Election 2016

December 4, 2016

On Election Day the slumbering barbarians and Barbies of ignorance, once again roused by the clarion call of fear, stormed the polls and vanquished tolerance and economic recovery for a generation. Sated by their victory over a majority, they inhaled deeply the narcotic of righteousness. Will their leader leap onto the back of this unleashed tiger and bring it to heel for the good of all or will it turn on him and consume him as a sellout? Perhaps in a few months they will slip back into their coma. As the foggy blanket of hidden persuaders gave them the warm release of wetting their bed, they will coldly awaken to find their hopes smothered by evil greed. But there won’t be anyone left to show compassion. One only hopes they won’t continue to suck on the teat of bitterness and prejudice when it’s them In the block. 

Sequestration Rope-a-dope

February 26, 2013

The GOP is counting on the short game by letting sequestration go into effect. Claiming that they compromised by letting the tax giveaways to those with incomes over $450k the GOP believes they have boxed Obama in to accept only deep spending cuts. The effects of austerity will not be distributed evenly. Obama will now be able to state that spending cuts have matched the pain of lapsed tax cuts. It is time for those who have benefitted from the recovery to share and build the economy.

Out on a limb.

December 13, 2011

OK, I am going out a limb and predict Obama will win a second term. The question is then,  “what will he do in a second term”,  assuming approximately  the same Congressional split ( a little more Democratic House and a little more Republican Senate). Also assuming the economy has improved just enough to get him back in. Will the GOP just stall and obstruct knowing he’s now a lame duck? Will Harry Reid then take the gloves off, go nuclear, and let a majority move legislation and nominations in the Senate?  Will Obama hold steady (Rope a Dope) for more two years and hope an even better economy and demographics will give him a “mandate” in 2014? Will the ChiComms put a Technocrat in power to satisfy domestic demand for the benefits of the consumer society to take the internal pressure off?  Will there be a worldwide movement to prize the people over the bond market? Will the moneyed interest accept sharing the benefits of technology with displaced workers?  I don’t recall there being a mention of the unemployed on Star Trek, despite replicators and warp drives. While many of my generation wax nostalgic for the 1950’s, I can’t wait for the 2050’s and beyond.

 

Currently Reading: Hadrian and the Triumph of Rome by Anthony Everitt, Jazz  a History of American Music by Geoffrey Ward and Ken Burns.

The Individual Mandate

January 8, 2011

     Perhaps the most unpopular component of the Healthcare law going into effect in 2014 is the Individual Mandate. The special interests have been working to declare the individual mandate as unconstitutional. They profess that our sainted Founding Fathers never intended that the government require citizens to purchase a commercial product. These references to our early days as a nation are sprinkled with calls for liberty, freedom and independence. These modern day “Sons of Liberty” wannabees missed one nasty little complication from the earliest days of the new Republic. Those same patriots who forged the revolution then had to govern. And govern they did. The Congress passed and President Washington signed the Militia Act of 1792. To wit,

“That each and every free able-bodied white male citizen of the respective States, resident therein, who is or shall be of age of eighteen years, and under the age of forty-five years (except as is herein after excepted) shall severally and respectively be enrolled in the militia, by the Captain or Commanding Officer of the company, within whose bounds such citizen shall reside, and that within twelve months after the passing of this Act. That every citizen, so enrolled and notified, shall, within six months thereafter, provide himself with a good musket or firelock, a sufficient bayonet and belt, two spare flints, and a knapsack, a pouch, with a box therein, to contain not less than twenty four cartridges, suited to the bore of his musket or firelock, each cartridge to contain a proper quantity of powder and ball; or with a good rifle, knapsack, shot-pouch, and powder-horn, twenty balls suited to the bore of his rifle, and a quarter of a pound of powder; and shall appear so armed, accoutred and provided, when called out to exercise or into service, except, that when called out on company days to exercise only, he may appear without a knapsack. That the commissioned Officers shall severally be armed with a sword or hanger, and espontoon; and that from and after five years from the passing of this Act, all muskets from arming the militia as is herein required, shall be of bores sufficient for balls of the eighteenth part of a pound; and every citizen so enrolled, and providing himself with the arms, ammunition and accoutrements, required as aforesaid, shall hold the same exempted from all suits, distresses, executions or sales, for debt or for the payment of taxes.”

That’s right, your Defenders of Liberty mandated their fellow white male property owners to equip themselves with items prescribed by the “guv’ment” at their own expense. All this before Karl Marx, before Trotsky, before Lenin, before Obamacare.

Why don’t the self-described conservatives express the same concern over this incursion on their precious liberty? I expect most don’t know enough history to identify the Militia Act, but those who do and most of those currently informed would still not object. Could it be that the Militia “individual mandate” required the citizen to buy weapons with their potential for physical violence, while the Healthcare act will require citizens to buy health insurance, a component of improving the wellness of society at large?

 Currently reading The Ascent of Money by Niall Ferguson and Supreme Injustice by Alan Dershowitz

Who’s Got the Numbers?

