Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Our Leaders are Idiots

There is no better evidence that our educational system is in shambles than the complete inability of our leaders to learn from history. Clearly they didn't learn much of anything in school. Well, that's if they even went to school. A disturbingly high number of our leaders didn't even go to college, and yet we're entrusting them with decisions about our country's future? How is that even possible?

Shortly after the 1929 stock market crash the response from government was to cut spending and implement austerity measures in order to stabilize the markets. The opposite happened. A rapid contraction of government spending resulted in even less commerce and even less spending which caused businesses to fail and millions of Americans to lose their jobs, which sent the country into the Great Depression.

At first in the wake of the financial crisis of 2008, I thought maybe we'd learned from our mistakes. A rapid stimulus response pumped money into the economy and spared the crash that may have happened had it not been goosed with that money. But now, just as that stimulus money dries up, the budget hawks are calling for spending cuts and austerity measures. This is during a jobless recovery. We still have official unemployment of 9% and unofficial unemployment over 16%. More Americans are out of work today than were out of work during the Great Depression. Sure, we're a bigger country now, but that's still a lot of misery going around.

Meanwhile we have messages like this coming out of Congress:
Americans deserve immediate spending cuts that demonstrate that we are charting a swift path toward a balanced budget. We must implement discretionary and mandatory spending reductions that would cut the deficit in half next year.
This was a message from the Congressional Republican Study Committee.

Why do we deserve immediate spending cuts? What did we do to deserve having our safety nets slashed just when we're clinging to them to keep from falling into the abyss? Why do we deserve to have spending cuts when what we need right now is economic stimulus? We don't need a contraction in the one part of the economy that has actually continued to spend. We need continued investment in our economy to keep it from collapsing in on itself. We're not out of the woods ... we're still in the thick of it.

What we actually deserve is leadership up to the task of leading. Up to the task of defending the working (and unemployed, and elderly, and youth) people of the United States against the transgressions of the money whores.

If you're really concerned about the budget deficit and national debt, then raise taxes on those sectors that have actually weathered the storm with remarkable ease ... the top 2% that those Bush tax cuts went to. I know I've said all this before, but I'll keep on saying it, because it's still the truth.We're supposed to save during good times and spend during bad. The trouble is we spent during good and now those idiots who didn't pay attention in school want to save when times are bad. It's backward. It's stupid. It's ignorant.

But I guess I agree with one thing. It is what we deserve. Voters get what they deserve and in 2010 we actually invited the Republican party back into power and this is the result.

Bend over, America. The Boehner's back.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Americans Elect 2012 - a viable alternative?

I think I count myself among many, many Americans who were disappointed that Barack Obama has not ended the wars, has not closed Gitmo, let Wall Street get away with their crimes, did not focus on the economy, capitulated too much to conservatives on healthcare reform, did not let the Bush tax cuts expire, and has not shown the kind of leadership in office that he appeared capable of on the campaign trail. I know most of us probably had unrealistic expectations so disappointment was inevitable, but there's just far too much "new boss is same as the old boss" for me to feel completely comfortable continuing to blindly follow him through another 4 years.

George Washington (and others) have warned us of the dangers of entrenched party loyalties that supersede the good of the country. We've managed to deal with it relatively well over time, though any positions that do not reflect the ideology of one of the major parties does not get any traction in our national dialogue. This may be about to change. I'm pretty skeptical of the possibility of success for any grassroots effort not wholly or partially endorsed by one of the two major parties (see and The Tea Party for examples of successful efforts not free of party loyalty). But now there may be.

Check out Americans Elect 2012

From What I've read about it, it's an attempt to bring democracy back to electoral politics by creating an internet convention in which people who sign up for the sight select the issues that are priorities, the solutions that matter, and then nominate a presidential candidate. The candidate then must choose a running mate who is not affiliated with the same party.

This sounds too good to be true so we'll see how much traction they get, but there are deep hedge fundy pockets behind this effort and there appears to be a pretty strong chance that they'll get recognized for the presidential ballot in all 50 states. I'd say this is pretty exciting if it actually works.

Even If it doesn't work to create a viable, competitive 3rd party candidacy, it has the possibility of derailing one of the major party candidates, as fringe third parties have done over the years, stealing just enough votes from the more similar major party candidate to swing the election the other way. Remember, in 1992, 1996, and 2000 the president was elected with less than 50% of the popular vote.

