Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Not Sure Where This Came From

The secret is our red Kool Aid,
Fox News is where the best is made,
But it’s an old and old old brew,
For all the way that it tastes new,
it tells them just who is to blame,
For all their anger, all their pain
All their emptiness and fear,
Draw them closer, so they hear,
Of course it’s never been our fault,
Of this earth we are the salt,
Here’s the answer, always same,
Obama, Obama is his name.
And once they know, once they’re told,
And once they get whipped into bold,
This good old brew, one we all know,
Tells them how this has to go.
We repeat it and soon, you see,
How we create reality.

That stim was just a great big flop,
Tho’ we took credit where it dropped,
Tax cuts make jobs, don’t you forget,
just ‘cause it hasn’t happened yet,
They will come, like heaven sent,
When an R is president,
Of course, they’ll pay the minimum wage,
We have to turn that union page.
It’s all clear, don’t perplex us,
We just turn the country into Texas,
We repeat it, and then you see,
It’s become what they believe.

Need FEMA help?  Oh, don’t be scared,
It will just cost your Medicare.
Teacher pay caused foreclosed homes,
So, leave our hedge fund guys alone,
EPA caused mine disaster,
Liberty is what we’re after,
Small government!  Spread news!
Except, of course, for right to choose,
Or building mosques or right to strike,
Or anything else we don’t like.
We know what’s right, there is no doubt,
But we will never kick you out,
Money’s speech, now, you know,
Talk all you want, we have the dough,
To drown you out, or say you’re a fake,
Reality is ours to make.
Climate change?  God’s will, you know,
Our money says it’s not our coal,
Repeat it and there you go!
Now what we say is all they know.

See, corps are now people, too,
A little different, from you, that’s true,
You’ll never get to see them fail,
Or spend a single night in jail,
Tax breaks they get, that’s a fact,
and big fat over-run contracts,
That’s not fair?  Oh, you’re shocked?
It’s all about we own their stock.
So we need you to pay tax more,
To fund the stims we call war,
Your taxes make us rich, it’s true,
And our own base has no clue,
Repeat it, it’s what we do,
Til they repeat, repeat it, too.

He wanted change, is what he said,
and we just beat him, on the head,
He tries so hard, that silly jerk,
But we will never let it work.
Can never give us enough,
So let him try to call our bluff,
That mandate was our’s first,
But now we say it is the worst,
Deficits that were fine, back then,
They’re now socialism, friend.
Now all you blues are throwing fits,
Not change, you want the same old shit!
You want him to fight us back,
You want him to slug and hack,
You don’t want different, any more,
You scorn him--doesn’t know the score,
Hope won’t do a bit of good,
He’s just a big babe in the woods,
You don’t believe in hope, do you?
Or change, we took that from you, too.
We bet on the surest hunches,
You’re too gutless to take the punches,
You talked so big, you great big fake,
You didn’t have what it would take.
Repeated you don’t even see,
You’re back in our reality.

Oh, you might vote us out again,
Despite the money we can spend,
And those voter ID laws,
and all the hopelessness we caused,
We split your blue from blue from blue,
Got you to blame Obama, too,
The lies and spin and crap we say,
Drove all your hope and change away,
So, hunt or fish or watch the game,
Or down load porn, it’s all the same,
You bellied up my big, blue fools,
It’s red, it’s red, the Aid that’s Kool.
‘Cause If you come at us, again,
We’ll have no fear of you, my friend,
You’ll copy us, in that we trust,
‘Cause we’ve made you just like us.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

The hamster might be dead, but the wheel just keeps on spinning...

The Wall Street Journal is a snake dining on its tail and never more so than in the editorial on why we should all ignore the ratings downgrade of US public debt.

Their conclusion is correct--we should ignore the down grade.  If we had ignored their grading of private debt (e.g., mortgage backed securities) our 401(k) accounts and the institutional investments of states and pension funds would be somewhere in the neighborhood of 40% stronger and the unemployment rate would be 4-6% lower.  Perhaps the Wall Street Journal should have given us this advice when all three ratings agencies were stamping AAA ratings on those junk securities.   Late to the party, they were.

