Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Revolution of The Stupid

As the election of 2010 nears, it seems that we are not going to come to our senses. The thing that will save us, or at least help, a dose of socialism and reality, will not happen, and we will blunder along in a Right-Wing fog for a while. Rather than read or "go find" the truth, the Right-Wing would rather pontificate their demagoguery. There are a few points in the Congressional Budget Office's (CBO) Economic Outlook, that they really need to read, but it doesn't look likely that they will. But, here are the points anyway, just in case a Right-Winger, or someone that likes them, happens to read this blog:

1. "The economic recovery will take time because it will take time for the consumer to rebuild their wealth, for financial institutions to restore their capital basis, and for non-financial firms to regain confidence to invest in new plant and equipment." This trifecta creates a catch-22; any single one won't happen until the other does.

2. The CBO's projection, based on current law and the political popularity (i.e., the Tea Party) and unlikely chance of a "stimulus and the scheduled increases in taxes (resulting from the expiration of previous [Bush] tax cuts) will temporarily subtract from [economic] growth, especially in 2011." The "increase in taxes" the CBO is talking about is the tax increase to the middle class, not the rich. Why does "that" tax increase "subtract from economic growth?" Because the middle class, who is the "consumer," will not be able to "rebuild wealth" to become a consumer again until the middle class can spend more of what it earns. Read this again, please. And, in the real world, all economic growth stems from the consumer. Companies will not grow until someone buys their products, and companies will not invest in new plants and equipment until they can grow. Banks will not rebuild their capital basis until the consumer puts money in the banks, and consumers can't do that until they have money. Pretty simple, isn't it? You don't need a degree to figure that out. Even CEOs should be able to see that a healthy, wealthy middle class is good for them, better in fact than those outrageous bonuses or tax cuts.

In the meantime, while the popular Right-Wing movement is up in arms and shouting "NO" to any stimulus, the latest report on the average wages in America says that wages are going down, (AGAIN! - THIRTY STRAIGHT YEARS!), to about $505 per week for the average American worker! AND, that same report says that the wealthy increased their income BY FIVE TIMES in 2008 and 3.2 times, yet again, in 2009. So, to any Right-Winger who's reading this, I ask you: How the hell does the consumer buy something when they make only $505 a week? The answer is they don't - unless they get that credit card out again, which would be insane AT 19% INTEREST. By the way Mr. Banker, you borrow money at 0.25% interest and loan it at 19% interest. That's called USURY. And, if the rich are going to buy up all of the products companies need to sell to get the economy running again, they'd better start buying. The trouble is, though, that they don't have enough warehouse space to put it all.

But, what does the CBO say to do? What can we do to get the "the biggest bang for the taxpayer buck?" Here it is:

1. "A temporary increase in aid to the unemployed would have the largest effect on the economy per dollar of budgetary cost." We all should remember what happened to the Senate Bill that would have extended payments to the unemployed. A Republican Senator from Kentucky stonewalled that and every last Republican Senator obstructed the bill. The Party of "No" struck again. And then they blamed Obama! Go figure! (An aside: The Party of "No" has no bounds. It even stonewalled aid to Haiti which now has an outbreak of Cholera and needs the aid, and the Cholera could, by the way, spread outside of Haiti. Ah well, it must be compassionate conservatism. Or just stupidity. I prefer the latter.)

2. Temporarily reduce employer payroll taxes, so they can hire more people. But, instead of doing that, Republicans are determined to reduce the "income tax" of the rich. There's a difference between "payroll taxes" and "income taxes." The rich don't use an income tax cut to hire more people. They would hire more people if their company's "payroll tax" was temporarily reduced.

The list went on, but each subsequent item had less effect on the economy and more effect on the deficit. Finally, the report said that "extending the [Bush] tax cut permanently" would cause an unsustainable budget deficit unless other "very, very deep" budget cuts were not done. So, whose ideas would be best for America? Democratic ideas? Or, Republican ideas? Read on...

First, however, we have to answer a question: Where did the deficit REALLY come from? The Tea Party and Republicans claim the deficit is Obama's spending on TARP and stimulus; they claim it was the $800 billion TARP (the amount varies depending on who is talking) and the $800 billion stimulus (I have no idea where they get that figure). Their claims are laughable. The TARP is actually making money at a whopping 8.5% return. As for the $800 stimulus, there never was a stimulus of that amount. I wish there was one at that amount. Perhaps unemployment wouldn't be so high if there was a stimulus of that size. But, no. The actual stimulus was probably less than $100 billion, a piddly amount. In fact, the money made from the TARP more than paid for the stimulus. So, where DID the deficit come from?

Our deficit came from primarily two Bush policies: 1) the tax cut he implemented in 2001 which cost the U.S. Government $700 billion over five years, and 2) the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, which have cost the government $3 Trillion dollars to date and growing. But, alas, this falls on deaf (and dumb) ears.

So, whose ideas are best? Democrat candidates seem to be focused on these ideas, albeit that some "blue-dogs" try to distance themselves from ideas that they think are too far left:

1. Extend unemployment payments.
2. Stimulate the economy for the short term and reduce the deficit later after the economy rebounds, including stimulus to states that are in deep budget trouble.
3. Extend, at least temporarily, the tax cut to the middle class, which would "redistribute" the wealth back to the middle class and give the consumer more money to spend, which would in turn stimulate the economy. This, however, is a socialist idea. Even Republics, like the United States, have socialist programs that support the society whether you like the word or not.
4. Let the tax cut to the rich expire, which would decrease the budget deficit by $40 billion a year (the top two percent of the population got one-third of the Bush tax cut).
5. Support public education by increasing funding to public schools.
6. Provide a "public option" healthcare solution, which would drastically reduce the cost of healthcare insurance that consumers (you and I) and the government (taxpayer) pays for healthcare. This, too, falls on deaf ears.

