The world is out of balance. Everyone’s nervous. There is a glut of money floating around the world and no one offers a “safe place” to put it. The stock market is way up, way down, way up, way down – sometimes all on the same day. China’s currency is having dramatic swings while the U.S. has an enormous, humongous trade deficit.
Super-wealthy people are making and losing hundreds of millions (sometimes billions) in a day – none of it on making or doing actual things that matter. Inequality is soaring. (The top 25 hedge fund managers earn more than all kindergarten teachers in the U.S. combined.) And all around the world, there’s very little actual economic growth.
Meanwhile, most people barely (or don’t) have enough to get by.
The differences between Democratic presidential candidates and most Republican candidates on Social Security — and retirement security in general — could emerge as a “sleeper issue” in the 2016 campaign.
Friday’s post, Martin O’Malley Offers Strong Plan To Expand Retirement Security, looked at the retirement crisis facing aging Americans and Democratic presidential candidates Martin O’Malley and Bernie Sanders’ plans to boost retirement security. (Hillary Clinton has not released plan beyond saying she would be open to raising the income cap on Social Security taxes to help shore up the program’s finance.)
These candidates want to expand retirement security because Democrats generally have a “we are all in this together” and “it takes a village” approach to taking care of each other, which includes the elderly. Republicans have a very different “each of us on our own” approach to society. This applies to retirement security with Republicans largely believing that retirement income and even to a large extent healthcare should be more, or even entirely, up to the individual.
Most current Republican presidential candidates, with the notable exception of Donald Trump and Mike Huckabee, follow this “on your own” philosophy, offering plans to raise the retirement age, raise the early retirement age, means-test benefits, cut benefits, partially privatize it with some of the money going into Wall Street-managed personal accounts or just privatize the program entirely with all of it going into Wall Street-managed personal accounts. (Note that God/Mother Turtle likes to weigh in with coincident stock-market drops when Republicans start discussing putting Social Security into stock. The stock market dropped 1000 points last week, and has fallen more than 10% recently.)
Republican economics has been stated a thousand ways by a thousand (always paid) voices. But the basic idea behind all the schemes has been hard to pin down. Finally Republican front-runner Donald Trump has spelled it out in a way anyone can understand.
Thursday’s Progressive Breakfast (you should subscribe, it’s free, it’s really good) contains a story in which Trump clearly articulates the Republican/Billionaire/Wall Street case for a low-or-zero tax on corporate profits: “because they don’t want to pay the tax.”
Trump Sides With Multinationals Donald Trump backs repatriation in Time interview: “Pfizer is talking about moving to Ireland. Or someplace else … Do you know how big that is? It would wipe out New Jersey … They have $2.5 trillion sitting out of the country that they can’t get back because they don’t want to pay the tax. Nor would I … We should let them back in. Everybody. Even if you paid nothing it would be a good deal. Because they’ll take that money then and use it for other things. But they’ll pay something. Ten percent, they’ll pay something.”
There it is in a nutshell. The Republican case for low or no taxes: “because they don’t want to pay the tax.”
Businesses are run for a profit that goes into the pockets of the business’ “investors.” To be an investor requires that you have money. This is a rigged system that by definition channels the returns and gains of our economy to the people who have money in the first place.
That system forces a terrible business model: investors try to squeeze money out of businesses as fast as they can. Then they move on. People who put the money in have even more money, but leave behind them a trail of squeezed-out ruin. This squeezing of the business involves squeezing the workers, squeezing the product, squeezing the customers and squeezing the government out of any taxes that might be owed.
This is bad for America’s long-term economy, people, environment and — since it brings about intense concentration of wealth — bad for our democracy, too. But hey, it’s great for a few already-wealthy people at the top.
Institute for America’s Future
Institute for America’s Future develops an economic agenda and message to promote economic populism in the United States, fighting austerity and economic inequality while organizing to protect Social Security and rein in Wall Street.
1) After a few days it started saying it wasn’t “activated. Some of the things you can usually do stopped working, like personalization. There was nothing I could do. I managed to find a phone number (!), Microsoft support told me I have to reinstall the Windows 7 that came with the computer (not 8) and then update to 10 again. Of course this involves first backing up all my files, and then finding the CDs and reinstalling all my apps, etc. (Note that the place where it says you can revert back to Windows 8 did not work even though it has been less than a month.)
2) Skype doesn’t work. At first it just wouldn’t quit no matter what without a restart. After a while it started not opening much of the time. Then crashing on opening. I could get it to work one out of 4 tries. But then it started crashing during calls.
Presidential primary campaigns and authenticity; policing America. Sara Robinson and Dave Johnson discuss the absence of coverage of mainstream policy alternatives that are both effective public policy and poll very well, the contrast between the marginalization of the Sanders campaign, and impediments that the symbiotic relationships between cops and prosecutors create cops commit violent crime.
The 2015 Virtually Speaking Media Panel: Andrew Jerrell Jones, Avedon Carol, Charles Lenchner, Cliff Schecter, David Dayen, Dave Johnson, David Waldman, digby, Gaius Publius, Isaiah Poole, Joan McCarter, Marcy Wheeler, RJ Eskow, Sara Robinson, Spocko, Stuart Zechman, Susan Madrak
Divide and conquer works. When you face a strong enemy it’s always a good strategy to find ways to break them apart into smaller units that can be fought separately. A state initiative to gut California’s public-employee pension and healthcare benefits is trying to do just that.
A well-funded campaign is underway (again) to take advantage of the state’s constitutional amendment initiative process, this time to place a proposition called the “Voter Empowerment Act of 2016” on the 2016 ballot. The initiative would require that voters approve any pension and health benefits in contracts for new teachers, nurses, police and other government employees as well as any pension enhancements for existing employees.
This initiative follows a pattern well-known to California public-interest advocates. Ballot initiatives must receive 585,407 signatures to qualify, and corporate/billionaire-funded initiatives hire paid signature gatherers to get this done. Then they launch a well-funded, deceit-filled campaign to scare voters.
Similar anti-pension campaign have been, are and will be underway in states and municipalities across the country.