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

Eric Cantor’s Small-Business Tax Cut Faces Threat Of Presidential Veto


And a well-deserved veto it would be.

Holy Crap, Batman! Look at the numbers!

$46B added to the deficit in order to create 100K jobs. That’s $460,000/job. That’s likely 10 to 15 times the salary of the jobs created. There is no possibility that this would generate enough new revenues to pay for the cuts, even if the new jobs were taxed at 100%.

Cutting taxes for 22M “small” businesses to create 100K jobs means only 1 job would be created for every 220 businesses getting a tax cut – and that’s if the republican best-case scenario proves true.

Official portrait of Congressman .

Official portrait of Congressman . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I think that Eric Cantor and I have radically different definitions of “potent economic stimulus”. This is designed to be incredibly inefficient, ineffective, and wasteful as a “jobs” program.

Could the lies be any more blatant? Promoting this as a “jobs” bill is an insult to the intelligence of every American, and a clear demonstration that republicans are fiscally irresponsible in ideology and practice. After all, they can blame President Obama for not signing it, or the Senate Democrats for not passing it, and never face responsibility for passing it. I expect them to accuse the Democrats of playing politics in stopping this moment of insanity.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

April 19, 2012 Posted by | 2012 Election, Budget, Economics, Ethics, GOP, Legislation | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

John Carter of Mars


You never know when a moment of inspiration will come along and distract you right when you were minding your own business. I had such a moment in the past week.

It has been a long time since I read Edgar Rice Burroughs, and with the pending release of the “John Carter” movie I thought I would go back and re-read the books the movie was based on.

No, this isn’t going to be a book report. I went through my ERB phase many years ago. This reading was just to refresh my memory, but it got me thinking…

One of the fundamental themes of the story is the unimpeachable honor of the protagonists. It is, perhaps, a caricature or an idealistic representation of an age when a man’s word was his bond, when a handshake was as good as a signed contract.

When I read the John Carter and Tarzan books back in the 80’s, the willingness of the characters to accept calamity and even death rather than betray their honor seemed, at times, frustrating in its absoluteness. Yet its idealistic view of humanity had its appeal.

Adherence to a code of honor is what made the heroes, heroes; and the failure to live up to such a code made the villains, villains. Redemption was often achieved through a return to a code of honor. A century ago, the stories were popular and the ideals respected. John Carter of Mars Pictures, Images and Photos

To set a time reference, the tale of John Carter began as a serialized story entitled “Under the Moons of Mars” published from February to July, 1912. Five years later, that story was published in book form under the title “A Princess of Mars”. There are eleven books in the series. They are all in my library.

These stories thrived through two World Wars and the Great Depression. Times when hope was in high demand. Perhaps John Carter, and Tarzan, paved the way for the golden age of westerns. The age of John Wayne, Zorro, The Lone Ranger, Bonanza, and many others.

I’ve been watching reruns of The Rifleman on MeTV lately, and the stories seem like they were from a different age. This was a show that I watched as a kid, but I see things in it now that I don’t remember from the past. Maybe I took the whole “code of honor” thing for granted back then, and maybe I absorbed it as an impressionable child. But in this day and age, it seems out of place. Cities, and people, have changed.

It also seems like the environment that conservatives want to herd us toward.

A time when almost everyone carried guns, and the rule of law hung by a thread. A hair trigger. The next shootout. Funny how things get broken or shot up each week, but nobody goes broke from the cost of the damage. Somebody gets shot, and they are either recovered or written out to the script by the next episode. Lukas McCain spends almost no time working his ranch. Personal responsibility. Self reliance. Nice and clean. How Utopian. All honor and community – and no consequences. The government is not giving away free homestead land anymore. People’s lives are too interconnected – with other people and with businesses. We are no longer an agrarian culture, and there is no going back.John Carter of Mars Pictures, Images and Photos

ERB called his fictitious version of Mars “Barsoom”. It was a dying world where where life was both cheap and precious because the resources that supported life were scarce and dwindling – and fought over. We wouldn’t do that, would we?

He was well ahead of the environmentalists that conservatives denigrate. We are heading for such a world ourselves as the world population goes up even as our water and food supplies becomes more strained and vulnerable.

Big Oil brags about having 100 years of supply, if only we would exploit it. They use the promise of cheap and plentiful oil and natural gas to encourage us to burn through it as quickly as possible with no thought to the future. Barsoom paints an image of what happens when that oil and gas runs out, when the drinking water runs out, and we are not prepared for it because it was not profitable to pursue alternatives. It is a buggy-whip economy on steroids. I am sure the movie will be a special-effects extravaganza.

“Safely develop” supplies. “Millions of jobs” created.

There is no honor in perpetuating lies.

