PDP Social Series – Blog 23 – Politics and Capitalism – Part 1

Introduction

When I am writing this the Democratic race is down to two persons.  Using labels this basically is a  Democratic Party Moderate versus an Independent Progressive.  Neither person is offering what most Democrats and Independents are looking for as a complete candidate.  One of the problems here is age.  One candidate may blow himself out before the primary convention and the other one has a hard time remembering what he, or others have said. There is not a woman running now, an ethnic representative or a young energetic person who has at least read a history book.  Looking in the other direction “The Tweeter in Chief” was described by David Stockman as “Indeed, the one apparent talent the man has displayed over a lifetime in the public eye has been the capacity to bitterly blame one and all for whatever goes wrong – and to do so with copious amounts of bile, bombast, bellicosity, and bullshit.”  He could have mentioned over 6,000 lies and his golf score.

Somehow things have to show some improvements somewhere or this period will be compared with the antics of Ancient Rome (in which we are the blue ribbon winner in the fastest race to decadence). In order to slow this race I will attempt to offer some ideas which will have no hope of passing but are worth, I think, mentioning. Most of them deal with politics and are self evident to other persons rather than to politicians. Reading “How to Get Elected Spending Public Money” or “Follow the Leader to Avoid Paying the Taxes you Owe” takes up all the time for one group while reading “How to Stop Progressives by using Old Assumptions” is challenging to the other group(s). What we need is a campaign by Jim Hightower with Willie Nelson as the singing VP who raises money to help people get health insurance and what we are doing now has so many options that nothing gets done.

Now I will start on my list of suggestions that might make our country realize that chasing money will only make us a world society without hope and an Earth that has been scorched by wars and abused by people.  We are in a sad state when war beats dialog as an answer to any dispute while corruption becomes its travel agent.  Probably nothing will be done politically after people have read this, but I hope it will make people think what options are available.

Suggestion 1: Alteration of our Political Structure

A. Place a Shorter Period of Time for Elections

This last primary season was (and is) ridiculous on the amount of money that was spent in the Democratic primary race. Quality it seems is not the primary determinant for the amount of money that is used by each candidate. The quality of the debates is one example. The CBS debate sounded at first that we were in a rooster farm. To me each person should comment on the same question for a period of three minutes without interruption and with an automatic cut off time. One question at first would be – What do you think of your opponent’s proposals? In the old days The League of Women’s voters interviewed each debater who was running for office a series of questions, which was in a flyer (paper) distributed to news agencies for review. For example if “Health Insurance for All” was the topic each debater should say if they were in favor of it, and if they were, they should state why, what it would do if approved, projected costs and expenses, where the money would come from and the sources of information. This should make it easier to for everyone involved.

Since this format would add some decorum for the people involved we should discuss funding options. Presently the TV networks are making lots of money by expanding the election cycle to 3 years. This is a long time to get the quality of people we are getting, so it could easily be shortened to 6 months. The first month would determine who was going to run for each office. I suggest that there would be three “Super Tuesdays” that would include all of the states. Each block of voters for the 3 voting periods would include about the same number of delegates to be elected. This would be in a two month period. A primary convention would then be held in the third month. After all of the balloons have been collected the final voting would be held in November. Each party has their own individual election rules and they would stay the same with the exception of using super delegates. They should not be used until the fourth ballot.

B.  Place a Ceiling on Amount of money for Elections

There would be a ceiling placed on spending on elections. The federal government will determine the amount of funding for (1) people running for president in the primary period and (2) the amount of money needed for presidential, senatorial and representative races during the election period. The federal government will pay a certain amount of money to each of the candidates for each of these offices. Other private (outside) funding will not be allowed during this election period. Ceilings will also be placed on the election funding for governors.

This will delete the need for elected officials to spend time collecting money for elections. There will be a ceiling placed on private money being used by persons running against people in their own party. Their elections will take place during the sixth or seventh month prior to the final election. This runoff election will use private funding that has a maximum amount allocated for this purpose. This will allow people to run for office with minimum private funding being required.

