Zera's Blog

A Citizen's View from Main Street

Mitt Romney Makes ‘Redistribution’ Argument, Bolstered by Fox News, Conservative Media


Redistribution is a fact of life. The tax code, by it’s very nature, redistributes wealth. It has to, in order “to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States“.

The real question is: What kind of redistribution works best for the country?

The republicans have embraced upward redistribution, a strategy that is decimating the middle class. In a consumption economy, this is fiscal suicide.

The Democrats embrace a strategy that funnels more money back into the economy, empowering demand and driving sustainable growth. This is a strategy that built the United States into the superpower it is today.

This image depicts the Territorial acquisition...

This image depicts the Territorial acquisitions of the United States, such as the Thirteen Colonies, the Louisiana Purchase, British and Spanish Cession, and so on. Possible Errors There is a concern that this map could have errors. For discussion, please see the talk page. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is a strategy that predates either modern political party. From the Louisiana Purchase to the Alaska Purchase, tax money has been used for expansion from the very beginning. Land given to farmers and ranchers, schools and land grant colleges.

And the transcontinental railroad, much of it wasted by corporate greed.

The G.I. Bill helped create a golden age of prosperity, even as the rich were heavily taxed.

State agricultural colleges and their extension services made farmers more productive. Hydroelectric dams, the interstate highway system, NASA, DARPA…all created opportunities or entire new segments of the economy.

We would not be who we are if not for the kind of government spending that republicans are opposed to.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

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September 20, 2012 Posted by | Direction, Governance | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Paul Krugman: U.S. Government Has Failed To Create Equal Opportunity


Conservati­ves do not believe in equal opportunit­y. That is why they quickly change the conversati­on.

Sometimes they translate “equal opportunit­y” into “racial bias”. Frequently­, they translate it into “equal outcomes”. Neither is true, but they do support conservati­ve propaganda­.

Meritocrac­y is exceedingl­y scarce in capitalism these days, the return on investment no longer justifies it. Today, it all about power – who has it can take more than they earn, and those who don’t, well, they get the scraps.

“Take what you can. Give nothing back.”

I recently dared to claim that “a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work” was a fundamenta­l part of capitalism – only to get lectured that it is not. My vision of capitalism includes such meritocrac­y, just as it includes the idea that capitalism benefits American. I stand corrected.

Capitalism­, like any other system, has its limitation­s. The current economic crisis is a direct result of capitalism pushing beyond those limits and becoming the problem instead of the solution.

Capitalism is, in effect, a broken model.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

January 9, 2012 Posted by | Capitalism, Economics | , , , | Leave a comment

Wall Street Occupation — a Cry to End Corporate Influence in Elections?


TAKE OUT THE TRASH #occupywallstreet

Image by otromundoesposible_com via Flickr

Corporate influence has robbed us of our sovereignt­y. Getting corporate money out of politics is key to restoring government by consent of the governed. I see two courses of action, both of which involve amending the Constituti­on. This poses a significan­t problem due to the appropriat­ely high bar to change imposed by the amendment process and the absolute devotion of republican­s to the corporatio­ns.

Option 1: Completely revoke recognitio­n of “personhoo­d” for corporatio­ns; and restore only the rights necessary to engage in contractua­l obligation­s and other basic functions of business, through changes to the law. Trying to end “personhoo­d” before developing an alternativ­e would create legal chaos that would be economical­ly disastrous­. Legislatin­g an alternativ­e while “personhoo­d” was still in effect would let corporatio­ns design the alternativ­e, rendering the effort expensive and self-defea­ting.

Option 2: Restrict corporate free-speec­h rights. This is doable, but a very slippery slope.

Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

October 8, 2011 Posted by | Citizens United vs FEC | , , , , , | Leave a comment

112th Congress HR1116 – Respect for Marriage Act


I usually reserve my analysis for the republican clunkers. This is the first time I have analyzed a Democrat Bill.

The Bill:


[Congressional Bills 112th Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]
[H.R. 1116 Introduced in House (IH)]

112th CONGRESS
  1st Session
                                H. R. 1116

  To repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and ensure respect for State 
                        regulation of marriage.

