receiving the largest tax giveaways in modern history. Thank you, and please pitch in if you can, and as we get closer to the primary and general election, we’ll be building a movement with volunteers and possibly even staff. Thank you.
Who are you? Tell us about yourself in 200 words or less.
I am a teacher educator and recent graduate of the University of Central Florida where I studied the financial knowledge of future teachers for my dissertation. I’m 28 years old, a husband, father to a 10-month-old boy, and born and raised in Daytona Beach. I was formerly Republican as both of my parents are fervent Trump supporters, but became increasingly outraged by the terrible policies and attitudes we are seeing, as well as more understanding of the climate crisis, economic inequity, and issues of discrimination. My purpose in running for Florida’s 6th Congressional district is to get these important messages out there, mobilize the Democratic base in order to win the race, and to support whomever is the Democratic nominee for president in order to put the brakes on what will be seen as a dark chapter in American history. In Congress, I will fight corporate and special interests and advocate for the 99% on a host of issues.
Key Messages (Top 3)
Addressing the Climate Crisis
Restoring Congressional Authority
Strengthening the Affordable Care Act
What areas of public policy are you personally passionate about?
Most prominently the climate crisis, as we need to address this with legislative action. My support of the Green New Deal has already been heavily criticized, but what we have now is actually a cash grab for polluting corporations. Emissions that are not regulated or taxed are a subsidy. We don’t necessarily need carbon taxes, but just that polluters be required to take actions to be net carbon neutral. Of course, much of human activity now would be unprofitable if not for kicking the can down the road, and would have to be curtailed. My district just had a huge near-miss from Hurricane Dorian, the rapid intensification of which was fueled by hot ocean waters from the human-caused climate crisis. We know from scientific evidence that the increase from 0.03% to 0.04% of atmospheric CO2 is of HUGE consequence (even though it sounds small), and methane from fracking is a big problem too. Congress needs young people like me who will take leadership rather than bribes on this issue. As a father of a 10-month-old boy, I owe it to him to take action.
Addressing wealth inequity is another big problem. What we have now is like feudal times, and this is no accident (Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 2010). The Republicans’ Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 went straight to the wealthy, and is the greatest robbery in the history of our country. Just empowering the IRS with resources to enforce EXISTING tax laws against the wealthy would make a huge difference.
What is your campaign slogan?
I Once Was a Republican, But Now I Know Better
What was your very first job? How long did you have it?
As a teenager, my father illegally employed me for his under-the-table business cleaning kitchen exhaust systems in restaurants within the same Congressional district I am seeking election to. I would spray caustic chemicals to remove grease, clean grease traps, scrape dried and encrusted grease off filters, and go on the roof to secure and clean the fan unit.
As a 15-year old, my first legitimate paid employment was as a student worker at the Holly Hill Public Library (unfortunately, no longer exists). I helped many people with computers and technology including learning new skills, finding jobs, and I even taught a computer class to seniors consisting of three two-hour lessons.
What is the first historical event that happened in your lifetime that you remember? How old were you at the time?
As a 6-year-old I found the 1998 Florida wildfires terrifying. My father rigged up a pump to our swimming pool to hose down the tar-and-gravel roof on our 1958-built house as flaming embers rained down in our yard. The fires we now see in California and Australia are far worse, due to the climate crisis. The fossil-fuel funded Republicans and Labor Party cover their eyes, ears, and noses.
Who do you look up to? Whose example would you like to follow, and why?
As a financial educator I look up to Dr. Annamaria Lusardi for her leadership, research, and advocacy for financial literacy. We need strong financial education coupled with effective regulation that prevents Americans from being fleeced by predatory or misleading financial products and practices. Among politicians I look up to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for breaking the mould and showing that young people can attain higher office and make a (positive) difference. Claims of a socialist, welfare agenda are overstated. What we have now is plutocratic oligarchical welfare for privileged wealthy elites. I do advocate individuals like myself capturing a portion of this wealth through long-term investing in the stock market such as an S&P 500 index fund. Unfortunately, only about 50% of Americans actually do this, and for those who do it’s limited to retirement accounts. Just because the stock market is up does not mean the typical American benefits.
It is difficult for me to explain why I decided to live with my father until age 26. He definitely wanted me there, but it was a bit like how victims of emotional abuse or domestic violence often do not flee, even when they have the opportunity to. Although never politically active until now, I am a former Republican who now knows better. Republicans talk of the “silent majority” who are for Trump, but don’t speak out because they don’t want the attention or ridicule. But, I think many young people share the experience of being ridiculed by parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, bosses, even friends—for not supporting Trump. My mother is also a fervent Trump supporter and part of the religious right, and both of my parents believe in Pizzagate and a host of other insanity. I believe there is an often-silent majority that is baffled and appalled at what is going on in our country.
