In Order to form a more perfect Union

As we can tell by the terrible choices that President Trump has made even just recently, it is obvious just how little he understands economics, business, social norms, international diplomacy, and anything else that has to do with being a chief executive of any organization. The question must be asked, should he be fired? And that begs the question, would Hillary Clinton have done better?

If your metric is can she perform the duties of the President of the United States without exposing her own incompetence at nearly all the same measurements that Trump has exposed? The answer is yes, of course. For many that is sufficient. And she most certainly has an understanding of social norms, there would not be any 5 am rambling nonsensical tweets to entertain and frighten us. Hillary Clinton is much too disciplined and calculating for that. Again, for many that is sufficient. And after close to a year, can we say that Donald Trump’s presidency has failed at moving the country to a more egalitarian and productive society? Absolutely. And if Hillary Clinton had won, is there any chance she would have succeeded with those goals? Legislatively, not a prayer of any success. We have already seen how the Republicans react to a mostly moderate black man’s agenda, is there any evidence that a woman would be treated any better? None.

In the international arena, her past history as Secretary of State gives us a glimpse into how she would run international policy. Simply put, her policy would align a lot closer to the McCain / Graham view than Trump’s. Of course, Trump runs US foreign policy almost exactly like Rufus T Firefly ran Freedonia’s foreign policy; no comfort there. Economic policy which is a large piece of what happens in a country includes fiscal policy, tax policy, government management of how the economy operates including the government funding of education, health care, retirement, banking, infrastructure development, anti-trust enforcement, environmental issues, public spaces, and many more. Clinton would have made appointments to head the agencies that manage all these areas that are much more appropriate than the appointments made by Trump. There are two caveats to this observation, Clinton would not get the best people available to head these agencies due to inevitable Republican obstructionism, and her favored appointments would all, to a person, represent neo-liberal economic policy. In other words the same policy initiated under Reagan, slightly made more compassionate under Bill Clinton so that Democrats could adopt it and so on. The history of neo-liberal economics is a slide that over it’s nearly 40 year lifespan has expanded the wealth of large corporations, very rich individuals, and created ever wider income inequality. Clinton, during her campaign never disavowed her allegiance to the continuation of neo-liberal economics. Trump, is most certainly worse. His appointments are almost entirely unqualified for their positions, often they are the antithesis of the selection that should be made. Trump too, has not disavowed an allegiance to neo-liberal economics. In continuing a failed economic explanation and putting incompetent persons in charge, he has exposed the weaknesses of the policy, himself, and Republicans.

If you have read along this far, then permit me to point out the reasons I did not vote for Clinton (or Trump for that matter) since all the items I listed above were essentially expected before the election. I feel this is important because as I have listed Clinton would have been a better President based on optics. But not based on the impact of her policy choices, except of course, in the area of understanding social norms and utilizing rhetoric considered appropriate for a President. In order to reverse the decline of American shared wealth I cannot abide a President that will not run on a platform that continues the neo-liberal economy and also supports the neo-con international agenda. No matter who, no matter what the optics, it is a continuous slide downhill with history’s dustbin at the bottom of the slide.

Here are a few things the Democrats have done since Trump’s election that convinces me even more that unconsciously America made the only choice it had available to save itself from the dustbin.

Once Trump was elected the Democrats called themselves “The Resistance” implying that the party and it’s followers would actively do anything legally allowed to prevent Trump (and by extension, the Republicans) from implementing their agenda. Recall, it was the Democrats that ran all of their campaigns as a plebiscite on Trump and the Republicans, essentially in place of advocating any full throated policy, and never addressing the concerns of a large portion of their presumed base – Progressives.

The Democrats in their role as “The Resistance” rolled over and allowed Trump to put in place people clearly not qualified for their job. The Democrats allowed Trump and the Republicans to expand military spending after publicly stating how much they distrusted Trump’s foreign policy. The Democrats failed to back candidates that ran against Republicans in special elections that would not swear allegiance to neo-liberal economics. Democrats stood mute and voted no on a bill for tax reform that was not ready for a vote. It had hand scribbled notes on the margins, there was not enough time for anyone to read the bill before deciding their vote, voting no instead of abstain was capitulation and allowed Republicans to claim victory while demeaning the tradition of deliberation and debate on critical policy. Democratic leadership has stated that impeachment is currently off the table, a statement a Congressperson should never utter. Impeachment is a tool that the founders gave to Congress so that a President cannot overstep his bounds or prove incapable of performing the job of president, as defined solely by Congress. After the election, Democrats chose not to challenge vote totals in very close states. Utter capitulation. There is no resistance from the establishment Democrats, and there is no sign that any is forthcoming.

