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   There is a good editorial in the New York Times today.

Over the next four years, tax reform, done right, could be a cure for much of what ails the economy. Higher taxes, raised progressively, could encourage growth by helping to pay for long-neglected public investment in education, infrastructure and basic research. More revenue would also reduce budget deficits, helping to put the nation’s finances on a stable path. Greater progressivity would reduce rising income inequality, and with it, inequality of opportunity that is both an economic and social scourge.
emphasis added

    It's a good start, but it addresses only one side of the problem. There's another which needs to be addressed as well. More below the Orange Omnilepticon.

Along with tax reform we need something else that no one talks about: economic reform.

The last 30 years has seen nearly all of the growth in the economy, all the gains from productivity, siphoned off and pocketed by the investor class. It has not trickled down to the shop floor, the people restocking shelves in the Big Box stores, or anywhere else people measure their incomes by hours worked. (And we're not talking about billable hours.)

People can no longer expect to have a career that could potentially last a life time; instead they are expected to have to reinvent themselves every few years - even if that means going back to the foot of the ladder in a new job that probably pays less than the old one. Navigating a career through the 'new' economy is like trying to cross a swiftly moving river by jumping from ice floe to ice floe. Good luck if you fall in, because you're on your own.

Conservatives talk about freedom by workers to market their skills in the work place, unshackled by union contracts - but gloss over the loss of benefits, pensions, and full time employment in a market where there are multiple applicants for every job, and employers hold all the cards.

'Education' is supposed to be life long now - but there's no such thing as public schooling for adults, and tuition keeps going up. Companies demand the latest in skills - but no longer invest in training their own work force. Why should they, when there's no union to force them to look past the next quarterly numbers and shareholder dividends?

This atomization of the labor force into individual worker drones strips away the respect that used to come from age and experience in a company, and the strength in numbers that unions used to use to strike a fairer balance against employers.

The other day Paul Krugman blogged about how the economy has shifted the way the Gross Domestic Product is divided up. The portion that used to derive from wages and benefits has shrunk, while the share from capital has expanded. There's still plenty of money out there, but the way it is portioned out is creating problems that addressing taxes alone won't fix.

...a substantial part of our social insurance system — Social Security and the hospital insurance portion of Medicare — is funded through dedicated payroll taxes. If payrolls lag behind overall national income, this will tend to leave those programs underfunded given the way the laws are currently written.

But America as a whole won’t have gotten poorer: the money is still there to support the programs, it’s just coming in the form of capital rather than labor income. There would be no problem, at least in economic terms, in continuing the programs by adding revenue from general taxation, maybe even from dedicated taxes on capital income.

And consider the alternative, in which we slash Social Security and Medicare not because the nation can’t afford those programs, but merely because workers are taking a smaller share of national income. What we would be doing in that case is doubling down on the damage to workers — they’re already hurting because income is shifting away from labor, and we’re going to hurt them even more by cutting the benefits they depend upon.

emphasis added

     The progressive tax reforms the Times is calling for could do a great deal to address this - but ignoring the income inequalities that are contributing to the problem means we're ignoring the elephant in the room. Occupy Wall Street got this; the rest of the political establishment is still trying to change the subject. By keeping the conversation focused on government taxation and spending, conservatives are drawing attention away from wages and benefits, and their success in the war on working people on behalf of the ownership class.

    Make no mistake. The tax reforms the Times is calling for are a vital piece of the puzzle, but they're not the whole answer. They'll be fought tooth and nail by conservatives who've made an industry out of demonizing government. But, we also need to address other parts of the puzzle as well. There's been a huge shift to capital based income because of other policies.

   One of the bigger distortions of the economy has been the way antitrust law has been turned on its head. The original idea was that letting any company get so big that it could drive smaller competitors out of business and raise prices in the absence of competition was a bad thing. The late Robert Bork rejected that idea. In typical conservative mental gymnastics, bringing antitrust action against a company for getting too big was A) punishing success, and B) had been corrupted into a tool by which smaller companies substituted legal action for competitiveness. The Borkian principle became, that as long as no rise in costs to consumers could be demonstrated from monopoly status and/or overwhelming dominance in a given field, there was no justification for pursuing antitrust action.

