Stark contrasts

By Ralph Wallace | Mar 07, 2019

There are some critical issues in the current political environment that cry out for conservative comment. In fact, these issues raise points of view that are in black-and-white contrast. Indeed, I hesitate to use this description, lest I be called racist – even though my wife is a protected minority. Let’s examine four of these important issues.

Socialism. Not since the early 20th century, when Woodrow Wilson’s administration examined the concept, has socialism been a serious topic in American governance. In the last presidential election, Bernie Sanders was considered an oddball outlier in raising the socialist flag. Today, however, we have elected Democrats (some running for president) who openly proclaim the virtues of socialism, with its usurious tax rates of 70 percent and higher. The conservative view on this matter is threefold. First, socialism represents a basic attack on the free will of people to self-determine. Second, even these proposed confiscatory taxes cannot fund the massive costs of the left’s proposals of Medicare for all, free college and guaranteed wages. Third, taking away more than half of a person’s earned income is a blatant disincentive to work and perform at the highest levels.

Borders. A country (or almost any entity) is defined by a border or boundary. Civilizations have fought for the right to have defined territory. They may, as has the United States, welcome newcomers; however, they reserve the right to control who may or may not come in. Hence, the conservative view is that a border may be logically defined by a wall, albeit with portals or gates, to have control of who enters. It is certainly not “immoral” – indeed, conservatives might argue that the suggestion of Democratic luminary Beto O’Rourke to tear down existing border walls is truly immoral.

Green New Deal. This proposal by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., supported by at least three Democratic candidates for president, appears laughable on its face. It is a 10-year plan that calls for the 100 percent elimination of carbon fuels, retrofitting of every building in America, and a guaranteed income for all – even for those “unwilling to work.” Impossible, you say? Well, conservatives are taking this radical concept seriously, because the left certainly is – a recent Gallup poll showed that 57 percent of Democrats approve of this socialistic concept. An example of “retrofitting” in the real world reveals that this plan is mind-numbingly impossible. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that the New York City Housing Authority recently changed just the lightbulbs and fixtures in 23 housing developments to LED status at a whopping cost of $33.2 million. Conservatives would opine that even those Democrats who define the GND as aspirational are so far out of touch with reality that they cannot be taken seriously.

Abortion. New developments in Virginia and New York have taken this matter to a new extreme. The old debate between “pro-choice” and “pro-life” now seems almost quaint when one contemplates that now in New York law an abortion can take place on the final day of pregnancy, and in Virginia a law has been proposed that would allow a newborn baby to be terminated after discussion with the mother and her doctors. Conservatives would argue that such a procedure is not an abortion. It is infanticide.

Are there stark differences in the above examples? You bet. Conservatives would argue that a government based upon these four foundational issues would transform the United States into a country that the framers of the Constitution could never have contemplated.

Comments (27)
Posted by: Kenneth W Hall | Mar 12, 2019 12:45

-Why is listing Obama's failures not timely when those failures democracy failures happened back then?

 

-I find it very ironic that you complain about corporations and overseas money& jobs.  Isn't Trump and your argument the same?  Think Harley Davidson!  Thank you Ron for supporting Trumps America First Platform!!!

 

-"Their own money"...Meaning the pay checks you and I work for.  For me it averages between 60-80 hours a week.  I believe I owe a percentage of my income but that is where you and I differ.  I deposit money every week into Social Security.  Let's also give credit to the big bad corporations who matches my money deposited into Social Security.  Too many people forget that little bit of information.  Say nothing about corporate Medicare taxes for employees as well as Federal Unemployment and State unemployment taxes as well as the "Maine-Comp Skills Schlr Fund".

 

