Saturday, May 19, 2012

Right Down a Hole

[A few typos were corrected 5/20/12]

The Right continues to prove it skill in playing politics - to the continued detriment of the country.  Having been alarmed by the policies of the Right for many years, it has been somewhat saddening to see the Right "winning" out.  The Democrats have always had a harder message to sell, but their inability to come to grips with the budget plays right into the Rights hands and has also been terribly detrimental to the country as well.  However, the path outlined by the Right will box us more and more into economic and social instability.

The Right's Violent Rhetoric Leads to Violence (Taking Stock of the Right's Foot Soldiers)

Ted Nugent got into trouble by alluding to his not being around if Obama got re-elected.  He was giving a wink-wink nod-nod to violence against the President and everyone knows it.  Nugent walked it back enough so the Secret Service would leave him alone, but lets not pretend it was anything else than a call for violence against Obama and more broadly liberals.  (Goldfinger rather nicely puts Nugent in perspective in their FTN song).

The anti-government anti-liberal call for violence has existed for decades on the Right and led to the Oklahoma bombing, other bombings, and murders.  The militia movement ebbs and flows, but never fully disappears.  The NRA constantly runs a campaign directly aimed at fueling paranoia among gun owners about their safety and access to ammunition and fire arms.  Their policies help keep guns in the hands of criminals and ensures any crackpot can buy the most lethal weapons out of the back of someone's car in the middle of the night.

Violence is typically endorsed softly by even mainstream GOP candidates with statements implying people are being driven to extremes by liberal policies.  For example, all the BS about Texas leaving the Union.  The 1993 movie Falling Down nicely captures this little bit of white violence fantasy but it has a rich history with the likes of Dirty Harry and a host of others.

What used to be at least frowned upon by serious Republicans is not even challenged by a presidential candidates.  Recently Mitt Romney couldn't even challenge a woman who claimed Obama was guilty of treason, instead he says he'd like to investigate it further.  The transparently absurd Birther movement was embraced by the likes of Donald Trump gives credence to extremist positions that lay the path to violence against the President - and the system in general - which has already included many deaths.  Compare this to 2008 when John McCain had the guts to make it clear that Obama was a Christian and a good man, and you can see just how far the Right continues to slide down a very dangerous slope.

The role of Rush, Fox, and the GOP echo box cannot be underplayed.  However, the MSM (main stream media) is so afraid of the Right that it feels obliged to embrace "evenness" in reporting these issues when the Right's positions are nothing but spin and denial of fact.  There is no truth in the Birther movement, the treason, and much of the BS the Right uses to foment and encourage violence and outrage.

This should make all of us afraid.  I can't count on my hands the number of gun owners who have found it necessary to spout off about how they'll use their guns if they need to.  Really?  You have to kill others because their civil rights threaten you?  Too often the answer is obviously yes.  Any sane person would find shooting targets in the image of Trayvon Martin deeply offense - if you don't you're a jack-ass - and if that makes you crazy reading that, you have the problem.

Trickle Down is a Broken Experiment (and Romney Plans to Push it Farther)

Under Reagan we were first formally introduced to the idea that if you give the rich more money and power, they would sprinkle the rest of the country with jobs and prosperity would blossom everywhere.  Their bounty would "trickle down" to the rest of the country.  Ways to give the rich more money is to give them money directly (by financing their industries directly), loosen regulations on their industries allowing them to make money in ways previously considered too risky (such as changing banking rules), and lower their taxes (directly to their personal taxes such as investment income or to their industries like tax exemptions to the oil industry).  The country has tried all of these with the net effect of ballooning deficits and taking us to a collapse of the financial system.

The Laffer Curve encapsulated the idea that by cutting taxes, the government would enjoy a greater benefit from the resulting increase in individual spending.  This concept has been soundly dismissed by history, at least of where the US exists.  But further cutting taxes, the government is not getting the same revenue it might otherwise at the higher tax rate.  Funding government is meaningful only to the extent that we to pay for it.  So, to the extent that we were suddenly had less government money to spend, we should have cut spending and laid out a path to consistent with that path.  The GOP policies of trickle down and tax cuts never came close to doing it (though for a brief time the elder Bush, Clinton, the GOP, and the internet/housing bubbles managed to briefly get us to a balanced budget).

