Hello Fred

Philosophy | Politics | Religion

Think | Verify | Learn

He who learns but does not think, is lost!
He who thinks but does not learn is in great danger.
Confucius
Rodin_The_Thinker
It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble.
It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.
Mark Twain
The illiterate of the 32st century will not be those who cannot read and
write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.
Alvin Toffler

 

Exercise for the Brain

Lack of exercise can shrink your brain

Lack of exercise can shrink your brain.

Posted by Hashem Al-Ghaili on Thursday, May 10, 2018
Lack of exercise can shrink your brain
Hashem Al-Ghaili

Deceit typing the scales wrongly

There Is A Difference Between News and Editorials

Newspapers provide news and editorials.  It is the editorials that slant the truth to the opinions of the owners.  The same is true of television where there are news shows and there are opinion shows. 

When we watch these shows we need to remember which ones we are watching.  We can be very gullible and opinion shows take advantage of the gullible person.  

We can’t accept everything we read on editorial pages or see on opinion shows.  We need to allow ourselves to be entertained without being brainwashed.  Wise people will check out what seems stretched and when doing so will not use a biased source or will at least look at sources that have opposite biases.

Anybody that listens to radio opinion and accepts what they hear there is not trying to be informed and in fact are hopelessly lost to deceit.  I realize that it is fun to hear and read what supports our own opinions but we do so at our own peril if we don’t see where we are being manipulated.

Most of us can repeat only a few points that opinion pieces make and we sound shallow when we state our positions based on those few points that we can repeat.  So, let’s get those right.

Here is an example of a Fox News show correcting Fox Opinion show: 

Political Parties and Group Think, ugh

Looking back to the time the United States decided to invade Iraq we seemed to come together as a nation.  France, Germany, and Russia pleaded with us to not do it.  We, as a result, stopped eating at French restaurants and started calling French fries American fries.  Most of us will now agree that that invasion of Iraq was an expensive mistake.

If we are Red Sox fans we dislike anything Yankees, same with Dodgers and Giants.  We either like Fords or we like Chevys.  We don’t need facts to make these decisions.

It seems that it is human instinct to become emotionally attached and we don’t need reasons to do so, we will make those up as we go or accept what we hear that is in line with our emotionally based decisions.  This causes us to be susceptible to group think.

Group think requires individuals to avoid raising controversial issues or alternative solutions, and there is loss of individual creativity, uniqueness and independent thinking.

Sharon Begley’s Science Journal that appeared over a period of time in the Wall Street Journal, a conservative publication, told us that social psychologists have shown it is the group with which we identify, not individual personality that often determines behavior.  We begin to see what the group sees and stop seeing some of the things that we were seeing.

But, pull us out of a group and we will have more nuance, flexibility, and doubt.  We are not so sure anymore as individuals outside of our group, whereas in a group we are convinced of what we are saying and doing.  The group we join is very important.  That group could be friends, it could be our employer, it could be our church, it could be a political party, or it could be the mental prison more and more of us seem to be finding ourselves in.  In either case, it doesn’t change with age—young or old, we are influenced by our group.

Psychology experiments show how disturbingly easy it is to manipulate people into committing atrocities.  Groups inculcate a sense of belonging and hence obligation to a group.

Has our spouse, friend, relative ever said to us that we seem different, that we have changed, and that there is an aspect of us they don’t like that they didn’t realize was there?  Has clinging to a political party caused us to ignore friends and relatives that cling elsewhere?  Are we becoming more assertive or bossier?  Are we becoming more tolerant or judgmental?   Are we becoming more patient and calm or more restless and rude?  Are we becoming conforming or less conforming?  Do we see more of the big picture or just our own perspective?  Are we becoming more humble or is ego sprouting its wings.

Right now everybody is worried about which Party will be the majority Party.  Everything we hear is all about manipulating us and not about being honest with us.  We can’t change facts but everybody is willing to twist them hoping that group think will override individual thinking.  Group think makes us latch onto the silliest thing we hear without questioning it regardless of how shallow it is to begin with.

