IBI Watch 7/24/11

24 07 2011

Trickle Down – the Undead Idea of Our Era

With the debt limit deadline looming, and Republicans standing firmly against any sort of tax hike (or ‘restoration’ as I prefer to describe it,) I can’t help but think of the days when the ‘trickle down’ strategy was first sold. Those of us of a certain age remember those times.  Grandfatherly President Reagan and his crew convinced the public that cutting taxes on the wealthy would lead to prosperity ‘trickling down’ to everyone.  Thirty years on, cutting taxes has become a virtual religion of the modern Republican Party, enforced by a ‘pledge’ that just as well could be a creed.  More than any other factor, it has put us in the current budget crisis.  And when you look at how wealth and income over those thirty years have skewed so dramatically toward those at the very top, it is clear that something has ‘trickled down,’ but prosperity it isn’t.

‘Trickle down’ has a new disguise.  You might now call it ‘Worshiping the Job Creators.’  Here’s how it goes.  If you keep cutting taxes on the wealthy, the wealthy will create jobs for more of us peons.  And those jobs are so much more worthy than public sector jobs, which are going away, fast, due to budget cuts.  There is one big problem with that approach.  Haven’t we tried that over the past few decades?  Well, where have all the jobs gone?  And here is another problem.  By most measures, wealth and income distribution has trended steeply toward the wealthy since 1980.  To see just how dramatic that shift has been, check this amazing collection of charts, published recently in Mother Jones.


And now think – with continued historically low tax rates for the wealthy, and continued loopholes for corporations in paying their taxes, what will that trend do for the foreseeable future?

If you have not met the man many credit with the zealous opposition to taxes that now rules the Republican Party, meet Grover Norquist.  He is arguably the most powerful and influential unelected person in America today.  He has survived the ultimate failure of the Gingrich Congress of the 90s, and more recently, his association with convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff.  And today, he has managed to secure the signatures of 95% of Congressional Republicans to his pledge to never, ever raise any taxes.

First link – Meet Grover.  Second – check the long list of Norquist pledgers.  The final three links are satire, pointing up in different ways the absurdity of Republicans protecting every penny of the wealthy while risking the nation’s economy.  First, Nicholas Kristof offers a sardonic view of ‘bonuses for billionaires.’  Then we get a funny and profane ‘pledge’ from Bill Maher.  And finally, the Onion weighs in.






A Bankrupt Strategy

Most economists say that an ‘all cuts’ approach, or even an approach that is just overwhelmingly cuts,  to resolving the debt crisis will lead to a severely weakened economy – a double-dip recession or worse.  But still the GOP persists.  Here are some views.






Calling the Shots, in a Corporate Way

I was shocked, shocked I say, to learn about a group of powerful industrialists who have the ear of influential state legislators to an almost unimaginable degree.  And you will be, too.  Meet ALEC – The American Legislative Exchange Council.  Sounds benign, no?  No.  Read, listen and watch to see how democracy is twisted into corporatism.  First link is the group’s site.  Second takes you to a Nation piece on exposing this powerful group.  Third links to an NPR story.  And the final link is a video of anti-ALEC activities right here in Minnesota.  See a Burnsville Republican threaten to sic security on visitors who dare to ask about his status in relation to ALEC.





W’s Second Term – Why?  How?

Give it a rest, some say.  That election – 2004 – is long past.  Bush won, fair and square, so let it go.  I am glad not everyone sees it that way.  After the 2000 debacle, and the divisive wars and policy decisions of Bush’s first term, I just could not believe the outcome in 2004.  And many around the world shared my view.  Once I read Mark Crispin Miller’s excellent Fooled Again, it seemed that my doubts about the 2004 results were shared by many – with good reason.  If you also can’t believe we sent George back to wreak more corporatist havoc in 2004, check this story.  And at least give modern Republicans credit.  They know that their policies, if ever given a true, fair, up and down vote, would never prevail.  Thus we have voter ID laws, divisive campaigns based on social issues, and when all else fails, ‘Republican operatives’ influencing elections.  Why is this 2004 history important?  It will happen again, and again . . . unless we can figure a way to stop it.




The New Climate Normal

Extreme weather is the rule this summer.  High temperature and – in Minnesota anyway – humidity records are falling in batches.  You have to wonder when we will collectively wake up and smell the hydrocarbons.  How about an all-time record low temperature of 107?  Sure, it was in Oman.  Record flooding on the Missouri River.  And right here in Minnesota – a new all-time high dew point of 88!  This is all a predictable result – if not in detail at least in general – of our continued massive campaign to change the chemistry of the atmosphere.  But then there is comedy, of the Limbaugh variety.  You will not believe what the Great Bloviator has to say about the Heat Index.  On second thought, maybe you will believe it.  When you follow the first link, check the video of the Phoenix dust storm.  Massive, frightening.





Of Pranks and Projection

In dark times, humor is more necessary than ever.  When it makes an important point, well, all the better.  Check the first link for a summary of several satires and pranks, written by two prank masters – the Yes Men.  (I recommend the video The Yes Men Fix the World.) And finally, leave it to Jon Stewart – this time with help from Jerry Seinfeld – to satirically take the Bachmanns – husband and wife – to the cleaners.  The psychological term would be ‘projection’; for Stewart and Seinfeld, it’s ‘comedy repression therapy.’



“We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.”

-Louis D. Brandeis (Supreme Court Judge)

Contributed links to this posting – Jeff Carlson, Mark Goldberg, Allyson Harper, Coleen Rowley




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