Friday, August 24, 2012

Political Rant (1)

Never start with an apology. OK, no apology, but I must explain that my opinions come from a naive perspective, but feel so right and logical to me that sometimes I think I’ll burst if I don’t tell someone.

I’d like to see Mitt Romney’s tax returns not just to see how much he paid in taxes, but I’d also like to know how much he paid in medical expenses. His wife has a serious medical condition and because of his great wealth, I’m assuming no expense has been spared in providing her with superb medical care. I hope his medical health care plan can guarantee all Americans that level of care.

I’m curious also about how much he donated to the Mormon Church. As I understand it, Mormons tithe – give 10% of their income to the church. Of course, if Romney didn’t pay taxes in some years, I guess that meant he had no income and wasn’t obliged to tithe. Not sure how that tithing thing works with the Mormons, is it 10% of the pre-tax income? How much he donated to the church is of course, none of my business, but I’m curious if he is as (dis)honest with the church as he is with the rest of us. I’d also like to know what other causes he lends financial support to; I’d like the opportunity to get to know the man by the company he keeps or at least by the company he supports.

I’m concerned about racial issues as well. The Mormons have only recently accepted blacks into their fold. Romney has 0% of the black vote according to polls. Not surprisingly, blacks will vote for Obama. I’m very concerned about the overall effect a Romney Presidency would have on race relations. 

Then of course, there’s the whole Roe v Wade issue and the definition of rape. Romney needs to make a clear unequivocal statement about his position.  

The Supreme Court: Three justices are in their ‘70’s: two Reagan appointees – Antonin Scalia and Anthony Kennedy; one Clinton appointee – Ruth Ginsberg. A Republican president could pack the court, leaving only three justices appointed by Democrats: Sonia Sotomayer and Elena Kagan (Obama appointees) and Stephen Breyer (appointed by Clinton).

Taxes: Trickle-down economics are a failure. We need taxation at a level that funds defense, infrastructure improvements, and a social welfare floor (universal health care and tax credits), beneath which no one should have to live. 

Prison Reform: Prisons are now a major industry. We have the largest per capita incarceration rate on the planet. I don’t think it’s because we have better laws and are more effective at enforcing them. We have a society that breeds criminals and we criminalize illness. We must sort through the prison population to find out what could have been prevented (outlaw assault weapons) and what could more effectively be served through health care initiatives (mental health and substance abuse).

The bailout: A big mistake, in my opinion. The same funds should have been used to establish public works programs a la Roosevelt in the ‘30’s – programs to rebuild the highway system, promote alternative energy solutions, promote techno-literacy, subsidize public education, etc.

More to come on military spending and taxation, public education, the infrastructure, health care reform, and whatever seizes my mind. 

Please feel free to rant right back at me. I won’t “unfriend” you; I will consider your opinion, try to understand why we don’t agree, and let you know if I change my mind. I'll try to come up with more fully developed, but succinct discussions in the future. For today, it's a shotgun approach to several topics that are bugging me. 


  1. A little more on the bailout: Banks are being subsidized to offer "imperiled mortgage holders" refinancing at no cost and reduced interest rates. The banks reap more than they lose on these transactions and are aggressively scooping any possible refinance deals into this net. Further, my acquaintances (distant as they may be) are not suffering any reduction in their mid-6 figure incomes. Yes, there are fewer junkets and glitzy perks, but salaries are for the most part intact, and I haven't heard of many reductions in the executive ranks (please correct me if I'm wrong). Without the bailout, potential foreclosures would have been so high, that it would have been impossible to process them and impossible for the market to absorb the available property. It would have been chaos and would probably incite a financial revolution which draconian as it may be, is perhaps necessary.
    Now I may be entirely wrong, deluded, and misinformed, please, please,please help me understand if you see it differently.

  2. Well, as appealing as the from ashes scenario might be, the level of unemployment, and total financial damages would be equal to, if not greater than the great depression. The difference being that the effect of a global economy would be seen be acutely, and these consequences would likely occur the world over. I think the further trouble is that given the excessive ties between government and corporate elite, a collapse of one would be a collapse of the other.
    But that doesn't really resolve the issue. Our financial system is perverted by a psychotic incentive structure, that encourages the already very wealthy to risk the livelihoods of the middle class, for the sake of gains that would (and do) disproportionately benefit said wealthy.
    I think a best case scenario would be a massively more constrictive set of financial policies for the banks, a bailout package that aids the middle class (through an equity buyout of all debt exceeding home value for all single home owners); and a set of campaign finance laws that limit all private contributions to $100 (and where corporations are not individuals, and can make no contributions whatsoever) with a cap on candidates themselves and spouses at $10,000, the rest coming from a tax funded account.
    I would add as paramount the reestablishment of the fairness doctrine. Let us reinstate the idea that the realm of mass communication is a public trust, and must meet minimum standards for honesty, and presentation of opposing viewpoints.
    Lastly, little if any of the above is likely to happen, and in that light, maybe a total collapse might be more effective, but its hard to see the place of that in the realm of possibilities.

  3. You make some good points. I still have a lot of thinking, reading, and sorting out of my thoughts on nationalism vs globalism. Globalism is undeniable, we are absolutely intertwined, but I don't get the need for global military presence by the US when there is no reciprocal -- but that's a later discussion -- problem is you can't isolate any one problem.
    Your second paragraph reads like a mission statement for Bear Stearns (or Bain?).
    In your "best case" scenario, I assume by "single" you are implying owner-occupied homes and not marital status.
    Totally agree with campaign financing -- I'll probably get more riled up about that as the campaign progresses (or should I say, regresses).
    And yes on the fairness doctrine -- hopefully this blog is an attempt to pretend it exists. Nowhere are the fairness doctrine and campaign finance reform more sorely needed than in southwest Missouri. I might also toss in open primaries.
    And I have to wonder if total collapse would be better than extermination (or selfimmolation) of the middle class, aided and abetted by the sheep-like behavior of those who can't be bothered by politics and don't exercise our remaining freedoms.