Leaving aside the economic and political costs of the policies undertaken by President Obama, there is a much more profoundly corrosive social effect at work here. There is a pervasive sense that people who have played according to the rules are being persistently jobbed by this Administration – this has begun to perpetuate a feeling of “they’ve got theirs and now I want mine.” It’s hard to quantify the impact of this growing mentality, but it is the kind of phenomenon often manifests itself via widespread tax evasion and a corresponding loss of political legitimacy on the part of a government in other countries.
The primary reason the public accepts what we call “fiat money” is because it has tax liabilities to the government. If the tax system were removed, the government would eventually find that its fiat money would lose its ability to purchase goods and services on the market. In the words of the economist Abba Lerner:
The modern state can make anything it chooses generally acceptable as money…It is true that a simple declaration that such and such is money will not do, even if backed by the most convincing constitutional evidence of the state’s absolute sovereignty. But if the state is willing to accept the proposed money in payment of taxes and other obligations to itself the trick is done.
If that trend persists, then we do end up being like Greece. Not because of growing national insolvency, but more because our citizenry begins to view the government as a piggy bank to be exploited, rather than an instrument which mobilizes national resources for broader public purpose. Absent this political authority, everything begins to break down.
For all of his renewed vigor on the campaign trail, Mr. Obama fundamentally fails to understand this phenomenon, which is why his exhortations of the kind that he uttered last weekend to the Congressional Black Caucus no longer resonate with the broader public. His “change” message is no longer a symbol of hope, but has become a source of bitter irony and cynicism. As a result, this President risks turning off an entire generation of new voters who were once genuinely excited by the man’s promise.
Frank Rich recently suggested that “it’s time for this big dog to bite back” and urged Obama to “call out the powerful interests…whether on Wall Street or in Big Oil or any other sector where special interests are aligned against reform in the public interest.” All well and good. But consider the fact that these “powerful interests” were some of the President’s biggest campaign donors. Which leaves a more troubling question: what if this particular “Big Dog” is actually nothing more than a lap dog – guarding the very special interests that he purports to oppose?
I have a feeling people are going to rediscover the joys of snail mail.
So despite relentless pro-corporate propaganda from politicians and the media, Americans still have some sense of economic fairness. Will Democrats embrace this information — or ignore it in favor of more corporate-friendly findings?
Americans generally underestimate the degree of income inequality in the United States, and if given a choice, would distribute wealth in a similar way to the social democracies of Scandinavia, a new study finds.
For decades, polls have shown that a plurality of Americans — around 40 percent — consider themselves conservative, while only around 20 percent self-identify as liberals. But a new study from two noted economists casts doubt on what values lie beneath those political labels.
According to research (PDF) carried out by Michael I. Norton of Harvard Business School and Dan Ariely of Duke University, and flagged by Paul Kedrosky at the Infectious Greed blog, 92 percent of Americans would choose to live in a society with far less income disparity than the US, choosing Sweden’s model over that of the US.
What’s more, the study’s authors say that this applies to people of all income levels and all political leanings: The poor and the rich, Democrats and Republicans are all equally likely to choose the Swedish model.
But the study also found that respondents preferred Sweden’s model over a model of perfect income equality for everyone, “suggesting that Americans prefer some inequality to perfect equality, but not to the degree currently present in the United States,” the authors state.
Recent analyses have shown that income inequality in the US has grown steadily for the past three decades and reached its highest level on record, exceeding even the large disparities seen in the 1920s, before the Great Depression. Norton and Ariely estimate that the one percent wealthiest Americans hold nearly 50 percent of the country’s wealth, while the richest 20 percent hold 84 percent of the wealth.
But in their study, the authors found Americans generally underestimate the income disparity. When asked to estimate, respondents on average estimated that the top 20 percent have 59 percent of the wealth (as opposed to the real number, 84 percent). And when asked to choose how much the top 20 percent should have, on average respondents said 32 percent — a number similar to the wealth distribution seen in Sweden.
“What is most striking” about the results, argue the authors, is that they show “more consensus than disagreement among … different demographic groups. All groups – even the wealthiest respondents – desired a more equal distribution of wealth than what they estimated the current United States level to be, while all groups also desired some inequality – even the poorest respondents.“
I am really happy about Grayson’s aggressive campaign. How refreshing to see a Democrat stand up to the forces of extremism, and use it against them, proving that Democrats in conservative areas don’t have to play that Blue Dog game.
Democrats across the country are pawing around in the dark, searching for any way to flick a switch and end the political nightmare for incumbents that is 2010. A searing ad against Florida Republican Dan Webster has the challenger reeling and local media focusing attention on his extreme political positions, and it may serve to show a path forward for other Democrats facing challengers with views far outside the mainstream.
Republican operatives acknowledge that’s the case in Alan Grayson’s Orlando district, where the party faithful nominated former state senate majority leader Dan Webster, backed by religious extremists who push the revisionist view that America was founded as a Christian nation.
In an effort to highlight his more extreme views, Grayson, no slave to the concept of subtlety, has dubbed his opponent “Taliban Dan” in a recently released ad. It’s not the kind of centrist positioning that a Washington consultant might recommend, but judging by the response from local media, it’s working.
A WKMG reporter told Orlando television audiences, in a coup for Grayson: “Yes, Webster is opposed to all abortions, even for victims of rape and incest, an issue he doesn’t want to talk about.”
The reporter then proved his assertion by showing a damning clip of Webster refusing to answer a question from the reporter on the subject. Watch the clip of Webster stonewalling a reporter:
Just shut up. You’re the embarrassment, you wizened old weasel.
You know, the thing I despise the most about the current corporate theology is the idea that people should be working at 100%, every minute they’re at work. That’s crap, people don’t work that way. Energy levels ebb and flow, concentration wanders. You can’t just divide tasks by the number of hours in a day and come up with a formula — we’re human beings, not machines.
Law of physics: Anything used to its full potential will break.
This is how teachers are being rated under the wonderful new Progressive Workers Regime!
I really wanted to make this, but I can’t. However, there will be buses leaving from every city within an 8-hour drive:
Hoping to overshadow last month’s rally led by Glenn Beck that drew thousands of Tea Party advocates and other conservatives, a coalition of liberal groups plan to descend on Washington on Saturday to make the case that they, and not the ascendant right, speak for America’s embattled middle class.
Predicting a crowd of hundreds of thousands, some 300 liberal groups — including the N.A.A.C.P., the A.F.L.-C.I.O., the National Council of La Raza and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force — are sponsoring a march on Saturday in the hope of transforming the national conversation so it focuses less on the Tea Party. The groups sponsoring the rally, which is called “One Nation Working Together,” say they hope to supplant what they say is the Tea Party’s divisiveness with a message of unity to promote jobs, justice and education.
“The Tea Party has been getting much more media attention than it deserves, and it’s been saying it represents the voice of middle-class America,” said George Gresham, president of 1199 S.E.I.U., a New York health care union local, who says his union has chartered 500 buses to carry 25,000 union members to the rally. “A lot of us feel we have to get a different voice out there speaking for working people, one respecting the diversity of this country, which the Tea Party does not.”