Friday October 23 2009

bernie imagesHour One: "Brunch With Bernie" Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) spends the hour with Thom discussing the issues and answering listener questions


Mark (not verified) 13 years 23 weeks ago

Saying so doesn’t necessarily make it so, but all of the tax rate statistics Thom threw at Matt Welch does have some sort of point. Welch repeats the hollow shibboleth that the principle motivation of people in a capitalist society is to get rich, and without these visions of great wealth they will cannot be productive—and this motivation will wane if they must pay a higher percentage of their income in taxes. That still leaves the question of does this desire for wealth create jobs and drive the economy.

That may have been true during the peak of the industrial revolution when making things could make people rich beyond all reason. But today, many people want to make lots of money now, they can’t wait. Instead of investing in companies that make things, they spend it on lottery tickets, or phony get-rich-quick real estate schemes. Business graduates would rather play the Wall Street gambling casino that get rich the “old fashioned way.”

Then there is the question of the rich investing their excess in ways that are driving the economy forward. The average Joe or Jane who do so may be investing whatever cash they have available in “safe” companies like Microsoft or IBM; the rich, however, are more often to be found investing in tax exempt bonds, hedge funds, real estate, private equity, private endowments, art work, gold, and if they are feeling particularly generous, start-up companies that for most people seem high risk, since they don’t have access to the “inside” information the rich have. Most of these investments have nothing to do with the potential for job creation, and that could not be more obvious during this period of time when federal bail-out money is failing to do what it was intended to do—help banks help people, instead “helping” the rich stay rich.

Because so many people are out of work, and the spending power of the dollar decreases by the year, the average person cannot be counted on to drive the economy. But if at the same the rich are getting richer, shouldn’t they be expected to pick up the consumer demand slack, if they can buy so much more than you me, let alone the people thrown out of work to subsidized their so-called earnings? Well, that’s just plain silly; they cannot buy ALL the new cars, refrigerators and shoes that the under-paid or jobless do not have the ability to buy.

But does taxing the rich have a positive effective on the economy? It might, in a way people might at first look askance at. While increased taxes help the government stay solvent by paying for needed public services without going excessively into debt, Congressional pork projects also help the economy. Pork may have a bad reputation because people have this idea that it is wasteful (and no doubt some of it is), but most of these projects create work and jobs; more tax income, more pork, more jobs. What’s not to like about that? Isn’t the stimulus package just one big pork project?

mstaggerlee (not verified) 13 years 22 weeks ago

Re: Yesterday's discussion on Taxes as Punishment

The governor of my own home state apparently disagrees with me. If not actual punishment, it's clear that he (and many others, as I consider the issue further) DO think of taxes as a tool for "social engineering" - i. e., negative feedback for consumption of potentially harmful products.

Mr. Patterson has re-introduced the soda tax bill to NY's congress, proposing an additional sales tax on hi-calorie soft drinks. Add this to added taxes on tobacco products ans alcoholic beverages, and a pattern does emerge.

Of course, with the economy in its current state of "recovery" (so long as you're well on your way to becoming a billionaire) State governments are scrambling for any income stream they can find. So, maybe this is more about grasping at straws than about social engineering.

B Roll (not verified) 13 years 22 weeks ago

P.S.: There are around 52 Blue Dog Dems in the house and a number of Senators who would be the equivalent of Blue Dogs in the Senate.

Food Fascist (not verified) 13 years 22 weeks ago

Geeze- Victoria sounds like such a bitch! today- yikes!

The Scype by the way is crystal clear. I had wanted to compliment on this the other day hearing Ellen's voice finally so clear and wonderful.

I haven't been logging in lately because I am so busy but still listen everyday and getting quite politically active. AND after you announced you have 30 million households on Free speech, I figured I could take a break. Also- am learning that Facebook is really an essential and spend more time there. I just joined your Thom Hartmann listeners group now. Had not been sure which group of yours to join, you have so many! Its hard to keep so many windows open during the day, Windows 7 the cure? or just keeping Facebook open.....

Loretta (not verified) 13 years 22 weeks ago

Even though it might be wrong, if I had a ton of money, I would send thousands of yellow roses to President Obama for trying to ban Fox News. As soon as we restore fairer laws to the news industry, then we can stop playing dirty tricks. For goodness sakes-- we are in a street fight with Fox and ordinary rules don't count here, basically because the laws don't actually exist any longer. I love the cunning tactics President Obama isn't afraid to use. He's doing the right thing is so very many ways. He is fighting for the lives of millions of people right now.