I could go further and discuss how Democrats took Progressive voters for granted. Instead I will wrap up this rant.

What we have now is a President who is supporting idiotic international agendas and a few sane ones too. His economic agenda is everything the Republicans have dreamed about, since daddy Bush’s lips were found to be lying lips. But the Republicans have been clamoring for these policies, insisting it will jump start our economy, and Trump insisted he alone could shut down our enemies (real or perceived). I guess we will find out about the economic policy. It is obvious that the Democrats half assed economic policy was not doing anything for us, let’s see what Republican economic policy does. Sliding down into a dustbin at a slower speed is not going to help anyone.

This is democracy. A flawed system on its best days. On its worst days, all the parts fail and we end up with candidates unworthy of representing us. The election of 2016 was possibly the worst day in American history, but it did not happen without cause. Both candidates for president and nearly most candidates for office across the country were the result of years of political malfeasance and willful neglect of two of the Constitution’s guiding principles as stated in the preamble. To provide for the General Welfare and to create a more perfect Union. When only the admonition followed is to provide for safety and ignore all the other is to force all of us into fearing for our safety, worried about our own welfare, and ready to rip up the very document that asks us to strive for perfection – a plea to keep making improvements from our founders who knew their document was anything but perfect.

Thomas Jefferson famously wrote that “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” We have an opportunity to refresh the tree with metaphorical blood, and that can only happen if we stop allowing establishment politics, Democrats and Republicans, to define the limits of our choices. Part of the American experiment has failed. I contend that failure is attributable to our two party “system” and we should dismantle it, impeach Trump on grounds of incompetence and force other politicians to resign that are not capable of doing their job according to the Constitution’s “Mission Statement”.

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America”

Advertisements

United We Stand – Divided We Get Trampled

So many, many people are upset. Some are Democrats, probably most Democrats. but Republicans are as well, but probably not most. Last of all, every single person that does not pledge allegiance to either the Democrats or the Republicans are upset. Of course they are upset that in an era with a reported low unemployment rate, jobs are scarce, for those with jobs their pay is barely keeping up with inflation. They are upset because we are at war all over the world, and once a month we hear about a soldier or two being killed in a country that many Americans never heard of. They are upset because every week another mass shooting takes place, or an unarmed black youth is gunned down by the police. They are upset because on the news all they hear about is how horrible the President is, and so they believe it. But they are also upset that their health insurance rates are skyrocketing, the Russians have taken over our elections, and oil is being spilled in our oceans and in our water supplies.

Anger and frustration is expressed by every single American. Sure, some of these things anger different people. Perhaps you don’t believe Russia is controlling our elections, but instead you are angry that our election vote counts are unreliable and unaudited. Our anger at the status quo exposes the common line of thinking that we are a nation divided. We are not divided. We may not all be angry about the exact same things, but we are all angry that the status quo is not working for the American people. We are united on this fundamental issue. We are united in the knowledge that most of what see and hear on the TV news and opinion shows only tells us half the story, and nobody reads more than one newspaper – if that, radio is over flowing with sports talk and heavily biased opinion, and who can tell what is true on social media. But on all that mishegas we are united.

This is what happens when resume trumps truth. We saw that in our last Presidential election. With only two candidates that we could choose from with the knowledge that one of them would win, their main credential for the job was their resume. Republicans refused to look into the basis of Donald Trump’s boasts of accomplishments, which in hindsight it seems impossible that he personally accomplished anything. Democrats took the list of jobs that Hillary Clinton did within government service and never dug very deep into her accomplishments. Resume trumped truth. (pun so very intended)

But here we are on the verge of losing unfettered access to the web’s cornucopia of information and entertainment, implementing tax reform that will accelerate all the wrong things and as a result it will not bring back a strong and large middle class or create pathways for the poor to improve their lot, starting a potential nuclear war with a second-rate nation in a real world reenactment of the Marx Brother’s “Duck Soup”. This all, to be blunt, is caused by the complete takeover by a single party. Democrats abdicated their participation in choosing to follow the republicans lead in both domestic and foreign policy. All they do to separate themselves from Republicans is a more tolerant social policy. And even that has withered into a shadow of what it needs to be. But even then, it is sufficient to keep Republican voters hating on all Democrats. Take away the labels, and we become united.

When someone tells you how divisive Donald Trump is, or that the nation is divided, remember that we, the people, are united. We want prosperity and we want peace. We may have disagreements about what to fix and how to fix it, but we agree that fixes are necessary; the rest is called democracy.

