Taking Care of Our Nation is Not "Free Stuff."
Using our tax dollars to pay for the things our country needs is not giving away “free stuff.” But, that's the line we keep hearing in response to our push to expand social programs.
When we talk about things like free college, expanding Social Security, or expanding Medicare to cover all Americans, the typical Republican reply is that we simply can't afford such big ideas. But, those same people never bat an eyelash when we spend astronomical amounts on war, tax cuts, or corporate welfare.
According to recent article over at USUnCut.com, expanding health care, investing in new public works programs, offering free college at public universities, and enacting paid family leave would cost our nation an estimated one and a half trillion dollars.
But, we could easily pay for such programs by eliminating the big government handouts to Wall Street, Big Oil, defense contractors, and other corporate welfare recipients. And, that doesn't even consider how much the progressive proposals mentioned earlier will stimulate our economy by putting more money in the pockets of Americans who will go out and spend.
Ever since the Reagan presidency, we've been told that government is the problem and that slashing taxes is the solution. Then, the rich and the powerful rigged the system to make sure that government is still large enough to hand out corporate welfare and that taxes only cut for those at the top.
The fact of the matter is that We, The People are the government, and we get to decide how to spend our tax dollars. We can either have a government that supports the billionaires, or we can have a government that works for average Americans.
The only “free stuff” we can't afford is the pile of conservative talking points designed to make us believe that we shouldn't want a government that works for us.
"Free stuff" means our stuff they (one percenters, their wannabes and suck asses) wanna steal. "Can't afford it" means it's the product of OUR labor that THEY wanna put in THEIR OWN pockets.
We work hard in America and we deserve something in return for it, some just compensation. Who decided everything we do has to go to making SOMEBODY ELSE rich while we go without?
Tuition free college is not "free" - it costs full-time students all the hours and energy you can invest!! That's a committment! Once we learn what we are there for, there is no guarantee all those YEARS of effort will add to any monitary wealth -- WTF if that's all you are going to school for is to learn how to be a bigger consumer, stay away. But if you are determined to make this planet a better place for us all, we ought to pay you a stipend during your student years like some countries do -- Grow up, America!
Ronald Reagan is right were he needs to be and all the radical conservatives should join him like cruze,hannity,o'rielly and joe scar,rubio and other repub senators! oh ya trump also.
I think you are absolutely correct, Thom. I've been screaming this for months. I'm glad to see you, with the platform you have, pointing this out. I'll tell you what's more, it occures to me that we have two major political parties in this country, and they are both socialists. One is the Democratic Socialist Party and the other is the Darwinian Socialist Party. I'm a Social Democrat.
Saint Raygun is most likely in Hell where he belongs. He needs company. I say we send all the Regressives straight to Hell.
Excellent words Thom!
"Free stuff" in more advanced countries is considered part of the commons and every citizens right. Those countries actually promote the general welfare of their people. If you add everything up, the average citizen already pays at least as much tax in this country, as do the citizens in the countries with Democratic Socialism. However we get far less in return because half of our revenue goes to the military industrial spy complex in addition to all the revenue drains Thom already pointed out in his blog.
Bernie needs to keep pounding away at what "good government" can really do for citizens.....talk about the things "good government" is already doing in Democratic Socialist countries. We already know what bad government is, one in which the will of the billionaires Trumps the will of the people.
I imagine if everyone actually knew the truth of how screwed we have been since Reagan's overthrow of good government, there would be riots in the streets. The economists certainly know what a screw deal the middle class has been handed the last 30 some years....the ones that are honest about the stats anyway! They must have to drink heavy just to prevent their heads from exploding.
The following is a huge part of the overall issues faced by us all... all over the world
Free stuff, that is predominately private Banks who are given the right by government mandate to create our money supply out of thin air and lend that money to us or to the government at interest, when it would be trivially easy for the government to create the money themselves, no need to borrow off of criminal banks. These Bankster parasites produce nothing but are the richest persons on the planet due to this gift. Talk about free stuff.