_______________________________________________________________________

                    IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

                             March 16, 2011
_______________________________________________________________________

                                 A BILL

  To repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and ensure respect for State 
                        regulation of marriage.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ``Respect for Marriage Act''.

SEC. 2. REPEAL OF SECTION ADDED TO TITLE 28, UNITED STATES CODE, BY 
              SECTION 2 OF THE DEFENSE OF MARRIAGE ACT.

    Section 1738C of title 28, United States Code, is repealed, and the 
table of sections at the beginning of chapter 115 of title 28, United 
States Code, is amended by striking the item relating to that section.

SEC. 3. MARRIAGE RECOGNITION.

    Section 7 of title 1, United States Code, is amended to read as 
follows:
``Sec. 7. Marriage
    ``(a) For the purposes of any Act of Congress, or of any ruling,
regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus 
and agencies of the United States in which marital status 
is a factor, an individual shall be considered married if that 
individual's marriage is valid in the State where the marriage was 
entered into or, in the case of a marriage entered into outside any 
State, if the marriage is valid in the place where entered into and the 
marriage could have been entered into in a State.
    ``(b) In this section, the term `State' means a State, the District 
of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, or any other territory or 
possession of the United States.''.
                                 <all>

Analysis

Section 1:

This Act is about general marriage equality, but I like the term “Respect” too. Technical accuracy is rarely inspirational or engaging.

Section 2:

This raises a question I have wondered about before: is it enough to say that a section is repealed, or should the bill also include instructions to delete the section from existing code?

Section 3:

I am concerned with the difference in wording between DOMA and RMA.

Constitutional Authority Statement:

By Mr. NADLER:
H.R. 1116.
Congress has the power to enact this legislation pursuant
to the following:
Clause 18 of Section 8 of Article I of the Constitution,
and Section 5 of Amendment XIV to the Constitution.

Art. 1, Sec. 8, Clause 18:

To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.

I do not see anything in section 8 that applies to marriage. FAIL

Amend XIV, Sec. 5:

The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

I do not see anything in the 14th amendment that applies to marriage. FAIL

Amend XIV, Sec. 1:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

This refers to state law and state restrictions, where the Bill refers to federal law and federal recognition. This Amendment is irrelevant to the Bill. FAIL

These are prove-nothing vague citations that fail to specify any particular power or authority. Mr. Nadler needs to be more thorough:

Article IV, section 1:

Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State. And the Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof.

Article IV, section 2:

The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States.

Article IV, section 3, Clause 2:

The Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States; and nothing in this Constitution shall be so construed as to Prejudice any Claims of the United States, or of any particular State.

Related Bills:

From DOMA:

SEC. 3. DEFINITION OF MARRIAGE.

    (a) IN GENERAL- Chapter 1 of title 1, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following:

`Sec. 7. Definition of `marriage’ and `spouse’

    `In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States, the word `marriage’ means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word `spouse’ refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.’.

    (b) CLERICAL AMENDMENT- The table of sections at the beginning of chapter 1 of title 1, United States Code, is amended by inserting after the item relating to section 6 the following new item:

        `7. Definition of `marriage’ and `spouse’.’.

To properly generalize the definitions, it seems to me that the starting point should be the original language.

If I had written the Bill:

_______________________________________________________________________

                                 A BILL

  To repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and ensure respect for State 
                        regulation of marriage.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ``Respect for Marriage Act''.

SEC. 2. REPEAL OF SECTION ADDED TO TITLE 28, UNITED STATES CODE, BY 
              SECTION 2 OF THE DEFENSE OF MARRIAGE ACT.

    Section 1738C of title 28, United States Code, is repealed and stricken,
and the table of sections at the beginning of chapter 115 of title 28, United 
States Code, is amended by striking the item relating to that section.

SEC. 3. MARRIAGE AND SPOUSE RECOGNITION.

