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      As many have heard, John Tory, the mainstream right wing candidate, won convincingly in Toronto and Olivia Chow came in third place, even doing worse than Doug Ford (brother of the famous crack-smoking Rob Ford.)  Much hand wringing has ensued that progressive just can’t win elections in Toronto. While it’s true that Toronto is hard [...]
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Working people are the Job Creators

In the last couple of days, I have been very disappointed in the decline of our collective American IQ.  There have been new and former commenters who actually believe that Republican shit about the Job Creators.

Of course, the right leaning voters aren’t the only ones who have lost their ability to think critically.  There are plenty of people on the left who have developed latent idiocy.  They’re the ones who are running around screaming how narcissistic, ruthless and incompetent Obama is while at the same time screaming even louder that Bill Clinton is worse even while they admit that most Americans did better under his administration and still think very highly of him.  Oh, and they tend to ignore all of the evidence that says that Obama is waaaaaay to the right of Clinton on just about everything.  So, you know, perspective and all that.

But back to the right leaners who seem to think that the regular people, such as themselves, are not worthy.  I don’t know why they feel they are not worthy.  Maybe it has something to do with them being a tad more religious and believing in original sin or something equally 4th century. Jesus certainly never thought that average working people were not worthy.  But whatever.  For some reason, they seem to be primed to accept that working people are not as good as people who have scads of wealth.

Let’s just put aside the fact that you don’t need to be fabulously wealthy to be successful.  And you don’t necessarily  get rich from working hard.  Sometimes, contentment is enough.  As long as you have  a relatively nice place to live, food to eat, can pay all your bills and can save for the future, you’re doing ok and life is pretty damn good.  That is independent of wealth.  I have theory called it “niche theory” but I won’t go into it here.

Anyway, leaving aside the philosophical aspect, there is a straightforward reason why the real job creators are average working people.  And when I say working people, I mean anyone not living on their investments.  That means drop outs to professionals. I’m not an economist and I’ve only taken a couple of econ courses but none of this is over your head.  It’s all common sense.   Here’s how it works: you get money from work or a benefit that you worked for.  With that money, you can buy things.  And the more things you can buy, the more things need to be created for you to buy.  And the more need for things to be created, in either goods or services, the more people need to be hired to create those goods and services.

Note that all this depends on there being money priming the pump.  There must be a release of money into the system that gets the whole ball rolling.  That money can come from either the private or public sector.  There is no good or bad money.  Public sector money is just as virtuous as private sector money in priming the pump.  The money goes into the hands of working people and those working people pass that money into the hands of other working people.

Let me stop here and say a few words about the Government.  Wealthy people make The Government sound like some big, unresponsive, evil thing.  But the government is whoever you elected to office.  They’re supposed to spend money in the way that YOU direct them to.  So, if you elect a lot of people who want to spend money in Iraq and Afghanistan, that’s what they’ll do.  If you elect people who want to give all our disposable tax money to bankers who wrecked the economy, that’s what they’ll do.  If you don’t want the treasury to run out of money to fund highways, schools, high speed internet infrastructure and all of the other stuff that makes this country a potentially nice place to live, stop voting for the people who are giving away your tax money to other wealthy people.  It’s YOUR government and you have a right to say what things are important to you to fund.  If Government is not working for you, get rid of the people who aren’t listening to what you want.  We don’t have to live in a banana republic.

Our little Depression is in part being caused by the lack of money in the system going to working people.  Without money, there can be no demand for goods and services.  So, when you see the term “lack of demand”, that’s what it means.  People ain’t got no jobs, people ain’t got no money.  Giving people jobs and money will put money back into the system and will help generate demand.  It has nothing to do with how hard you are working.  You can work very hard for no money at all.  Lots of people do that as interns and volunteers.  They do it so their skills don’t rot while they’re waiting for the job market to improve. But working hard for no money tends to not help the economy.

Last week, Paul Krugman brought up obsolescence as another source of demand.  When your car breaks down and you can’t get to work, somehow, you will find some money, somewhere, god knows how at this point, to buy another one.  So, at some point, Americans will have to go back into debt to buy new things and that will stimulate demand and hopefully trigger more hiring.

