Today’s Housing Bubble Post – Recovery Myth

Go read James Boyce: The Recovery Myth: Caveat America and take a look at the chart.
While you’re at it, look at this chart as well.
I think we need to go through a period of disappointment for the “always goes up” crowd before they realize that this isn’t a pendulum swinging, a natural part of the cycle, a temporary setback, etc. We went through fundamental changes in the economy in the early 1980s, and since then household debt has been increasing, wages have been stagnant, and predatory capitalism has sucked the consumer dry. The consumer is tapped out and until the nature of our economic system changes, and the people start to benefit from their own work again, things can only get worse. Top-down economics doesn’t work. Democracy is the only economics that works.

California Election Results — What The Public Wants

This post originally appeared at Speak Out California.
Did the results of the special election on the budget propositions really show that the public is against taxes and government, as the Republicans claim?  Recent polling looked at the reasons the propositions failed.  Polls are a useful way to understand what people really thing because they take a scientific sample, actually asking the voters what they think, instead of just repeating something that Republicans just say.  Let’s see what the voters give as their reasons for opposing the propositions.  From the polling:

  • 74% of voters polled thought the election was just a gimmick, not an actual fix for California’s budget problems.
  • 70% of the voters polled said the legislature is a captive of special interests (possibly because people are learning that the “budget deal” that they came up with in the middle of this emergency included a huge tax cut for large, multi-state corporations.)
  • In a budget battle dominated by Republican demands for spending cuts instead of asking the rich and corporations to pay their fair share only 19% of voters polled said that Californians are being asked to share the pain equally. 
  • And to drive that point home, only 29% of voters polled said that the budget should be balanced only with spending cuts.  According to the polling “even among ‘No’ voters, less than half (46%) say the government should rely entirely on spending cuts with no tax increases.”

In summary, voters resented that the legislature is held captive by the 2/3 rule, and want them to address that instead of coming up with short-term gimmicks to get through another year while making things even worse later.

Additionally, and completely contrary to anti-tax and anti-government claims, the polling showed “broad support for new revenue streams.”  According to the polling report, the public supports:

  • Increasing taxes on alcoholic beverages (75% support)
  • Increasing taxes on tobacco (74% support)
  • Imposing an oil extraction tax on oil companies just like every other oil producing state (73% support)
  • Closing the loophole that allows corporations to avoid reassessment of the value of new property they purchase (63% support)
  • Increasing the top bracket of the state income tax from nine point three percent to 10 percent for families with taxable income over $272,000 a year and to eleven percent for families with taxable incomes over $544,000 a year (63% support)
  • Prohibiting corporations from using tax credits to offset more than fifty percent of the taxes they owe (59% support)

The corporate right has to spin last week’s special election as an anti-tax vote.  What else can they do?  But, as usual, their spin goes completely the other way from the facts.

Let’s put them to the test.  The corporate right claims that this election showed that the public is solidly against government and taxes.  If they really believe that, how about reinstating majority rule in California, instead of requiring a 2/3 vote to pass budgets and taxes? 

Since they claim that the public is solidly against taxes, will they also support a straight up-or-down vote on taxes?  Of course not.  The public is not with them and they know it. This is just a ruse to continue destroying our great state and our democratic process.
Click through to Speak Out California.

Open Left Fundraiser

Open Left is having a findraiser. If we are going to have a progressive infrastructure at all we all need to pitch in and help fund organizations like Open Left. Even if you only give a dollar, please go show that you support building up an infrastructure of progressive organizations that are:
* OUTSIDE of political parties, and that
* Put pressure on our elected officials to do the right thing, and
* Articulate progressive ideas.
Seriously, if 1000 people only give a dollar that is a thousand dollars. There are millions of progressives. Think about it.

Why Is Welfare A Bad Word?

“Welfare” has been turned into a bad word in the U.S. Like “liberal.” How many people even know what the word really means, reacting instead of the negative spin it has? Many of us are so conditioned by propaganda that we can’t even think about the meanings of words.
Merriam-Webster:

1: the state of doing well especially in respect to good fortune, happiness, well-being, or prosperity
2 a: aid in the form of money or necessities for those in need b: an agency or program through which such aid is distributed

Oxford:

• noun 1 the health, happiness, and fortunes of a person or group. 2 action or procedure designed to promote the basic physical and material well-being of people in need. 3 chiefly N. Amer. financial support given for this purpose.

the state of being or doing well; condition of health, happiness, and comfort; well-being; prosperity” OOH – Bad!
So what about “welfare state?” Wikipedia on “welfare state“: “A model in which the state assumes primary responsibility for the welfare of its citizens.”
Your government watching out for your welfare. Imagine that.
Bad, bad, run away, run away.