Hung Upside Down – It Ain’t How to Design Tax Reform

The Senate Tax Reform package will eventually become the text book model for how to do all the right things wrong. Reducing taxes is a good way to increase economic output, the Republicans accomplished that. Modifying deductions and using progressive tax rates as a tool to reallocate income distribution. Done. Using taxes or lack of taxes to discourage or encourage certain behaviors? They do that as well.

Sound, economy boosting tax reforms would have all of the attributes of the Senate tax plan. Reducing taxes does do exactly what Republicans say it does. It allows more money to remain in circulation, thereby increasing economic activity. Individual deductions are part of the income tax code to account for living expenses, increasing personal deduction moves us somewhat towards that goal, but any improvements on that intention were erased when state and local taxes became limited on the amount that could be deducted from gross income. Likewise many deductions such as homeowner mortgage interest, charitable contributions, and medical deductions were further limited than they had been in the Reagan era. These events ultimately impact middle class taxpayers from seeing any significant decrease in their tax bill; which by the way the tax rates are all scheduled to expire. And lets not forget that by eliminating the Health Insurance mandate only increases the cost of living for those that have insurance. that made up,were given limits they did fail to add a metric for it to keep pace with a hopefully rising. Very little will come from the Middle Class to help stimulate the economy, except for maybe in the 2019 tax season in 2020.

Progressive tax rates is one of the best tools that the managers of macroeconomic policy have to make certain that individuals that are living below the cost of living are not taxed, and persons whose incomes are exorbitantly beyond the cost of living, even after considering that a higher pay scale usually means a higher cost of living, pay a share of their excess income in order to totally remove that money from circulation. The harm to the individual is close to nil, since it is money they were not ever planning on returning into circulation. In other words, they are hoarding.

But, if the Republicans put in place a tax plan that eliminated any taxes on persons that earn the cost of living, with unlimited and unrestricted itemized deductions for those earning less than the average wage, higher taxes that eventually exceed 50% of income on the wealthy and restricting the amounts that they can itemize, we got a plan that will make America into a haven for the middle class, the poor will not be held back by the use of wage slavery and virtual poorhouses, and the wealthy will still earn outrageous sums.

So please do not talk about the Federal Debt, or deficits, keep your eye on the prize. The plan passed by the Senate is a great start, but it is upside down, and will work that way in the economy. What will happen is this; trickle down has never worked, it won’t this time. Austerity will spread like a disease throughout the entire economy forcing entire populations into poverty, all the wealth generated will remain at the top and coalesce there.

You Can’t Always Get What You Want – A Story About Ranked Choice Voting

Consider the times you have gone to the voting booth and the feeling of dread that you have sensed for the previous couple of months leading up to the election makes you wonder why you even bother. For many the dread of picking between two evils, or at best voting against the worse choice, is justification to stay home, and not bother.
But on top of the lack of candidates that even closely resemble your values, there is the election process itself. Republicans claim there are millions and millions of people voting illegally, and they usually vote for Democrats. The Democrats point to laws passed mainly by Republicans that are sold to the public as a fix for those people who allegedly voted illegally. These laws require a list of particulars for each citizen to show as proof of their right to vote. The result is that many legitimate voters, mostly minorities, the elderly, and the poor are denied their right to vote, and illegal voters are never actually found.
Democrats on the other hand have made sure their candidates are vetted by the party as being consistent with the Party’s objectives of resolving most policy issues with public/private partnerships, so that partnership can be used in order to raise money for campaigns and keep out any candidate that questions the party agenda. The result are few candidates that serve up any new ideas. Both Democrats and Republicans are now built upon the same foundation of deference to the private sector that was put in place during the Reagan administration and reinforced during Bill Clinton’s term.
What has happened is that Democrats tend to minimize the variety of candidates while Republicans minimize the number of voters, especially historically Democratic voters. This dynamic has reduced the choices of ideas and candidates. This contributes mightily to the dread that Elections bring to American voters, and added to their well founded belief that their vote matters very little, if at all.
But, unfortunately there is more that is restricting the quantity of democracy (if that is such a thing) here in the US. The United States does not have a trustworthy system of vote counting. There are few laws enforcing strict validation of voting counts and only a handful of jurisdictions require post election audits. Making remedies harder to implement, the courts have generally opted to recuse themselves from litigation on election issues deferring to the legislature for resolution.  In general courts have served mostly to reinforce the existing two party system that has evolved into a political monopoly trust.
The Democrats and the Republicans have monopolized to the tune of well over 90% of all office holders belong to one of them. They compete for your vote, but only against each other, their competition stops when it appears there is anyone challenging their monopoly. That is the definition of a monopoly trust, and it violates the law; additionally a two party system, is in no manner based upon anything in the Constitution. But it is so embedded into our conscious that nearly all political discussion revolves around Democrat vs. Republican, every single party that is not the Democratic or Republican party is lumped into a single 3rd Party. Without going down the political party rabbit hole, leave it to note that this forced choice is also a large contributor to voter dread.
A frequently noted remedy for many of these issues is to implement a voting process called Ranked Choice Voting (RCV). It also is frequently referred to as Instant Run-off voting. The following points summarize what I have learned about RCV.
HOW RCV WORKS
  • Each ballot allows a voter to vote for potentially every candidate ranked by the voters preference.
  • If no one achieves a majority of votes on the first counting of all #1 choices, then the votes are tallied again. Only anyone who voted for the last place finisher has his #2 choice counted. If a voter chose only one candidate, then their ballot is no longer part of the process.
  • The recounting continues until a single candidate achieves 50% +1 votes. That person is then declared the winner.
  • Each city or town can make their own rules regarding how many choices a voter actually has. But minimums are defined.
  • In most jurisdictions that have implemented RCV, Primary elections are eliminated.
GENERAL ISSUES WITH RCV
  • Does not resolve the problems with vote counting, and in fact it’s complexity amplifies those problems.
  • Election fraud becomes harder to determine, easier to implement, and mistakes are much more likely to occur.
  • The proposed MA RCV does not address party control of the election process. If implemented statewide, the Democrats and Republicans will likely use their large base in order to crowd out other parties, in the same manner that monopolies crowd out competition.
  • RCV works best only when all candidates are viable. Since it usually eliminates Primaries elections which are in place to filter out the candidates that are not viable, it is possible that a poor candidate could win, especially when there is large field of candidates.

