IBI Watch 9/25/11

25 09 2011

Taxes – Loved by Few, Hated by Some, Needed by All

Anyone who follows Washington goings-on knows that today’s Republicans have a dogma – never raise anyone’s taxes, no matter what.  There are talking points, but no negotiation.  Federal tax rates on the top brackets are at low levels not seen in many decades, but those Republican talking points tell us fairy tales like, “It’s a bad time to raise anyone’s taxes,” and “Raising taxes will harm job creators.”


A reasonable solution to the weak economy and spiraling debt crisis would include several measures:

  • Short-term federal spending to get the economy moving
  • Long-term spending cuts and efficiencies
  • Partial tax restoration, especially on upper income brackets, which have benefited mightily from the Bush tax cuts.


But this solution will be a non-starter as long as Republicans hold a majority in the House, hold at least 40 Senate seats, and remain cowed by the Tea Party and collared by Grover Norquist’s infamous pledge.


This entire debate seems to me to come down to a single key question – Are we all in this together, or not?  Do we ‘all do well when we all do well,’ as Paul Wellstone told us, or was Margaret Thatcher right when she said, “There is no such thing as society, only individual men and women, and families?”  Are taxes ‘tyranny,’ as Tea Partiers love to say, or are they the dues we have to pay for civil society?  Is the government the ‘spender of last resort’ in today’s Great Recession, or is it a ‘job-killing problem?’  Will we have an America that looks more like FDR’s vision, or Ayn Rand’s?


While we get ready for another threatened federal shutdown, here are some links that can shed some light.  First, Elizabeth Warren is a populist hero if there ever was one.  She will never be approved by the Senate to run the new Consumer Protection Bureau, so she is running for Senate in Massachusetts.  Watch her make the case for fair taxation.  Then, check in with economist Paul Krugman, who skewers the idea of restoring taxes as class warfare – an oft-repeated Republican battle cry.  Next, an AlterNet story that debunks another, related Republican talking point – that regulations, along with taxes, kill jobs and damage the economy.  And finally, consider the day of Joe Middle-Class Republican, that rugged individual who has made it on his own, the government and liberals be damned.







Protest?  What Protest?

For more than a week now, the ‘Occupy Wall Street protest has been going on.  Protestors are angry about a lot of things: bankers continuing with business as usual – including the big bonuses – while Main Street suffers; the financial industry continuing without meaningful new regulations despite the 2008 collapse and bailout; the deepening mortgage crisis; a widespread concern about growing corporate power.  It has been hard to find coverage in most major corporate media, but  that may be changing.








The High Cost of ‘No New Taxes’

In Minnesota, of course, we had our own shutdown, and ‘no new taxes’ played an important role.  Just the other day, a new consequence of our increasingly dysfunctional legislature was announced.



Fossil Fuels – the Long History, in Just Five Minutes (or 800 Pages)

Invest just five minutes and get the long view of our love affair with dino joy juice. Definitely worth your time – from the Post Carbon Institute.  You will have to invest a lot more time to take in Daniel Yergin’s new, sweeping history and future of energy, Quest.  I have heard some reviews of the book, which sound interesting.  He does not buy into the idea of peak oil, but he is absolutely right about the enormous threat of manmade climate change.





Warming All Over

The summer that ended yesterday is one for the record books.  To see just how busy record keepers were, check the first link for some eye-popping charts.  There were so many records broken, the second chart will take some time to paint on your screen.  But when it does, check how much red – new daytime highs and especially record high overnight lows – the chart holds.  It also works like a Google map, so you can zoom in or out.  Next, check the second link for predictions – what will summers be like several decades from now?  (Hint – sweaters not recommended).  Next – take a look at a new site I have discovered – climate change as a villain, ‘El Guapo.’  The video connection is clever.  So if it’s as bad as all this, what are we doing?  Why, drilling in the Arctic, that’s what!   But all is not yet lost.  The new clown prince of willful ignorance on this issue, Rootin-tootin’, pistol-shootin’, science-disputin’ Rick Perry, may have pushed dumb a bit too far this time.  We can only hope.  (And remember – this guy, straight-faced, compares himself to Galileo!) And for a little inspiration – and some amazing photos – check the final link, a TED talk from Arctic expert Paul Nicklen.  Spirit bears








Jane Goodall – World-Class Primate Expertise, and a Sense of Humor too!

The famous scientist appeared on my favorite radio quiz show, Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me.  She bombed the quiz (with aplomb, though), but impressed with her sense of humor.  She is proud of the Gary Larson Far Side cartoon linked here.






“And I know that the younger generation is doing things that are so ingenious. And for them it’s not a matter of a political belief or an environmental stance. It’s really just common sense.”  – Daryl Hannah



Contributed links to this posting – Jeff Carlson, Allyson Harper




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: