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Political Talk Show Host and Internet Radio Personality. My show, In My Humble Opinion, aired on RainbowRadio from 2015-2017.
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Monday, March 18, 2013
A "pricelss" clip I was emailed...
It was sent with the message:
"Isn't it interesting that the question out of Donahue's mouth some thirty
one years ago, is one of the primary issues Obama ran on and pushes
(The clip blow is from youtube, but he email actually linked here. Same clip)
The blog, includes the following commentary:
Pretty interesting clip…even though it is 30 years old, the content is “timeless” If you don't think we have been going aroud on the same argument for years this will put it into perspective. Leave it to an economist to clear things up. Wow! Talk about a clear cut look at the way the world operates. This is Phil Donahue interviewing Milton Friedman thirty years ago. The audience is notably silent.
Now I'm going to say a couple of things that will probably shock my Conservative readers, and possibly some of my liberal ones. I like to burninsh my centrist cred from time to time, and this post is going to be one of those times.
First of All: Milton Friedman was right.
And no, I'm certainly no fan of Friedman, nor am I a supply-sider. I'm a Keynsian, and unlike 99% of people of commenter who start out admitting they know nothing about economics, I have a graduate degree in Business, and three Graduate Level classes from the University of Michigan, which I solidly aced on my to graduating with honors. So i DO know a little bit about economics. And it's very simple: Keynes was right, Krugman is right, and their detractors range between liars, thieves and morons.
But... Every thing Friedman said in this clip? It's 100% correct.
And Phil Donahue is an idiot.
No, not in general. Generally I have no problem with Donahue. But here's the thing: ANYONE who is talking about "socialism" in this day and age is a FUCKING MORON. Hear me out...
If you are a Liberal, Progressive, Democrat, etc... talking about it? I'll clue you in: IT DOESN'T FUCKING WORK! OK? As a designed system it looks great, on paper anyway. But you're trusting humans to run things, and humans are, at best, short-sighted and fallible. At worst they're greedy, money-grubbing, evil and corrupt. And even if you could get past THAT part of human nature, the laws of supply and demand were not invented by Partisan Republicans. They're based on observations of COLLECTIVE HUMAN BEHAVIOR and you simply cannot fight them for very long. They're like gravity: You can go against them for a while (climb a ladder, fly a plane) but eventually you are going to pulled back to market equilibrium (the ground.) It's inevitable.
Now... To be honest, I'll be somewhat disappointed if I really have to argue that point with that many Liberals. I really said all that so that there's some chance that Conservative readers will drop their idiotic assumption that anyone not actively pining for the glory days of George W. Bush (with a McCain/Palin or Romney/Ryan sticker on their bumper) must be some kind of wild-eyed Socialist. I'm guessing there really aren't that many people out there who REALLY believe Socialism is the way to go, especially if they actually understand history and/or economics.
Which brings me to the reason that anyone who is Conservative, Libertarian, Republicans, Tea-Bagger, etc... and is talking about Socialism is also a fucking moron:
NOBODY ON THE LEFT (OR ANYWHERE ELSE) IN THIS COUNTRY IS PROPOSING ANYTHING SOCIALIST OR TALKING ABOUT SOCIALISM!!!
Show me the Socialism! Show where Obama, or Pelosi, or ANY Democrat has proposed that the State take control of, and run, private companies! SHOW ME! It's not fucking happening! And far from the e-mails claims that Obama "ran on" this [socialism? redistribution?] and "pushes [it] almost daily;" back in the real world, the only legislation Obama has ever signed regarding taxes LOWERED THEM (for everyone) and that remains unchanged going forward. (More on that in a moment.) And his big health care system? "Obamacare"? Hardly a Socialized, government takeover: It owes it origin to the Right-Wing Heritage Foundation, it was pushed by Republicans during the Clinton years, and implemented by Governor Romney, the Republican candidate for President last year! And as much as I've heard the Rigth talk about Obama's plans for "redistribution," you know who I NEVER heard speak of it? Even ONCE?
See... What the idiot Right in this country doesn't understand (and/or doesn't want the voting public to understand) is the argument is not one of Capitalism vs. Socialism. It isn't. And if you think it is, you're an idiot. The Republican are no more the great defenders of Capitalism, anymore than the Democrats are it's Detractors. The argument is simply on of laissez-faire Capitalism versus regulated Capitalism.
