Alpena Coffee Shop Talk 2018   Leave a comment

Things heard around town and in coffee shops and should be taken that way.

10-8-18, Monday, Judge Tom LaCross had a press conference to talk about drug court and it new funding. Federal grant has been received which will allow the court to take on more persons with drug addiction.
Attending the conference were many community leaders, including County Commissioners Brad McRoberts and Brenda Fournier; Alpena Community College president Dr. Don Masters, Prosecutor Ed Black, Rev. Paul Lance of First Congregational Church, Jackie Krawczak of the Alpena Chamber of Commerce, City Police Chief Joel Jett, State Police officer Ashley, Tony Suszek of the Exchange Club, court employees and others.

Judge LaCross spoke about the human and the financial sides of the drug court. He said that those who go through this program start self identifying as addicts, including alcohol as the major drug and opioids as a strong second. The program is to change that to self identifying as parents, and people who have jobs, and brothers and sisters.
Rev. Paul Lance and Prosecutor Ed Black added that the self respect a person gains by having a job as a result of staying off drugs is key to recovery. Judge LaCross contacts potential employers to let them know how the program can benefit them as employers. They work closely with employers to make sure the person they hire through the program stays off drugs and alcohol. Rev. Lance and Prosecutor Black thanked the employers who participate, as did the judge.
The judge pointed out the support of the First Congregational Church for the program, in financial and human terms. Also, Tony Suszek was acknowledged as a representative of the Exchange Club who has helped support the program.
Benefits of the program are wide ranging. In the past parental rights were taken away from addicted parents, breaking up families and costing the government money to find places for the children. Now for those who succeed in the program families can stay together. The success rate of the program is about 80 to 85 percent. So only about 15% to 17% of those who complete the program are repeat offenders, compared to 50% to 70% being repeat offenders with no program.
Judge LaCross cited a study that estimates that for every dollar spent on a drug court, $75 dollars are saved. This savings is due to fewer persons going to jail, fewer persons going to the emergency room at the hospital, fewer children having to be placed out side their families, fewer babies born addicted due to use by the mother, and lower insurance rates.
The Alpena District Court is able to accept donations for the program.

8-16-18  Brenda Fournier is running against Mary Hess for Alpena County commissioner.  In the last election Brenda beat Mary.  Brenda will most certainly win the election again.  And while a few people disagree with me, I think Brenda will be the next county chair now that Cam Habermehl did not make it through the primary.

Cam might take it as a blessing in disguise that he was not re-elected.  The county budget will get more difficult next year.  The jail millage may not cover all the costs of building and running the new jail.  The county share of the new airport terminal being planned has increased, and county owned Northern Lights Arena is feeling financial stress.  This combination of financial stresses will test how well the commissioners can compromise, as Commissioner Peterson will no doubt favor Northern Lights Arena more so than some of the other commissioners. Without the experience of Cam Habermehl, responsibilities of commissioners will change on hard to predict ways.  Cam had been doing many things a county co-ordinator would do.  Now a new plan for dividing responsibilities will need to be put together as issues arise.

8-15-18   Cal Howard died yesterday.  He was well known as a drummer and singer in Alpena area bands.  He also had run for city government office.

8-14-18   Alpena has 2 new tobacco shops and one under construction. Why? Possibly to establishes places that will sell Marijuana products after the November vote.

8-12-18     Great North Foods closing sometime in September. About 86 jobs will be lost. Jerry Johnston on is the owner. No doubt a hard decision to make since it has been in his family for a long time. I know I did not want to close our family’s business.

There are people disappointed by the Alpena County Fair. There are a shortage of volunteers to help, so if you want a better fair, then get involved as a volunteer. Second, the carnival company double booked this week so the fair board had the choice of either do not have a carnival at all or split the rides between the two fairs. The board decided splitting was the lesser of the two evils. Not any easy decision for them to make, so some understanding is needed.

8-7-18    Yesterday’s (8-6-18) City Council meeting again ended with going to closed session to discuss the water and sewer rate law suit with the township. At this point the two main directions the City can go are to accept the plan determined by their own engineer and the Township engineer working together, or to set things up for an appeal to the next higher court.

A big problem with the City going to court is that they can use it as a reason to tell us nothing, which is often what the City has done in the past even when there is not a law suit. That way they reduce criticism and public comment, since it is so hard to get information on what are public decisions. We need a better culture in our City Hall. We need good leadership.

8-4-18    If anyone is interested in the complicated details of the proposed settlement of the City versus Township water rate law suit. Here it is. This is what the Township wants to go forward with and what the City is not so sure on. The Twp lawyer said that the City had sent the Twp a letter saying that they did not agree with this.

I think that the compromise of the City and Twp at one point anyway agreeing that 62% of the City’s system is shared by both is generous to the City. They should take it.

Based upon the joint recommendation of the City’s rate expert and the Townships rate expert, they agreed, depending on who I talk to, they agreed in principle to settle the lawsuit under general terms:

1. The rates for the Township would be established based upon the utility basis of rate
making.
2. The rates would be subject to annual reconciliations of actual and audited financial
results and volumes.
3. The rates would be established using an 8% rate of return.
4. Water treatment expenses will be allocated based upon current billed volumes, inclusive of and /or adjusted to account for water losses.
5. Shared water distribution expenses will be allocated based upon volumes inclusive of
water losses, with the shared system being defined as 61% of the City’s system with that percentage remaining fixed for a term of 10 years. After 10 years the parties will use a specific process to be determined as part of the settlement for allocating the percentage of the City’s system that is common.
6. Shared sewer collection expenses will be allocated based upon billed (for O&M
expenses) or total volumes (for Capital expenses), excluding measured volumes through
the Township’s State Street forced main, with the shared system being defined as 23% of
the City’s system with that percentage remaining fixed for a term of 10 years. Subject to
review as per above.
7. Sewer treatment expenses will be allocated based upon billed volume (for O&M
expenses and approximately 25% of Capital expenses) and total volumes (for
approximately 75% Capital expenses), per information provided by William Stannard
, Rate Expert for the City of Alpena and Andrew Burnham, Rate Expert for the Township
of Alpena
8.The escrow account will be distributed by applying the agreed settlement formula to the period beginning with May 2014, any funds due and owing to the City of Alpena
following this application will be paid and will include judgement interest pursuant to
statute.
9. A formal written agreement will be prepared by counsel for the City and Township and presented to the Board for final approval consistent with above.

 

 

 

Posted November 18, 2017 by markjohnhunter in Uncategorized

Terrorism 2016   Leave a comment

Now our lives are monitored.  Technology and terrorism are symbiotic.  Terrorism is promoted, monitored and reported through our remarkable technology.  Chaos is a matter of entropy; well defined as the second law of thermodynamics:  The level of disorder in the universe is steadily increasing. Systems tend to move from ordered behavior to more random behavior.   But life, is contrary to the second law of physics.  Out of increasing disorder, a well ordered system of life has emerged; from the chemistry of life, to the order of societies, and of perhaps a society.

The development, and advancement of this order of life, proceeds against challenges, and at each challenge creates new adaptations to improve survivability, including, today, technology.  There are contests, such as the contest of one nation / society, using terrorism, as a supposed method of their survival, against a different nation or society.  The threat of what is different is so commonly used to set one group/ nation / society against another!  It would seem that this could be recognized, and be easily discouraged, but it is not.

There are differences which are intolerable in moral senses.

Much of the communications erosion today is intentional, so that we do not get information.  One thing that I enjoyed a lot about writing for a newspaper was doing interviews.  It was interesting to see who gave answers versus who gave diversions.  Think tanks are specialists at the erosion of communication; they confuse the minds of people leading them to think that false things are true.

Journalism has become extremely important, because of the opposing profession of communication erosion.  There have been the jokes about fact free zones for a few presidencies, but it is not a joke.  Getting the facts is more difficult than ever, whether we are talking about finding peace in the Middle East, economic policies, and the role of government.

It is being said often in America’s big city’s streets:  No Justice.  No Peace.

It is not about communication, it is about human behavior and the control of others.  People do not like being controlled.  They do not like government, which makes their lives more difficult.  But people cannot get the facts, and they are not responded to, civilization and peaceful behavior breaks down.

 

Posted July 4, 2016 by markjohnhunter in Politics

Putin   Leave a comment

The problem of Vladimir Putin is about the same as the problem of Russia.  Russia will endure, Putin will not.  Putin’s personal life is almost identical to his political life.  American politicians have in large part, the choice to stay in or get out of politics, with the exception of those who are high level criminals, who’s livelihoods depend on stayng in office.  Putin is of this sort.  And it may be a matter of his life as well as his financial fortunes which depend o his staying office.

Mr. Putin’s life expectancy is short, given his health record, and diet.  His decisions will be a result of his knowledge of his own mortality.  Expect him to do more with foreign affairs through military actions, and by doing more unnecessarily expend Russian lives and wealth.

We can assume that his team was responsible for the murder of the most recent opposition leader to die in the streets of Moscow.  It is so much like mafia.  The leader of the brotherhood orders and investigation of the murder.  So many lies.  As Shakespeare wrote, what a tangled web we weave, when first we plan to deceive.  Each lie makes the life of Vladmir Putin increasingly difficult, but he walks with the confidence of a sleep walker.  His end will be a surprise to him.

Recall, if you can the Cuba missile Crisis during the John Kennedy presidency.  There was a day when two messages were received from Moscow.  One from the Chairman of the Party and second one.  Kennedy chose which message to respond to.  The Kremlin still operates the way as the Tzar’s government.  The complications of this process may only be understood by the elite of Moscow.  There will be a day when Putin is no longer useful, as Catherine’s husband was no longer useful, or representative of Russia.

Russia is an eastern state, and so not an expansionist state.  This is a contradiction with communism which sought to be the world’s political system.  This failed, but the desire of a faction of Russian leaders still hold on to some precepts of communism.  Russia wealth and the standard of living of the Russian citizens would greatly increase, if it gave up the desires of expansion.  Russia will have nothing to fear if it gives up expansion, and allows more countries to join NATO, which is a true peace creating and maintaining organization.  Any perceived enemy of Russia which joins NATO will never attack Russia unless provoked.  The road to peace and prosperity for Russia is NATO expansion.

Posted February 28, 2015 by markjohnhunter in Politics

Hospital   Leave a comment

If you are looking for stuff about ARMC Alpena hospital look under the Alpena Coffee Shop Talk 2014 and 2015 tabs. Or just do a search for those terms.  Also looked under categories on the side menu.

Posted January 24, 2015 by markjohnhunter in Alpena Regional Medical Center

Suppression of Wages is not good economics   Leave a comment

The United States is selling its future short by not sufficiently funding government, cutting taxes and cutting government. Our public assets of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and government supported research, must be protected with the rest our infrastructure. Social Security is not part of the deficit, so why do politicians talk like it is? The reason the United States has had impressive, unprecedented economic prosperity since World War II is not because government spent too much.

The far right, or whatever it may be called, Heritage Foundation, the Koch brothers, tea party, John Birchers, Americans For Prosperity, et cetera, whose agenda is advanced by emotional, and falsely scholarly writing by the so-called free market think tanks, is a politically and economically destructive movement. They teach, or propagandize that economic and political freedom results from having less government, when the script they write obstructs and reverses the gains in freedom the United States has found, as it experimented with government.

President Obama put in place the Heritage Foundation’s plan for subsidized health care, also called Obamacare. This is a success for the far right since they were able to get a man heavily criticized by the far right for being liberal to get it passed. The result is that the wages and pay of nurses, doctors, and most health care professionals are being cut each year. A lower standard of living for health care workers in one example of the extensive use of government policy and law to lower the standard of living in America.

CATO Institute experts will say that an increase in the minimum wage is a tragedy, because some workers will lose jobs, because the economic value of their low skill labor does not justify paying them at the new higher wage rate. But to what extent is it the job and not the worker’s skills and education which limits at this low level of pay? Some employers are not as efficient at using human labor and skill, and so it is at least in part, the jobs at these less efficient employers that will be cut when the cost of labor increases. The CATO argument is used to convince people to be against increases in wages. A person who’s wages have not gone up, or as with nurses, wages have gone down, are easier to convince to complain about increases in taxes. The economic pie is getting smaller under the far right policies, to the extent that persons who make the same or less than they did in the recent past feel a tightening of resources and may even believe the silly ideas that health care spending is taking too much of our national economy. As health care spending increases, in fact the economy can grow, and so the health care spending does not take away from other parts of the economy, but enhance them with more jobs, more products and more services.
There is a downward spiral effect as taxes are cut and wages are cut. One leads the other. And so standard of living for a large part of the population declines.

Democracy has not failed, the practitioners have failed. The Federalist Papers seem to assume that large numbers of voters would defuse factionalism, but instead factions have learned how to make politics and even voting undesirable to large parts of the electorate. Add to this gerrymandering, lobbyists, the use of public relations / propaganda firms which call themselves think tanks, among other things. We can turn things around.

Fascism has to do with transferring the controls to commercial/ corporate interests from government, so the people are without control over the powerful who overreach. Government, per se is not the problem, it is the small number of bullies who take control of government and abuse it. Government is only as strong as the people. If the people can be so demoralized into thinking that government is a farce, so they themselves destroy what preserves our liberty and prosperity, then we lose our nation.
Regulations, restrictions, laws, and in a general sense boundaries need to be set, or some persons will act only in their self-interest. Many economists prefer the idea that self-interest is motivating and good, and so should be endorsed, encouraged. Some go so far as to write that self-interest not be controlled. While no true free market exists, in a free market people are permitted an unfettered control of their selfishness, which includes good and bad activities, such as destruction and discrimination. Regulating these activities does not put unjustified, unreasonable barriers in their way, it is only taking care of the good of the whole, and future generations.
The self interest of a corporation is to make money, and not jobs. A corporation has a potential life in perpetuity, which a human does not. What I have learned about the far right is that it is pointless to communicate with them. They think the laws and Constitution ought to apply to corporations, in the same manner as they apply to human beings, except when it comes to paying taxes, and keeping obligations. Their ideology is a contrivance of contradictions, dependent on persons who will believe the things self stamped “conservative” organizations tell them, without further investigation.

