Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Just Say NO!!!! The Economy Has Stalled Due to Rethug Non-Job Creation "Strategy" (How the Government's Lies Become Truth)

You can't fool Paul Krugman, Robert Reich or Paul Craig Roberts with the public relations razz-ma-tazz of "debates" being the meaningful gauge of who will win the November election.

Nope. They know the true score.

So do we.

And after reading the essays below no one can say we don't have all the figures and the knowledge of who's using them to deny us a return to a decent democratic economy.

September 30, 2012

The Real Referendum

Paul Krugman

Republicans came into this campaign believing that it would be a referendum on President Obama, and that still-high unemployment would hand them victory on a silver platter. But given the usual caveats — a month can be a long time in politics, it’s not over until the votes are actually counted, and so on — it doesn’t seem to be turning out that way.       

Yet there is a sense in which the election is indeed a referendum, but of a different kind. Voters are, in effect, being asked to deliver a verdict on the legacy of the New Deal and the Great Society, on Social Security, Medicare and, yes, Obamacare, which represents an extension of that legacy. Will they vote for politicians who want to replace Medicare with Vouchercare, who denounce Social Security as “collectivist” (as Paul Ryan once did), who dismiss those who turn to social insurance programs as people unwilling to take responsibility for their lives?

If the polls are any indication, the result of that referendum will be a clear reassertion of support for the safety net, and a clear rejection of politicians who want to return us to the Gilded Age. But here’s the question: Will that election result be honored?

I ask that question because we already know what Mr. Obama will face if re-elected: a clamor from Beltway insiders demanding that he immediately return to his failed political strategy of 2011, in which he made a Grand Bargain over the budget deficit his overriding priority. Now is the time, he’ll be told, to fix America’s entitlement problem once and for all. There will be calls — as there were at the time of the Democratic National Convention — for him to officially endorse Simpson-Bowles, the budget proposal issued by the co-chairmen of his deficit commission (although never accepted by the commission as a whole).

And Mr. Obama should just say no, for three reasons.

First, despite years of dire warnings from people like, well, Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, we are not facing any kind of fiscal crisis. Indeed, U.S. borrowing costs are at historic lows, with investors actually willing to pay the government for the privilege of owning inflation-protected bonds. So reducing the budget deficit just isn’t the top priority for America at the moment; creating jobs is. For now, the administration’s political capital should be devoted to passing something like last year’s American Jobs Act and providing effective mortgage debt relief.

Second, contrary to Beltway conventional wisdom, America does not have an “entitlements problem.” Mainly, it has a health cost problem, private as well as public, which must be addressed (and which the Affordable Care Act at least starts to address). It’s true that there’s also, even aside from health care, a gap between the services we’re promising and the taxes we’re collecting — but to call that gap an “entitlements” issue is already to accept the very right-wing frame that voters appear to be in the process of rejecting.

Finally, despite the bizarre reverence it inspires in Beltway insiders — the same people, by the way, who assured us that Paul Ryan was a brave truth-teller — the fact is that Simpson-Bowles is a really bad plan, one that would undermine some key pieces of our safety net. And if a re-elected president were to endorse it, he would be betraying the trust of the voters who returned him to office.

Consider, in particular, the proposal to raise the Social Security retirement age, supposedly to reflect rising life expectancy. This is an idea Washington loves — but it’s also totally at odds with the reality of an America in which rising inequality is reflected not just in the quality of life but in its duration.
For while average life expectancy has indeed risen, that increase is confined to the relatively well-off and well-educated — the very people who need Social Security least. Meanwhile, life expectancy is actually falling for a substantial part of the nation.

Now, there’s no mystery about why Simpson-Bowles looks the way it does. It was put together in a political environment in which progressives, and even supporters of the safety net as we know it, were very much on the defensive — an environment in which conservatives were presumed to be in the ascendant, and in which bipartisanship was effectively defined as the effort to broker deals between the center-right and the hard right.

Barring an upset, however, that environment will come to an end on Nov. 6. This election is, as I said, shaping up as a referendum on our social insurance system, and it looks as if Mr. Obama will emerge with a clear mandate for preserving and extending that system. It would be a terrible mistake, both politically and for the nation’s future, for him to let himself be talked into snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.


