Tag Archives: capitalism

Does America Need Manufacturing?

Does America Need Manufacturing?
by
David Schlecht

A stick of wood has little or no inherent value. Have someone carve it into an ax handle and you have created value. The person with the ax handle has value, as does the business he works for, as does the neighborhood and town he is in as well as the country. For every ax handle made, value is added to the country.

When America abandons it’s manufacturers, it is abandoning the golden goose. No more value is added to the country.

Sure, we now have a “service” driven economy, but it ads nothing of value. Do you want fies with that? Is that adding any value? I’ll mow your lawn, you fix my car. Is any value added? Of course not. In fact, if all you have is service, eventually all the value of the country will be depleted. Every time the money has to change hands, someone takes some out to live on, some of it goes to pay for the roads and street lights.

Obama is planning to put another trillion dollars into a stimulus package, but it will all go away just like it did ten years ago when we no longer make anything anymore.

We’ve lost over 40,000 factories in the past 10 years. That’s a whole lot of value that is gone. What little manufacturing we have left is not enough to offset the value lost in the “service industry”. The stimulus will all go away unless our representatives start to realize where it’s going.

Job Creators, Job Creators, Where are the Job Creators?

Job Creators, Job Creators, Where are the Job Creators?

Dave Speck

Every time I turn around I hear another Republican politician explaining how the rich, who are sitting on three trillion dollars are the job creators and we need to give them more money.

Who are the job creators?

If it was the rich, we’d be in fat city right now because the so called job creators would have nothing but money to magically make more jobs.

If the businesses and the wealthy were the job creators, there would never have been the great Republican depression of the 20s. They had all the money and America, the real America, still starved to death.

Who Are the Job Creators

The businesses will only hire if there are customers needing something to buy. The best way to kill an economy is to stop people from buying.  If people have money to spend, businesses will hire. The customers are the job creators.

The Customers are the Job Creators

Got that? The customers.

If a business is doing well, it can stream line and increase their profits. When the streamline, they lay off people. Who is the job creator? The business is the job killer. The bigger the business, the more streamlined it is and the bigger job killers they are.

Bringing in more customers will mean they have to hire more people, even if they’ve streamlined the business. The customers are the job creators.

When a billionaire buys a company and moves it over to China to cut costs, the billionaire is the job killer. It’s not the customers, it’s not the regulations, it’s not the taxes, it’s the greedy billionaires who are the job killers.

So, who are the Job Creators?

You got it. The customer. Give the people a union and a reliable income and our economy will flourish. If we give more money to the so called Job Creators that the Republicans tell us about, we will lose more and more jobs.

Balanced Budget Amendment

Balanced Budget Amendment
Dave Speck

We’ve been hearing a lot of commotion lately by the Republicans about how we need a balanced budget.

At first blush, this might sound like a great idea. After all, don’t you and I have to balance our checkbook at the end of each month?

No, actually, we don’t. We can go out and borrow any time we feel like it.  In fact, if our federal government becomes hamstrung with a limitation like this, it would be the best thing for the billionaires and the worst thing for you and me. That’s why the Tea Baggers are all over this. Their billionaire leaders (behind the scenes) are telling them how important it is that the government can’t borrow money.

But, let’s look at what would have happened if our founding fathers were as stupid as a Tea Bagger. Without being able to spend more money than they had, we would never have been able to protect ourselves from attack as a young nation. In fact, we wouldn’t even be able to protect ourselves from Hitler during the second world war if we hadn’t been able to borrow money.

Imagine what we would have done during the Republican Great Depression of the 1930s. Without being able to borrow money to get our people back to work, this great country of the USA would have gone broke. We wouldn’t have been able to start up all the jobs programs that saved us from republican stupidity.

Here we are, a century later and the Republicans are trying to destroy our country again. When will America ever learn not to listen to the Republicans?

What are the Commons and Why Should We Protect Them

What are the Commons and Why Should We Protect Them
by
David Schlecht

You’ve probably read about the need to protect the commons on this site in previous posts. Here is what the commons are and why we need to protect them.

What Are the Commons?

The Commons is often referred to or described by The Tragedy of the Commons. The commons are those common parts of a society that belong to everyone, or should belong to everyone.  Let’s take an example:

Let’s imagine a village on the plains where there is enough room in the pasture for everyone to raise one cow. The village functions perfectly because the people share the pasture (the commons) and everyone protects it so everyone can benefit.

After generations of success, the village inherits a greedy villager who wants to grow lots of cows so he can sell them and get rich. If the village doesn’t protect their common pasture, it will be destroyed and the village will suffer and possibly even die away for lack of pasture land.

So, that was a pretty simple example of the commons and an easy demonstration of why society must protect the commons. But, let’s look at today’s societies. There are no common pasture lands and no common waterways and no common breathable air. Oh wait, I guess there always will be the most basic of commons. If one greedy person gets to get rich by polluting everyone’s drinking water then the society failed to protect their commons.

But commons include so much more than just the land we need to survive and the air and the water, but it also includes many other things that we need to survive.

So, now is a good time to stop reading and ask yourself what other commons you can think of, what other things a society needs for survival.

Does a society need clean water, clean air, unpolluted farmland? Does it need a government? Does it need a fire department and a police department and a military? I would say yes to all of the above. All of these are commons that need to be protected from the greedy. What is a military that isn’t owned by and responsible to the people? It’s a police state. It’s a repressive military government.

Is reasonable health care a necessary requirement for a successful society? Of course it is. And, what happens when greed takes over the common? You have members of society dying so greedy people can make a profit.

Why Should We Protect the Commons?

By now you probably already know the answer. It’s not at all difficult. When profits collide with the commons, society suffers, fails, and dies.

