Hey I’m traveling, blogging is likely to be light through the week
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Political & social commentators Dave Johnson and Dave Waldman – aka KagroX – discuss developments of the week. Plus political satirist Culture of Truth comments on the most ridiculous moment from Meet the Press. Jay Ackroyd moderates.
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One thing Apple is famous for is its “premium pricing.” Meaning gouge their customers for everything they can get, because they are “locked in” to the Apple ecosystem. This practice seems to have finally backfired on the company — people are just sick of it.
Example: the new iPhone (the one with the maps that send people to the wrong places) has a new connector. You can only get it from Apple. $19. An adapter to let you use the new iPhone with the old devices? $39. Never mind that the phone itself costs so much.
The new iPad mini? Starts at $329, but no GPS. To get a GPS is another $130!
I bought a Nexus 7 tablet instead, and I have to say it is so much better than an iPad! The OS is so much more flexible, can do so much more.
But it’s when you start looking for a laptop computer that the Apple pricing really bites you in the ass. A 15″ Macbook Pro starts at $1799! That’s with a 5400 RPM drive. Moving up to a 7200 RPM drive is $150 more, and this is not even a “hybrid” drive that is part SSD! You are literally paying double what you would pay for a comparable PC.
Apple is so over… and they did it to themselves.
When you hear anyone from the big multinationals or Wall Street using the word “reform,” watch out! The way they use the word, it means give them more and We, the People get less. They want to “reform” Social Security, “reform” Medicare and “reform” the income tax code. And now they want to “reform” the taxes corporations pay on money made outside the US. It’s like “reforming” an oak tree with an ax.
$420 Billion In Taxes Owed
American corporations are holding a lot of (their shareholders’) cash “outside of the country.” (But not really outside.) HOW much money are we talking about? Approx $1.2 trillion as of last March. This is money these companies have made in international profits, owed to their shareholders or potentially used for investment in US jobs, facilities and equipment. But they won’t bring the money back to the US because they would have to pay taxes if they did. Instead they are holding it “outside of the country” and pushing for “reform” — meaning let them out of their tax bill. If this $1.2 trillion were repatriated and taxed at the full corporate tax rate of 35% this would bring an additional $420 billion to the treasury for We, the People to use to rebuild our infrastructure, etc.
Before the election reporters and pundits were saying that not so many people would turn out this time, that it would be close at best. But on election day it turned out that it wasn’t even close. The people did turn out, some waiting in lines four, five, six hours to vote, many using provisional ballots because their states were trying to stop them. We, the People had a clear choice in front of us and We, the People made a clear choice.
Then, immediately after the election the “Very Serious People” tried to force through continued tax breaks for the wealthy paid for by cuts in the things the American people do to make each other’s lives better. People got involved and organized and it didn’t work out quite the way the one-percenters and their Very Serious spokespeople wanted it to work out.
For President Obama’s second inaugural the reporters were saying that not so many people would show up on the Mall this time. (“Assignment editor” Drudge had that up so that’s what much of the career media were repeating.) But from the inauguration stage at the Capitol Barack Obama looked out and saw as many as a million people on the National Mall cheering him on. People did show up.
Senators, before you vote today on the “make them talk” proposal, go ask members of the public what a filibuster is.
The public thinks a filibuster is senators talking all night. It is not a “nuclear option” to change the rules to what the public thinks the rules already are.
The purpose of the filibuster is to allow senators to hold up legislation that they think is just wrong. Standing in the senate chamber and talking lets senators make the case, and argue why they think the legislation violates the rights of a minority. This gives their supporters time to rally their forces. This dramatic act gets news, and alerts the public to pay attention. Then the public can contact their senators and let them know if they should go ahead or stop.
This is all these rule changes will do, bring back this system that protects the minority in a way that makes it a rare event. It is the rarity of the event that gives it its value.
Once again: The public thinks a filibuster is senators talking all night. It is not a “nuclear option” to change the rules to what the public thinks the rules already are.
People – call your senators now.
Obama mentioned “Stonewall” as one of the places where people fought for freedom. That is a big something deal. Good for him!
Stonewall was the Rosa Parks moment for the gay rights movement. The Stonewall Inn was a gay bar in Greenwich Village, Manhattan. NY police routinely terrorized gay people, and a raid at the Stonewall Inn was a last straw. A crowd gathered and a riot started. Then again the next night, and again later. Gays and residents of the area started organizing and that organizing continued to this day.
“”I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
That’s preserve, protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign AND domestic.
California’s deficits are gone, and Republicans are furious. The national deficit problem is largely solved, too, and Republicans just don’t know what to do! Of course what we need to do is invest in modernizing our infrastructure, which will put people back to work and we will end up with a … wait for it … modernized, energy-efficient, 21st century infrastructure that will boost our economy.
Learn From California
In California Republicans caused the deficit with tax cuts and restrictions on democracy that prevented citizens from fixing problems. They blocked every attempt to help the economy and the state budgets, demanding only cuts — and more tax cuts for billionaires and corporations. But California’s citizens finally got them out of the way, elected Jerry Brown (again), elected a supermajority of Democrats, passed tax increases, and the budget is balanced and will be in surplus soon. Republicans can’t stand it. They have no more excuse to scream “crisis!” and call for cuts in the things California’s citizens do for each other and the state’s economy. Now alifornia is moving forward, and even building a high-speed rail system.
If this sounds strangely familiar there’s a national lesson to learn here.
(Post title changed…)
Nate Silver has a much-discussed post today in the NY Times, What Is Driving Growth in Government Spending?. Silver goes over the numbers and writes,
To clarify: all of the major categories of government spending have been increasing relative to inflation. But essentially all of the increase in spending relative to economic growth, and the potential tax base, has come from entitlement programs, and about half of that has come from health care entitlements specifically.
The growth in health care expenditures, for better or worse, is not just a government problem: private spending on health care is increasing at broadly the same rates and is eating up a larger and larger share of economic activity. It’s an immensely complicated problem, but the arithmetic is simple: if we can’t slow the rate of growth in health care expenditures, we’ll either have to raise taxes, cut other government spending or continue to run huge deficits. Or we could hope to grow our way out of the problem, but health care expenditures may be impeding private-sector growth as well.
This week the president of the United States held a press conference with the DC elite press corps. They had the opportunity to ask the president what our government is doing about the nation’s most serious problems.
There were no questions about the climate change emergency.
There were no questions about the 400,000+ Americans killed by cigarettes each year.
There were no questions about ways to get millions and millions of unemployed and hurting people into jobs.
There were no questions about what we should do about our crumbling infrastructure.
There were no questions about the huge trade deficit that drains hundreds of billions out of our economy.