Some thoughts I couldn't get to because blogger was down: I saw parts of the Senate hearings on the oil companies' tax breaks and subsidies this last week. I hate to agree with Senator Orin Hatch about anything but I also think the whole thing will be a meaningless 'dog and pony show.' At least as far as any effective legislation goes. I agree with Senator Rockefeller that the oil company execs are out of touch with ordinary Americans but then I think most execs are. And Senator Schumer did a nice job of putting one of the execs on the spot with his question about why is company's breaks and subsidies should have higher priority than support programs for college students. However, I think there were questions that hung in the background that no one asked. First, in our supposedly capitalistic economic system why should we be allowing any commercial enterprise any tax breaks? Especially companies that are making very good profits. Second, I think Schumer's question should be recast a bit. Why should we make a choice between giving breaks to companies that are so obviously doing very well and a system of funding higher education that creates a class of debt serfs whose education probably will not provide a base for economic security?
The news media has made a good bit out of the report this last week that Social Security will 'run out of money' a year earlier than previously projected. I notice that none of them reminded us of the 'tax holiday' our elected leaders so generously gave workers--the 2% reduction of FICA taxes collected on wages. Nor did they say anything about the drum beat for making that reduction permanent. Think there might be a connection here?
I was totally annoyed with the economic pundits talking about inflation this last week. They so readily dismissed the notion of inflation because there is no pressure to raise wages. Without increasing wages they don't believe we have inflation. This seems to be a parallel to the old saw that 'when your neighbor is out of work we have a recession; when you are out of work we have a depression.' When our costs for food, fuel and clothing go up it isn't really inflation but when employers have to pay more for our labor then we have an inflation problem.
I read the NYT story on this (thank you, Huffington Post for the link). However, I think Susie Madrak at Crooks & Liars perfectly expresses the absolute absurdity of the arguments the insurance industry gives for seeking double digit increases in their premiums.
This Daily Mail (UK) article is cute. I remember my grandfather using draft horses but that was 50 years ago. Since then I have seen sporadic articles about people using draft animals instead of tractors but only on small farms or on terrain that seriously challenged machinery.