Brooks Criticizes GOP of Over-Indvidualism and Fair-Starts

David Brooks, a great columnist at the NYT, writes that the GOP does not recognize how social factors outside oneself holds people down in the economic race. The GOP, according to Brooks, does not see this obvious fact while explaining poverty on laziness.
Read Here. 

// on Romney Nomination Acceptance Speech does a great job of analyzing Romney’s nomination acceptance speech last night pointing out inconsistencies and outright lies.

Read Here. 


GOP Fights Paul Ryan Speech’s Fact-Checkers

The Post writes that prominent fact checking organizations ripped Ryan’s speech Wednesday night, yet the GOP calls foul. But don’t skip over the section where the Obama White House has written a letter of protest to a prominent fact-checking organization in the light of a bad “rating”.

Read Here. 


Advice for Activists

When I was in graduate school, I studied social movements. Now this topic in the NYT’s “Room for Debate” section includes small op-eds giving advice and other things to think about for all activists. And these pieces are right in line with social movement theory and practical application.

Read Here. 

The Post Fact Checker on Ryan Speech

Post’s “The Fact Checker” analyzed the Paul Ryan speech from last night and points out both truth bending and outright lies. But do not get me wrong here, just because I am a leftist I think that Obama’s and Biden’s speeches at the DNC will not get a rough critique from “The Fact Checker”, too.

Read Here.

NYT Op-Ed on Untruths at GOP Convention

A great NYT op-ed outlining many of the baseless attacks aimed towards Pres. Obama which have no basis in reality. And look to my favorite: the “We Built It” slogan.

Chomsky On The Economy & Occupy Movement’s Opportunity to Change It

Here’s an op-ed written for the Huffington Post, published on May 8th, from Noam Chomsky entitled Plutonomy and the Precariat: On the History of the U.S. Economy in Decline. It concerns the decline of the American worker, the economy, and how the Occupy movement has a chance to wrestle some power back from the 1%.


The Guardian Op-Ed on Corrie and Other Protesters

With an Israeli high court ruling that Rachel Corrie’s tragic death was her own fault (Corrie was ran over by a D9 Bulldozer in the West Bank in 2003 trying to protect a suicide bomber’s family’s home from demolition), The Guardian highlights how the Israelis see protesters and their movements.


The Right’s Hypocrisy on Taxes Versus Welfare

An eye-popping headline and article appeared on The Atlantic’s site last week: Mitt Romney Would Pay 0.82 Percent in Taxes Under Paul Ryan’s Plan.  The debate can be had as to whether this is accurate or not but it is irrelevant to this post and one thing is clear.  The right typically supports the idea of this result.  But a question should be asked based on the right’s position on welfare.  Why should one method of receiving money while not working be commended while another be condemned?

I know what the first argument from conservatives would be: because the person making money off of capital gains earned the money they used to invest at some point and someone on welfare only sat on their behinds to get theirs from the government.  Some individual instances can certainly be given of both but this leads to another question.  Is the money always earned in the case of someone who is investing and making their earnings off of capital gains?  The answer, of course, is no and anyone arguing the opposite of that should reassess their grip on reality.

I will not make a wild guess as to the percentage of people who inherit their money as opposed to starting from scratch and earning it but we can infer some assumptions from class mobility data.  If it is highly likely someone would move from the top to the bottom of the economic ladder or vice versa, this would be unimportant.  However, it’s not that likely according to studies done in recent years:

42 percent of American men raised in the bottom fifth of incomes stay there as adults…Meanwhile, just 8 percent of American men at the bottom rose to the top fifth…about 62 percent of Americans (male and female) raised in the top fifth of incomes stay in the top two-fifths…Similarly, 65 percent born in the bottom fifth stay in the bottom two-fifths.