Everyone knows--or should know- how the craven corruption of these ratings agencies was an indispensable  element in the process of looting our economy throughout the last half of the Clinton administration and all of the Bush/Cheney era.  It could not have happened if these agencies didn't make immense profits lying about the AAA safety of the CDOs, CDSs, CP3Os and whatever other "securities" are now lining bird cages and wrapping fish.  These three ratings agencies, although they were extorted into it by the banks who told them--literally--that if they didn't give up the big AAA one of their competitors would get the fee for doing it.  But they knew what they were doing.  They decided to be accomplices--accessories, as it were, before and during the fact.  These agencies  were as important in this massive criminal fraud as a gun is to a bank hold up.  (guns, on the other hand, don't have ethical codes--but, then, they don't need them.)

So give the Wall Street Journal credit for seeing--if too late for our economy--that the rating agencies are worthless parasites, public relations firms for grifters, at best.

But the Wall Street Journal completely runs off the rails when it says in this editorial that the best way to rate the safety is...wait for it...what's the best way to value everything?  THE MARKET!  The market, of course, that was led by the ratings agencies, Standard and Poors among them, right off of the cliff with mortgage backed securities (and the tech bubble and...I digress).

I have to give a cynical nod to people who can see reality diverge from their ideology on a daily basis and still hold onto it.   Like members of a cargo cult, having built mock-up airplanes in the expectation that supplies will be delivered, The Wall Street Journal is still promising us that the tax cuts we have delivered to the "job creators" at the top of our economic food chain are the best--the only--job creation strategy worth pursuing. They keep saying this while wasting away, we are, in our own little Hoover-villes.

Tax cuts for job creators will create jobs?  We have irrefutable quantitative evidence to the contrary from our era and eras past but The Wall Street Journal says we should pay no attention to that because "tax cuts equals more jobs is just common sense."  ideology shapes reality, at least on the editorial page, of the Wall Street Journal, like--in fairness--it does most every where else one looks in the "news" and among those who make it.

Here's something that is apparently not common sense:  THE MARKET snapped up those fraudulent mortgage backed securities that were rated AAA by all three rating agencies, and snapped them up by the bushel basket full.   When the karma turned bad and the defaults started happening on the underlying mortgages it became clear (again) that THE MARKET is predominated by greedy wishful thinkers (like us)  who largely make decisions based on what is most convenient and in our short term interest--and what most everyone else is saying is "common sense."

This is not rocket surgery and I'm not (as those of you who know me personally can testify) all that smart to know it .  it's our human/worldly nature--look it up in the literature of almost any spiritual--or "rational"--tradition to which you have access and with which you have sympathy. Or consult your own experience from which, by giving you this (truly conservative) wisdom sometime in your twenties (or for us late bloomers, in your thirties), I hope you are among those able to benefit from it in all aspects of your daily life)t.  It's why "sheep" and "the flock" is one of the most frequent and enlightening metaphors for humanity in the Christian tradition. 

The general moral condition in this country is this:  our leaders know (and we accept them basing decisions on) the current price of most everything and the true value of very little.  That's the context of market driven decision making.  Don't look under the hood, in the horse's mouth or behind the curtain.  Just do what everyone else is doing and you'll get what's coming to you in the end.

I've never given a Lily to the Wall Street Journal before--probably because I don't look at it very often.  But today it's theirs.  I wish them well with it.  I wish us all well with the consolation and faith they provide to that part of us too comfortable with and/or afraid to try to stop living in this world we have created for ourselves.

Because as a contemporary prophet once wrote, "You don't need a weatherman to know which way  the wind blows." 

As a young Friend of my acquaintance once put it "the hamster might be dead but the wheel is still spinning."

Saturday, July 30, 2011

how pig wrestling has led to the worship of jackals

Long ago, I was a divorce lawyer.  During those five years I learned some of the most important things I know about people and the way we function--what we are wiling to do-- when we are laboring under the control of our anger, fear, pain and desperation.  Most divorces end without turning into full blown wars, but all are on the same  continuum.  The closest I ever saw to an "amicable divorce" was one in which both parties actually took  ten full paces before they turned and fired.  Some day I may write a book, but there's one aspect of this dynamic of conflict I want to write about at the moment because it is relevant to what has become of American politics.