Now, the people in the private sector would have you believe that they’re the only ones who can release the money.  This is not true.  It is true that they are sitting on obscene wads of cash but in my humble opinion, they are creating an artificial scarcity.  The money is there, they just don’t want you to have it.  That’s why they are laying off so many people, in some cases to the detriment of their own industries.  They have an agenda.  Their agenda is to make working people cry uncle and give up something important, like social security or medicare.  But those are benefits that working people worked hard for and I don’t think we should yield one nanometer.  To do so would allow the wealthy to commit fraud.  Back in the 80’s, we were told to pay extra in payroll taxes in order to retire comfortably. And then the wealthy borrowed from our trust fund to pay for their tax breaks.  Now, the time has come to pay the piper and they don’t want to give up their tax breaks to pay us back.  That’s what this is all about.  So, they’re going to make us feel unworthy of our own money in order for them to keep what they borrowed.

But there’s more to it than that.  Many of us younger working people got shorted on pensions and were forced to put most of our savings into 401Ks.  That gives the wealthy financial sector interest free loans that they can use to gamble at the global casino. Average working people get a small percentage of the winnings and bear all of the risk if the bets don’t pan out. The brokers and bankers take a huge cut and pay themselves handsomely with bonuses. Not only can they gamble with our money without restraint, anyone under the age of 59.5 years old can’t remove that money from their 401Ks without paying a steep penalty- the 10% excise tax.  That excise tax is on top of regular income taxes. If you make your living off of your capital gains, you pay a measly 15%.  If you’re an average working person and you want to use your 401K to start your own business, you could end up paying more than 40% on the money you withdraw.  Sure, it’s meant to discourage you from removing your money before retirement but if you haven’t got a job or prospect of one, this is a cruel and pointless tax.  Unless you are a broker, in which case, it’s a good thing that people can’t take their money out of the casino without a huge penalty.  More for you to play with.

So, the money that might have been used to fuel a recovery, for example having working people start their own businesses, is tied up in the stock market.  Working people *could* remove that money at any time and recirculate that money into the economy but the tax is so onerous that most people won’t do it until they’re desperate.  That’s a shame.  If I were the Democrats, I’d remove the excise tax on regular working people and let some of that money get released.  Yes, some people will have less to retire on but since the economy is going nowhere, the chances are good that they’re going to have to tap those funds at some point just to survive and pay their bills. Might as well use that money to make money and your own work. There are exemptions from the excise tax but they are too tight and serve no useful purpose at this point.  We need economic stimulus and as long as the government is not making the wealthy get off their asses to release the money they’re sitting on, we should have access to our own funds to do it.

Government stimulus is the other thing that would have a multiplier effect.  That can come in many forms, such as unemployment insurance and public sector jobs.  The more teachers, firemen, police officers, librarians, etc, who are able to buy goods and services, the more goods and services will be needed and the more people will be hired to fulfill those needs.  If you strangle public sector jobs, there will be fewer people demanding goods and services and the economy will stall.  The more the economy stalls, the less tax revenue the government is able to collect and the more the tax burden falls on the remaining working people who are still working or have money.

These are not terribly difficult concepts to understand but for some reason, a greater proportion of right leaning voters fail to understand them. They tend to listen to authority figures and not question them.  Apparently, wealth gives you more authority than being an average working person.  The right leaning voter should sit and think about why they think so little of their own capacity for knowing what is good for them.

The bottom line is YOU are the job creators, not some rich person who is playing a game of economic chicken.  At some point, those rich people will have to release the money they’re sitting on in order to not permanently damage their own ability to sell goods and services to regular working people.  We’re getting pretty close to that point.  But many of them are not thinking clearly.  They’re just in a selfish, greedy frenzy.  They’re going to take all they can because there is nothing to stop them.  And they’ve been very successful at screaming “TAXES!” to frighten right leaning voters to vote for their chosen mouthpieces and politicians.

Like I said, this is not terribly difficult to understand, so I can only guess that there is something that is preventing average right leaning Americans from understanding it.  I blame cable news.  ANY cable news.  And radio, especially talk radio.  And Facebook.  I wouldn’t use it.  I think those three things have a tendency to make people stupid because the wealthy are very good at using those outlets to spread deceptive messages.  They use your friends to spread them on Facebook.  Well, it all sounds so reasonable and who likes taxes?  But if you believe them, you’re only going to make the conditions for economic recovery that much more difficult to achieve.  That’s what they want.  They are using you to put pressure on the system so working people give up what they have worked so hard for.

