American Political Myths – Austerity

The American economy, or any economy for that matter, is a system whereby products and services are created by some people, groups, organizations, or other unit of society, and obtained (consumed) by another person, group, organization, or other unit of society.  Creation usually means the obtaining and conversion of resources into a product (known by economists as Supply), which in theory adds value to the system by creating a product that has more value than the resources used in the creation process.  Those who do the creating are known as suppliers.  Those who desire the product (consumers) usually obtain it in exchange for something of value that they have acquired and/or earned, in most cases this would be money.  The desire of consumers is known to economists as demand.  So, you may be able to tell from this description, this system will only work when the desire of consumers for the product (demand) is high enough that they are willing to pay more to obtain it than it costs the suppliers to create it, and this difference is known as profits.

This is, of course, a very basic and simple description of an extremely complex and convoluted process.  For instance, the supply/demand dynamic exists in the process whereby suppliers obtain the resources they need to make their products, and in the hiring and work process through which consumers earn the money they use to buy the products.  Everyone in the system is both a supplier and a consumer to some extent.  So, there are multiple levels of supply vs. demand dynamics going on throughout the entire economic system.  And, the whole thing comes full circle because the jobs consumers do to earn money to buy products usually mean they are working for suppliers who make products!  So, part of a supplier’s cost of making a product includes paying employees the money they will use to buy products!  Are we dizzy yet?  But at all levels of interaction, the basic relationship between supply and demand dictates the terms of the exchange of products from suppliers to consumers, and the name for these terms of exchange is price.  What does it cost for the supplier to make the product, how much profit do they want to make, and how much is the consumer willing to pay for the product.

But the theory of Supply and Demand goes beyond this simple dynamic to encompass an additional factor, known as competition.  Because resources are finite, so to is supply.  The same is true for demand.  Suppliers compete for limited resources from which they make their products, and they compete for customers with other suppliers making the same products.  Consumers compete with other consumers for work and income with which they will obtain products, and because income is also finite, a consumer’s desire and need for one product has to compete with that consumer’s desire and need for other products.  The Supply and Demand theory basically says that the variable that is impacted by all this competition on both sides of the equation is price.  Actually, the competition impacts the two variables of supply and demand, and these variables then impact the price of the product.  As the theory goes, more supply and less demand means a lower price, and less supply with more demand means a higher price.

Well, as with just about everything in life, it’s not really that simple.  The main variables in this process, competition, limited resources, desire & need for products, supply, demand, and others are ALL affected by hundreds of other variables, conditions, circumstances, and situations.  Just about anything that varies in life can have an impact on the basic economic process.  This creates a virtual infinite amount of complexity, which is why fixing the economy is always such a difficult thing to do.

But there are two main philosophies that are derived from the two main variables in the process –  supply and demand.  On the one hand, some say that making things easier and cheaper for suppliers to innovate, invent, and make products will lower the price of products, create better products, and thus benefit the consumer.  This is known as supply-side economics.  On the other hand, there are those who say that helping the consumer have more money, get a better job, and have more discretionary income, will increase demand, raise price, increase profits, and stimulate innovation and invention, all good for the suppliers.  This is known as demand-side economics.  These philosophies are not mutually exclusive, and I do not believe that proponents of either side think that their philosophy can be implemented to the exclusion of the other.

However, these two economic philosophies do drive a whole host of issues, and have created a wide gulf between sides when it comes to government economic policy making.  Things like “trickle-down economics,” austerity programs, social programs, taxation policies, and much more are debated and fought over with arguments generally taken from the two main economic philosophies:  Supply-side and Demand-side economics.  Republicans use supply-side arguments to push tax breaks for businesses and the wealthy (the “job makers”), and Democrats use demand-side arguments to argue for social programs and tax breaks for the average consumer.  Both sound reasonable, and one would think that a nice balance between the two would be the most effective.  But….

