Sunday, March 27, 2011


Sheeple: People being herded along, believing in the preposterous and bleating it ad infinitum thereby indoctrinating others in an ever-expanding sphere of ignorant influence.

Republican/Tea Party shepherds have launched an assault on unionism. Americans are being told that unionized workers are the cause of states' indebtedness. We're being told that public sector retirement costs are too much to bear; that health plans for public workers are costing too much. Americans are being told that there is an imbalance between private sector unions (only 6.9% of the workforce) and public sector union workers (9%) that needs to be remedied by eliminating all unionization. Americans are being sold a fiction. Again and again, Republicans/Tea Partiers are not telling the truth in order to scare enough people into acting against their own best interests.

First, let's identify just who these "public sector" employees are: firemen, police officers, teachers, emergency response personnel, government nurses, highway workers, snow plow drivers, etc etc. Also known as the middle class, or simpler yet, the American working class of which 90 plus percent are nonunionized.

Despite the fact that benefits (like retirement, health insurance etc) are in lieu of higher salary (deferred compensation) such benefits are being portrayed as unmerited "bonuses" which workers do not deserve. Americans have forgotten that Ronald Reagan, in his final years as President, urged raising teachers' salaries to entice the best and brightest into the profession. At that time, teachers in New York with nearly 15 years experience were making what the proposed salary for starting teachers were to be paid. It has been the states' and federal government's responsibility to make good on setting aside the necessary funds to abide by the contracts entered into. But, rather than raise taxes, they cut taxes. Rather than lockbox the retirement funds (Social Security at the federal level) they spent it on give-aways to businesses in order to create jobs. However, as two separate NYS Comptroller studies illustrated, less than 20 percent of the jobs promised by companies given those tax breaks actually ever appeared. Nationwide we have unemployment levels unseen since the Great Depression.

Republican/Tea Party spokespersons claim that public sector union workers (including benefits) make 42 percent more than comparable private sector union workers. Not true, but that's what the American public is being saturated with (paid for by Karl Rove's "Crossroads GPS" and the arch conservative "Club for Growth"). The only studies that went into enough detail to be able to truly compare apples to apples, demonstrated that public sector union members were 70 percent college graduates while private sector union workers were only 25 percent college graduates. Therefore, based upon education attainments, the public sector is underpaid, making less than the private sector.

Yet, what are we hearing from the American media? Propaganda paid for by the monied likes of the Koch brothers (tied for 18th richest people in the WORLD) and Republicans Dick "Grass Roots" Armey and Karl "Sleaze Job" Rove. What we're hearing is that the public sector is bleeding the country dry. It's a direct assault on workers, in general, and unionism in particular. Republicans/Tea Partiers understand that unions have always stood on the side of labor, against unfair wages and unsafe conditions in the workplace. Republicans/Tea Partiers understand that many union members died confronting the unfair working conditions in America; men and women murdered to save the paymaster money. But, most importantly, Republicans/Tea Partiers understand that unionists usually vote Democrat seeing as Republicans do not value labor.

It's a no-brainer then. Using the financial crisis created by a greedy, criminal Wall Street, newly elected Republicans/Tea Partiers are attempting to punish Democratic supporters; creating conditions that will make it more difficult for them to vote (e.g., not allowing same day registration/vote, requiring specific photo IDs, etc). These Republican/Tea Party "mavericks" are hell-bent on crushing unions for the monied elite they serve. With 65 percent of the fantastic gains made this past decade going to the top one percent, need you wonder who the elite are? They're the ones holding back trillions of dollars from investing to create jobs in order to break the American worker down to serfdom levels where they will be woefully undercompensated, but at least working and, therefore surviving, even as their safety while doing so is diminished.