Deep down inside, you know there is something wrong but you can’t put your finger on it and you’re just frustrated and angry.  That’s just where they want you.  They want you to take it out on other working people.  If you do that, they win.  Because they are not the job creators, they are the economy destroyers and your future masters.

They are not nice people.  They’ve already destroyed the economy once and they’ll do it again until you stop them.  Why would you want to be like them?  They are greedy, selfish, cruel.  they lie, they are careless.  They don’t care about you and they certainly don’t want you in their club.  They take great delight in making you turn on other working people, people who are more deserving of your respect.  They know that when people are under stress, they’ll take short term solutions to relieve that stress and they know how to make you turn on your friends and family.

That’s what’s going on here.  If you buy into it, you’re making it easy for them to screw you and everyone you know.  So, drop the “commie!” bullshit. It’s meaningless and shows a profound lack of understanding about communism or socialism. That doesn’t mean you have to vote for Obama.  Just wake the f^&* up and realize what’s going on here.  The more you listen to the bad guys, the longer this economic recovery is going to take.

President is “Pissy”, film at eleven

The Washington Post has an article about how Democratic activists have found Obama to be an unsympathetic, whining, “Well, what do you want ME to do about it?” useless, all-about-him president when they go to him with problems.

To say this portrait of the president is unflattering would be an understatement.  I hate to blame the victims but you should have seen this coming for all of the reasons we have tried to point out in the past four years.  Still, some of the examples of interactions with Obama have been downright pitiless. Take this exchange that Obama has had with immigration activists who have been alarmed by the step-up of deportations under Obama:

Bhargava, 43, an Indian American who came to the United States as a child, had spent much of 2008 registering minority voters. The rise of a fellow community organizer, a black man, delivered to office on the shoulders of a new ethnic coalition, “hit me on so many levels,” Bhargava would later recall.

So it was an uncomfortable moment when Bhargava looked in Obama’s eyes and told him that he was presiding over a “moral catastrophe” in immigrant communities. He asked Obama to use executive powers to stop many deportations, said it was time to “lean in” on revamping the country’s immigration system and listed a number of Republican senators he should lobby.

The president grew visibly frustrated as each successive advocate spoke. He said that the advocates, too, should be pressing Republican lawmakers, that he sympathized with their concerns but that he did not have the legal authority to stop deportations.

Tensions mounted when Obama argued that his administration’s policy was to focus on deporting criminals and others deemed to be security threats.

“No, Mr. President, that’s not what’s happening,” interjected Angelica Salas, the head of the Los Angeles-based Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights. She was seated directly across the table from Obama and leaned toward him as she spoke, her hands trembling and her voice rising. “You’re deporting heads of households, mothers and fathers.” She said that “young people are sitting in detention centers when they should be sitting in the best universities in the country,” according to meeting participants.

Obama looked taken aback by the direct confrontation from Salas and then turned to aides seated against the wall, according to several participants. The aides affirmed that, yes, criminals were the priority.

Turning back to Salas, Obama asked: “What do you want me to do, not enforce the law?” He explained that he could not just ignore laws he didn’t like.

The president spoke sternly. Several participants described him as defensive. One person said that, at times, Obama was “pissy.”

How about working to *change* the law so that it didn’t rip families apart, impoverish children and turn them into vulnerable international orphans? Just a suggestion.

The funny thing is that this article highlights his interactions with immigration and gay rights activists.  It says nothing about women’s groups, which makes me wonder if they were even able to get a meeting or were so discouraged that they didn’t even try.  Isn’t it weird how in this year on the “War on Women” that womens’ advocacy groups are so invisible?  I’m telling you, it’s downright creepy.

There is a danger for the party to look like it’s tied too closely with special interest groups but working people, who the White House blew off earlier this week, and women, who it has always blown off, are NOT special interest groups.  The debacle in Wisconsin is particularly striking.  The White House, in fear of looking like it was sitting next to the dweebs at the loser lunch table, left labor to twist in the wind.  The worst thing that Obama did with respect to Wisconsin wasn’t that he avoided the state.  It was that he made no attempt to argue in any speech to the state or the nation about how important it was to the future of the country, economy and all working people that labor was respected, protected and championed.  There is a very good argument to be made there and Obama did not make it. Bill Clinton, who went to Wisconsin, had to do this.  The 99% need to remember this because the differences between how the two presidents stand up for labor couldn’t be more illuminating.

