This Liberal Nation
This nation was founded in a fight against an establishment based on birthright, religious orthodoxy and “knowing one’s place“. The Founding Fathers wanted to throw off the yoke of tyranny – by blending religious freedom and freedom of conscience with a commitment to care for the general welfare. And so the time has come for we, the people to fight the forces that wish to conserve and protect the status quo; the obscenely wealthy and heartless (and those who aspire to the same) who lie, cheat and steal what/who they can not buy.
In recent comments over at Huffington Post I propose we re-think our commitment to a financial system that is destroying the middle and lower economic classes in the US and, in time, across the globe. In order to start to fix the damage done, here are my proposed first steps:
* Cut out 50% of what we spend on Defense
(all of it; regular Budget items plus all those special allocations);
* Cut 75% of what we call Defense but is really aid to foreign stooges
(Saudi Arabia needs our financial support?);
Pork runs rampant through the Federal budget – less so (but not eliminated) at the State level. The largest waste is at the Department of War (aka Pentagon) – neocon holy ground. We waste money on unnecessary projects, projects that always take longer (and more money) than originally planned. We waste money and lives starting illegal, immoral wars around the globe.
Now it is time to pull out of the useless, unending, unwinnable war for the ‘hearts and minds’ of the peoples of Iraq and Afghanistan. Bring our troops home and then:
* take 1/3 of what we’re spending on these wars to give all vet’s the medical care they’ve earned. PTSD and TBI are rampant and will haunt us for a generation or more if not dealt with now, but the VA and the Pentagon are in denial;
* take another 1/3 to pay for extending UI benefits to those who’ve lost their jobs due to criminal fraud by the ‘financial services” industry’
* use the final 1/3 to start to pay down the huge Bush era debt.
* Bring the top personal income rate back to 90%
* Remove the cap on personal income subject to Social Security and Medicare taxes;
* Eliminate the special rate for what is really just regular income for “financial services” whizkids;
Taxes do not, despite claims to the contrary by some neocons, drive money out of the system. They move it around; reallocate resources (which is, of course, the basis for the neocon charges of socialism). Many of the men who made their fortune a few generations back knew that, at best, it was a blend of skill and luck that brought them wealth. Some (such as Henry Ford) were even smart enough to realize that a well-educated and well-paid middle class was the only way to sustain long-term prosperity for all.
What does drive money (or rather, the perception of wealth) out of the system are fictional forms of wealth such as Derivatives and CDOs that replace actual wealth and value with an unfulfilled promise of the same. Fictions that were fraudulently marketed as highly-rated; by firms that did or should have known better. When the bluff was called all that imaginary wealth was revealed as the sham it was. Sadly the government has blinked and is passing legislation that has no chance of preventing yet another round of behaviour that will drive supposed wealth out of the system after some period of ‘irrational exuberance’.
Also driving wealth out of the system was the ‘correction’ of incredibly inflated real estate prices that stopped reflecting any sort of rational basis years ago. The apparent wealth predicated on that falsehood was also driven out of the system by the unveiling of the wizards behind the curtain referred to in the paragraph above.
A third way wealth is being driven out of the system is the collapse of individuals’ non-governmental retirement funds (IRAs, 401(k) etc) when the stock market finally could not sustain the lies described in the paragraphs above.
And to this day, the “business leaders” many neocons still blindly believe could “save the system” will not admit their complicity in its collapse.
As for the move to privatize Social Security- the ‘financial services’ industry needs a large increase in market investments to replace the money we boomers are pulling out. in other words, they need younger workers to cover for us older ones. Gee that sounds kind of familiar…..
* Equalize the tax rate for gifts from beyond the grave with the rate for gifts from the living;
If this society is to be the ‘Meritocracy’ (one that rewards an individual for their skill, learning and hard work) that neocons like to claim it is, no child should inherit more than a few hundred thousand dollars. Let them EARN anything more than that. Neocons talk about how we need to remove all those things that (they think) prevent the hard-working heroes of individualism earn their fortune.
They tend to focus on regulation and taxation; I suggest that being born with a multi-million dollar trust fund removes the fear of failure that drives true heroes and entrepreneurs to succeed. If someone has an estate of a hundred million dollars and they don’t want it to go to Estate Taxes, they can donate to all sorts of non-profits or universities. Doing what Andrew Carnegie supposedly called “important work.”