Governor Scott Walker (Wisconsin) came into office and immediately delivered a $118 million tax cut to businesses. One week later he claimed the state had a "fiscal crisis" with a deficit of $132 million. He demanded concessions from public sector workers. The unions agreed to give-backs that balanced the budget. But, Walker wasn't satisfied. He demanded an end to collective bargaining (exempting those unionized workers that voted in large blocks for him: Police and Firemen). Democratic state Senators left Wisconsin in order to create a situation such that a vote could not go forward as there wasn't a quorum. The Republicans then defied an advance notification statute, finagled the law regarding quorum saying that because they removed all "fiscal items" from the bill (a budget relief bill, mind you) they could vote without a quorum and did so. Governor Walker has signed the bill into law even as it has been legally challenged and is currently under judicial stay.

In Michigan, the newly elected Republican/Tea Party Governor Rick Snyder created a bill that passed into law giving him complete authority to appoint a person that can eliminate any elected public official of whom he does not approve. Elected officials. Replaced at the whim of a single person. Democracy? Constitutional? Moral?

And it doesn't stop there. Twenty states have already introduced bills that, if voted into law, will prohibit or severely restrict collective bargaining. Even worse, there's a bill being introduced on Capitol Hill by Republicans/Tea Partiers that will allow states to declare bankruptcy in order to nullify their existing contracts with public sector workers. That means retirement, health insurance, etc will not be honored. People doing their jobs well for thirty-five years are now being told, "Yes, we underpaid you throughout your career. Yes, we promised we'd make it up to you with health care and retirement. But, we failed to do what needed to be done— paying as we went —and instead relied on the fantasy sold by Republicans that we could reduce revenues by cutting taxes for the wealthy and corporations then borrow our way to prosperity, at which time we'd pay up." Of course, that never happened as 'Trickle down' has been a dismal failure for 90 percent of the population and most certainly emptied governmental coffers!

Currently, several polls have been conducted regarding Governor Walker's assault on collective bargaining. One poll has it at 66 percent against, the other has 70 percent against. Americans intimately understand the concerns of the working class. However, if you listen to the media one would think that Americans are all for crushing the unions, that "America's" message is not that all workers should be pulled up to a living wage, but rather, that all workers should be pulled down to non-sustenance wages without benefits.

What remains to be seen is if we, the People, resist or remain sheeple being prodded to slaughter.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Fuzzy Logic

If we are to believe Congressional Republicans, their three largest concerns are the same as held by the "public" as supposedly expressed via the overwhelming victory by Republicans and Tea Party candidates. These concerns are: 1) The Debt. 2) Unemployment. 3) Shrinking Government.

Being that the Republican Party is the "fiscally responsible" party, it logically follows that the American voters went that way in order to alleviate their main concerns.

Or so conventional "wisdom" has maintained since November. However, as so often happens with the American electorate, they've been bamboozled into believing the opposite of what is true.

Take the GOP-as-fiscally-responsible-party clich̩. Bogus! In the period between 1978 Р2009 the Republican Administrations have outspent by a third and added debt at a rate nine times that of the Democrat Administrations. Yet, America believes, without a doubt, that the GOP is the fiscally responsible party.

Conservative icon Ronald Reagan was a cheerleader for "Supplyside Economics" (characterized by his own Vice President as "voodoo economics") which maintained that cutting taxes on the wealthy and spending taxpayer money on givebacks to big business would manifest itself manyfold times in the pockets of middle class Americans by way of "trickle down." There would be jobs a-plenty and it would forever be "Morning in America."

Middle class Americans have been paying the price ever since for such fuzzy logic. Their incomes (adjusted for inflation) have not grown for thirty years, jobs have vanished at an alarming rate and consequently unemployment has grown to just under 10 percent (20 percent if you count those discouraged from looking for jobs that aren't there).

As demonstrated by the "official" Republican response to the latest Presidential State of the Union address, Paul Ryan (R-WI) put forth the "new" Republican program: Repeal the Health Care Reform Act. Raise taxes on those making between $20,000 and $200,000 while cutting by half the taxes of those making more than $200,000. Raise the retirement age to 70 years old and cut Social Security benefits. Deregulate for increased growth. Cut the Corporate tax rate.