But that doesn’t mean that the president isn’t passionate about things:

The Barack Obama who spars with liberals in private seems far different from the man most Americans have come to know for his even-keeled, cerebral presence. He drops the formalities of his position and the familiar rhetoric of his speeches, revealing a president willing to speak personally and candidly to his allies, and also one who can be thin-skinned, irritable, even sarcastic and hectoring if his motives or tactics are questioned. He talks about his own ethnicity, his immigrant roots, his political high wire as a black president with a Muslim middle name — and then seems surprised when advocates who took deep inspiration from his election nevertheless question his commitment to their causes.

Awwww, the poor man.  It’s really hard to be half African America son of an immigrant with a funny middle name who is the most powerful person of the free world. He gets picked on. These activists, it’s all about them.  They have no idea how hard it is to be Obama.  First he campaigns as the first post-racial, post-partisan president and then people put unrealistic expectations on him to actually live up to his soaring, aspirational campaign rhetoric.

I think the people spoke in 2008.  They were willing to give Obama a chance to rise above his humble means, his prep school background and Harvard pedigree, and lead and they were willing to do this because he ran as the Democrat and once upon a time, that meant something.  Now, it seems like he didn’t really mean any of what he said.  Either that or he’s not really all that into you, activists, and he’s falling back on being the aggrieved party to get you to back off.  And if that doesn’t work, he’ll just be mean and pissy, reverting back to his “Can I just eat my waffles?!?” personality that was conveniently overlooked in 2008 by the very same groups he captured.

This is not a new Obama, it’s the same guy.  But the smoke has cleared now.  He got away with sidelining the activists in 2008 and now in 2012, they’re frustrated.  Well, no one held him accountable before the 2008 election or asked him to show them his policies.  He didn’t need policies back then because anyone who questioned Obama’s readiness, commitment or preparation was automatically bludgeoned with the “racists!” sledgehammer. They were all supposed to “Hang on a second, sweetie.” while he schmoozed them.

Of course, it isn’t too late to hold him accountable before he gets the nomination in September.  He’s not the only game in town and there are real politicians out there with actual policy plans that would make suitable substitutes.  The question is, do the various factions of the Democratic party have the courage to demand satisfaction?

You can’t complain later if he blows you off next year if you do nothing this year.  And you can’t complain if he gets booted out of office because the general public is disgusted with the excuses while their lives are being ruined.

No one is forcing him to take four more years of abuse and name calling. If he really doesn’t want to deal with those people, ie his base, he can always join the speech circuit, or become the new CEO of Pfizer and hasten its demise. There are options. He shouldn’t worry about disappointing us if he decides not to stick it out and yields the spot to a better Democrat. We’ll understand.

The infamous “sweetie” clip looks completely different to the party activists this year, doesn’t it?

On Wisconsin!

I’ve been following the recall election news from Wisconsin all day and from the looks of it, turnout is very high and it looks like it will be a squeaker between Scott Walker and his Democratic challenger Tom Barrett.  Turnout is estimated at 119% in Madison.  That number only looks strange because it is a relative number compared to the last election.  Wisconsin allows for same day registration so the number of first time voters is up.

[There seem to be an awful lot of people on twitter who are confused about the math when the turnout is reported to be above 100%.  So here's how it works: Take the number of voters who turned out for the last election.  That's your baseline.  If you get less than that number this year, you have less than 100% of the last voter turnout.  This happens a lot, especially in off year elections.  It's not unusual for your some of your registered voters to stay home.  If you get more voters, you get more than 100% of the last voter turnout.  In Wisconsin, it is possible to register to vote on the same day as the election.  Since this is a very high profile election, there are a greater number of voters coming out to vote so the number exceeds the turnout of last time.  It only sounds strange because the numbers are not absolute and they are not absolute because there is no hard count of voters by registration rolls when same day registration is permitted.  I assume that the new voter had to fill out a voter's registration card and they will be vetted later. The number exceeding 100% doesn't necessarily mean there were out of state voters or dead people.]

Update: Bernie Sanders weighs in on what a Walker win would mean to the rest of the country:

I love this headline from Andy Borowitz: Canada Bracing for Massive Influx of Wisconsin Boat People.