In a divorce there is no referee until, and unless, the case gets to court.  The law doesn't really care, in the end, about the things many people care the most about--proving that their soon-to-be ex-spouses are bad, bad human beings.  All that means that people are free to say pretty much anything they want to say about these soon-to-be ex-spouses until one is front of the judge.  Some of them are devastated that, at this point, Her/His Honor tells them to put a sock in it.

All people going through a divorce develop a narrative.  It is probably a psychological necessity for one's self esteem and for how one thinks one's friends, family and even children view them.  The more hurt and threatened (or guilty) one is feeling the more extreme the narrative becomes. 

One of the ways some people deal with a narrative of their soon-to-be ex-spouse that threatens their own sense of being in the right (or deal with their own guilt)  is called "parrot-ing."  It's simple, really.  If one is accused of something by one's soon-to-be ex-spouse then one will turn around and accuse that soon-to-be ex-spouse of being the one who is actually doing that.   The accuser becomes the accused, the victim becomes the perpetrator.

"Me? You're the one who ... "

Most often this is done cynically, to confound the accuser, to deflect blame, to prolong and escalate the frustration of the victim.  It also inflates their attorney fees if the victims allow themselves to get caught up in it (or their lawyers encourage them to do so).  The idea is to keep the conflict alive and punish, punish, punish the victim.  Interestingly, this was most common in my cases where the "parrot," and not the victim, had initiated the divorce. 

Having seen parrot-ing time and again in my cases I began to warn my new clients about it (along with other predictable horse-play).   When they would call me later and tell me, for example, that their soon-to-be ex-husband was bringing the children home late from weekend visits and not returning their clothing with them, I reminded them of my warning and predicted that if we complained about it I might well soon receive a call from his lawyer accusing my client of being the one really causing the problem.  Time and again any harassment my client suffered would, in the end, bring about the counter-claim that she was the perpetrator and that he was the victim. 

I advised my clients to ignore it and concentrate on the legal issues--which except in the most rare cases have nothing to do with "fault" on anyone's part.  Proving one is the victim and not the perpetrator (of stuff going on now or things that happened years ago) has nothing to do with the outcome of most cases.  Unfortunately, at such a fragile time in one's life, not many of us are able to ignore malicious harassment.  In the midst of divorce one is even more than usually concerned about  how one is viewed by others, especially one's friends and family. 

Never wrestle with a pig, I used to advise, you'll both get dirty and the pig likes it.

Last night I heard John Boehner, the Republican Speaker of the House, accuse the President and the Democrats of being "unable to say yes" to a deal on raising the debt ceiling.   He went on to say that he stuck his "neck out a mile" to try to make a deal, that he even put "revenues" on the table but the President refused to take a deal that gave the Democrats everything they said they wanted but that Mr. Obama refused to take the deal.  Mr. Obama just wanted to make this all a political issue.

I remembered Mr. Boehner and Mr. Cantor claiming time and again throughout this passion-play that "the American people" were on their side when, in fact, polls show that the majority of the American people support a balance of revenue increases and spending cuts to reduce the deficit.   I also remember Senator McConnel repeating, several times over the past 18 months or so, that the primary concern of the Republicans in Congress was to make sure President Obama was a one term president.

As I thought about this I realized that the Republicans are parrot-ing the President and the Democrats.

I don't say that the Democrats' or the President's point of view on this is necessarily correct.  I am only looking at the way that the game is being played.  The fact is that after years of hearing the Democrats call the Republicans "the party of no" the Republicans now call the Democrats the same thing--and "prove it" by saying that they did what the President actually did, and that the President did what they actually did.   Whether it's best to try to lower the deficit by cutting spending alone, or lower the deficit with a balance of spending cuts and raising taxes, my point is simply how the parties tried to prevail--and the Republicans parrot-ed and are parrot-ing. 

This is different in politics than in divorce because, as I say, in a divorce none of this stuff matters.  In politics, though, this is huge, because as this goes on one of two things happens in the minds of the American people.   Those in each "base"  will believe that their champions are the victims and the other side is perpetrator.   On the other hand, those who are not part of either base become more alienated from all this pig wrestling and less inclined to participate in this dirty process and less inclined to believe that the government can do anything right.