In light of the CBO report, these all seem to make sense to me. In light of EVERYTHING I read, and it's a lot, all of these things make a tremendous amount of sense to me. If I had my way, however, I would not do step 3, above. I would NOT extend ANY tax cut. After all, we (Americans) didn't raise much of a fuss when Bush started us down this road, so we should now pay the piper. In fact, we let Bush off scott free, and ironically he thinks his "only" mistake was not privatizing Social Security. He's on a different planet.

So are the Tea Party and the Republicans candidates. Here is a list of ideas Tea Party and Republican candidates are focusing on:

1. Eliminate the U. S. Government Department of Education. Since Republicans can't seem to get off of the "Charter School" kick, which is privatizing our school system and making each school a business (there's lots of money in charter schools, especially when the taxpayer pays for it), I guess all of our public schools would simply die away to be replaced by charter schools that we would pay for through local taxes. Watch your taxes go up then! But, instead of paying them to the U.S. Government, you would pay them to your city or county.
2. Eliminate or modify the First Amendment to the Constitution so that Congress can make laws regarding religion, presumably to outlaw Muslims, and perhaps Buddhists, Hindus, Catholics, Judaism and whatever other religion it deems unsuitable, and so public schools, if any are left, can teach creationism in science classes. With step 1, above, they can teach anything they want in a private, charter school. I would rather my child go to a public school, if any are left.
3. Remove the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution so that we can deprive life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness to those born in the United States to parents of non-citizens, even when those non-citizens are here legally whether on a path of citizenship or not.
4. Remove the Seventeenth Amendment to the Constitution so that the people of a state cannot elect the senators that represent them. This could mean that a state can have more than two senators appointed by someone. Maybe the state Governor would appoint them, or perhaps the President would appoint them, or maybe the political party in power in the Senate at the time would select a state's senator, say a friend. It could also mean that a senator could be bought by corporations or Wall Street.
5. Eliminate or privatize Social Security. According to Sharon Angle and Rand Paul, the Social Security program is a socialist program and is unconstitutional. What's your grandma going to do then? Eat dog food or die, or both, I guess. Well, they're right on one thing. It is a socialist idea. Try living without it.
6. Eliminate the Internal Revenue Service and all income taxes. This too, according to the candidates, is unconstitutional, even though the Constitution says Congress can assess taxes (Article I).
7. Stop funding the Supreme Court and eliminate the Justice Department. Make all laws in Congress and have no court system for anyone to redress injustices. Whew! Article III of the Constitution creates the Judiciary. I have no idea how we are going to process criminals into jail once that happens. Maybe we won't need to. Maybe that the sheriff thinks your guilty is all we need. Maybe he can just invade your home, arrest you and send you off to prison and you disappear from the Earth is all we need to do.

Have I said enough? There's more along the lines of the above, but my God, isn't that enough for us to figure out that we don't want these people running this country? But, there is every indication that the House of Representatives will be governed by the people who have the above Republican ideas. And, if the Senate goes too, we are in trouble. Every idea that we call an American value is up for grabs. Our Constitution is threatened like no other time in history.

My real problem is that I personally know people who support the candidates with those ideas, in spite of any argument given that they are wrong, brainwashed and misguided. The other day, I noticed that someone "liked", one of the most extreme Right-Wing political "super-PACs" out there. One would think that the association would be repulsive to everyone. supports the most extreme skin-heads, neo-Nazis, conspiratorial, group of websites and groups in the nation. Its list of links "for further reading" is offensive to any person who loves America. It is also supported by corporate money, the Chamber of Commerce, the Koch Brothers, and others who are trying to buy the November election. I would like to think and hope that they didn't understand or know when they clicked that "like" button who they were really associating with. I hope that they don't know that is one of the most un-American websites in this election, against every American value they claim to support. I hope, because any other conclusion is unthinkable.

The other problem I have is an upcoming reunion next July. What will I do when I hear a comment that I am going to have to respond to? A comment that supports the list of un-American ideas above? What if I hear a bigoted comment? A comment against the Muslim mosque, which should be built because it is a Constitutional right whether they like it or not? Will I hear the term "rag head?" The "n" word? A "those Wet Backs" slur? Something that is offensive to me as well as my mixed-raced family? A slip of the tongue, said without thinking,, but never-the-less expressing the true mind? What would I be expected to do? Keep silent? I expect to hear one, or more slurs, rumor and innuendo, lies and half-truths. Should I put my family through that? Will being there and listening to it affect them? Likely. How will I explain such comments to my grandkids? Some would tell me to keep silent, to let it pass, but the fact is that I'm tired of the demagoguery, slurs, rumors, innuendo, ignorance and bigotry. The fact is that we need to speak up against this ignorance, or else we get more Sarah Palins and Sharon Angles and Michele Backmans. If I do respond, will I be able to keep calm about it or will I lose my temper? Will it split friendships forever? More than likely... Should I go at all?


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