5 New Images in STL Gallery!

Just added five new images to the Sparking The Left image gallery!

Hoping you find them inspiring and will lend to any propaganda-spreading action you may participate in.

Democratic Economic Rhetoric More Leftist

DEMS-articleInlineAn article  in the NYT reports that Democratic Party members are moving left of the centrist position in the economic debate to a more left-center position. With the slowly improving economy, they feel a more populist message may have more traction with the American public. And this movement is not only being led by Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren any longer, but rather by the President too.

But the problem is what if the Right begins screaming “class warfare” again? This term seems to resonate quite nicely for the GOP every time.

Read Here.

Voter Suppresion = Awful Policy Positions

The American system of voting leaves a lot to be desired and is certainly not one of the areas where we are the shining example of efficiency for the rest of the world.  Conservative David Frum penned an excellent piece shedding light on some of the issues just prior to the election that is definitely worth the time to read.  But the most worrisome and talked about problem in the United States at this time are the attempts by the right to try to suppress the rights of law-abiding voters across the country.

Just the same ole song.
Just the same ole song.

To be fair, if the shoe was on the other foot and Democrats were desperately looking for ways to win elections they were trailing, they would likely employ similar methods to try to win.  It is the nature of the beast and parties will look for any advantage they can get regardless of how immoral and reprehensible the tactic may be.  But for now, the offending group is the Republican Party and their methods are due some well-deserved criticism.

The most important factor to keep in mind is simply the effort being made.  People are looking through state election laws, deciding where to attack the hardest and make voting most difficult for likely Democratic supporters, and veiling the measures with the unrealistic idea voter fraud is a problem.  In short, time, money, and manpower is being used just to keep people from voting.  Which, underneath it all, means one critical reality for the Republican Party: they can’t win elections on their party platform and policy positions alone and they fully recognize this.

If you, as a political party, are trying to win races by making sure the supporters of your opponents don’t vote, you are acknowledging you cannot win people over on the issues and are using other means to influence the outcome.  Every dollar spent and every hour of work by someone devoted to this activity is recognition of your policy failures.  This is not an act that can be spun by the most hard-right media into something noble or patriotic or anything else other than what it is.  They have the choice to knock on doors or run more ads or print brochures selling their positions and they are choosing not to do this.  Instead, they are making the conscious decision to suppress voters as opposed to engaging them.

There is no spinning this as an act of healthy democracy or patriotism.  It is an act of desperation, immorality, cruelty, and class warfare.  The attempts at voter suppression in the pre-Civil Rights era were about fearing race.  The attempts in 2012 are clearly because of a fear of populism and this is just as shameful as the racism of the past.

The Gap Between the Rich and Poor: Not Just in America

Gina Rinehart, one of the world’s richest women at an estimated worth of around $20 billion, isn’t rich enough by her own standards apparently.Class War (Credit: Clarion Call News)

Last week she informed the world that anyone can be a millionaire if they just stop drinking, smoking, and socializing and work more.  This is exactly how it works, obviously.  Just ask any suicidal worker in China putting in those fourteen hour days and quickly becoming millionaires.  Wait, I forgot.  China has a high rate of smoking.  That is what must be holding those folks back from becoming millionaires as Rinehart claims.

Today, Rinehart tells Australian workers that they are asking for too much and must not want to work because, “Africans want to work, and its workers are willing to work for less than $2 per day.”

This is what is called wealthy tunnel vision.  The ability to not see the forest for the million dollar tree house with no windows she must figuratively live in.  Africans want to work and are willing to work for less than $2 a day, therefore Australians must not want to work.  Pointing out the fact these continents have different standards of living and things like minimum wage and environmental regulations that are at different stages developmentally is irrelevant.  It is all about who wants to work and if the non-rich are not willing to work for less pay than the amount of money currently not making them rich then they are just lazy.

The most important factor here is, of course, who is making these statements.  Gina Rinehart.  A self-made billionaire who started from scratch and knows the reward of a hard days’ work.  A woman who started with nothing doing a menial job at the bottom of the economic ladder like working in a fast-food restaurant or digging ditches or something similar and has made her way up into the economic stratosphere through the world of mining.  A woman who…what’s that quick Google search to Wikipedia?  Her father was Lang Hancock?  He was a wealthy mining guy and Gina inherited her money and empire?  You mean to tell me Gina Rinehart has no idea that not smoking and drinking and socializing and working instead of doing these things does not automatically make you a millionaire?  Shocking.

The gap between rich and poor is just startling.  Not that this is necessarily anything new for mankind.  I’m sure in feudal times and even in ancient Egypt, for example, the wealthy heirs had no idea what it was like to truly work from the bottom on up.  But the fact that someone can have this insulated frame of mind in today’s world where information is so readily available is mind boggling.  Rinehart isn’t even aware of the reality that she is a multibillionaire because of the fact people in Australia working for her were willing to work and wanted to work and did not become millionaires by doing this.

Now she criticizes them and wants them to work for less money in the interest of making more money for themselves…or is it more money for her.  I’m confused by her own logic.

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.