FW: Important Political! Fwd: THE SUPERDELEGATE OUTRAGE FW: Important Political! Fwd: THE SUPERDELEGATE OUTRAGE Dr. Joseph Eusterman 7:44 PM To: Dr. Joseph Eusterman All, Most, if not actually all, of you know who Dan Meek is. His history as an Oregon Progressive is unmatched, IMHO. We feel honored to receive his comments below, desperately depressing as the truth can be. I do not fault Bernie for 1 minute for choosing to run as a Democrat. He, by his consistent caucusing record with Democrats makes him more of a REAL New Deal Democrat and Progressive than Hillary could ever hope to be, in spite of her protestations against him. AND, he is NOT bought and paid for. While, from several personal experiences, the Powell Memo legacy, and the Scalia years, I often believe the "Rule of Law" to be a bad joke, we all may have to be prepared to file a class action lawsuit to overturn any stealing of his nomination by the Machivellian machinations of the DNC's establishment "elite". (There was a time when that last would have been a contradiction of terms.) Tell me you legal eagles: is that a viable recourse? Is it time for Elizabeth Warren to declare finally herself---or not yet?
Joseph H. Eusterman, MD; MS(Med); FACOEM; CIME; AME (Ret.)--email: firstname.lastname@example.org;
info: www.madashelldoctors.com; http://www.pnhp.org/facts/single-payer-faq#what-is-single-payer;http://www.pnhp.org/sites/default/files/Funding%20HR%20676_Friedman_7.31.13_proofed.pdf; http://www.HCAO.org
Subject: Re: Important Political! Fwd: THE SUPERDELEGATE OUTRAGE
To: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
Date: Wed, 24 Feb 2016 18:12:43 -0800
You chose to run in the the Democratic Party primaries. You are an independent progressive and have been fighting the big money interests for decades. Because of that, get ready to be screwed.
At the highest level, the Democratic Party is run by its big contributors. It has devised a primary system designed to nominate one of its own, Hillary. Really, you have virtually no chance of getting that nomination.
Here is one reason: 30% of all delegates to the convention are "Superdelegates" not chosen by the voters. They are politicians who have succeeded in the big money, Citizens United/McCutcheon system of campaign finance. So far, 451 of the 712 Superdelegates have announced their support of Hillary. Only 19 support you. So she is getting 96% of the Superdelegates. If that continues, she will amass a total of 683 Superdelegates; you will have 29.
Hillary will then will need only 509 of the 1670 delegates chosen by voters. You will need to win 1163 of those delegates. As of today, each of you has 51 such delegates.
Hillary can secure the nomination by winning only 30% of the voter-chosen delegates. But you have to earn 70% of those delegates. In other words, you can beat Hillary in the primaries and caucuses by better than 2-1 and still lose the nomination.
"Democratic" Party, indeed.
email@example.com fax On 2/24/2016 1:28 PM, Don Baham wrote:Have the Democratic Superdelegates Been Compromised? Please use "Bcc" or "Cc" instead of “To” when including additional addressees in an e-mail.
Peace and Love!
Don Baham Office: 503.626.1048; Cell: 503.318.8270.
To see Dr. Don shows on computer, enter "DonBaham-Youtube" on your browser. -----Original Message-----
From: Dr. Joseph Eusterman <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: Dr. Joseph Eusterman <email@example.com>
Sent: Tue, Feb 23, 2016 9:06 pm
Subject: THE SUPERDELEGATE OUTRAGE
All, Want something to get REALLY ANGRY about? A critically important travesty which WE Bernie supporters MUST CORRECT IMMEDIATELY, if not sooner! A better title here would be: ARE WE BERNIE VOTERS BEING COMPROMISED? Have the Democratic Superdelegates Been Compromised?Feb. 19, 2016 6:42 amBy Thom Hartmann A... 691 41 838
I agree full heartedly with your article. Take into consideration this: with the outrageous interest rates and exorbitant fees we pay to many banking and financial institutions along with their innate disregard for all working class Americans, who are being ripped off by all corporate and big business executives, these fees that make them richer and fatten their pockets could be kicked back to us, their clients. After all, we put them in business and we sustain their livelihood! As a nation, there is more than enough money in this corrupt system to offer our citizens "free" and reasonable services such as school, healthcare and affordable food and housing!