"Censorship" complaints from Fox be damned. What a farce they are. But that said, we need to quickly reinstate fairer laws for the news industry. It's very hard on earnest reporters to have their ethics destroyed by corporatists who force hard working journalists to lie or refuse to print stories that the public needs to read.

On a lighter note, the day after Federal agents were told to stop arresting owners of medical marijuana growing operations, I walked from SE Portland to NE Porltand and the streets were filled with the lovely aroma of pot on every other corner. It was hilarious and heartwarming. I don't have the brain chemistry to be able to smoke pot, but I got a little high just walking down the street that night. It was really really cool! We ahve been living in insanity and President Obama is truly chipping away at ignorance to restore some humanity to our country. Fox News can kiss my...

Food Fascist (not verified) 13 years 22 weeks ago

Caller has great idea lol having fun listening to this idea. Photo Fox with the Food Channel and other non news agencies interviewing the Pay Czare.

I also heard same thing as previous caller, that Obama was mad about Beck making Obama's USA commercial into a call for Communism. And this is what started the FOX war.

DDay (not verified) 13 years 22 weeks ago

@ Mark

I really enjoy your thoughtful and well reasoned posts. Today's offering made me think about what has changed in American business over the past 50 years. My perspective is informed by personal experience rather than scholarship. I grew up the son of a "businessman". My father's story serves as an example and baseline for comparison to where we now find ourselves. His story was once fairly typical but now seems outdated. The things that now seem quaint are the things that are most sorely missed today, in my opinion. Broadly speaking, the things about which I'm talking about are values and motivations. In most cases if not all, these things are developed in each of us as we grow up and gain personal experience. Some we learn in our home and some we absorb from our time and communities.

My father's life was marked by several life changing events which colored everything that followed. He was orphaned at the age of 12, the second youngest of six siblings. Five years before losing his mother, his father had suddenly died just weeks before the 1929 crash. He went from living in a three story mansion with maids and a third floor ballroom to living in a garage of a relative. The Depression was a formative experience not only for him but for most everyone who lived through it. World War II was the other shared experience which imprinted the lives of all those who lived through it. His generation had two climactic shared experiences which seems to have resulted in broadly shared traits by the majority of the people. Pulling together and working cooperatively for the good of all was a necessary and ubiquitous value. Shared sacrifice was expected and accepted as nothing terribly special.
Not so very surprisingly, security and stability became my father's primary concerns during the rest of his life. Experience is a stern but effective teacher.
Life and death has a way of focusing priorities.

After the war, my father, now married, finished graduate school with an engineering degree and began his life working his way up the corporate ladder. We moved a lot. By the time I was in High School, he had reached the "top". He was the head of a large company that employed thousands of people. After a time his company was purchased by a much larger multi-national corporation. He became one of several vice presidents there. I began to learn about his new frustrations with work at the nightly dinner table. Dad was what was called a "belt and suspender man", a term for engineers. During the fifties and sixties many if not most companies were led by his type. They knew how to build things and sell things. Dad complained that more and more his fellow executives were MBA's and "bean counters". They didn't know much about building a better mouse trap but rather about moving money around. It angered him that R&D was being short-changed in order to bolster stock prices and earnings. Research & Development for manufacturers was the equivalent to seed corn for a farmer. Short term greed at the expense of a secure future. My dad was becoming "old fashioned" in this new world.

Now days if you listen to any number of cable networks you'll see some young beauty talking about economics and business and you'll hear them state with confidence as fact that a business's sole responsibility is to serve their share holders. I heard a group discussion on CNBC several months ago about companies that operated without ethical lapses or complaints versus those that had histories of repeated violations. Melissa Francis of CNBC stated that she didn't see why that should matter as long as they made money. Her values are pervasive amongst young business types today.

My father had a longer list of responsibilities for business leaders. There is a responsibility first to the owners, second to the employees, third to the community and country, and fourth to the future survival of the business. By his reckoning none should suffer at the hands of the other. All depended on the health of the others. Honesty and integrity were essential to fulfilling the civic duty of being a good corporate citizen. You see, he saw corporations as having a sort of person-hood too. Not because of the rights that could be conflated but rather because of the responsibility to be reliably dependable and answerable to values greater than mere greed. Stewardship to the future was a value he learned at an early age through the shared hardships of Depression and War. Subsequent generations seem to have less shared concerns and less interest in delaying immediate gratification.
Every man for himself! He who dies with the most toys wins! Personal choice, Personal responsibility, Personal freedom, Personal everything! etc. In many ways I am ashamed of my generation and several that have followed. My hope lays at the feet of this newest generation. Hopefully they will revisit some values from the past that we abandoned so carelessly and foolishly. Greed is not good. It may even eventually be deadly. I see signs that they may be motivated by more worthy ideals than just self. I hope so.