    In practice, this has been a disaster in many ways. It's not just about the prices consumers pay. There's more to consumer considerations than price. Lack of competition means lack of innovation, lack of service, lack of accountability, lack of choice. And, there are a lot of other ways monopoly power can be abused. A giant company can threaten its suppliers to keep costs down, or they'll buy elsewhere - and there can be other demands too. This depresses wages among other things, and has driven a number of small companies into bankruptcy.

       Giant corporations have the same power over their employees. When they dominate a field and have pretty much eliminated smaller competitors, they can pretty much set wages and benefits to their liking, not their workers. The destruction of organized labor as a counterforce has only strengthened their hand - this is one of the reasons why middle class incomes have stagnated for the last 30 years.

      Another problem is that mega corporations have immense political power. They can afford to buy politicians, write their own laws and regulations, (yes, we're talking about you ALEC), and blackmail communities and regions into giving them tax breaks and other special treatment or risk losing jobs and tax revenue. Again, the destruction of unions means that there is little countervailing force against their agenda in the political arena. (And thank you too, Supreme Court, for Citizen's United.)

     Then there's the larger consequences. When large companies dominate the economy, the economy is inherently less stable. One bad management team, one incompetent or criminal CEO can devastate thousands of lives, hundreds of communities. Consolidations and mergers become more lucrative than running a business; top management becomes more about placating shareholders and bankers than actually giving a damn about how good their product line is, or what the company will be doing in five years - or 50. Good corporate 'citizenship' is a joke when there's no allegiance to any one country. Wall Street should have shown everyone the dangers of "Too big to fail" - but "is our politicians learning?"

   I could go on and on here. Climate change and energy policies, education, the environment - those are all areas that need attention too. But, if we don't have an economy that serves all of the citizens of this country, getting anything done is going to be even more difficult.

      So, while fighting for real tax reform and government spending that actually addresses our real problems is vital, let's not lose sight of the larger picture. Our economy has been subverted into a wealth concentration machine for the benefit of the few. We can address some of that with tax policy (capital gains taxation is WAY too low right now for one thing) and spending (a stronger safety net, better healthcare, will help a lot) - but we're also going to have to find ways to reshape the economy so it once more works for the benefit of everyone, not just the 1% and the ownership class.

     We can start by rejecting what got us here: the dominance of conservative thought and policies that have been imposed on the country for the last 30+ years. It's time to throw off the cold dead hand of Reaganism and its rejection of government. It has failed to deliver on its promises; it has been tried repeatedly and it does not work. Unfortunately it's still the default setting for too much of what passes for conventional wisdom. We have a whole generation and more that's grown up thinking there's no alternative. That has to change. Conservatism is not the solution to our problems: conservatism IS the problem.

7:45 PM PT: On the Recc List Community Spotlight - thanks!

Originally posted to xaxnar on Sun Dec 30, 2012 at 03:04 PM PST.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions and Community Spotlight.


The NY Times call for tax reform:

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (76+ / 0-)

    A lot of this is preaching to the choir here, I know - but it's still worth saying. It needs to get out into the larger public dialog. The "Fiscal Cliff" follies are both a distraction and another attempt at using disaster capitalism to shove bad policies down our throats. We need to have some counter-narratives going out there. Not only to push back against conservatism, mind you, but also to make sure that pushing back is headed in the right direction...

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Sun Dec 30, 2012 at 03:03:12 PM PST

    •  It may be preaching to the choir, but it's a well- (6+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      xaxnar, akeitz, MKinTN, fixxit, HappyinNM, SoCalSal

      written, concise "sermon".  Worth sharing, as it lays out the situation quite clearly and doesn't go on so long that readers lose interest.  Thanks for this.

    •  Tipped, rec'd, and followed! (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      xaxnar, akeitz, MKinTN, fixxit

      Outstanding diary, I look fwd to more - thanx xax!