News shows and politicians never clearly define a problem and instead jump in with Republican or Democratic strategist positions and posturing.  That’s not how change happens.  Problems have to be identified, clearly identified, sized up, and have consensus that the problem is real and solutions are needed.  Then and only then are alternative solutions shared and evaluated, and then finally once agreement is made on the right solution, do we go forward, all of us, together.

France’s Macron vs. USA’s Trump–Contrasting Visions

April 25, 2018

Emmanuel Macron Delivers a Fiery Speech Decrying Trumpism

Emmanuel Macron ripped apart Trump's climate change denial in front of Congress — and he got a standing ovation for it

Posted by NowThis Politics on Wednesday, April 25, 2018

France’s president Emmanuel Macron in front of US Congress — got a standing ovation.  


“I believe that against ignorance, we have education — against the threats on the planet, science,” he explained. “I believe in building a better future for our children, which requires offering them a planet that is still habitable in 25 years. Some people think that securing current industries and their jobs is more urgent than transforming our economies to meet the global challenge of climate change. I hear these concerns. But we must find a smooth transition to a low carbon economy.”


Macron on Trump leaving Paris Agreement– “isolationism, withdrawal and nationalism” can temporarily remedy our fears, but that it won’t keep the changes in the world from taking effect.


“We have to keep our eyes wide open to new risks right in front of us,” he continued. “I’m convinced that if we decide to open our eyes wider, we will be stronger. We will overcome the dangers. We will not let the rampaging work of extreme nationalism shake a world full of hopes for greater prosperity.”

September 26, 2018

Macron vs Trump at the UN General Assembly

Macron vs Trump at the UN General Assembly

Donald Trump and Emmanuel Macron delivered speeches to the UN with almost opposite perspectives on key points.

Here are quotes from their speeches:

Trump:
“America is governed by Americans. We reject the ideology of globalism and we embrace the doctrine of patriotism,”

Macron:  “This path I confirm that the unilateralism leads us to withdrawal and conflict.”

Macron:  “What will solve the problem of trade imbalances and their consequences for our societies? Common rules… but in no case bilateral treatment of all our commercial differences or new protectionism. That, will not work.”

Trump:  “Trade must be fair and reciprocal … but those days are over. We will no longer tolerate such abuse. We will not allow our workers to be victimized – our companies to be cheated and our wealth to be plundered and transferred.”

Macron:  “I don’t believe in the idea of unconditional openness. This simply leads to worry and intolerance … I don’t believe in the misleading speech of those who claim particularly in Europe and elsewhere that they will be more protected behind a border closure. That’s not true either.”

Trump:   “Illegal immigration exploits vulnerable populations, hurts hardworking citizens, and has produced a vicious circle of crime, violence, and poverty. funds criminal networks, ruthless gangs and the flow of deadly drugs … only by upholding national borders and destroying criminal gangs can we establish a real foundation for prosperity, We recognize the right of every nation in this room to set its own immigration policy in accordance with its national interests.”

Macron:  The Iran Deal–“We already know the situation was degrading. But what stopped that? The Vienna Agreement of 2015 … our task is not to fuel tensions but to rather put forward a broader agenda that addresses all concerns …nuclear, ballistic, regional ones …caused by Iranian policies. But this, through dialogue and multilateralism. Being frank, as well as exacting.”

Trump:  The Iran Deal–“Iran’s leaders – sow chaos, death, and destruction. We ask all nations to isolate Iran’s regime.”

Macron:  “What can resolve the crisis between Israel/Palestine? Well, surely, not unilateral initiatives. Not trampling on the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people to the legitimate peace. Nor, underestimating Israelis fair right to security. There’s no credible alternative to the two-state solution, living side-by-side in peace and security with Jerusalem, as capital.”

Trump:  “This year, we took another significant step forward in the Middle East, in recognition of every sovereign state to determine its own capital. I moved the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. The United States is committed to a future of peace and stability in the region, including the peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians.”

New Perspectives

Here is a video that describes locked-in perspectives better than a 1000 words can do.

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Posted by Viet funny videos on Tuesday, April 17, 2018

The Growth of the Independent Voter

The growth of the independent voter is derived from dislike of dysfunction in Washington DC tied to our way or no way practices.  Political Parties have become swamps.