Indeed! Well said! # 11
The whole idea of "socialism" being a bad word actually goes back to the days long before Joe McCarthy and the HUAC days. Legendary adventure writer Jack London wrote about the back breaking experiences he had when he was trying to make a living as he was also trying to submit stories for publication. It's in a book called The Iron Heel. It tells how he worked 12 hour days 6 days a week in a steam laundry, and got so exhausted that on Sundays, when he wanted to do his writing, he was so exhausted he could do little more than sleep and rest up for another week.
By the 1920's or so, Minnesota political hero Floyd B. Olson helped in the LaFollette populist movement, and later, in order to gain political viability, began the Democratic Farmer Labor party, after "sociaiism" was being defined as a bad word by, you guessed it, the GOP. Why should THEY get to define our vocabulary??? That sounds like the NuSpeak of the novel 1984, where everything takes on its opposite meaning! That is simply doubleplus ungood.
Recently, with the death of my older sister and brother, and of the dreams they had, I have had a lot of occasion to wonder, what is this life all about, anyway? Shouldn't this earth be a place where a person can reasonably expect to have an enjoyable life, no matter what kind of life they pursue? Or is this earth just for a few lucky wealthy people to live off the sweat and blood of billions of hapless servant/slaves who have to live struggling lives in poverty and misery? Why can't we all get decent health care? Why do some people think they deserve it when others do not? It beggars the imagination. I remember when it was a lot better, during the mid-20th century. At least for this caucasian.
This is why I am a Bernie supporter, because I don't see any personal characteristics in Hillary that seem to show a lot of compassion for others, or empathy for others. If she were a kind person, she would not be resorting to personal attacks on Bernie that may bring the whole party down to defeat. It's as though she'd rather see the Dems defeated than for Bernie to possibly be the one that wins in November. Why not just let the best candidate win in a fair contest? There are a lot of states yet that haven't voted, and polls themselves are too often used to influence voters toward Hillary.
Or can it be that a sort of gradual coup has taken place since the assassination of JFK, RFK and MLK, and that nobody but billionaires and transnational corporations are going to be allowed to run the USA from now on?
Obviously, their interpretation of free stuff doesn't include campaign contributions, grossly excessive speaking fees, huge amounts of paid time off, medical coverage, generous pensions, first in line for do nothing civilian jobs,, etc.... Mind's going blank.
Below is an email I sent out to various people the other day which is very relevant to this issue. Everyone needs to understand the principles of 'modern monetary theory' (MMT). Money for social necessities doesn not have to come from taxes: the US is now using sovereign fiat currency, and taes are not used to finance expenditures. All the details are in the videos below -- Stephanie Kelton's in particular. These people are well established, associated with University of Missouri, K.C. among other major institutions, and are top experts.
Please, everyone, don't fall for the myths or lies of the neoclassical and right wing money men and politicians, but learn how the economy and national finance actually works. With current unemployment and underutilization there is no valid reason not see to the needs of the country and its citizens.
This links to a series of videos (sessions / speakers) and transcripts. A little old, but still very relevant and not outdated.
Fiscal Sustainability Teach-In and Counter-Conference
April 28th, 2010 by selise
(The rest via Randy Wray's series on debt free money and http://neweconomicperspectives.org/2016/02/value-redemption-debt-free-money-part-3.html
Interesting aside bout fair value of bit coins
(Link to MIT teach-in videos)
Various other links and side trips are interesting, as well as the main MMT site which has various material, but my purpose is to lin to the videos, which are excellent. The speakers also have their blogs and writings worth following.
There is an alternative. Achieving it requires understanding the dynamics at work and distinguishing between earned and unearned income, between productive and unproductive means of gaining wealth. That is the antidote to the neo-rentier power grab.
Right on, Thom! The hell it's "free", using OUR tax dollars for OUR benefit. Gee what a novel concept.
It's not free, of course, taxes pay for it. What emploIyers don't pay in wages they pay in taxes. Their taxes are part of our (working people's) just compensation.
If employers refuse to do either - as they are now - you get what's happening now, the destruction of the middle class and the pauperization of working people.
Excellent commentary, Thom. In fact I posted it on my Facebook page.
@ Mark J. Saulys
Q: Is that tax money that the Fed is spending?