What happens when the fire department is controlled by the greedy? Only those paying through the nose for fire protection get fire services and in many cases, the fire department will go and start fires of those uninsured homes to strum up more business. We have seen this behavior in America in the past with insurance rackets.

In fact, insurance is one of the few businesses that should not be controlled by greed. It is at conflicting sides of the ring to have greed and insurance in the same business.

What is your list of things that should be free from the control of greed? What commons need protecting?

Religious Matters

Religious Matters
What Moral Matters Matter to America
by
Paul Johnson

The latest US budget designed and approved by almost every single Republican in the House of Representatives takes food right out of the mouths of the starving and gives it to the millionaires and billionaires.

This action has horrified America enough that we are beginning to realize that we are voting for the party that is as opposite our religious and moral values as possible.

How could we have voted for this immoral party? How could we have been made into such suckers that we have voted against all that we know to be right and voted for those intent on giving our country away to the greedy and the rich?

If we don’t stop and figure out how we got here, we’ll never be able to avoid it in the future.

What went so wrong that we got the party of the greedy running our government?

I can’t speak for everyone who has accidentally voted for the party of the greedy, but I can speak for those I know and I can be pretty sure that this is the same mistake made by almost all of those voting for the Republicans.

Wedge Issues

The easiest way to get people to vote against their own best interests and against the best interests of the country is to get them to vote primarily on wedge issues. A wedge issue is an issue that can be used to drive as a wedge between political parties. The Republicans can’t run on providing for the poor, because it would be a a lie, so they need to find something that will get people riled up enough to go and vote for a lousy candidate if he would just address the wedge issue.

The Republican voter is typically a single issue voter. This means that they are the most susceptible to being used as tools in wedge issues.

Effective Marketing

The Republican party has become experts at marketing destructive policies to the American people. Why else would you have a Tea Party out there chanting for more rights and lower taxes on the multinational corporations and billionaires? The Tea Party was created with money from the billionaires and is sponsored by billionaire dollars and marketed with billionaire money all for the purpose of getting Tea Party candidates elected who vote against the interests of Americans and all for the corporations.

Few people even realize that the original Tea Party was a revolution against multinational corporate power and now they’re out there chanting for more power and more money for the multinational corporations. You can’t tell me that’s not pretty darned impressive marketing.

Lies and Deceipt

The percentage of people who are foolish enough to be Tea Baggers is low enough that the Republican party needs more. Hence, the need to lie about what they are and what they plan to do for the billionaires.

This is not a problem limited to the Republican party. There are a few Democrats who run on Progressive principles and then vote straight ticket with the Republicans.

But, this isn’t really all about how bad the Republicans are. This essay is about how some unethical politicians and greedy billionaires can corrupt our political system. It’s not all about Republicans or Democrats. It happens to be the Republican party they have infected, but it could have just as well been the Democratic party. In fact, they’re spending billions of dollars right now, trying to corrupt that party as well.

Taking Back our Country

How on Earth are we ever going to fix this mess with so much money lines up against the American voters? How will we wrestle the media away from big money? How can we change the campaign finance laws when the Supreme Court is so obviously pro-billionaire?

This almost looks like a perfect storm. It may be too late for us to take back the country peacefully, but hopefully we will at least try before it’s too late.

The Real Issues

As I’ve pointed out, political parties don’t run on real moral issues, they run on wedge issues. This means that we voters are stuck without real issues upon which to vote.

What are the most important moral issue to you? Think about it before reading further. What is really important to you morally? Do these moral issue matter enough to affect your voting? In other words, do your morals affect your “real” life or are they just something to talk about at church?

For the vast majority of Americans, moral issues affect their daily lives. Most people try to keep morals in their lives.

Here is a short list of my moral issues. I have a much longer list but it’s not important what mine are, what matters is what your moral list looks like.

  1. Feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, housing the homeless, curing the sick. You know, those things Jesus says need to be part of our lives.
  2. Turn the other cheek. This includes reducing the steel heel of oppressive laws in America and reducing the oppressive governments of other lands. This means no wars. Fix the system where the vast majority of those in our prisons are minorities and poor. You know, the things Jesus said we should keep in our lives.
  3. Discouraging greed. Wow! There’s no end to where this could go. It’s time to get the money changers out of our religions and out of our politics.

There are plenty more, but this is a good start for discussion. Do yourself a favor and come up with your own personal list of important moral issues.

Now ask yourself, how many of those issues on your list are things you actually vote on? How can there be such a great disconnect between what you think is moral and how you vote?

Now, here is a list of wedge issues that are important but are not anywhere near the top of my list and I bet they’re not at the top of yours either:

  1. Abortion. This is not a moral issue. Nowhere in the Bible does it say we need to vote on abortion. Abortions are horrible but if they’re at the top of your morals list, you might want to stop and take a second look at your morals.
  2. Hate the Gay. How many times does your religious book refer to defending the downtrodden compared to the number of times it says we need to disenfranchise gays? This is a big wedge issue but is also a big moral issue as well. Should we be taking rights away from gays? What would your common sense tell you?
  3. Religion in schools and in government. This wedge issue really as no place in a Christian’s political view. Christianity is opposed to the combination of politics and religion. So are our country’s founding documents. So, why would you vote based on this issue? Don’t get me wrong. There are some religions that think that politics and religions should be the same. But most Americans opposed to Muslim laws regarding this.

What are your most important wedge issues and is it wise to vote based on them while excluding the most important moral issues on your list?

Happy Easter!

How to Tell if Your News is Biased

How to Tell if Your News is Biased
Matthew K.