Charles Pierce is on the ground in Wisconsin and writes his usual witty, pithy, brilliant first hand account in Scenes from a Recall (I hate him for that).

The accusations from both sides are flying thick and fast.  The hallucinating nutcases at Fox are saying that Barrett is busing in people from Detroit to vote.  The voters have been reporting misleading robocalls that assure them that if they signed a recall petition, they need not trouble their pretty little heads about voting today.

Then there are the excuses and rationale that are coming from Obama friendly sources.  Rumor has it that he didn’t campaign in Wisconsin for Barrett because he thought Walker would win and he didn’t want to be seen standing next to a loser.  That’s a bit of a self fulfilling prophecy if ever I heard one.  Once again, it’s all about Obama.  Nevermind that there are public service workers and regular working people and women who may suffer the consequences if Walker wins.  What’s most important is maintaining Obama’s image.

The new spin from press secretary Jay Carney is that Wisconsin won’t be very  predictive of Obama’s chances in November at all.  I disagree.  Let’s look at the possible scenarios:

1.) Walker wins big.  This is bad news for working people.  It also proves that with a lot of money, you can buy a lot of megaphone volume to spew lies out to the public.  It would set a really bad precedent.  Republicans would gleefully pull out all of the stops.  Obama’s carefully manicured image would be in danger, especially if he economy gets worse.

2.) Walker wins small. If it’s really tight or if there’s a recount and Walker squeaks by, we’ll always wonder if Obama’s active presence and support would have been enough to change the outcome.  I think we’ll hear a lot of criticism from Wisconsin if that happens.  And if they’ve fought this hard and lost the war anyway, what would be the point of showing up in November?

3.) Barrett wins small. This would be a great outcome for Wisconsin and working people everywhere.  But it’s hard to see how Obama benefits from a win when he has scrupulously avoided any association with the campaign.  His tepid endorsement after Barrett won the primary and his single motivating tweet on the Wisconsin election this morning just goes to show how little influence he had on the outcome.  On the other hand, Barrett is going to owe Bill Clinton.

4.) Barrett wins big. In this scenario, the sentiment is that working people are pissed and won’t be shoved to one side while the Republicans swagger all over them and the Democrats go out of their way to court the snippy suburbanites who have stay at home moms like Michelle Obama and don’t hang around with working people if they can help it.  The party may have to start paying attention to working people and unions, something they’ve been avoiding for the past 4 years.  Hmmm, how do they start to look sincere this late in the game…?  Or the party could continue on it’s single minded quest for complete control of the message and just ignore Wisconsin.  In neither case do I get the impression that Obama will motivate the base to vote for him in November.  In fact, working people might just start feeling their Cheerios and start issuing demands.

Are there any other scenarios that would favor Obama?  I don’t see them but I might be suffering from a failure to imaginate.  It just seems to me that the Obama campaign kind of let Wisconsin down here.  Sure, Debbie Wasserman Shultz says the DNC and Obama’s campaign org in Wisconsin helped out but one gets the impression from the candidate himself that he was dragged into it very reluctantly.  And against this much cash pouring into Walker’s campaign, boots on the ground and a serious, DNC GOTV effort was more than justified.

Does Obama even realize that working people are his base or is he still buying into that crazy ass stuff that Donna Brazile was peddling in 2008 when she said they were the “old coalition” and the Democratic party didn’t need them anymore?  Because I have news for the party. The suburbs aren’t doing so well these days either.  There are just as many of us out of work and much, much poorer than we used to be.  And as we move from being wage slaves with company benefits to involuntary entrepreneurs, footing the bill for everything ourselves, the conservative message starts sounding a lot less painful.  Not everyone has the interest to become a political junky and tease out fact from fiction, cause from effect like we do.  I wouldn’t get to comfortable if I were the DNC.  Or Obama.

Maybe he should have gone to Madison.  Some things are just worth the risk.

Whoa! Go Lansing, Michigan!

Virgil Bernero is his name and he is amazing.  He’s the Mayor of Lansing, Michigan.   Listen to him stick up for the working class.  It’s about time someone went on TV and said enough is enough.  Sacrifices need to come from the people who are responsible.  It is time to look up the food chain instead of down for the culprits.

(H/T Sarah at Corrente for the video)

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