Obama has done NOTHING to stop or curtail "free enterprise," "capitalism," "entrepreneurialism" or anything else. Nothing. Zip. Nada. And as for Keynes? How could Keynes possibly be a socialist? Aside from the fact that he was himself an avowed critic of Socialism, his economic models are based ENTIRELY on a Capitalist Free-Market economy! Being a "Keynesian" MEANS you're a Capitalist! Only, you one that wants the Government to do what it can to help out, and you're one that realizes that both the supply side AND the demand side are needed for a society to grow economically! See, while you're two choices here (being Democrat or Republican) are in fact "Keynesianism" or "Supply-Side," Keynesianism is NOT the opposite of Supply-side. Supply-side simply looks at only ONE-HALF of the Keynes model.
Kind of like building a baseball team on Pitching alone, only to have to face another team that ha equally good pitching, AND phenomenal hitting as well. And reasonably intelligent person knows you need BOTH. Consider the 1940's-1960's, those "good old days" of the "greatest generation" and the "baby boom." You had FDR-D, Truman-D, Eisenhower-Rino, JFK-D, LBJ-D and 1 Year of Nixon-r. You had strong labor unions, a top tier tax rate ranging from 70%-90%, and each President had, among his greatest accomplishments, things that are considered Liberal by today's standards!
Now ironically, that video was shot in 1979, one year before the Election of Ronald W. Regan. And what has happened in the 34 years since then? Unions have been broken, tariffs have been lifted, Top-tier tax rates has fallen, deficits has skyrocketed, and middle class wages have stagnated, at best, and for the majority of Americans, haven't even kept up with the cost of living! And while the country, in total, has done "better" almost all of that benefit has accumulated at the top!
And that's exactly what you'd expect from supply-side economics.
(Historically, it's also what generally becomes of Socialist States as well - our old "Corporate Masters" merely move into their new Government Roles, now having official, codified, legal power, insteadof just the power that comes unofficially with great wealth.)
Again: It's not about Capitalism versus Socialism. It's about common-sense regulations, based on sound science, and taxation and spending based on sound economical principles, matched the needs of the country, or letting the old, fat, rich, white, men (think Roger Ailes) take and keep all the money!
And if you think that's an exaggeration, I defy you to show me that it's anywhere close to the ones calling Obama, Krugman or Keynes, "Socialists."
*** Obama has lowered taxes. I said I'd get to that. Remember that in 2001, President Bush signed the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act. Part of this Bill became known as the "Bush Tax Cuts." They lowered taxes, for everyone, from where they were under Clinton, but were heavily favored towards the rich, exploded the deficit and did little to stimulate the economy, relative to their cost. (All facts - you can look 'em up.) One key part of this legislation however, was that they were only suppose to go for TEN YEARS. Then, according to that very law, voted for by a Republican Congress and signed by President George W. Bush, taxes would revert back to their previous levels - for EVERYONE - in 2011.
Then, one wrecked economy later, President Obama comes along. And he needs to get the economy going again, so as part of the Stimulus he does two things: (1) He extends the Bush Tax Cuts through 2012. (NOTE: If he does nothing,PREEXISTING LAW has them at a higher rate. His actions therefore LOWERED them.) And (2) he temporarily lowers the payroll tax. Not that's not REALLY a "tax cut," since you'll still owe the same amount in the end, but it does put more money in your pocket in the meantime. In any case, President Obama only took action to LOWER taxes, relative to existing law.
And what about now? What about the law he just signed RAISING taxes on the top 1%?!
>Once again, let's go back to existing law: In 2013, without any action required from the President, tax rates would go back to what they were under President Clinton. So what action did he take? He signed a law that LOWERED taxes.
For the bottom 99%? What about those at the top? Those poor, suffering 1%'ers?
Nope. For EVERYONE.
>EVERYONE is paying a lower tax rate than they would have been absent any action from the President, even those top 1%'ers who saw that top tier tax rate go up.
How's that, you ask?
It's called our progressive taxation system. (And it was first advocated by every Right Wingers second favorite economist, Adam Smith, I might add.)See... you know how all those "flat tax" advocates keep saying that we should all pay the same rate? Well, what they're hoping you don't know is that we ALREADY DO!
My first $8700 is taxed at 10%. So is Yankee Third Baseman Alex Rodriguez's.
My earned income between $8,700 and $35,350 is taxed at 15%. So is Donal Trump's.
My earned income between $35,350 to $85,650 is taxed at 25%. So is Roger Ailes and Rupert Murdoch's
(and so on...)