Are California Voters ‘Anti-Government?’

This post originally appeared at Speak Out California.
In the op-ed piece titled, “A rising anti-government tide,” Republican leader Newt Gingrich wrote last week about California’s special election,

“This vote is the second great signal that the American people are getting fed up with corrupt politicians, arrogant bureaucrats, greedy interests and incompetent, destructive government.”

For those unfamiliar with the history of Newt Gingrich here is a quick lesson in what you are hearing.  Newt Gingrich is a father of Republican nasty-talk.  In 1990 Gingrich introduced a memo titled, “Language: A Key Mechanism of Control,” advising Republicans to use certain words over and over, always describing opponents as “destructive,” “incompetent,” “greedy,” etc., and always describe Republicans as “humane,” “fair,” “principled,” etc.  Please go read the memo and see for yourself.  Gingrich’s advice was to just insult and insult and be nasty dirty up the discourse, and you will win elections.  And, of course, that is what they did and they did win elections – for a while.  They are still nasty and just insult and insult, but they haven’t been winning elections. 

So, knowing that, take anything Gingrich says with a grain of salt.  (Never mind that Gingrich is also known for committing adultery in a car in the parking garage of the U.S. Capital, with a much-younger Congressional aide while he was Speaker of the House, during the Republican effort to impeach President Clinton for adultery!)  And ask yourself why any supposedly respectable news outlet would give him a platform to do the damage that he does.  
 
But back to the subject-at-hand, whether voters really, as Gingrich claims, expressed an “anti-government” message last week?  Does Gingrich have his facts right?  Let’s check a fact. Gingrich wrote, “This model of
high-tax, big-spending inefficiency has already driven thousands of successful Californians out of the state…” But everyone who actually knows anything about California knows that the reason people leave the state is because of high real-estate prices.  And the reason they are high is because so many people want to live here.  Of course, the implication (because it coincides with another Republican talking point) is that businesses leave the state because of taxes.  Studies that look at actual facts show this isn’t true, either.  Brian Leubitz on Friday wrote about this at Calitics,

“He
[Gingrich] highlights the Yacht Party theme that all these businesses are leaving California…except that they aren’t. As noted by the CA Budget Project blog, the PPIC has shown that this really isn’t true. PPIC event went so far as to say, in a report, that “it is important to be wary of anecdotal evidence of businesses fleeing the state to support arguments that California has an economic climate hostile to business.””

Can any readers name even a single business that has left California because of taxes?  If so, leave a comment.

Next: A look at the polls. 
Click through to Speak Out California.

Big Ag Forces University To Stop Distributing Book To Students

It seems that books criticizing the actions of big corporations are too “controversial” for some universities. Washington State University dropped the book “Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals” from their “common reading” program — in fact dropped the whole program — after a complaint from an agri-business-associated member of the board of regents of the University. Even though the university had already purchased 4,000 copies.
Big money makes the decisions these days. Apparently even about which books can be distributed at universities.
Through La Vida Locavore

OpenTable IPO Cheats Shareholders

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A company called OpenTable went public this week, and its share price went up 59%,

Online restaurant-reservations system OpenTable Inc. dished out the best IPO performance since late 2007, delivering a 59% gain in its trading debut.
Shares of the San Francisco company on Thursday closed at $31.89 apiece on the Nasdaq Stock Market, well above its initial offering price of $20.
Investors would have to go back to December 2007 to find a better first-day close, from Orion Energy Systems Inc., which rose 65% during its debut.

This first-day rise in the price is presented by the business media as a good thing, worded as “best performance” and a good first-day close, demonstrating again how the business media favors corruption over competence.
You see, what this first-day rise in price tells us is that the underwriters grossly underpriced the stock, which the business media did not explain. The company should have gone public for $30 a share, which the market demonstrated, rather than the $20 a share that the underwriting companies allowed insiders to buy at on the opening. The way this racket works is that insiders get the special $20 price and can sell at the $30-35 price later in the day. The company, however, only received the $20 per share it offered, cheated out of the $30 it clearly should have received. Others got rich at their expense.

Republicans Insulting Women As Usual

Taylor Marsh has the latest: RNC Tags Pelosi ‘€˜Pussy Galore’€™ in Video,

At the end it says “Democrats Galore.” Imposed with a naked woman behind the tag line. Get it? Subtle it is not. But check out the video at around :40 seconds; a split screen that says it all. “Pussy Galore” is shown with “Starring Nancy Pelosi the Speaker” over “Pussy’s” image.

Go see the video.
Taylor adds,

That a woman, let alone Speaker of the House, should never be hinted to in any public way through the use of “Pussy” insinuations should be obvious. That this is being used by a once major political party in the 21st century is stunning.