Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Monday, August 30, 2010
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Monday, August 23, 2010
Parks and Stone found that unselfish colleagues come to be resented because they "raise the bar" for what is expected of everyone. As a result, workers feel the new standard will make everyone else look bad.
Could this help explain what conservatives don't like about liberals? They set the bar just too damn high.
But it’s hard to think of a less cost-effective way to help the economy than giving money to people who already have plenty, and aren’t likely to spend a windfall.
No, this has nothing to do with sound economic policy. Instead, as I said, it’s about a dysfunctional and corrupt political culture, in which Congress won’t take action to revive the economy, pleads poverty when it comes to protecting the jobs of schoolteachers and firefighters, but declares cost no object when it comes to sparing the already wealthy even the slightest financial inconvenience.
The Kochs are longtime libertarians who believe in drastically lower personal and corporate taxes, minimal social services for the needy, and much less oversight of industry-especially environmental regulation. These views dovetail with the brothers' corporate interests. In a study released this spring, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst's Political Economy Research Institute named Koch Industries one of the top ten air polluters in the United States. And Greenpeace issued a report identifying the company as a "kingpin of climate science denial." The report showed that, from 2005 to 2008, the Kochs vastly outdid ExxonMobil in giving money to organizations fighting legislation related to climate change, underwriting a huge network of foundations, think tanks, and political front groups. Indeed, the brothers have funded opposition campaigns against so many Obama Administration policies-from health-care reform to the economic-stimulus program-that, in political circles, their ideological network is known as the Kochtopus.
Sunday, August 22, 2010
As reported by many news organizations in April and May of this year, current tax rates are the lowest they have been in 60 years. The idea that higher taxes are going to strangle businesses is simply not true. Any business that is so on-the-edge that a bit more in taxes is going to kill it already has a failing business model. People in the top income bracket are getting a freer ride now than they have in decades. During that time, the real earnings of middle-income have been in decline. Contrary to the Republican line, the real engine of economic growth is middle-income spending not high-income spending.
State government spending primarily represents our human obligation to one another. We must work together to provide a good education to our children, to provide the infrastructure businesses need to flourish, and to be a backstop to our most vulnerable citizens. When Republicans talk about cutting state spending, they are actually talking about shirking our moral obligations.
At the Federal level we are in an unfortunate situation in which the financial system has become paralyzed (thanks to excesses produced by ill-considered deregulation). When private sector activity dries up, the economy collapses unless some other economic activity comes in to take over. This is what happened in the Great Depression and it is what is happening now. It was the massive spending of World War II that finally ended that era. Thankfully we have avoided the worst effects of the Great Depression. And it will require the discipline of continued spending to bring us out of the Republican Recession. No one wants to waste money so we can have a discussion of what constitutes appropriate spending. If we are wise, we can direct spending to infrastructure and initiatives that prepare us for future robust growth. That growth will erase the debt we are incurring. When businesses spend to grow, it’s called investing. The same should apply to government spending now. But spend we must until the ravages of deregulation have been healed.
We must remind voters that regulation wasn’t dreamed up out of thin air to harm business. Every regulation was enacted to mitigate a problem. Remove the regulation and you are allowing that problem to return. Perhaps regulation can be more streamlined or more effective. But the need for it is certain.
The Republican attacks even extend to Social Security. Yet they can offer no alternative that is better. Whatever they do offer is only worse and, given their track record, much worse.
As Democrats, we have a fight on our hands. But it is a good fight. It is a fight worth fighting. We have a message worth sending. We have a moral obligation to raise our voices and speak out. The facts of history are on our side. Let us not be found wanting in our energy or effort at this critical time.
Friday, August 20, 2010
The best way to make the most of these truly precious resources of land,
favorable climates and human labor is to grow lettuce, oranges, wheat,
peppers, bananas, whatever, in the places where they grow best and with
the most efficient technologies - and then pay the relatively tiny
energy cost to get them to market, as we do with every other commodity
in the economy. Sometimes that means growing vegetables in your
backyard. Sometimes that means buying vegetables grown in California or
Eating locally grown produce is a fine thing in many ways. But it is not
an end in itself, nor is it a virtue in itself. The relative pittance of
our energy budget that we spend on modern farming is one of the wisest
energy investments we can make, when we honestly look at what it returns
to our land, our economy, our environment and our well-being.
Thursday, August 19, 2010
Update: It would be interesting to press those who wish to do away with Social Security on what exactly do they propose as an alternative. Not one of them will be better, most of them worse.