Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Good morning to you all.  We have wet weather again today.  I wish we could send some of this down to Texas and other drought stricken areas.  We have had more than enough.  If I don't find a dry patch sometime today I think I will have to bring my blueberries in for the next couple until it clears up.

I have always admired Gloriana (a.k.a. Elizabeth I), Lois.  She inherited a nearly bankrupt country--thanks to her father's extravagance.  That extravagance included very expensive military adventures which gained very little.  By the time she died in 1603 she left a prosperous and wealthy country.

The local CBS news this morning covered a report (sorry, I forget by which organization) on ways Chicago could close its massive budget gap.  They included turning Lake Shore Drive into a toll road--described as a 'non-starter' by one of the interviewees--and a 1% income tax.  Emanuel ran on the notion that his administration would not raise taxes but how long he can keep that pledge is a big question. His education department is already planning to increase the property tax rates to the maximum allowed by state law. As I listened to that I thought about Herman Cain's proposal to reform taxes--his '9-9-9' plan.  He thinks restructuring the Federal tax code so that individual and corporate tax rates are each 9% with no deductions and adding a Federal sales tax of 9% would cure our fiscal ailments.  I don't know about anyone else but paying a sales tax of 15.25% sales tax (9% Federal + 6.25% state) doesn't sound like a great deal.  Or think about Chicago where the rate would be around 20% (9% Federal + 11% state/county/city).  That doesn't sound like such a great deal.  Worse the sales taxes hit the lowest income groups hardest.  And reducing the income tax on individuals to a flat 9% results in a massive stealthy tax cut for those at the top of our economic food chain while those at the bottom, who would lose more proportionately with the loss of the exemptions, would be slammed.  And the Repthuglicans are bitching about 'class warfare.'???

I have asked frequently over the last couple of years what would happen when a significant part of the population lost faith in our supposedly democratic government.  I say 'supposedly' because a democratic political system in which money rules is not democratic and that is what we have now.  Well this story gives some some indications which answers my (rhetorical) question.  I notice that the article concentrates on young voters and their disillusionment.  But I am 62 and I have become increasingly disillusioned for several reasons.  First, my choices are not really choices.  I feel somewhat like Harry Mud in the original Star Trek series when Spock tells him that the death sentence he fled left him with several choices--death by hanging, beheading, gas, etc.  Death is death; it is not a choice.  I am left with political choices that are not really choices--between Repthuglicans bought by the moneyed interests who don't care a damn about me and others like me except for how much they can squeeze out of me and Damnocrats who talk the talk but fail to walk the walk and are equally bought.  Second, there is the moral dilemma of participating in a rigged political system that makes morally repugnant decisions and covers itself in the righteousness of the 'consent of the governed.'  I find myself screaming more and more often:  I DID NOT CONSENT TO THIS!!!  And third, the democracy appears more frequently as a smoke and mirror game of manipulation.  Both parties claim that the majority of Americans supports their view/actions/positions but the positions are diametrically opposed. And the game has been one of pandering to some, demonizing others, and doing what ever will get you elected and destroying the chances of the other party doing anything constructive even if that means opposing sensible proposals you once supported.  I don't think democracy can remain democracy in anything but name when hypocrisy and manipulation rule the day.

Crooks & Liars posted this and it makes a lot of sense.  The Repthuglicans have touted two groups as the 'job creators' in their fevered rhetoric:  the rich/big business and 'small' business.  With big businesses sitting on a couple trillion and not hiring the 'job creation' title seems a bit hollow.  The NPR interview puts small business job creators into a cocked hat as well.  The points reflect my own observations of the small businesses I have been in any way involved with in the recent past.  The party store I worked at for the three years it was in existence started out with four full timers and the owner.  We full timers soon found ourselves working part time and at the end we had only two part-timers and the owner.  Throughout the life of the store the owner had eight employees.  Only one (me) was there the entire time.  Also the last employee hired came in at $1 less per hour than the original employees started.  And no benefits.  Unusual?  Not really.  I patronized two quilt shops one of which is still operating.  Both employees only one part time employee in addition to the owner.  When the one shop went out of business two people lost their jobs.  The law firm I worked for for about 18 months consisted of two lawyers (the owner of the firm who worked 3 days a week and another lawyer who worked one day), the head paralegal (married to the owner and working 3 days a week), and 7 paralegals/legal secretaries who all worked between 8 and 32 hours per week.  At the time I was let go the number of paralegals was down to 4 working 32 hours/week.  I think the owner has since retired meaning that all of the remaining jobs disappeared.  So between these four small businesses we are talking about 19 jobs of which only two still exist today.  Actually the point is reinforced by the Department of Labor's use of birth/death statistics (assumptions) when calculating the latest unemployment rate.  They assume that the number of new start-ups equals the number of failures and that the number of jobs between the two balances also.  These assumptions maybe very far off which is why so often the labor statistics are vastly different when the revisions come in a month or two later.

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