A: Bernanke replied, reflecting a good understanding of what we call central bank operations (the way the Fed interacts with the member banks):
It’s not tax money. The banks have accounts with the Fed, much the same way that you have an account in a commercial bank. So, to lend to a bank, we simply use the computer to mark up the size of the account that they have with the Fed.
Sole manufacturer of dollars
St Louis Federal Reserve:
"As the sole manufacturer of dollars, whose
debt is denominated in dollars, the U.S. government can
never become insolvent, i.e., unable to pay its bills. In this
sense, the government is not dependent on credit markets
to remain operational. Moreover, there will always be a
market for U.S. government debt at home because the U.S.
government has the only means of creating risk-
free dollar-denominated assets..."
It's important to understand this: the money is created from nothing, the same way as points by a scorekeeper at a basketball game, grades from a teacher, or inches on the plans for building a house. Money may or may not have reflect tangible wealth, materials, or labor -- and very now has nothing to do with real, tangible wealth or production -- certainly not under financialization and derivatives. Often money is now made in the private sector not by creating real wealth but by destoying it, or by increasing production but reducing it.
The constraints on government spending is not dollars, but what is available for sale. the effects it might have on competing buyers in the private sector, or demand-pull inflation if the productive capacity of the country gets tapped out (shortage of labor, materials, or production infrastructure -- which is not an issue at this time). The government does not need tax dollars since it is the only source of dollars, not a user of them.
See the videos I linked to above.
I want to recast this from 'spending taxes' into 'using our resources' (such as labor, machines, materials), for war and corporate welfare instead of for the people in the US -- the working class who actually produce the wealth. This talking about the tangible, real economy instead of abstaction of money which is so easily manipulated by the banksters and politicians. Every plane, missile and soldier we pay for could be used to help our working class citizens and rebuild our education, health, and other infrastructure.
And BTW -- if you look at http://mmtincanada.jimdo.com/videos-ppt/videos/ you will links to some of Thom's older shows which delve into this subject of MMT, with the same experts I've linked to above.
Bernie is going to need convention insurance only his supporters can provide by taking the Bernie or bust pledge.
Bluepilgrim, I wasn't talking about the Federal Reserve Bank, I was talking about the Federal budget. The Fed, anyway, should be renationalized.
Bluepilgrim, at some point money represents wealth produced or it would be toilet paper. Printing more money in times of crisis, for this reason, causes inflation.
Mark, money SHOULD represent wealth, but massive financialization has skewed that -- consider the housing derivatives, dotocm, and other bubbles where all the new money represented just speculative accounting.
Creating money does not cause inflation if it is invested in production or things of real value -- then money does represent real wealth. Demand pull inflation won't occur if aggrevate demand is high but production capacity is high too so that supply levels are also high. The rate of inflation is actually pretty low now, and without predictions of higher inflation, and in fact debt deflation is a serious concern now. The horror stories about inflation such as Zimbabwe or Weimar were entirely different situations and applicable. The big inflation I remember in the 70s was cost push from the price of oil, but even that was not catastrophic, and Nixon's price controls did much to limit the effects.
The federal budget is not, and can not be, revenue constrained; we can't run out of money unless the politicans choose to. And the dollar is not backed by real wealth so much now as political and military power, it place as internation reserve currency, and the petro dollar -- and these last two are under attack by other nations (Russia and CHina especially) and will change with the creation of new banking systems and trade currencies. It is that, not inflation, which could collapse the dollar.
Listen, this MMT stuff goes against all the propaganda and narrative we've been subjected to for years, even in the universities and text books, so It takes a bit of time and effort to wrap one's head around it, but MMT is real and sound -- and actually not modern at all. It's taken me a few years and seeing lots of lectures and writings to grasp the fundamentals after so many decades of conditioning (maybe like someone who 'knew' the Sun went around the Earth to realize it's the opposite). It was something like realizing that the US is the 'evil empire' and not the exceptional nation with a shining city on a hill. Check out Steve Keen, and Georgian economics too -- and all you can find from Michael Hudson.
The real problem, economically, is that we spend our resources on wars, and transfer wealth from the working class to the plutoctracy, while the tangible economy is negelected and falls into ruin, and wealth gap rises to incredible levels. If inflation is a wory, then worry about cost push inflation as our productive capacity falls and goods become more expensive from scarcity - the free lunch of cheap labor from the rest of the world won't last forever. But we can hit a situation of both 'relative inflation' and 'deflation' where even with falling prices not enough people will get money to buy things, and they will stop being produced, putting even more people out of work. It will be like a body where the blood stops circulating.