How can you tell if your news source is biased? How can you tell if you need to turn off your news TV or radio and find something more honest? I’ll give you some simple guidelines.

  1. Is your news source coming from a multi million dollar corporation? Well then you can guarantee that it wouldn’t be in their best interest to get the poor and working class all up in arms about multi million corporations, now would it? This is the first and most obvious indication that something is wrong with your news.
  2. Are your news casters paid more than $106,000 per year? If so, you can be sure it’s not in their interest to give you the truth about taxes on the wealthy now is it?
  3. Does your news source clump Social Security expenses in as part of the general federal budget? If so, turn off your lying news right now. This is an obvious lie that has been disproven so many times it’s sad, but the liars keep repeating it.
  4. Did your news have a piece on the thousands of picketers who marched in front of the Koch industries headquarters? No? Never heard of it? You know what that means. But I’ll bet you know about every single Tea Party gathering.
  5. Does your news source explain how taxes on the rich have caused the budget deficit? No? Didn’t think so. Turn them off.
  6. Does your news source explain how the rich, making more than $106,000, pay ZERO social security tax on every penny over that? No, I suppose not. I never hear any of them talking about that. Social Security would be in fat city if the rich just paid their fair share.
  7. Does your news source explain how demand drives an economy and giving money to the fat cats is what’s caused this problem?

This is just a few of countless distortions and lies that come out of the major corporate news.

So, what can a person do to get the real news? Well, let’s start by turning off the corporate news and start looking for independent news and look for better alternatives. I’m not going to tell you what to listen to, you have to decide that on your own, but here are some great places to check out.

  • The Thomm Hartmann radio/TV show. You can get it on the Web and on Dish TV. He has lots of great guests, liberals and conservatives, debating the issues.
  • Think Progress is a great think tank that is current on all the goings on in politics.
  • Daily Kos is a great website with lots of daily news.
  • Democratic Underground is another great news source.
  • The Nation has a great newspaper and online news source.
  • Check out The Guardian and the BBC, two British news sources.
  • You can even check out Al Jazeera for news not quite as biased as Fox.

You may have noticed, but I’m not giving you links. You can find these and more by doing a little googling. Get in the habit of doing some research and finding news sites that are actually good for you and good for America.

More Swill for the Tea Baggers

More Swill for the Tea Baggers
by
Captain Jack

You won’t believe the swill the Tea Baggers are being fed. It’s hard to believe that anyone eats this stuff up without checking any of it out, but it’s the only way they can sustain their hatred of America and her principles. Here is the latest email in my inbox.

Sad but true?
Once upon a time the government had a vast scrap yard in the middle of a desert.  Congress said, “Someone may steal from it at night.”  So they created a night watchman position and hired a person for the job.

Then Congress said, “How does the watchman do his job without instruction?”  So they created a planning department and hired two people, one person to write the instructions and one person to do time studies.

Then Congress said, “How will we know the night watchman is doing the tasks correctly?”  So they created a Quality Control department and hired two people, one to do the studies and one to write the reports.

Then Congress said, “How are these people going to get paid?”  So they created two positions, a time keeper and a payroll officer, then hired two people.

Then Congress said, “Who will be accountable for all of these people?”

So they created an administrative section and hired three people, an Administrative Officer, an Assistant Administrative Officer, and a Legal Secretary.

Then Congress said, “We have had this command in operation for one year, and we are $918,000 over budget.  We must cut back.”  So they laid off the night watchman.

NOW slowly, let that sink in.

Quietly, we go like sheep to slaughter.

Does anybody remember the reason given for the establishment of the DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY….. during the Carter Administration?

Anybody?

Anything?

No?

Didn’t think so!

Bottom line:  We’ve spent several hundred billion dollars in support of an agency…the reason for which not one person who reads this can remember!

Ready??  It was very simple . . . and, at the time, everybody thought it very appropriate.

The Department of Energy was instituted on 8/04/1977 TO LESSEN OUR DEPENDENCE ON FOREIGN OIL.

Hey, pretty efficient, huh???

AND, NOW, IT’S 2010 — 33 YEARS LATER — AND THE BUDGET FOR THIS “NECESSARY” DEPARTMENT IS AT $24.2 BILLION A YEAR.  IT HAS 16,000 FEDERAL EMPLOYEES AND APPROXIMATELY 100,000 CONTRACT EMPLOYEES, AND LOOK AT THE JOB IT HAS DONE! THIS IS WHERE YOU SLAP YOUR FOREHEAD AND SAY, “WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?”

A little over 33 years ago, 30% of our oil consumption was foreign imports.  Today 70% of our oil consumption is foreign imports.

Ah, yes — the good old Federal bureaucracy!!

NOW, WE HAVE TURNED THE BANKING SYSTEM, HEALTH CARE, AND THE AUTO INDUSTRY OVER TO THE SAME GOVERNMENT?

Hello!!  Anybody Home?

This is currently circulating  on the net. I think it proves the point quite well that this Nation needs to get a grip on SPENDING and suggest that you disregard any “interior” rules that may impede cutting Obamacare funding and other projects that are hidden inside the CR and get on with the job of saving the country. In my opinion. the American public is sick & tired of the cavalier approach that you, are Employees take regarding the job we elected you to do. Oh yes, just how much have you cut from Congressional spending? And how much of a reduction in salary have you taken as Speaker? Congressional pay, staff &staff salary has been a ongoing subject with me from the begining of the ecnomic downturn and you will continue to hear from me until a decrease is made; ask Dean Heller, my Congressman, he is aware of my efforts. You may also  hear from other northern Nevada TPers about this. as a SocSec. recipient, I also see no problem with the government shutting down for a period of time. To Quote Ronald Reagan: Government is not the solution, Goverment is the problem! So lets try to put in at least 4 full days a week and stop posturing and get on with some positive,productive labor that will reduce the burden on the American TAX PAYER regardless of whose entitlement (betcha its not constituinal) is skewered.

