Voting Machines Petition

Working For Change has a voting machines petition.

Stop the Florida-tion of the 2004 election

Computers threaten accountability of voting system

Today, there is a new and real threat to voters, this time coming from touchscreen voting machines with no paper trails and the computerized purges of voter rolls.

You can join SCLC President Martin Luther King III and investigative reporter Greg Palast in opposing the “Florida-tion” of the 2004 Presidential election by signing this petition. A complete copy of the petition will be delivered by Working Assets to Attorney General John Ashcroft.

I think it’s more about publicizing the problem than getting anything done. Imagine – giving a petition to Ashcroft and thinking anything is going to get done! But publicizing is good, so sign the petition and pass the word.

Nothing But Lies

I’m loaded down today reading weblogs and pundits complaining about hypocrisy from the Bush administration on one issue after another. Altercation writes, “The hypocrisy of this administration is absolutely mind-boggling and the mainstream media are its unindicted co-conspirators.” because the Bushies have been claiming they’re doing a lot of help AIDS in Africa, when they are actually doing nothing. Tbogg is upset that the Bushies are lying about WMD, contracting out the federal workforce, saving Private Lynch, etc. Democratic Veteran says they say they want to win the “Hearts and Minds” of Iraqis but aren’t DOING that, and saying we won in Iraq when we’re still fighting, and going after Iran, etc. In the New York Times Bob Herbert writes about the Bush tax bill saying it’s about job growth but having nothing in it that will grow jobs. And I just heard someone on a show say “and it just turns out that everything they were saying was lies.”

Come on! Don’t you get it? This is not hypocrisy or stupidity or incompetence – this is laying down a smokescreen of words to cover their real agenda. Get used to it – they just lie. Everyone gets worked up about the illogical arguments they make, and spends so much time and energy arguing with what the Bush people are SAYING and not much time effectively fighting what they are DOING. Gosh, do you think that’s part of their plan for getting things done?

Eschaton shows that he has a clue when he writes today, “At what point will our media just accept that they get nothing but lies?”

I’ll be writing about the influence on the right wingers of philosopher Leo Strauss soon. He taught that deception is necessary in politics – leaders should tell the people what they need to tell them to keep them calm and then do what they think is best. Oh yeah, there is a lot more. Here’s a good place to study up: Leo Strauss’ Philosophy of Deception

Corporate Share of Cost of Government

I was looking into what has happened to the share of taxes paid by corporations, and came across this interesting article, The 50-Year Swindle. Here are a few excerpts:

Year by year during the last half of the twentieth century, Congress and the Internal Revenue Service have shifted the national tax burden away from corporations and onto the backs of individuals and families.

The numbers are painfully simple. After World War II, corporations and individuals carried the tax burden together. Year by year, this has been altered until the corporate-individual split is now closer to 20-to-80–and guess who pays the 80 percent?

In 1953, if you count only income taxes, not various other excises, sales taxes, and special duties, individuals and families paid 59 percent of federal revenues and corporations 41 percent, according to The Statistical Abstract of the United States. By the latest confirmed figures in the Abstract, the corporate share has dropped from 41 to 20 percent, while that of individuals has increased from 59 to 80 percent.

On the flip side, it has made corporations steadily larger and more powerful. This has led to the “legal corruption” of huge campaign contributions that accelerated the ability of corporations to avoid more and more of their responsibility for keeping the country’s civic system in decent economic health.

The half-century of stealth attacks have had the insidious effect of conditioning most of the public to accept seemingly unconnected annual changes that, with time, look like acts of God or some force of economics beyond human intervention.

The big swindle that shifts taxes from corporations to individuals is concealed by another myth that politicians keep drumming into the American consciousness: The citizens of the United States are being crushed by ever-rising tax burdens. We are told that we’re all taxed to the eyebrows and this must be changed. It is almost mandatory rhetoric in every election campaign.

But, according to the Century Foundation (formerly the middle-of-the-road Twentieth Century Fund) and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), of all the industrialized democracies, the United States is near the bottom in paying taxes when calculated as a percentage of the country’s total wealth, its Gross Domestic Product. Our total taxes as percentage of our GDP are 29.7 percent, Britain’s are 33.6 percent; Canada’s are 33.6 percent; Germany’s are 39 percent; and Sweden’s are 49.9 percent. If that makes us feel lucky, we need to add that all those other countries provide health, housing, and other services we do not.

Some ammunition for any of you who still bother to argue with right-wingers instead of just realizing that what they do is lay down a smokesreen of lies to cover what they are really doing… Much of this article does that — it refutes the arguments of the right-wingers point by point. Of course, by the time the article had been written all the arguments had shifted, because they were never meant as serious arguments at all.

Anyway, the article has some good numbers to help you understand what has been happening to the tax structure over time, and some good stories. A good read.