      There's no such thing as a free market!

      by Albanius on Sun Dec 30, 2012 at 04:00:58 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Nobody's perfect; though excellent (6+ / 0-)

        I suggest these changes:
        some  "ways to reshape the economy so it once more works for the benefit of everyone, not just the 1% and the ownership class."
        add a financial transaction tax,
        a progressive wealth tax (eg 2% a year on wealth over say $10M),  
        end the expensing of executive compensation over say $1M/y;
        and add a tax on fossil fuel as it enters the economy (import and mining),
        increasing gradually every year, to be refunded equally per capita to all households.

        Stop using the term "conservative" for reactionary zealots.
        Conservative denotes preserving the status quo, and connotes caution.  The GOP base and their plutocrat funders want to roll back over a century of well established progressive economic reform, regulation and public provision, while establishing fundamentalist religion, intruding government into the bedroom, and banning the teaching of science.

        There's no such thing as a free market!

        by Albanius on Sun Dec 30, 2012 at 04:57:05 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Good suggestions (6+ / 0-)

          However, I think the more we can connect conservatism to failure, the more we can discredit the whole concept.

          Kind of like the way conservatives have turned liberal into a bad word.

          "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

          by xaxnar on Sun Dec 30, 2012 at 05:14:00 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Its a two front struggle (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Light fighting the TP/GOP and the blue dogs at the same time.

            Discredit the term conservative as much as possible, while at the same time insisting on truth in packaging.

            There's no such thing as a free market!

            by Albanius on Sun Dec 30, 2012 at 06:17:41 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  Things disagree with: (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          divineorder, NoMoreLies
          " ...add a financial transaction tax ..."
          You can bet that the hedge fund managers will find a way around this one. Maybe you need to be more specific about implementation?
          a progressive wealth tax (eg 2% a year on wealth over say $10M)
          I think you'd find this unenforceable, or at least widely evaded. A steep estate tax would accomplish the same thing in the long run.

          Things I agree with:

          a tax on fossil fuel as it enters the economy (import and mining)
          The stiffer the better.
          Stop using the term "conservative" for reactionary zealots.
          Good framing comment!

          Note to Boehner and McConnell: "You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows." --Bob Dylan-- (-7.25, -6.21)

          by Tim DeLaney on Tue Jan 01, 2013 at 02:31:33 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Excellent work, thanks for posting. Agree (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    eXtina, lineatus, xaxnar, HappyinNM, SoCalSal

    with both the NYTimes and with you.

    Move Single Payer Forward? Join 18,000 Doctors of PNHP and 185,000 member National Nurses United

    by divineorder on Sun Dec 30, 2012 at 03:13:13 PM PST

  •  "Preaching to the choir..." keeps the fire in the (6+ / 0-)

    belly going for those who see the reality. Totally agree with you.

    Poverty and Income Inequality isn't Democratic, Justice or American. It is Tyranny.

    by Wendys Wink on Sun Dec 30, 2012 at 03:16:59 PM PST

  •  Too Many Older Workers Working Longer (12+ / 0-)

    We should fix it where older workers can get full retirement at age 62.  That way older workers who are unhealthy can quit at an earlier age and will free up the labor market for younger workers.

    "Don't Let Them Catch You With Your Eyes Closed"

    by rssrai on Sun Dec 30, 2012 at 03:34:15 PM PST

    •  And, they're not going to hoard benefit checks (5+ / 0-)

      Putting more money in the hands of retirees sooner would be a stimulus program all by itself. Give billions to banks to shore them up, they don't loan it out. They just sit on it or use it to buy each other up. Give those same billions to seniors, they'd have better lives and they'd put it right back into the economy.

      "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

      by xaxnar on Sun Dec 30, 2012 at 03:59:03 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Hope lays in 2014 going Dem in a big way (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xaxnar, Albanius, Lucy Montrose

    Immigration reform, a non comprehensive patchwork attempt, may be a reasonable expectation for the next few years along side a steady market despite a languishing economy squeezed out of a paralytic divided government.

    For your well stated strategy an undivided government would have to somehow blossom from the desert landscape in 2014.