The first things that pops into my mind when I read this is that they’re asking tea baggers if they know what the government is supposed to do. Really? The Tea Baggers? They have no clue what America is even about. They don’t even know which way is up. ‘They don’t even know which party is the party of the people and which party is the party of the greedy, and you’re asking them something about the government?

To start with, it’s obviously not true, but it begins by saying it is. Now for the average American, I realize just because it says it’s true, they will know better. But for a Tea Bagger, you can bet they think it’s true. Why else would they be voting against their own best interests?

But let’s get to the point about the Department of Energy. Does anyone remember what the inflation of the 70s was all about? That’s when OPEC started manipulating the price of oil. The price of gas tripled and there were serious gas shortages. With the price of shipping going up, the price of everything went up.

President Carter decide to do something about it. He started many programs to cut our dependence on oil. He even installed solar panels on the White House. Incidentally, the solar panels were promptly removed after a Republican president moved in and most of the programs were under funded or polluted with cronies from the oil industry by the Republicans.

Here’s what Carter said: Beginning this moment, this nation will never use more foreign oil than we did in 1977 — never.

So, why did we fail in our quest to become oil independent by the year 2000? Was it because we spent too much money trying? Was it because it was a stupid idea? Was it because it’s not our government’s role? No, it was because we let the Republicans get in power and they destroyed any hopes we had of getting out from under the thumb of the oil tycoons, you know, like the Koch brothers who fund and control the tea baggers.

So, what is the solution according to the Tea Baggers? Shut down the government and quit trying. Tuck our tail between our legs and act like we’ve been beaten.

Really? Is that any way to act like an American? If anything, we need to get serous about this disaster and that means start funding the agencies that we need to help us get it fixed and that means we have to quit voting for Republicans who put oil industry stooges in our Energy Department.

I’m sure that a Tea Bagger will refuse to remember, but it wasn’t that long ago that Bush and Cheney held a meeting to lay out our country’s energy goals for the Bush presidency and guess what. They invited no one but the oil tycoons. Do you have any doubt why the Department of Energy never did anything during the Republican years?

So, if you’re a Tea Bagger, you’ll vote Republican and wonder why your country is going to pot and then believe the Koch brothers when they tell you it’s all the Democrats’ fault.

Ah to be a Tea Bagger.

 

Does Supply Drive an Economy or Does Demand?

Does Supply Drive an Economy or Does Demand?
by
David Schlecht

We’ve discussed supply side economics many times on this blog and there are countless websites that compare the two economic models, Keynes vs Friedman. But this time I’m going to add a bit of history to the discussion. After all, if we can’t learn from our mistakes, we’re doomed to repeat them, and repeating them we are.

Supply Side Economics

Probably the best way to describe Supply Side Economics is Voodoo economics. This is the idea that if you give money to the rich, they will hire people and pay a good wage and the heavens will open and the angles will sing and leprechauns will dance. It’s also referred to as trickle-down economics.

In other words, people will run out and buy just because the stores are full.

Keynesian Economics

This is the old model of economics where demand drives the economy. In other words, when people have money they will buy.

Now this is obviously just broad strokes and there is a whole lot more involved in each of these models of economics. You may find yourself interested enough to learn economics and get into the nuts and bolts of these, but this is as technical as I plan to get.

Alright, so here’s the little bit of history I promised you. Neither of these perspectives of economics is new. Since the beginning of economic times, the concept of supply and demand has been the fundamental core of the study of economics.

However, back in the early days of America, the concept of unfettered free trade was the approach the government took and this freed up the companies to be as greedy and they could. This allowed America to become quite wealthy, or at least our wealthy became wealthy.

Of all the leading countries, we were becoming the most wealthy. This seemed to convince many people that if a little free is good, oh my gosh, totally free trade must be the be-all end-all of wealthy. So, in the late 1800s and early 1900s, America decided to pull all the plugs and let the rich get as rich as they wanted.

So by the 1920s we saw the roaring 20s when the wealthy were insane with their greed and wealth. At lease back then, they were smart enough to protect our industries through tariffs.

Then, the big crash.

Following the Great Depression, many economist admitted that the whole idea of completely unregulated greed was bad for America. At this time, Keynes came back to the idea that maybe really, demand drives the economy. This wasn’t the first time economics thought of this, but it was back in vogue.

Then, about 50 years ago, Friedman brought back the greed and supply side economics.

So, fast-forward to today and we’re all the rage back into supply-side economics and unfettered free trade. Of course, we’re also seeing the return of the economics of the Great Depression.

When will we learn from history? When we start exposing the idiots who keep pushing failed economic policies on us. When we eject the same people who got us in the First Republican Great Depression. The Republicans.

Unfettered Free Trade doesn’t work. All it does is impoverish a nation and make a handful of greedy people insanely rich.

Free trade doesn’t work.

Supply Side Economics don’t work. It’s a myth.

Voodoo Economics always brings disaster. Read your history.

 

Egypt in Chaos

Egypt in Chaos
by
Dave Speck

Egypt has been in the news a lot lately. Do you know what’s been missing from the news?

Many analysts say one of the driving causes is the tremendous disparity between the wealthy and the rest of the country. That has been the root of revolutions since the beginning of time.

Do you know what developed country has a greater disparity? America! Yes, we have let this country get more out of control than Egypt and we’re not even voting in great numbers yet. Will we take this country back from the greedy by vote or will we wait till our votes are worthless like Egypt’s before we revolt?