(You can readily identify those in either base, by the way.  They are the ones saying that they have been victimized by the other side's dirty tactics and therefore they are ready to escalate the dirty tactics to get even or even the odds.  You can also recognize those who are not part of either base.  They are the ones saying "a plague on both their houses.")

Which side do we suppose benefits from this hardening escalation that sends those in the middle to the sidelines?   Which party wins when voter turn out exceeds normal levels?  Which party wins when people stay home?  Look it up.

So the cynical point of view that drives awarding the Lily, here, has to give it to the Republicans, but must add an honorable mention to all of us.   The refusal of Republicans to compromise--to recognize that the Democrats also represent real people in this country who deserve to have outcomes shaped by their interests (how the Constitution is designed to work)--is probably going to have an impact on how Democrats in Congress function in the future.  There is, in fact, a narrative that argues with some justification claiming that the D's actually started this by freezing out the R's in the past.  

The R's may win in 2012 but there will be still be D's in Congress.  Will they insist on 60 votes to pass anything in the Senate?  Will they put secret holds on the Republican president's nominees or on bills they don't like?  And if they do, what will it look like the next time the R's ride into power?  An eye, it is written, for an eye until the whole world is blind.

The ante will just keep going up and up--and so does the gridlock, along with the amount of wealth concentrated in the top 2% of the population.  A co-incidence? 

This means Americans will continue to turn off to politics making H.L. Mencken's assessment more and more accurate:  American politics is the worship of jackals by jack asses.

It also means that the quotation attributed to Benjamin Franklin--"We have given you a republic, if you can keep it"--is looking less like the warning it was meant to be and more like an indictment. 

Just saying ....

Friday, July 01, 2011

So, what do we do, then?

In a Facebook exchange about mandating the saying the pledge of allegiance--which I think would not be helpful in any way--I was asked what I would suggest to help to unify the country.  I answered (more or less) as follows:

At this point in our history our political narratives make national unity impossible.

Both of our major contemporary factions (remember how the Founders warned about the evils of factions?), both R and D bases/factions, believe that there is no living with the other. You see it on this Facebook page and every where else--if one side is for something the other is automatically against it. People on the "other side" are not only wrong--they are evil. People will even change their minds about issues just to stay on the other side from their "enemies." 

I have lots of ideas about getting out of this situation--none of them original with me or novel or practical, given the thickness of the tar in which we are stuck. 

First and foremost would be to remember what we learned in civics at Washington Elementary, Hedrick Junior and Medford Senior High School (class of 66) --that the hallmark of the American political system was compromise. That's what our Constitutional structure (separation of powers) requires in order to work. No compromise and there can only be...well, look at your compromise means gridlock. 

The Founders were mutually suspicious of one another (you can look that up; e.g., big states and small states) and set up a system to balance interests--not to give one sway over the others. They understood (as we have forgotten) that anyone who gets too much power (government or economic) would cause problems for the general welfare (for everyone else). 

Now it's all about pushing other people away from the table and expecting them to starve quietly while those remaining consume the share of those excluded as well as their own. It's about forgetting how we are all a part of a system that depends on everyone doing well enough to want to stay in the game. If we don't get back to that kind of understanding that we are all in this together and we can't succeed without each other then ...  we are toast. 

Regardless, requiring schools to display flags in every classroom and students to say the pledge of allegiance is not going to create some kind of a unified national identity. That wasn't what created the degree of unity we had in the fifties, the one that started to come apart in the sixties and is now completely unraveled. Sure, we said the pledge, then, but saying it wasn't what created our national consensus. 

Far too many of us, even those who recite the pledge and stand for the national anthem at ball games, these days, don't really believe that the United States is about liberty and justice for all. Far too many of us think that we are being taken advantage of by some "special interest." No amount of reciting a pledge of allegiance is going to change the fact that way too many of us--rich or poor--think we don't get the share of the pie we deserve and that the only way we will get it is to identify who stole it from us and take it back--at gunpoint (or with the flourish of a pen) if necessary. 