Food Fascist (not verified) 13 years 22 weeks ago

Here is another good environmental topic re Water Wars - see the documentary Tapped. We had a special screening last evening and enough of us were angry enough to begin the process of trying to ban bottled water from our coop.

Food Fascist (not verified) 13 years 22 weeks ago

Story in Politico wrong- surprise surprise. And maybe Obama is pretending he is with the Corporatists so that he will go back to them and say - oh sorry folks, wall st. I tried, but the people rose against me.

Loretta (not verified) 13 years 22 weeks ago

I hope you all read Ann Pancake's ---Strange As This Weather Has Been, -- a novel about the effects of coal mining on a family living in Appalachia. She is not heavy-handed with didactic politics but tells you through the moving voices of her four wonderful characters what it's like to live through a terrible flood more than likely caused by coal mining. Ann Pancake grew up there, so she writes with an incredibly authentic voice that has been compared to Faulkner. After you read her novel, you will be writing letters to your congressmen every day to ask them to end mountain-top removal .

DDay (not verified) 13 years 22 weeks ago


Re: Taxes and Punishment

Soda/soft drink tax combined with grasping at straws? Very clever! ( I had to acknowledge it.)

Loretta (not verified) 13 years 22 weeks ago


Thank you for your amazing post about your father who taught you business ethics at the dinner table! You must have grown up with so very many wonderful stories after he lived the life that he did. His ethics resemble the earlier requirements our country had for corporations. I heard Thom speak the other evening on another talk show host's program and he explained that during the civil war period 1500 corporations were given the "death sentence" every year if they weren't working for the good of the people.

I also so agree with you about this generation. At our local university they have a sustainability program, and I often attend lectures there where enthusiastic students are positive, energetic, excited and unstoppable. They refuse to let cynicism or doom and gloom nihilism defeat them. I feel excited and hopeful just sitting amongst them. They often have free lectures from local scientists every Friday at noon.

Food Fascist (not verified) 13 years 22 weeks ago

I got an idea for a pre recorded holiday show for when you are on vacation. Us progressives should be able to adapt Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol to exactly what is going on to today with the US Chamber of Commerce and GOP Senators etc-- Could be fun!

Food Fascist (not verified) 13 years 22 weeks ago


Have you seen Tapped? After that, you for sure will want to tax soda- aside from the diabetic and obesity effects it has- but what it does to the municipal water supplies is also a crime.

DDay (not verified) 13 years 22 weeks ago


Thank you for your thoughtful words. One good thing you can say about my generation, (boomers) half of us tuned in and dropped out....the other half took over business and politics and led us to the at least we demonstrated for the children the ways they didn't want to go. That some generation would finally decide we are a-holes and not to be emulated was inevitable.

mstaggerlee (not verified) 13 years 22 weeks ago

@D-Day -

OUCH! I didn't even catch MY OWN pun! :D

DDay (not verified) 13 years 22 weeks ago

@Food Fascist

Good to see you back here. I missed you. I am afraid I don't understand your question. Tapped? After what? and... how did you know I was obese and diabetic? :-)
p.s. What the hell does soda pop and taxes do to the water supply? :-)
I didn't even take a walk with Loretta and sniff the fragrant air of Portland today. I must be dense. again

DDay (not verified) 13 years 22 weeks ago

I really enjoy you'all. Have a fun and safe weekend.:-) I'm going to either go get tapped or perhaps grokked out in the garage. Either one sounds promising to me. (My shop has cable)

DDay (not verified) 13 years 22 weeks ago

@ Food

Sorry, I misread your post. I thought it asked if I had been Tapped. You said SEEN Tapped. never mind... I'll check it out. BTW I'm weird, I like taxes,,, OK. They are nothing more than the dues we owe to belong to the best of clubs. Fair is fair.

Quark (not verified) 13 years 22 weeks ago

Interesting discussion on public option and opt out on Countdown last night. (Video)

Part 1:

Quark (not verified) 13 years 22 weeks ago

Please listen to the above 3 parts in the REVERSE order (i.e., 3, 2, 1.)

B Roll (not verified) 13 years 22 weeks ago



Quark (not verified) 13 years 22 weeks ago

B Roll,

Please translate (I'll probably slap my forehead in recognition, but I don't know what this means):



mstaggerlee (not verified) 13 years 22 weeks ago

@Quark -

In B Roll's absence, I'll answer for him ...

krauQ is Quark in "REVERSE order".

I'll leave you to translate !KO for yourself. :)

Don't slap yourself too hard.

Have a wonderful weekend, everybody!

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