Anyway, I've signed up and shared my views with them. You should too. Let's actually get the people's voice heard this time around! Even if we can't win this thing with a candidate that truly represents the views of the voters of this country, maybe we can force the major candidates to take positions that reflect our own beliefs about how this country should be run.

As you take the survey on the site, look at how your answers compare to the other tens of thousands of people who have already answered. The American people do not have much stomach for much of the agenda of either major party. It's time they knew that.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Idiots are Well & Truly Running the Asylum

We're days away from a federal default on debt, whether it be on bonds or delaying payments to social security recipients. I still very much doubt that will happen, but in the meantime things are beginning to get dicey. We have Minnesota shutting down their state government for 20 days. We have recall elections taking place in Wisconsin in the wake of the rape of the public worker's collective bargaining rights.

And now we have federal agencies bracing for a lot of pain. In fact, the Federal Aviation Administration shut down its tax revenue collection offices at midnight last night. Please explain to me in what world when we're facing record budgetary shortfalls, it's at all acceptable for the government to stop collecting revenue? And of course, in response airlines raised their rates to take the savings from consumers and increase their bottom lines. Greedy corporations will nearly always do what is best for their bottom line - not what is best for the individual consumer or for society at large. The notable exceptions - the airlines that have at least temporarily passed the savings on to consumers are Frontier Airlines, Alaska Airlines, and Virgin America. Kudos to them. They deserve special mention when the rest all raised their rates an average of 7% overnight.

This is only the beginning if the debt default were to actually happen. We've got children, idiots, and madmen running the country. It's time for a big change. Kick the bums out. Start with every single Republican who has signed the pledge not to raise taxes. Their ideological purity fails the minute it is faced with the realities and responsibility of running a country.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Debt Ceiling Getting Closer

Why haven't I been blogging much? Well, most of all, because the topic of my last blog post - the debt ceiling fight - is still the topic at hand inside the beltway and I have little else to say about it. My position still stands.

As I suspected, the pundits are all a twitter about it and most of the country doesn't give a shit.

The Republicans have backed away from even the most reasonable of their positions and have now taken a stance that says "no new taxes ... ever" ... and they're saying it so strongly, they're signing pledges to prove their loyalty to conservative ideology. This is the extremism now displayed by 1/2 of our political parties. George Washington warned us at length about the dangers of a two party system and as has happened for the past 235 years, the public pays the price for their loyalty to one of two ideologies. As I'm fond of saying, "Voters get what they deserve."

Anyone frustrated with this current state of "broken government" needs only to look at the 2010 midterm elections to understand the cause. Giving the GOP control of the House of Representatives has resulted in a government that can't get anything done. Normally, a split government is a good thing. It keeps one party from ramming their agenda through without compromise. But the Democrats are so fractured that even when they had control of both houses and the White House, they could not pass health care or financial reform laws with sufficient protections for the American people. So what we end up with is a fractured Democratic party negotiating with an intractable and unified Republican party and nothing gets done.

Raising the debt ceiling, which is a no-brainer necessity, becomes fodder for forcing the Democrats into the Republican agenda of preserving tax cuts for the wealthy, cutting social programs, and leaving the military alone. When we could, in fact, lower our deficits substantially by doing just the opposite. The problem being, of course, the Republicans get far too much of their political support from those rich folks who benefit most from ridiculous tax loopholes that the GOP is now spinning as "raising taxes" if we stop letting them write off their corporate jets.

It's absurd, but nobody's really paying attention, because the country is bored to tears with this griping over completely unfathomable numbers. $30 billion, $2.5 trillion, etc. They mean nothing to the average person. Those figures are so abstract in our thinking. ... the average household income in America is around $50,000/year. $2.5T represents the combined annual income of 50 million American households. For perspective, there are approximately 117M households in the country, so $2.5T covers the total annual income of more than 40% of the country. And this is what our leaders re negotiating about with regard to our national debt.

How can we even wrap our heads around this?

Oh, and another tidbit. We're the only developed country in the world with an artificial debt ceiling. Other countries simply authorize their treasuries to issue new bonds to cover budget shortfalls and rely on the responsibility of their elected officials to adjust taxation and spending to accommodate any shortfalls or surpluses.

I guess that's only possible when your leaders behave like adults.