Any political or economic activity of an individual reaches the community, and the state of our national well being. In most cases it is the collective actions of many persons that have a significant impact on the entire economy, and economic health, measured by statistics like poverty rate, and gross domestic product. Taking part of a person’s income is called confiscation by libertarian economists; however, that money was made, in part due to the economic activity and investment of millions of other persons. There is a mutual relationship of all persons to the economy. An economy with carefully crafted regulations, and spending is more successful than an economy left exclusively, to the self interested activities of people.
An economy which permits some persons to become hugely wealthy will reduce political freedom, as the wealthy direct government for their selfish interests. Self-interest is most often the result of short term thinking. But we must separate selfish from self-interest, because it is in the interest of a person to pay taxes.
The term “self-referencing,” applies well to far right thinking. Self-referencing is using beliefs (Your own, or that of your group) to support your or the group’s claims. I had heard what I think is the same system of thinking as “fact free.”
The government is evil no matter who is running it, say the far right politicians. So I ask, then is any human organization, like the free market corporations, not evil, since they are run by the same species who run the government? Why would one corporate form be more evil than another? One controls by means of law, money and coercion, the other by law, money and coercion. Each try to control the other. In theory the federal government will be larger than any non-government corporation, but the non-government corporations form a culture, and informal organization of government like war lords have on the plains of central Asia.

The Koch Brothers ideology is another form of oligarchy, or even fascism. The government will reside in the very wealthy persons and corporations instead of the elected government. Oligarchy is the opposite of democracy. The individual person, the citizen is left to fend for themselves with the most small hope of becoming very wealthy themselves. And the odd belief that having a system which disadvantages the individual citizen makes it easier for them to succeed.
Fascism is a system where all the political and economic power is held by a single entity. So if a wealthy elite hold the reins of government and the economy, there is a defacto fascist state. Another good word for what is happening with the very wealthy is kleptocracy.

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”C.S. Lewis
What C. S. Lewis was talking about applies to all sides, because the robber barons of today do act like omnipotent moral busibodes telling us what is good for us, they are morally insane and yet they have the money to control our government.
Today’s robber barons are not against regulation by government, so long as they, the robber barons write the regulations. The robber barons are not against having laws, so long as they write the tax code, and any law affecting them and their businesses.

Business interests are among the beneficiaries of government, such as having an educated healthy workforce, an infrastructure, government funded research to draw from for technology, and new or improved products and services. If we cut government activity and funding, business will not receive those benefits, and then also not pass on to the people. Those who today call themselves conservatives, and TEA Partiers only find the negative in government, when the positive effects of spending tax revenues are far more significant than any impediment on the economy taken by government.

They (The TEA Partiers) say they are working to give us Liberty. But liberty form what? From government? But no liberty from the extremes of the free market. Which is worse, government smoothing the roughness of the market/ economy, or losing liberty to corporations and the very wealthy? If we gain the kind of liberty the TEA Party wants, we lose liberty due to over stepping by monied interests. Liberty is not perfect freedom. There is no such thing as perfect freedom in this life. Without government, the individual person does not do well in disagreements with large businesses and the vicissitudes of life. At first it sounds like an insult to a citizen to say that they need government to have a better life, but under economic reality they will suffer more without government, than with government regulations.

Some believe that health care is best rationed by the free market, so that persons with less money will get less health care. There is no way to have a health care system without some kind of limits, or rationing. Would we pay for cosmetic surgery? Presently the United States has two life expectancies, one for persons with health care insurance, and a second for those who do not have health care insurance, or who have a basic coverage. People with health care insurance have longer life expectancies and better health in most cases.

The citizen is made to think, by marketing/propaganda manufactured by Heritage Foundation and other free market think tank press releases and propaganda that they may not be able to afford retirement or health care, but now they have their liberty! A necessitous man is not free, said Franklin Roosevelt. Following the Heritage Foundation advocacy, governing will be done by very wealthy persons, and corporations. They will set the culture of the economy to their best interests and not the economy as a whole. The standard of living is not a concern for the very wealthy and corporations, although it should be.

The individual must accept that they cannot represent themselves in the economy of the 21st century. Monied interests, including corporations and the very wealthy can afford to pay for propaganda, or we can say marketing which promotes an agenda in conflict with well established economics. The individual is at a strong disadvantage against corporations without regulations.

The individual is at a disadvantage without organized insurance for pensions and health care, Social Security and Medicare/ Medicaid. We need government and its programs to maximize our political and economic freedom. The needed increases in funding these programs has been neglected the way school systems neglect to repair buildings they want to replace. They let the buildings decline to a point where they can tell the public it is now too expensive to repair the buildings, but it was not a matter the buildings merely aging, but of intentional neglect. The persons who most strongly insist that Social Security and Medicare/ Medicare are failing, have contributed to and planned the failures by obstructing the needed increases in funding. Those who say the entitlement programs are failing are the same persons making them fail. The programs are not beyond repair.

Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid should not be called entitlements. They are insurance programs. The lowest insurance rates are from the largest pools of insured. These programs have proved to financially efficient even now as fraud and abuse is found. The existence of fraud and abuse is not reason to reform the programs, or privatize them. The fraud and abuse and the reason more needs to be spent to find and prosecute the fraud and abuse. Cutting government is not always the best solution – hire accountants and attorneys to correct the situation. The savings pass to the insured.

Look at how government programs are rated in Consumers Reports; for instance USAA and Tricare. USAA is the investment service for military service members and veterans, it rated higher than private sector investment firms. And Tricare, the health insurance for service members and veterans is rated higher than private health insurance. We need to stop berating government services. Given funding limitations, Medicaid works well, and Medicare makes our modern health care system possible.

We need serious, well informed discussion about taxes and the need for taxes to balance a budget, which is able to provide the conditions and support needed for a fully productive economy. A family or business which merely cuts their spending to balance the budget is a sad thing to watch. The talking point that the government needs to do what a family does to balance its budget, to live within its means. . . avoids the reality that the family in question would prefer to have more income than to cut our trips to the dentist, and lowering their thermostat. The United States is a rich country and more taxes does not mean that the economy will suffer, if the government spends and invests wisely. There is no need to cut Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid. We have the wealth to cover these, and as a result grow the economy and jobs, so then the rich would get even richer, so there is no reason for them to oppose this.
For a country we are doing OK for debt. The big problem is that we cut taxes and did not cut spending. If we had not cut taxes we would be better off. There is no objective data to show that cutting taxes improves an economy, or improves the standard of living in a country. It is far more important how tax revenues are spent than how much is collected. The money is earned because people get government provided education, Social Security, roads, some health care, national defense, infrastructure, and other good things . . . so paying the taxes is not taking money form one person to give it to another, except in the most simplistic of thinking. It is money used for investment that pays off to us all, even though there are individual disbursements, the effect is a better economy and higher standard of living.

Keynesian economics is called “failed” by the far right, but they supply rhetoric and manipulated statistics as proof. The far right wants tax cuts to stimulate the economy and unleash the “free market” and to cut the burden of government. Cutting taxes to put more money in the economy is similar to taking debt to increase government spending to stimulate the economy and create jobs.

Government spending is more likely to create jobs, and more jobs per dollar, than cutting taxes, because government spending is largely on the investment and insurance aspects of government. Tax cuts will “release” money to the private economy, but makes no change in the amount of money in the short run. In the medium to long run, lower taxes result in lower prices in many cases as businesses compete, having higher profits at first, they cut prices to compete and then we have less money; that is we are taking the wind out of the economy. We have lower rates of price increase for a while, but we also have less government investment and less government insurance. So instead of building a debt, but having the substance of our investments (educated, healthy citizens, road bridges, research discoveries, et cetera. When we cut taxes and government spending we build a liability of infrastructure not replaced, less educated citizens, less new technology and science to transfer to the private sector.

Failure to create genuine communication is not what the leaders were trying to do in these cases. They were successful for a time at diverting the communication to issues other than themselves, or their government. Mubarak stayed in power by saying it was him, or a far worse alternative, so do not complain.
The far-right want people to think that well paid government employees are a reason the economy and government are not doing well financially. There is much more to that story, but unfortunately some of the people marching in the streets believe what their leaders say without objective study. The far-right sets up their own “experts” so that the common person drawn to the far right ideas thinks they have solid, or sound science, or other catchy things to back them up.
There is some component to businesses investing based on taxation, but it is more so tax bias for one industry over another and not the base rate which results in business investment. People need to have money to buy what business makes, so it is bad policy to encourage cutting wages and benefits. If business pays less in taxes and so has a larger part of what they make to invest, and there is no one to buy, we go no where. But a business paying less in taxes does not mean it makes a larger bottom line profit. It only means that if all other things are held equal which cannot happen, especially if businesses taxes are less and taxes on working persons are higher (income, fees, sales tax, and forbid it, a sales tax on services).

A business exists as an entity, so its owners can make money, not make jobs. Business is only one part of an economy. We need education, and healthy citizens to make an economy fully production, and to encourage and support investment, innovation and creativity. The far right / TEA Party are leading the common person to a condition of humiliation, so they will give up anything for the promise of jobs. Try to remember to old song, 16 Tons (What do you get?) in which it is sung, “I owe my soul to the company store.”

It is not genuine communication when people who probably will not do their own study are taken advantage of. The idea that the common person can be made to do the work of promoting the agendas of people who prefer money to health, and money for a small crowd over a high standard of living, has been used for centuries. However, it came to full fruition in the 20th century. Public relations and psychology are melded into a system that sets off fear and herd mentality for the advantage of people who would rather pollute the air, than keep what God them clean. Hearing the religious aspects of the herd leaders is so odd, when they using double speak violate the principles of Christianity.

We need leaders who will explain the benefits of government, and justify taxation by the benefits. Much of this concerns human behavior and immediate gratification from a tax cut, versus the long term benefits of equality and order from prudent spending of money collected by taxation. The concept of just wages, and whether the market is the fairest way to determine labor compensation.

Taxes are a set profit margin dedicated to the government. A business must make enough profit in addition to what is needed to pay taxes to stay in business. And so must the individual make enough after taxes to support themselves. If taxes are cut, then the requirement to make enough to cover the expenses of government is taken away, and so the benefits of government are lost. The share of profits collected through taxation will not survive if taxes are cut. For a short time the increase in profits retained by business, and the increase in take home pay of the employee provide a boost to economic activity. But as time passes that share dissipates through competition for business, as businesses now have a larger retained profit margin, they can reduce their selling prices for goods and services and so there is no longer the government services and no longer the increased retained profits.

The George W. Bush tax cuts were followed by one of the most sluggish economic periods in the last hundred years, and that not counting the period of the economic crisis in the last months of George W. Bush’s term as president. The Reagan tax cuts at first appear to have spurred economic recovery, but it is probably the case that the economy would have returned to its usual rate of GNP/ GDP without the tax cut. Some far-right advocates average into their arguments two deep recessions to bring the average GNP/ GDP down, and so that makes the Reagan recovery look more impressive, but that is playing with numbers, and not a rational way to look at whether the tax cut caused an improvement. The GNP/ GDP returned to their long term growth rate excluding recessions. After Reagan’s tax cuts we continued to have recessions, so one could then average in those recessions, post tax cuts to compare, but the far right only uses the improved economy until the next recession happened to se their statistics in favor of tx cuts.
I want to hear President Obama speak about the benefits of government, not give credence to the insanity of “killing the beast of government,” when it benefits us all. The reason Obama’s party was shellacked in the last election, was their failure to tell us why the taxpayers should support the government, instead of beating it down. Tell us what is good about government, and how it benefits our lives, our standard of living and our economy.
Government is not always the problem. Without a spokesperson for the accomplishments of government we are left with the idea that what truly benefits us, instead must be cut. Our present economic conditions would be far worse if it were not for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and the food stamp program. If nothing is done to correct the growing disparity of income in America we cannot come out of the Great Recession without lowering our standard of living. Presidnet Reagan did not say that “government is the problem.” He said, “In the present crisis, government is the problem,” Actually he ended up rasing taxes after he cut them.

The Free Market: There is no such thing as a free market.
Political democracy, and economy democracy. Is capitalism (free market economics) a necessity of, or part and parcel of democracy? It cannot be, since political freedom depends on economic limitations to control and access to government.

But if the people at Mackinac Center and the Heritage Foundation and other Koch propaganda machine organizations keep “educating” the public we lose the ability to use government for the people. Will seniors always know that Social Security, good pensions, health care and education are programs that have been successfully funding by taxes and fees like FICA, have worked for decades and in some cases centuries? Social Security for 75 years or so; and FDR and his administration knew that there would be as many people retiring versus working in this century; all we have to do is follow the program instead of refusing to adjust the funding of it. These programs stabilize in improve an economy. The so called scholars are the Mackinac Center, Heritage Foundation et al., are selected to serve on those organizations based on biases and blind obedience to Koch Brothers ideology and a discredited political economist named Hayak. Hayak has more in common with Karl Marx than Adam Smith. In the 1940’s communism was called ultra RIGHT, not leftist. Things have changed. This has to do with the totalitarian nature of these regimes, which is similar to the socialist doctrines of the Koch Brothers. Under socialism one authority controls the private and public sectors. Under Kochism, private enterprise controls all without the government, that is the people, to set limits on their control of our lives. OK, that ought to be enough to upset some people. BUT you know, the Alpena County Republican members will not comment here. A code of silence has come over them. SO I will be safe here.

The far right takes the position that tax policy and government regulations need to set so as to encourage the “job creators.” However, standard of living is not covered by this. It is not necessarily desirable to maximize job creation, since the economy, business in general do not function as well with very low government revenues (taxes) and few regulations, or lack of regulations in some areas. Standard of living and percent of employment are two factors which can both be improved, without giving a bias to either.

The individual is the smallest economic unit and should be thought of as a business with all the rights of a business, plus being a human being. The individual must build himself with education, and sometimes build a body for the labor. The individual must cover the costs of maintaining themselves, including health care. An employer should not expect that an employee will be fully productive with out these, and an employee should not accept being the only piece of equipment that is not maintained (Health care).

A question asked referred to the relative effects of private spending versus government spending. Mr. Bernanke’s answer was short that there was a “drag” created by government spending. I think the question needs a fuller answer, since there are assumptions not addressed in the short answer. For instance, if money is in the private sector, is it more likely to be spent, or held in reserve, versus government holdings? How do we compare short term effects versus long term effects of spending on necessities, and investments in infrastructure or the education of individuals. Is the “drag” worth it in the long run. Prudent government spending is helpful to long term stability and growth; and that some government “spending” such as the entitlement payments may be quite similar to private sector spending in its immediate effects. In short the lack of public’s education on this issue (government versus private spending) may be determinative in what Congress does. Government spending is not a demon to be destroyed. If we kill the beast of government, it will significantly impairs the nation’s ability to grow its economy, maintain stable prices, and have full employment.