If we are not elected officials, the best way to avoid that swamp is to just get out of it. How? Well, to get started, we could register and identify as an Independent voter and then we could, regardless of Party, stop voting for far right or far left candidates.  Instead, we could vote for moderates in Primaries that have an impelling vision not tied to Party or historical dogma.

Political Parties are supposed to bring order to the process of policy making. As party members, individual politicians have a ready-made group of allies that will usually cooperate with their efforts to pass and implement legislation. At the national level, this means that a rookie Congressperson is supposed to arrive with a network of allies that would support their efforts and that he/she would support in turn.  That best works when the Party is made up of flexible and willing to compromise INDIVIDUALS.  Otherwise a newly elected person basically votes as they are told.

Clinton Rossiter begins his classic book “Parties and Politics in America” with this declaration: “No America without democracy, no democracy without politics, no politics without parties, no parties without compromise and moderation.”

  • Clearly we have little compromise and moderation in American politics so that would say we might be better off without Parties, doesn’t it?

Fareed Zakaria stated that a partyless system would lead to political dynasties, celebrity officials, and billionaire politicians.

The Democratic and Republican Parties have moderates and extremists but extremists are growing in numbers. Extremists typically don’t compromise with moderates, not even within their own party. The political process has become overly competitive and combative.  The result is gridlock and public anger with government.

The Founders of the United States warned against Parties because they thought politics was supposed to be rational and collaborative, not competitive.

Not since 1912 has a new Party been created and it didn’t last long. Theodore Roosevelt  formed the Progressive Party of 1912.  It was nicknamed the Bull Moose Party. However, in France this June 2017, President Emmanuel Macron’s fledgling party is set to trounce France’s traditional main parties in a parliamentary election and secure a huge majority. France’s socialist and conservative parties that had alternated in power for decades until Macron’s election in May blew apart the left-right divide.

The Declaration of Independence includes these words:  “We foremost hold truths to be self evident, that this nation was conceived in Liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

While Americans have moved from state to state, job to job, young to old; there has been a political battle for control of the direction America takes. The direction is dependent on how we incorporate into our voting these words from Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address:

That government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth and shall have a new birth of freedom.

Does America move in the direction where we believe that all people are born free and equal before the law, that we all possess at least certain minimal rights that have to be mutually respected, and that we are capable of self-governance?

Or, does America move in the direction where  we believe we are born into bondage, that our liberties are granted as a privilege, that most of us are not capable of self-governance, and that only a very few of us should enjoy the full blessings of liberty.

None of us can make that choice independently if we too tightly identify with a Party because members of a Party typically succumb to group think and we won’t make that choice independently if we are a single issue voter.

The Problem of Force taking the place of Power.

Force is used to achieve a means through the use of a hammer.  Power is used to achieve a means through logic that serves the best interests of people.

The Problem of Obstructionism

Obstructionism’s roots lie in the powerful fringe wings of each party but carries over to the rest of a party’s membership due to party affiliated voting. Obstructionism is not leadership. Obstructionism is to leadership as sarcasm is to humor. There is a need to promote something tangible and in most cases that requires compromise.

The problem of deceitfulness

Voters are no longer being told the truth or given the facts. Voters only get spin. We should demand to get spin-free news. That starts by giving ourselves permission to recognize spin.

Politicians are destroying their profession by falsely discrediting the other party or members of it.  Spin has become a game played by too many politicians and it includes defaming, libeling, slandering and intentionally trying to put a false negative label on the opponent or the legislation.

The problem of group think

When voters register with a Party they begin to participate in Party Group Think and now, more than ever, voters have stopped thinking as individuals.  Non office holders need to register as independents and vacate allegiances to current Parties if they want to free themselves from Party Group Think.

In the case of voting for president and the US Congress, since the 1970s, party identification on voting behavior has been increasingly significant. By the late 1990s, party identification on voting behavior was at the highest level of any election since the 1950s. People overwhelmingly voted for their party’s nominee in the general election.  If voters can’t get themselves to vote for candidates from the other party, then a third party is needed.

This problem is magnified by Party’s platforms being pulled away from their historical center where the majority reside and instead pushed into the fringe wings where the money and energy reside.

The problem of campaign financing

There is too much private money in campaigns.  The campaign season is too long.  Public funding of candidates is needed. Campaign reform is needed to retain our democracy.

