Friday, January 2, 2015

Chameleon Man

It's funny to me how everyone today wears a label of one sort or another, usually "liberal" or "conservative".  I'll write one thing, and my conservative friends will scream, "He's a raving liberal".  Then a few weeks later I'll give another of my unsolicited opinions and my liberal friends will yell, "Oh no, he's sipped at the Tea Party well."  Truth is my opinions are usually based on a longer ranged, common sense, outcome based models.  Consider this:

I saw this in a recent online business journal....

Our income is grossly unequal and needs to become more balanced.

*I knew it.  He's gone raving liberal.*  Look carefully.  Look at the dates of the last time things got this skewed.  1928-1932, the beginning of The Great Depression.  When the massive, consuming middle class is held down, our economic system bursts under the strain.  We almost saw that in 2008, but were saved (temporarily?) to see stock market highs again today grow into the stratosphere.  Can this go on forever?  Does anything?

Look at our most stable period, 1948-1970.  Our largest employer was GM, and their average pay/benefits adjusted to 2014 dollars was over $50 an hour.  Today our largest employer is Walmart, and their average store employee makes $8.81.  Figuring in their executives and salaried workers, their average pay packet is still only $12.78 an hour.  Numbers like those don't have the buying power to keep our economy going indefinitely.

Beginning in about 1970 (see chart) we became enamored with the idea of "trickle down economics" breaks to the more affluent so they can accumulate even more wealth and use it to create new jobs for an expanding middle class, or so the theory went.  As we now see, many of those new jobs were often bottom-feeding jobs, but *big shock* the 0.1% began their rapid rise to controlling 22% of our wealth.  Again, this can't go on indefinitely.  Never worked, never will.

Change tack:

We need to approve the Keystone pipeline ASAP.  *Oh he's a card carrying Tea Partyer.*  Why?  Because the oil will make it south anyway, only more and more will come here via railroad tank cars, traveling through towns and cities, where accidents and terrorism can bring down havoc on us all.  Common sense says moving oil by rail is NOT ideal.

Plus this is just one more component in some day making us energy independent.  That means more US dollars staying at home vs going overseas to countries that do NOT have our best interests at heart.  It will make us STRONGER, and it's at a time of economic strength that we can begin to phase out all the tax breaks, subsidies, and other perks the wealthy have used since the 1970's to gain a strangle-hold on the middle class.  Over time income will begin to level out, and in the long run we'll all be better off for it.

Is the US going downhill?  Unless we do something, yes, we probably are.  But does it HAVE to be this way?  NO, not at all!  We need to sit together, liberals and conservatives, look at things from a longer ranged perspective and not just from a "what's in it for me now" position, dust off our 'common sense' gene, and make some tough decisions.

It's the start of a new year.  Let's begin it with a new, can-do attitude.  Anyone have the guts to give it a try?  Think we can get any politicians to compromise for our common good?



  1. Interesting chart, as you know I have a great deal of mistrust in charts and statistics, they are usually compiled with an agenda in mind, also I'm not sure where they get these statistics. Before President Reagan when tax rates were at 90% for income above $100,000 lots of wealth was hidden...more so than today. Also, looking at that chart, as I recall the years '69 - 76 were pretty grim. Stagflation and other nasty stuff, but I do agree with much of what you say, you Tea Party loving commie pinko radical you!

    1. Ah, a fellow skeptic. Yes, stats can and are often used to mislead, and I don't know if these numbers are spot-on perfect, but the underlying assumptions are undeniable: In the late 20's the rich had a strangle hold on our economy, and their practices brought us to near disaster. The middle class heyday was the post-WWII era. And tax rates of 90% were irrelevant if money was hidden anyway. It was with the advent of "trickle down economics" that it wasn't necessary to hide money from the tax man thanks to all the loopholes, credits, etc that were became openly legal. Now we've gone too far, and no "good time" can go on forever. We can't keep living high on borrowed money. We, the middle class, need to be enjoying the good life on money we EARNED, not on money we have to pay back with interest.

  2. Actually when tax rates were lowered is when many loopholes were eliminated. Of course there have undoubtedly been a few new ones invented, but try writing off a three martini lunch or claim your den as office space, or you cabin cruiser as "entertainment." My grandfather had his own business and he referred to his small boat and his new car every two years as ":sundry." I'm not discounting your theory, but the economy with is more complicated then weather predicting, it is not a science, it is a moving constantly changing and adjusting incredibly complicated mish-mosh.

  3. I fail to see how the Keystone Pipeline is good for the U.S. As I understand it, it would be used to move Canadian oil to foreign nations (not the U.S.) So how does that benefit the U.S. of A.? Especially when the few dozen jobs it would create would only be temporary.

  4. The Keystone Pipeline makes no sense. It won't create that many jobs and oil spills will no doubt happen on pristine American soill. And it isn't even OUR oil. Now with the price of oil dropping the pipeline makes even less sense than it did before. And with the Polar caps melting ships will be able to load Canadian oil more directly than transporting it all the way the New Orleans. A few billionaires will benefit from this pipeline, at the expense of everyone else.

  5. Yeah...I'm not so sure about how Canadian oil going through the US and then being shipped to other nations will benefit the US. Maybe building solar panels might benefit us in the US more than having, oh...let's say, German companies do it here. But what do I know.

    Totally with you on the "sitting together" stuff!

  6. There's more to the pipeline than just building it. There are many other jobs downstream. And while the oil might be from Canada, it will be refined and transhipped from here. It's all part of a giant mosaic of energy strength for not just the US, but North America. And yes, other parts of that mosaic include many different types of renewables. Fossil fuels can be the bridge to get us to the next era of clean energy.