Tag Archives: capitalism

48. Morning Joe “Trickles Up”

8 Mar

I was about to totally condemn Joe S. when I did some research and now I have to mitigate the criticism. I am retired and often stay up late at night. So late, that I often watch the early political show “Morning Joe”. This morning I decided to denounce Joe for his advocacy of torture and for his overly aggressive interaction with a female guest. His badgering reminded me of O’Reilly who is a master at suppressing his guests with fast, loud talk.  [Added later:  I changed my mind about Joe’s badgering, when on March 15, he made a gallant defense of Hilary Clinton’s record.]

That would be that, but as I did some research on Joe S., I discovered to my amazement that he condemned “trickle-down” economy, which is advocated (in a subtle way) by the vast majority of Republican leaders. This approach, also called “supply side” economics, says that the way to support non-rich citizens is to give more money to rich people and corporations. This extra money to the rich will make stronger corporations and promote hiring and better wages for the workers. In actual practice, however, this does not happen, and the rich simply enjoy the extra money. Instead of supply-side economics, Democrats tend to advocate a “demand-side” economy. If wages are raised, there will be more spending and the “demand” for goods will increase. Increased demand will promote production and hence economic growth.

For a few decades, now, we have had “supply-side” economics because more and more money has been diverted to the rich.  And everyone accepts the finding that income has substantially increased for rich folks, while for others, income has been stagnant. Every published budget by the GOP candidates has included lower taxes for rich people. In previous blogs I have presented more details.

43. GOP Tax Nonsense

14 Feb

Republican candidates of 2016 have promoted three main ideas for income tax rule improvement:

1. A lowered tax rate for all, but continuing the current general system.
2. Simplification of income tax code.
3. A single “flat” income tax for all.

Where details on plans have been supplied there are some variations within each plan.  All three ideas are seriously flawed and all three provide great benefits for the wealthy, which is why Republicans propose them. And they provide great benefits to their rich campaign contributors.

1. Any lowered tax rate for very rich people will result in either higher taxes for the non-rich or reduced services for them. Its always a see-saw: reducing one causes increase for the other. People at the lower end of the pay-scale pay little or no taxes at all, and so do not benefit. But lowering general tax rates always makes the rich richer.

2. Republicans always love a really simple tax code because they would avoid all of the rules that prevent them from abusing the system. Ordinary workers with salaries already have a simple code and can finish their returns in a couple of hours; or can pay someone a few bucks to do it for them. On the other hand, rich people usually have complex incomes, expenses, deductions, stock trades, salaries they pay, business entertainment, IRA’s, bonuses, subsidies, etc. Rich people like fewer rules because rules limit what they can get away with. It is similar to their dislike of regulations. The more flexibility they have in preparing their taxes, the easier it is to game (cheat) the system. It takes a lot of code to cover all the possibilities. For example, there are many ways to describe what constitutes a valid “business meal expense”. Buy one of those cheap, tax code summaries and you will see all of the situations that need to be covered. I personally ran two small businesses so I understand why the tax code complexity is needed.

3. Most Republican candidates have advocated a single “flat” income tax with a rate of 10 to 15 percent for all. With that plan, rich people greatly benefit: a reduction of the 35% rate to say, 15 percent. Poor people who can barely survive on what the earn, would pay more than their current zero payment. One Republican candidate said: that’s OK because everyone should have some skin in the game — and this candidate is an avowed Christian.

Finally, why is it wrong to make the wealthy wealthier, and the poor poorer? The main reason is that over the last few decades, as the rich profited, they were more and more able to “bribe” congressmen with contributions, so that they would create tax and subsidy laws to make the wealthy even richer. Another reason is that when extremely rich banks and insurance companies failed, the ordinary tax payers had to bail them out. It is also true that most very rich people use a lot of resources such as extra policing, government services, military protection, etc. And they have accountants and lawyers to help them make even more money. Its Ok to be rich, but when some people are homeless and/or starving, the extremely rich need to give some back.

42. Questions for Trump?

12 Feb

I have watched numerous interviews of candidate Donald Trump and I usually feel that the important questions are not asked. Mostly he is asked about his relationship with other candidates and bizarre statements like baning all Muslims from the U.S. Fundamental ideas like his general economic orientation or his general foreign policy are neglected. Here are a few questions that should be asked:

1. In your published proposed budget, you provide lower taxes for rich people. Does this seem right, given that rich people have done exceedingly well, while the rest of us are stagnant or at serious poverty levels.

2. Do you advocate a “trickle down” economic policy? For several decades we have had just that, rich people and corporations getting more and more money, but it never seems to trickle down to us non-rich folk.

