Category Archives: Economics

Would You Save the Drowning Child? The GOP on Tax Cuts and Health Care.

The first thing you learn in law school is that you make a lot more money defending the rich than you do defending the poor. This is the Republican Politicians approach to government. They know that if they cut the taxes of the rich, their donor class will reward them handsomely for it. This is how people like Mitch McConnel and Paul Ryan have become millionaires on a government salary.

Peter Singer sketches a moral lesson in a parable: The Parable of the Drowning Child.

Let’s say that you were walking past a muddy pool of water, wearing a brand new $2000 suit. You saw a child drowning in the pool, and you didn’t have time to take off your suit in order to jump in and save her. The dilemma is this: you ruin your suit and save the child’s life, or you save the child’s life and it costs you a brand-new suit. Would you save the drowning child?

Most of us would. Millionaires would not. And this is the Republican politicians approach to government, as opposed to the Democrats. (I want everyone to keep in mind that I make a distinction between Republican politicians and Republican voters—because I think that most of the voters have been duped). Everything that Republican politicians do in Washington is meant to take from the poor and give to the rich.

Democrats are trying to ‘save the drowning child’—Republicans are out ‘buying new suits’.

And their latest attempt at repealing Obamacare smuggled into their tax cut for the rich, proves this to be true. Even though this attempt at cutting taxes for the rich, while cutting health care for the poor will still add to the government debt, they are trying to make it palatable to some of their politicians. While they hope to fool enough of us into believing that those tax cuts for the rich are actually good for the rest of us. Trickle-down economics: will we get fooled again?

Don the Con ran for president on a nationalistic working-class platform. Even though he has never shown anything but disdain for the working-class his whole life, a great many of the working-class helped put him in office (given the undemocratic Electoral College). Since he has taken office, he has not even proposed one thing to help the working-class. But what he is most excited about is the new tax cut proposal. So his is daughter.

Ivanka the Con, who was going to campaign for women’s rights (yea right!) is now out campaigning for these tax cuts. Why? it is simple—it will make her millions of dollars, given the repeal of the Estate Tax. This tax only affects the richest of the rich, and there are a few billionaire families pushing their minion Republican politicians in Washington to ensure that it gets done—by any means necessary. The two main tax cuts in this new GOP bill: the estate tax and the corporate tax. How will this help working families? It won’t. But they will say that it will. Who does this bill hurt? People on Medicaid, Medicare, and anyone else who needs a little assistance to afford health care.

How many more ‘drowning children’ is it going to take before the Republican Voters admit that they have been conned?

Three Reasons Why The Republican Tax Plan is a Hoax

 

Republicans are at it again. More accurately, they have never stopped. The hoax was first perpetrated on the middle class in the 1980s. We were told that if we let the Republicans cut taxes on the ‘job creators’ (the Rich) that this would make us all better off. It never happened. If you look at the data since 1980 all that has happened is that inequality has grown exponentially, and so has the national debt. Those are the facts.

 

 

And yet, they have regurgitated these old arguments in new language. Corporations are making record profits, and still we are told that if we cut corporate tax from 35 to 20% they will create jobs. Why are they not creating them now? Again, they have record profits. The reason we don’t have more economic growth in this country is that the middle class and working poor don’t have enough discretionary spending power. Seventy percent of the American economy is based on consumer spending. If we don’t have enough money left over at the end of the month, from paying rent, bills, food, and health care then we cannot afford to grow the economy.

The Republicans will tell you that their tax ‘reform’ package will generate growth. And that it will save the average family $1000 a year—we are too smart for this. The word “average” means that if I cut taxes on ten percent of the people by $10,000 and the rest by zero—then the average is $1000 per person.

There is one more reason why this whole plan is a hoax, and it goes all the way back to Reagan. In the 1980s they cut everyone’s taxes. But then bit-by-bit they raised taxes back on the middle class, but taxes on the wealthy never went back up to where they were.

The reason why Trump loves this tax cut bill is that it will eliminate estate taxes. It will also eliminate the Alternative Minimum Tax, both of which only affect the richest one-percent.  Billionaires will profit greatly from this tax cut and the middle class and working poor will get screwed once again. The ironic tragedy in all of this is that the working-class Trump supporters will support this bill simply because Trump supports it. They will get screwed, but so will a great many other people.

The Small Business Association* doesn’t support this bill because it really does nothing for small businesses. But the Republicans will push it through with their “small business” battle cry. Once again, their rhetoric doesn’t match the reality.

And the Republicans who screamed about the national debt during the Obama administration? They are ominously silent. They only care about the debt when it is helping the poor. When it comes to cutting taxes for the rich, to hell with the debt–blame the Democrats.

How to fight back against this? The same way we fought back against the repeal of the Affordable Care Act—bring demonstrators into the Capitol and shame enough Senators into backing off. Flood your Congressman and Senator with calls and letters. Resist.

What Kind of a F#&*ing Person Does This?!

 

Donald Trump has threatened to pull out of the Puerto Rico recovery effort. He has also signed legislation to completely undermine The Affordable Care Act (AKA Obamacare). At the same time, he is threatening North Korea, and is going to decertify the Iran Nuclear Deal.

