This is a well-written article that explains the essential difference between those who favor stimulating the economy versus those who want to starve it. It’s an argument that has been going on, in one form or another, for over a hundred years now and nothing indicates it will end soon. While there are many nuances and factors involved in the discussion the essential idea is quite simple. If the republicans get their way we are headed for another recession and maybe worse. If the democrats prevail the deficit may grow in the short term but so will the economy and with it the promise of putting people back to work. Without that this country hasn’t got a prayer…
The Republicans’ new voodoo economics?
Greg Ip | Washington Post | 19 Aug 11
When John McCain was running for the Republican presidential nomination nearly 12 years ago, he declared that Alan Greenspan was so critical to the economy that, if the then-Federal Reserve chairman died, he’d put sunglasses on the body, prop him up and hope no one noticed.
It’s safe to say that GOP opinions of the Fed have slipped a bit since. Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a newly declared candidate for president, said it would be “treasonous” for Greenspan’s successor, Ben Bernanke, to “print more money between now and the election” in an effort to boost the economy. Other candidates have been equally damning if slightly less extreme in their statements. Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota has accused the Fed of “debasing the currency,” while Rep. Ron Paul of Texas has written a bestseller called “End the Fed.” The party’s economic standard-bearer in the House, Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, repeatedly charges the Fed with “bailing out” what he considers President Obama’s reckless fiscal policy and wants the institution stripped of its mandate to promote employment.
An interesting article about an interesting question… When do we stop looking at Barack Obama as the savior of the middle class, the last bastion of democratic ideals, and start looking at him as the progenitor of the Bush-Cheney legacy. America the vengeful protector of capitalism, policeman (gestapo?) to the world, torturer and abductor without shame or just cause. Where have you gone Barack? What have you become?
The Bush-Obama Presidency
David Bromwich | Tom’s Dispach.com | 18 Aug 11
Is it too soon to speak of the Bush-Obama presidency?
The record shows impressive continuities between the two administrations, and nowhere more than in the policy of “force projection” in the Arab world. With one war half-ended in Iraq, but another doubled in size and stretching across borders in Afghanistan; with an expanded program of drone killings and black-ops assassinations, the latter glorified in special ceremonies of thanksgiving (as they never were under Bush); with the number of prisoners at Guantanamo having decreased, but some now slated for permanent detention; with the repeated invocation of “state secrets” to protect the government from charges of war crimes; with the Patriot Act renewed and its most dubious provisions left intact — the Bush-Obama presidency has sufficient self-coherence to be considered a historical entity with a life of its own.
This video clip from Robert Reich is a bit simplistic but it clarifies the essential argument going on in Washington (and elsewhere) regarding the budget deficit (we’re spending more than we take in) and its solutions. I call attention to the last sentence… ‘spending more than we take in.’ Wasn’t it the republicans who insisted we cut taxes so we could take in more revenue and improve the economy? That theory (‘trickle down’) was disproved long ago. Now they clamor to cut even more to solve the deficit they caused. What’s even stranger is that the democrats just go along with this lunacy. Am I missing something here???
Now, if you can have on-demand, automated robot cars transporting airport passengers comfortably and safely, why not have them whisking commuters to work and back. You could build a dedicated line in the center of I-95 straight to Manhattan with intermediate stops along the way. Fast, private, economical, pollution-free. Think of the jobs building such a network would create in the northeast corridor! Think of the revenue it could generate in use taxes. Oops… I’m sorry. I forgot. We’ve got to slash all spending to keep John Boehner and his Tea Party friends happy.
Pod Cars Make Their Debut At Heathrow Airport
Graham Webster | Talking Points Memo | 18 Aug 11
While robot cars on the open road move forward in prototype form, a new system of pod cars with dedicated tracks is now in operation at London’s Heathrow Airport. The firm behind the pods is also pushing the technology elsewhere, including potentially near San Jose’s airport.
The new system, in trials since April and entering regular service this summer, connects Heathrow’s Terminal 5 with two stations in a parking area about 1.2 miles away.
So far, the transport pods have received positive reviews from passengers who find the ride smooth and easy.
One of the few politicians making any sense these days. Maybe we can draft him…
Bernie Sanders: America Needs a Bold Jobs Plan
John Nichols | The Nation | 18 Aug 11
Bernie Sanders is not running for president.
Though he has expressed frustration with the direction of the 2012 campaign—going so far as to suggest that President Obama could use a primary challenge—Sanders will seek another term in the Senate next year.
But while he is not running for the presidency, Sanders is delivering the sort of speeches—and outlining the sort of agenda—that could animate the stale and lifeless 2012 campaign.
