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THESE ARE OUR SAVIORS? SPARE US!

THESE ARE OUR SAVIORS? SPARE US!

It is interesting that people who hate government are so desperate to be involved in its epicenter. Thus we have Bennett of Utah and now Lugar of Indiana who are insufficiently right wing to cut the mustard, and must go – and have gone.

 Apparently the rationale of the far right wing is to get into government so that they can destroy it. There seems to be an attitude that government is inherently bad and that we must follow the constitution in order to defray its excesses, real or imagined. This view is the opposite of the view of the Founders who wrote the constitution and considered government to be a noble exercise of representative democracy, the central thread/rationale for having a government in the first place.

I am of the opinion that a lot of the line we hear from the right is false by design; that they care little of the real issues of the day (unemployment, international trade issues, the environment etc.), but use them very cynically for the purpose of effectuating their real design, which is to make the rich and corporate class richer with a view toward a form of a latter day feudalist state in which we are the vassals and corporations are (effectively) the state. I have blogged on this topic a couple of times to this effect.

Methodologies to make this happen include privatization efforts (designed to make profits and remove public control over public matters such as education, social security and other now government programs where lots of money is there for the taking). It is important in such a scheme of things that all such programs subject to privatization be trashed by pre-takeover propaganda about how  cost ineffective and un-American they are, how government cannot do anything right, and how private enterprise can come in on the white horse and save the day.

There are those of us who disagree with this cozy assessment; we have seen the bankrupt prone Trumps, Gilded Age trusts, the Enrons, Madoffs et al. and have witnessed firsthand the performances of those on the white horses in our recent bailouts of these intrepid horsemen, who never met an asset that could not be securitized.

These are our saviors? Spare us!

It appears that the role of government should properly be to bail out the rich but leave the poor and the veterans under the bridge in the far right wing’s philosophy of government. It seems to me that if the only real purpose of government is to serve as a blocking back for the rich ball carrier to make money, whatever the pretense and propaganda, then it is time to cancel the game. I, for one do not wish to participate in such a phony excuse for government, where money capital writes and enforces the rules ranging from sexual mores to the air we breathe. There are numerous and better options, and all involve an active engagement of the citizenry and a refusal to sell our public wealth and our futures as serfs serving a corporate culture.

 We should show corporate privatizers the gate and proceed to flesh out our own futures (financed in part by more equitable taxation rates – the latest outrage being that GE has paid an annualized rate of only 2.3% on its billions in profits over the last decade, a far less rate than many pay who are on food stamps)! Such disparities in financing America (among other things) must cease – now!  GERALD E

BIG BROTHER AND REPUBLICANS

Professor Kennedy in her recent blog quotes from the latest book of Rick Wilson, a long time Republican strategist who is highly critical of Trump. I responded to her effort, slightly edited, as follows.

The latest proposed Trump initiative came out yesterday when he openly advocated better means of bribing foreigners via relaxation of rules and regs in such connection. I responded with a why stop there piece, suggesting that we also repeal laws against murder, rape, larceny etc. in order to have a comprehensive approach and thus a speedy end of human civilization.

Trump is far more than a domestic disaster. Look at what his cheerleading of dictators around the globe has netted us (either as new grabs or doubling down on old ones) such as Hungary, Turkey, Egypt, Brazil, China, not to mention already long existing dictatorships such as Russia (where Putin has just a few days ago orchestrated the “resignation” of Russia’s legislature in favor of his emperor for life status – a move which gives us a view of what our country would look like without an enforced Separation of Powers Clause in our Constitution, a constitution Trump would love to destroy in some 1984 fashion while assuming Big Brother status).

To those who may think I am overreacting, that it’s not THAT bad  > That’s what the Good Germans thought in 1933 when Hitler was power grabbing.  Trump has to go, not only for our benefit, but for the benefit of humanity everywhere. Next week we will see whether Republican politicians have the intestinal fortitude to do their constitutional duty or whether they are going to pretend that the disaster we are now experiencing in real time is merely an everyday political matter of Us v. Them, when the real deal is dictatorship v. democracy, and if they are successful they will have themselves committed political suicide. Big Brothers, speaking of Separation of Powers, don’t have legislatures, and no powers to separate since they hold all power. It’s called dictatorship.       GERALD          E