To say that Trump is unhinged would be an understatement.

On Tuesday night, General Barry McCaffrey told Brian Williams that he thinks we are headed unavoidably toward war with North Korea. Yesterday Nicholas Kristof, who just returned from North Korea thinks that they, too, are gearing up for an inevitable war with the United States. How can ‘cooler heads’ prevail when the biggest hot-head is in the Oval Office? For years, we have had a stand-off with North Korea. But we have had presidents, of both parties, who understood that we must remain calm. Trump could start a nuclear war with the same emotional storm in which he starts his Twitter-tantrums.

This is a man who is willing to hold 800,000 young people hostage (the DACA program) in order to build his “wall”—which even Republicans know is a cost-benefit disaster.

Everything about Trump can be understood as “undo everything that Obama accomplished”. Obama wanted better health care for millions—undo that. Obama wanted a nuclear treaty with Iran—undo that. Obama is a humanitarian—Trump is the opposite. Obama wanted peace…this is getting scary. From clean energy, environmental protection, affordable health care, treaties with other countries… Trump will do the opposite. We can use child psychology to understand Trump, but we cannot control him. He is unhinged and is leading us inevitably toward war, and even some in his own party now recognize this.

He has done nothing about the opioid crisis, except to appoint Invisible Jared to head up something (nobody knows). This has gone nowhere while America is in a drug crisis manufactured by our own pharmaceutical companies.

What, if anything, is it going to take for his supporters to admit that they have been conned?  His tax plan focuses on the Estate Tax, which benefits him and his billionaire friends. He has not even proposed an infrastructure plan, except as a surreptitious tax-cut for corporations which will supposedly ‘stimulate’ private spending.

He, and his minion Betsy DeVos, are trying to destroy public education. But for his Chief Strategize Steve Bannon, who now works for him outside the White House, even this isn’t far enough. Bannon wants to destroy even more, threatening to push the Republican Party even further to the right.

If America is lucky we will avoid a disaster for the next 18 months. But if the Democrats don’t get their shit together and turn out the vote, if we cannot take back the House and Senate in next year’s election, then we are going to pay the price for decades.

Democrats have one main job for the next year—get out the vote!

Three Arguments for Open Borders: Part III – Impartial Rights

What if you didn’t get to choose your parents? Well, I guess you didn’t. But, who you are born to will greatly dictate your life. Such luck seems incredibly unjust.

Lottery

We have already explored two other arguments for open borders (the greatest good for the greatest number and libertarianism). We are now at our final argument – the argument from impartial rights. I ask for your patience; this one is a bit complex, but I believe it to be by far the most important, powerful, and profound.

John Rawls thought we should think of society as a group of people who want to cooperate for mutual advantage. To ask what justice requires is to ask what sort of hypothetical contract would free and equal persons agree to as the terms of cooperation. This is our tool for figuring out what justice demands.

But contracts are apt to be unfair in favoring one of the parties because of either ignorance or a superior bargaining position. That is why, when asking what contract we would agree to, we should imagine ourselves behind the “veil of ignorance.”

Behind this veil, we do not know who we will be in the hypothetical society – so we don’t know our race, wealth, health, intelligence, religion, gender, age, etc. We could be anyone in the society we create.

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Three Arguments for Open Borders: Part I – The Greatest Good for the Greatest Number

Whatever you think about the current immigration debate, you have likely never questioned our country’s right to dictate who can, and cannot enter our borders. But, what if we are all wrong about that?

Undocumented border crossing.

This is the first part of a series of blogs concerning arguments for open borders. However crazy this sounds, I will give three separate arguments for open borders, each from a very different ethical perspective – the greatest good for the greatest number, libertarianism, and from the perspective of impartial rights – which should cover most of my readers.

These arguments were originally conceived by Joseph Carens, in his groundbreaking paper, “Aliens and Citizens: The Case for Open Borders.” All I will do is reformulate and simplify his arguments in order to call into question one basic assumption we all share – countries have a right to prevent people from crossing their borders.

This first argument concerns utilitarianism. This is the ethic of bringing about the greatest good for the greatest number of people. The idea is that we should pursue policies that provide for the greatest overall level of well-being for everyone affected by the policies.

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The Hidden War on Public Education

We must not turn our backs on public education – it must not become a for-profit business.

Marco Rubio

In a recent opinion piece, Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) championed a Florida program that provides tax dollars for low-income children to go to private schools. Such programs, in which the government gives people a “voucher” that they can use to pay tuition at a private school, have become a popular talking point, especially among libertarians.

However, such voucher programs are fundamentally flawed in that they miss the point of the problem. Supporters argue that children in low-income neighborhoods are forced into schools that cannot offer them a good education. This is assuredly true. Their solution is that we must get our kids out of these schools, and into the capable hands of private institutions. This, though, is the wrong conclusion.

Imagine that one of the walls of your house has fallen in. Your house is really no longer doing its full job as a house. Sure, it keeps the rain off of your head, but it lets in bugs and wind, and a big hole is of little deterrence to would-be burglars. So, what should you do about your broken house? Fix the wall, obviously. What you do not do is buy a new house.

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