This means a majority of people born near the top stay there and a majority of people born near the bottom also essentially stay put.  So now we return to the original question: why should the right cheer one method of receiving money and abhor the other?  Let’s take the question a step further.  What’s the real difference between someone born to a billionaire who then earns their living off of capital gains through money received from their parents and someone born into poverty who eventually collects welfare?  The answer is simply luck of the draw on something they can’t control: who their parents are.

If the right’s true problem with welfare was the idea that people receiving it were not trying to work and didn’t deserve it, their position on taxes should be far different.  But it’s not and the reasons vary.  In the past it was no doubt because of racism and some of that still exists.  And now it is about combating big government.  Whatever the reason, the hypocrisy is obvious and should be noted along with the irony, of course, that most of the folks on the right supporting this position are not rich enough to benefit from their tax beliefs and are only hurting themselves in the long run.

A Serious Flaw of Trickle Down Economic Thought

The idea of trickle down economics is very simple and its simplicity is one of the reasons it sells so well to people who do not really benefit from it, otherwise known as 99% of the population.  Someone at the top of the economic ladder is given more money than they already have, they spend the money they are given, and the money then trickles down the ladder and everyone’s financial lives are boosted by this spending.  This is sold as a way to stimulate the economy.  Just one (of a few) problem here: what happens if the money isn’t spent?

An article appeared last week noting this problem is not only happening but could be getting worse.  Some key stats from the piece:

One Percenters…savings rate soared to 34 percent in the second quarter of 2012, up from 12 percent in 2007…Higher savings would normally be good for the economy. But not now, when capital is needed to invest in growth and jobs. The One Percenters put 56 percent of their available cash into savings accounts and money markets in 2012 – that’s up from 24 percent in 2007.  They’re investing just 44 percent in financial markets – down from 76 percent in 2007.

This highlights one of the key flaws in trickle down thought.  You can give the wealthy money, but you cannot make them or even guarantee they will actually spend that money.  Take a super-rich person as an example.  Let’s say someone (not naming any casino-owning names) has enough money to just blow $100 million dollars on a presidential election if they chose.  By giving that person an additional (paltry) $5 million dollars, what are the chances that money is spent relatively quickly and put back in the economy to trickle down?  Not great.

By contrast, what if you spread that money out in a new infrastructure project that puts many lower or middle class people to work building something to improve the country (roads, bridges, etc.)?  What are the chances this money gets spent and put into the economy quickly?  Extremely high since these folks are more likely to pay bills and buy necessities with their new earnings.  This is a big part of what happened during World War II as the emergence of the Unites States economy from the Great Depression occurred and government spending levels skyrocketed to levels never seen since that time (contrary to beliefs about the Obama budgets).  People, mostly unemployed, went to work in factories as part of the war effort and the economy healed after such a long downturn.

Another part of the problem with trickle down thought was not addressed when these theories were being born since it was not as much of an issue: where the money is spent.  Just because a tax cut (or corporate welfare) is given in one economy, it does not guarantee that money is spent in the same economy in a globalized market.  If the same person mentioned earlier is given that $5 million, how much does it help the U.S. economy if he travels to Italy and spends it all there?  “Not as much as the planners of the policy were hoping” would be the proper answer.

One last aspect of the article should be noted.  A quote from a supposed One Percenter:

One respondent in the study said “My savings rate has gone up and I’m not spending, which I realize is bad for the economy … but I like having a wide moat around me so that nothing can bother me.”

Remember that we are not to debate the economic disparity between people because that is “class warfare”.  What is it called when someone at the top has built a psychology that has them thinking in terms of moats when protecting themselves financially?  He is thinking along the lines of feudalism but the rest of us are not allowed to point out the problem?  And is it fair to point out that moats were used to keep out and inhibit enemies?  Does this person need to be reminded that his lack of spending is hurting, not his enemies, but his fellow countrymen?  Maybe another question should be asked here.  Are they his enemies in his mind?

I suppose we must remember it’s only “class warfare” if you aren’t rich enough to declare it apparently.