Tuesday, May 20, 2014

May 20 2014: If the Democrats had any sense…(they are better than the Republicans, but it’s a moot point) they would zero in on a small number of critical political reforms—and would lead with gender equality. In the context of 2014, it is totally unjust, unfair, and morally wrong for women to to paid, and otherwise treated, as second class citizens. We men haven’t done so well. So, let’s share everything 50/50 and see what happens. In the context of 2016, it would be—and should be—an election winning strategy. It would also be the right thing to do. And, by the way, it would boost the economy.

One of the factors a country's economy depends on is human capital. If you don't provide women with adequate access to healthcare, education and employment, you lose at least half of your potential. So, gender equality and women's empowerment bring huge economic benefits.

Michelle Bachelet

WATCH WHAT THEY DO, NOT WHAT THEY SAY.  All political parties are coalitions of interests—s0 the acid test is how they vote. Currently, and since the George W. Bush administration, congressional Republicans have voted as if they were all solidly ultra Right Wing. This adds up to a self righteous, extremist set of beliefs which demonstrate a remarkably lack of  social concern.  In essence, they seem to believe that you are on your own—and if misfortune strikes, well, it’s up to the individual to cope—in most cases—without government assistance . In essence, Republicans pretend not to believe in government—except where National Security and the Legal System are concerned. Everything else, they seem to think, should be the province of the private sector which will self regulate. 

  • ANTI OBAMA. They are opposed to anything and everything Obama either stands for, or wants to do—regardless of the merits of the idea or the National Interest.
  • PRO ULTRA RIGH. They are consistently pro the ultra rich—regardless of the interests of most Americans—and pro corporate management.
  • ANTI FINANCIAL REGULATION. They are anti any and all financial regulation—even though the Great Recession, which practically wrecked this country, could have been prevented if there had been adequate regulation.
  • HYPOCRITES RE FREE MARKET. Contrary to what they say, they are anti the free market—because the special deals they cook up with corporate lobbyists essentially give one group or other a competitive advantage—which is the antithesis of free competition.
  • PRO UNFETTERED CAPITALISM. They purport to be in favor of unfettered capitalism—which essentially means the free market operating free of regulation. The argument is that left free, markets naturally regulate themselves. The evidence does not support that view.
  • ANTI WORKER RIGHTS & TRADE UNIONS. They are vehemently opposed to worker rights and trade unions—even though U.S. corporations working abroad have no problem at all respecting worker rights and dealing with unions—and in many case are more profitable than in the U.S.
  • RACIST. They are racist without actually talking about overtly about race. It is no accident that the Republican party is so strongly entrenched in the South and in the hearts of white males.
  • ANTI WOMEN. They are anti-women in a host of different ways. If they were not, gender equality would now be the law.
  • ANTI GOVERNENT. They are consistently ant-government regardless of the issue—even though a series of popular government programs underpins the American way of life. They have devoted particular efforts to destroying the credibility of government and thus destroying the trust—social capital—which helps to make government and a nation work. This deliberate and systematic destruction of the credibility of government—which we need whether we like it or not—has had entirely negative results.
  • ANTI ENVIRONMENTAL REGULATIONS. They are consistently anti environment regulations even though the first serious pro environment legislation was passed by a Republican, Richard Nixon—and despite the fact that the health consequences of a polluted environment are self evident.
  • MINDLESSLY PRO CORPORATIONS. They are pro corporations unconditionally despite the blatant malfeasance of many corporations—from financial institutions to fast food. They support the legal fiction that corporations are people when it is self-evident that they are not.
  • MINDLESSLY PRO DEFENSE. They are mindlessly pro defense regardless of the requirement. Virtually all Americans want the U.S. to remain strong, able to defend itself, and capable of deterring aggression—but that does not mean we need to spend as much as we do (or as carelessly as we do). The MICC (Military Industrial Congressional Complex) has become a deeply corrupt corporate welfare system which costs this nation over $1 trillion a year (if all National Security expenditures are included).
  • MINDLESSLY PRO LAW AND ORDER. They are mindlessly pro law and order even though the end result of ill considered law enforcement and excessive sentencing is to imprison a disproportionate number of citizens relative to the rest of the world and to have an an equally disproportionate impact on African Americans. Both the costs and social consequences of all this are devastating.
  • ANTI IMMIGRATION REFORM. They are opposed to immigration reform despite the fact that the current situation is clearly so detrimental to the economy as a whole, and to millions of undocumented residents in particular.
  • ANTI TAX REFORM & TAX INCREASES. Even though there is broad recognition that the existing tax system is excessively complex, grossly unfair, and offers too many loopholes which favor corporate interests and those of the ultra rich, Republicans are—generally speaking—opposed to tax reform—and are utterly opposed to any and all tax increases. No one likes tax increases but, in the US., we have the indefensible situation that currently the ultra rich, and many of the rich, pay a lower percentage of their income in taxes that those earning a fraction of their income. It makes no sense at all, for instance, that dividends should be taxed at a lower rate than regular earnings.
  • ANTI NATIONAL PLANNING. They are opposed to any kind of industrial policy or national planning even though our competitors—who are mostly doing better than us (at least where the average citizen is concerned) all plan. In other words, Republicans reject planning—even though it demonstrably works—for ideological reasons.
  • ANTI DIRECT ACTION TO HELP THE UNEMPLOYED. Unemployment undermines worker bargaining power so helps keep labor costs down. Republicans seem to believe that this is better for society than taking a range of possible actions to eliminate unemployment. They overlook the vast scale of the human misery involved together with the direct and indirect costs.
  • PRO-AUSTERITY EVEN DURING A RECESSION. Even though the track record of austerity—tried both in the U.S. and Europe extensively since 2008—is one of dismal failure, Republicans seem addicted to it (with disastrous results).

Given the above, almost entirely negative, set of beliefs and policies—’most of which fly in the face of the evidence (and which Republicans do not adhere to anyway when in office) you would have to wonder why the Democrats have such a hard time getting their message across.

More on that issue later.



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