The Ideological Fantasies of Inequality Deniers — Daily Intel

The most important thing this article points out is the inadequacy of both the Republican and Democrat approaches to income inequality.

The Republicans wish to impose a system of taxation and corporate rules that will permanently enshrine an economic ruling class whose power will rival the most autocratic figures in history.

The Democrats wish to slow the increasing inequality by slightly raising taxes on the rich and protecting social programs.

One party is whole heartedly devoted to the interests of the corporate and wealthy elites, while the other is mainly motivated to serve the interests of the corporate and wealthy elites.

That’s not much of a choice.

The betrayal of the working class by the Democrats is a far worse crime than the willingness of the Republicans to barter away the middle class like so many butcherable farm animals. The Democrats were supposed to stand like Horatius at the Gate fighting for the great mass of the people, but once they discovered that the really big contributions came from the few, the wealthy and well placed, they found a new allegiance.

The disgusting spectacle of “Democrats” executing Republican policies is an almost daily occurrence everywhere in this nation in communities, counties, States and at the federal level.

The only way to get a party where the elected officials protect the rights and the income of the great mass of Americans is to organize and defeat any candidate who is on the other side, regardless of party affiliation. For too many years, I have been hearing the phrase, “We have to settle for what is possible.” This is used as justification for remaining passive while our supposed Democratic defenders sell us down the river, day after day, hour after hour, minute by minute.

I am fed up. It is better to let the Republicans win than to die bleeding drip by drip at the behest of the people we voted for.

I prefer open conflict than slow surrender.

I want a debate, a struggle, a battle between ideas.

Because when we talk about opportunity, rights, and justice we will win.

We will win because we are on the side of the great mass of working people.

We will win because we are on the side of civilization and history.

We will win because we are right.

Let’s start fighting.

James Pilant

Here’s a quote from the article.

Rising income inequality, like climate change, is an ideologically inconvenient issue for conservatives. They would prefer not to discuss it altogether. If forced to discuss it, they will generally either deny its existence or simply carry on as if it doesn’t exist.

The underlying facts, like the facts of climate change, are stark. Over the last few decades, income growth for most Americans has slowed to a crawl, while income for the very rich has exploded. That’s a reversal of the three decades following World War II, when all income groups got richer, with the poor and middle class rising at a faster rate than the rich. Crucially, the Congressional Budget Office’s new analysis shows that changes in government policy over this period have made inequality worse. (In CBO-speak: “The equalizing effect of transfers and taxes on household income was smaller in 2007 than it had been in 1979.”)

We’re not having a debate about how to reverse or even stop the growth of inequality. Nobody has a real plan to do that. The Democratic plan is to slightly arrest the growth of inequality by hiking taxes on the rich a few percentage points, so as to minimize the need to cut the social safety net. The Republican plan is to slash taxes for the rich and programs for the poor, thereby massively increasing inequality.

The Ideological Fantasies of Inequality Deniers — Daily Intel

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False Equivalence Watch: Et Tu, PBS? – James Fallows – Politics – The Atlantic

I am totally with James Fallows on this issue (and we definitely don’t always agree). But it is just wrong for the beltway media to take “ a plague on both your houses” attitude on the news when it comes to discussing passing or not passing legislation. An accurate description of who voted for what and who used the filibuster is far more relevant and intelligent than an attitude that those Democrats and Republicans should play nice with each other.

I don’t want them to play nice with each other. I want the middle class in this country protected and I’m tired of compromise.

How do you tell who your friends and enemies are if the dominant media narrative is the two political parties aren’t worth a damn and you should leave politics alone because it’s a dirty business?

I don’t like the Democrats and I like the Republicans even less but if the media drives most people from political discussion and action than a small minority are going to be the activists and that is counterproductive in a democracy.

James Pilant


James Fallows

False Equivalence Watch: Et Tu, PBS? – James Fallows – Politics – The Atlantic

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Richard Eskow Explains the Central Demand of the Wall Street Protests – SANITY

Richard Eskow has written an article describing the Wall Street Protestors’ demands in one word – Sanity. Here’s a small sample from the article –

Here’s Occupy Wall Street’s “One Demand”: Sanity

Here’s how insane this country has become. You can find “liberal” pundits and leaders from both parties on every channel who will condemn American homeowners as morally bankrupt and unworthy of help. But the banks they trusted, who sold them mortgages on the false promise that real estate values would rise forever, and who then when on a crime spree, walked away free. And their CEOs are broacast and quoted as they were legitimate, mainstream American voices.

That’s insane.

While the middle class dies and the ranks of the poor swell, this country is talking about cutting the government’s spending. While one home in four is underwater, this country’s worried about the financial health of banks. While we fight two unnecessary wars, war criminals like Dick Cheney are given television platforms as if they were simply representing a different political point of view.

That’s insane.

I find these words compelling. I was reading the news when I came across an article in which Dick Cheney suggested that Barack Obama owed the previous administration an apology for criticizing their abandonment of civilized rules and their willingness to torture suspects. That is the world we live in, a place where we have prosecuted and executed a Japanese during the Second World War for waterboarding Americans but have no historical memory to realize it is a war crime. Currently the new media treats things like war crimes as matters of opinion, not facts based on law.