Government spending improves our lives when carefully administered. By cutting the compensation of government employees the result will be less qualified and less experienced government employees, and so less efficiently run government. A person starting to work for the government will desire higher pay, and go to work elsewhere once the government gives them some experience.

What happens to the extra income from tax cuts, it is dissipated into nothing, as employee compensation is adjusted, or not raised as a result. The cut becomes the raise, and no more value is gained, but only transferred from government spending to private, but then for a time only. Then a loss is created. As time goes on no raise is immediately demanded by the employee since the government is taking less of his wages. So if instead taxes were left alone or increased, the employees would demand pay increases, and so have both what they earned and what the government takes as benefits stored for future needs of that person, and for others which indirectly benefits the individual. With at tax cut, the employee has only the pay increase and not the saved and invested money given to the government. It is the directness or the tax cut which makes it easy to convince the public on, but the indirectness of government benefits and programs make it harder to convince the public that they ought to pay for these for their long term benefit, and the long term benefit of the nation’s economy and well being.

No one has interjected the TEA Party/ Koch Brothers/ John Birch far right “viewpoint” of economics to this discussion. What they do not understand is that money released from taxation does not necessarily go into useful investment, or into investment and activity more conducive to a hire standard of living than if it were spent on government programs such as Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid, and education. Money released form taxation does not always lead to a larger money supply . . . other factors play into the money supply. Right now there are large amounts of money being held back from investment by corporations. The real question is not how to let them keep more money or to have more money to invest, but why are they not investing and expanding with the billions they hold in reserve now?

We need a New York Times article on how many billions of dollars U. S. Corporations are holding and not investing or expanding. Usually articles like that lead to take overs by corporations who want the cash to invest, which would be a good thing.

The idea that families must live within their budgets and so then should the government is flawed thinking, since the government budget is based on taxation and economics. The government has the ability to make adjustments so that the economy and standard of living do not take as large of fluctuations as we see otherwise.

The concentration of wealth is to some degree the result of laws and government regulations, and so this can be changed. The concentration of wealth results in a lower standard of living, and a lower tax collection, including the payroll tax for Social Security. One way to improve the financial condition of the Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security trust funds is to change the regulations and laws which result in lower Gross Domestic Product, lower standard of living and the concentration of wealth. Concentration of wealth lowers to GDP, and leads to other distortions such as imprudent investment in such things as the financial derivatives of the most recent financial crisis.
“As riches increase and accumulate in few hands, as luxury prevails in society, virtue will be in a greater degree considered as only a graceful appendage of wealth, and the tendency of things will be to depart from the republican standard. This is the real disposition of human nature; it is what neither the honorable member nor myself can correct. It is a common misfortunate that awaits our State constitution, as well as all others.” – Alexander Hamilton, speech to the New York Ratifying Convention, June, 1788

The use of ideology by proxy is one reason the quality of the public dialogue has declined. Reason is neglected or pushed aside. Decadence. Never since the building of the Great Pyramids have so many poor worked so hard for the benefit of a few of the wealthy, all the time thinking the effort is for themselves. Consider songs like War, Imagine, and Revolution.

There is no such thing as a free market. All markets, that is all economies are subject to laws, regulations and other restrictions. No one would want to live in a perfect free market. By reducing restrictions on an economy other influences have greater control over the individual. Since there is a choice of market regulations and laws it seems better to have a system which maximizes the ability for an individual to succeed, and for the economy to be maximized, stable and have other good characteristics in a way which allows the best allocation of money to achieve these goals. Markets/economies are not natural systems.

Justification for taxes and spending on social programs of education, health pensions, and care of those who cannot care for themselves.

The use of the phrase, “relief from tax burden,” is good rhetoric and propaganda, but incorrect logic. What happens is not relief from tax burden, but shifting of burdens. If a person pays less in taxes, they will then have less of what government does. They will have fewer regulators and be more likely to be injured or cheated. They will have fewer police, fire and ambulance workers, and so have more crime and loss of property and loss of life. Government employees will be paid less, and so the government will have less qualified workers, who will make more errors, which will cost everyone money and time.
Government employees then with less pay, will have a lower standard of living, which transfers to the private sector. Their standard of living is part of their parents and children’s standards of living.
Less collected in taxes does not mean less government waste and fraud, except that because government is smaller there is less government related waste and fraud by proportion; however, the increase in waste and fraud in the private sector will to some degree subtract from the benefit of lower taxes. It is hard to estimate this amount, but humans will find ways to overreach when there are no rules and no enforcement of rules. Where there are few institutions regulating fair rules, the most unethical will control. The burden is always shifted to the individual to protect themself from the over reachers, no matter how big or sophisticated the over reachers are. It is humiliating to be told a person will have more liberty with less government, when with less government, the person’s liberty is taken by private means.
Remember when Barak Obama ran for president, he spoke about how the politics and policies of Republicans were the a cause of the financial crisis? Now he is willing to continue the tax cuts and increase the deficit. Someone needs to speak for the benefits of government programs to the aggregate economy and society, and the need for taxation.

Government by any definition is a collective, where individuals give up their compete freedom to have the freedoms that government can provide, which with today’s understand of economics, social justice, and the science of human behavior, must include education, health care and a minimum pension.

Socialism is a social system in which the produces possess both political power and the means of producing and distributing goods. (The American Heritage Dictionary). If it is the case that government surrenders its authority over corporations, then it is the corporations who are in control of politics and the means of production is a social system where they are the authority. But need we instead say the corporations operate in a market system instead of a social system?

Under the far right “free market economics, economics replaced morality. Morality is defined by “economic freedom,” a system where a man is free to fail or succeed. Economic freedom under the realities of today is not freedom, since the individual is helpless against multinational corporations. Why have a system where by design, a large number of person will fail to have health care, education and pensions of sufficient, or respectable degrees, when use of government can greatly increase the numbers of persons who succeed in these ways? The economics of so-called Free Market think tanks is something of another time, of perhaps the early 1900’s, a time when economic boom and bust were considerable and far more common. We know much more today, then we knew then, and much more than John Maynard Keynes. The economics of Keynes is today outdated, but still valuable as part of our understanding of economics.

Taxes are a way of returning to a person a fair wage, a wage sufficient to support the person, and provide education, health care and a respectful pension. Roosevelt’s four freedoms, and second four freedoms.
Cutting taxes cuts the standard of living. Once taxes are cut then the employer sees the employee receiving more take home pay, and so that increase in take home pay is deemed the raise in wages, but in fact no raise has been achieve. The employees investment in infrastructure, and a multitude of government programs which help support and advance the economy are cut, so investment in the future is cut, for the sake of present spending or saving. Potentially entitlements are cut and so pensions (Social Security) are cut. If one were to make a full balance sheet for the employee or the employer, we would see that on balance there is less money circulating over time, since the money cut from taxes is amounts to a retraction of investment for the future, which the market place does not fully replace, but instead absorbs as reduced costs, and so lower prices and after time lower wages and a lower standard of living. These results are due to the reduction in investment for: health care, pensions, scientific research, other research, and infrastructure replacement and improvement; and even loss of spending for our relations with the world.