A SOLUTION – That addresses what is wrong with our Election Process

  • All Ballots must be counted both mechanically and by hand. Any significant deviations triggers an automatic recount. The mechanical software code and database must be made available to the public.
  • All ballots and machines must be audited before a vote is certified. At least 20% of the vote must be subject to a forensic audit.
  • Voter registration is automatic at age 18. On Election day polls must be open for at least 36 hours and is a holiday. No early voting, except for absentee ballots.
  • Only one ballot for primary elections. You may vote for up to three candidates for each seat being voted for during the Primary. These are NOT ranked votes, all votes have equal weight.
  • All offices have two possible votes in addition to the candidates.
    • “None of the above” (NOTA) and “Abstain”
    • If NOTA wins, then the election must be held over with all new candidates. Abstain, reduces the actual number of votes needed for victory. Voting for either of these two is void if a vote for anyone is also made.
  • The Primary winners are chosen by taking 1/3 of the total voters for all candidates (less any abstains) and awarding a position on the general election ballot for every candidate starting from the candidate with the largest number of votes until the 1/3 of the total voters are tallied.
  • The General election also has the NOTA and abstain options, but a voter can only choose up to two candidates to vote for.
    • The same rules apply as in a Primary, but the winner must receive over votes of over 50% of the voters, excluding abstains. If no one has over 50% of the voters then another election is held and with only the candidates that were in to top 50% of all votes. The winner is determined by a plurality.  In any General election where NOTA wins, then a new election is held with an entire slate of new candidates.

Republicans Have No Fear of the Underdog

What is wrong with the Republicans finally getting to implement the agenda they have been carping about ever since Ronald Reagan left office? In a word, everything.

Of course, even though they have not gotten everything they wanted since Reagan, the economic policy followed by Bush I, Clinton, Bush II, and Obama still adhered to the general themes laid out during the Reagan years. Minimal taxation for the wealthy and corporations, decreasing overall deductions for the middle class, expanded deductions for corporations with lowered tax rates for capital gains. There has been an on-going outsourcing of government services at all levels of government along with a near total deregulation of banking. And last of all a new common denominator for how government structures trade agreements and government projects, both are designed to improve the profitability of corporations.

The new tax plan proposed by Republicans is built on the foundation of the above Reagan era economic thinking with exactly zero thought about what the problems are in our economy that need to be addressed. And how can the tax code be used to help solve the problems.

Our economic problems are multiple, but the most pressing problem is our debt. Not the nation’s debt. The debt of the people who live here. Is there any provisions to reduce debt. especially the debt owed by the 99%? Nothing, in fact the plan exacerbates individual debt. Wage stagnation is a huge problem. For the 99%, their wages have stagnated, for the 95% their real wages have actually dropped when measured against inflation. There is a tool that has been used in the past to help wages keep pace with inflation, it’s called taxes on the wealthy and corporations. Employers would rather raise wages and pay a lower tax rate than pay lower wages and pay a higher tax rate. These two issues, personal debt and wages, combine to keep our economy on a dual track where the wealthy and the corporations are gathering up all the available money supply. They are not investing in expansion, because the demand is not there. Demand is not increasing enough to push up wages and add jobs. And, at the end of the day, demand drives the economy. We increase demand by putting more money in the pockets of the 98%, the people who will by necessity spend it all.