Jacob Sommer

Actually, high taxes are a major incentive for job creators, up to a certain point anyways. Consider that the top marginal tax rate under Eisenhower was 91%. It stayed at 70% until Reagan came into office. Oddly enough, barring the Clinton years, those happened to be our years of greatest job growth.

When taxes are high, there's a greater incentive both to give to charitable causes and to reinvest in a business. Consider that 70% tax rate. Under that, an owner could see one of two extremes with $1million in profit: take $300,000 for themselves, or invest $1million back into the business to make it grow. Also, since salaries are a tax-deductible business expense, there's some incentive to share the wealth around with the workers who, you know, keep the business actually doing things. When taxes are low, there's more incentive to cash out and keep the loot in a bank account.

The only reason the wealthy are paying more in taxes in absolute terms is because they have been taking an ever-increasing slice of the pie while their taxes have been slashed. At the same time, state income taxes, state sales taxes, Social Security taxes and Medicare taxes all went up, and most of those hit the people at the bottom and in the middle the most.

Companies love to come here regardless of tax rates, though. We are still considered the best market to sell to.

In short, I am sorry, but the facts do not fit with your particular political hypotheses.

    • Austin Kerr
    • Columbus and Port Ludlow

    I think the folks saying we should raise the retirement age (again; we have already raised it not long ago) should switch jobs for a week with the folks who clean their offices. Then see if they think everyone should have their retirement age raised again!

    Also, recall that we set the retirement age at 65 in 1935 (and created the social institution we call "retirement") in part to move older folks out of the work force so that younger folks could have opportunity.

    • David Hoo
    • Ridgewood NJ

    Romney/Ryan are for "Survival of the Richest" which is pure unadulterated greed and arrogant exclusivity.

    It's not even "Survival of the Fittest" which at least has some sense of equity.

    Joseph Schumpeter argued that capitalism had inherently destructive creativity, innovation that that created progress but destroyed jobs in its wake. A capitalist society, therefore, must responsibly provide a safety net for all in order to support the fruits of capitalism, innovation and progress.

    Romney/Ryan have no clue, or worse, no concern.
  • Lynn
  • New York
  • Actually, most of the parasites are among the wealthiest --- just look at the host of the fundraiser of the "47%" comment: a host of drunken sex party in the Hamptons --- surely not a productive use of funds. Contrast that with the minimum-wage workers who work long hours just to attempt to feed their families. There are parasites, but they are sucking away the wealth of the middle class and working class into the toys of frivolous unproductive lives.

  • John
  • North Carolina
  • It is interesting how in this country the self-appointed leaders, really those with the most bucks, set the limits of discourse. In this case we are to believe that the U.S. is going over the fiscal cliff and must batten down the hatches. This in turn leads us to fire teachers, when our schools are already inadequate, let police go in high crime cities, and buy the argument that we need less financial regulation, when the lack of financial responsibility on behalf of banks and regulatory agencies led us into the 2008 recession-depression.
    In fact, we must boost the education of our young, re-educate those who find themselves unemployed to learn new information that will increase their employability, address environmental change and promote clean energy development, address health care as a human right and not something to be obtained only if one has enough money or his or her health crashes and prompts a trip to the emergency room. Sue's comments from Australia are helpful. As a physician I could give you a long list of reasons why health care is excessively costly in the U.S. While some of my colleagues would like to blame it all on aggressive lawyers and litigious patients and families, that is only a small part of the reality. When a single payer, Medicare for All, system is proposed in this country shouts of "socialism" abound, reflecting the views of our "leaders." We can and must do better.

    Our Social Security and Medicare programs are NOT "entitlement" programs!!! They are pre-paid EARNED BENEFITS. We pay for them when we're in the working world, and after we are old enough to get Social Security the monthly Medicare payments are still deducted from the EARNED BENEFITS we get from Social Security (disabled people also draw Social Security and Medicare is deducted).

    We pay for all of that, and they are SEPARATE accounts from the income taxes we pay.

    Wall Street and corporations want to get their grubby little fingers on the surpluses in the Social Security trust fund. THAT's why they concocted the idea that Social Security needs "fixing." It does NOT need "fixing."

    Medicare DOES need fixing,..., because WE The People should not have to pay the outrageous corporate fees for insurance, medical, and prescription costs which are going to be giving those corporations (protected by Citizens United so now their money is "free speech") record-setting profits, and their costs ARE much, much too high and going higher as is, but it amounts to corporations laundering money through each other. In spite of the $COTU$ decision on the medical program, I really don't think it's constitutional to force us to contribute to corporate wealth. Our freedom of choice has been taken away.