I hope we come to our senses soon and start voting because I would really hate to see revolution come to our country again.

[poll id=”62″]

Nevada’s New Governor, Foolish as the Last

Nevada’s New Governor, Foolish as the Last
by
Dave Speck

I just got this in my email from Steven Horsford. It’s a reasonably sane interpretation of Nevada’s disaster of a Governor. Is Nevada flushing down the toilet any hope of saving Nevada from becoming a third-world state?

There are some aspects of the governor’s speech tonight with which I agree: We must work together to pass a balanced budget. We must focus on economic development and put Nevadans back to work.

But tonight Governor Sandoval offered a budget that would gut public education – and our kids’ futures as a result. It would cut our school budgets by more than 14 percent. It would slash colleges by nearly 30 percent.

  • This means laying off literally thousands of teachers and closing entire college campuses.  Worse yet, he proposes to cut our children’s teachers’ pay by more than 10 percent.  That’s just wrong.
  • It means putting our children in classes of 40 students.
  • It means eliminating sports and music, and ending gifted and talented programs.
  • It means we cannot afford real reform to our schools or come even close to a tolerable level of funding for higher education – the engine of a new economy.

In short, this budget would dismantle public education.

I will not accept a budget plan that extinguishes all hope for a new Nevada built on better schools.

I will be looking for the best ideas among my colleagues here at the Legislature – Republicans and Democrats – to produce a balanced budget that leads us forward, not backwards.

This process starts tomorrow morning at 8:30 when we begin our budget hearings. I URGE YOU TO GET INVOLVED BY CONTACTING THE GOVERNOR AND YOUR LEGISLATORS IN THE SENATE AND ASSEMBLY IMMEDIATELY.

The future of Nevada depends on you.

Thank you.

Steven

It’s looking pretty bleak, there, Nevada!

Economy Still Stumbling

Economy Still Stumbling [Updated]
by
David Schlecht

Unemployment in many states is still on the rise. We saw a short glimmer of hope over the holiday season but now we’re back to further and further declines in the economy.

The stock market is improving though, but so what? The stock market doesn’t provide jobs for Americans. In fact, it’s time we quit considering the stock market when remarking on the state of America’s economy. For Americans the things that mean anything when considering the country’s economy is jobs, pay, benefits, and pensions. Also included in evaluating the economy is the state of our social safety net, not the stock market.

All these things affect the economy of Americans. The stock market does not. I know, I know, there many people (one hundredth of of one percent of Americans) who actually make any reasonable money off the stock market but that in no way reflects the state of America’s economy.

This simple difference explains why we haven’t dug ourselves out of the Bush years yet. We’re putting our resources and attention in the wrong things. Did we learn nothing during the last Great Depression? The conservatives are telling us that it was the second world war that got us out of the last Great Depression. Well, now we’re in two and a half wars. Our economy should be the best it’s ever been, right? Well, no, not really. Wars don’t cure depressions. Job do. The stock market doesn’t cure depressions, jobs and benefits and pay do. So when are we going to start addressing these problems?

Want to fix the economy? Here’s how:

  1. Stop with the tax give-aways to the billionaires and multi-national corporations. Put taxes back where they were before Reagan began the destruction of our economy,
  2. Increase the minimum wage to a living wage and keep it there,
  3. Require all major corporations and all multi-national corporations provide substantial pensions to all workers, full time and part time,
  4. Stop the Social Security tax give-away for billionaires. Expect billionaires to pay the same percentage of tax for Social Security that you and I do,
  5. Temporarily create government jobs for Americans (no tax dollars spent on non-American incentives, you know, the bill the Republicans opposed), and
  6. Fix our broken trade policies, get out of NAFTA, GAT, WTO, and all the rest of the trade agreements that are destroying our manufacturing jobs. In other words, protect American jobs.

The nice thing is these don’t have to be done all at once but the more that we enact, the faster our economy will improve.

Now if you see these points brought up over and over in the blogisphere, they must not be rocket science, so why hasn’t our government thought of them? They have, but the big businesses controlling both parties are preventing us from stopping the rape and pillage of America’s economy. Remember, someone is making out like bandits while the rest of us suffer, and those bandits donate to make and break our politicians.

Get involved! Get active. Participate on our political process. Run for the local dog catcher or school board. That does make a difference.

[Update: ] Check out this post at Open Left for an good example of what the economy really means.

A Good Economy

A Good Economy
MatthewK

By now most people have realized that when the press reports that the economy is strong or getting better, it mean nothing to them. The working conditions or unemployment problems for the average American are not reflected in the reports on the economy. Why is this?

The answer is simple. The media does not report on the state of labor in this country. The most you will see the press report on is the unemployment rate and doesn’t even care to investigate the real numbers.

So, why is the state of the economy so different than the state of labor? The GDP, or the amount of product produced, used to closely track the income levels. In other words, as we made more in America, both the workers and the rich got richer. Over the past 30 years this has changed. Now the workers pay goes down as the rich get richer.

That is why you will often see the stock market go up as the unemployment rates go up. The more they can squeeze the worker, the more the companies are worth, at least short term.

Of course, when the stock markets go down, wages usually go down as well, so the American worker never gets a break.

What’s the solution?

Germany has a wonderful solution. We should investigate it, but you will never hear about it in our news. In Germany, half of all board members in a corporation must be representatives of the workers. Sounds reasonable doesn’t it? After all, the corporation would be  nothing without the workers. Shouldn’t they have some say in how things are run?