-Corporations ARE building Infrastructure.  Take Brightline in Florida vs California high speed train project.  One is up and running and the other is not.  Which one is running? Right the private project.  Who is spending more efficiently and watching pennies?  I will simplify this thought process to you and me.  Take just my wallet and your wallet.  I have deductions from my pay check that goes to you and you have deductions that go to me.  Would I spend your money as well as the money left in my wallet?  I might spend your money faster or you might spend my money faster.  Problem is my wife and cousin have ideas that will make your life better, by shopping for you, but you need to open your wallet and have more deductions.  Now your wallet has less money in it but my wife's shopping is to make your life easier.  Your life is a little bit easier HOWEVER your life is not as good as it was before.   The new deductions you lost from your pay, because you are now giving money to pay my cousin and my wife to shop for you.  My life is much better because now your wallet has added more money to my wallet, through my wife's new source of income.  Was the extra money taken from your pay check to make your life easier worth it?  My wife's program made my life easier too but now because you gave your money to my wife to make it easier allows me to enjoy it too!  Even though it would have been less expensive for you to shop for yourself.  You still pay for the items my wife and cousin shop for BUT your deduction is now created more income for my cousin and wife.  Now my cousin now needs to pay his wife so we are now going to take more money deductions from your wallet.  Even though you see no benefit from the second increase in deductions.  At what point do you get upset that the money left in your wallet is becoming too small?  You have helped add income to my family because we found a way to make life easier!  Thank you for that!!!  Are you upset that your wallet doesn't have as much as mine does now?  My wife skims some of the money deducted from your pay checks now and puts it in my wallet.  Thank you for that.

 

See once the money leaves your wallet you have no control over it.  You could have shopped for yourself but it was easier to have money taken from your paycheck.  Now you are having twice as much money deducted for the items my wife shops for you then what the items are worth.  You can not go back to shopping for yourself and get those deductions back because then my poor wife and cousin would loose their income.

PS I was going to have it be your wife and cousin taking the money from my wallet, and the extra deductions but it was much more fun taking money out of your wallet so my families life was better then yours!  (sic)  In all honesty I want those who work hard, and have earned more, be able to have a life they worked for and not given or taken from someone else.  Is Social Democracy wanting to reward those who worked harder then others or have everyone equal?  That is the real question.



Posted by: Ronald Horvath | Mar 12, 2019 10:55

You know, Ken, if you're going to simply lift something from a Google search it's only appropriate to add the address and give credit to the site -and the authors- where it actually belongs.  That way it can also be checked out.  The so-called conservatives that lurk around here will be indignant about it -as they hate "cut and paste" or anything factual that they're forced to ignore- but, for me, that's just another reason for doing it.

It also helps to find something  more timely than 2012, or 2011.  Partisan arguments that dated aren't worth debating.  Time gives better perspective.

And, in my opinion, the problem with most government run programs is that Republicans have deliberately underfunded anything that dares to interfere with their corporate backers' bad behavior.  When ever they get power they do their best to shrink anything they might benefit ordinary Americans.  It's been their SOP since Reagan and even has a name:

"The Republicans don’t advertise this, but in fact they all believe in a theory that I call ‘starve the beast,’ which says that the purpose of cutting taxes is to create a deficit which will then justify spending cuts. Under normal circumstances, you’re not going to be able to cut popular programs like Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, but if the deficit gets really, really big, people may be frightened of it and be willing to accept as necessary spending cuts that would not otherwise be politically plausible.”   -Bruce Bartlett served as a senior policy analyst in Republican President Ronald Reagan’s administration, and even helped President Reagan craft his much-ballyhooed tax cuts."
http://dieharddemocrat.com/2017/11/02/former-reagan-official-slams-trumps-tax-plan-says-will-help-super-rich-19965#ixzz4xOR7gRNz


And just to be clear Vermont is giving money to Americans to re-locate.  The only people giving money to Brazil are our so-called loyal capitalists who prefer paying peanuts to foreigners rather than a living wage to their own countrymen.  And yet they want to bring their products back here to sell to people working for minimum wage.  Go figure, right?

As for those examples what exactly do you mean by "their own money."  Do you think a citizen owes nothing to the country and society in which they live?  Do you really think corporations would have built the interstate highway system?  Do you actually believe that private schools would have lifted the population as a whole out of ignorance (or just kept the wrong kind of people out of the ruling class)?  Do you actually think a mercenary military would be effective in defending this country? (Until an enemy offers a higher bid, no doubt.)  And do you think privatized prisons make sense when profit is determined by numbers of prisoners? (And every "free" citizen"  is looked on as a potential profit bearing prisoner?)  We've already had one judge in Pennsylvania thrown in jail for "selling" youthful offenders to a private prison.

You see the problem here, Ken.  Privatization simply puts profit ahead of the common good since there is no common good in the corporate state, only profit and loss, for them.  