    •  Disaster Capitalism can swing both ways (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Albanius, MKinTN, ozsea1, Lucy Montrose, kck

      IF (and it's a big if) Obama and the Democrats can hold the line on the fiscal cliff to make the Republicans jump off it, there's a chance they'll continue the process of discrediting themselves to everyone - even the Villagers.

      There seems to be a growing recognition that conservatism doesn't seem to have any answers to our problems except "Cut Taxes" and "Cut Spending". That, along with the increasingly difficult to ignore record of failure they've racked up since Reagan is starting to have a toll too.

      Paul Krugman expects the Republicans to use the Debt Ceiling to wreck the economy; If they A) over reach that badly and B) are held responsible for wrecking the faith and credit of the United States because they're throwing a tantrum, it might be possible to begin to shuffle them out of the way at last.

      I'd love to hear President Obama quote John Galt at them over their deliberate obstructionism and sabotage: "Get the Hell out of my way!"

      "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

      by xaxnar on Sun Dec 30, 2012 at 04:19:58 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thank You Rescue Rangers (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    and thank you Xaxnar, informative, and good reading.

    How big is your personal carbon footprint?

    by ban nock on Sun Dec 30, 2012 at 07:38:52 PM PST

    •  You're welcome (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ban nock, linkage

      It was encouraging to read what the Times had to say - now maybe there'll be space in the public dialog to bring up the rest of the story.

      "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

      by xaxnar on Sun Dec 30, 2012 at 07:45:25 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I have been thinking about another.. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    of Krugman's blog entries recently, Is Growth Over? He talks specifically about the new "industrial revolution" wrought by miniaturization. The "unprecedented" productivity growth we've experienced since the late 60s when computation started to gain traction in business has not tracked with wage growth.

    I have to question how much of the resulting inequality really is policy driven. These singularity type advances in productivity have, every time in history, resulted in concentration of power and wealth with those that can take advantage of them. It has always been, historically, a political sea change that returned some of that power to the laborer.

    One might see this cycle occur repeatedly over history. Starting with agriculture, where the powerful controlled the land and employed the serf to tend the crops, where eventually the nobility were overthrown. To the early industrial revolution, where the aristocracy built up their monopolies and exploited the laborers until ultimately Teddy busted up the trusts. Even slavery seems to have been part of this cycle, where a powerful few could exploit many for their own benefit, only to have the tide of political will turn against them.

    The arc of history bends towards greater justice. I think that we are on the back end of a new industrial revolution. I think that policy and politics are not in the driver's seat but are captive to the momentum of history. That momentum will soon falter, and those of us being exploited for our labor will have the mass to push back and effect real change in policy and politics. It will not be tomorrow, but eventually, justice will prevail.

    •  The arc of history bends - but ya gotta push! (0+ / 0-)

      Policies do make a difference. Reagan's firing of air traffic controllers declared open season on unions. The passage of 'right to work' laws in Michigan and elsewhere continues that assault. The installation of business-friendly conservatives into the judicial system at all levels stacks the deck. Trade policies that make it easier to ship jobs overseas and pit American workers against sweatshops under contract to giant corporations supply us with cheap stuff - that we no longer have the money to buy. Massive subsidies to giant agri-corps have us drowning in cheap food that's bad for us, and drives real, sustainable family farms under.

      Automation and other productivity tools could be used to make all of us healthier, provide us all with a decent quality of life, and still leave enough to tackle the big problems of climate change and resource exhaustion. Instead they're being used to enrich a minority while the rest of us and the planet are expended.

      If we don't start bending the arc of history in the right direction, it's going to break under the strain.

      "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

      by xaxnar on Sun Dec 30, 2012 at 08:33:51 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I agree completely (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        xaxnar, SoCalSal

        Mass has no momentum without forward velocity, so push like hell...

        it still does not hurt to look to where we've been to see where we are going, and feel a bit better that, well, we've been here before, we can do it again. Since we must.

        we really must.