And so is all of yours. EVERYONE'S is, in fact.
So, see... when you cut the bottom tier tax rate, EVERYONE benefits from it. When you cut the TOP rate, only the rich benefit.
Likewise, when you raise the bottom tier rate, you raise EVERYONE'S taxes. (Unless you do what Reagan did in 1987, having a top tier rate that was LOWER than the middle-tier, the great fellatiator!) So even though that poor, suffering Billionaires will be paying a little more that they would have if Obama had extended ALL of the tax cuts, they are STILL paying less than they would have had no action been taken, on account of them keeping the same benefit we all got from those lower tier rates.
What do you know: Obama STILL hasn't raised income taxes!
Now, yes, we can talk about the taxes that are associated with "Obamacare" (again: a nae that Republicans gave to their own plan, once they realized how many even of their own people hated it) but that's a much more complicated discussion, as it involves an objective discussion of how broken our health care system was BEFORE. And it remains to be seen, going forward, if the various taxes, benefits, regulations, restrictions and markets/exchanges will bring a net benefit or net harm. And on a personal level, that depends largely on whether you currently have health insurance or not, if you can afford it, and if you can afford it down the road. A worthy discussion, to be fair, but not what we're talking about HERE.
One final note: I came out pretty big for Capitalism in this post, albeit the regulated Capitalism of 40's, 50's and 60's, not the laissez-faire Capitalism of the 20's (which didn't end well, you may recall) or the Reaganomics that continues pretty much to this day. (Until I see a top-tier rate over 50%, we haven't substantively left Reaganomics yet!) I'd still proudly describe myself as a "Free-Market Liberal" or "Progressive Capitalist" and see no contradiction in doing so, at all.
To SOME EXTENT, Gordon Gecko was right: Greed is (or can be) good. Greed WORKS. (or CAN.)
And I do believe that for many things, the free market and the profit motive, assuming there's good, fair, open competition and well-informed choice, will generally distribute goods, services and income in a fair and equitable way. (Or at least the best possible way over time.) And while there may be others, I really see only four areas in our society that should be kept completely isolated from the pursuit of profit. And while, sadly, so many seem to disagree with me on these, I really can't see how these are anything but universal:
1) Education. Education is neither a right, not a privilege: It's a OBLIGATION. Of both a society to educate, and the people within it to become educated. And it an obligation that should be fulfilled by passing on OBJECTIVE KNOWLEDGE, not just the clap-trap that Corporations want to teach you in order to make you better voters and consumers (for them.) And make no mistake: The Right, and their 1% Corporate Masters, FEAR an educated populace. (And so does any Government in general.) Let's keep it that way!
2) Medicine. This one's easy. Just ask yourself, Do you want your Doctor making medical decision based on what's best for the Hospital's shareholders, or YOU, the patient. I think all sane people will say, "To hell with the Hospital's shareholders!" if the alternative is that they receive sub-standard or mediocre medical treatment. WELL... if you want that for yourself, you have to willing to grant it to everyone else. Otherwise, you're just a selfish little ass-wipe!
3) Justice. This one SHOULD be easy, but we actually HAVE a for-profit prison system. Oh, it "works," meaning it saves us money, provided that the jails remain FULL. Well, one "three strike and you're out" law signed by that great "Liberal" Bill Clinton, and we're now incarcerating a greater percentage of our population than CHINA does! (What, did you think that bill had something to do with CRIME?! OH, HELLS' NO!: It was entirely created by ALEC to make the for-profit prison system "work!" Look it up!) In any case, I don't think even the idiotic Conservatives who thought that "3-strikes" had something to do with being "tough on crime" would want to have a Judge making a decision that affected them based on economics rather that the evidence presented before the court.
4) The Military. Duh. Private contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan have been expensive, wasteful and (in some eyes) guilty of War Crimes. They cost more than our troops and do a worse job. Not to mention... All the top Republican brass all now admit that Iraq was all about OIL and MONEY in the first place! What do you know? EISENHOWER WAS RIGHT. And the profit-motive makes for REALLY FUCKING TERRIBLE foreign policy decisions.
Aside from those four areas?
I'm 100% a Capitalist. Just like President Obama & company are.
(One more thing... Something funny... every time I read about President Obama being described as a "Kenyan" I always read it, "Keynesian." Which becomes REALLY wierd when he'd called a "SECRET Kenyan." Because I read it "Secret Keynesian" and think, "Shit, that's not a particularly well-kept secret, is it?!")