All Government is Bad

All Government is Bad
by
David Schlecht

I’m so sick of hearing this chant from the Republicans. Our forefathers would be disgusted to hear people say that “we the people” is bad. I’m not bad. And if you’re reading this I know you’re not bad because you research the issues. Government is not bad.

But, what they’re really saying isn’t that we should have a weak government but that we should have no government to interfere with the greed of the corporations. Our government is the only way we can stop the multi-billion dollar corporations and CEOs from taking over our country. When they say, “do you want government coming between you and your doctor?” what they’re really saying is “Let the insurance billionaires come between you and your doctor, not ‘we the people’.”

Look around the world and you will find that the most successful and most socially advanced countries have BIG GOVERNMENTS.

Government isn’t bad, lack of “we the people” is a disaster for a democracy.

WikiLeaks and the Death of America’s News

WikiLeaks and the Death of America’s News
by
David Schlecht

What does the rise of the WikiLeaks tell us about America’s news industry?  It shows that our news is Dead on Arrival.

Industries and companies grow by filling a niche or a vacuum. The vacuum that WikiLeaks has grown to fill is what used to be our news. Many of our readers are too young to remember the days of Watergate, but it was the news industry that exposed it. Believe it or not, America’s news industry used to expose wrongdoing, especially in our government. Our founding fathers were so concerned about protecting the news that they subsidized it through special postal rates and subsidies to the print/paper industry.

Today, none of the news media will expose wrongdoing by the government or major corporations. Even our public news such as PBS and NPR, thanks to Conservative corruption, are reliant on donations (bribes) by government and big businesses so that even  they refuse to investigate. So, along comes WikiLeaks to fill the vacuum.

Why would more than a couple hundred misguided fools listen to or believe the right wing propaganda machine which is so reliably wrong? Why would people actually turn to comedians for their political news? It’s because we no longer have a news media; it’s all just multinational and billion dollar corporations spinning whatever best benefits them.

Without real news, America is no longer informed and parties like the Tea Baggers spring up to do the bidding of the billionaires. Why doesn’t the news industry report on that? You know why.

What is a Fair Tax?

What is a Fair Tax?
by
David Schlecht

Republicans have managed to rewire the meaning of tax to mean something other than what our founding fathers had in mind. America’s forefathers knew what it meant to be taxed into poverty and to be taxed as a penalty. But our forefathers didn’t see America’s taxes to be either of those.

As we can see in the constitution, the idea was that “we the people” would unite to pool our money into common services thereby avoiding greedy or unethical businesses. In other words, the military was a way for you and me to pool our money and create a system that protects us. The idea wasn’t to pool our money and give it to a greedy corporation to protect us. See the difference? A greedy corporation’s main goal is greed but our main need is security. So, it only makes sense that we pool our money to create our own military.

Since, according to the US constitution, the purpose of government is for we the people to provide for the welfare of each other, there are numerous purposes for we the people to unite to create programs that provide for our needs that avoids the pitfalls of greedy corporations. Any service that we decide is so important that we want to ensure its success we make a function of the government.

Let’s say for another example that the health of the nation cannot be ensured by greedy corporations. Greed runs counter to our needs for reliable health care. That is why all the leading countries in the world have ensured health care through the government. That is why America has finally passed health care reform.

The payment we are paying to the greedy corporate insurance companies can some day be shifted into a much smaller tax that we can pay to get better and more reliable health services.

In other words, what we, in a free country, pay is not a tax but an investment in ourselves. We decide to pay $100 in tax rather than $1000 to a greedy corporation that will probably decline our coverage when we need it most.

So, it’s not really a tax. It’s an investment.

Insurance is an easy example of something that you can not trust to a greedy corporation. Let’s say you pay $5,000 per year for all your assorted insurance needs. If you can get the greedy corporation profits out of the equation you could get by with a $2,000 tax increase to cover all your insurance needs and keep the $5,000.

Most of us don’t mind paying less money to have a public education system rather than paying for-profit corporations and hope they provide what we need. Most of us don’t mind paying less money to have police departments rather than private for-profit security companies and we like paying less for reliable fire departments that won’t let our house burn down because they say we didn’t pay or because they cut costs so much they don’t have the right equipment.

Most of us are glad we have taxes that allow all of us to live in a first class country. But there are always going to be freeloaders. There will always be those who want to collect unemployment rather than work, and there are those who want to live in a wonderful country and not pay their fair share of the costs.

This is exactly what our forefathers envisioned when they created a country of the people for the people.

So, what is a fair tax? It is whatever it is you want it to be. If you want to live in a third world country, zero taxes is in order. Our constitution allows for just that. However, if, like our forefathers, you want to live in a wonderful country, you will want to pay the costs to make it happen, and will thereby be saving yourself gobs of money by not paying for greedy corporations for your government services.

Okay, now admit it! Privatizing our government is a really stupid thing to do isn’t it?

There is limit to what we the people can pool our money to buy. We can decide to pool our money for whatever we darned well feel like and it’s exactly what our forefathers wanted. We the People!

I don’t want to pool our money to build cars or air planes. But if it’s important for a first class country, it should be guaranteed by the people, not by a greed-driven corporation.

I can easily think of dozens of services that I would prefer to pay for through fewer taxes than I”m paying for greedy corporations. If we could spend 50% of our income on taxes and get tens or hundreds of times more services for our money, it would be foolish to fear the idea brought by our forefathers, even though some try to scare you away by calling it a scary name like socialism.

How Can We Ever Dig The USA Out Of This Hole?

How Can We Ever Dig The USA Out Of This Hole?
by
David Schlecht

Both America’s political parties are working overtime to magnify the divide between the left and the right. It’s good for a political party to have a well defined platform, but it’s downright bad for America for the parties to encourage their voters to hate the other party. We will only be able to fix this mess when we can come together on the causes and the solutions.