  •  All of the solutions here would be nice but (5+ / 0-)

    won't ever see the light of day as long as the so-called good guys don't prosecute financial crimes. The banks really did a number on us to the point no one bothers to even acknowledge the 900 pound Boa Constrictor in the room along with a gazillion vampire squids operating outside the law anymore.

    According to The executive branch ; it was "too hard" to prosecute financial crimes. Sure it is, when we are also turning our heads at public corruption.

    Economic equilibrium will always be a pipe dream when economic dominance by the few is the new reality.  In a normal society that observed the rule of law and applied it fairly, a discussion of tax adjustments, retirement adjustments etc would be worthwhile. But as long as the people that own this country are above the law, a wish for a unicorn is just as effective as wishes for tax equality.

    I understand it. There is a democrat in Office and he can't be held responsible for prosecuting banks or other public officials for crimes committed during the last administration.

    sarc>Instead, "Lets look forward" together and stop all the bickering and sing a little kumbaya"

    Ok, lets do that. I wonder if I could get away with that if I was arrested for something. The new "lets look forward " defense.

    •  Has Eric Holder done anything? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tom Anderson, Dburn, WheninRome

      Besides go after whistle blowers that is?

      "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

      by xaxnar on Sun Dec 30, 2012 at 08:55:28 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Dburn - the "too hard" issue (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Egalitare, Dburn, KenBee, fhcec

      I watched a panel on CSPAN several months ago and Eliot Spitzer had some insight on this issue. Spitzer was certainly no friend of Wall Street when he was New York AG. According to Spitzer the reason that all the key cases against the Wall St. banks are civil, and not criminal, is the difficulty proving criminal intent. For each of these major programs that blew up and caused the financial meltdown the banks have in their files opinions from top law firms, who have on their rosters former senior officials from DoJ, and the SEC, who have opined that the programs are legal. The board of directors and senior executives have approved the programs based on that legal advice and that provides a significant shield from personal criminal liability. Now, how those programs were actually implemented is a different story, but the senior people aren't involved in day-to-day decisions. While I don't know enough facts to be a good judge, the Spitzer view was the most rational one I have heard on this issue.

      "let's talk about that"

      by VClib on Sun Dec 30, 2012 at 11:10:01 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  VClib (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        VClib, KenBee, fhcec

        I like Spitzer and think the point is valid. But it doesn't explain why virtually no one was arrested for securities fraud (selling of CDOs) , Mortgage Fraud (Fraudulent Applications filled out by lender), Robo-signing and any of the other numerous felonies committed at all levels.

        At some point in time, if one arrested enough of the lower ranked criminals one can imagine a scenario where a few word substitutions changes the dynamics of the whole process that is now "too hard" like;  "corrupt former public officials offering advise to criminals" instead of

        "Former senior officials from DoJ, and the SEC, who have opined that the programs are legal"

        I think I heard Spitzer go into a real outrage rant over no arrests  when Taibbi was on Spitzer's program on Current.  

        •  Dburn - Spitzer thought there should still have (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          xaxnar, Dburn, KenBee

          been criminal prosecutions. He was just explaining why it would be so difficult to actually convict any of the senior people. The other point is that as it relates to the Wall St investment banks it is one of the few situations where the defendants could bring more resources to a trial than the DoJ. How much would Goldman Sachs spend on the defense of their CEO, $100 million? It certainly would have been a big payday for NYC white collar criminal defense lawyers.

          "let's talk about that"

          by VClib on Mon Dec 31, 2012 at 07:04:28 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Good Point (5+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            xaxnar, KenBee, fhcec, VClib, divineorder

            and well taken. It would have required congressional  approval via funding  to prosecute at least 5 of the CEOs that were at the very top of outrageous behavior. That dovetails neatly with my latest thoughts on this.

            We have to deal with Public Corruption before we can do anything about the banking system as it could be easily argued that their co-conspirators were members of congress and the executive branch which could flow to the DOJ , Treasury , IRS etc.

            That is the real point here. No one in govt has been arrested either at least on the federal level . In order for all this to have happened Bank Regulators had to be complicit.