For me, the turning point in my switch to the Democratic party came in March 2019, which I realize is profoundly and embarrassingly late. In politics, people who change their minds about something are branded as liars, flip-floppers, and all other manner of insults. In education, however, most definitions of learning center around change. If you condemn people for changing their beliefs, you may as well say that education is pointless.
In June 2018 as Kristy and I found out she was pregnant, my parents both launched an onslaught of anti-vaccination messages, warnings, and threats. As a graduate student at University of Central Florida, it was always difficult to reconcile what I learned from my professors, peers, and research with what my parents were telling me. However, becoming a parent myself was different—I was now being not asked, but commanded to willfully endanger the life of my son and others by refusing vaccines. I turned to the academic literature to find the truth, and was also fortunate to be supported by Kristy, who was already a Democrat and pro-vaccine. My parents continued to tell me not to listen to the research—that it is funded by Bill Gates who just wants to kill and maim as many people as he can with vaccines, and by the Illuminati whose mission is purportedly trickery, mass murder, and keeping the “sheeple” trusting and stupid.
Kristy left it to me whether to invite my father to the hospital, and in hindsight I was so foolish. While my wife was in labor, my father was screaming at doctors and nurses outside the maternity ward about how they are poisoning and killing people with flu shots. He has the unusual distinction of having a criminal record and jail time only for direct criminal contempt of court (which is another caper in and of itself), so I worried that he would be arrested or worse, tased or shot for fighting back. I conspired with our midwife and nurses to administer the Hepatitis B vaccination and pretend we only had the vitamin K shot, which even by itself was objectionable, but to a lesser extent. We were quite tired three days later leaving the hospital, so I had my father meet us when we arrived home, ostensibly to watch the baby so we could sleep. Instead, he pressed me into admitting we vaccinated Baby Ricky, launching an hour-long tirade ending with him saying he never wanted to see any of us again. That was the last conversation (if you can call it that) we had. He never even held his only grandchild. A week later, I changed my voter registration.
It didn’t matter that under two months later, Trump came out saying “they have to get the shots.” Trump’s followers have blinders on. They ignore or explain away any of his actions they don’t agree with, thinking he is their friend and is continually persecuted by the “deep state.” They chant “lock her up” even while Hillary Clinton roams free; meanwhile many of Donald Trump’s associates are now felons convicted by juries of their peers convened by his Justice department. George H. W. Bush and son were blood-drinking child-raping Satanists, but somehow Donald Trump is righteous and pure. (Yes, I am aware of Dinesh D’Souza’s argument that courts railroad defendants and that taking a guilty plea shouldn’t be seen as an admission of guilt because going to trial is so dangerous for defendants. I’ve listened to more Alex Jones than anyone should, and I know many of the alt-right’s talking points better than they do themselves.)
As a child I was told I received less than half of the vaccines, and I would have received none if only the Internet was available to my father in the 1990s. In August 2018, Kristy and I took the efforts of getting our vaccine records, where I found this was false—I had all the vaccines except two booster shots. I then received the TDaP, MMR Part 2, and 6-month series of 3 HPV vaccines prior to our son’s birth, with no ill effects. Later, I was told by my parents that this was meaningless because an infant is far different, smaller, and more developmentally fragile than a fully grown adult. Frequently, I run into children who had their vaccines yet don’t have autism. It just doesn’t matter. Faith trumps facts, and humans are wired this way. Using reason and science is like trying to turn the tide of an ocean.
I’m a pessimist, geared to focus on the negatives. I could get 1,000 supportive messages but I will hone in on the few that will call me a hypocrite, a liar, a weak person, a shill, or a moron for posting this. I have a lot more I could write, and I will write it all eventually, but this will do for now. I know there are countless other untold stories like mine, and many do not have the luxury of broadcasting them like this. You can’t really speak out if your partner, parent, boss, or others controls the roof over your head, the purse strings, or emotionally and physically abuses and manipulates you. In the end, you have to work through it and endeavor to treat others better, such as I hope to treat my son as compared with how my father treated me and compared with how his father treated him. For a time, you may even be bamboozled into oppressing others as part of such a regime, and although such actions are not excused, that does not mean that learning, changing, apologizing, forgiving, and becoming a better person is a fruitless exercise. This is why I am now a Democrat.