Republicans in Congress, backed by the wealthy and huge corporations, actually do want to implement supply-side economics to the exclusion of demand-side.  They use the deficit as a weapon of fear and call for “austerity” to fix the problem.  Never mind that the Bush tax cuts were the largest redistribution of wealth in history (from the middle class and poor to the wealthy), and that the wealthy are paying lower income tax rates than anytime in recent history.  Never mind that the wealth gap in this country is at record proportions.  Never mind that the wealthiest 400 Americans now have more wealth than the lower 150 million Americans.  Never mind any of this because Republicans are still fighting tooth and nail to protect the top 1% in this country from paying any more in taxes.  Republicans are still fighting to keep subsidies and tax loop holes for the wealthiest corporations.  But Republicans do have a plan to fix the deficit –  give even more to the wealthy and huge corporations and put the rest of America on an “austerity” program.  They want to do this by cutting Social Security, Medicare, and ALL government spending things like unemployment and social programs of all kinds.

So, the Republicans want us all to tighten our belts (even if we cannot afford a belt) while their wealthy donors continue to sit high and pretty, never even feeling any impact from the recession that has destroyed so many lives.  When asked why and how this will fix the deficit, the response is the same old tired supply-side arguments –  we cannot tax the “job makers” and government spending on social programs is out of control.  Only cuts in spending will bring the deficit down, and programs like Social Security and Medicare are too expensive.  Again, never mind that none of this is true to begin with, instead let’s take a quick look as way “austerity” will really do.

All things being equal, demand-side economics is more important, and more effective, than supply side.  Consider the extremes.  If you took all the money away from consumers and gave it to suppliers, there would be no demand.  If there is no demand, no business executive in his or her right mind is going to add jobs, invest in more production, or innovate to make better products, no matter how much cash they have in the bank.  If consumers have no money, you will have to reduce your price to zero for them to afford it.  Now, let’s look at the other extreme.  Give all the money to consumers and none to business owners.  What happens then.  Well, there is this entire industry called banking that would be eager to invest in businesses that have huge demand.  The bottom line is that, in the face of great demand for their products, business owners will find ways to increase jobs & production to satisfy that demand.  In the face huge supply, low prices, but no money, what is a poor consumer going to do?  There is very little they can do.

The fact of the matter is that the flow of money in an economy is unidirectional –  from consumers to suppliers.  Government intervention to take money from consumers and give it to suppliers bypasses the system and there is NO VALUE ADDED.  Helping consumers have more money to spend, even at the expense of the so-called “job makers” feeds the system, adds value, and everyone wins.  Every dollar that is not in a senior’s pockets because of cuts to Medicare or Social Security is a dollar that is not spent into the economy.  All “austerity” does is slow the economy, reduce consumer spending, kill jobs, reduce income taxes being paid, and yes, that all INCREASES the deficit, not reduces it.

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Enough is Enough!

In response to a letter to the editor in a local newspaper yesterday, one that ranted on against Obama by listing every crazy conspiracy every invented, I sent in the following letter of my own (we’ll see if they actually print it):

“It is more than disappointing to see such baseless anti-Obama ravings in the local newspaper (“Obama’s Secrets” 3/6/13), it’s downright disgusting and subversive. Face it, the only thing questionable about Obama to such folks is that he is Black. Obama is far from perfect, but he has more integrity, honesty, brains, and yes Americanism, in his little finger than Bush, his entire administration, and all of today’s Congressional Republicans, have in their entire bodies combined.

Beyond the fact of legal citizenship, being American is more about the basic philosophies of equality, opportunity, freedom, liberty, and doing what’s right, than anything else. By that measure, Obama is more American than the entire GOP. Sorry to be so harsh, but I am sick and tired of Conservatives believing the multitude of lies that vindicate their irrational hatred of government, their impossible insistence on having everything exactly as it was in the 1700′s, and their short-sighted and narrow-minded evaluations of the issues of today, while destroying the country and lives of millions in the process. You can lead Conservatives to the truth, but you cannot stop them from denying it.

The realities are that the America people had the good sense to vote for a liberal and progressive agenda in 2012. Only GOP-led state redistricting kept the House out of the hands of the Democrats as well as the Presidency and the Senate. Democrats got more votes, but Republicans got more seats. Government of, for, and by the people my butt!”

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An Intervention

This was my latest letter to the editor at our local newspaper.  This should be given to all Conservatives.

Those of you who believe that Obama, Democrats, and Liberal philosophies are anything but very good for all Americans, including the wealthy, are seriously delusional.  As my neighbors and fellow Americans, I love you folks, but this is an intervention, and interventions can be harsh.