When does cutting taxes help the economy? When does cutting taxes increase the number of jobs? What are the other consequences of cutting taxes: child mortality, poverty for senior citizens, poor quality infrastructure or lack of infrastructure, lack of regulations for our safety, including food, money, and police.
Every dollar spent on making a bomb or a tank is a dollar not spent on education, infrastructure, health care. Infrastructure projects create 40 percent more jobs per dollar than spending on the military, health care creates 70 percent more jobs, and education creates 240 percent more jobs. The current military budget is draining Americans of resources and vital tax dollars that we need to keep our society functioning.

Economics
Social Justice/ religious
Scientific

President Franklin Roosevelt said, “A necessitous man is not free.”

Economics

To what extent does cutting taxes and government spending create jobs? It is more the case that jobs are shifted from one location to another. So when states with low taxes are compared to ones with higher taxes, does it really result that the low tax states have more jobs, or more jobs per capita? How many are new jobs, and how many are jobs shifted form another state? On balance have to low tax states added to the total number of jobs, or merely moved them from one state to another? If all states had the tax rates and kinds of taxes that the state with the most jobs per capita, and most steady number of jobs, would the country as a whole have more jobs?
The United States, if it wishes fund the military, to remain the major military power in the world, cannot drop its taxes to less than many countries we compete with for jobs.

Countries who are doing better than the United States invest tax payers money in ways that improve, and sustain their economies. We need to discuss the need to invest and spend tax payers money in positive ways. So that the issue that a person thinks they can spend their money better than the government can be shown to be one of degrees and not absolutes.
Notice the kinds of government that countries with better education, health care, or other things have.
Also the idea that money should not be taken from one person to help another needs to be answered. This can be thought of as forced charity, which is more difficult to defend with a noteworthy minority of persons; but if a person wants our country to improve and remain strong economically, so they and their children have better jobs, and an increasing standard of living, government spending is necessary. When left to itself the market is not as efficient at investing for the future, and the market does not provide living wages. What is the motivation for encouraging business that does not provide living wage jobs? Only the argument that it is not always possible for an employer to provide a living wage (including respectable pension, health care, and education). The human is the one piece of equipment that many employers will not budget enough money to maintain ( a living wage).
Everyone receives the benefits of government, and these need to be talked about. The very wealthy receive benefits including the use of infrastructure to make money, which the average person uses, but the wealthy person receives a larger return form the investment in infrastructure. The wealthy person receives the benefit of a better educated workforce, and better educated public, even if the very wealthy person receives no direct educational subsidy, although it is hard to find a college or university that does not receive at least some federal funds.

Social Security needs to be defended, and the age of retirement needs to be taken back to 65. When people say that they see no problem with being able to invest “Part of their Social Security” in private investments, note that they already have a private investment program called IRA’s and 401K’s. Tell them that taking money from Social Security reduces the secure and safe part of retirement pensions, which for many persons represents all they can afford, or the larger part of what they can afford for retirement. Without Social Security a large number of persons would retire without any pension, or with an inadequate pension. Those persons would then live in poverty, or live off other government programs, which are funded directly form taxes. So Social Security reduces the long term costs of social programs, including food stamps.
For a majority of Americans, their Social Security and Medicare benefits are their largest assets, larger than the value of their house, if they own a house. By continuing to delay, while acting like Social Security and Medicare cannot be funded for the long term ( A Lie ) we are losing the value of compounded interest from the long term investment of the funds. The very wealthy benefit from these progams by having a more stable and affluent economy to make money off.
“An expanded social security program, and adequate health and education programs, must play essential roles in a program designed to support individual productivity and mass purchasing power.” – FDR

Privatizing Social Security would be a massive transfer of wealth to investment companies. Who is against transfers of wealth? The benefits of Social Security are well worth it to all of us, to give up a part of our income. It provides great stability to the economy which benefits us all. I would not have wanted to go through the financial crisis, as a nation, without Social Security as a buffer, along with food stamps, Medicare and Medicaid. That is about all that stood against another Great Depression. There is hokus pokus, diversion, false prophets and other mind twisting things going on, and coming from so-called free market think tanks, who tell us we would have greater LIBERTY be more FREE if we were left with the possibility of failing to have health insurance and sufficient savings for retirement. Free to fail. No one is old enough to recall teh great booms and busts prior to the Great Depression, but that is where the free market think tanks will lead us.
The privatization of Social Security would be the largest transfer of wealth ever, whereby a portion of a persons pension funds would go to pay investment companies, instead of being invested in safe US government securities. People need to have the investment of Social Security explained to them, so that they know the government is not “dipping in to Social Security,” and the government while borrowing from Social Security does so with US Government bonds; and that if Social Security did not investment the US Government bonds, then that would be all the more we would sell to China and other foreign nations. This keeps money working here in the United States. “There is no safer investment than US Government bonds.” If you cannot say that and mean it, then you should not be representing the United States.
Privatizing Social Security, or allowing employees to privatize part of their Social Security would weaken the system, and not improve its financial condition. The formula for the amount of money collected would not change, so only the return on investment would change, and be shifted to individuals instead of have the money invested by the government. Money invested by individuals will receive varied returns, but those returns go to the individual, which may be the selling point of that idea. The individual and the economy are two separate things, and often what may benefit one directly, will hurt the other. Individuals will invest in higher risk investments than the Social Security System, which invests only in U. S. Treasury securities.
Having individuals invest their Social Security money will result in an economy more subject to booms and busts, with money that ought to be invested as safely as possible. Social Security provides considerable stability to the U. S., economy, and if we replace it with a privatized system, or a partially privatized system, then we will lose some of the stabilizing effect, and so the amount collected for Social Security will be more subject to the large ups and downs of the economy; making it less secure than it is now.
Right now a person can invest part of their savings in anything they want with IRA’s and there are traditional and Roth IRA’s.

We are collecting less than paying out in Social Security? The economy and the formula used are the reasons. If we got the economy going again, and interest rates back up, then it would be in better shape. And if we corrected the rates for the cap on collecting Social Security for inflation, then there would be no need to reduce Social Security benefits, or increase the age at which a person collects it.

Social Security funding can be bolstered by increasing the cap on income to adjust for inflation; allowing part of the investment to be made in state and municipal bonds of highest quality with limits as to the portion of an issue than can be invested in, and only investing in very large issues to keep things simple. And Social Security can be improved (politically) by making Social Security income not taxable, no matter how rich a person is.
The comments of the so-called “free market” think tanks on Social Security, and other issues need to be answered many times, to counter the falsehoods they instill in voters. Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid need not fail, and in particular Social Security is not failing. Social Security will only fail if we do not raise the cap on income taxed.

We need a think tank which truly operates above board, honestly, so that while it would be called liberal, in a pejorative sense, nothing that it publishes can rightly be called incorrect, inaccurate or deceitful. It would need speakers, and news media, persons to help educate politicians, and groups able to visit with them and otherwise be available to give accurate information, and professional analysis about the issues of the day. A reputation of accuracy and truthfulness would build, so that the think tank becomes the place many turn to for correct, complete information. It should have a news magazine that covers issues, perhaps a single well defined issue per edition, which could be kept as a reference. Think of how many people collect and keep some publications they believe in. Picture members of Congress using it as a reference.