I don't know if that's the kind of thing you wanted to hear from me, Cyndi, but it's what I can say.

I am the most cynical person you'll ever meet and, at the same time, the most optimistic.  I never underestimate and can thus try to account for the depravity in my own heart, and in the hearts of everyone else. That's something else the Founders understood (reading what they wrote instead of what others write about them increases one's understanding of where they were coming from)--they understood human nature and what we were all up against trying to create republic on the principle of self government given what a sinful lot we actually are. 

Do any of the ideologies you hear out there today really describe how things actually happen in this world? Really? or do they all just describe utopias, things that those who believe in them think SHOULD be reality, what they want reality to be--to suit them and people like them?

"Darn," said one economist (or politician, or one of anything else any one of us is) to another.   "According to my map we are on top of that hill over there." In saying that he was more honest than most of the ideologues who are driving our narratives--and driving us apart--today.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Who's a Creep?

I am not a member of any political party--like the founders, I think that "factions" are the arch enemy of our republican form of government.   I am a registered non-partisan who would support a ticket of Mark Twain and H.L. Mencken--but only if they promised to appoint Lenny Bruce as attorney general.  I might also support a Marxist--Lennonist (Groucho Marx and John Lennon) ticket but, again, not without Lenny Bruce along to keep them real.

That said-----it's Congressman Wiener's turn on the spit I have to laugh when the Chairman of the Republican National Committee calls him a creep and demands his resignation.  Good for the news person who, upon hearing Reince Priebus say that, asked if he considered Senator Vitter (R. Louisiana) (who very frequently committed the crime of frequenting prostitutes) to also be a creep.  Mr.  Priebus declined to answer and, it seemed to me, didn't even get the gist of the rhetorical question he had been asked.. 

But what about Eric Cantor?  It's one thing to hear from an unelected party chairman but what about House leadership?  Well, back when asked about Senator Vitter--back when Larry Flint uncovered and published the Louisiana Republican's sex crimes--Representative Cantor said it should be up to  Senator Vitter's constituents whether he stayed or left the Senate.  (Bonus points if you knew, by the way about how ironic it is for Senator Vitter's karma to work out as it did--given how Republican sexual acting out--at the height of the Clinton  impeachment pageant--opened the door for Vitter to get  to the House of Representatives prior to his election to the Senate).  Shock:  in the case of  Democratic Congressman Wiener Mr. Cantor says that he should to resign. 

I dunno if Mr. Wiener's "high crimes and misdemeanors" (none of which--at least those of which we know presently--was against the law as, say, Senator Vitter's frequenting prostitutes was and remains against the law) merit his resigning or not.  I do know, though, that if I were consulting with Mr. Wiener about how to stay in Congress after all this I'd tell him, whenever anyone gives him any static, to just say "If Senator Vitter gets to stay how come I have to go?"

So, the Lily goes to the Republicans, today, who are singing in the "send Anthony back to Brooklyn in disgrace" Choir.  But it was really close--the latest RF in Wisconsin (which even the National Review is having a hard time keeping down) re postponing the recall elections really deserves mention...maybe I'll pretend I didn't hear about that one until tomorrow.   After all, if we are paying attention we know that we will run out of days on which to confer this award far sooner than we will run out of people who are worthy of having their names inscribed on the trophy.

Remember the criterion:  No matter how cynical I get it's hard to keep up.  Perhaps there should be a bronze, a silver and a gold every day. 

Saturday, May 21, 2011

oh, this is too easy...

reminder:  this blog is about being cynical and how hard it is to keep up with how cynical one needs to be to get by...

So there is a special election going on in New York and a Republican and a Tea Party candidate are splitting the conservative and reactionary Republican vote and giving a conservative Democrat a sliver of hope.

The "traditional Republican" candidate endorsed the Ryan plan, including the replacement of Medicare with a voucher plan.  Realizing that this is a problem for her, someone thought it would be a good idea for Representative Allen West (R Florida) to do "robo calls" to voters assuring them that their Medicare is safe in the hands of the Republican candidate. 