            There was one email captured from a major bank that was suppose to be a productivity encouragement email when a Bank higher up said he wanted 500 mortgages funded a day. This type of behavior should have set off sirens to the regulators, but after 2004 not a word was mentioned in govt.

  •  The Real Elephant in the room: capitalism (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a2nite, The Jester

    IMO, liberals and progressives see the devastating consequences of our system, they understand the inequality and injustice it creates, but they just can't take the next logical step:

    Denounce the system itself and demand an alternative that doesn't need so much "reform" or constant vigilance.

    It's the system itself.

    Look at the history. Capitalism has been around for roughly 500 years, and dominant for a bit more than 200. During virtually all of that time, it has treated workers monstrously, especially when in foreign lands. It has exploited workers all over the world, extracting enormous wealth from their sweat and blood, enslaving them, forcing them to meet rubber quotas, gold quotas, and a host of other natural resources at the point of a sword or a gun. And in America and Europe, that exploitation mirrored the fiction of Dickens, with its poorhouses, child labor, debt slavery and Scrooges. In just one brief moment in time, in the late 1940s through the early 1970s, it seemed that prosperity was finally to be shared to some degree. But since that blip on the radar, things have gone right back to the obscene levels of wealth and wage inequality the world had known for the first two centuries of capital's dominance.

    It's the system itself. Its internal logic and internal contradictions make it inherently unjust, exploitative and unsustainable. It must always grow or die, which means it runs up against a finite world, with finite resources, and because it has concentrated the goods of society at the very top, it can never spread them out. There is not enough left over to share among everyone else, when so much is used up by the top.

    It can not be reformed. It can not be tamed. It must be replaced.  

    •  These are really the words you cannot say on TV. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Odysseus, divineorder

      And that is the problem. If one questions the current economic system, he or she will be denied a hearing.

      I feel that socialism in it's pure form (Communism) has failed as well. Clearly, the mixed economies of western Europe are the best existing model.

      The most thoroughly mixed ones are, of course, Germany and the Scandinavian countries. (For example, in Germany, the boards of major corporations must include representatives from laborers.)

      Far from lagging due to the lack of capitalistic purity, the performance of these economies is so superior to that of their neighbors as to be the root cause of the EU's current woes.

      I believe that if we could open minds regarding the capitalist orthodoxy of the last 30 years, we could begin creating an economy that would once again be an example to the world.

      The working poor haven’t abdicated responsibility for their lives. They’re drowning in it. -Ezra Klein

      by bubbajim on Tue Jan 01, 2013 at 07:18:39 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Good comments, except . . . (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Real socialism, much less real communism, has never been tried on a national scale.

        Real socialism means the people own the means of production, not political parties or dictators. Real socialism must have actual, existing democracy, including the entire economy. And no nation has attempted that yet.

        Also, communism follows socialism. It's actually the absence of the state, after socialism sets the table for that absence. So a "communist state" is an oxymoron.

        I agree with you about the Scandinavian countries. They're the closest thing we have to actually, existing socialism. But they still don't cede ownership of the means of production to the people.

        •  Right. Calling the western European "Third Way" (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Socialism is meant as a slur by conservatives.

          But it is the closest thing thus far.

          Funny how it's outperforming lassiez-faire (actually, crony) Capitalism on Capitalism's terms.

          The working poor haven’t abdicated responsibility for their lives. They’re drowning in it. -Ezra Klein

          by bubbajim on Tue Jan 01, 2013 at 07:07:28 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Tax reform is a chimera. Taxes ain't ready for ... (0+ / 0-)

    ... reform. As long as there are taxes, there will be tax avoidance, legalized and legitimate via deductions, credits, preferences, arcanities ... all favoring types of activities that a majority in Congress is either willing to favor or unwilling to piss off.

    We could simplify taxes a lot, but the same observations go for the rules and regulations that are used to administer the tax laws.

    There are simply too many beneficiaries of this niche and that to expect meaningful, wholesale, industrial strength tax reform - as opposed to bracket changes and the removal of specific bundles of provisions such as the intellectually preposterous "carried interest" loophole.

