"If you’re worried about the deficit, pay attention to the fact that it’s almost all attributable to military spending and the totally dysfunctional health program." Noam Chomsky
"Money, money, money - it whispers everywhere in politics. It twists a little here, bends a little there. And far too often, it tilts in the same direction: in favor of those with buckets of cash to spend." Elizabeth Warren A Fighting Chance Pg 250.
“When all the trees have been cut down, when all the animals have been hunted, when all the waters are polluted, when all the air is unsafe to breathe, only then will you discover you cannot eat money.” ~ Cree prophecy
"...pitting market values against human values, is the real culture war of our time." James Gustave Speth: America the Possible
"...it is hard to escape the sense that debt panic was promoted because it served a political purpose -- that many people were pushing the notion of a debt crisis as a way to attack Social Security and Medicare. And they did immense damage along the way, diverting the nation's attention from its real problems -- crippling unemployment, deteriorating infrastructure and more -- for years on end." Paul Krugman NYT 7/21/2014
For the first time in history, the national debt will hit $10 trillion this year, even though annual surpluses were so large in 1999 that the Congressional Budget Office predicted it would be paid off in 2006. It now grows at $1.4 billion a day, or about $1 million per minute. Wittenburg Door (around 2007)
MAMMON, 'The god of the world's leading religion. His chief temple is the holy city of New York. --Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary, c. 1887
The people who are risk-averse are the rich, who become like Fafnir in Wagner's Ring. You know in Wagner's Ring, the gold is cursed. The two brothers fight each other over the gold. Fasolt gets killed. And Fafnir gets the gold and what does he do? (From the viewer's point of view for the next 12 hours in Valkyrie and Siegfried,...) In real life, for a long time, until Siegfried becomes mature, he sits immobilized, having turned himself into a dragon guarding the gold. So what was the gold for?" Leon Botstein, President of Bard College.
If the Treasury were to fill old bottles with banknotes, bury them at suitable depths in disused coalmines which are then filled up to the surface with town rubbish, and leave it to private enterprise on well-tried principles of laissez-faire to dig the notes up again… the note-bearing territory), there need be no more unemployment and, with the help of the repercussions, the real income of the community, and its capital wealth also, would probably become a good deal greater than it actually is. It would, indeed, be more sensible to build houses and the like; but if there are political and practical difficulties in the way of this, the above would be better than nothing. Keynes.
What we learn from Aleppo, Syria that an elite, ruling government will suppress or even destroy its people by force if it is threatened. The Nazis and other governments have destroyed their people as well.
As people sink into poverty, they resist, there will be a need to discipline them by force as has already happened in poor communities mostly of color. The U.S, has, by far, the world's largest prison population, is militarizing the police, has the largest military in the world, and has troops in 150 countries. Its empire overthrows many popular elected governments and installs dictators, exploits poor populations for the benefit of corporate investors who are our ruling elite.
As the ruling elite game the system further (as in North Carolina), elections become a sham. Mass rallies replace press conferences. Actions of government is increasingly secret. Whisleblowers punished harshly. Media ever more corrupt.
With that in mind, we have just elected a government of billionaires who intend to reward themselves with large tax cuts, increase funding for the military, militarize the police, continue universal surveillance, continue to use their highly concentrated mass media to strike fear into the people, and they will not hesitate to use force to discipline the people.
Republicans proclaim Christian values, but what they really worship is money.
The unifying, underlying principle of the Republican agenda is directing public money to private profit. That explains the force for the military-industrial complex, harsh privatized prisons, charter schools, deregulation, cuts to social programs, and, in general the massive extraction of wealth from the people.
To pay for these gifts to themselves, they will say that they need to fix Social Security by cutting it, cannot afford health care for anyone not able to pay, heap obscene debt on to college students, and to enable corporations to extract as much wealth from people as possible.
(Corporations actually do run government through lobbyists, campaign funding, and the revolving door, and other corruption.) It's the very definition of Fascism.