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TRUMP AND PROJECTION

Professor Kennedy in her blog today discusses how Trump, Christian evangelicals and others use projection to explain themselves and deflect fault, noting that in psychology, “projection” means accusing someone else of a flaw or negative characteristic that you yourself exhibit. I responded to her blog, slightly edited, as follows:

Trump is good at projection of his shortcomings on others along with variations of that tool to deflect fault, like when someone asked him about his sexual aberrations and he answered: “Look what Bill did!” This instant change of subject via projection fits in well with his unbroken record as a terminal narcissist of never having admitted fault  for his rejection of norms he expects others to heed, since from his third grade developmental level the perfection he enjoys in his narcissistic Otherworld cannot be improved upon – so why should he answer to anybody for anything? When the heat’s on, blame it on the other guy and thus cleanse oneself while trashing the “other guy.” Works out.

Truth be told, he has simply never grown up and has never been held accountable for his misdeeds, and when someone tries to pin one on him he immediately resorts to projection and other deflection devices – devices that allow him to escape responsibility while taking a swipe at someone he doesn’t like or who stands in his way of making money or who prick his massive ego or who fail to give him adequate praise.

He is a child north of the neck, developmentally speaking, and we need to bring him into the real world by, figuratively speaking, making him stand in the corner and/or go to his room.         GERALD             E

THE YOKE OF ECONOMIC INEQUALITY

Professor Kennedy in her blog today floated the idea of adoption of a UBI (Universal Basic Income), an idea one of the Democratic candidates for president extols. It amounts to having the government send a monthly check in a sum certain to its citizens as a means of reducing wage and wealth inequality, which is worse today than it has ever been in recorded history.  I responded to her effort, slightly edited, as follows.

The Supreme Court finally decided a tax on income was constitutional after all and it went into effect in 1913, advertised as a progressive tax in which the more you made the more you paid, but that was before tax counsel and lobbyists for vested interests got their hands on loopholes and made a mockery of the idea of a progressive tax (e.g., I paid more taxes than Boeing last year and I did not, as Boeing did, have eleven billion dollars in profit).

With Chapter 11 which authorizes a bankruptcy court to void labor agreements between corporations and their workers, among other things, the bankruptcy code, like the IRC, is in great need of reform and I have been writing as an advocate for reform of these two codes for years, but to no avail. Could corporate campaign contributions have anything to do with how these codes are fashioned, maintained and expanded? Nah, perish the thought!

Verizon joined Boeing with a huge profit last year but with no tax liability along with several other major corporations who paid nothing in taxes as well as yet others who paid minimal amounts into the pot. Indeed corporate taxes on an average of 11.3 percent were lower than the average percentage paid by middle class taxpayers last year! If our IRC were truly progressive, many billions of dollars would be available to us to do UBIs, infrastructure, healthcare, tuition forgiveness etc., and if a wealth tax as Warren suggests and which renowned economists such as Piketty and Stiglitz favor were added to such a mix of reforms, the billions would in time morph into trillions, which would enable us, along with other positive initiatives, to catch up with China and Japan with their bullet trains and other infrastructure improvements that efficiently move goods and people while our urban areas are clogged and odorous with 20th century modes of transport.

Unleashed from debtor’s prison, so to speak, college graduates and dropouts whose lives are on hold while they deal with tuition debt could marry, have babies, buy houses, and in general significantly increase aggregate demand, the nearly sole arbiter of economic growth, and with the millions of new jobs created by this hump in aggregate demand the stage is set for the return of union representation and an end to a ridiculous minimum wage which recently celebrated (?) its 10th birthday since it was last raised. No wonder the S & P and Dow are at historic highs what with the theft of wages that the corporations whose performance they supposedly measure have enjoyed with such growth in large part coming from theft of decent wages that should have been paid to their workers, a major factor in today’s pitchfork-ready wage inequality crisis.

I could go on and on but I’ll end this rambling narrative as follows: I agree 100 percent with Professor Kennedy’s version of the crying need for us to have a fairer distribution of the wealth and income our economy produces, an economy in which all of us as stakeholders fully participate and not one owned lock, stock and barrel by mere Walll Street financiers of various projects that make up our economy – and I use the word “our” advisedly – it doesn’t belong to any other stakeholder irrespective of incessant propaganda drumbeats from the WSJ and others to the contrary. It’s our economy and as stakeholders and consumers without which there would be no economy at all we should have a major say in how it is to be conducted and a seat at the table in how its fruits are to be distributed.