You need to cut the Faux Noise (Fox News) umbilical cord and disconnect yourself from the Matrix.  Come over from the Dark Side to the real world.  You should flush Rush out of your system, move away from Stepford, and stop following the lemmings in front of you.  Get yourself out of the holodeck and start thinking with your brain instead of your brain stem.

I prescribe that you start watching MSNBC news.  If it’s painful for you, just consider it a withdrawal from a decades-long addiction to the lies and manipulations of Right-Wing pundits and propaganda outlets.  Try questioning what you believe, or were led to believe, and do the research.  Check the facts, the numbers, and history.  Believe me, I’ve done all of that.  I had no choice – I am hard-wired for logic, reason, analysis, and truth-finding.  And that is how I became a liberal – through using my brain instead of my gut.

What happened in this election?  The deceit, flip-flopping, hateful derision, and racism of the Right-Wing pundits and politicians became so blatant and transparent that many of the good but deceived people of America finally began to realize what a radical bunch of idiots the Republican Party has become.

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Going Backwards

My latest letter to the editor:

The American economy is on the mend.  Yes, it is painfully slow and still has a long way to go, but that is the nature of the beast – efforts to help the economy take years.  But in the case of today’s economy, the extremely slow & difficult recovery is also a function of two additional forces.

The first is just how badly years of Republican deregulation and tax cuts for the wealthy screwed things up.  The collapse of 2008  resulted from extremely short-sighted and short-term risky behavior by a deregulated Wall Street, AND down-right fraud and cheating in the mortgage industry, again only possible because of deregulation.  The national debt crisis can be largely attributed to Bush’s illegal wars, and  to the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy.  This trickle-down philosophy has been in effect since 2001, and has been a job-killer, NOT a job-maker.

The second force has been 4 years of unprecedented and record-breaking obstructionism by Republicans in Congress.  Their stated TOP priority has been to make sure Obama is a one-term President.  That’s their TOP priority – more important to them than the economy, jobs, or foreign policy.  They have sabotaged the recovery to make Obama look bad.

So, why on earth are Conservatives now pulling for two men who want to not only put the same devastating policies and philosophies in effect, but they want to double down on them.  Doing the same thing and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity.

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American Political Myths – Big Government

Conservatives, Libertarians, and others are always assailing us with the evils of big government.  But what does this mean exactly?  They seem to want government out of some things, but not others.  Free enterprise, laissez-faire, and the “invisible hand” theory all point to allowing business a free hand (no pun intended) in whatever they want to do.  State rights advocates seem to think states can individually control everything for their residents without impacting other states or the country.  Gun ownership, land use, and property rights all indicate an individual freedom to do whatever you want on your own property, and even on public property.

On the other side of the coin, most of these same folks won’t even whisper big government when it comes to their propensity to want to control the behavior of others when it comes to their moral and religious beliefs.  Sexual behavior, religious beliefs, and morality are all fair game for government intervention, as long as it adheres to their narrow definitions of these concepts.

So, let’s start the reduction of big government by legalizing prostitution, abortion, pornography, drugs, and marriage for anyone (including group marriage, man-on-dog, and any other combination you can think of).  Let’s give the state and local governments the power to ban Christianity in favor of Mormon or Buddhist beliefs.  While we are at it, let’s remove all regulations and controls on the truth of advertising, the safety of drugs, vehicles, and air traffic, and anything else that might be protecting citizens while preventing huge businesses from making their extra billions in profits.

The truth of the matter is that these concepts of big government or small government, state & individual rights, and just about any other concept involving the running of a society are subjective and not really based in reality.  Yes, most of us would agree that a total dictatorship, the ultimate in big government intrusion, is a bad thing.  We would probably also agree that total individual freedom, which means survival of the fittest, is bad because it means just that –  only the biggest, strongest, smartest, or most ruthless survive.  The rest of us would be dead or in slavery.  So, something in between, which requires an extremely difficult balancing act, is what is needed.

The problem with most Conservatives is that they are just plain hypocrites –  whether consciously or unconsciously.  What they really want is the freedom to do whatever they want, including controlling what everyone else does.  The problem with Libertarians is that they are in love with the concepts of small government and personal freedoms, but have no understanding of the practicality and reality of what these concepts really mean.