The Mood of Intimidation In Bush’s America

Here’s a story about a teachers being punished for not supporting Bush enough. One was suspended for not taking down posters done by students – the pro-war posters were not “pro-war enough.” Another was suspended because a student on the school’s poetry-slam team read an anti-war poem. The poetry-slam team has also been disbanded. Four more were suspended for having anti-war posters in their classrooms. Most are terminated as of the end of this school year. All have letters inserted in their files which will make it difficult to find another job. And this is just in Albuquerque.

“Meanwhile, pro-war, militaristic signs, posters and bumper stickers abound at many Albuquerque and Rio Rancho schools.”

Has Bush spoken out condemning these violations of people’s rights? Has he spoken out against the mood of intimidation that is spreading across America? After you’re done spitting your coffee out of your nose and laughing, please remember to read the rest of Seeing the Forest.

As I wrote below in Agents of The Party, “This is not a man condemning thuggery, this is a man gratefully utilizing it.”

Space – For Americans Only

tendentious brought to my attention that the U.S. is now talking about denying all other countries the use of space for intelligence gathering satellites. They’re talking about total military domination of the planet.

If allies don’t like the new paradigm of space dominance, said Air Force secretary James Roche, they’ll just have to learn to accept it. The allies, he told the symposium, will have ‘no veto power.’


Another Stealth Bill

It looks like the new Defense Department authorization bill has a hidden surprise in it – it ends civil service protection for Pentagon employees! This means the loss of almost half the civil service union jobs in the country! Apparently the House has passed this but the Senate has not yet passed it. The American Federation of Government Employees has more information.

Please visit their website, and then call your Senators right away!

"Starving the Beast"

Read this, Stating the Obvious from Krugman today.

It’s no secret that right-wing ideologues want to abolish programs Americans take for granted. But not long ago, to suggest that the Bush administration’s policies might actually be driven by those ideologues — that the administration was deliberately setting the country up for a fiscal crisis in which popular social programs could be sharply cut — was to be accused of spouting conspiracy theories.

Then read this, Taxing Credibility by Bruce Bartlett from the LA Times Sunday, arguing from the right that yes this is exactly what they are doing, and for good reason.

Neoconservatives thought that attacking massively popular spending programs was both counterproductive and politically hopeless. Congress would never vote to cut such programs directly, and would not even restrain their growth unless under enormous political pressure.

And so, they approached things differently. First, they concluded that it is the relative size of government, not its absolute size, that is most important. In other words, government spending as a share of the gross domestic product was what mattered. For neocons, increasing the GDP is as important as lowering spending. Earlier conservatives had concentrated almost exclusively on controlling spending, assuming that increasing GDP was beyond government’s grasp.

Second, neoconservatives absorbed the insights of Public Choice, an economic school led by Nobel Prize winner James Buchanan. One of Buchanan’s theories, developed in academic papers and books during the mid-1970s, held that the size of government is better controlled on the tax side than the spending side. Cutting spending directly, while desirable, was often impossible in the absence of special circumstances, because the beneficiaries of spending were well organized and motivated, while those favoring lower spending were disorganized and diffused.

Neoconservatives saw tax cuts as a single solution to both problems. Lower tax rates would spur economic growth. If growth increased faster than spending, then spending’s share of GDP would fall without the necessity of cutting spending directly. At the same time, they reasoned, budget deficits resulting from lower taxes would mobilize movements advocating reduced spending.

When California’s Proposition 13 came along in 1978, Kristol saw another way in which tax cutting was useful. By denying government its fuel, tax cuts forced politicians to cut spending. In this sense, supply-side economics echoed the thinking of conservative economist Milton Friedman, who wrote in a 1978 column that “the only effective way to restrain government spending is by limiting government’s explicit tax revenue — just as a limited income is the only effective restraint on any individual’s or family’s spending.”

Starving the beast and increasing incentives for work, saving and investment are still good reasons to cut taxes today.

Yes, it’s obvious, especially when they clearly say that their intent is to bankrupt the country IN ORDER TO get rid of Social Security and Medicare They call it “starving the beast” and they are proud to be bankrupting the country, because that brings the desired goal of getting rid of all of our pensions and health care.

If you asked the average Bush voter if they think Bush is trying to get rid of Social Security or Medicare they’ll look at you like you are a crazy conspiracist. But how do you get through to them, when all of AM radio is a 24/7 Republican party ad, the TV networks replace Phil Donahue with Michael Savage, and most people won’t go near a newspaper? Well, I’ve been writing about how to do that.

So Much for That Idea

The huge Bush tax cut was supposed to immediately lift the stock market, creating a “wealth effect” which would then boost consumer confidence and revive the economy.

Well, the tax cut passed Friday night. This is Tuesday morning (markets were closed yesterday), and the stock market opened … down. Down 45 as I write, 5 minutes after the open.

Oops. Oh well, so much for that idea. Sorry about that HUGE increase in the deficit.

Update –The market went up later, because of consumer confidence and housing numbers. But the initial movement, in response to passing the tax cut bill, was down.