Is anyone going to also point out to those voters that Rep West, back home, answered the chant of "Hands off my Medicare" with the taunt that he will take his hands off of Medicare when there is no longer a Medicare program.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Constitution is WHAT?

Sometimes saying what is real seems like cynicism but I just can't help it.

The Constitution of the United States sometimes gets talked about like this:

We can not hold the constitution in our hands and stand by it to fit our own agenda and then throw it on the ground and step on it when it does not fit our agenda and thoughts. Freedom is a two edge sword that cuts both ways. It provides the freedom we all enjoy and also protects people that do things that is revolting to us. That is why it is freedom!

This is not true, of course.

The Constitution has long been molded to fit our own agendas and, in fact, that's what is supposed to happen.

Take the current fad of Constitutional interpretation called "original intent of the founders."  This is a relatively new and radical approach to the document, one that would have many of the people who wrote and ratified it scratching their heads about where it came from.  Not all, of course, because there was no single intent of the founders--their work product does not reflect a unity of thought. They barely reached a consensus.

The original intent doctrine was souped up to its current horsepower in the Federalist Society--the Neo Conservative legal organization that reflects the thinking of Robert Bork and Justice Rhenquist (who are succeeded in our time by Justices Thomas and Roberts).

This is a part of the revolutionary movement that has been at work pushing this country to the right since the Reagan era and its work is well described in the book The Wrecking Crew by Thomas Frank.  The agenda of the Neo Conservative movement is to transfer wealth from the middle class to the wealthy and to concentrate it there.

As this movement has taken over the judicial branch of government doctrines that facilitate this enriching of the rich have been elaborated upon and extended.  Among these are the idea of a corporation as having the same rights as human beings and equating political giving and spending with speech and therefore prohibiting limitations.

Good or bad, this taking over of the judiciary--along with the taking over of the other branches of government--is part of the design of the Constitution.  It is meant to be used to lay out the rules for gaining power and for using it.   While the legislative and the executive branches can be taken over more quickly, through the electoral process, the judiciary falls into the hands of the dominant political power more slowly--but still it does.  

The Constitution makes it  more difficult for one particular movement to take power but it does not prohibit that.  The Constitution is not intended to create political gridlock and stalemate, although that results at times.

The most crucial problem, in my own view, with the way the Constitution has been shaped over the last 100 or so years is that the republican form of government has been turning into a democracy.  The founders were serious about wanting to prevent that but, despite the "republican form of government" clause we have given way to things like recall, referendum and initiatives (to name a few of direct democracy's manifestations).  

The attitude that we should vote for people who agree with us is one manifestation of this pernicious underlying democratic principle. In a republic voters realize that situations are more nuanced and balance and compromise are needed sometimes for us to all live together.  Therefore we want to elect people who judgment we trust to consider all the facts and, in the process of legislation to do that balancing and compromising--even if it means they don't respond slavishly to slogans.

This democratic principle has led to a form of mob rule.  Responding to such slogans (that pay no heed to the nuances and the complications of decisions) people are whipped up when needed (mostly at election time, but on other occasions) to do Neo Conservative bidding, egged on by commentators and politicians who are funded by those concentrating the wealth. 

Through manipulation of symbols and slogans, mostly playing on the emotion of fear and emphasizing divisions among us, the current Neo Conservative powers that be are extending the power of  the federal (and state) government when it suits their purposes, on the one hand, and limiting it on the other, when it serves the interests of others.

The federal tax code is an example of how federal power is harnessed and enhanced by Neo Conservatives to  serve the concentration of wealth. Increase middle class taxes--tax shelters and subsidies for the wealthy--as well as lower tax rates.

The stripping away of regulation over such things as mining and oil drilling is an example of how limiting the power of the government serves that same end of concentrating wealth.  The repeal of Depression era laws to regulate financial transactions, of course, turned Wall Street into a casino that made people there rich by bankrupting the system and then had the power to make the middle class recapitalize that system while blaming teachers for the economic catastrophe.

When it makes the wealthy more wealthy the Neo Conservatives will say that using federal power to get 'er done is required by the Constitution.  When restraint of federal power makes the wealthy more wealthy then the Neo Conservatives will argue that the Constitution requires restraint.

