Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Incentive to create jobs: Taxes

If taxes are returned to appropriate levels, corporations will plow profits back into growth and JOBS WILL BE CREATED. Further tax cuts will only mean more of the same or worse.

If the Republicans block a timely increase of the U.S. debt ceiling . . .

they will deliver a broken, impoverished and discredited USA into the hands of the Democrats for the next 50 years, and destroy economies the world over in a global Depression that will make the 1930s seem like a day at the beach.

Furthermore, if Barack Obama caves in to their demands to destroy Medicare and Social Security in exchange for a vote to raise the debt limit without corresponding increases in revenue, the Depression is only going to happen later rather than immediately. One of the country's creditors is its own Social Security fund; another is Medicare. Even if these programs are gutted or destroyed, someone still has to take care of the people they covered, and it won't be the wealthy.

You can't spend what you don't collect. Cutting spending without raising revenue will not lower the existing debt; we need to raise taxes. We need to get rid of the entitlements of the wealthy and the corporations and force them to shoulder their fair share of the burden that they helped to create by refusing to pony up.

The rich are not entitled to a free ride. They made their goddamned money off the backs of the middle class they are hell-bent on destroying. If they succeed in forcing the US into default, everybody, including corporate "persons," is going down.

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Fox in the Statehouse

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) was formed in 1973 to promote conservative social policy and influence legislators on issues like abortion and the equal rights amendment. Its founder, Paul Weyrich, also co-founded the ultra-conservative Heritage Foundation, and is responsible for the catch-phrase "Moral Majority."

Weyrich has pretty much disappeared from ALEC's public face. The organization, with the help of none other than former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson ("I always found new ideas and then I’d take them back to Wisconsin, disguise them a little bit, and declare that it’s mine."), morphed through the years into the "ultimate smoke-filled room" that it is today, providing access for corporate members to state legislators and writing bills that benefit big business, big pharma, and big oil, which are then taken back to state legislatures and in part passed into law. In 2009, according to their own Legislative Scorecard, there were 826 ALEC bills introduced in statehouses across the U.S., of which 115 were enacted into law.

ALEC holds a number of functions each year, basically opportunities for corporate reps and legislators to meet, and from which each legislator may return with a package of pre-researched and pre-written legislation that makes the lawmaker look diligent, and favors whichever of ALEC's corporate members has an agenda in their home state.

You can see this fascinating process at work right here in Wisconsin. Taking three current or former (as of 2010) corporate members of ALEC (listed in a report by the American Association for Justice, formerly the Association of Trial Lawyers of America (ATLA)), let's take a guess and match up the Wisconsin legislation that has been written for them and passed by our legislature:

National Association of Bail Insurance Companies: language in the budget bill that strikes down a ban on their activities in Wisconsin. Jerry Watson, American Bail Coalition, is also immediate past chair of the ALEC Private Sector Board. Update: This was vetoed by Walker before he signed the bill.

National Beer Wholesalers Association: language in the budget bill that forces local craft breweries to distribute their products through wholesalers and barring smaller breweries from distributing directly to retail outlets.

National Rifle Association: the concealed-carry law recently passed.

Some other interesting facts from the Association for Justice report:

  • On the ALEC Private Sector Board: Mike Morgan, representing Koch Industries.
  • The Public Sector Board is comprised of 23 members, of whom only three are Democrats.
  • ALEC's Wisconsin State Chairmen in 2010:
    Scott L. Fitzgerald and Michael D. Huebsch.

So . . . You thought the Wisconsin Legislature represented your interests? They are way, way too busy for that nonsense.


Comfort is the enemy of growth

Monday, June 13, 2011


The word "entitlement" is lately used by neo-Fascist ideologues as a verbal truncheon to bash everyone who views programs like Social Security and Medicare, not as tax-funded hand-outs, but insurance programs whereby the people who pay into them their entire working lives can reap the benefits of retirement income and affordable healthcare late in life. I am convinced that the most "entitled" group of folks in the United States are those who want to gut those programs and grab the money for themselves and their corporate puppeteers.

They deserve it. Just ask one. The poor corporate brethren need tax-cut dollars so they can be reassured that the whole of society is still willing to kiss their collective ass, at its own expense. When so many of us daftly vote against our best interest, those doing the taking have no reason to fear they will be stopped.