Where is the demonstration of honor? Is it in all the pledges that republicans require before they are let anywhere near the oath of office?

  • The Grover Norquist pledge
  • The Susan B. Anthony pledge
  • Contract with America
  • The Balanced Budget Amendment pledge
  • Family Leader
  • NOM
  • NRA
  • Personhood USA
  • and how many others?

Each pledge narrowing the constituency base they are committed to serve, until they are committed to serve only a small fraction of America. That…is a crime against representational government. The party that wants to radically re-engineer America around the towering code of honor represented by John Carter never fails to prove that they do not, themselves, embrace such a code to any meaningful degree.

Lee Atwater, Rush Limbaugh, James O’Keefe, and FOX News.

Watergate, the PATRIOT Act, the Iraq war, ALEC, sowing distrust of science, education, the free press, Congress, the Presidency, and the Judiciary.

The 2012 GOP primary season, and the death of the “eleventh commandment”.

The republican party is a living testament to the fatal flaws in their own ideology, living proof that they are committed to fantasy and failure – and dishonor.

They might as well be living on Mars.

John Carter of Mars Pictures, Images and Photos

As for me, I am presently in my Harry Potter/Honor Harrington phase. I still believe in honor, and am still drawn by its appeal.

“And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”

Now that’s a pledge to believe in.

March 8, 2012 Posted by | 2012 Election, Campaign Strategy, Elections, GOP, Personal Notes | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Susan G. Komen Hires Consulting Firm To Assess Damage To Reputation


Damage control? How about a little introspection and root cause analysis. I’ll help you get started:

  • You put a political activist in a position of authority.
  • You let her use SGK for political purposes, attacking women’s health.
  • You offered excuses that were not credible.
  • You only took corrective action when that didn’t work.

You broke a trust, which will take a lot of work over a long time to earn back.

So what do you do? You hire a PR firm stupid enough to distribute a questionnaire asking how best to play people. Their questions alone make SGK appear even more callous and disingenuous than ever. And more untrustworthy.

To quote Tank Girl:

“Now you’re workin’ my tits.”

Stop thinking like a business and start thinking like a humanitarian organization!

Modify your charter to prohibit political activism. Limit political advocacy to promoting women’s health issues.

If you want to assess damage, don’t just try to schmooze the big donors. Keep an eye on event participation levels. All your support begins at ground level. If you lose the feet on the ground, well, don’t think you’re irreplaceable.

My answer to your questionnaire. Now go learn to be a conservatism survivor.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

February 29, 2012 Posted by | Ethics, Health Care | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

South Carolina Voter ID Law: Justice Department Blocks Controversial Legislation


"Certificate of Election of John Jay as G...

John Jay election certificate

At the beginning of our country, all you had to do to prove you were a citizen was to swear to it. Word of honor was enough. Neither the states nor the central government recorded or tracked births. Then it required an oath. Then a court. And a witness. Then it went too far, with intelligen­ce tests and poll taxes. Rules and laws were used to manipulate elections instead of protecting our suffrage rights. In the past year, we have seen a major return to such voter suppressio­n.

Protecting rights is a trade-off. Rights are not absolute, or free. In Federalist 2, John Jay said:

“Nothing is more certain than the indispensa­ble necessity of government­, and it is equally undeniable­, that whenever and however it is instituted­, the people must cede to it some of their natural rights in order to vest it with requisite powers.”

The goal is to protect the most rights while ceding the least. Given the scarcity of fraud and the large number of disenfranc­hised, the voter ID laws are the embodiment of bad government­.

Promoted as a way to protect the integrity of the election process, they accomplish the opposite. They are designed and intended to disenfranchise voters who are not likely to vote for conservatives.

In short, voter ID laws create the very problem they profess to fix – the manipulation of elections – and they do it deliberately. And with extreme partisanship.

December 24, 2011 Posted by | Elections, Legislation, Voter ID | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Payroll Tax Cut Fight: ‘Wall Street Journal’ Editorial Rips Boehner, McConnell


The Wall Street Journal opinion piece passes out the business-c­entric blinders.

“No employer is going to hire a worker based on such a small and temporary decrease in employment costs, as this year’s tax holiday has demonstrat­ed. The entire exercise is political, but Republican­s have thoroughly botched the politics.”

True, but not the point of the exercise. Employers will hire when they see customers with money coming their way – which is the point of the tax holiday: Putting more money in consumer pockets. Wasn’t it the republican­s who said that people know best how to spend their own money? Conservatives consistently devalue the necessity of funding the demand side of supply and demand. Instead, they are aggressively working to weaken the economic foundation of the middle class.

“Their first mistake was adopting the President’­s language that he is proposing a tax cut rather than calling it a temporary tax holiday. People will understand the difference­—and discount the benefit.”