3. You keep saying that you want to make “America great again.” What does that mean? We already have a military that is far superior to that of any other country, so it can’t be that. Would it be improved education, infra-structure, health-care for all, abolishment of poverty, better movies, more fashion shows, healthier people, lower cost of living, or what? It seems that greatness for you, is just a more powerful “Royalty Class.”

4. You criticize your fellow candidates, brag about your successes, ridicule anyone who opposes you, criticize Democrats, Obama, and many others — but we hear very little about how you will help and improve the lives of ordinary citizens. We can get some idea about your values, because you do not want to raise the minimum wage of $7.25. You have very little understanding of poverty, because you started life out with a “small” family loan of only one-million ($1,000,000). I guess you regret disclosing that “small” gem.

5. Like all GOP candidates you hate ObamaCare, but none of you make specific proposals or present a detailed replacement plan. And if you abolish ObamaCare, what will happen to millions of people who have gone from uninsured to insured, and are now covered with “pre-existing conditions” and with exceeded life-time limits, and all the other vital improved coverages? And even more important, why do we need a third party, the private insurance companies, who make fortunes by withholding benefits from unfortunate patients. How many people will die as a consequence of losing ObamaCare benefits? Does this make America great?

6. I suspect your best answer about America’s greatness would be: better manufacturing, better balance of trade, and lower national debt. But to achieve these goals, would the middle-class have to provide all the sacrifices?

7. You emphasize that being already extremely rich, you cannot be bought or corrupted by rich contributors. But commentators never say: so what! you already have “royalty class” values and it is clear that you will implement their goals. No need to corrupt you.

Final thought: Could it be that TV moderators and commentators are all part of media systems run by the rich Royalty Class.  And so are reluctant to ask questions, such as: should very wealthy people pay more in taxes (increased tax rates and/or closing loopholes)?   Being rich is Ok, but extreme wealth for the one percent, while many others are in poverty, is unconscionable.

36. Capitalism Corrupted

25 Jan

The current Republican candidates represent an advanced stage of a transformation taking place in the USA; and many other countries. This transformation is an erosion of intelligent thinking and action; replaced by crude manipulations of the citizens designed to benefit the extremely wealthy “royalty class”. The Republican candidates try to manipulate voters by making them more fearful, by providing dangerous simple solutions to important problems, by lying about historical events, and by blaming scapegoats for our problems. They all do most of this, but admittedly, one of them is so crude and offensive that he stands out from the others. He shows what this harmful changing system can ultimately lead to.

How did this erosion take place?  It is, in fact, a kind of evolution. For the past hundred years or so, there have been dramatic changes in the Earth’s population of humans.  The factors that have developed and changed include: technology in general, the Internet, powerful weapons, increased communication among all of Earth’s citizens, consumer goods, etc.  In this recent period of human history, an evolutionary process took place. Clever persons learned how to make fortunes and became better and better at doing this. After a certain level of extreme wealth was achieved, wealth was further enhanced by, in effect, “bribing” government officials (like Congressmen) to make favorable laws. The process is similar to biological evolution where the fittest (often the most intelligent) survive and grow stronger. Favorable laws for rich people include: lower tax rates, unfair subsidies, and tax loopholes, which allow income to be hidden or taxed at a low rate.  Tax simplification is an agenda of the GOP, but it only helps rich people by allowing more tax loopholes.  Lower taxes for one group will always result in higher taxes for others, or fewer services.

What are the dangers of a powerful royalty class? Simply put, as more money is shifted upward, the number of desperate poor people increases. Desperate people commit more crimes and eventually resort to violent revolution. The “Arab Spring” illustrates what can happen when an extremely rich and clever group run a country. But even if a revolution never occurs, it is simply reasonable and fair, that more average citizens should enjoy prosperity, not just the wealthy. After all, wealthy people use all the rest of us for the enjoyment of their money. We provide the military, police, firemen, construction workers for their houses, repairmen, garbage men, maids, cooks, doctors, therapists, accountants, and so forth — all necessary for the enjoyment of wealth.

Personally, I do believe in capitalism, but a version that is appropriately limited to benefit all of the citizens. I have owned two small businesses. My concern is with extreme wealth, not with prosperity resulting from hard work and innovation. Capitalism in the USA can be reformed by careful voting (please see my next blog).

25. Bernie Sanders’ Interpretation of “Socialism”

23 Aug

When Bernie Sanders calls himself a “Socialist”, his various statements on
the matter indicate the following interpretation.

Government should promote “social” programs that lead to a fair distribution
wealth. He does not say that capitalism or free enterprise should be abolished,
merely that they must be regulated to promote the economic concerns of non-rich people. This can be acomplished by a reversal of the taxation trend that
for years has been directing money away from the middle class and towards the
very rich; and by promoting programs such as Social Security and Medicare.
He does not say that enterprising people cannot acquire wealth.
It is the extremes and corrupt policies that must dealt with.