It’s not a matter of political parties. It’s not just the left vs the right. It’s not the Republicans vs the Democrats. It’s not even the conservatives vs the liberals. Let that sink in for a moment. It’s not a “us vs them” issue. It’s an issue of all of Americans coming together to fix this mess.

The first step in cleaning up this mess is just like addiction recovery, we must admit that we have a problem and face the causes of this problem. Once we can see the problems, the solutions become clear, even easy.

So, what are the problems and the causes? Obviously the issue first and foremost on everyone’s mind is the abysmal state of the US economy — our jobs or lack thereof. Also way up on the list are issues like our dysfunction government, but this is too vague to address. Let’s really address exactly what is dysfunctional about our government. Many say the unresponsiveness of the government to the people’s needs, or something about how our government seems to be owned by the big businesses and industries. Still others lament about our loss of oversight. How can BP be drilling all those off-shore wells given their proven inability to deal with problems?

Here is my short list of things that have been going wrong with our country:

  1. Sluggish economy
  2. Lack of jobs
  3. Steady decline in wages while productivity sky rockets
  4. Reduction in workplace safety
  5. Corporate lobbyists writing the laws that our representatives rubber stamp.
  6. Lack of a reliable or believable news media

Next we have to look at the causes of each of these issues. One of the best ways to determine the cause is to look at what has changed to cause the problem. After all, these issues are new to America. None of them existed 30, 40, or 50 years ago. What has changed? Let’s look at it.

1. Sluggish economy — I don’t think that anyone can argue that this isn’t the direct result of lack of jobs. No one is really believing that the economy is sluggish because businesses aren’t making enough products. In other words, supply side economics are an obvious farce.
2. Lack of jobs. This is obviously caused by the fact that all our good jobs have been shipped over seas while our “service economy” that the sellers of the “free trade” disaster promised us have gone to minimum wage workers or in many cases, immigrants who are willing to work for even less. Migrant (even illegal immigrant) workers weren’t a serious problem before the 80s. Let’s look at the two issues separately.

The problem with our jobs going over seas is quite simply caused by the free trade deals we’ve entered into. There is no way American workers can compete in free trade with workers willing to work for pennies a day. This, in itself isn’t everything. We are also suffering from companies moving their factories overseas and then sending their products back to America to sell. This only became profitable when we dropped our tariffs from the 20% range to the current 2% range.

As for immigrants taking our “service economy” jobs, it’s just a sad state of affairs that we’re left fighting over service level jobs and fighting with foreigners. What has caused this? We didn’t have this trouble before the 80s. In the 80s we had unions that would act as watch dogs to ensure that Americans weren’t losing their jobs to immigrants. Now there is no one to stop businesses from encouraging illegal immigration.

3. Steady decline in wages while productivity sky rockets. What has happened in the past few decades to cause this drop in wages while the rich reap the benefits of our increased productivity? Before the 80s, wage increases directly tracked productivity increases. Now they don’t. What was different then? For one thing, we had unions.  For another, we had higher taxes on the super rich.

4. Reduction in workplace safety. What has caused this? One obvious issue is the lack of unions. Remember the days when unions played an active role in ensuring workplace safety? But there’s more. We used to have a government that had agencies that policed the companies to ensure that we were safe at work. Now we’re shrinking our government to the point where it is no longer able to function to protect us. Of course, even a well funded government is worthless if the agencies are filled with people uninterested in the people. Remember the line, “You’re doing a heck of a job, Brownie”. All the money in the world wouldn’t make FEMA a functional agency as long as it is managed by the wrong people.

5. Corporate lobbyists writing the laws that our representatives rubber stamp. When Reagan took office there were less than 400 lobbyists. Now there are over 47,000. What has caused this? What is different today than 40 years ago? The cost of our elections! It now takes millions of dollars to run for office. The average American can’t afford this without a generous corporate backer.

6. Lack of a reliable or believable news media. What has changed in our news business in the past 40 years? One obvious change is the extreme consolidation of the industry. We used to stop companies from taking too much control of an industry. Now we just close our eyes to it. When the news media is run by the millionaires, it will only reflect the interests of the wealthy.

Now that we have found some probable causes of the current ills destroying our nation, we can formulate plans to correct them.

1 & 2. Jobs and economy. The problem is simple. stop the free trade nonsense and put our tariffs back in place.

3. Wage decline. Again, reverse the mistakes. Stop the war on unions. Tax the super wealthy. Bring back the 90% top tax rate.

4. Reduction in workplace safety. We have to fund our agencies enough and give them enough power to stand up to the big businesses that are making money off our unsafe working conditions. We also need to be careful to never vote for candidates that say government can do no good. The might just prove themselves right. And, again, unions would only help in this area.

5. Too many lobbyists. The only way I see of turning back the undue influence money has in elections is to demand publicly funded elections.

6. Our broken media. Certainly if we started enforcing our anti-trust laws we could break up the big monster news media corporations and get local interests back to running our news sources. We used to have laws that required news outlets program in the public’s interest. It’s time we brought back those laws.

In conclusion, our problems are not party related, but they certainly are policy related. Don’t fall for the trap of accusing the “other side” for the problems. It’s all our problems and only WE can solve them.

What Is The American Dream?

What Is The American Dream?
by
David Schlecht

Since the days of Reagan, the American Dream has been recalibrated. We once believed that the American Dream was to live in a society that is upward mobile. In other words, to live in a society where you aren’t limited in life based on what class you were born into.

The Reagan years recalibrated the American Dream into getting as rich as you can regardless of who you have to hurt or destroy to make it. Greed became God. Even today, you hear of people pursuing a commercial theocracy. We went from being a “We” society to a “Me” society.