The simple truth is that there is no such thing as total & complete individual freedom.  Even if you were the only human being in the universe, your behavior is still limited by the laws of physics and nature.  Beyond that, the presence of multiple human beings in the same vicinity produces a concept known as competition –  the battle to control & consume resources that are not infinite.  The more people, the more competition, and the more limitations on behavior.  In other words the possible degree of individual freedom is inversely related to the density of the population.

What this means is that the need for SOCIAL rules & laws, limiting individual behavior, is directly related to the density of the population.  Otherwise, you have what we call “survival of the fittest,” which is nature’s way of reducing the population density to match the available resources.  That may sound good if you are lucky enough to be one of the fittest, but for the bulk of the population it is not going to work out very well.

Government is nothing more than a mechanism for creating and enforcing the social rules & laws required to prevent the population from being reduced to one.  Conservatives and Libertarians like to talk about the lack of efficiency in government.  Well, the simplest and most efficient form of government is a dictatorship, with one master and millions of slaves.  Efficiency, of course, cannot be defined in a vacuum.  It can only be defined in light of a desired goal or outcome.  The uniqueness of the great American experiment, known as Democracy, is that for the first time the agreed-upon desired goal for government is to maximize the freedoms, liberties, affluence, and happiness of ALL citizens, not just an elite few.  And that is a balancing act of huge proportions.

So, what is the size and nature of government that would be most efficient AND effective is achieving that goal?  That is the question that needs to be objectively (not subjectively) answered, and answered in light of the realities imposed by limited resources, population density, and the nature and practicality of life in a society where the overriding goal is to maximize benefits to all members of the society.  This does not mean simply dividing the money and resources equally among all of society’s members.  That would ignore the reality of the nature of human beings, which is that we are all different, with different needs, wants, and goals.  Just as every individual is different, so is their definition of the concept of “maximization” of freedom, liberty, affluence and happiness.  These terms mean different things to each of us, and we are all also different is the amount and type of efforts we are willing to make in achieving our individual goals. 

But what this goal for society DOES mean is that all of society’s members must have the same opportunities to fulfill their individual goals and satisfy their individual needs.  This is not the “equal opportunity” that has been defined by government for businesses in the past.  What “same opportunities” in this context means is that society strives to ensure that equal “levels” of effort and participation result in equal “levels” of needs & goal fulfillment.  The nature and content of both sides of this equation (efforts & participation = needs & goal fulfillment) will be as different and individual as people are different and individual.

So, why do the “big government” rhetoric, theories, and demands of Conservatives & Libertarians NOT achieve this unique American ideal as purported?  Why do their big three contentions (freedom for business, freedom for individuals, and all power to the states) actually destroy this American ideal instead of achieving it?  Let’s take a brief look.

The fatal flaw in laissez-faire and pure capitalism is the fact that one of the ways that those who seek power and wealth can achieve their goals is to PREVENT others from having the same opportunities to reach their desired level of affluence and happiness.  In other words, without regulation, the system can be “gamed.”  Without government-imposed limitations, the captains of industry can engage in extremely profitable practices that are harmful, and even fatal (in the case of health care and prescription drugs) to their customers.  Those who are naive claim that doing that would kick in some kind of “invisible hand” self-correcting process that would punish those engaging in these practices.  This ignores the very real possibility of necessities being controlled by monopolies and top executives being willing to make a fast billion and then quit the business.  The false assumption here is that all big business decision makers place the LONG-TERM success of the business as their highest priority.  I believe the actions of executives on Wall Street and in the financial industry over the last 10 years has shown just how false that assumption can be.

What about the ideas supporting the movement of more power and control from the federal government to the state and local governments?  Well, maybe if this were still the 1700′s those ideas might have some merit.  The realities of the 20th century are vastly different than the 1700′s.  It is simply not possible or practical for states to have more control, especially in light of the federal government’s responsibility to seek the goal of Democracy as explained above for ALL citizens.  Exactly what aspects of modern life can be successfully contained & controlled within the borders of a local or state government?  Pollution, communication technology (the Internet, telephones, cell phones, radio, television), population mobility, interstate commerce, and a million other aspects of today’s reality simply ignore political borders.  As the world shrinks, as we all know it has, decentralized control becomes more and more impossible.  Besides, the supposed proponents of smaller government, the Republicans, now that they have taken control of states like Michigan, are actually using local budget problems as an excuse to seize control of these local areas away from their duly elected officials by sending in state “Emergency Managers” who have total power over all decisions.  Just how is that in line with wanting smaller and more localized government??