The Democratic and Republican parties receive so much money from the powerful few that elected officials are overly dependent on that money to get elected and thus are too often puppets to the puppeteers that hold the strings. Who cares about the qualification of the politicians when they vote as a block and as told.

The voters that volunteer thousands of hours to help a candidate win an election are part of the fringe.  They represent less than 15% of party membership. They are usually very liberal or very conservative. Politicians can’t vote against these people or they will support another candidate.

The problem of false wedge issues

There are issues that both parties have for decades supported conceptually but couldn’t agree on the details to pass legislation.  Today those same issues are wedge issues.  If one party is for something, the other party is against it. For decades both parties have wanted some form of universal health care and now it is a wedge issue. The Trans-Canada pipe line has its pros and cons but it is a wedge issue with one party talking about the pros and the other party talking about the cons.  The list keeps growing.

The problem of Independents not having the power of an entrenched Party

Independents need unification and while “unified-independent” is an oxymoron, there needs to be a platform that attracts a voting block in order for moderates to advance from the Primaries and compete in National elections. That platform needs to attract moderates from both parties.

The problem of not knowing the basic platforms of current Parties

Why are Democrats or Republicans?  Have we asked ourselves that question and tried to be honest with ourselves?  When did it happen?  Why did we stay?  Are we Republicans because we associate the Party with upper-crust status?  Are we Democrats because we dislike aristocracy?

Republican Party

  • Demographically has the oldest set of white Americans as members.
  • Philosophical roots are tied to the aristocracies.
    • Marked by elitism and respect for authority.
    • Include a disbelief in natural equality and a general disinterest in public participation in politics.
    • Believes in trickle-down economics.
    • Want to reduce entitlement spending, i.e. Social Security, Medicare, Universal Health.
      • Supports private school voucher systems.
  • Tend to be skeptical of both community investment and attempts at social engineering.
  • Members often have strong emotional ties to single issues such as Right-to-Life and Right-to-Guns.
  • Highest percent of members are located in rural areas.
  • Are less supportive of a path to citizenship.
  •  Support deporting undocumented immigrants.
  • Desire to weaken laws pertaining to the environment and banking.
  • Support corporations.

Democratic Party

  • Demographically has the youngest set of Americans and broadest ethnicity as members.
  • Philosophical roots are tied to immigrants of middle and upper middle class.
    • Marked by advancing the good of the community before the good of the individual.
    • Desire cultural diversity and commerce.
    • Supports entitlement spending, i.e. Social Security, Medicare, Universal Health.
  • Tend to support strong communal institutions.
    • Supports public education.
  • Are more likely to proselytize American culture to the rest of the world.
  • Value a large tax base and government funded infrastructure.
  • Supports strong minimum wages and higher education.
  • Members often have strong emotional ties to single issues such as Pro-Choice and LGBT.
  • Has mixed voting records on gun control.
  • Highest percent of members are from large metro areas.
  • Support strong laws to protect environment and restrict riskier banking practices.

You may be an Independent if:

  • Are part of the middle class.
  • Ethnicity and ideology is not a priority.
  • Political opinion is moderate to apathetic.
  • Believe Government should benefit ordinary people.
  • Have a live-and-let-live mentality.
  • Support a strong government financed infrastructure that creates jobs and supports commerce but do not want Federal government to intrude in their lives or the lives of people in other nations.
  • Believes affordable health care should be a priority of government and is open to moving from private insurance model to Medicare for all.
  • Believes taxes are a way to promote good paying infrastructure jobs and to keep wealth from moving from the middle class to the top ten percent of Americans and that those infrastructure jobs should replace, job for job, those lost to manufacturing moving out of the USA.
  • Are a little more dove than hawk but don’t push it.
  • Believe in community advancement but not social engineering.
  • Are independent, self-sufficient, adaptable, and work-oriented.
  • Generally believe in diplomacy backed by strength.
  • Are not an activist and are not emotionally charged toward a single issue.
  • Prefer Cabinet Appointees to be moderates especially regarding regulations including the environment, banking, and immigration.

