« December 2012 | Main | October 2012 »

My "Fiscal Cliff" Letter to President Obama

Posted by MacZad
Nov 27 2012

Below is the text of an e-mail letter that I have sent to the President with copies to my Senators and Representative.


Dear Mr. President,

Please be very tough in negotiating a resolution of the "Fiscal Cliff." Your reelection has given you the upper hand and all of the Republicans' tax policy dogma is in shambles, and deep down they know it.

For 30 years the lobbyists for the corporations and the wealthy have successfully secured preferential policy and tax treatment for them. The result is exacerbated inequality between the top 1 or 2% and the rest of the nation. This is very unhealthy for a democracy; we're almost a Plutocracy.

This preferential treatment of wealth also reduced federal tax revenues far beyond what was prudent so now we have a "Fiscal Cliff." Since low revenue is the cause, it's logical that the first step in resolving the "Cliff" is to increase revenues by reversing the preferential policy and tax treatment that the corporations and the wealthy enjoy.

Reductions in government programs should only be considered if the tax receipts from drastic increases in the top tax rates, making the use of offshore tax havens more difficult and perhaps the removal of the cap on SS contributions fail to produce adequate revenue.

I am an ex-Republican and like many others I voted for you (and, for the first time in my life, a straight Democratic ticket) as the only hope of reducing the drift (Hell, it's not a drift, it's a rush) of the country toward Plutocracy. Please don't disappoint us. The wealthy have had their day (30 years worth), and it's time for government to aid the common man in regaining some stature.

Thank you for considering my views.


Thomas A. McKee

Categories: Opposing Plutocracy and Corporatocracy, Seeking Better Governance

A Different Take On The "Fiscal Cliff"

Posted by MacZad
Nov 24 2012

The "Fiscal Cliff" is a current hot topic with CNBC even moving from news reporting to mounting a "Rise Above"advocacy campaign spreading fear about what will happen if the problem isn't resolved by 1/1/2013. Other media are equally concerned about the need for action prior to falling off the "cliff," and most of the suggested solutions call for "shared sacrifice" - some kind of a balance between spending cuts aimed mainly at social programs and tax increases.

Well, I think that the media is spewing a lot of propaganda favorable to the very wealthy. First, the "cliff" really isn't one. Nothing drastic is going to happen on January 1 if no agreement is reached; there will be adequate time to make changes after that. Second, and far more important, the real causes of the crisis are being obscured and the solutions being considered aren't equitable.

What is going on here is a rear-guard action by those trying to maintain their favorable tax and policy treatment at the expense of the less fortunate. My Rise of Inequality Since 1980 posting clearly shows the almost unbelievable increase in income and wealth share enjoyed by those at the top mainly because of the favorable tax and policy treatment that their K Street lobbyists have secured for them. Over the years this has drastically reduced federal tax revenue making it a very significant factor contributing to the "Fiscal Cliff."

Now, to maintain as much of their advantage as possible, those at the top are proposing "shared sacrifice" where they grudgingly agree to a small tax increase (means a 95 ft. Yacht instead of a 100 ft. one) and poor Joe Schmo, who has worked much of his life shifting pallets around in a warehouse, is asked to give up some of his SS retirement - or some other sacrifice. Unfortunately, the conservative media (Fox News, et al) have done much demonizing of folks at the bottom like poor Joe erroneously casting them, rather than the tax avoiders at the top, as the main reason for the federal government's poor fiscal shape.

I'm sorry but making sacrifice by Joe a first step in a solution just doesn't wash with me. I know that this is naive, but the first order of business needs to be drastic changes in the tax code to get those at the top paying much more in taxes (means only a 75 ft. Yacht instead of a 100 ft. one) so as to begin to reverse the inequality that has arisen since 1980. That inequality is very unhealthy for our society as Joseph Stiglitz shows in his perceptive book "The Price of Inequality." Joe Schmo isn't a "taker;" he has worked hard all his life to earn those benefits. He should only be asked to sacrifice if the tax receipts from drastic increases in the top tax rates, making the use of offshore tax havens more difficult and perhaps the removal of the cap on SS contributions fail to produce adequate revenue.

The wealthy and their many apologists will say that such drastic increases in the top tax rates will kill motivation, innovation, investment and growth, but that's just more Plutocratic propaganda as the links below show.

Except at a very basic level motivation and innovation are not driven by $$. Big monetary rewards are only incidental to successful innovation not its cause.

The Congressional Research Service reports that a 65 year study shows that better growth has come when the top tax rates were the highest and that cutting top tax rates doesn't spur growth. (GOP legislators tried to suppress this report.)

How about all that investment by the wealthy that creates jobs? Paul Buchheit's #1 pretty well debunks that; there are some other interesting statistics on Paul's page as well. Further, the slow growth in the economy and jobs today is not due to a lack of investment $ to fund business expansion it's due to a lack of demand for products because not enough folks have the spare $ to spend. See: Who creates jobs? Surprise- we do.

The common viewpoint is that business and economic growth do better under GOP administrations and GOP policies, but this Forbes article shows the reverse to be true.

So all of the Plutocrat's arguments favoring the GOP's support for low taxes on the rich are nothing but false dogma. The acceptance of these ideas as truths is very detrimental to the country for our legislators can't make intelligent decisions based on falsehoods. Much pressure needs to be applied to our GOP legislators for it will be very difficult to get them to abandon this long-held dogma and help craft a solution to the "Fiscal Cliff" which does not place undue burdens on Joe Schmo and his ilk and which begin to reverse 30 years of inequality.