The final mantra of Conservatives & Libertarians discussed in this article is the idea of individual rights and freedoms, as applied to things like gun ownership, land use, religion, property rights, and others.  It is worth mentioning again that these rights do not seem to extend to things like same-sex marriage, pornography, prostitution, and non-Christian religions.  As I said –  very hypocritical.  But beyond all that still lies the same realities of population density and limited resources.  Your individual rights, including freedom of speech, do NOT extend to the point where exercising them suppresses the individual rights of others.  Where that stopping point lies depends on what rights you are exercising and the density of population.  Your activities, even on your own land and in your own house, cannot endanger the lives or rights of your neighbors.  If you live in the middle of 100 acres of your own land, building that bomb in your basement is probably not a big problem.  But if you live on a small lot in a crowded residential area, it is a whole different story.  You think you have the right to smoke in public areas?  Fine, just do NOT exhale and pollute the air others have to breath.  That is infringing on their right to breath safely.  There are a million such examples, and they all follow the same theme –  Conservatives and Libertarians simply do not consider the big picture when it comes to the extolling of the greatness of individual and state rights.

This article is not opinion.  It is simply a logical analysis of facts, reason, and reality.  Maximizing the benefits of life for a POPULATION means reducing the rights and behaviors of INDIVIDUALS.  That is simply a fact of life.  To end this article, I will include several small statements I call “simple truths.”  These are logical observations of life in American politics.

  • You cannot have freedom OF religion unless you first have freedom FROM religion
  •  So-called “jobs creators” do not create jobs because they get more money, but ONLY when they get more demand from consumers
  • Sustainable wealth can only come from adding value to the lives of the 99%. Stealing it from them is not sustainable
  • The largest “redistribution of wealth” in history was the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy
  • Our “equal pain” taxation system has been completely negated. No pain at the top, and excessive pain in the middle & bottom
  • No regulation, no accountability, no justice
  • The fatal flaw in unregulated Capitalism – personal wealth is allowed to become the priority, at the expense of the business
  • The 1% depend on a healthy and economically sound 99%
  • Every $ seniors must spend on health care is a $ they can’t spend on products
  • The end point of completely unregulated capitalism is that one person owns everything
  • The extent of individual freedom MUST be curtailed as population density increases. That’s reality
  • Another million for the top 100 will not stimulate the economy. Another $100 for the bottom million will boost the economy
  • The idea of “equal representation” is intended to be on a per person basis, NOT on a per dollar basis
  • What makes the economy strong and the nation healthy is the MEDIAN level of wealth, NOT the AVERAGE
  • Corporations are made up of thousands of people, but only the top few make decisions, why give them double person hood?
  • Democrats try to inform voters to get elected, #GOP tries to fool them
  • Conservatives cannot see past their own immediate self-interests, making them easy targets for deceit & manipulation
  • Without sensible regulation, the “invisible hand” of the free market is easily shackled by the greedy “gaming” the system
  • Massive spending on politics is NOT freedom of speech. It IS legalized extortion and bribery
  • You cannot give Freedom of Speech to Corporations when there is little Freedom of Speech WITHIN corporations
  • Immigration – the “Guilty until proven innocent” arm of law enforcement
  • Face it, not all Republicans are racist, but most racists are Republican
  • In a free-market system, gaining wealth by preventing others from fulfilling their potential is ultimately self-defeating
  • Hearing voices in your head telling you what to do is a symptom of mental illness, AND of religious fervor
  • The Constitution does not protect freedom to suppress the rights of others
  • Indefinite detainment is illegal, unconstitutional, un-American, inhumane, heinous, and a violation of everything American
  • America needs to be transformed, not reformed or regressed
  • Stimulating the economy via tax cuts works best at the bottom. Diminishing returns makes tax cuts for millionaires useless
  • Reality is an opinion-free zone
  • The laws of economics are like the laws of physics. Move everything to the top & gravity takes over and causes a collapse
  • Christianity is not about influencing politics to force your beliefs on others. So what religion is the religious Right?
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The Truth About Obama and the Economy

I’m so tired of seeing balled-faced lying Republicans on TV saying that Obama has made the economy and the jobs market worse.  Anyone who believes that, take a look at this chart and then tell me if you want to go back to 2008.  That’s what will happen if we elect Republicans in 2012.