He points to the social successes of Scandinavian countries, which could be a
model for ourselves. Bernie’s ideas are not unusual and many Americans have
promoted similar thoughts. Critics have used certain strict definitions
of the term “socialist” to ridicule his ideas, but the specifics of what he advocates is the majority view.

20. Mr. Jones Saves Capitalism

26 Apr

The TED Conferences are a valuable source of intellectual information and stimulation.  I was excited when I read the recent talk title “Why We Need to Rethink Capitalism” (April 2015) by Paul Jones.   He describes “income inequality” and makes us feel that he really cares about this issue. He admits to being extremely wealthy but immediately rejects the idea of “higher taxes”, it’s not on his “bucket list.”  Note that he says simply “higher taxes”, not “higher taxes for the rich”. This is the first clue that we are getting brainwashed, and it is a typical ploy of Republicans: shortening “raising taxes for the wealthy”, a Democrat ideal, down to “raising taxes” to scare the general population.

What he suggests is something very special.  He proposes “actually trusting the system that got us here.” We must increase the “justness in corporate behavior”.  In fact, he actually started an organization devoted to determining and implementing “just corporate behavior”.  He does not propose a solution but leaves it up to the public to lead this effort.  Pure capitalism cannot be trusted — that is why “anti-trust” legislation was implmented early in the 20th Century. History shows that unregulated capitalism often spirals out of control, leaving poverty and despair in its wake.  Remember Enron, and remember the banks “too-big-to-fail” with the bailout paid for by the public — and many other examples.

No doubt this idea will please the naive.  And rich people will be happy to work on a voluntary system that will be a diversion from real solutions.  This approach at best will provide token improvements and will make happy those that should be paying higher taxes.  We must raise tax rates at the highest levels, and close tax loopholes, many of which were created by congressional payoffs.  I have worked with government-supplied data to see if increased taxes could provide substantial help for those in need.   Regardless of what politicians say, it will help, and some of the increased revenue could be devoted to infra-structure repair (a job creator).

It is sad that the obvious Republican diversion tactics from real solutions like higher tax collections from the rich, can be effective with large segments of our population.  For decades, rich people have enjoyed unfair income advantages, and it is time to implement real change.  A final thought: there are some moral rich people who realistically promote tax fairness, but most got to their elevated positions by the ruthless disregard of others less fortunate.

12. Bain Capitalism

17 May

Bain Capital is headquartered in Boston and Mitt Romney is one of its 1984 founders.  It engages in financial services and  venture capital.  Romney asserts that his experience with Bain prepares him for running a country.  Democrats are critical of this assertion, but they often seem to miss the important point.  The capitalism that Bain engages in is among the worst kind.

The essence of ethical and admirable capitalism, which I heartily endorse, is to work hard and achieve monetary or other success.  You create a product, refine a service, or develop an idea — and you make a good profit.  Non-rich people generally do not resent this.

However, what “capital” companies often do,  is to take over and manipulate a company for massive personal profit.  A determination is made at some point to either:

1.  Build up a promising business with good potential, or

2. Destroy a troubled business and grab all the money you can, while leaving the workers with nothing.

In many instances, the huge amount of profit taken by the capital company could have been used to restore the business, or at least provide support for the fired workers.

There is nothing wrong in making a simple bond or stock investment in a business.    The unethical method is to step in and “manage” a company, which you did not create, and manipulate it for huge personal profit, while the personnel are fired and left with nothing.  I might also mention that there are other types of abuse, such as Wall Street gambling on “derivatives” — often incurring huge losses that require a bailout.  Our goal should be to enhance productive capitalism, and to discourage and regulate unethical monetary and business manipulation.

Now, let us imagine how Mr. Romney can use his Bain Capital experience in running our country.  A “capital” company is primarily concerned with profits for the company (and any investors), and has little regard for the business it is managing.  So we can expect him to manipulate our government for the benefit of himself and his wealthy supporters.  The rest of us are pretty much irrelevant, like the workers who are fired when one of his managed companies is destroyed. Rich Republicans are desperately trying to hold onto their low tax rates, giant tax loopholes and corporate subsidies.  If this is unclear to you, then remember that all Republican congressmen endorsed the Norquist tax pledge, which includes opposition to closing tax loopholes.

I must add a final word. The general public needs an increased awareness of the distortion of a great system — our form of capitalism.   Our citizens and lawmakers need to support those who advocate necessary regulation to rid us of the wealthy manipulators who will ultimately destroy the middle class.  Throughout history, we have seen revolution  when a few wealthy people run a country, rob its citizens, and produce massive poverty.  The “Tea Party” and “Occupy” movements are the first signs of a potential serious revolution.  (Unfortunately, the Tea Party was blown off course by a misunderstanding of “basic causes” and by the influence of insidious rich manipulators.)