Timing Timing Timing

I wanted to give a shout out to this Face the Nation interview with Daniel Pink.

https://www.cbsnews.com/videos/author-daniel-pink-shares-scientific-secrets-of-perfect-timing/

Millennials

A friend sent me this link that will take you to the article that I pasted here.

How the baby boomers — not millennials — screwed America

“The boomers inherited a rich, dynamic country and have gradually bankrupted it.”

Hippies dancing during an anti-war demonstration staged by the Spring Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam at Golden Gate Park’s Kezar Stadium on April 15, 1967.
 Ralph Crane/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images

Everyone likes to bash millennials. We’re spoiled, entitled, and hopelessly glued to our smartphones. We demand participation trophies, can’t find jobs, and live with our parents until we’re 30. You know the punchlines by now.

But is the millennial hate justified? Have we dropped the generational baton, or was it a previous generation, the so-called baby boomers, who actually ruined everything?

That’s the argument Bruce Gibney makes in his book A Generation of Sociopaths: How the Baby Boomers Betrayed America. The boomers, according to Gibney, have committed “generational plunder,” pillaging the nation’s economy, repeatedly cutting their own taxes, financing two wars with deficits, ignoring climate change, presiding over the death of America’s manufacturing core, and leaving future generations to clean up the mess they created.

I spoke to Gibney about these claims, and why he thinks the baby boomers have wrecked America.

A lightly edited transcript of our conversation follows.


Sean Illing

Who are the baby boomers?

Bruce Gibney

The baby boomers are conventionally defined as people born between 1946 and 1964. But I focus on the first two-thirds of boomers because their experiences are pretty homogeneous: They were raised after the war and so have no real experience of trauma or the Great Depression or even any deprivation at all. More importantly, they never experienced the social solidarity that unfolded during war time and that helped produce the New Deal.

But it’s really the white middle-class boomers who exemplify all the awful characteristics and behaviors that have defined this generation. They became a majority of the electorate in the early ’80s, and they fully consolidated their power in Washington by January 1995. And they’ve basically been in charge ever since.

Sean Illing

So how have they broken the country?

Bruce Gibney

Well, the damage done to the social fabric is pretty self-evident. Just look around and notice what’s been done. On the economic front, the damage is equally obvious, and it trickles down to all sorts of other social phenomena. I don’t want to get bogged down in an ocean of numbers and data here (that’s in the book), but think of it this way: I’m 41, and when I was born, the gross debt-to-GDP ratio was about 35 percent. It’s roughly 103 percent now — and it keeps rising.

The boomers inherited a rich, dynamic country and have gradually bankrupted it. They habitually cut their own taxes and borrow money without any concern for future burdens. They’ve spent virtually all our money and assets on themselves and in the process have left a financial disaster for their children.

We used to have the finest infrastructure in the world. The American Society of Civil Engineers thinks there’s something like a $4 trillion deficit in infrastructure in deferred maintenance. It’s crumbling, and the boomers have allowed it to crumble. Our public education system has steadily degraded as well, forcing middle-class students to bury themselves in debt in order to get a college education.

Then of course there’s the issue of climate change, which they’ve done almost nothing to solve. But even if we want to be market-oriented about this, we can think of the climate as an asset, which has degraded over time thanks to the inaction and cowardice of the boomer generation. Now they didn’t start burning fossil fuels, but by the 1990s the science was undeniable. And what did they do? Nothing.

Sean Illing

Why hasn’t this recklessness been checked by the political system? Is it as simple as the boomers took over and used power to enrich themselves without enough resistance from younger voters?

Bruce Gibney

Well, most of our problems have not been addressed because that would require higher taxes and therefore a sense of social obligation to our fellow citizens. But again, the boomers seem to have no appreciation for social solidarity.

But to answer your question more directly, the problem is that dealing with these problems has simply been irrelevant to the largest political class in the country — the boomers. There’s nothing conspiratorial about that. Politicians respond to the most important part of the electorate, and that’s been the boomers for decades. And it just so happens that the boomers are not socially inclined and have a ton of maladaptive personality characteristics.

Sean Illing

It’s interesting that Ronald Reagan is elected right around the time that boomers become a majority of the electorate. Reagan himself wasn’t a boomer, but it was boomers who put him into office. And this is when we get this wave of neoliberalism that essentially guts the public sector and attempts to privatize everything.

Bruce Gibney

Right. Starting with Reagan, we saw this national ethos which was basically the inverse of JFK’s “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” This gets flipped on its head in a massive push for privatized gain and socialized risk for big banks and financial institutions. This has really been the dominant boomer economic theory, and it’s poisoned what’s left of our public institutions.

Sean Illing

So what’s your explanation for the awfulness of the boomers? What made them this way?

Bruce Gibney

I think there were a number of unusual influences, some of which won’t be repeated, and some of which may have mutated over the years. I think the major factor is that the boomers grew up in a time of uninterrupted prosperity. And so they simply took it for granted. They assumed the economy would just grow three percent a year forever and that wages would go up every year and that there would always be a good job for everyone who wanted it.

This was a fantasy and the result of a spoiled generation assuming things would be easy and that no sacrifices would have to be made in order to preserve prosperity for future generations.

Sean Illing

I’ve always seen the boomers as a generational trust-fund baby: They inherited a country they had no part in building, failed to appreciate it, and seized on all the benefits while leaving nothing behind.

Bruce Gibney

I think that’s exactly right. They were born into great fortune and had a blast while they were on top. But what have they left behind?

Sean Illing

Something that doesn’t get discussed enough is how hostile so many of these boomers are to science. It’s not hard to connect this aversion to facts to some of these disastrous social policies.

Bruce Gibney

This is a generation that is dominated by feelings, not by facts. The irony is that boomers criticize millennials for being snowflakes, for being too driven by feelings. But the boomers are the first big feelings generation. They’re highly motivated by feelings and not persuaded by facts. And you can see this in their policies.

Take this whole fantasy about trickle-down economics. Maybe it was worth a shot, but it doesn’t work. We know it doesn’t work. The evidence is overwhelming. The experiment is over. And yet they’re still clinging to this dogma, and indeed the latest tax bill is the latest example of that.

Time after time, when facts collided with feelings, the boomers chose feelings.

Sean Illing

What’s the most egregious thing the boomers have done in your opinion?

Bruce Gibney

I’ll give you something abstract and something concrete. On an abstract level, I think the worst thing they’ve done is destroy a sense of social solidarity, a sense of commitment to fellow citizens. That ethos is gone and it’s been replaced by a cult of individualism. It’s hard to overstate how damaging this is.

On a concrete level, their policies of under-investment and debt accumulation have made it very hard to deal with our most serious challenges going forward. Because we failed to confront things like infrastructure decay and climate change early on, they’ve only grown into bigger and more expensive problems. When something breaks, it’s a lot more expensive to fix than it would have been to just maintain it all along.

Sean Illing

So where does that leave us?

Bruce Gibney

In an impossible place. We’re going to have to make difficult choices between, say, saving Social Security and Medicare and saving arctic ice sheets. We’ll have fewer and fewer resources to deal with these issues. And I actually think that over the next 100 years, absent some major technological innovation like de-carbonization, which is speculative at this point, these actions will actually just kill people.

Sean Illing

I hear you, man, and I’m with you on almost all of this, but I always return to a simple point: If millennials and Gen Xers actually voted in greater numbers, the boomers could’ve been booted out of power years ago.

Bruce Gibney

I think that’s fair. But given how large the boomer demographic is, it really wasn’t possible for millennials to unseat the boomers until a few years ago. And of course there are many issues with voting rights. But that’s not a complete excuse.

More than voting, though, millennials have to run for office because people have to be excited about the person they’re voting for. We need people in office with a different outlook, who see the world differently. Boomers don’t care about how the country will look in 30 or 40 years, but millennials do, and so those are the people we need in power.

Sean Illing

I guess the big question is, can we recover from this? Can we pay the bill the boomers left us?

Bruce Gibney

I think we can, but it’s imperative that we start sooner than later. After 2024 or so, it will get really hard to do anything meaningful. In fact, I think the choices might become so difficult that even fairly good people will get wrapped up in short-term self-interest.

So if we unseat the boomers from Congress, from state legislatures, and certainly from the presidency over the next three to seven years, then I think we can undo the damage. But that will require a much higher tax rate and a degree of social solidarity that the country hasn’t seen in over 50 years.