But really -- look at these videos and writings. and think about what they say. and break through the conditioning and myths. Some of this is complicated -- the financiers and banksters have made it over complicated, but it is possible to cut through it if one keeps looking at the real economy, production, and consumption.
Mark, I went looking and found Stephanie Kelton talking about infaltion, and Shiff's myths, on Sam Seder's show
Bluepilgrim, the inflation of the '70s wasn't caused by the price of oil until 1973 when the embargo was effected. There was runaway inflation before that because of higher taxes, the cost of complying with new regulations and collective bargaining agreements were raising the "per unit cost of production" and that increased cost was being passed on to consumers.
From 1967 to 1977 consumer prices doubled across the board. Thus Nixon implemented the "wage-price freeze" in 1970.
The oil embargo was the final push to move manufacturing, first out of the cities, and then out of the United States entirely.
Bernie Sanders doesn't need to pay for his socialist utopia
Taxes, under this logic, aren't really about bringing in revenue — rather, they're just another dial for managing this flow. And it's conceivable that they would never need to balance with spending.
What's funny is that Sanders might be gearing up to make this very argument. His chief economic adviser, University of Missouri-Kansas City economist Stephanie Kelton, is a fan of something called modern monetary theory: a batch of ideas that sketches out a very similar case to the one above.
@ Mark #30
I'm rather weary now so I can't respond properly, but I note that Bill Mitchell http://bilbo.economicoutlook.net/blog/?p=13035
and Dale Pierce http://neweconomicperspectives.org/2013/04/modern-monetary-theory-overvi...
talks about the 1970s inflation or stagflation (and keep in mind the end of the gold statndard in 1971 -- not sure how that affected it). It is a difficult subject, but it's not caused simply by 'too much money', although one might say too much demand for supply available -- with the two having to be linked, or too much money spent in a market in which production does not expand.
"What actually happened in America, after the real but relatively mild inflation of the late 1960s was that the Nixon administration decided to wage an economic war on the rest of the world. It was a war with many fronts – trade terms, exchange rates, and the “gold window”, to name some major ones. There was even a geo-political decision to engage in massive economic co-operation with the communist world – both Russia and China – in large part for the purpose of preserving American leverage over its ostensible allies in non-communist Europe and Asia. Nixon’s trade war, and the rest of America’s economic imperialism since then, has been depicted through yet another thoroughly fictitious narrative as “the adventures of Uncle Sucker”, in which the U.S. was repeatedly bamboozled in trade and currency deals by smaller, weaker nations. In truth, the Nixon administration relentlessly devalued the dollar, imposed arbitrary trade quotas that other countries were coerced into calling “voluntary”. Nixon also proceeded to simply default on America’s tacit gold pledge and let exchange-rate chaos reign. (For a comprehensive account of these events, see Michael Hudson’s “Super-Imperialism“)."
By http://www.federalreservehistory.org/Period/Essay/13 and http://inflationdata.com/Inflation/Inflation_Rate/HistoricalInflation.aspx the figure you give for 1967 to 1977 does not seem to capture the situation, and includes the 1970 oil shortage.
I think you are likely correct that it was not only the price of oil. This will take me a while to sort it all out -- it's a bit complicated, and I'm not an expert or economist.
There was a wage-price spiral that caused the CPI to double in ten years and it plagued Carter and contibuted to his defeat and, somehow, it ended not too far into the Reagan Era. It might have something with Paul Volcker (a Carter appointee) juggling the interest rates, I don't know.
I do get a bit confused at the complexity and number of factors and interactions. Yet I ask myself if wage-price spiral causes or is the result of inflation (as busines and workers look for more money than usual anticipating higher prices), or likely some combination.
Prof. L Randall Wray talks about some of the factors involved with the 70s in the last part of the 6-part video interview (with some guy named Hartmann) at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QtjG0FtAqr8&index=6&list=PLwNpQQv79seHz1...
Other parts are good to hear too. Wray does mention that the wrong response -- slowing the economy -- was done.