Some good supplemental information in these links:

YouTube Straight talk from Independent Senator Bernie Sanders Terrific! (Updated 11/25/2012)

Chart - Simplifies the Fiscal Cliff Resolution Choices (Updated 11/29/2012)

5 Ways Most Americans Are Blind to How Their Country Is Stacked for the Wealthy

It's Simple: Cutting the Deficit Will Kill Jobs and Hurt Growth; Taxing the Rich Won't

The U.S. Does Not Have a Spending Problem, We Have a Distribution Problem

The Giant Lie Trotted Out by Fiscal Conservatives Trying to Shred Social Security

Why the rich guys want to raise the retirement age.

YouTube animation of the Deficits & the Debt

Categories: Opposing Plutocracy and Corporatocracy, Seeking Better Governance, Seeking Truth - Debunking Dogma

The Democrats Won, But Citizens United Still Matters

Posted by MacZad
Nov 20 2012

On Nov. 6th millions of voters overcame the big bucks of the GOP Super PACs and reelected Barack Obama as President. They also elected Democratic Senators and Representatives who were opposed by the big GOP Super PACs. Overall, the big donors to GOP candidates got very little for the hundreds of millions that they spent.

Those supporting the SCOTUS decision can now say that the election results prove that the decision wasn't as detrimental to democracy as the critics declared when the decision was rendered. However, while the election results would seem to support that view it's an incorrect interpretation of the situation. In fact, the Citizens United decision is very detrimental.

Initially President Obama declared that he would not take Super PAC money, but as the campaign progressed he realized that he was being vastly outspent by the Romney campaign, and, in desperation, he reversed his decision and embraced the support of Super PACs, and donors came through with financial support for his campaign. Obama is a man of principle, but the realities of politics in a world where the Citizens United decision allowed his opponent such a financial advantage was just too much. So, though still opposed to Super PACs, the SCOTUS decision forced this good man to embrace something he abhors - that's both sad and corrosive.

Of course, big money in politics is always corrosive, and as noted in this earlier posting we need to be working to reverse Citizens United and make other changes to deemphasize the money and re-empower people in our democracy.

Categories: Opposing Plutocracy and Corporatocracy, Seeking Better Governance

Pity The Poor GOP Strategist

Posted by MacZad
Nov 07 2012

Things didn't go well for the GOP nationally on Nov. 6th, and the Republican strategists must be pulling their hair out trying to figure out what to do.

Several important trends are against them: Coming rapidly are the increasing diversity of the country and the rising importance of young liberal voters as "angry (old) white guys" die off. Coming more slowly are the declining importance of religion in the lives of many Americans and the increasing urbanization of the country.

Like Barry Goldwater predicted, I believe that the party's biggest problem is that 40+% of its members are evangelical Christians. They have a strangle-hold on the party. However, without them in the base there is no party so those in power work a neat con to keep them. They are ideologically ridged, and nothing short of the 2nd coming of Christ will deter them from their mission of remaking the country into a Christian Nation. Their delegates to the Republican national convention used their strength to put a such a strong anti-abortion plank into the party platform that more-sensible party leaders tried to distance GOP candidates from it. However the disclaiming didn't work for not only is the plank radical the candidates are also. Evangelicals vote in very large numbers in GOP primary elections and select candidates who are far to the right of mainstream America. In contests with Democrats in the main elections the extreme mindset of these candidates often comes out, and the Democrat wins. This cost the GOP several Senate seats in 2012. However, from a liberal standpoint it's unfortunate that these radical mindsets are not exposed more often.

The party must do things to attract a more diverse base of voters, but the extreme right-wing positions dictated by the evangelical zealots makes that very difficult. Attracting younger voters is also a must, but that's also difficult. For example the GOP fights gay marriage at every turn while the young readily accept it. There are big ideological differences here, but any strategy that liberalizes GOP positions to attract these new voters alienates the evangelicals. Much lost hair for the GOP strategists.

Research is showing religion decreasing in importance for many Americans except for evangelical Christians. The increasing recognition of the reality of evolution calls the idea of gods into question and religious doubt leads many to a more liberal view. The rural areas (the traditional GOP strongholds) are losing population as better opportunities for employment in metropolitan areas draws people in. Cities, with their cosmopolitan atmosphere and cultural diversity, are the cradles of civilization, and, just as travel does, city living opens minds to other viewpoints - most often liberal ones. Unfortunately for the GOP there's almost nothing that they can do to counter these two trends.

All this makes it seem bleak for the GOP, but that's only partly true for the party is very patient in working toward its goals. Realizing many of its policies are unpopular the GOP works incrementally at achieving them and has made many little gains over the past 30 years or so. Despite some substantial liberal advancements the midpoint of American political thinking has shifted to the right in many areas. So much of what once was considered moderate is now viewed as liberal and what was once considered extreme right wing is now acceptable. Unfortunately, it's not just Republicans who embrace these new norms but, many Democrats do as well because the magnitude of the attitude shift is hidden by its slowness. More on this in a later posting.

Categories: Defending Religious Freedom, Embracing Diversity and Tolerance, Seeking Truth - Debunking Dogma