    Bottom line: if anyone proposes tax reform, cheer them on but give up nothing in return and promise nothing until you see the fruits of their labors in effect and operative.

    2014 IS COMING. Build up the Senate. Win back the House : 17 seats. Plus!

    by TRPChicago on Mon Dec 31, 2012 at 04:57:06 AM PST

  •  Capitalism is fine..... so long as.... (0+ / 0-)

    You understand human nature and have limits and regulations in place at all levels of economic activity to curb the worst aspects of human nature, while supporting and reinforcing the best aspects of human nature.

    Worldwide Republicanism is a force that seeks to remove the brakes on capitalism and allow it unfettered power to achieve its penultimate goals.... unfortunately that leads to the maximum concentration of wealth and eventually that vast majority of people as peasants choose not to starve in the cold and dark, but instead rise up and kill the shit out of the filthy rich.


    Republicans live for today, they are actually the inverse of conservatives, having turned the very concept of conservatism on its head. They don't care that 20-30 years from now they or their children, in their gated communities will simply be over run and slaughtered. They only know that it's good to be rich TODAY, and enough is never enough.

    It is a sickness, as dangerous to society as any other serious mental illness, left untreated to run rampant across the countryside wreaking havoc on the nation and world.

    Worldwide Republicanism is not a political party or movement, it comes in many forms, from current American republican leadership and the filthy rich to Stalin or the Shah or Louis XVI or George III or Herod or Pharaoh Ramesses.

    They were all humans and human nature unrestrained, regardless of political system, will yield absolute disaster followed by backlash, rinse repeat, forever .... until we just wise up and stop. Recognize our predilections and constrain them reasonably.

    Enough freedom to innovate and progress, but not so much that a minority can run amok and bring calamity to all.

    An enormous part of the New Deal was the implementation of those reasonable restraints that Worldwide Republicanism has been working for 30+ years to remove, and have been all too successful.

    •  There is no such thing as "human nature." (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      linkage, bubbajim

      It's a myth.

      For the first 200,000 years of our existence on this planet, we lived communally, shared everything, had no "private property." In many places around the world, native peoples continued this tradition through the 19th century.

      If anything could be termed "human nature", it would be sharing resources, trying to live in harmony with each other and Nature. Capitalism is the opposite of that. It's Social Darwinism on overdrive.

      Yes, there have always been alphas and predators. But throughout history, they have been a tiny fraction of society. What capitalism and its propaganda arm have done is to make it easier for those alphas and predators to dominate every aspect of our lives, and brainwash us into thinking their actions are "normal" and "natural" and an example of "human nature."

      Wrong. Natural and normal for that tiny fraction of society. But not for the vast majority.

      Also, why on earth would we want a system that requires so many checks and balances, and still creates massive inequality? Why not build a system that already syncs up with our goals and desires from the getgo?

      Why choose a system with internal mechanics and logic that are in direct opposition to your goals and dreams? Why not start with a foundation already in harmony with the kind of society you seek?

      •  "You can't change human nature." (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        xaxnar, diomedes77

        So say the conservatives.

        Setting aside the question of whether such an intangible exists, I retort with, "maybe, maybe not, but you surely can change human behavior. Just change the rules of the game and watch what happens."

        The working poor haven’t abdicated responsibility for their lives. They’re drowning in it. -Ezra Klein

        by bubbajim on Tue Jan 01, 2013 at 07:30:56 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well said. And capitalism depends upon just that. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Right? Isn't that what marketing is all about? Changing human behavior?

          And don't conservatives always go on and on about how tax policy changes behavior?

          If it makes sense that some changes within a system affect behavior, how on earth could it not change it if we change the entire system?

  •  See? The System works. (0+ / 0-)
    What we would be doing in that case is doubling down on the damage to workers — they’re already hurting because income is shifting away from labor, and we’re going to hurt them even more by cutting the benefits they depend upon.
    Now if we could just make it harder for the elderly, disabled, Veterans, and poor to get medical care, or at least delay getting it, think of the advantages to the Budget that would have! Why that would save enough money on Social Security and Medicare/caid to make it worthwhile to transfer those to private hands.