The "per unit cost of production" was getting very high in the '70s relative to previous decades and it was because of all the factors of costs of complying with new regulations, higher taxes, higher wages due to collective bargaining and then, finally, the price of oil. Also, those costs were being passed on to consumers.
The solution of Paul Volcker was to slow the economy by lowering interest rates.
These points aren't controvertable, I think.
Wray doesn't necessarily know what he's talking about. The wage-price spiral was a great issue long before oil price shock. Nixon tried the freeze in 1970.
Labor costs, it's true, weren't the only cause but none of them should have been confronted directly. Quite simply, unions' purpose is to get employers to give up a fairer portion of the profits to the employees. That is apparently just what employers do NOT want to do.
People ask me where Bernie is going to get the money to pay for free college. I tell them that he will accomplish this by passing a tax on financial transactions, including stock, bond, and derivatives trades. College graduates make more money and pay more in taxes which makes free college an investment.
Where does Trump plan on getting the money to fund his massive tax cuts? He does not say.
Barrons, a highly-respected financial publication, states the following on the front page of its March, 2016, edition:
“Who’s better for investors?
Trump’s giant tax cuts would balloon the federal deficit, and his plan for tariffs on China
would plunge the world into a recession. Clinton would likely pursue more predictable policies - and the market loves predictability. That’s why many Republicans will hold their nose and vote for Hillary.”
Between 2005 and 2015, the average sticker (non-discounted) price at public, four-year universities rose 40% in real dollars, that is, after discounting for inflation.
Prices at private four-year universities rose slightly less rapidly, 26%, but still greatly in excess of inflation. At community colleges they rose 29%.
The per year costs would better be spent by doubling expenditures in the Pell Grant program, keeping the money focused on students from the bottom half of the income distribution.
Rather than giving subsidies to wealthier students who have demonstrated the ability and willingness to pay for college, current Pell recipients—whose grants are capped at $5,775 this year—could receive a Pell Grant in excess of $11,000.
If the same logic was applied to what Sanders proposes to spend, these same students could see their grants rise to almost $15,000.
Giving money where it is needed
The fact is broad subsidies end up benefitting many students who do not need the support of public funds to attend college.
So, an even better use of the additional funds proposed by the two Democratic candidates would be to split the money between increasing Pell Grants and providing more academic and social support to poorer and first-generation students both before and while they are enrolled in college.
The Reagan/Watt administration did a lot more damage to the federal government than most people realize. They used intimidation tactics to keep federal employees "in check". They attempted to force scientists/biologists for example, to falsify documents to allow corporate projects on public lands. They required that federal employees read intra-agency mail one day a week-which took all day. A whole work day wasted for thousands of employees. They reduced the size of government by reducing the budget which caused the middle management to lay off field workers inorder to keep the supervisory positions even though there were fewer people to supervise (and fewer people to regulate anything). They modeled the executive branch agencies after big corporations and installed "public affairs officers"- propagandists by any other name. They essentially purged the government of the honest employees which left those that became their puppits. They dam well knew that if they were overly nice to large corporate businesses the corporations would keep them in power through donations etc.. The seeds of fascism sprouted and continue to grow today.
In the last few years government biologists (fisheries biologists especially) are still being punished by reassignment or even had their pay docked because they wished to maintain their scientific integrity, even if their opinions were contrary to political correctness.
Our feed back mechanism of scientific data gathering has been purposely sabotaged by these "corporatists" which is allowing profit and political domination over democracy and ecosystem health.
The seriousness of environmental degradation cannot be over emphasized. The earth has lost around half of the terrestrial animal biomass since 1970 and around 70% of the predatory fish in the oceans. Two scientists from Stanford believe the ocean systems will breakdown in another 30 to 35 years which will cause a 90% die off of what is left. There has been a steady increase in jellyfish blooms- guess what? Jellyfish can tolerate warmer water, less oxygen and chemical pollution that other species cannot.
In simple terms, Americans deserve to know the truth about their environment, not have it covered up. So as justice Jackson said a few years ago- "It is not the function of our Government to keep the citizen from falling into error; it is the function of the citizen to keep the Government from falling into error"
We better get with it-we have one generation left!