    Section 7 of title 1, United States Code, is amended to read as 
follows:
``Sec. 7. Marriage and Spouses
    ``(a) For the purposes of any Act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation,
or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the
United States in which marital status is a factor,
          (1) an individual shall be considered married if
              (A) that individual's marriage is valid in the State
     where the marriage was entered into or,
              (B) in the case of a marriage entered into outside any
     State, if the marriage is valid in the place where entered into
     and the marriage could have been entered into in a State.
          (2) the person an individual is married to is considered to
     be the spouse of that individual, irrespective of gender.
    ``(b) In this section, the term `State' means a State, the District 
of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, or any other territory or 
possession of the United States.''.
                                 <all>

Constitutional Authority Statement:

By Author:
H.R. 1116.
Congress has the power to enact this legislation pursuant
to the following:
U.S. Const., art. IV, sec. 1,
U.S. Const., art. IV, sec. 2,
U.S. Const., art. IV, sec. 3, cl. 2
14th Amendment, sec. 1

Conclusion

This Bill applies to federal laws, contracts, policies, and programs. It does not apply to State laws, etc. with the possible exception where the two interact. Such a situation would be best resolved case by case rather than attempting a catch-all set of laws or policies.

The republicans will never accept equal rights or freedom of religion for beliefs they do not agree with. The majority of people, however, believe it is time to end this discrimination.

Obviously, I am not impressed with the wording or the authority citation, and I hope they fix it before it does get passed – someday.

July 21, 2011 Posted by | Gay Rights, Legislation | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

America for Sale: Is Goldman Sachs Buying Your City?


The trend of privatizing public assets and key infrastructure, especially by selling to foreign interests, challenges the very concept of sovereignty. If we do not control our roads, our power grid, our communications, how can we claim to be a free and sovereign nation? Politicians are literally selling out America.

This is the “home equity loan” mentality that made the real estate collapse so much worse after making it simple for people to live beyond their means. This is a functional admission that America is broke – and broken.

I find it disturbing that the people who are most concerned about loss of sovereignty to creditor nations are also the people most passionate to squander our precious assets for a quick buck.

Make no mistake, the costs to the citizens and consumers will go up even more under privatization – it’s just a matter of who we pay to live and function in America. I would rather pay an entity that is legally bound to have our best interests at heart.

Dylan Ratigan: America for Sale: Is Goldman Sachs Buying Your City?

June 16, 2011 Posted by | Capitalism, Direction | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Herman Cain: The American dream is under attack…we are on the attack


“The American dream is under attack, that’s the bad news,” said Cain while speaking at the forum. “The good news is we are on the attack. We have got to lead this nation from an entitlement society to an empowerment society. We must defend those principles this nation was founded on.”

Except that his party is the one that’s attacking everything America stands for and was founded on.

From religious freedom to voting rights to representational government, they have bills pending to set it all aside.

Michigan Set To Enact Sweeping ‘Financial Martial Law’ Bill

The War Against the Republic: The Battle Of Madison

Milwaukee Ald. Milele Coggs says bill would give Wisconsin the most restrictive voter ID law in the nation

Lawmaker Behind South Dakota’s ‘Justifiable Homicide’ Bill Defends Measure [UPDATE]

English-only bill could create civil rights problems, groups say

2011 Wis SJR10 – Continuity of state and local gov. operations

The republican party is aggressively terminating the Great Experiment, with strong support from people who don’t even know what the experiment is.

If the Tea Party really wanted to take back our country, they should be fighting the corporations instead of shilling for them.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Herman Cain: First Amendment ‘Doesn’t Say People Can’t Have Religion In Government’

March 18, 2011 Posted by | Candidates, First Amendment, Religion | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Rockville Central To Become Facebook-Only News Outlet


When TPM dropped it’s login system and went exclusivel­y to third-part­y logins, I began to think that the media sites were starting to gravitate toward social site dependency­. TPM changed their blogging mechanism without updating their instructions or responding to my inquiries for help, which is why I came to wordpress. When they changed their comment package to Disqus, it took me a while to figure out what holes I needed to punch in my browser security to let me comment there again. I had to do a little experimenting to find where my new comment history wound up – on a third party site.

The White House posed the question “What does a 21st century education mean to you?” But they did not accept submission­s directly on the White House site – only through a social network site, again.

The local Dept. of Transporta­tion did a survey – on facebook only.

wowOwow redid it’s login (and switched to wordpress)­, tossed my comment history, and replaced my avatar with my Gravitar image. No more site-speci­fic avatar for them. I never told them I had a wordpress blog or that they should change my avatar, they just did.

Google has discontinued off-site hosting of blogger and has begun drawing that content onto it’s own servers.