This is not new and the Liberals did the same thing, as the Jacksonian Democrats did, as the slave holding (and segregationist) state's rights types did, as the Reconstruction era Republicans did .  Evangelical Christians play this same game with the Constitution--trying to use it to promote their religion and even to force it on others.  It's how it's set up to work although, for those who do not understand that, or don't want others to understand it, rosier sentiments about the Constitution will always be available to cloud the reality.

For them, at least for those who know and don't want others to know, a Lily is in order.  For the rest of us it's not cynicism--it's just how things are and how they are supposed to be. 

Friday, March 11, 2011

Lillies in the Budget Cuts -- No, seriously, we're just trying to reign in uncontrolled spending

So here is a little list of "cuts" and "keeps" in the proposed Congressional budget cuts of interest to those interested in keeping their reality/cynicism mechanisms in tune:

$19 billion in subsidies to the oil and gas industry.

A 44% cut in funding for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to police the big banks, mortgage and credit card companies and guard against deceptive practices.

$500 billion in tax loopholes that permit companies to ship their profits overseas and hide them in offshore tax havens—including 83 of the top 100 publicly traded companies.

Funding eliminated for the Consumer Product Safety Commission to track and inform the public about dangerous products.

$185 billion in orders for obsolete military equipment.

$88.4 million less for food safety inspectors who ensure that the nation’s egg, poultry, and meat supply is safe and wholesome.

$1 billion for trade associations for multinational corporations to market their products overseas.

Pell Grants to increase access to college for 9.4 million Americans cut by $5.7 billion.

$34 billion in Homeland Security contracts that have been plagued with waste, abuse and mismanagement going back to 2001.

All funding for high-speed rail eliminated.

Friday, February 18, 2011

It's a hard rain is gonna fall ... is falling ... in Wisconsin

I think Wisconsin is much less about unions that it is about fair.

Why should one part of the American people pay to fix this economic/budget mess we all created while others are held harmless?

 I was once a public school teacher and when we were hit up for budget "give backs" it was hard for me because others in my community weren't giving back a thing to support the benefit they got from living in a broadly educated society.

My employers were the taxpayers of the school district.  While many of them (and I was one, too), were having a hard time economically many were doing very well.   It's still that way.

For these the capital gains tax preference remains--even when those capital gains end up as ordinary income and are not invested, when interest income in general is being taxed at a much lower rate than salaried income, when there is a ceiling on Social Security payments of many of them, while every nickle I ever made got taxed for that, while  benefits of all kinds shift the burden of funding government from corporate/dividend income and on to people like me who get a paycheck (and not much of paycheck, at that) and don't live off of bonus  money.

By the way, much of that corporate/dividend income is "earned" from US government contracts, including contracts given to American companies to provide "foreign aid."  Most "foreign aid" goes abroad in the form of American military hardware.  It goes to places like Egypt and Israel.  In other words, the US government buys arms from American corporations--increasing the stock value and the dividends of those American corporations--and ships the arms to "aid" people in other countries.

Foreign aid, then, is just a scheme to make American corporations and stock holders more money--funded by tax dollars. 

I don't think there will be a solution as long as some people just blame others for the problem and are unwilling to do a part to solve it.   If I am one who gets a haircut while others don't have to why should I support the "bargain?"

I am not jazzed about privatizing Social Security but if I am convinced that investments are safe from things like the dot-com and housing bubbles then I am willing to talk about that. Send Barney Frank and Elizabeth Warren around to tell me it's safe and I'll talk.   Imagine where we would be if the Bush attempt to privatize Social Security had passed just before what we are going through now.

If people see that everyone is getting a share of the suffering they will take their own suffering with a (more) mature attitude.  

Doesn't everyone live in this country and share in the benefits and the responsibilities?

We will solve this stalemate when we realize we live in a country so closely divided that no one is going to get enough power to force one side to pay the whole price while the other side goes on its merry way.

Even if some of us, even those among us who are Christians, sneer at the idea of "fairness" if we do not spread the hurt we are all going to go down scratching and clawing one another to pieces--like two cats, tied together, thrown over a clothes line.