As to adoption of  UBI, that is one of several means with which we can fight the worsening wage and wealth inequality the vast majority of us are enduring. Other means include single payer healthcare, cost-free tuition etc. Socialism? Hardly. It’s called fair play, something in short supply in today’s sea of greed and misinformation (aka propaganda), so let’s end this crisis in wage and wealth equality the first Tuesday of next November.     GERALD          E

CIVIC EDUCATION AND DEMOCRACY

Professor Kennedy in a recent blog lamented the loss of civil literacy among those who vote for Trump, a lament I share (at the cost of being labelled an elitist).  I responded to her blog, slightly edited, as follows.

Perhaps inadvertently, the First Amendment has given us the opportunity to personally decide to be dumb, to ourselves decide what is “truth” and subject our voting habits to whatever we want to believe irrespective of fact, especially scientific fact that has stood the test of replication. Thus, for instance, the idea of a Chinese hoax rather than global warming from the bully pulpit of a sick man is acceptable, since the idea of global warming as reality is fake news generated by elitist socialists who hate the fossil fuel industry and business in general. Big Brother (the sickie in the pulpit) will tell you to disbelieve what you can see and hear and read in favor of what he has decreed, as Smith ultimately learned to do in Orwell’s 1984.

Some of my fellow contributors today have suggested some form of commission to define and oversee what is true and what is not. Any such attempt, of course, would confirm in the eyes of the hoax believers that those pretending to bring truth to the fore are themselves Big Brother types, and I think any such attempt would have rough sledding in the Supreme Court given the language of the First Amendment and decided cases in any event.

It is going to take time and patience to come up with a civically informed citizenry, if ever we are to have one, and I think we are stuck till then with our present state of civic illiteracy and have no alternative other than to emphasize civic education in our schools  in order to prepare them in how to navigate this sea of economic and political misinformation surrounding us, and not just to inform their voting behavior; our democracy (or what is left of it) may depend upon our success in ending civic illiteracy.         GERALD           E

WHY TAX ABATEMENTS?

WHY TAX ABATEMENTS ?

 

Professor Kennedy in a recent blog joined many other doubters of the policy of city and even state politicians in giving tax abatements and other goodies to corporations to have the latter locate in their areas under the guise of increasing employment and other positive economic activity, citing, among others, the recent Amazon brouhaha with New York (as though this moneymaker needed such help). I chimed in with my response to her observations, slightly edited, as follows.

From a national rather than a local or statewide point of view, whether such moves are beneficial to the national economy in large part depend upon whether it is a move of an old business or if it is the establishment of a new business. If a new business with new hires one can argue that it is good from such standpoint, though even here such a new business will be partly if indirectly funded by its taxpaying competitors already there in addition to taxpaying citizens who are told their tax money is going toward police and fire protection, filling in chuckholes etc., not to corporations who may be choosing a location and looking for the best deal from local politicians with their (the taxpayers’) money. (See Amazon-New York.] Occasional cases of bribery in selection of recipients doesn’t and shouldn’t help public approval of such policies. Political intervention such as that by Trump and Pence in the Carrier move to and fro from Indiana and Mexico was a disaster as well.

If, on the other hand, it is an existing corporation with relocation plans that truly depend upon the largesse of the city or state, then from the standpoint of its effect on the national economy nothing changes inasmuch as the new jobs promised are offset by the jobs lost if they do in fact relocate, and even here there may be fewer jobs for the new locals if such corporations bring along workers from the old location, not to mention the possible positioning of labor-saving AI in the new corporate digs.

So what advantages accrue to the members of the community in return for their tax giveaway to relocating corporations? There will, of course, be an increase in traffic, crime, carbon monoxide and other and usual negative conditions associated with increasing urban congestion, and if the taxes paid by the relocated corporation and its new employees do not cover the costs of such negatives, then presumably taxes will have to be raised on general taxpayers (including the relocated corporation’s competitors) and community members who have no skin in the game in order to maintain the level of services as before to pay for police and fire protection, filling in chuckholes etc.

I have written on this topic before and have concluded that we have this arrangement reversed; that it is the corporations who wish to either locate or relocate who should approach the community, hat in hand, for permission to come to town. Bad for business? A loss of income to the community? Try to sell that to the vast majority of the town’s taxpaying residents who gain nothing but grief via such policies often accompanied by higher taxes and other negatives. What price “growth?”      GERALD         E

POLITICAL PERFECTION?