New? Let's examine the proposals more closely:

  • Are we to believe Ryan doesn't know that 2/3 of our corporations don't pay any income taxes? As clearly shown, the typical scenario is something like this: During a three year period (2001-2003) just 275 of the Fortune 500 corporations earned $1.1 Trillion (which should have resulted in $370 Billion coming into the US Government coffers) but only reported $557 Billion to the IRS. "Instead of a 35 percent tax rate, the companies as a group paid a three-year effective tax rate of only 18.4 percent." To make matters worse, these companies garnered "$175.2 Billion in tax breaks over the three years." Therefore, our Corporate neighbors stiffed the American People $345 Billion. That's a trillion every 3 years for 30 years. Pretty much our current debt load.

  • Deregulation? Deregulation greased the skids for the worst financial disaster since the Great Depression even as it made conditions ripe for the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill debacle.

  • The Republican/Tea Partiers demand cutting Social Security, already too meager to live on, rather than requiring all income over $106,800 be taxed at the same rate workers' income is withheld, which would fully fund Social Security.
  • By raising the retirement age, Americans will be required to work until 70 years old. Along with Tea Party calls for diminishment of the Minimum Wage, Americans should be ready to work for poverty wages all their life until death.
  • Cutting taxes for the wealthy has been an ongoing crusade by Republicans since Reagan. The premise is that such tax reduction stimulates the economy and produces jobs. Americans should be wondering: When will those jobs finally materialize? After all, it's been thirty years and there still aren't employment opportunities for all that want a decent job with benefits and a living wage. Of course, the b part of this strategy is to raise taxes on the middle class.
  • Repealing the Healthcare Reform Act. Even though the Congressional Budget Office crunched the numbers and said repeal would add an additional $230 Billion to the debt, Republican Speaker of the House, John Boehner (R-OH), dismisses such a figure as "just their opinion." Understand that the CBO has been the official nonpartisan number cruncher of record since its inception in 1974, with both parties adhering to the facts as provided by the CBO. Now the Repubs and Tea Partiers simply dismiss any such limitations of reality and factual information by claiming it's mere opinion. And just what does Paul Krugman, Nobel Prize winner in economics have to say about this? "We are, I believe, witnessing something new in American politics. Last year, looking at claims that we can cut taxes, avoid cuts to any popular program and still balance the budget, I observed that Republicans seemed to have lost interest in the war on terror and shifted focus to the war on arithmetic. But now the G.O.P. has moved on to an even bigger project: the war on logic." Krugman goes on to dismantle the GOP arguments as so many "three-card monte tricks" and "childish logical fallacies." He further maintains the Repubs' obsession with repeal is due to one single factor – coverage for the uninsured. Why? "…the modern G.O.P. has been taken over by an ideology in which the suffering of the unfortunate isn't a proper concern of government, and alleviating that suffering at taxpayer expense is immoral, never mind how little it costs."

So, there you have it. The "new" Republican/Tea Party coalition plans on doing what the old-guard has been doing since 1980: Increase the debt. Increase taxes on middle class. Decrease taxes on the wealthy and corporations. Dismantle government "entitlement" programs for the People while enhancing the "entitlement" programs for corporate America/Big Business at taxpayer expense.

As for the claim that the wealthiest few percent pay the lion's share of income taxes, since our system of taxation is based upon value (income/net wealth) of course those holding the lion's share of income and net wealth will pay larger portions of the revenue total. But, as we've seen, trillions of dollars that should have been coming into governmental coffers have never arrived even as the tax rates have been steadily reduced for corporations and the wealthiest few percent. Corporations paid 25 percent of federal outlays in the 1950s, now they contribute but 7 percent of the revenue collected.

And, further, as jobs are concerned, how is it that Americans do not see the stark disconnect between Republican rhetoric and the reality of a capitalist society? Capitalists are afforded all sorts of tax breaks to create jobs yet whenever there's an unemployment problem, the People scream at government? Why? It is the private sector's responsibility to create the jobs necessary for prosperity. That is why it receives all those tax breaks.

Grover Norquist, Republican activist and former speech writer for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, clearly articulated the plan for shrinking government: Republicans "…simply want to reduce it to the size where (we) can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub."

Save government by killing it? Fuzzy logic.