My Economic Plan

Here’s my plan to fix the economy for 2003, from a comment I posted over at Lean Left.

I would put a wealth tax of 10% on people with assets of more than $1 million (OK, $10 million then), and redistribute that through a big jobs program to retrofit homes and buildings to be energy efficient. (Get the money FROM where the money WENT.) That would fix the jobs/demand problem, and it would make the economy so much more efficient because of the resulting lower energy costs. I’d use the savings from that to pay off the Social Security retirement obligation for the boomers, by paying down debt now.

While we’re fixing things, go read this and the three entries following, in case you didn’t just do that.

Update – I just did that. The Social Security one is one of my favorites. Plus the next one down, from the previous day, about populists. And then a little further down, the stuff about the Iraq war already started because we’re bombing, which we’re still doing, every day. That was all two days in August. Wow. It started with my very favorite piece, The Retirement Plan of the Unemployed Man. (Be sure to click where it says, “The Man”.) (Did Terminus get a job or is he still in law school?)

Einstein

Einstein wrote,

“Private capital tends to become concentrated in few hands, partly because of competition among the capitalists, and partly because technological development and the increasing division of labor encourage the formation of larger units of production at the expense of smaller ones. The result of these developments is an oligarchy of private capital the enormous power of which cannot be effectively checked even by a democratically organized political society. This is true since the members of legislative bodies are selected by political parties, largely financed or otherwise influenced by private capitalists who, for all practical purposes, separate the electorate from the legislature. The consequence is that the representatives of the people do not in fact sufficiently protect the interests of the underprivileged sections of the population. Moreover, under existing conditions, private capitalists inevitably control, directly or indirectly, the main sources of information (press, radio, education). It is thus extremely difficult, and indeed in most cases quite impossible, for the individual citizen to come to objective conclusions and to make intelligent use of his political rights.”

This is BY NO MEANS a summary of Einstein’s essay. Please go read it. If you pressed for time I recommend skipping to the paragraph that begins, “I have now reached the point”.

In case this is hard to read, there are quite a few links here.

m4s0n501

Who Makes Things Better?

I saw this in the NY Times this morning, “More People on Welfare After Years of Declines“. It got me thinking about P.L.A.‘s “Just For The Record” series – Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, Part VI (and it says there’s a Part VII but there isn’t a link.) This series compares the record of Democratic and Republican administrations for things like deficits, job growth, economic growth, inflation, government spending, and number of government employees. This series should win P.L.A.’s Koufax Awards but it can’t because P.L.A. disqualified itself.

I’d like to see figures for stock market, crime, poverty/people on welfare, average income gains, number of people with health insurance, education, and any other quality of life issue you can think of. (In fact I was working on a book on this in the 80’s but eventually had to go do my job instead…) I hope I’ll get the time to contribute to this. In the meantime go read at P.L.A. and thank them!

Update – Also see CalPundit.

Politics not Policy – Party over Country

As I wrote in the previous entry, the Bush administration is entirely about moving he right-wing agenda. Then the always-excellent weblog The Sideshow pointed me to this article in The New Republic.

“Indeed, the simple rule for understanding Bush’s economic policy is that in virtually every instance, whether tacking right or left, the president sides with whatever interest group has the strongest stake in the issue at hand. The result is an administration whose domestic actions persistently, almost uniformly, fail to uphold the broader public good.”

Go read it. There’s a lot more there.

I’ve always said listen to Republican accusations to understand what the Republicans are doing. i.e., They accuse others of what they are actually doing. They accused Clinton of selling the White House.

Clear-Cutting 100-Year-Old Sequoias

LA Times commentary by Chad Hanson, executive director of the John Muir Project and a national director of the Sierra Club.

“This month, the Bush administration announced its draft management plan for the 329,000-acre monument, which proposes a commercial logging program that includes patch clear cuts within the sequoia groves and large-scale removal of big, green trees. Even century-old giant sequoias would be logged.

That the Bush administration would target such a revered refuge for logging raises a serious question: If the Giant Sequoia National Monument isn’t safe under this administration, what is?”