POLITICAL PERFECTION?

Perfection is a an idea, a concept, and was never intended to signify reality in the human experience. This is especially true with politics, given the many and varied interests of those who make up political parties, and by what standards shall we even define “perfection,” a rather hazy notion in and of itself? Neither of our major political parties can honestly claim to be perfect given the myriad of varied interests our parties must represent, including my party, but we can strive to be.

Thus today a member of my Democratic party wrote that Hillary was a poor candidate for the 2016 election, that Republicans did a better job on the campaign trail by keeping it simple etc. He, though a Democrat and anti-Trump, made a rather harsh appraisal of our political means and methods. I thought he went too far, and responded, slightly edited, as follows.

I disagree. Trump’s opponent, after all, gathered in millions of more votes than Trump, and she was qualified by education and experience as First Lady, senator, and Secretary of State for the  “job” (as Truman called it), and let’s not forget that she graduated first in her class from Yale law – no mean feat.

Yes, we have civics problems rife among the masses, and yes, we Democrats could do a better job with more plainly stated language in just what we expect to do if elected, like more Warren and less Bloomberg, but Trump was elected with the help of Putin, the rich and corporate class, and an electoral artifact in our Constitution. Hillary “won,” but she was not “elected.” Our election was stolen; the result did not reflect the will of the majority.

Bickering among ourselves in a blame game is one of the surest ways to reelect Trump. The way to beat him is to get the some 90 million people who didn’t vote last time to the polls and to make the trip ourselves via an overwhelming turnout.

To wax personal > As a WW II vet, the upcoming election probably represents a last hurrah of sorts for me, so I am going to Belize for a week come January 27 (having already checked out Kamloops in Canada) to check out the digs there for an ex-pat residence in the event Trump is again”elected” and Barr and Bannon succeed in removing Articles I and III from what is left of our Constitution and totally destroy any last vestige of our democracy, but I propose to stay and fight for retention and expansion of our democracy until then.

Meanwhile, I am open to any means or methods other than massive turnout anyone can provide to remove Trump from office, whether by impeachment or election. Whatever works.          GERALD          E

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ALEC AND THE ECONOMY

 

ALEC AND THE ECONOMY

Professor Kennedy in her recent blog wrote on the antics of the American Legislative Exchange Committee (ALEC) in keeping a lid on wages and corporate taxes, among other efforts to represent their business clients, clients (my observation) such as Eli Lilly, for instance, whose insulin profits are stratospheric and who received tax cuts via the Trump-Ryan giveaway of billions to add to their coffers and our long term deficit. I responded to her blog, slightly edited, as follows.

ALEC has done a good job in writing up model legislation for Republican politicians who crow that it is their own while waving the flag and putting down labor and liberals as socialists in order to soften public opinion when the resulting bills are heading up for committee hearing, and there appear little countervailing models from underfunded labor unions and liberals to stanch such a well-funded torrent of money and propaganda designed to align public opinion with corporate bottom lines.

It’s working, and the infamous Powell memorandum to his friend (a vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce) in 1971 opened the door for the formation of such right wing lobbying groups as ALEC a few years later, an event which, when added to the subsequent election of union-hating Reagan in a perfect trifecta marked the end of the New Deal, an era where wage increases matched the Dow.

Right to work laws then proliferated, and net corporate profits zoomed (along with the Dow) with ALEC tax-shielding amendments to the internal revenue code while median wages for minimum wage earners (as adjusted for inflation) actually went down, thus leading to a crippling externality to aggregate demand, the arbiter of economic growth.

So what to do? Elect Democrats to state legislatures, repeal right to work laws, send ALEC’s efforts back to their writers, and in general create a legislative atmosphere more favorable to labor via a doubling of the minimum wage (a wage that hasn’t been increased for more than a full decade) etc. Can’t be done? That’s what Republicans said when FDR came up with the Wagner Act, the Social Security Act, an end to bank runs, etc. With a drastic change in legislative personnel in state houses around the country, we can match or exceed the success ALEC has enjoyed since 1973 by making this economy work for all of us, not just corporate shareholders and executives. So when do we make our move? Yesterday.      GERALD         E