So people will understand when it comes time to end the Bush “tax holiday” for the rich?

“Republica­ns have also achieved the small miracle of letting Mr. Obama position himself as an election-y­ear tax cutter, although he’s spent most of his Presidency promoting tax increases and he would hit the economy with one of the largest tax increases ever in 2013. This should be impossible­.”

Except that Obama44 has been cutting taxes. The “tax holiday” in question is only one example. Conservati­ves keep changing the definition­s. Either the House republican­s have voted for a middle-cla­ss tax increase, or we need to end one of the largest unfunded tax holidays ever.

Conservatives are nibbling at the edges of doublethink. The Obama44 cuts to payroll taxes and the Bush43 income tax cuts to income taxes are both temporary cuts. There is one notable difference between the two though. The Obama cuts are being paid for – how is a major point of contention. The Bush43 cuts went straight to the national debt.

The President and the Democrats want the rich to pay for extending the payroll tax cuts, and put some of that idle money back in circulation as an economic stimulus. The republicans want the middle class and poor to pay for it, which would negate the simulative effect and hurt the economy in the long term. Redistribution of wealth at its most ineffective.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

December 21, 2011 Posted by | 2012 Election, Campaign Strategy, Economics, Legislation | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

House Republicans Stepping Up Anti-Regulation Effort


Regulation is as necessary as traffic law. While I have seen some silly traffic laws, I don’t think that any responsibl­e person would propose getting rid of all traffic law as a consequenc­e.

Every regulation is a reminder that businesses bear no responsibi­lity toward the public good. That responsibi­lity lies with the people, through their official instrument­: the government­.

A bad regulation is a regulation that fails to protect the public interest. A regulation is not properly measured by if or how much it impedes commerce, but whether or not that impediment promotes or fails to promote the general welfare.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

December 3, 2011 Posted by | GOP, Regulation | , , , | 1 Comment

Eric Cantor Admits That Fair Tax Act Is Based On A Fraud


Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia

Image via Wikipedia

The FAA shut down over House Republicans’ insistence on including anti-union provisions in the agency’s re-authorization bill and the airlines are poised to collect $1.3 billion or more of extra profits in forgone taxes. With the FAA unable to collect the $28.6 million a day in aviation taxes it usually takes in, some of the […]

This has become a most interesting situation.

CANTOR: And what airlines have done is have stepped in and said, well, if we’re not going to pay that money to the federal government, we’re going to keep it towards our own bottom line. And I guess that’s what business does.

This is not just an admission that businesses are predatory, but that conservatives approve of it. But where does the Fair Tax Act come in? Because the Fair Tax is based partly on the premise that 23% of the price of a product is due to business taxes, and if the business is relieved of that tax burden it will reduce the price 23%. Cantor has just admitted that businesses won’t do that, because keeping the money (or as much as they can get away with) is how business works.

via Eric Cantor Defends Airlines Pocketing Taxes During FAA Shutdown: ‘That’s What Business Does’.

September 3, 2011 Posted by | Capitalism, GOP | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Great Flabbergasting”: Rachel Maddow’s (Surprising) Blind Spot



“disingenu­ous” is the word I have been looking for. Yet I remain flabbergas­ted at the disingenuo­usness of the republican party. It shows utter contempt for the democratic process, the foundation of our national identity.

“A politician thinks of the next election; a statesman thinks of the next generation­.”
~ James Freeman Clarke, Sermon

By their own admission, republican­s have been focused on the next election since the beginning of Obama44. This has directly resulted in bad policy and bad government­.

It is hard to believe that conservati­ves care about this country. They seem to believe in something that few people would recognize as America, or want to live in.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

August 23, 2011 Posted by | GOP | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rick Santorum In Iowa Ahead Of 2012: ‘Schools Indoctrinate Our Children’


Indoctrina­te? From our very beginning, schools have been introducin­g students to knowledge that family could not. They taught English to foreign language and illiterate citizens, and their children. Small rural communitie­s would hire a teacher to teach their children “the three R’s” so that they would be able to read contracts and newspapers­, and add bills and not get cheated. Schools taught history so that those who lived in isolated communitie­s would understand that they were part of a far larger country, to give them something to base a sense of patriotism on, to know what it is they might have to fight to defend. Education has been one of our greatest strengths.

Indoctrina­te? Words have meaning. They influence thinking. Using pejorative words to describe the public school system is subversive­, seeking to create distrust and division. Santorum and other conservati­ves are deliberate­ly trying to turn Americans against their public school system. Not for the good of the country or the will of the people, but to advance a biased ideology.

Indoctrina­tion? Methinks he doth protest too much.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

August 5, 2011 Posted by | 2012 Candidates, Candidates, Education | , , , , , | Leave a comment

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