    Plus, we wouldn't have to fund all those death panels.

    So far, the plan is looking like a Win/Win all around for the people who matter.

    The Internet is just the tail of the Corporate Media dog.

    by Jim P on Mon Dec 31, 2012 at 11:57:36 AM PST

  •  Right On (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    That's what disappoints me so much about the debate in Washington: it completely ignores what got us into this mess in the first place. It's the economy, stupid politicians!

    Specifically, it's trade. The deficit that matters is the trade deficit. Over the last few decades we've seen wages decline for typical American workers while productivity is up over 80%. The result is that workers are making about half as much as they should be.

    Which means that payroll taxes are half what they should be.

    This year the trade deficit will top $50 billion. On that alone, the Social Security fund will lose over a billion dollars in revenue not paid on work not done in the U.S. (but consumed here).

    This is a fiscal crisis. It's an economic crisis of epic proportions that not only far outsizes the federal deficit "crisis" but causes it. Yet not a single person in the media talks about it.

    I mean to put an end to that in 2013.

    Thanks for pointing out the obvious truth, Xaxnar.

    •  The trade deficit is a problem. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Liberal Thinking

      But since we print our own money (unlike Greece) and China likes getting paid in - and investing in - our money, it's not as big a problem as it might be.

      The wage disparity - that's the problem. But that's a different issue. We can demand that Chinese suppliers of US firms pay a living wage and maintain decent working conditions.

      That will lessen the wage disparity in a way that cannot be argued against without the opponents of such a program looking like the ogres that they are. I like the idea of using an argument from Christian decency that inserts a wedge between Christian Conservatives and "vulture Capitalists." :)

      (I'm so glad it was Governor Rick Perry who popularized that phrase. It makes it hard for Republicans to disavow it.)

      The working poor haven’t abdicated responsibility for their lives. They’re drowning in it. -Ezra Klein

      by bubbajim on Tue Jan 01, 2013 at 07:42:02 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's a Huge Problem (0+ / 0-)

        The trade problem is at the heart of why we have repeating economic problems. It is impoverishing the country, which leads to the fiscal problems Republicans continually use to squeeze one concession after another out of Democrats.

        Manufacturing peaked here in 1979. Since then it is down at least 25%. This means production jobs have gone elsewhere, and that 25% hides the fact that we've had a massive increase in population since the 1970s, which should have lead to an expansion of production.

        Production is what creates wealth. if you move wealth-production out of the country you impoverish that country. It's really as simple and as hard as that.

        Our trade deficit has been as high as the $700 billion a year range. Over the years literally trillions of dollars have gone out of the country this way. Along with each of those dollars is a 10.6% hit on payroll taxes for every dollar of production involved. It amounts to hundreds of billions of dollars shortfall for Social Security and Medicare.

        I agree with you that China should be paying a living wage to their workers and maintaining decent working conditions. The way to get there is to insist that no product be sold in the U.S. unless it is made to our workplace and environmental standards. That should start with an international minimum wage. I want to see an IMW of at least $2.50/hour, going up by 2-3% per year until it reaches parity with our domestic minimum wage. This implies a 40-hour work week, sensible child labor laws, reasonable overtime rates, and so on. This is the minimum necessary to get back on the right track.

        I'd also like to see a 10% uniform tariff on all products. That would encourage local production, helping not just with the economy but with climate change, as well.

        Right now you are making 1/2 what you should be making, presuming you even have a job. The reason is our poor trade agreements. To the first order of magnitude poor trade deals have translated directly into destroying your standard of living.

        Please help refocus the debate on jobs and wages. That's where this should have been fought in the first place. We have a chance right now to go back and make that the crisis in Washington.

  •  You framed this fabulously well! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    You make me wish I'd said it, but of course you have more substance than do I.

    Wish I'd read earlier - could rec but not tip.  Thanks.

    Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth - Abraham Lincoln

    by Gustogirl on Tue Jan 01, 2013 at 09:45:59 AM PST

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