That will not be easy, and there’s no way around the fact that millennials will have to sacrifice in ways the boomers refused to sacrifice, but that’s where we are — and these are the choices we face.

Taxes

The first and most important responsibility of any corporation is to be economically viable.  Sometimes unions and employees have to cooperate and agree to wage and benefit reductions and sometimes there is a need to increase the pay of managers who are the difference between failure and success.  Sometimes workers will have to increase productivity without receiving a pay increase.  All this is especially true when all are included in profit sharing and the alternative is closing a factory or shifting employment to low-wage sites abroad.

That works for large big ticket companies like General Motors or Caterpillar but not for manufacturers of small lower cost products.  Labor intensive, repetitive, low skill jobs will continue to move off shore and won’t come back.  In their place should be large scale infrastructure jobs.  The exception should be those repetitive jobs that could be performed in American prisons.

America got the cart before the horse when repetitive jobs were either sent off-shore or mechanized.  It blew a hole in the middle class before investments were made in infrastructure. America’s infrastructure was crumbling as fast as wages were dropping or disappearing and wealth was shifting to fewer and fewer.

In America’s earlier years, the wealthiest like Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, Henry Ford and others introduced the principal of charity.  Hundreds of millions of dollars were donated without the benefit of a tax write-off to help the needy.  At that time there was no Social Security system, no Medicare for the elderly, no unemployment pay for the jobless.  There was no help for battered women and children or the physically handicapped.

Those charities couldn’t keep up with the needs of Americans and in the 1920’s there was a shift from individual philanthropy to corporate philanthropy.  Business leaders established pension plans, employee stock ownership and life insurance programs, limitations of working hours, and higher wages.  They built houses, churches, schools, and libraries.

There was a depression and a World War.

Then, during the following 30 years, the largest middle class in the history of the world was created.  CEOs during that time earned about 20 times what the typical worker made and both the economy and worker wages doubled.   That 1:1 ratio of income growth to growth of the overall economy was why we had a great middle class.

The next 30 years was different.  The economy doubled again but the incomes of the typical American worker did not increase.  CEO compensation did though.  During the last 30 years CEO pay has gone from 20 times to 200 times that of their typical worker.

The richest 1% used to have incomes that represented about 10% of a corporation’s compensation costs and now it is 20%.

The rising income inequality has resulted in less money being collected for Social Security.  That’s because the Federal Insurance Contribution Act (FICA) collects taxes on wages that are less than $118,500 (the max).  People that are out of work or have jobs that pay less than those they used to have, pay less into Social Security.  Those whose incomes rose stop paying into FICA after their wages on wages over the max.

Get rid of the max and install a FICA tax on all income whether reported on a W2 or Form 1099 and Social Security is solvent and eliminates the need to increase the retirement age or reduce monthly payments, or squeeze Cost of Living increases.  That is not part of any tax plan being considered in Congress.  Why?

America’s tax laws are complicated.  Corporate tax rates are high but because of loopholes, the amount of tax they pay is reasonable.  Lowering the rates and eliminating the loopholes makes sense and take away a myth that corporations in America are taxed higher than elsewhere.  America’s GNP doesn’t seem to have a direct correlation to the tax rate.

The wealthiest today, unlike Rockefeller and Carnegie, are less interested in philanthropy and more interested in maximizing wealth.  Huge donations have been given to politicians and in return, they want tax laws that benefit them.

It’s not only FICA that people with large incomes are not fully contributing to; they also pay a lower tax rate on income that is reported on 1099 forms than what most of America to pay on incomes reported on W2s.  Interest income, dividends, bonuses, etc are reported on 1099s.  Why in a fair world would anybody accept that elites should pay a lower tax rate than the majority of Americans?  It takes a closed and gullible mind to think that that benefits anybody but someone that doesn’t need that kind of subsidy.

What America needs is  for Congress to pass a huge infrastructure bill that is designed to replace all the jobs that have moved off-shore or become mechanized?

The need for an estate tax is greater now than ever before.  The gap between the wealthiest 2% and everybody else has widened.  The upper middle class is shrinking and the lower middle class is growing.

Get the tax issue right and we could balance the budget and have a sustainable Social Security and Medicare for all.

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