G. W. Bush doubled down on the trickle down premise with the famous Bush Tax Cuts.  Bush's cuts, along with two unfunded wars, and massive increases in government spending blew budgets apart.
The undeniable evidence that trickle down does not benefit the middle and lower classes is measured by the enormous additional concentration of wealth in smaller and smaller percentage of people that has accelerated in parallel with the policy.  That we are weakening the US in other ways, is measured by the number of bridges needing repairs.

The economic challenges facing the US are a result of globalization, changes manufacturing, energy, and environmental.  Even without the loss of jobs to lower wages elsewhere, manufacturing jobs would have been disappearing in the US.  As the productivity levels of employees continues to get higher, you need fewer and fewer employees.  Alternatively, they will return as low wage jobs around the outside of the business.  Our ability to produce new jobs has been hampered by our continued pull back from education - and a policy geared towards concentrating wealth and power into fewer hands.  With globalization, corporate leaders have been able to piggy back on the education of other countries by employing people abroad.  The off-shoring of technical jobs can only be offset by making sure we develop the best technical people here - in part pushed by the government investing in education.

Romney and the GOP are preparing to further aggravate this problem with even more tax cuts to the richest.  In essence doubling down on a failed policy in a way which will only further push the US into debt at the same time weakening the US further.

Make no mistakes about it, the US is still a powerhouse and can be a bigger, stronger, more inclusive economy - but not with Romey, Trickle Down, and policies that actively work against building a infrastructure for the future and protecting the potential for a middle class.

The Republican Tax Cuts and the Debt, Deregulation and the Banking Crisis 

Republican's have a 30 year history of pursuing policies that have dramatically added to the inability of the Federal government to pay for its mandated programs and regulate unsafe business practices.  At the same time Bush dramatically expanded the size of government and started two unfunded wars.  Predictably and predictable enough for a 18 year-old college student accurately forsee during the beginning of Reagan's Presidency, the government has, largely been running deficits and adding to the public debt. 

When we look at the past and the near future, the primary reason for the deficits are Republican tax cuts.  (I agree calling them the Bush Tax cuts actually lets the GOP off the hook).   The future will require cuts in social spending and should include cuts in military spending, but cuts required to pay for additional tax cuts and cuts relating to the Republican Tax cuts from the Bush budget are all poor investments.  Tax cuts funded by deficits offer a poor return on the dollar as opposed to spending on infrastructure and wider support of things like unemployment.  At least as important, the cuts will actually make the deficits worse and debt larger faster.  (The Ryan budget plans to make up for it with unspecified (magical) cuts). 

On a macro scale, the GOP is largely responsible for the current US debt.  The next are unfunded wars.  The next is the bailout of the banking system generated as a result of deregulation.

On a micro scale, the GOP can be right about selectively higher taxes.  For instance, if we want to reduce smoking, we put taxes on cigarrettes.  Part of the funding of Obamacare comes from a huge additional tax of the medical device industry.  This is going to negatively affect and industry that continues to innovate and will undoubtedly cost many jobs in the US.  Selectively targetting industries that are key to the US for big additional taxes doesn't make sense.  However, it doesn't make sense to give huge tax breaks to oil companies that they are not going to pass on as lower costs at the pump.

Until the GOP argues that we would be better off with NO government, we will need taxes.  Even they are not willing to go there.  So, lets not pretend that we can eliminate taxes all together. 

The GOP would have credibility, if they cut the budget at the same time they cut taxes but made the tax cuts contingent upon the cuts in spending.  Then the US could engage on a debate on what services they really to have.  We could then figure out what spending cuts people would have want to pay for the tax cuts. 

Reagan and every candidate since they has been a panderer to a group that doesn't want to pay taxes at all for anything (in particularly to help people they don't like).  They were more than happy to hear that tax cuts magically wouldn't cause deficits and increase the debt.  They want to believe that the magic solution is to eliminate education and cut support for poor Americans (who are poor completely as a result of their own actions).  They want to believe that the rich will magically give them great jobs, even though business will happily take the jobs to where they are cheapest. 

Reagan did not have any magic and the Tea Party folk do not have any either.  Their policies have made America worse and less capable to deal with real solutions.

The GOP has put the country at risk and is preparing to make it even worse.

The economy is extremely slow to recover from what was a virtual collapse of the financial markets brought on largely by deregulation and greed.  JP Morgan just lost $2 billion on a single series of trades, pursuing big profits at high risk.  This behaviour is fueled by greed.  However, Republicans continue to howl about government intrusion and rules.  Unbridled greed nearly destroyed our financial system, without regulation it will repeat it over and over again.  Regulation is the lesson learned from history.