    Medical costs should be regulated via government controls so their profits don't break us entirely.

    Oct. 1, 2012

      As a matter of fact, Robert Reich doesn't see what the debates could possibly be about other than the less than optimal (if it doesn't make you gag to hear this catastrophe minimized in this banal way) creation of jobs.

      The Election Is More About Jobs, Less About Debate

      By Robert Reich, Robert Reich's Blog

      01 October 12

      he biggest election news this week won't be who wins the presidential debate Wednesday night. It will be how many new jobs were created in September, announced Friday morning by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

      Rarely in the history has the monthly employment carried so much political significance. If the payroll survey is significantly more than 96,000 -- the number of new jobs created in August - President Obama can credibly claim the job situation is improving. If significantly fewer than 96,000, Mitt Romney has the more credible claim that the economy isn't improving.

      August's household survey showed the overall rate of unemployment to be 8.1 percent in August - not bad, relative to previous rates - but that was mainly because so many Americans had stopped looking for work. (You're deemed "unemployed" only if you don't have a full-time job and you're looking for work; if you've given up looking, you're not counted.)

      What happened to jobs in August or September - and what will happen in October (announced November 2, just days before Election Day) - have very little to do with what Obama did or didn't do. Presidents have little to do with month-to-month changes in employment.

      What's more, the rest of the world isn't cooperating: Much of Europe is in recession because it's swallowed the "austerity" cool-aide. Japan is still a basket case. And China is slowing considerably.

      In addition, Obama has had to grapple with a recalcitrant Republican congress, whose "number one goal," according to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, hasn't been to create more jobs but to make sure Obama doesn't get a second term.

      Still, evidence is accumulating that the U.S. economy has stalled. According to Commerce Department data released late last week, the economy grew at an annualized rate of only 1.3 percent between April and June. That's down from 2 percent in the first quarter of the year.
      Consumer spending rose in August just .1 percent, after adjusting for inflation. Orders for durable goods (cars, TVs, other long-lasting manufactured products) dropped 13 percent, the biggest monthly drop in three years. And because incomes grew less than spending, the savings rate dropped to 3.7 percent - the lowest since April.

      Consumers say they're more confident about the future - and that's a key measure for how they're likely to vote. But the disturbing reality is paychecks continue to shrink. Disposable income (the money left over after taxes) dropped 0.3 percent after adjusting for inflation. That's the weakest reading since November.

      America is still in the gravitational pull of the Great Recession. That's because consumer spending is 70 percent of economic activity, and the nation's vast middle class doesn't have enough money to get the economy back on track. (The rich spend a much smaller proportion of their incomes, and their savings go around the world to wherever they can summon the highest return.)

      Republicans have no answers. To the contrary, Romney's reverse-Robin Hood economics would shrink the middle class even further, and put a huge burden on the poor.

      But the economic policies Obama says he'd like to pursue in his second term aren't nearly large or bold enough to do the job.

      The median wage has been stuck in neutral for decades. Since the 1980s, almost all the gains from economic growth have gone to the top. The stagnation of middle-class wages was first masked by millions of women moving into paid work, thereby propping up household incomes. Then it was masked by massive household borrowing against rising home values.

      But the bubble that burst in 2008 has removed both masks. The economy can't fully recover until the middle class and the poor who aspire to join it have enough income to get it moving. For this to happen, they will need a larger share of the gains from economic growth.

      Perhaps the President will be asked Wednesday night for his plan to accomplish this.

      I disagree that Republicans have no answers.

      They have answers.

      But they only benefit them.

      Professor Roberts below addresses the other issues of this campaign:   the ones that bedevil Obama on his side of the voting fence.

      Paul Craig Roberts

      September 30, 2012
      In my last column, “A Culture of Delusion,” I wrote that “Americans live in a matrix of lies. Lies dominate every policy discussion, every political decision.” This column will use two top news stories, Iranian nukes and Julian Assange, to illustrate how lies become “truth.”

      The western Presstitute media uses every lie to demonize the Iranian government. On September 28 in a fit of unmitigated ignorance, the UK rag, Mail Online, called the president of Iran a “dictator.” The Iranian presidency is an office filled by popular election, and the authority of the office is subordinate to the ayatollahs. Assange is demonized alternatively as a rapist and a spy.