Among nations, the U.S. has become a pariah. It bombs other countries that pose no threat, tortures, assassinates using drones, does not honor international agreements, works to undermine the U.N., continues to expand its nuclear arsenal (feel safer ?),
As the reality of climate change becomes evident, there will be crop failures, droughts, fisheries collapse, the majority will sink into poverty, there will be mass migration. That's when the lesson from Syria will come home. Poor people will be judged unworthy and will deserve to be destroyed. Considering the Trump actions, we may be punished even earlier. He, alone can decide to use nuclear weapons.
The definition of money as the sublime good because it can be turned into all other goods results in the depreciation of all values that do not pay. What is moral is what returns a profit and satisfies the judgment of the bottom line. Freedom comes to be defined, in practice if not in commencement speeches, as the freedom to exploit. This commercial reading of the text of human nature gives rise to a system that puts a premium on crime, encourages the placid acquiescence in the dishonest thought or deal, sustains the routine hypocrisy of politics and proclaims as inviolate the economic savagery otherwise known as the free market or freedom under capitalism. It is no accident that in a society that presumes a norm of violence, whether on the football field or in the conduct of its business, people speak of deals as killings. No other modern nation, whether capitalist or socialist, shares the American tolerance for crime. The indices of murder and theft in the United States (whether measured in absolute numbers or percentages) dwarf the comparative statistics in England, France, West Germany and the Soviet Union. From Money and Class in America, Notes and observations on our civil religion: Lewis H. Lapham (1988)
Communities of any size, from the local to the national level, can start initiatives that dramatically enhance their own economic well-being. Perhaps the most dramatic example in the past century was the revival of the nations of Western Europe after World War II, taking them from destitution to the highest living standards in the world through the principles of social democracy - combining self-interest with civic values. Working though their trade unions, cooperatives, and multiparty systems, the citizens of Western Europe responded to the rebound of their economies by raising their expectations. During the decade after 1945, these countries embraced their citizens' demands for universal health care, decent pensions, cheap and accessible public transit, tuition-free university education, at least one month of annual paid vacation, free child care, paid family sick leave, and maternity leave - to name only a few of the amenities fostered by this collaboration between local and national.
Sixty seven years after 1945, however, the United States - the victor in World War II and long touted as the richest nation in the world - offers none of these civilized services for all of its people. Not one. We do not have a multiparty system in which smaller parties with pioneering agendas can be part of governing coalitions. Instead, we have a winner-take-all two-party dictatorship, its voting blocs broken into gerrymandered districts largely dominated by one party or the other. We have the weakest, most obstructionist labor laws among industrialized nations, which have led to the lowest percentage of labor union members in the Western world. A much smaller segment of our economy is devoted to consumer cooperatives. In short, the institutional flaws of our government have allowed powerful corporate interests to drive the American standard of living downward for the past thirty-nine years." Ralph Nader:the Seventeen Solutions
Money is a human-created artifact that does not work for most
people. It is the highest value for Republicans
and their right-wing allies because, increasingly, it keepts an elite in power.
Much of the economy relies on underpaid or even unpaid people doing vital work: childcare, eldercare, etc
Realistically, there is a global surplus of labor which in the U.S. has resulted in falling wages and a sinking middle class. It is sure to get worse as automation creates more joblessness. For example, most jobs are for vehicle drivers, but, as self-driving vehicles are soon to be on the highways, those jobs will disappear. Most jobs can be automated.
Automation should benefit everyone. As it becomes unnecessary to
work so hard, there should be a better standard of living for everyone.
But, given our current trajectory, we are more likely to find ourselves
with a Southern Plantation (Wal-mart)
economy. The ultimate victory of property rights is slavery.
In response to the inevitable rising unemployed, a strong social
safety net would be a good countermeasure. Republicans don't think so.