Nothing the GOP proposes would dramatically (magically) make a ton more jobs.  Not much Obama can do would make that happen - though stimulus helps.  The bottom line is the economy of the 1950s and 1960s will never return - because of computers, products we buy, and production methods.  We now live in a international economy - our government needs to be run to that end - the government the GOP envisions can't do it.

The Right Has Deliberately Undermined the Presidency Weakening the United States

A two party system can be broken when one of the parties ceases to engage in compromise.  The GOP is in the hands of extremists.  Extremists willing to bring the country to the brink of defaulting on its debt.  The GOP tried to impeach the President of the United States on charges tangential to government derived from a politically motivated witch hunt.  The GOP made not solving the problems of the country and blocking as many moves to help the economy as possible with the sole goal of making it hard for Obama to win a second term.  Rewarding them with any more power is called enabling.

The country is weaker today as a result.

The Right Undermines the Vote

For the last twelve years, the GOP has made a concerted effort undermine the validity of the vote in the US.  All of the actions are caged in protecting the integrity of the vote against a tiny and unproven worry about voter fraud.  This involves people falsely representing themselves in order to vote.  It is absurd to think that enough people could make it to the polls and vote enough times to swing any election larger than the school board election in a village.  All of the actions are intended to make it harder for the poor and those with fewer resources to vote.  Since this is disporportionately minority, the GOP thinks they will benefit from the activity.

The vote with the greatest integrity includes the higher proportion of legitimate votes that it can.  The GOP flies completely in the face of integrity.  Not that we should be remotely surprised.

Taking us Right Down the Hole (and a vote for the GOP makes you part of it) 

The GOP has encouraged violence, suppressed the vote, created deficits, attacked the weakest, and divided the country.  The GOP and Right are literally dragging the US down a dark pit of Right Wing extremism.  We are at peril.

The United States has been harmed on multiple fronts by Republican Party that has evolved of the last 30 years.  It will get worse before it gets better, because like a drunk that never thinks his drinking is the problem, the Right are just going to keep hitting their koolaid heavier and harder until they crash.  Hopefully we'll be able to come out the otherside intact.  We might not.  If we do it will be a long time recovering.

One thing is clear after the last 4 years ... the GOP is less deserving than ever of a seat at the table.

I thought after the Bush era was over, the GOP would come to its senses.  It just accelerated and escalated.

Please do not, whatever you do, vote Republican in anything higher than a local election.  My kids need a better world.

Post Mortem

I had planned to touch on some other items for this post, but I am kind of tired of it.  But simply, the US was formed on the concept of equal rights of the people to have access to the law in order to pursue their lives.  Excluding a class of individuals from sharing those rights goes against the very basis and soul of the country.   Companies like Bain Capital make their money by either buying below price and liquidating companies or stripping out middle management, borrowing, and pumping the company up so they can take their money out.  These guys are not the John Galt or Hal Reardon of Ayn Rand, they are simply guys making as much money for themselves as they can.  They do not create products or jobs - except by chance in the process.  Why does giving these guys extra tax benefits serve society?  (That is a rhetorical question - it doesn't).  I had planned on touching the Right's war on education:  be it science, education funding, or public education.  Why bother, you know and they don't care.

I had planned to detail some of Obama's real failings.  He has not been a perfect President and his inability to work with even Democrats is emblematic of some of his problems.  I was going to discuss the Democrats inability to talk about the cuts necessary to get the budget under control, even if the Republican (Bush) Tax cuts are removed.  The Democrats are in trouble in this election very much as a result of their failing to offer serious ideas on the deficit and spending.  But I would not want to create anything that implies Obama or Democrats are the real danger to my children that the GOP is.

The danger from the Right is real.  Starting registering voters and start working to a government of (all of) the people that is for the people (if you hadn't already started a long time ago).

Friday, May 18, 2012

A Worthy Link

Go take a look a the Reality Carnival, it is worthy of a being saved as a favorite for occasional look.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Blogging Gap

Blogging Gap

I sort of let things slide here because I've been in the midst of a end-of-year school/work/sports blitz.  My daughter's HS lacrosse team (ECHHS Wildcats) advanced to the state semi-finals this week, so they'll have at least one more game.  The Wildcats are ranked 5th in the state coming into the playoffs - so far they have been the #3 and #4 teams to advance - but to win it will require beating the #1 and likely #2 teams.  If they manage to do that - they will deserve the title.