How about Social Security?  Millions of elderly -admittedly working class which puts them out of mind for conservatives- have been saved from dying in crushing poverty since the 30s by Social Security.  And most don't have the economic expertise to do this for themselves, though I know there's a whole class of "economic advisors" only too willing to profit off that ignorance.  Trump has even now relieved them of Obama's "unfair" regulation of putting their clients first. Remember, in the private sector "one" is the only number.

And let's not forget health care -the gorilla in the room.  Why should the CEO of United Health Care make $77,0000 a day when most people can't afford an emergency room visit?  Have you heard the latest anti-vaxer debacle, a child in the northwest -unvaccinated- who came down with Typhus and whose hospital visit cost $80,000.  And his stupid parents still refuse to get the kid vaccinated?  (Must be Republicans, or trump supporters at the very least.)

I suppose you've heard that a recent study by the Koch Brothers's study found that health care -as it is- in this country is going to cost $33 trillion in the next ten years while medicare for all would only cost $32 trillion, and we're all already paying into it.  So what's the problem with that, except that conservatives want to destroy medicare for anyone and have been chipping away at it since it's inception.  trump now want to cut billions from it to pay for his monument to stupidity, a wall to no where.

And as long as we're talking "promises" do you remember trump mouthing these?

“I have a plan to defeat ISIS in 30 days.”

“You’ll have better, cheaper healthcare than ObamaCare.”

“I’ll be too busy working for you to take vacations.”

“I won’t touch Social Security or Medicare.”

“Mexico will pay for the wall.”

“I’ll negotiate lower prescription drug prices.”

“I’ll do away with the National debt in three years.”


And now trump wants to cut medicare by $845 billion and medicaid by $241 billion. How's that for a promise.

Sounds like the Lord of Lies doesn't need to shoot someone in Time's Square.  He prefers letting them die a slow death by neglect.  He's finally become a real Republican.



Posted by: Kenneth W Hall | Mar 11, 2019 16:25

As an independent I find it ironic how it is so easy to find on the internet something to legitimize your own argument.  I believe it doesn't make a different which party is in charge because finding their short comings is very very easy to do.  I am confused why anyone would want to give more money to the democracy when it wastes it as well as Washington.  It seems weird that Vermont gives money to people from away and it is incentive but when Washington now gives money to Brazil it no longer is seed money or incentive but a waste.  I will agree to disagree until you can give examples of well spent government monies that could not have been better handled by someone with their own money.  The government is redundant and laden with paperwork.  Try to build affordable house project with government funds as an example.  It will cost twice as much going through the paper work etc....  Please help me learn about how the government can do something more effectively then the private sector.



Posted by: Kenneth W Hall | Mar 11, 2019 16:15

First, Obama's economic advisers promised the stimulus would keep the unemployment rate below 8 percent. In 2012, the unemployment rate was supposed to fall below 6 percent. The prediction was not meant to be taken lightly. In a January 2009 radio address, Obama announced he was releasing a report based on "rigorous analysis" that charted unemployment through 2013 so "the American people can see exactly what this plan will mean for their families."

Today, 12.8 million Americans are unemployed, 8.2 million cannot find enough work, and 1.1 million have given up looking for work altogether. Unemployment still remains above 8 percent, the supposed maximum rate, and certainly above 6 percent. For 36 straight months, unemployment has been higher than what the president promised. That's more than a rounding error; that is a failure of leadership.

Second, Obama promised the stimulus would not only have a large impact but also an immediate impact. Said the president-elect, "I'm confident ... our 21st century investments will create jobs immediately," adding, "We've got shovel-ready projects all across the country."

Those jobs never materialized, and it was not for lack of workers—or shovels. As President Obama remarked in June 2011, "Shovel-ready was not as shovel-ready as we expected." He chuckled through the mea culpa, but it's no laughing matter. Obama failed to deliver—and at great cost to taxpayers

Third, President Obama said in February 2009 that the stimulus would lift "2 million Americans from poverty." But since Obama took office, 6.3 million Americans have fallen into poverty.

2010 U.S. Census data, the most recent available, showed that 46.2 million Americans were living in poverty. Worse still, child poverty has increased, rising to 21.6 percent. Many middle class Americans, unable to find work or decent wages, have fallen below the poverty line in recent years. It's the most tragic cost of this prolonged economic nightmare.

Fourth, the "green economy," Obama vowed, would create millions of jobs. The Energy Department has handed out $35.2 billion in stimulus money to jumpstart the clean energy industry, but it's created more red ink than green jobs. Nationally, green technology accounts for just 2 percent of employment nationwide and there has been no marked boom in the industry.