He’s quite right about the media finding certain points of view unpalatable. If tea party republicans threaten to destroy the credit of the United States it cannot be just their fault but the fault of both parties because that is the media narrative – both sides are corrupt and incompetent, a plague on both their houses. My loathing for the ineffectual Democratic Party can be noted by any reader but I can’t help but notice that in earlier debt ceiling votes the Democrats had no held the country as hostage. However, this simple fact could not be mentioned in media accounts because both sides “must” by definition be at fault.

It’s time for sanity, for reliance on the facts and a willingness to speak them. No she said – he said narrative, in which a media personality with the brain power of a small flower explains the horse race elements of a policy dispute but a real discussion in which the impact on Americans of the middle class are honestly discussed.

We can live in a world where things make sense, where justice matters and the media has a legitimate role to play in the political discussion that does no involve false equivalencies.

I strongly sympathize with the Wall Street Protestors. There is going to be a lot more of this. This is just the beginning. Those that make fun of the American Spring are out of touch with America and history.

History is in motion, not with the tired policies of our current place holder in the White House but with the disaffected and the unemployed, those that know the system no longer works.

James Pilant

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An Economic Wake Up Call (via Here’s What Nancy Thinks)

Income inequality in the developed nations is almost exclusively an American phenomenon. As you can see from the graph, we are more equivalent to African nations with limited economic development in terms of income

Another interesting article is the graph on the origins of our budget problems. Please pay attention to the enormous role played by the Bush tax cuts in destroying revenue.

James Pilant

An Economic Wake Up Call I don't want a "share the wealth" society in the sense that Republicans like to threaten the people with… You have to admit, though, that there used to be a time when money made it to the top, the top would keep a little and spend the rest to grow their business by hiring new people and so forth. When the money trickled down, there was more money to trickle back up. Now, the mighty dollar is harder to come by because the money makes it to the t … Read More

via Here's What Nancy Thinks

Vice President Biden to Democratic Base: ‘Stop Whining’

Every once in a while you hear something you find hard to believe. This is a good example.”Stop whining.”

Would the Vice-President be directing that insult at the people who gave money, worked door to door and voted for him and the President?

Now whether the Democrats or Republicans do well in the coming election does not concern me. They have failed in their duty to protect the public from predatory lending, credit card gamesmanship, borderline fraud in the mortgage industry and many other persistent evils. So, “a plague on both their houses.”

However, the phrase, “Stop whining,” caught my attention. My blessed readers, if a single one of you thinks this will motivate the base, I want you to tell me. Just make a comment, a short phrase – “Biden knows what he’s doing.” That’s all I want to hear.

Just tell me that to someone, somewhere this make sense.

If so, I will never bring it up again. In fact I may very well give up saying anything about Joe Biden. That may well be the wisest course.

James Pilant

Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission

I have been giving this Supreme Court decision some thought. Those of you with a legal bent will recall that this case ruled that corporations can give unlimited sums of money to political organizations seeking to influence elections. The court essentially recognizes corporations as persons under the law.

Is that a different animal than the previous creature? I mean if a corporation is more like a person than a contract, does it have citizen like responsibilities? Does it have a character, an ethos? … beyond earning money?

If a corporation is not a mutual agreement, a contract, between a number of individuals but an entity with rights, what does that imply?

It would seem to suggest that corporations are business and political organizations. What I mean to say is, this decision ratifies the idea of a corporation as essentially a small political party. Now, that may appear on its face to be no big deal. But let’s look more closely. Let’s say that a large corporation has 30,000 members counting stockholders and employees. There are many, many corporations with far larger numbers. Nevertheless, let’s use this as our example. The company has yearly profits of a little more than one billion dollars, again not particularly large considering the number and profitability of modern companies.

Thirty thousand members is not a large group compared to Democrats or Republicans or even Libertarians. However the Republicans and Democrats and other interest groups managed to spend about three and one-half billion dollars in the last election cycle’s presidential race. Our hypothetical company can play a major role in the presidential election with only a relatively small contribution of effort. If the company devoted 200 million dollars to the election they could have a major effect on the outcome. But what about the primaries? Well, let’s consider the Iowa primaries, a single state but often a make or break state for presidential candidates earlier on. What if our hypothetical company throws in a mere 20 million dollars to dispose of one candidate in a horse race of seven? How likely is that to be successful, particularly when the numbers are close in the first place?

Citizens United took corporations from a very significant though limited role in American politics and essentially created hundreds of small political parties unified under central leaderships with powerful legislative needs and freed them to use virtually unlimited funds to gain those ends.

I argue that some corporations will take on dual role, not just to make money but to forward pro business ideologies as well as traditional business needs and desires. Would shareholders be willing to tolerate a loss in profit during one quarter of a year every two years? And what if the company was able to prove that by its political advocacy it had made a return on the money of 50 or 100 percent?

Could you form an oil company or a manufacturing company whose sole purpose is to turn money into political power? Would there be people interested in doing this?

They would be investing in a political movement. Look at their advantages. Their money in the form of public shares would always be available. They could get it back provided the company was profitable. Yet, the continued investment in political action could get a far higher return than regular campaign contributions especially considering the unified leadership of a CEO and the other corporate officers who we may assume will have considerable political experience.

We might very well have a de facto multiparty state with all that that implies.

James Pilant