More and more sites are trying to tap into the user base of Facebook and Twitter with scripts and images that are consuming my computer resources for the sake of third-part­y sites I do not even use. amazonaws.com, disqus.com, fbcdn.com, googleapis.com, ytimg.com; third-party APIs are becoming ubiquitous.

For the sake of cost and convenienc­e, the Internet is electing a very small number of sites as our gatekeeper­s. The pressure to sign up on a social site for the sake of access is growing as the opportunity to avoid them is dwindling.

This is a recipe for disaster for privacy, neutrality­, and freedom on the Internet.  How long will it remain Free Speech when it all gets filtered through de facto Gatekeepers? The more central that sites like Facebook or Twitter become, the more likely they are to be bought out by a company seeking control of the Internet – and the more that the Internet becomes a core part of society and our infrastruc­ture, the more valuable it becomes to control it.

Think “New World Order.”
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

And:

February 25, 2011 Posted by | Capitalism, Personal Notes | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

NASDAQ Nears Highest Level In A Decade


“The Nasdaq finished within 25 points of its highest level in a decade”

Much like the unemployme­nt rate. Does anyone else see a disconnect here?

“Today, tech is hot again. Facebook – which hasn’t even gone public yet – is worth some $50 billion. Online content company Demand Media rose 33 percent on the day of its initial public offering last month.”

These are advertisin­g-driven revenues. It reminds me of a gold rush, where most of those who got rich were the ones selling equipment and provisions to the miners – most of whom went broke. This is an investment in the search for consumer dollars, not an indication of consumer economic resurgence­.

“Companies put off upgrading their computer systems and other large purchases during the worst days of the recession, and are making up for that now. Others are investing in new technology before they add employees.­”

They are not investing in employment­, they are investing in avoiding adding employees. This is not a healthy sign for the economy.

Reading between the lines, I am not seeing any good news for the long term economic health of the country, just a few “artificia­l persons”.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

February 22, 2011 Posted by | Capitalism, Economics, Labor | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Scott Walker, Wisconsin GOP Poised To Start Economic Border Wars


The state capitol of Madison, Wisconsin

Wisconsin State Capital

“He’s also signed into law tax cuts for businesses that relocate to Wisconsin”

“The competitio­ns of commerce would be another fruitful source of contention­. The States less favorably circumstan­ced would be desirous of escaping from the disadvanta­ges of local situation, and of sharing in the advantages of their more fortunate neighbors. Each State, or separate confederac­y, would pursue a system of commercial policy peculiar to itself. This would occasion distinctio­ns, preference­s, and exclusions­, which would beget discontent­. The habits of intercours­e, on the basis of equal privileges­, to which we have been accustomed since the earliest settlement of the country, would give a keener edge to those causes of discontent than they would naturally have independen­t of this circumstan­ce. WE SHOULD BE READY TO DENOMINATE INJURIES THOSE THINGS WHICH WERE IN REALITY THE JUSTIFIABL­E ACTS OF INDEPENDEN­T SOVEREIGNT­IES CONSULTING A DISTINCT INTEREST. The spirit of enterprise­, which characteri­zes the commercial part of America, has left no occasion of displaying itself unimproved­. It is not at all probable that this unbridled spirit would pay much respect to those regulation­s of trade by which particular States might endeavor to secure exclusive benefits to their own citizens. The infraction­s of these regulation­s, on one side, the efforts to prevent and repel them, on the other, would naturally lead to outrages, and these to reprisals and wars.”
Federalist 7

The Founders understood the dangers of pitting one state against another. A lesson the republican­s have failed to learn.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

February 17, 2011 Posted by | Economics, Unions | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

60% Of New Jobs In 2010 Were In Low-Paying Industries



In measuring the job market, conservati­ves only count noses and ignore actual purchasing power. Perhaps they consider all income to be disposable­. This deflation of wages, on a large scale, represents a real reduction in economic potential – and future growth.

Corporate America considers it cost savings, while I consider it a contractio­n in the economy that undermines the recovery.

Main Street is not an endless source of wealth. A consumer economy is only as sustainabl­e as the flow of money to consumers. The more those wages are cut off, the more the economy starves.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

January 14, 2011 Posted by | Capitalism, Economics, Labor | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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