Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Game in a Nutshell

Bailouts put the private debts onto the public (tax payer) balance sheet. Now Congress and the White House are poised to finish the job by putting that debt onto the backs of America's most vulnerable people.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Who are the Tea Party Rank and File?

Someone actually has data!

Beginning in 2006 we interviewed a representative sample of 3,000 Americans as part of our continuing research into national political attitudes, and we returned to interview many of the same people again this summer. As a result, we can look at what people told us, long before there was a Tea Party, to predict who would become a Tea Party supporter five years later.

They're not the mass media portrays them to be:

... while the public image of the Tea Party focuses on a desire to shrink government, concern over big government is hardly the only or even the most important predictor of Tea Party support among voters.

To that leads to the obvious question:

So what do Tea Partiers have in common? They are overwhelmingly white, but even compared to other white Republicans, they had a low regard for immigrants and blacks long before Barack Obama was president, and they still do.

What else do they have in common?

  • Number 1 predictor is being Republican.
  • Social conservatives, who oppose abortion, for example.
  • Desire to see religion play a prominent role in politics.
  • Small Government is low on the list.
Source: David E. Campbell, an associate professor of political science at Notre Dame, and Robert D. Putnam, a professor of public policy at Harvard. Crashing the Tea Party.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Talking Point: US Government Debt and Jobs

Job, Jobs, Where are the Jobs?

The talking point is simple. Average Americans are not spending money, and the economy is stalled, because they don't have much money. It's no use giving tax breaks and low interest rates to product manufacturers, because the people who would normally buy their products don't have money. People need jobs.

It is debatable whether the American public is responsible for 70% of domestic spending on goods and services, but by sheer number their spending potential is huge. They might make up 70% of domestic spending if they had money to spend, but they don't have good jobs.

Why not? Government policies over the past several decades, supply-side (trickle-down) tax policies and corporate globalization policies, have created a record wealth gap. A study by three Citigroup analysts indicates that the top 1% of Americans earn as much annual income as the bottom 60% and the top 1% possess as much wealth as the bottom 90% of Americans. The analysts concluded “economic growth [in the US] is powered by and largely consumed by the wealthy few.” [1] This is borne out by recent statistics showing that growth in domestic product sales have declined at discount stores and have grown in high-end stores and luxury products.

The Solution:

The government needs to set policies to put money in the pockets of average Americans, and I'm not talking about a $600 check; it needs to be tens of thousands per year, which simply put means temporarily creating jobs. The money for these jobs needs to come from the places that it is being hoarded: The richest 1% of Americans and transnational corporations who have benefited greatly from government policies over the past few decades.

After people have had government-sponsored jobs for several years, they will have the money to buy more products and services they need. This will create a market for private sector products and, in turn, support more jobs in the private sector. Eventually, the government can get out of business of job creation.

And yes, these jobs will require more government revenue in the near-term, but will also generate new revenues. In the long run, we'll be more likely able to pay down the US Government debt.

Agree? Let policy makers know:


1. Can the Middle Class be Saved? Atlantic Monthly, September, 2011.


Saturday, August 13, 2011

Talking Point: Debt and Medicare

Are Medicare & Medicade the Problem?

First, Medicare is not part of the general budget deficit & associated debt problem. That's because Medicare, like Social Security, has a dedicated fund separate from the general fund. It should be managed as a separate dedicated fund, not lumped into the general budget debate.

Second, if we spent per capita what every other industrial nation spends on health care, we would not have a long-term Medicare solvency problem. If we simply focus on cutting Medicare and Medicaid, we’re just shifting the rising costs to those least able to pay them: the elderly, the disabled and the poor, or people on their death bed. Is that the American way?

Solutions: First, we need to cut health care costs (not services). Second, in the next few decades, we all need to pay a little more out of our FICA payroll deductions to cover the fact that the baby boomers are reaching old age (maybe from 1.45% to 1.75% or something). After the wave of baby boomers passes, the deductions could decrease. Finally, if Congress insists on mixing the dedicated fund of Medicare with the general fund, then we should insist on cutting corporate welfare and increasing revenue from corporate profits to help meet Medicare's needs.

Wanna take Action? Start by calling Senator Kerry's office and tell him to get better control of his message (He is one of the super committee members). Here's a recent statement of his:

... the real problem for our country is not the short-term debt. We can deal with that. It’s the long-term debt. It’s the structural debt of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, measured against the demographics of our nation.

Unfortunately, his statements are playing into the hysteria that is enveloping the mentality that these safety nets should be cut. We need to re-frame the debate.

For Your Convenience:Sources:

DemocracyNow! August, 12, 2011.


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Wall Street Crash

"The Wall Street crash doesn't mean there will be any general or serious business depression."
-- Business Week
November 14, 1929

Sources: "The working person's history of the great depression," Show me the Money, Issue 10, Autumn 2001.


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Once Upon a Time

"The outlook is for the end of the decline in business during the early part of the 1931, and steady... revival for the remainder of the year."

-- The Harvard Economic Society's Weekly Letter,
November, 15, 1930

Note: In 1931, the economic squeeze of the depression forced the Harvard Economic Society to suspend publication of the Weekly Letter.

Source: "The working person's history of the great depression," Show me the Money, Issue 10, Autumn 2001.


Sunday, August 7, 2011

Second Helicopter in Two Weeks

I don't remember hearing about another helicopter shot down less than two weeks ago in Kunar province. A search of Google news and Google suggests it was mentioned by obscure outlets. This post, with "Kunar" and "Helicopter" in the labels list will rank high on Google 'cuz there ain't no competition.

I guess that's par for our debilitated, commercial mainstream media; a US helicopter gets shot down and it isn't news if no Americans die.

I'm reminded of Orwell and the perpetual war.