The Federal funds for this type of election process will be allocated by Congress prior to the sixth month (March) before the final vote in November. These election periods that are suggested would be up for debate and hopefully shortened. The Federal ceiling amount would include all election expenses. It could also limit the time expenses (a discount) for political advertising that is made by the media.

C. Change the Process of Designating Electoral Boundaries for Representatives

The process of gerrymandering in representative districts is decided by the state legislature and the party legislature in power. These should be located and changed. An example of the money left for Biden and Sanders after the Super Tuesday vote is shown below. This provides some information about the amount of funding used.

D. Reduce Spending in the Defense Department

This shows the power of the defense advocates in Congress and in the general population. The Defense Department should commission an outside study to find out what is really needed, what is outmoded and what is wasted. China is the next highest in expenditures at 181 billion. It seems that some of the defense budget could be used for domestic use. If we need that high a defense budget to keep people working then something is wrong with our society. Besides many of the workers could manufacture “green” domestic products and this will sustain us better than war. There is a good question out there of why we have to have such a large defense program. We have enough rotting airplanes in the dessert now. Defense spending is a compounding program to make the next best weapon only to find out your designated adversary will develop that same thing (system) or better. We have armed Saudi Arabia for its money only to find out they are doing some dubious activities with the weapons. China has the next highest expenditure for defense which is 26% of what the US spends. For 2020, North Korea is ranked 25 of 138 out of the countries considered for the annual GFP review. It holds a PwrIndx* rating of 0.3718 (0.0000 considered ‘perfect’). However North Korea has one of the largest numbers of defense manpower.

The Defense Department has tried to green itself but it still is the largest carbon dioxide omitted in the United States. In 2017 alone, the Air Force purchased $4.9 billion worth of fuel and the Navy $2.8 billion, followed by the Army at $947 million and Marines at $36 million.

However there is little chance that reuse of Defense money or reduction of subsidies for Big Oil will occur during the Trump Administration. An article in Forbes magazine, June 15, 2019 United States Spend Ten Times More on Fossil Fuel Subsidies Than Education. A new International Monetary Fund (IOMF) study shows that USD$ 5.2 trillion was spent globally on fossil fuel subsidies in 2017. China spent 1.4 trillion, United States $ 649 billion and Russia $ 551 billion and were the largest subsidizers. It does not seem right that one industry needs that much money to operate effectively. On top of this they oppose carbon taxes. This also depletes our resources of oil. How about – But OPIC – Save Our Oil

IMF Study and Forbes

Our examination of our entire budget is needed because it does affect our political structure and new emphasis should placed on what is important for everyone.

E. Lobbying and its Effect on Legislation.

A system other than lobbying has to change in the US. It is obvious that what is happening in all areas of the government the common man is not included to any degree. As the old saying goes “Greasy hands and empty pockets is there for you.

“However [political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.”  George Washington – First Inaugural Address

F. Elimination of the Multi-Party System

Presently we are seeing the worst of the party system. Major bills are stalled and many are not thought through because they present one line of thinking. Each party member does what they told do by high are ranking members of the party. In the Democratic Party the main party members think Bernie is too Progressive and would not beat Donald Trump, so they are backing Joe Biden.  Beating Trump is more important than forward thinking but needless to say 4 more years of Trump would be devastating.  Bernie, however, needs to clarify what his programs are and where the money comes from to pay for them. In debates there should be film clips or display boards allowed in order to compare programs.

Right now both parties are only voting for their own party’s agenda. Compromise is not a popular process. For example, I do not believe that giving people money is a good idea because it is not something that will help people in the long run. However, I do believe in giving people money in the form of education so that they can be adaptable to changing needs and economic conditions.  This would be in the form of work/study programs. If a single parent would need baby/child sitting money this would be provided also. The PDP follows this format of teaching/learning. A special program would have to be designed for this. Going to a Community College first would save money and designing a study program with a company that is in your field of study would be next.  This would take one or two years and would give student money to finish college. It would also let them know what subjects they would like to enroll in or if they would like to change fields.  This process would be a form of compromise.