Every once in a while it seems this planet wobbles on it’s axis and everyone goes a little crazy. It happened a while back when everyone started shooting at each other. That period ended with the invention of a bomb that could kill whole cities in a flash. They considered it progress. Today we have the whole globe panicking because some loud-mouthed fear mongers insist that ‘government is the problem’ and that starving people is a good idea. This strange philosophy, with it’s religious fanatic overtones, has become a movement that threatens the entire world. It’s like a virus that keeps spreading. Meanwhile, the ‘doctors’ we elected keep prescribing more starvation instead of a balanced diet. I don’t know about you but I’m getting hungry…
The Wrong Idea
Editorial | NYTimes | 18 Aug 11
Stocks on Wall Street dropped sharply on Thursday, with investors spooked, again, about the euro-zone debt crisis and the sputtering United States economy.
Yet, even at this hour, leaders on both sides of the Atlantic seem determined to handcuff fiscal policies — the main tools that can increase jobs, consumer demand and economic growth — with an unquestioning devotion to rigid austerity.
Warren Buffett made news yesterday with his startling Times Op Ed calling for increased taxes on the rich, like him. In this interview with Charlie Rose he elaborates on the background and purpose of the article. He also offers an incisive view of the overall strength of the American economy and this nation’s long term prospects. Listening to this man makes one realize how rare it is to hear common sense any more. It’s so refreshing to listen to one of the few adults left in the national economic discussion… Note: Charlie Rose (understandably) frowns on reposting his broadcasts. To view this interview in its entirety just click HERE.
From the following article by Steven Pearlstein of the Washington Post… ‘Somewhere along the way, however, this effort took on a life of its own. What started as a reasonable attempt at political rebalancing turned into a jihad against all regulation, all taxes and all government, waged by right-wing zealots who want to privatize the public schools that educate your workers, cut back on the basic research on which your products are based, shut down the regulatory agencies that protect you from unscrupulous competitors and privatize the public infrastructure that transports your supplies and your finished goods. For them, this isn’t just a tactic to brush back government. It’s a holy war to destroy it — and one that is now out of your control.’
Blame for the financial mess starts with the corporate lobby
Steven Pearlstein | The Washington Post | 13 Aug 11
Another great week for Corporate America!
The economy is flatlining. Global financial markets are in turmoil. Your stock price is down about 15 percent in three weeks. Your customers have lost all confidence in the economy. Your employees, at least the American ones, are cynical and demoralized. Your government is paralyzed.
Want to know who is to blame, Mr. Big Shot Chief Executive? Just look in the mirror because the culprit is staring you in the face.
Why the U.S. Should Raise Taxes — Just As it Has in Previous Conflicts
James Wright | Foreign Affairs | 8 Aug 11
After the United States invaded Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003, the costs of these wars ballooned. In 2010, the United States spent $167 billion on “overseas contingency operations” in these theaters — a figure that includes expenditures by the Defense and State Departments and the U.S. Agency for International Development but excludes spending on the Department of Veterans Affairs. The economists Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes estimated in 2008 that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will eventually cost $3 trillion, and they now acknowledge that the number may be even greater. Much of the expense for these wars has been financed by debt or represents future obligations.
Now, with U.S. forces mostly out of Iraq, the debate in Washington’s foreign policy circles has focused primarily on the war in Afghanistan, with some critics, concerned in large part about the war’s costs, advocating an accelerated withdrawal strategy. The biggest controversy in Washington this summer, however, has been over the federal budget and debt limit. It is no secret that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have contributed to the debt and to budget deficits. Yet other than some symbolic antiwar suggestions, no political figures have proposed actually paying the cost of these military actions today. It is time for this to change: Congress should consider enacting a wartime surtax, as it has done for nearly all past U.S. wars.
Our leaders have asked for “shared sacrifice.” But when they did the asking, they spared me. I checked with my mega-rich friends to learn what pain they were expecting. They, too, were left untouched.
While the poor and middle class fight for us in Afghanistan, and while most Americans struggle to make ends meet, we mega-rich continue to get our extraordinary tax breaks. Some of us are investment managers who earn billions from our daily labors but are allowed to classify our income as “carried interest,” thereby getting a bargain 15 percent tax rate. Others own stock index futures for 10 minutes and have 60 percent of their gain taxed at 15 percent, as if they’d been long-term investors.
These and other blessings are showered upon us by legislators in Washington who feel compelled to protect us, much as if we were spotted owls or some other endangered species. It’s nice to have friends in high places.