Those loans, however, have created quite the scandal. Nearly half a billion in taxpayer dollars was lost to the now-bankrupt solar energy company Solyndra. The company, which has since laid off over 1,000 workers, was Obama's self-described poster-child for "American ingenuity and dynamism" in 2010. Today, it's the poster-child for the hazards of reckless spending.

Finally, the fifth promise: one million electric cars. Obama promised the stimulus would put one million electric vehicles on the road by 2015. Last month, the Washington Postreported that "evidence is mounting that President Obama was overly optimistic" to make that pledge.

General Motors' Volt, expected to be a hybrid hit, fell far short of its sales goals in 2011 by 38 percent. Fisker Automotive, which received half a billion dollars of stimulus money, also fell short of its manufacturing goals. On top of that, instead of creating jobs in the United States, the company is building its cars in Finland. So the Recovery Act did at least manage to stimulate Scandinavia.



Posted by: Ronald Horvath | Mar 11, 2019 07:51

It's good to remember, Ken, that the whole idea of democracy is that the government is not an "it."  The government is "us."  The important part of social democracy is the "democracy" part.  This is something conservatives -and especially Republicans- either forget or ignore.  That's why Democrats are trying to make it easier for people to vote while Republicans are actively suppressing the vote.  

And apparently Norway isn't worried.  That's why they're disengaging from the fossil fuel economy.  Maybe they're depending on their investments abroad, much like China and even the Saudis to hedge their bets against a dying industry.  In any case they know better than to be tied to an aging, damaging, and outdated energy source for ideological reasons.  Did you realize that Germany is closing down all coal fired power plants in a few years?  Renewable energy is simply a more intelligent way into a better world.  As I've said the Green New Deal has many possibilities and all need to be hashed out in the future but conservatives serve no one's interest by whining and moaning about it, no one's interest but their fossil fuel backers who expect them to put on this pitiable act.  Personally I think they're just making themselves look bad.

And do try to remember that Obama's stimulus program was an investment in THIS country, for our people, and not to build factories in Brazil.  Money spent here goes into our economy whether for food stamps, Veterans benefits, or infrastructure, all those things Republicans think we can't afford in favor of bigger defense contracts, tax breaks for billionaires, and trump's golf trips.  Again, the important part of self-sustaining is "self."

Oh, and Bernie is the senator from Vermont.  Not the governor.  As far as paying people to move there, is called "incentive" and works in much the same way as a signing bonus in sports, corporations, or the military.  If it didn't work it wouldn't be so widely used.  Remember, always follow the money.



Posted by: Kenneth W Hall | Mar 10, 2019 19:21

Where will Norway get their funds when the New Green Deal takes effect.  Yes they pulled their funds out however the income made on their reserves will not be there causing either benefits to be cut or loss of free education.  The social democracy we have with social security and medicare are not self sustaining.  BOTH sides of the aisle are responsible for debt.  No just military but how about Obama's investment of 3/4 of a trillion of supposed shovel ready projects.  Let's face it, the government is broken and the thought of giving it even more power in social democracy is crazy.

 

Take Bernie's state he serves as governor........they have to PAY people to move to Vermont!  That's right pay people to move there.  Seriously????You want his governing to run the entire country?



Posted by: Ronald Horvath | Mar 10, 2019 17:21

No thanks, June/Jan.  I prefer to give my countrymen the benefits of a social democracy by bringing it here.

 

 

And here's one reason we have so much trouble spending our money on our own people, Ken.

 

"The United States has spent nearly $6 trillion on wars that directly contributed to the deaths of around 500,000 people since the 9/11 attacks of 2001.

 

Brown University's Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs published its annual "Costs of War" report Wednesday, taking into consideration the Pentagon's spending and its Overseas Contingency Operations account, as well as "war-related spending by the Department of State, past and obligated spending for war veterans’ care, interest on the debt incurred to pay for the wars, and the prevention of and response to terrorism by the Department of Homeland Security."

 

The final count revealed, "The United States has appropriated and is obligated to spend an estimated $5.9 trillion (in current dollars) on the war on terror through Fiscal Year 2019, including direct war and war-related spending and obligations for future spending on post 9/11 war veterans."