Under the one party system everyone would belong to the independent party (I).  The Jackass has already been selected for the animal so it can’t be used for this party. Voting in Congress would be in “secret” ballot. This way every one could vote how they believe and not by obligation to a party.  If a bill did not pass there would be an open debate and votes taken on various compromises. Each debate should list the pros and cons of each bill.  With this system any bill could be introduced and probably not be blocked, which is what is happening now. There also would be limits on the time taken for the discussion of each bill. There would be also be evaluations of the use of the filibuster.  This process would give more power to the Executive branch.

Suggestion 2: Reduce Control of Congress by Corporations

It is evident that many bills in Congress are passed due to contributions made to members of Congress and to bills that favor corporations by having loopholes in the tax laws. We are basically forcing corporate finance departments, CEO’s, lawyers and accountants to read. One of the worst loopholes is subsidies that favor the rich. An example of this, for everyone to see, would be Trump’s tax returns.  Now this is turning out to be the longest audit in history. Another example is oil subsidies. Other major subsidies are those listed in the latest farm bill. However in 2000 Congress passed a law to limit public knowledge of farm subsidies. A 2016 study by the Environmental Working Group found $9.5 million (between 1995 and 2016) in subsidies were awarded to members of Congress and their families. Ag Mag, June 8, 2016.  Congress also did not pass a bill in 2014 which would have made crop insurance beneficiaries public. Talk about covering your tracks.

The best way to start solving some of these problems that favor the rich would be to have a flat tax (no taxes for persons/families under a certain ceiling) with very few loopholes for individuals. It would also cut out major loopholes for corporations.  This should allow more taxes to be collected.  Earnings from overseas should be changed so they can betted in the US. CBS noted: April 12, 2019

Big companies have long relied on strategies to reduce their tax bills. But the new tax law is making it even easier, with a new analysis finding that 60 profitable Fortune 500 companies paid no taxes on a total of $79 billion of profits earned in 2018.

The companies, which include tech giants such as Amazon and Netflix, should have paid a collective $16.4 billion in federal income taxes based on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act’s 21 percent corporate tax rate, according to the left-leaning Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. Instead, these corporations received a net tax rebate of $4.3 billion. The analysis is based on the corporations’ annual financial reports, which were filed earlier this year to report their 2018 results.

Defenders of the corporate cuts under the tax law that took effect this year, which lowered the rate companies pay to 21 percent from from 35 percent, contend they will plump profits, drive investment and boost economic growth. Opponents say the drop in corporate income tax revenue will grow the deficit and make it harder to fund public programs.

In order to present one of the Democrat contender’s proposals I present the following:

Elizabeth Warren suggested a 2% tax on the wealthy who earned over $50 million a year to include “All household assets held anywhere in the world will be included in the net worth measurement, including residences, closely held businesses, assets held in trust, retirement assets, assets held by minor children, and personal property with a value of $50,000 or more.”

How would the tax revenues be spent?

Warren is banking on a $2.75 trillion revenue projection from Zucman and Saez to fund a host of her priorities. In speeches, she has laid out those beneficiaries:

  • Universal child care for every child age 0 to 5.
  • Universal pre-K for every 3- and 4-year old.
    Raise wages for all child care workers and preschool teachers “to the professional levels that they deserve.”
  • Free tuition and fees for all public technical schools, 2-year colleges and 4-year colleges.
  • $50 billion for historically black colleges and universities.
  • Forgive student loan debt for 95% of those with such debt. 
  • $100 billion over 10 years to combat the opioid crisis.
  • “Down payments” on a Green New Deal and Medicare for All.(FactChex.Org June 2019)

This would be a tax account’s nightmare and probably not have a chance of passing. It is a politician’s proposal by hitting everything in sight that needed to be done. My comments would be:

  1. To have a simpler way of taxing the wealthy. Let them be involved. This would include just a 3% tax on earnings before taxes. There are 205 people in America who earn more than $50 million a year in wages alone. That’s according to newly released Social Security Administration data for 2017. Another way to say that: These people are not just in the top 1%, or top 0.1% — they’re in the top 0.000001%. The Social Security Administration data are based on federal income-tax returns, as reported by employers on W-2 forms. Even the $50 million club has its winners and losers. The data show that, on average, these 205 people earned $97.3 million. Put another way, these 205 people made a combined $19.95 billion. Every person who lives in Denver, in aggregate, earned $19.33 billion from wages in 2016, according to separately compiled Internal Revenue Service data.  From internet: The yearly tax would be about $ 600 million a year using this proposal.
  2. Rather than having it go to the government it would be governed by one or more non-profits (to be selected) for distribution to other non-profits for use throughout the United States. The wealthy could have the option of selecting the non-profits where they would like the money to go (if the non-profits are approved by the governing non-profit). If the donator wanted to participate further the governing body would have to approve it. This allows the giver to be part of the action rather than the money going to defense expenditures.
  3. There would be a series of town meetings in various areas of the country to obtain suggestions where the money should go and to give the suggestions of priorities. My personal feelings toward Senator’s budget are as follows:  That universal child care and Pre-K is very important because it helps to give children a head start in areas where it is needed most. (Not everywhere due to funding limits).  Wage scales for teachers to be improved. Seminars should be held first in order to develop innovative ideas and new businesses formed to manufacture training supplies.  About 10 areas used for startups would be funded first to see what would work.  Partial tuition for technical schools and 2 year college students is necessary. Paying off school debt for 4 year colleges will have to wait. Determine what some problems are with 4 year college programs. Presently 4 year colleges will have to change because they have to do more in reducing overhead (staff to student ratios) and double the use of empty seats for classes that are already in place.  Most rooms should be used fully each day. A research team(s) throughout the country should study what would be the best way to set up Medicare for All if at all possible.

Suggestion 3: Work TOGETHER

Congress, Supreme Court and the President should show that they can do something to help the country rather than polishing egos. I will have more of these emails as time goes on and hope to have them on a more positive note. I have never seen such a bunch of people on both sides that can disagree more and work less.

Congress Has No Clue What Americans Want

People in the U.S. House and Senate have wildly inaccurate perceptions of our opinions and preferences.

By Alexander Hertel-Fernandez, Matto Mildenberger and Leah C. Stokes

Mr. Hertel-Fernandez is an assistant professor of public affairs at Columbia University. Mr. Mildenberger and Ms. Stokes are assistant professors of political science at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

  • Oct. 31, 2018. (New York Times

People on Capitol Hill are often in the dark as to what policies Americans support.Credit…Gabriella Demczuk for The New York Times

Whether the Democrats or the Republicans seize control of Congress after the midterms, you can be sure of one thing: They will have very little idea what laws the public actually wants them to act on.

The current Republican-controlled Congress is a good example. Its signature accomplishment is a tax-cut bill that hardly anyone likes or asked for and that is estimated to add about $2 trillion to the national debt over the next decade.

Only about 30 percent of Americans supported it — unlike the well over 70 percent of Americans who consistently support raising the minimum wage, background checks for gun sales and taking action on the climate crisis. Bills were actually proposed on these issues, but you would hardly know it; they were barely considered, and it goes without saying that none passed.

Congress doesn’t know what policies Americans support. We know that because we asked the most senior staff members in Congress — the people who help their bosses decide what bills to pursue and support — what they believed public opinion was in their district or state on a range of issues.

In a research paper, we compared their responses with our best guesses of what the public in their districts or states actually wanted using large-scale public opinion surveys and standard models. Across the board, we found that congressional aides are wildly inaccurate in their perceptions of their constituents’ opinions and preferences.

For instance, if we took a group of people who reflected the makeup of America and asked them whether they supported background checks for gun sales, nine out of 10 would say yes. But congressional aides guessed as few as one in 10 citizens in their district or state favored the policy. Shockingly, 92 percent of the staff members we surveyed underestimated support in their district or state for background checks, including all Republican aides and over 85 percent of Democratic aides.

The same is true for the four other issues we looked at: regulating carbon emissions to address the climate crisis, repealing the Affordable Care Act, raising the federal minimum wage and investing in infrastructure. On climate change, the average aide thought only a minority of his or her district wanted action, when in truth a majority supported regulating carbon.

Across the five issues, Democratic staff members tended to be more accurate than Republicans. Democrats guessed about 13 points closer to the truth on average than Republicans.

George Hunt

Toward Self Sufficiency

email:  landscape185@gmail.com

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