 

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American Political Myths – The “Invisible Hand”

As the theory goes, in a free market, each individual strives to maximize his or her own gain, and in doing so is “led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention.”  The end that is promoted is “to render the annual revenue of the society as great as he can.”  As explained by Investopedia:  “Smith assumed that individuals try to maximize their own good (and become wealthier), and by doing so, through trade and entrepreneurship, society as a whole is better off.  Furthermore, any government intervention in the economy isn’t needed because the invisible hand is the best guide for the economy.”

Well, this makes some sense and does seem logical, at least on the surface.  I believe that the “invisible hand” does have the postulated effect, but certainly NOT to the magical extent claimed by free market advocates and anti-government zealots.  The economy, free market or otherwise, after all, is a system.  Like with any system, the cause & effect or natural order of things is not absolute.  These things only exist within a certain set of parameters, and even if the needed parameters are natural and expected, that does not mean that they cannot be changed or corrupted.  In other words, any system can be “gamed” by changing or messing with the parameters.

Versions of this theory, or similar theories, come under the guise of many names –  free market, free enterprise, capitalism, laissez-faire, and so on.  These ideas are gospel, and used like weapons, by those in America who support, or are controlled by, big money and greedy power.  Decades of indoctrination by the Corporate/Conservative power structure on the Right against “big government” and social programs have been based on some of these ideas.  These attacks attempt to pass these theories off as simple, absolute and undeniable, none of which is true.

The idea that government should stay completely out of all commerce and business activities is ludicrous.  Total deregulation would mean nothing stopping drug companies from advertising placebos as a cure for cancer, or worse yet, selling dangerous and untested drugs as wonder cures, even if the patients always die from taking them.  Lemon laws, false advertising laws, safety inspections of food products, usury laws, and laws preventing the defrauding of customers are ALL government interventions in business and commerce.  And these are only a few of the many laws, rules, and regulations that prevent businesses from harming customers.  Do you want to live in a country with such a small central government that none of these protections exist?

Many die-hard government haters would respond to this question with the assertion that businesses would refrain from doing these things because they would soon have no customers at all.  This is another of the pervasive off-shoots of the theories mentioned above.  Business is self-regulating because those who best satisfy customers will have the most, and those who don’t will go out of business.  Even forgetting the severity of the damage that could be done before these “bad” companies went out of business, there are other flaws in this idea. 

The obvious flaw is in a monopoly or an industry that provides necessities.  Without regulation, nothing stops a monopoly from doing whatever it wants, especially when what they provide is a necessity to people.  Second, this idea assumes that the goal of the decision makers is the continence of the business over time.  Decisions in businesses are not made by the totality of employees working at the business, but rather by a very few elite executives at the top.  These are the same executives that earn the big bucks, and can vote themselves huge bonuses.  Without regulation what is to stop unscrupulous executives from getting rich quick, even as they destroy the business?

Another idea in this vein is that government regulation and taxation of businesses stifles entrepreneurship, and creativity.  The desire for wealth is what motivates people to come up with ideas and work hard to bring them to fruition.  Well yes, but who believes that making a million at a 35% tax rate is less desirable than making 50,000 at a 20% tax rate?  Who actually believes that?  And worse yet, if Republicans in Congress had their way, billionaires would pay even less then millionaires.  The motivation to go from poor to the middle class is probably very strong.  Going from middle class to a millionaire is also a strong motivation, but probably less than getting out of poverty.  So how about becoming a billionaire, or earning hundreds of billions.  Exactly how does that maximize the total revenue of society?

As I have written before, maximizing the revenue, success, strength, or affluence of society as a whole is NOT best accomplished by each and every individual increasing and maximizing their own success (especially if maximizing means going from a millionaire to a billionaire), but rather by maximizing the fulfillment of the potential of all members of the society.  The accomplishment of a society is the aggregate of the accomplishment of all members of that society, and the wealth of a nation is NOT measured by the average wealth of its citizens, but by the MEDIAN wealth.

