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

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

Koch Brothers, Grover Norquist Split On Ethanol Subsidies


I would like to throttle back the ethanol subsidies, though not eliminate them completely­. But not for the reasons the Koch brothers give.

The campaign to promote corn ethanol drove up the price of corn, which benefited the corn farmers. It also encouraged new businesses and job creation, as well as diluting our dependence on oil for transportation.

But at a price…

As demand for corn skyrocketed, the price also rose. Because the price went up, more fields were planted with corn. More corn fields meant less fields devoted to other grains, which led to low supply and high prices for other grains. That raised the price of foods derived from grains and food animals fed on grains.

In short, it drove up the price of food. Worldwide.

What would I do?

1) Cap corn ethanol at 10% mixture.
2) Keep subsidies for small “blenders”­, but greatly reduce or eliminate subsidies for the rest. (research would be required to determine a proper threshold.) Betraying the small startups would hurt the government­’s ability to lead the economy into the future instead of letting it decline in the past.
3) Bring oil speculatio­n back into regulated markets, where they belong. I would tax windfall profits of oil speculator­s by at least 50% – their pursuit of profits severely hurts the economy.
3a) If (3) is not feasible, then bypass the market entirely by having the federal government buy directly from the producer on contract and sell at a slight profit to the domestic market. This is probably the best option for the country (and the world).

And the Koch brothers? They are the evil behind the high price of oil speculation. They’ll survive:
http://thi­nkprogress­.org/repor­t/koch-oil­-speculati­on/
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

June 16, 2011 Posted by | Capitalism, Economics | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Gainful-Employment Rule – What Do We Think


Barnard College, 1913 (LOC)

Image by The Library of Congress via Flickr

Gainful-Employment Rule: What Do We Think?.

“Programs must fail for three years out of four before they are completely cut off from student loan or Pell Grant money. No programs will be ruled ineligible until 2015.”

I find it interesting that conservatives who want government to be run like a business reject the idea of evaluating a supplier based on return-on-investment criteria.

I don’t think there is a business in the world that would contract with a third-party supplier with such a parasitic and ineffective business model as some of these for-profit institutions embrace. Nor would I expect any business to be so lenient with failure.

“”We’re focusing on improving (for-profit programs) rather than closing them. Students would be better off if their programs were stronger rather than closed down,” said James Kvaal, a DOE official, during a conference call with reporters.”

Just the opposite of the approach republicans take toward public schools.

When it comes to funneling taxpayer money to private businesses, republicans are clearly selective about running government like a business.

“The controversy over the “gainful employment” rules highlights an important reality — mainly that the federal government is actively creating rules that will prevent many people from obtaining skilled employment or improving their job status.

The whole issue of higher education regulation is a debate worth having. There is widespread opinion that the federal government has once again overstepped its bounds. That’s why I’m looking forward to taking a close look at how we can improve higher education without selectively imposing draconian regulations that hamper innovation and job creation while reducing student choices.”

Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) is the chairwoman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce’s Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training.

The catch is that for-profit colleges are the only ones deliberately bilking the taxpayers and impoverishing their victims. You have to concentrate regulations on the bad actors in order to minimize unintended consequences.

And the truth is that we cannot afford the economic consequences of predatory for-profit colleges. The high cost of an honest college education already limits the disposable income of college graduates to a degree that weakens the economy. The problem becomes enormously worse when the education is worthless. The Congresswoman merely seeks to complicate and muddy the waters.

June 12, 2011 Posted by | Education, Regulation | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Huck Going To Sarah’s Turf



So that’s a “no” to civility? Coming from a religious zealot, I am not surprised. People fighting for their own religious rights are the enemy? American citizens standing up for democracy and the Constituti­on in the face of theocracy are the enemy? I don’t think so!

Huckabee is the type of republican who will never accept the Constituti­on of the United States as the highest law of the land. He has no business being in politics.

This Constituti­on, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constituti­on or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithsta­nding.”
Article VI

Oh, look, it is unconstitu­tional to put the Bible – or any other basis of law – above the Constituti­on.

And while we are at it, Mikey; Article I, section 9 says:

“No Tax or Duty shall be laid on Articles exported from any State.”