January 4, 2011

We have heard a lot since the election from the Republicans that “the people have spoken”. They claim the change in the House shows that the American public have flocked to their philosophy and rejected President Obama’s agenda. They point to the enthusiasm boost the the TEA Partiers brought to their party. But do the numbers actually support their claim? In 2010 the combined total of votes for GOP House candidates was 45,091,248. Which certainly is a large number of the 308,000,000 Americans. However, Obama in 2008 received 69,456,897 votes out of a smaller population. That’s 54% MORE than the entire GOP total two years later. This vote deficit was despite a massive corporate disinformation campaign, thanks to the Citizens United decision, and despite the . So some Obama voters in 2008 have voted for the GOP House candidate in 2010 but certainly not a “mandate” to reverse course and go back to the Bush agenda. To be sure some of the GOP vote was a protest that Obama had not pushed his mandate for “Change” hard enough.

 

 In America’s glory days of manufacturing, the 50’s, hundred of thousands of factory workers, postal workers, telephone repairmen, clerks and their managers earned a paycheck and contributed to the Social Security trust funds. Over the next 40 years automation and the Information Technology revolution swept these occupations into the dustbin of history along with blacksmiths and icemen.  Replacing people with robots and computers added trillions to the corporate bottom lines, but starved the SS trust funds. The increases in productivity slashed costs and let consumers buy better products at lower costs.  The cost savings also went to corporate dividends and investors profited handsomely. Unfortunately, these distributed profits are not subject to SS withholding, but do fuel demand and therefore counteract downward pressure on prices.  Resulting increases in the Consumer Price Index then siphon SS trust funds.  During the recent economic disaster corporations were cutting their workforce to maintain profitability.  The productivity gains that have been realized will be not surrendered easily.  Once economic recovery resumes employment will lag behind pre-disaster levels.  Some of these same cost savings have been funneled into the corporate messaging machine to convince the public that all taxes are toxic.   Now given their civil rights the corporate money machines can purchase politicians and judges to avoid correcting the dynamic. The continuing squeeze to cut workers amplifies the problem exponentially.  Taking the remaining work offshore dooms the public safety nets. Trading good high wage jobs for minimum wage level jobs that can not be automated lowers SS trust fund revenues. Nobody wants to give up the benefits of technology. We all applaud machines doing the dangerous work and the drudgery. Luddites never envisioned iPhone apps. Clerks, who went back to school to become computer programmers, now sit in their cubicles worrying about those jobs going to India. Even the professions of the past, e.g. radiologists, attorneys doing document review, are finding their services are being automated or performed by foreign workers who receive a fraction of American pay levels. Computers designing computers, robots building robots, the future is now. Productivity and efficiency will allow a smaller workforce to sustain a greater unemployed portion of the population.  Perhaps we will approach levels from the 50’s where half the population (women in that day) was not employed outside the home.  Wives of that era were entitled to a SS benefit based on their employed spouse’s earnings. We just need to share current benefits equitably and figure out what to do with “surplus” workers. Science fiction has projected a future where robots handle all the mundane chores and humans are free to explore their pursuit of happiness in leisure. Well, maybe for very few with inherited wealth.

 Now that a majority of the SCOTUS has elevated the corporation to that of an human being in speech protections under the  First Amendment it is time for Congress to expedite legislation to fully  implement this philosophy. Along with these freedoms come responsibilities.  The Corporate Income tax must be abolished and corporations will now begin to pay progressive taxes as individuals do.  Since Congress has already determined that marriage can only exist between a man and a woman, corporations, being neuter, will file using the Single tax rates. They would be subject  to the Alternative Minimum Tax. Congress should identify the analogies between the corporation and an actual human for tax purposes as soon as possible.  A human needs food to sustain basic physiological processes and as everyone knows food expenses are not deductible as a deduction from gross income. The corresponding corporate processors are  governance boards, managment personnel, human resources, facilities management and legal departments related to incorporation and maintenance. Therefore, none of these costs including related supplies (paper, computers, etc.) and facilities (corporate headquarters leases and depreciation) should be deductible from corporate gross income. Current phaseout of certain tax adjustments e.g. the standard deduction will apply. However, corporations who have been in existence more that 65 years would be entitled to one extra personal exemption.

Luckily, as corporations are not male they cannot be subject to the Selective Service registration requirements.

Education. As full fledged citizens corporations would not only be entitled to education, they would be required to attend, K-12 to learn the basic principles and laws of this land, e.g. equal opportunity, no monarchy, and the common welfare. They would be  subject to testing to assure they learned the lessons, otherwise they would be required to repeat and could not assume a full  place in a decent society.

Criminal punishment. Just as humans in some states can be executed for capital offenses, corporations must be subject to the same sanctions. If found guilty of premeditated murder a corporation must be terminated, its stock declared worthless, its assets appropriated for compensation and its charter revoked in perpetuity. For lesser offenses, e.g. theft, bribery, extortion, the corporation would be confined and kept from the innocent public. Of course, if a corporation behaves insanely and is declared mentally incompetent, it could be absolved of criminal guilt. But, it could be held in escrow indefinitely.

There is a lot more rules and regulations to be modified to make society safe and ready for its new citizens.