Never mind that scientists say cutting old-growth makes fire danger WORSE! This administration is entirely about furthering the right-wing agenda, and not about policy or the good of the country.

The damage just keeps on coming.

Says It All

DailyKOS has something that just says it all, so I’ll quote it all (with permission):

Southern anti-Americanism

At a time when any criticism of Bush’s war effort is met with charges of anti-Americanism, how do Southerners get away with celebrating the Confederacy?

What can be more un-American than wearing the symbol of the rebel group that sought to destroy the United States, and build a new nation based on the subjugation of an entire race?

Put a little differently — what is the difference between wearing a Confederate flag, and wearing a t-shirt with Osama Bin Laden’s mug on it? Or, to be ultra contemporary, an Iraqi flag? All three represent enemies of the United States.

So once again, how do Dixie lovers get away with it? “

Go there to comment and follow links in the piece.

Tort Reform

The Washington Post has a good story on Republican efforts to sneak “tort reform” – legislation to block people from suing corporations, limiting the amount they can sue for, or limiting what lawyers can make from such suits – into Federal laws without us noticing, GOP Plans New Caps on Court Awards.

“While Democrats and Republicans disagree about the merits of curtailing lawsuits, this much is indisputable: Corporations stand to benefit financially, while individuals may lose the opportunity to win significant jury awards if they are harmed by certain products.”

Tort reform is another of the corporate right’s long-term “think tank” projects, where you start hearing about “studies” that point out a a “problem,” over and over, until it becomes accepted “conventional wisdom.” How long have you been hearing about how court awards are out of control? Why do you think the misleading story of the McDonald’s spilled coffee lawsuit is repeated so often, through all the usual outlets – Paul Harvey, Rush Limbaugh, all the “pundits”, etc…?

You hear about someone filing a ridiculous suit, but you never hear when it gets thrown out of court. Or you learn later that actually the merits of the case were good – you only heard one distorted side of it, twisted to make it sound like a bogus suit to bolster the claims that lawsuits are out of control. Or you hear phony stories about the cost to insurance companies, etc. It’s “conventional wisdom” at this point, but it’s also bullshit.

But instead of my going on about it here, P.L.A. wrote a good piece on tort reform, and you can read it here.

Bring Back the Draft

The price of not having a draft. (Thanks Michael for pointing out the link over at Antiwar.com.) But, of course, if we did have a draft that would change the whole military-adventure-for-political-popularity equation. The public (and the Congress) might not be so ready for war if their kids – or the kids of anyone they knew – were the ones facing danger.

Let me be clear on this. I was against the draft during VietNam. I’ve come to realize that the public’s participation in the draft was the reason why VietNam finally ended rather than expand into Cambodia and Loas and beyond. I am in favor of a draft now because it would democratize the decisions of our leaders and would likely end their current taste for military adventure with imperialistic overtones. The public might even be inclined to conserve fuel and subsidize energy alternatives if it is THEIR kids who have to go fight in the Middle East.

Trickle Down

Richard Reeves had a good one yesterday, “What trickles down today: underpaid, no-benefits jobs“. Here’s a taste:

“Investment now, at least in the reign of Bush, is about cutting taxes on the rich, who will, presumably, then hire us as wrappers, trainers, secretaries, drivers, nannies and dog-washers and -walkers. The money to pay us — which we must spend immediately — will come from eliminating or cutting the taxes on high incomes, investments, dividends, and the estates of what the president’s father liked to call the “investing classes.”

The rest of us can be a nation of servants. Actually, in this new age, we will be less than servants. The code of old-time servitude meant that the more marginal classes were sort of adopted by the rich, provided with some security in terms of medical care and old age. That has changed. You’re on your own, buddy! The new servers are, more often than not, independent contractors — “independent contractors” is usually a euphemism for “no benefits” — who are, more often than not, paid in cash. Many in the investing classes hate government interference in the workplace, but demand government responsibility for the health and maintenance of the serving class.”

Personal responsibility, meaning you’re on your own after they’ve chewed you up and spat you out.

A question to ponder – Who is our economy for?