Suppressing wages is a disincentive to improving efficiency by other means. Should improved business efficiency be defined by lowering wages? In terms of production per employee hour, or per employee wage dollar?

If you lower federal pay then you are lowering the average pay, and incentivizing lowering private sector job pay as well. Poverty is not good for business, so why is it argued that lower wages are good for business? Many US employees do not compete with foreign labor, especially in the service areas of restaurants and retail.

If government jobs are eliminated, then does that result in new jobs in the private sector? Not at first, as the goods and services purchased from the private sector to support the government work is cut as a result. Where does the money go that paid the government workers? Does that create jobs, or does that result in lower wages to private sector workers, as employers pay less since workers keep a larger portion of their paychecks? And as we cut government worker pay, then we have fewer and less qualified workers who will want to work for the government, which we want to be competent and effective. Why is it that the persons who most complain about government inefficiency and corruption want to cut the pay and numbers of government employees? We need good government employees for all programs, and we need enough government employees hired to catch and prevent fraud. Fraud is not unique to government, and there is no reason to believe it is more prevalent in government than the private sector.

We need to protect the standard of living and raise the standard of living. I know people who are retiring without a pension, except Social Security because they worked for companies that provide privatized services to the government. That means poverty like we saw in the Geat Depression is coming. We need to do more to make SS secure and provide better. Also many who retire from companies that provide privatized services from government get no health care after retirement, so they have to buy their own but do not have th money to do it. That means that the health care jobs will not be supported, and the things retired people might buy will not be bought, so the overall economy will suffer.

In my American everyone works, and they receive the fundamental services of education, health care, and pension without taking away from any direct income form regular employment. A person who has these three fundamental services is not taken to become lazy and dependent on the government, it may be the employers who become dependent on low wages. What is the motivations to encourage low wage jobs?

Hypocrisy is perhaps, the majority party in America. Is an America where wages are low what we are about?

Social Security is said to be failing by the same people who refuse to make the funding changes to keep it paying at the same rate without increasing the age benefits begin. It is “failing” because the people who say it is failing are not adjusting it to inflation by raising the income level the tax is collected on, among other things. There is no reason to cut SS, Medicare od Medicaid to balance the budget. Each has their own budget and separate solutions to funding.

What happened to the Standard of Living as a political issue? How often do we ask if cutting government employee pay, and government jobs will lower or increase the standard of living? Never that I can think of. If we cut Medicare, medicaid and Social Security, what happens to the standard of lving? We have economists who can do the projections. Hypocrisy is avoiding the discussion of the long term consequences of tax and program decisions.

Take any privatization program suggested for SS and ask, what would things be like if it had been in place for the last 30 years?

Right now we have the first wave of privatized workers who worked under government contracts retiring. They have no or small pensions, and no or inadequate health insurance, so the economy does not benefit from that long term injection of sepnding (jobs) that would result if these people had good paying jobs, with good pensions and health benefits. We are robbing the future to cut costs today, but really we are ignoring the real costs and benefits of good paying jobs, both private and public. The suppression and reduction of pay and benefits for government jobs, privatized government jobs and private jobs is setting an economic future of high risk and lower standard of living.

Consider the long term increase in poverty due to the tax/ unemployment bill just signed by you. Democrats are supposed to understand that government programs, laws and policies have a direct and indirect influence on standard of living. We are seeing the first wave of privatized workers of companies supplying services to the US and state, and local governments. Their pensions are lower and for some non-existent, and they have less or no health care than previous retired government workers, but at the same time, private employers have followed suit, so where we have had a few generations where people could retire in financial dignity, not we see that cost cutting is placing the retired into poverty and near poverty, a lower standard of living, which then rolls off on to the working population, in a sense as reverse trickle down economics, instead poverty spreads out form them. The taxes that cover government programs makes people more productive and have longer lives to be productive in. We have spent the future by cutting the standard of living. Low wages and lack of social safety net is an abomination Mr. Obama.

If we are to take care of our selves by your terms, this would mean no one with any common sense would work for low wages for the government, and then what kind of government service quality would we have? Things like police and snow plowing for instance? And so if the people who keep driving wages down get their way, you will then need to save for your retirement on $8 per hour? Will you buy a house, will your children go to college, how ong will you live without health care, and dental care. In the modern world the economics of the 1920’s no longer works well to provide a good standard of living. It did not work so well in the 1920’s either. Greed is the formula you endorse, and without the common sense that government can play a useful role at improving the standard of living. Is a person making $8 an hour more free than one who gets a pension, health care and a house? How is being paid well less free? The freedom part can be taken care of. The rhetoric you follow is just that rhetoric to benefit a small class of persons, curiously enough at a cost to themselves, since increasing the poverty rate does not help the very wealthy.

You should not put unemployment compensation and tax rates in the same bill.

The present tax “cuts” proposed would be a continuation of the tax levels of the last nine years. Whether it is a cut, an increase or is a matter of what it is compared to, OR your choice of political rhetoric if you are not looking for facts.
Economics is partly about psychology. If people were expecting taxes to increase when the Bush tax cuts expired then keeping the tax rates at the GW Bush levels would be a cut in their minds, if they had been making financial plans based on an increase. Taxes were cut during GW Bush’s presidency compared to the Clinton year tax rates. This kind of stuff kind can stir the mind, but what we need are economic specialists who can make recommendations for the present circumstances, and who can explain what they are proposing and why.

A tax increase is inevitable, the question is who gets stuck with it now that taxes have been demonized. Social Security needs to be restored not reformed. Restore Medicare and Medicaid. For get “reform.” Restore. Fraud and waste oscur in the private sector as well as the government sector. Fraud and waste are reason to step up investigation of waste and fraud, it is not a reason to privatize or eliminate.

DARPA, the part of the defense Department which does the most research and development of technology and science. Government spending on research of this nature has benefitted our economy continuously with innovations such as the Internet, advancing computer design (NASA), Semi-conductors, Global Positioning Systems, and we can add simpler things like food science. Government investment in new technology/ science has been critical to advancing the United States’ economy.

SOCIAL JUSTICE

Democracy is a never ending process. Even in the United States we can advance democracy by ending the use of gerrymandering voting districts, and finding away to reduce influence bought by money instead of fact and reason, and democracy based on humans rather than money.

Social Justice, father Caughlin and the justification of New Deal programs.
Social justice is a misnomer, it should be economic fairness/ maximization, that the market does not optimize the economy, and does not even optimize the income of the wealthy.
Legalized theft = taxes? To give to one you must take form another. I do not want someone else to pay for me . . . . Answer is that government programs are insurance and not transfer of wealth.

Much of the present economic discussion amounts to what a just compensation is, and whether the government should be involved in the securing of just compensation for labor.
Primaries are ending for this year. Politics today are simple. The people look not for leaders, instead the people look for persons, whose understanding of the world is not better than their own. Corruption of fact and even thought is well done in every communication medium, while journalism becomes less profitable. So the market does not solve the problem. Showing angry arguing human heads on television makes higher profits, than the presentation of accurate news. If economic motivation becomes the sole determiner of our decisions, the world we have will become increasingly harsh.
Think tanks are working well at convincing the public mind that economics is the superior moral solution. Misdirected people will vote against their own self interest, and for the interests of those who pay those who teach that scarcity is only dealt with by the free market. Economics replaces morality is a simple formula. Is individual freedom maximized by cutting regulation on business, and cutting taxes that support the insurance of government?