If this makes sense, then what is important is how to help all Americans reach their full potential, and thus maximize their accomplishment.  In something I call The Humanity Formula, I postulated an equation for maximizing accomplishment. 

Accomplishment = (potential * opportunity) –  hardship

This formula, along with the fact that potential does not adhere to socio-economic boundaries (just as much potential exists in the ghetto as in Beverly Hills, probably more), explains why social programs, educational programs, and fairness in taxation are GOOD things for society as a whole, including the wealthy.

So yes, excessive and unnecessary government regulation and involvement in business and commerce is stifling, and a bad thing for society as a whole.  But sensible regulation is absolutely necessary.  Sensible regulation must accomplish two things.  First it must keep the economic system working within those parameters that will maximize its effectiveness.  This means preventing cheating, fraud, and short-term excessive gain at the expense of destroying the system in the long run.  The second thing sensible government action must accomplish extends beyond regulation and involvement in business and commerce.  Government must do everything it can to see that as much of the available potential amongst its citizens is realized as possible.  This not only requires sensible regulation of business, but also social, educational, and financial programs that maximize the Humanity Formula above.  This means providing opportunity and reducing hardship in any way it can.  This not not a gift or welfare, but an investment in the future greatness of America.

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American Political Myths – Privatization

As the theory has always gone, a private, for-profit, organization will always be more efficient (because they are trying to make a profit) than the government when running a program or service.  There may be some validity to this idea, but there are also at least two serious flaws.

Yes, an organization that is trying to make a profit will do whatever it takes to be efficient, in order to make that profit.  A government agency may be less efficient without some external motivation (such as a mandate to save costs or a limited budget).  But the first problem with privatization is that it is immediately more costly than a government-run organization because of the requirement for a profit.  All things being equal, when you convert a government organization to a private one, you are adding profit as a requirement, and thus any efficiency gains first goes to profit, not the service or product being provided.

But there is a much more serious flaw with privatizing a government function.  The top priority for the government when it provides a service or product for the people is the service or product –  the quality.  When you turn that function over to a private, for-profit organization, the new top priority is making a profit, not the quality of service or product provided (or making sure the service or product is available to every citizen who need it).

Worse yet, the same side of the isle in Congress that is always talking about privatizing things is also constantly fighting for deregulation of private business.  If Republicans had their way, every vital service provided to American citizens would become as bad as the health care industry is today.  People are dying and going bankrupt because they are at the mercy of greedy health insurance companies.  Health insurance companies are not in business to make sure every American has access to the health care they need, they are in business to make as much profit as possible.  That is exactly why this country needs a government-run, single-payor system.  What good are efficiencies when the savings goes into the pockets of executives instead into care for the people?

Shall we do the same for Social Security, national defense and other important services that the government provides?  When effectiveness is defined as how wealthy executives and stock holders get, individual rights and needs are not even considered.  And when we are talking about a function that the government performs for its citizens, this is NOT the way to go.

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The American Awakening Event – The People

From September 27th, 2011 (better late then never), I give you the very successful American Awakening event held in Sequim Washington, and sponsored by several councils of MoveOn.  There were over 700 attendees.  This post contains the video of  the public comment after the speakers.

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The American Awakening Event – The Speakers

From September 27th, 2011 (better late then never), I give you the very successful American Awakening event held in Sequim Washington, and sponsored by several councils of MoveOn.  There were over 700 attendees.  This post contains videos of the event speakers, in the order in which they spoke.  The next post will contain videos of the public comment.

Dr. David Korten gave a rousing keynote address. David is the Board Chair of Yes! Magazine and the author of several books, including “Agenda for a New Economy” and “The Post-Corporate World.” This video is the first half of David’s keynote address.

The second half of David’s keynote address.

The next speaker was Katherine Ottaway, MD. Katherine is a family physician in Port Townsend, and a member of Mad as Hell Doctors.

 The last speaker was Robby Stern. Robby is President of the Puget Sound Alliance for Retired Americans, on the Washington State Labor Council Executive Board, and a member of AFL/CIO.

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