Which means that it is unconstitu­tional to put a national sales tax, or even a national VAT tax, on products exported from a state. You can go ahead and scrap your Fair Tax Act any time, it’s worthless.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

January 16, 2011 Posted by | Elections, Religion | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Obama-GOP Tax Cut Bill Turning Into ‘Christmas Tree’ Tinseled With Gifts For Lobbyists, Lawmakers


This deal has turned into just about everything that the last election protested. Secret deals, buying votes, huge deficit spending.

Extending UI benefits has a positive stimulativ­­e effect. Tax breaks for the middle class, positive but less efficient. The SS holiday is a dangerousl­­y slippery slope. The rest is unstimulat­­ive and unaffordab­­le.

The economy will never recover as long as the tax breaks for the rich remain in place. They just drain too much money out of the economy with very little return. 2/3 of the economy is consumptio­­n-driven, and not enough money is getting back to consumers to sustain it’s growth.

Middle class workers have not shared the benefits of increased productivi­­ty, which has been used to keep job creation low. The middle class has lost a tremendous amount of wealth in the housing bubble, lost retirement money, and been forced to compete on wages with workers in third-worl­­d or emerging economies.

The job creators have all the money they need to start hiring. What they lack is customers. They are waiting for the people they have shorted to start spending money they no longer have. Government stimulus spending is the usual way to break that gridlock, but the effort has been undermined and that well is tapped dry.

Tax cuts for the rich haven’t created jobs, and restoring those rates will not hurt job creation as much as conservati­­ves claim.

This plan may seem like good politics, but it also seems like bad economics.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

December 12, 2010 Posted by | Budget, Economics | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Have We Really Seen This Recession Before?


People keep comparing this recession to past recessions here and in other countries. Other debates argue about what policies worked or failed. But how valid are the statistics and assumptions of the past, when applied to today?

After WWII, we were still a creditor nation. THE creditor nation. Our debt was held domestically. We are now THE debtor nation. Interest payments on the debt now leave our economy, not reinvest in it.

We had the largest undamaged industrial capacity, countries in need of rebuilding, and a trade surplus. Now those countries have been rebuilt, regained their economic independence from us. We are shipping manufacturing capacity off-shore, further weakening our economy. China has replaced us as the economic Titan of the world. The trade surplus has turned into a deficit that undermines the economy even more than budget deficits.

We benefited from the “Brain Drain” of German scientists and engineers, to achieve technological supremacy. The new brain drain has worked against us. We have educated the rest of the world to our level. We have exported our tech base along with our jobs. We have driven some of our best and brightest overseas through lack of research funding. Companies are calling for more H-1B visas with the claim that we no longer have the experts their companies need. Our education system has fallen far behind much of the rest of the industrialized world.

All the economic advantages we held during the Cold War have been erased by globalization and excessive conservatism. Continue reading

August 5, 2010 Posted by | Budget, Capitalism, Direction, Economics, Labor | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Neel Kashkari, TARP Guru, Supports Cutting Entitlements, Citing ‘Me-First’ Attitude Of Beneficiaries


This reminds me of something I heard about “old blood-and-guts” Patton: our blood, his guts.

The middle-class has seen wages stagnate or slide while the rich take more and more home with them.
For decades, we have seen our jobs go overseas while merger after merger has killed jobs by the thousands.
We have seen health care costs rise far beyond our salaries.
Our wages have barely kept up with inflation.
We have seen property taxes rise.
We have seen college tuition rise.
We have seen student loan debt rise.
We have seen our home equity disappear.
We have seen our retirement funds dry up.
We have spent our savings and accumulated debt hoping to survive until things got better.

We have lost our jobs.
We have lost our homes.
We have bailed out ungrateful banks.
We have bailed out an ungrateful Wall Street.
We have bailed out key industries.

We have done nothing but sacrifice for decades – with nothing to show for it.
The 2006 election, the 2008 election, and the Tea Party movement all have one thing in common – one message in common: The well is going dry, we have sacrificed all we can, it is not our turn to sacrifice again!

Those entitlements have been hard-earned and are desperately needed. It’s time for someone else to ante up if you want to keep this game going.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

July 26, 2010 Posted by | Capitalism, Economics | , , , | Leave a comment

Bush Tax Cuts: Democrats Set Stage For Big Battle Over Ending Tax Cuts For Rich



It is sad that American politics has devolved to this. That the majority party has to resort to playing games in order to do the people’s business in spite of bitter partisan obstruction. We are seeing a political civil war in progress.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

July 26, 2010 Posted by | Budget | , , , | Leave a comment

   

%d bloggers like this: