In a democracy government should be for everyone equally. If we’re going to have a program just give it to everyone, not just a few people. Limiting like that breeds resentment, of course, but the resentment is the correct reaction because limiting like that is just wrong.
It’s humiliating to have to prove you are poor enough to qualify for a government program, plus the masses of forms you have to fill out require huge bureaucracies to check. There is an assumption you’re trying to cheat. Means testing also sets up people to be ostracized as “Takers”. It tells the non-poor that the government is not for them, they just have to pay for it.
I could go on.
No wonder everyone hates the older generation of Democrats. Well-meaning, but they did this. Social Security, Medicare, even roads and bridges should have been the guide. Everyone deserves the things government does to make our lives better.
Along the lines of the voter assistance agency idea I posted the other day, here is something that I’ve wondered about since I had a business.
Government makes rules and regulations to protect the people and environment. But the compliance can be difficult and cost money. So people responsible for operating a business are left in this situation of not just having to run the business but also having to deal with all of that, too. It really can be “burdensome,” especially for smaller businesses.
Shouldn’t governments that regulate also have a function like some kind of Regulation Compliance Assistance Agency? The mission would be to help businesses comply and even assist with the costs if needed. The agency would send people familiar with the regulatory environment and requirements into the business to do the work and interact with the regulators until the job is done. They would help with any compliance costs in cases where the business was not intentionally cutting corners.
If the idea is that we need regulations to protect people, then clearly this would further that idea by getting the businesses complying as quickly and easily as possible? Why just put out some rule and then expect all the businesses to fix problems on their own. This necessarily creates anti-govt resentment.
It’s a win-win. The mission to get the public protected is achieved. Businesses are stronger for it. People can appreciate that govt is supposed to make our lives better.
This post originally appeared at Imagine Democracy.
We need a Federal Voter Assistance Agency.
The Federal Voter Assistance Agency’s mission would be to reinforce democracy by getting every citizen registered and empowered to vote. This would include helping people get registered, helping them vote, and helping people overcome suppression efforts like Voter-ID laws.
The agency would conduct outreach, even door-to-door, to let people know they need to be registered, hep them register, and help them vote.
The agency would also fight voter suppression by doing things like helping people in voter-ID states get the correct ID. This would include an online service to get valid birth certificates and everything else people need (for free) to get the necessary ID in their state. For those who can’t get things like birth certificates for various reasons the agency’s mission would include doing the research necessary to get birth documentation to get their ID. (Free, as a service to democracy.)
An idea like this couldn’t get through the Senate NOW (nothing Democrats pass can), but it educates the public about the possibilities of government being on their side again.
It also puts it out there for when Democrats do have the power to pass it.
I wrote this in May, June 2017 but it was never published. I’m getting around to posting it now.
How did Trump happen to us?
We are experiencing a shock and awe attack. Every single day we face a flood of terrible things being pushed at us so fast that we do not have time to react. Our system and commons and norms and standards and protections and rule of law are rapidly being dismantled. We are overwhelmed, exhausted, our spirits wear down, we don’t know what to do. Worse, the country risks normalization and eventual acceptance of the cruelty and insanity coming from the top.
Will we get out of this? With the nuclear codes in the hands of a crazy, egomaniacal, racist, malignant narcissist, will we live another year? If we’re alive will we be in jail?
There are people who say, “The US has been and is doing bad things all over the world. It interfered with Russia’s elections. It bombs people. It overthrows governments.” Etc.
The United States interferes with elections in other countries. It has overthrown governments in other countries, bombed and even nuked other countries, supported brutal regimes, etc. It has committed genocide against Native Americans, held slaves, enforced an apartheid, made people of color second-class citizens, fought unions and kept wages low, allowed terrible environmental destruction, tortured people … and done a lot of things we are all against.
In general that United States has done everything it can to keep We the People here and everywhere down and under the thumb of a wealthy few.
So who are we to object to what Putin has done and is doing?
Wait, Did WE Do That?
But is that United States that does those things OUR country? Did “we” do those things?
The instances of the US doing these kinds of things here and elsewhere have been when our democracy is undermined, corrupted, manipulated by anti-democracy moneyed interests for their own gain.
That isn’t “US.”
The United State is under the control of a wealthy few anti-democracy plutocrats who OPPOSE what the “We the People’ Constitution stands for. That is the bad version of the United States that progressives fight, now and historically.
Trump is the leader of THAT United States and he is aligned with Putin to make things even worse for We the People.
WE did not go to war in Iraq, we were against it. WE are not helping Israel suppress the Palestinians, we are against that. WE are not helping the Saudis bomb Yemen, we are against that. WE did not support apartheid, we fought it.
We the People of the United States have not decided we should do these things. We the people just want a better life and the freedom to make our decisions over how our government should operate – and every time that actually happens things get better for people, more equal, more just.
What Trump was and is doing — with Putin’s Russia by his side — is to further promote this very undermining of the “We the People” democracy that we fight for.
Doing work that needs to be done?
Democrats are making a terrible mistake fighting the Republican tax cuts by saying they add to the deficit, that they will “blow a hole in the budget,” etc.
Why are Democrats saying this? They are using the “increase deficits” line because they think they can appeal to a few “deficit hawk” Republicans who spent the Obama years complaining about government sending and “deficits.”
It is a mistake for Democrats to think they can “get Republican votes” by mouthing Republican deficit-fear rhetoric without understanding the strategy behind their rhetoric.
Strategy: Republicans Create Deficits, Stoke Deficit Fear, Then Campaign Against Government Spending
Here’s the thing. There are no real Republican “deficit hawks.” Republicans stoke deficit fear, and then say they are opposed to budget deficits. But they always, always increase deficits. On purpose. There’s a reason.
No help for Puerto Rico? No science at the EPA? The State Department dismantled?
The destruction is the POINT.
Trump sent the following email this week:
TIME Magazine thinks this is an ATTACK against me?
“How Trump’s cabinet is dismantling government as we know it.”
Good! The federal government is a broken, lobbyist-infested cesspool of corruption that abuses its power, cooks deals for crooked politicians, and despises hardworking Americans.
America didn’t vote for the same old thing. You voted for a wrecking ball to obliterate the status quo and rebuild a new government OF, FOR, and BY the PEOPLE!
But the swamp is revolting! That’s why it is so important now more than ever for you to accept your 2017 Sustaining Membership BEFORE MIDNIGHT TONIGHT.
The Fake News Media will do anything to try to rip apart the strong bonds of our movement. But they will never succeed — because we are fighting to save our country, and that’s a fight we will NEVER surrender.
I hope to see your name on our next list of 2017 Sustaining Members before midnight.
Please contribute $1 to accept your Sustaining Membership.
President Trump Signature Headshot
Donald J. Trump
President of The United States
He brags that he is a “wrecking ball.”
The problem with impeachment is it doesn’t really solve our problem. The problem we have goes so far beyond just Trump and into flaws in the the design of our system.
George Washington established rule by “norms” when he declined to run again for President, saying we are not a nation of kings. So it became a norm that presidents hand over power. In the years since we developed a system of democratic norms instead of laws that can be enforced, with systemic mechanisms to ensure enforcement.
So now we have a president who has no interest in norms or rule of law, and we have no laws and no systemic mechanisms to do anything about it. He and his cronies are destroying our system of democracy and rule of law.
These clowns got into office illegitimately and we have no mechanisms to stop the destruction of all the “public structures” We the People own and treasure, from our public land to our public schools to our public infrastructure to our system of checks and balances to our democracy itself.
They got into office illegitimately using a corporate-and-billionaire-financed propaganda machine (and possibly non-US “dark money” funding sources) spewing lies at us 24/7/365 for decades, massive voter suppression, possible election-rigging, the electoral college designed around maintaining slave states, lies (“I will drain the swamp”) and all the other things they have done.
And beyond the presidency we have the gerrymandering lock, states populated by cows but with two senators, and other ways they maintain a grip on power when they can’t get the votes.
All impeachment does is move the incompetent, loathsome Trump out of the way, after he signs the things they want and they are through with his usefulness. But the entire fraudulent crowd will still maintain illegitimate power.
What we need is a Truth and Reconciliation Commission that can sweep away all the corruption, illegitimacy and lies and find ways to restore democracy and return Power To The People.
While we’re talking about taxes…
Over the weekend The Zero Hour with RJ Eskow interviewed economist Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, to talk about “A New Way to Make Corporations Pay Their Fair Share.”
The idea is, as Baker wrote last week in the LA Times, Instead of taxes, make corporations give the government stock,
If the tax reformers are serious, and I hope they are, here’s one simple way to largely eliminate the gaming opportunities that have made these people rich.
Instead of traditional taxes, the government could require corporations to turn over a portion of their stock, say 25%, in the form of non-voting shares. The government would benefit from any dividends or share buybacks but would have no voice in running the company.
This system would eliminate almost all opportunities for gaming since a company would not be able to deny the government its share of profits unless it also withheld profits from its other shareholders. And we would not call that “tax avoidance” but outright theft – the sort of thing that gets people sent to jail.
This government (We the People) share of corporations would replace taxation, because the government would collect dividends or the value of the share would increase along with the profits (formerly taxable) of the corporation. The government and corporate tax-accounting bureaucracies would be unnecessary. Our democracy would receive revenue so it can do things to make our economy and lives better.
Why should the government (We the People) have a share of corporations? People generally do not understand what a corporation really is, and this common misunderstanding works to be benefit of those who make money off of them.
Corporations are entirely creations of government. They don’t exist without government. A corporation is a package of laws designed to accomplish a public purpose.
Individuals do not generally have the kind of capital available to accomplish large-scale projects like building a series of factories to make cars or airplanes. It’s also risky to sink so much of one person’t holdings into something like that so those with sufficient resources might not do it.
So government (We the people) created corporations to enable pooling of capital and reduction of individual risk. We (through our government) grant these entities the right to enter into contracts, write checks, hire people, borrow money, file lawsuits, etc. as if they were a “person.”
A common misconception is that shareholders “own” corporations. They do not, but shareholders do elect the Board of Directors, which hires people to manage the corporation according to the Board’s instructions.
People tend to think of and talk about corporations as sentient entities. But corporations do not think or decide or act or anything else. The managers of the corporation do that. For example, “Wells Fargo” did not “decide” to commit fraud against their customers, the corporation’s executives — people — did that.
Another common misconception is that corporations are required by law to do whatever they can to make profits for the shareholders. In fact this is a relatively recent concept that flourished as people’s understanding of the purpose of corporations diminished. In fact government does much to limit what corporations can do while seeking profits. They cannot (aren’t supposed to) kill or injure people to increase profits, cannot poison the air and water, cannot commit fraud, etc.
So the idea that government should keep their hands off of corporations and not hold some percent of them for the benefit of We the People is really preposterous. This thinking misunderstands what a corporation is, how and why it exists and what its purpose is.
The goal of Baker’s idea is to create a system where corporations are paying their share to We the People, without all of the incentives to come up with schemes to avoid taxes. Baker’s idea accomplishes that goal. Baker suggests that government hold 25% of corporate shares, but the tax rate has already dropped from 52% to 46% under Reagan to 35% today, and the corporate share of the overall tax burden has fallen from 32% to only 10%. SO perhaps a higher share would be appropriate for restoring revenue and democracy.
(See Lynn Stout’s The Shareholder Value Myth for a deeper dive into what and why a corporation is.)