IBI Watch 8/21/11

21 08 2011

Solutions to Long-Term Deficit

It’s easy to despair at the problems facing America today.  Unemployment remains high, despite a ‘recovery.’  Stimulus spending to encourage economic activity has not ended the Great Recession, and we have that long-term massive deficit problem to deal with.  And yet, solutions are out there.  Of course, someone’s ox will be gored in determining which course.  And with a vast inequality in political clout – just look at the near-unanimous Republican opposition to tax restoration on the wealthy – it’s easy to see whose ox is in greatest danger.  Hint- it’s not the billionaire’s beast.

Here is a sample of perspectives on what could be done to get America on a sustainable path – politics permitting, of course!

First – billionaire investor Warren Buffet raised quite a ruckus this week with a modest proposal.  That would be – restore taxes on the top brackets, and address a long-term skewing of income taxes in the US.  That would be this – for some time, we have been taxing wages at higher rates than investment income. Two links are provided on the Buffet piece – first, Buffet’s New York Times op-ed; second, an AlterNet commentary.



Second – three takes on the central Republican idea.  That would be that solutions must be made up entirely of spending cuts, i.e., no new taxes.  The first link highlights the agenda of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.  You remember him – he who said his TOP priority was to make Obama a one-term president.  Now THERE’S statesmanship!  Second links Republican policies to the Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine (a book I strongly recommend).  And finally, we need a laugh – Jon Stewart is brilliant in pointing out the absurdity and hypocrisy of those who pursue billionaire coddling as the prime directive.  Hilarious, as usual.




Third – Superheroes are about to rush to our nation’s rescue. You know about the super-committee of 12 members of Congress, six from each house, six from each party, who will meet to hammer out long-term solutions.  This, of course, is almost as hilarious as the Stewart video.  But in this case, you will have to force yourself to laugh in order to keep from crying.




How Did We Get Here?

The day after President Obama was elected, I called the new game for Republicans – to prove that all of America’s problems were his fault.  Sure, that was an easy prediction.  But now, with the 2012 election looming, and the president’s popularity sinking, it’s worthwhile to take a hard look at how the previous administration’s actions contributed to today’s problems.  I don’t see this as reflexive Bush-bashing.  The fact is that the Bush administration took monumental, far-reaching steps – two unfunded wars and massive tax cuts for the wealthy for starters – that have very long-term consequences.  To my mind, this is especially useful since a Republican who is far to the right of Bush entered the race and immediately moved to the head of the GOP field.


And . . . Shall We Go There Again?

We need to know more about Rick Perry, the purveyor of the ‘Texas Miracle.’ Here are a variety of links.  I strongly recommend the Democracy Now story, which features an interview with the former editor of the Texas Observer.  Last two links are strictly for laughs.  The Austin Lounge Lizards warned us before George W Bush became president that he would do to America what he had done to the Lone Star State.  Could we ignore that warning and the same from the late great Molly Ivins?  Note this line:  “We’re proud to be Americans, until we can secede!”












A Well-Informed Electorate

It’s an interesting question.  If we could somehow remove the propaganda, the bluster, the obfuscation, and allow policy issues and leadership alternatives to be honestly debated and decided by informed voters – what would happen?  I think I know the answer.  And I also give Republicans credit – they know the answer as well.  Why else would they need the likes of Karl Rove, Frank Luntz and Grover Norquist?  The YouTube link is a highly recommended Thom Hartman presentation that will give you new insights into history – how the last five Republican presidents – all beginning with Nixon – came to power.



Who Needs an Arctic Ice Cap, Anyway?

While we flirt with the idea of putting a new president in the White House who will make George W look like a brilliant friend of science, our gigantic experiment with changing our atmosphere continued to accelerate.  Fortunately, smart people are paying attention and trying to do something about it.  The first group of links take you to NPR installments in a series they ran this past week on Arctic ice melting.  Guaranteed eye-opener.  The Fox link shows us a bit of what we are up against.  The Pignorance Channel is caught twisting a story.  Next, learn more about environmentally destructive  tar sands oil, and how a group of activists in Washington is protesting, going as far as being arrested for the cause.  Finally, a replay of a short video from, of all places, the O’Reilly Factor.  Featured – a scientist going toe-to-toe, chart-to-chart, with a pseudo-scientific cherry picker.









Environmental Progress – Islands, Bikes, Thrones

And now for some good and/or interesting news.  First, an innovative project in Minneapolis that combines recycling plastics with resurrecting a nearly dead lake.  Second, a young inventor who has made strides in energy conservation with a bicycle innovation that points to more efficient cars.  And finally, would you believe a privy that floats, and sustains its own ecosystem?  Another NPR Science Friday video that is informative and oddly entertaining.




“A liberal is a man or a woman or a child who looks forward to a better day, a more tranquil night, and a bright, infinite future.” – Leonard Bernstein



Contributed links to this posting – Jeff Carlson, Allyson Harper, Cindy Kurtz




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