Is it a fluke that when you Google "definition of entitlement" one of the alternate searches that pops up at the bottom of the results pages is a search for "definition of narcissistic personality disorder?"

From the staff of the Mayo Clinic:
Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance and a deep need for admiration. Those with narcissistic personality disorder believe that they're superior to others and have little regard for other people's feelings. But behind this mask of ultra-confidence lies a fragile self-esteem, vulnerable to the slightest criticism.

Wow. Let's just slash everything government, state or federal, does that actually helps people and hand the programs over to these greedy, whining bastards so they can feel better. Maybe we can get John Boehner to stop bawling every time he steps up to a mic . . . well, never mind. He gives the comedians ammunition. The loss of the safety net that protects society's most vulnerable members? Not funny at all. Delivering those same at-risk folks to the mercies of Wall Street and the for-profit healthcare cabal? Sick.

The words "inflated sense of their own importance" describe the absolute arrogance of the actions taken and proposed by the new breed Republican Party to a tee (or Tea, if you prefer). The willingness to inflict profound hardship on millions of U.S. families is evil in theory and evil in practice. Corporate profits, if we are to believe what we're being told, are more important than our obligation to take care of those of us who can't take care of themselves.

To end by going to the source of most of this illness, some food for thought from Ayn Rand:

The question isn't who is going to let me; it's who is going to stop me.”
Ayn Rand

I could die for you. But I couldn't, and wouldn't, live for you.”
Ayn Rand in The Fountainhead


Comfort is the enemy of growth

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Country Needs Jobs: Wealthfare Doesn't Create Jobs

It's time we got past the fantasy that tax cuts for rich people and rich corporations are necessary to create jobs. Every attempt at increasing employment will be doomed to fail as long as tax cuts for those who don't need them are the starting point.

Let's say Company A pays nothing in taxes on its profits. Does Company A feel any need to put money back into the economy, or to grow its own business and hire more people? Absolutely not. Because it pays no tax, it can keep all it makes and pay its top execs obscene salaries and bonuses and tell the rest of the country to buzz off. Thanks in major part to the Ayn Randian Objectivist taint that has infected politics and political discourse in the U.S. these days, this is what we have to live with.

Company B, on the other hand, is taxed at a reasonable but much higher rate than Company A's 0%. In order to avoid paying any more tax than they have to, the management of Company B is way more likely to plow profits back into the company, expanding their business and creating jobs, which tends to reduce government debt by generating even further tax revenue.

The idea that taxes must be cut for the wealthy, whether individuals or corporate "citizens," in order for jobs to be created for the rest of us is a lie. Or, more accurately, another lie in a long string of destructive and costly lies inflicted on the American public in the last decade. The truth is that job-creators will not create schitt unless they are facing a threat to their profits that can be mitigated only by growing their businesses and hiring people. If they have another alternative, they are going to keep their money and thumb their nose at the society that made them rich in the first place. Personal and corporate wealth is the result of a vibrant, robust economy, not the cause of it.

I used to consider the sick state of the economy and politics in the U.S. to be largely the result of greed. There is indeed greed involved, but it seems more and more to be a symptom of the process than a cause. With the leadership of our conservative faction having been enchanted by the soulless materialism of Ayn Rand's Supermen, and due to their very effective crushing of opposing ideas in the media, the U.S. is teetering on the brink of both a depression and a descent into modern-day fascism.

Altruism is defined by as:
1: unselfish regard for or devotion to the welfare of others.
2: behavior by an animal that is not beneficial to or may be harmful to itself but that benefits others of its species.

Altruism, along with religion, is defined by Ayn Rand and her disciples as: Evil.

Rand's philosophy does not object to caring for others. It is a "personal choice," however, that is acceptable only when practiced on that basis. It is wrong, for instance, for a government to decree that the unfortunate members of its society are to be cared for by the rest. Rand rejects the idea that human beings are somehow obligated to help their fellow humans.

This is not a world I want to live in. But it is the world that the Republican wrecking crew want for all of us, because it will allow their backers to run amok with no accountability. And, as odious as I find Ayn Rand, that is actually a perversion of her basic Objectivist principles.