      The western media and the US Congress comprise the two largest whore houses in human history. One of their favorite lies is that the Iranian president, Ahmadinejad, wants to kill all the Jews.
      Watch this 6 minute, 42 second video of Ahmadinejad’s meeting with Jewish religious leaders. Don’t be put off by the title. Washington Blog is making a joke.

      Last week the news was dominated by the non-existent but virtually real Iranian nuclear weapons program. The Israeli prime minister, Netanyahu, blatantly intervened in the US presidential election, demanding that Obama specify the “red line” for attacking Iran.

      Netanyahu believes his maximum leverage over Obama, the president of the “world’s only superpower,” is just prior to the election. Israel cannot attack Iran on its own without the risk of Israel’s destruction. But Netanyahu reasons that if he attacks Iran the week before the US election, Obama will have to join in or lose the Jewish vote for not supporting Israel in states such as Florida, which has a large Jewish population and many electoral votes. If the election is close, Netanyahu, a person consumed by arrogance and hubris, might exercise his threat and attack Iran, despite the opposition of former chiefs of Israeli intelligence and military, the opposition party, and a majority of the Israeli people.

      In other words, the outcome of the “superpower’s” presidential election might depend upon whether the sitting president of the “superpower” is sufficiently obedient to the crazed Israeli prime minister.

      That the outcome of the US presidential election could depend upon the agenda of the prime minister of a tiny country that exists only because of US financial, military, and diplomatic support, especially the UN veto, should disturb those Americans who think that they are the “indispensable people.” How indispensable are you when you have to do what the Israeli prime minister wants?

      The US media makes certain that this question never enters american minds. Americans have been told that if Iran doesn’t have nukes, it has a nuke weapons program. This is what the politicians of both parties, the media, and the Israel Lobby tell them. Americans are told this despite the facts that the CIA and the National Intelligence Estimate stick to the conclusion that Iran abandoned its flirtation with a nuclear weapon in 2003 and the International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors on the ground in Iran report no evidence of a nuclear weapons program and no evidence of any diversion of enriched uranium to a weapons program.

      Moreover, what could Iran do with a nuclear weapon, other than use it against an aggressor? Any offensive use would result in Iran’s destruction.

      Why do Americans believe Iran has nukes or is making nukes when the CIA says they are not? The answer is that Netanyahu says so, and the elected members of the US government in the House, Senate, and White House are afraid to contradict the Israeli prime minister, as are the American print and TV media. Some “superpower” we are! The “indispensable people” have to grovel in the dirt before Netanyahu. Americans are not even aware of their shame.

      Iran, unlike Israel, signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. Signatories to the treaty have the right to nuclear energy. Nuclear energy requires a low level of enrichment, 5% or less. The minute Iran announced a nuclear energy program, the Israeli government and its prostitutes in Washington lied that Iran was building a bomb. For exercising its legal rights under the treaty, Iran has been painted as a rouge criminal state and demonized.

      A nuclear weapon requires 95% enrichment. To get to 5% from scratch and then to 95% is a long drawn out process. I think I first started hearing Israeli government claims of an Iranian nuke back in he 1990s of last century.

      When Iran announced that, in view of the sanctions imposed by the US, sanctions that affect medical supplies, Iran was going to enrich uranium to 20% in order to supply itself with medical isotopes, the Israeli allegations that this would lead to a bomb resulted in Iran saying that the Iranian government was content for France or some other country to supply their medical isotopes and would not pursue enrichment beyond energy requirements. The US and Russia were also mentioned as suppliers.
      According to the NY Times on September 29, 2011, “the Iranian president told the Washington Post and later, in basically the same terms, the New York Times: ‘if you [the United States and Europe] give us uranium grade 20 percent now, we will stop production.'”

      On Israel’s orders Washington vetoed the Iranian concession. Solving the problem is not what the Israeli government wants. The problem has to be kept alive so that it can be used to foment an attack on Iran.

      The Iranian nuke is one of those grand hoaxes, a lie designed to hide the real agenda.

      What is the real agenda?

      The real agenda hiding behind the hysterical concern about an Iranian nuke, is the rightwing Israeli government’s design on the water resources of southern Lebanon.

      Twice the Israeli government sent the Israeli army into southern Lebanon to occupy and eventually annex the territory. And twice Hizbollah defeated and drove out the vaunted Israeli army.