Flipping the GOP tax plan on it’s head, restore full medical deductions for everyone and restore full interest deductions for everyone. Dramatically increase taxes on the wealthy. End lower tax rates on capital gains. Introduce a job guarantee, free public college tuition, tax deductions for all post high school education in the private sector, a living wage for a minimum wage, increase SS retirement payments and eliminate family ceilings, and of course Medicare for All.

These things and more will fix our economy so tat it can grow organically. Instead of thinking about the Federal debt, think about the debt of families all across the nation. If their debt is lowered, if their wages are increased, if their opportunities for jobs and education are real, then maybe, just maybe we can have resurgence of a Middle Class.

The Alleged Trump Russia Alliance Proves Democrats to be Oblivious

The MSM/DNC “Liberal” narrative is now including actual Russian interference with our Presidential elections. The story goes that the Russians hired a bunch of hackers and mom’s basement computer nerdies to disseminate information all over twitter and Facebook that will twist malleable American minds into anti-Hillary zombies. But even more nefarious, the Russians also gained access to various state voter tabulating or voter registration servers and physically altered the vote totals.

Now, just imagine the narrative of the previous paragraph was true. Furthermore, imagine you are one of the leaders of the negatively impacted Democratic Party. What would you do and advocate?

I know what I would do. As a person “in power” I would be well aware that all governments attempt to influence elections all over the world. I would also know that the US itself has inserted itself into foreign elections. So if a party leader was aware that elections were being influenced and even manipulated by all powerful nations including the US, why are they beating the war drums? Why are they demanding that we place sanctions on Russia and stop sending them our excess Cheerios?
(IMHO every single Cheerio is excess) Perhaps they doth protest too much?

A person in power, knowing how widespread and comprehensive election tampering from foreign nations would demand that an election overhaul is in order so that never again will a foreign power, or anyone else, be able to tamper with the vote counts in American elections. I would demand the US institute via the Dept. of Education tools for younger Americans to separate the bull from the bullshit, the truth from truthiness from misdirected information. Most young persons I have met understand these differences but there are always a few students left behind without that awareness. They need to be helped.

These strategies are not even talked about, and they haven’t in many years. Only two reasons, the MSM/DNC have something(s) to hide or they are oblivious to their denial of reality. I can’t decide which is worse, they’re so bad.

Resources and Wealth

Resources. It’s a word we all hear and use every single day. In the office a manager tells the VP that without more resources (people) the project won’t get completed on time. In geopolitics we learn about natural resources such as gold, oil, trees, fertile land, fresh water and so forth. The more natural resources within a nation’s borders, the wealthier that nation is. But resources are much more than able bodies or abundant quantities of gold. Resources can be cultivated and increased. It is implicit in the definition of resources I gave above. There are finite resources such as precious metals and fresh water, but there are infinite resources as well. People, for instance, can procreate to the point where there are too many people than there are jobs for them to fill. Fresh water can be contaminated in so many, many ways that diminish the already finite available fresh water. And gold can be hoarded by individuals or nations. But ideas are infinite and ideas are made into reality by an educated populace, which is one of the reasons Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln were all strong supporters of free public education, including college level.

What we can see is that by measuring a nation’s resources including the investment made into cultivating those resources we can fairly evaluate not how much wealth a nation has, but how it can improve that wealth in order to benefit all it’s citizens. Long term wealth is achieved by maximizing the value gained from scarce resources that are not infinite and by guaranteeing that potentially infinite resources are cultivated so that their wealth producing potential is not put at risk.

We have a way to measure the resources available to any nation, its called money. That was why we had a gold standard at one time. We used gold to represent the comparable resources of America against another nation’s resources that were also on some precious metal money standard. In reality though, using a commodity resource did not fairly represent the sum total of any one nation’s wealth.  Yet the idea that backing a currency with gold or some other commodity makes a currency more worthy than a currency based solely a nation’ resources. But the truth is exactly the opposite. The problem with gold is that one must trade existing resources to obtain more gold and thereby enhance their wealth or initiate a war which drains resources and the gold obtained may not equal the resources expended. By evaluating a nation’s wealth solely on its resources, then a nation can grow it’s internal wealth solely by nurturing it’s resources. Our dollar is backed by the nearly inexhaustible resource potential and by not recognizing this, we are at risk of losing that nearly infinite potential.