When comparing the United States with other countries in regards of social programs, it is mainly the countries which accept degrees of socialism which come out ahead of the United States.

Consider how demeaning it is for TEA Party people to promote the idea of having to work for lower wages and fewer benefits, to give up Social Security and government provided health care in order to have jobs. It would be better to push the economic system to provide better paying jobs, than to criticize persons who have good wages and benefits like government workers and union workers. How do we make a person think they are better off having less?

SCIENTIFIC JUSTIFICATION FOR TAXES TO SUPPORT GOVERNMENT SOCIAL PROGRAMS
I wonder often about how I can get people to change their way of thinking, even to get more objective thought, but find that the greater majority have their thoughts more so hard wired than soft wired. That is they may in a mechanical way have been born that way, or are so programmed that they cannot get out of their thinking trap. Of course, the nature versus nurture discussion fits in here, but if we want a better world, we need to find a way to change the thinking of the persons, whose ideas limit improvement in human conditions by confounding the concepts of liberty, and freedom.

People can have a higher standard of living by having Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, education, and programs often termed social programs. This is not objectively taking money from one person to give to another, since the reason a person earned their money in the first place is in part due to government programs and regulations. Without the investment and insurance functions of government we would all be worse off economically and less free. Government can be used to increase freedom and liberty.
And see: Beyond Freedom and Dignity, by B. F. Skinner.

U. S. closed economy, not so much   Leave a comment

Economists and the U. S. Federal Reserve sometimes comment on the U. S. economy being less dependent on the world economy, since the U. S. economy has only about 15% of its activity dependent on foreign trade. But this is growing, and the diminished distance between U. S. wages and world benefits increases U. S. dependence on the world economy. Where we have been a superior economy and so having our own standard of living the goal of the political far right has been to create a level playing field, so that they, the far right billionaires can escape U. S. regulation, and U. S. wages. The idea on one basis makes sense, in that one might want the U. S. to be competitive in the world. But this thinking break down this way. Yes we want to be able to sell automobiles, aircraft, and even clothing and food abroad, however how much do we want to give up to get increase world share in trade markets?

In the same city there can exist widely different stores and economic classes of people. What if in Traverse City, Michigan, the Saks Fifth Avenue decided that they are not competitive with Walmart? And so Saks decides to lower its prices to be similar to the prices of clothing at Walmart? Not a good idea. But, that is what Charles and David Koch have as a plan for American competitiveness. The U. S. can have the highest standard of living on earth, again. But not by following the strange economic “philosophy” of the Koch’s. Heritage Foundation Claremont College, Hillsdale College, George Mason University, American Enterprise Institute, Americans for Prosperity, The Cato Institute, the tea party, ALEC (American Legislative Executive Council), and the rest.

The far right who likes to call the minimum wage a starting wage well knows that the minimum wage is for some, a life long wage, and adults and household heads work at this poverty level wage. The idea that people, who have few skills and less education would not have jobs if the minimum wage were higher is part of the mind game played on American voters. Who has calculated the difference for Walmart and fast food restaurants if the minimum wage were increase by various amounts? This calculation would need to include the net affect on the U. S. economy, including inflation.

We in the U. S. do not want to bring our selves down to the world standard of living. The real purchasing value of the minimum wage has declined over the last 25 years, so employers are getting lower priced labor, even though the far right propaganda makes it sound like our economy is in the balance and things cold get really bad for minimum wage workers if their wages were raised. As our real wages decline vis a vis world wages, our need for trade will increase as we make things that represent a lower standard of living, ie that of the world, instead of a higher one. The higher standard of living helps insulate our economy from the rest of the world, but if we are working for poverty lever wages, then we will be buying more from other low wage countries, since their products will be comparable do to a level wage. It is not that I oppose higher wages and higher standards of living for the rest of the world, it is that we should not work to lower ours.

But work to lower ours, I mean the legislation ALEC and others propose. Things like lowering the coverage of catastrophic automobile insurance for Michigan. By doing this, the wages of workers has fewer expenses to cover and so they feel less pressure to find a better paying job, and the employer feels less pressure to raise wages. However, the standard of living declines, since people no longer have this full coverage. There are many tricks to tax cuts mixed with tax raises, that lower standard of living. It all amounts to lowering wages and benefits. If you look for these, you will find them. Every time an automobile is damaged in Michigan due to lack of money allocated for road repair, it is the car owner that bears the cost of repair. The Governor Snyder and the far right legislature decide to give the people a vote on one way to pay for road repairs, that is raising the sales tax in a twisted formula that lets the legislature otherwise manipulate the state budget.

The government and government spending is an important part of our economy. When cutting government, for the purpose of cutting government becomes a main concern of elected officials, all the rest suffers, and it is the common person who’s standard of living declines. It is not so important that a part of our incomes goes to taxes if the money is spent in ways that increase our standard of living, on things like health care, education, and support for persons who need it. It is not the case that government benefits are too high and so people chose to not work, it is the case that private minimum wages and benefits are too low. Why do we need government policy which encourages businesses that pay low wages and benefits? We can do better.

The political far right, lately represented by the tea party followers push a false set of economic “facts.” You can observe this easily on the Internet sites they have. Fact check their posts on Facebook tea party sites. Look for sites with “Patriot,” or “tea Part,” or “conservative” in the name. These people are not really conservatives, if you fact check what conservatives are. One problem with the word “conservative” is that it have been given several definitions depending on who is using it. Before proceeding with a conversation with someone who says they are a conservative, ask them to give you their definition of conservative.

Tea partier and other far right FB sites are not based on democracy. Only those who will tow the Koch party line are allowed to comment. Facts and truth are carefully screened, and many facts from the real world are removed or simply not posted in the first place. Much like what we see in China and Russian. See this article.

“Russia is one of a small, but important, group of countries — China and Iran being two others — where domestic social networks still draw more users than Facebook. In these countries, we suspect that the effect of online social media on regime change may be muted. After all, when nondemocratic governments have leverage over the content and structure of social networks, users lose the ability to access independent points of view and learn about government malfeasance. Not only is information sharing monitored and potentially blocked, but democracy activists avoid networks connected with government authorities for fear of reprisals.” WASHINGTON POST
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/monkey-cage/wp/2014/12/31/in-russia-the-political-impact-of-social-media-varies-by-platform/?hpid=z9

Lincoln Day Dinners   1 comment

Since the tea party has infected the Republican Party, Lincoln Day Dinners have become less common, while Reagan Dinners have been used to replace Lincoln Day Dinners. The tea partiers and their creators do find Lincoln’s economic ideas objectionable. Lincoln said that labor and capitol have their rights, but labor (Humans, We the People) come first. All capital (like corporations) is created by labor, and so labor comes first. Many tea party people do not make the connection between what they have been taught to think about economics and the taking of their freedom by oligarchy and corporate governance of the general population.

Posted October 25, 2014 by markjohnhunter in Politics

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