      The few thousand Hizbollah fighters were able to defeat the Israeli army, which is equipped and supplied by US taxpayers’ dollars while Americans are foreclosed out of their homes and left unemployed as Washington applauds the offshoring of their jobs, because Syria and Iran provide Hizbollah with financial support and weapons that destroy Israeli tanks.

      Syria, of course, is currently resisting its destruction by Israel and its American puppet state. The overthrow of Syria hasn’t gone well, because the Russians and Chinese didn’t go along with it, like they stupidly did in Libya. But the far rightwing Israeli government has concluded that with American prestige involved in the overthrow of the Assad government in Syria, the deed will be done.

      That leaves Iran.
      The Israeli government knows that it cannot be forthright and say that it wants Americans to go to war with Iran so that Israel can steal southern Lebanon. But if fear over nonexistent nukes can muster the Western populations to support an attack on Iran, Iran can be eliminated as Hizbollah’s supplier, and Israel can steal the water from Lebanon.

      There is no discussion whatsoever of the real agenda anywhere in the US print and TV media. I doubt there is any discussion anywhere in Europe, which is a collection of American puppet states.

      Will we get World War III for Christmas?
      Possibly, if the US election is close as it approaches. If the election is too close to call, Netanyahu might throw the dice and rely on Obama following his lead. Iran will be attacked, and the consequences are unknowable.

      Let’s turn to Julian Assange and Wikileaks. Like Iran, Assange has been demonized, not on the basis of facts but on the basis of lies.

      Washington, which poses as a purveyor of human rights, has been mistreating if not torturing Bradley Manning since May 2010 without bringing him to trial in an effort to make Manning say that he and Assange constitute a spy team working against the US.

      Assange is a celebrity, because Wikileaks publishes the news leaked to the organization that the Presstitute media suppresses. While in Sweden, Assange was picked up by two celebrity-hungry women who took him home to their beds.
      The women later bragged of their conquests on social media, but apparently when they found out that they were rivals, they turned on the “two-timer” Assange and made charges. One claimed that he had not used a condom as per her request, and the other claimed that she had offered one helping but he had taken two.

      Whatever the accusations, the Swedish prosecutorial office investigated and dismissed the case.

      Despite this known fact, the Western Presstitute media reports that Assange is a fugitive evading rape charges by hiding in the Ecuadoran Embassy in London. Even RT, an alternative media voice, has fallen for this disinformation.

      After Assange was cleared in Sweden, a female prosecutor has tried to reopen the case. There is no evidence for her to bring charges, so she demanded that England arrest Assange and extradite him to Sweden to be questioned.

      Normally, people are not subject to extradition for questioning. Only people who have been formally charged are extradited. But this detail wasn’t of interest to the Presstitute media or to the British courts which ruled as Washington desired.

      Opinions vary as to whether the female prosecutor who wants Assange for questioning is an ideological feminist who believes no heterosexual sex is legitimate or whether she is in the pay of Washington. But experts agree that once Assange is in Sweden he is certain to be turned over to Washington, which will demand his extradition on trumped up charges. Extradition on trumped up charges is difficult in England but easy in Sweden.

      Assange offered to be questioned in London, but the female prosecutor refused. Now the Ecuadoran Embassy is offering to send Assange to the Ecuadoran Embassy in Sweden to be questioned, but Washington, London, and the Swedish prosecutor have refused. They want Assange without the protection of the asylum that Ecuador has granted him.

      Washington has how made this obvious. John Glaser
      writing in, September 26, 2012, reports: “Newly declassified documents have revealed that the US military designated WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange an enemy of the state, who can be killed or detained without trial.” See this also.

      Assange is Washington’s enemy, because he let the truth get out. WikiLeaks is a journalistic enterprise, not a spy enterprise. It publishes information, some of which is leaked to it by whistleblowers, just as the Pentagon Papers were leaked to the New York Times. The information leaked to WikiLeaks has embarrassed Washington, because it shows Washington to be two-faced, a manipulator of other countries’ governments and medias, and overflowing with mendacity.

      In other words, Washington is not the light upon the hill but the gates of Hell or Mordor.

      Assange had best be careful. If he again speaks to supportive crowds from a balcony of the Ecuadoran Embassy in London, he is likely to be shot down by a CIA sniper.

      Approved by Obama, of course. Or his successor.

      (Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following.

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