Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Site news, or rather me news

I'm taking a couple of days off from work in order to have a great time -- specifically, I'm painting my house. This doesn't prevent me from posting here, but it does prevent me from being all serious and well-sourced the way I usually like to be, and maybe that means erratic posting for a while.

I am moved to say, however, that President Obama's problem is that he is not dickish enough. Until Wednesday he had resolutely, courageously, forthrightly absolutely refused to exercise leadership on even the most pressing crises facing the nation. Finally he gets on TV and expresses a bit of irritation with the monolithically dishonest and downright lunatic opposition and the hairhats are all "Oooh, how uncivil."

Listen, what he should have been saying for the past year is really simple. It just about fits on a bumper sticker.

The reason why the United States currently has a large federal budget deficit, and faces growing deficits in the future, is entirely because of the Bush tax cuts and the unfunded Bush wars. It is the fault (with some regrettable Democratic collaborators) of the Republican Congress and Administration of 2001-2005. Period. Let the Bush tax cuts expire and wind up the wars, and the problem goes away. We do not need to cut domestic discretionary spending which is in fact already substantially lower than it is in the European democracies and Canada.

A few more points.

The U.S. currently has the lowest federal tax burden since Dwight Eisenhower was president -- lower than when Ronald Reagan was president. Reagan, by the way, raised taxes, six times, because he was not as irresponsible as the current lunatic Republican party. If we just return to Reagan era tax rates, we'll be in pretty good shape.

It was another Republican icon, Dwight D. Eisenhower, who warned of precisely the situation in which we now find ourselves, with extremely powerful vested interests with the political power to win bloated, useless levels of military procurement, which are not in the interest of national security and are nothing but waste.

Unemployment is not caused by budget deficits. Right now, we have unemployment because there isn't enough demand in the economy for the goods and services that workers produce. Under these circumstances, federal budget deficits are good. We need more spending, not less. That will put the economy on a growth path which will, among other good results, help reduce future deficits.

As long as the government is spending money, it should spend it on worthwhile investments that will further strengthen the future economy. I.e., not weapons (see above), but rather renewable energy technology, transportation infrastructure that will conserve energy use in the future and connect urban neighborhoods with jobs, education and quality food stores (i.e., not more highways), education, and other good stuff that will benefit the people. The so-called Free Market™ does not produce enough of this. And that, by the way, is the true Economics 101.

Finally, raising taxes on rich people does not destroy jobs. Just because they will get to keep $30 million from some effort or transaction, instead of, say, $40 million, does not mean they will stop investing or close down their companies. And if some CEO decides that keeping $30 million a year instead of $40 million makes the whole thing just not worth it and retires to Aruba, I'm sure someone else will be happy to take the job. So cut out the crap.

Finally, the continual growth in health care spending is a real problem. It is not specifically a Medicare problem, in fact Medicare is more efficient than private health insurance, although it is a problem for Medicare, not to mention Medicaid. But the solution is not to take health insurance away from more and more people, or give people crappy insurance that doesn't meet their needs, which is what Republicans want to do. Really. The solution is to spend our health care dollars more wisely. Go ahead, call that rationing. Rationing means to allocate resources justly and efficiently. It's a good word. It's a good thing to do. So let's do it.

Go ahead Mr. President, be a dick.

1 comment:

robin andrea said...

Thanks for writing it down. I've been thinking it, but don't have the energy to spell it out so succinctly.