What is the American Dream today? What is your definition of the American Dream?

[poll id=”46″]

Obama’s Big Deficit

Obama’s Big Deficit
by
Captain Jack

I’ve heard one person after another explaining how Obama’s deficit is the biggest in history. I though I would look into this claim a little and see what I can find. Here’s is a quick graph from OffTheChartsBlog to show what the major contributors are to the deficit.

US Deficit
US Deficit

Take a look at the white area of the graph at the bottom. You see the small sliver of white? That is what the deficit would look like without the Bush years. In other words, take away the economic collapse Bush ushered in, take away the Bush tax cuts for billionaires, take away Bush’s misguided wars and what you have left is the small area at the bottom.

Of course, the TARP money is from the Bush years if you remember. TARP was already passed before Obama took office.

So, please, do yourself a favor and get in the habit of questioning the numbers and fears you hear spread by the right wing lie machine. It’s sole purpose is to take advantage of the uninformed. Don’t be one of them.

Scheels and the Blood of Tyrants

Scheels and the Blood of Tyrants
by
David Schlecht

I was saddened when I opened my local newspaper on Independence Day and found a half page ad quoting and taking Thomas Jefferson quotes out of context. I’ll run through the list of quotes they have poisoned our newspaper with and give you the context so you can know what is really being said. One must ask, why would Scheels spend money on such a deceptive ad. To come up with a list of quotes, they must have spent the time to actually read the context, right? Right?

I just can’t believe that Scheels intended to disrespect the readers and America by publishing a biased political screed, but it’s hard to believe they didn’t research the quotes before publishing them. Shame on you, Scheels.

Here are the quotes and the context is described below.

  1. My reading of history convinces me that most bad governments result from too much government.
  2. I predict future happiness for Americans if they prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.
  3. The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.
  4. It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes. A principle if acted on would save on-half the wars of the world.
  5. To compel a man to subsidize with his taxes the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.
  6. The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.
  7. When we get piled upon one another in large cities, as in Europe, we shall become as corrupt as Europe.

Let’s start with the list as a whole. One would think from this list that these are the only things that Jefferson believed and never expressed views contrary to these. Obviously he has. No one is that one sided. Hence, just the fact that Scheels decided to only print quotes that are biased proves they have an agenda and are deceiving us.

Let’s take these quotes and look at them in debth:

  1. My reading of history convinces me that most bad governments result from too much government.
    This sounds simple and true on the surface but as we’ve discussed in a previous post, we need to know the right size of a government and not just strive for smaller and smaller government. Only the rich, greedy, and unethical benefit from too small a government. Worse, still, this is the dog-whistle call to the unthinking tea baggers who chant all government is bad. Believe me, Jefferson didn’t think “We The People” was bad or too big.
  2. I predict future happiness for Americans if they prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.
    This is a misquote and in the context means something quite different than is implied in the context of the Scheels’ ad. Here is the real quote:

    As men become better informed, their rulers must respect them the more. I think you will be sensible that our citizens are fast returning, from the panic into which they were artfully thrown to the dictates of their own reason; and I believe the delusions they have seen themselves hurried into will be useful as a lesson under similar attempts on them in future. The good effects of our late fiscal arrangements will certainly tend to unite them in opinion, and in a confidence as to the views of their public functionaries, legislative & executive. The path we have to pursue is so quiet that we have nothing scarcely to propose to our Legislature. A noiseless course, not meddling with the affairs of others, unattractive of notice, is a mark that society is going on in happiness. If we can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people, under the pretence of taking care of them, they must become happy.

    You can read the entire text of the letter. As you can see here, Jefferson is talking about the country’s citizens becoming smarter and not feeling they need the government to make decision on their behalf. And, yes, we are happier when we don’t rely on the government to make our decisions, hence, “taking care of us”. This has nothing to do with taking care of our poor and mis fortunate. It has nothing to do with “We The People” uniting to fix the broken health care system.

  3. The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.
    Sorry folks. This is just a lie. Jefferson never said any such thing.
  4. It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes. A principle if acted on would save on-half the wars of the world.
    Wonderful statement. Too bad republicans didn’t complain when the republicans were building up this debt, but only now find it appropriate to complain about it. Those who complain about the debt when the democrats are in power but are silent when the republicans are building up the debt are not just fools but are harmful to America.
  5. To compel a man to subsidize with his taxes the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.
    This is a misquote as well. The real text says:
  6. That to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves, is sinful and tyrannical.

    This is a quote from his rant on freedom from religion. This quote has nothing to do with taxes. In fact, the idea of taxes to pay for what the majority votes is the founding principle of a democracy. To refuse to be part of a system because you can claim you don’t agree with how part if of it works is foolishness. If that were the case, no one would pay taxes and America would cease to exist. Not too bright, but it plays straight into the hands of the rich who don’t want to pay their fair share.

  7. The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.
    This is one of the most over-quoted and deceptive quotes one hears from Jefferson. Jefferson was not condoning violent revolution as a way to fix problems in a democracy. In fact, later in life wrote to say that a democracy does not need such forms of correction since we have elections. There is a good comment on this at Huffington Post.
  8. When we get piled upon one another in large cities, as in Europe, we shall become as corrupt as Europe.
    As sad as this comment is, we have become much more corrupt than Europe. Few nations have allowed corporations to take control of their governments. Big business has corrupted our country. Still, I agree. It’s time to reverse our over-population problem.

In conclusion, many these comments are wrong, fabrications, and mis conceptions. Why would a major corporation like Scheels feel the need to publish such a biased advertisement?