It is a mystery to me why a group of mostly elderly Tea Party people
would want to join a Party that wants to 'reform
As Republicans fret about the deficit, be aware that the US has embarked on a program to rebuild the nuclear arsenal, a trillion dollar program over the next 10 years. It has negative value. The best we can hope for is that these weapons will never be used, and that they can be safely stored for long periods. If they ARE used, they will have unlimited destructive potential. Therefor they are not 'goods', they are 'bads' and should be deducted from GNP, not added. We could forgive all student debt for about that same amount and we would not add to the US killing machine. Richard Nixon, on his last day in office, commented that he could destroy millions of people with the touch of a button. So we know that these weapons are not compatible with democracy, are at odds with international agreements that we have signed, and have the capacity to destroy the planet.
As infrastructure decays, the leading Republican thinks it's a great
idea to build a wall.
(4/17/2014) Last night at the University of Connecticut, Senator Chris Murphy and the Concord Coalition collaborated in a short presentation of budget concerns facing the Congress.
The Concord Coalition is said to be a bi-partisan group (funded by billionaire Pete Peterson) that "champions fiscal responsibility and realistic, long-range planning for the difficult economic challenges that will face our country in the years ahead."
Further, their brochure says "Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and the tax system require substantial changes to put the federal budget on a sustainable path." This does not really sound bi-partisan. Since Reagan began seriously opposing unions, middle and working class people have been sinking steadily. Cutting 'entitlements' can only make the situation worse. Making money the central problem is a distinctly Republican concern, it avoids risk assessment, loads the argument, and downgrades other policy choices. There are other problems that need more attention than money.
" cutting Social Security benefits, rather than raising financial speculation taxes, or other progressive taxes, cannot honestly be called making tough choices. It is making a cowardly choice. It is serving the interests of the rich and powerful at the expense of the vast majority of the population."Dean Baker
presentation showed a hockey-stick
like graph of projected Federal Expense. A prepared form was
distributed to everyone with scored budget adjustments. (No alternative
ideas allowed.) As a group we were to check which of the already
determined adjustments to make.
People with long experience in business are usually Republicans and they bring their accounting perspective when they express political views: they want a balanced budget, don't mind cutting the safety net to get there, and are strongly inclined to austerity even when it is a proven loser. That's how they get to the Ryan budget.
Government is not a business. That's why Republicans are not good at
it. To them, the money is more important than the people.
are different: sometimes the
overall health of the economy is better
served when there is a
deficit. Contrast the writings of Joseph Stiglitz or Paul Krugman with
those of the Concord Coalition. Government is not a business. Privatization removes
and often does not improve
performance, but Republicans have faith in it. Deregulation can lead to
pollution or, often, corruption. For example: the financial sector has
grown at the expense of the productive parts of the economy and it has
resulted in a political system increasingly gamed for the wealthy.
A new study shows
the U.S. is an oligarchy.
Jay Hanson writes: economics is an expression of political agendas that are hidden within known-false assumptions. If one accepts those false assumptions, then one accepts those hidden political agendas. www.jayhanson.org
We were broken into small groups and I found myself
in the company of two other retirees, and two Political Science
students, one from Turkey and the other Bosnia. We opposed the Ryan budget and we were able
to compare the US to countries elsewhere.
Denmark, in addition to
universal healthcare and a standard of living better than ours, has
for qualified students including books, apartment rental and other
Just about everywhere in the West except the United States, where there is no mandatory paid time off, workers not only get vacations but also short work weeks, government health care, large pensions, high minimum wages, subsidized childcare, and so forth. Why is the United States the exception?" Claude S Fischer, Boston Review
Here are some issues not well represented on the Concord Coalition's forms.
It is not by happenstance that America today looks more like a Third World country than an advanced industrial state in international comparisons of social health such as longevity, infant mortality, income distribution, social mobility, labor protection, average number of vacation days, and many other metrics. Our tax policies have ensured that the rich got richer and the rest of us got stuck with the bill. Congressional obedience to corporatized medicine ensured that Americans pay an average of 50 percent more for their health care that citizens in Western Europe. Union busting, leveraged buyouts, and the offshoring of jobs guaranteed lower wages and fewer labor protections. The Party is Over, Mike Lofgren
Why is it that unearned income is taxed at a much lower rate than wage income from hard work ? Tax unearned income instead of payroll taxes. Eliminate Payroll taxes to put more money into the hands of lower income people and improve demand. Without sufficient demand, the number of jobs will not increase.
New financial transactions taxes on high-speed trading, a Tobin Tax, and others to reduce speculation and its associated volatility.
Raise the inheritance tax so that we don't get an aristocracy.
A stiff graduated income tax would damp down income inequality, take back bank bonuses from taxpayer bailouts, trim exorbitant CEO pay, take back Social Security from people who don't really need it, and it doesn't burden people who are out of work. We had a marginal tax rate of over 90% under Ike, and the economy did well.
Stop corporate welfare. The fossil
fuel industry should not be subsidized.
Considering the dire warnings of climate
scientists, we need to rapidly reduce use of fossil fuels.
Impose a carbon tax. Invest in renewables and energy efficiency.
Wind down the empire. The economy is no longer healthy enough to support it. Besides, we have clearly lost the moral high ground.
Slim down our worlds largest military. If there is justification for international war, then there should be international support.
Pre-emptive war is a crime. If we shift to renewable energy, as we should, we could stop gratuitous wars.
Close the School of the Americas. The US has a shabby history of supporting dictatorships in much of the world. Start supporting democracy instead of corporate interests.
building the nuclear arsenal. Live up to the NPT (Non Proliferation
Treaty). Draw down the number of nukes.
Stop spending money on star wars. MIT experts don't think it will ever work.
Shut down the NSA and other black operations that have demonstrated the corrosiveness of secrecy in government: Surveillance, like unjustified secrecy, threatens freedom, civil liberties, journalism, privacy rights, and can only lead to totalitarianism.
Shut down secret prisons, stop renditions, recognize torture for the crime that it is, and bring strong oversight to government activities. There should be a new Church Committee.
Fix our crumbling infrastructure. Put the unemployed to work fixing it while interest rates are still low. High unemployment represents an unhealthy economy and output that is lost forever. Many of our fiscal problems show that the economy is not fully functioning. Cutting the budget, the Republican austerity agenda, is counterproductive.
We should have high speed Internet as good as South Korea's. To do that there should be fiber to the curb. Private entities, like a combined Comcast and Time/Warner, will not do it, and anyway it should be public infrastructure not subject to Corporate policies. Continuing business as usual, corporations will slowly eat away at net neutrality.
Most of our problems with healthcare are directly attributable to private entities like pharma and the insurance companies. We pay twice as much as any other country for healthcare. Single payer would be best. There would be massive savings if we had a system comparable to other advanced countries.
The US is number one in incarcerations. Surely there is money to be saved by reducing the prison population. It would be cost effective to stop the War on Drugs. Our black agencies have a history of actually running drugs. They are out of control.
The fix is in now that the Supreme Court consistently sides with Corporations and against the public interest. Campaign finance law is the foundation of all other law and we can only get our republic back if Citizen's United is overturned. The Supreme Court should have more judges, it should be held to the same ethical standards as are the lower courts, and it should not have the power of ultimate review of the law because, message to the originalists, the Constitution never said so. People should rule, not the Court.
The most pressing problem, ignored in the
conversation, is the 97% certain climate
crisis we are facing. For the most stark statement of this problem
Guy McPherson's website, Nature
Bats Last. Ignoring this problem is suicidal for humanity.
Don't believe them when they tell you that the worst problem is about money.
The War on Cash:
Your Money or Your Life
Big Money vs. American Democracy
of State and Local Governments: 2009
Follow The Money
Stiglitz Lecture on Monetary Policy. (1/3/2013)
Money Can't Buy, the Moral Limits of Markets: Michael J. Sandell
The Trouble With Money, a Prescription for America's Financial
Fever: William Greider
Pathology: Michael Parenti
The Golden Rule: Thomas Ferguson
Other People’s Money and How the Bankers Use It: Louis