"In sum, high costs in war and war-related spending pose a national security concern because they are unsustainable," the report concluded. "The public would be better served by increased transparency and by the development of a comprehensive strategy to end the wars and deal with other urgent national security priorities."
https://www.newsweek.com/us-spent-six-trillion-wars-killed-half-million-1215588?fbclid=IwAR36h1bV-HDG3yBzXDSUTrteiijGykE4aB-SgtudESCJjLQ2RvMZLKF9StQ

 

 

Of course much of that was simply added to the deficit by the bush administration which conservatives now wrongly attribute to Obama who had to deal with it.

 

And Norway -the most "nordic" of the nordics"- has no trouble addressing the serious problems of our world no matter how close to its base or how small it's government.  This from a country with large oil deposits:

 

"Norway puts its oil income into a national sovereign wealth fund, one of the world’s major investors, with $1 trillion in assets. And the sovereign wealth fund has decided to pull its investments from oil exploration companies.

 

The fund will sell $7.5 billion in shares in 134 energy companies.

 

The Norwegian investment officials are clearly signaling that there is no point in investing money in finding and developing new petroleum fields, and investing in these activities bears a large exposure to risk."

https://www.juancole.com/2019/03/bellwether-exploration-investment.html?fbclid=IwAR1lGDDbL4mXIBexK9WPbA518Qp-xjqVcpyp4qM1LLYGRPQq8CMuQvwmvKA

 

Now there's some real political courage wouldn't you say.

 

As for AOC's finances aren't you being just a bit petty, Ken.  I wish conservatives would get so worked up over the millionaires who now infest our congress and use their positions to profit only themselves.

 

"Over and over, U.S. senators demonstrated uncanny timing on when to buy and sell their stocks. In fact, they regularly beat the market by breathtaking margins — that is to say, enjoyed returns exceeding the performance of the Standard & Poor's 500 index.

 

To beat the market, you can be very lucky or work very hard at studying certain industries — an exceedingly rare accomplishment. Or you can use insider information.

 

Time and time again, studies show that what politicians do in a crisis has a funny way of lining up with what fattens their wallets.

Consider, members of Congress tended to vote in favor of the 2008 bank bailout if it benefited their holdings in things like financial sector stocks...  The researchers found that representatives were “60 percent more likely to vote in favor of government intervention when the financial crisis affected their personal wealth.”

The current congressional rules are so lax that you can actually own companies and sit on corporate boards as long as you don’t draw a salary. And why would you need a salary when the stock returns are so good?

https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/alexandria-ocasio-cortez-right-about-corruption-congress-ncna975906?cid=sm_npd_ms_fb_lw&fbclid=IwAR11tIvvUFXmrrUZ51yklkBMS6sAefWqI86WOIXewI2bYn-csc2Kbh4a9k4

 

 

Of course AOC pointed all this out:

 

"In February, congressional star Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-NY, broke viral political video records with her clever exposure of political corruption, drawing tens of millions of viewers as she laid out how easy it is for “bad guys” to cruise into Congress on corporate cash. Then, once there, they craft laws for big donors and back legislation to boost their stock portfolio. All without breaking the law."

 

I suppose this is why Republicans are crying about her bartender tips now, in revenge for her calling them out for their crooked dealng in the market.  But with a notorious cheat and double-dealer as their president what can we expect?



Posted by: JUNE DOLCATER | Mar 10, 2019 16:25

Ron,

It appears you are enamored with the economic approach in Norway. If this is so, have you considered immigrating to Norway? Why not ? Please do not miss such a "golden opportunity."

Jan Dolcater Rockport



Posted by: Kenneth W Hall | Mar 10, 2019 11:39

Close to the tax base means the  Nordic government is small enough the tax dollars are spent more wisely.  The US government is too large and thus the distance between the tax dollars being paid from individuals has too many tenticles of government to suck the tax dollars away from local control.



Posted by: Kenneth W Hall | Mar 10, 2019 11:36

I am not mocking where AOC came from.  I am a numbers guy who is trying to figure out how AOC has $7000 to $15,000 in the bank making $26,600 in 2018?  She is paying off a student loan.  Has $15,000-50,000 in investment accounts and another retirement account between $15,000-50,000.  How does someone her age save that much money, claim all her tips and pay for living expenses in New York City where the cost of living is so high?  The numbers seem funny.



Posted by: Kenneth W Hall | Mar 10, 2019 11:17

Nordics growth in the US, is the Nordic company incorporating in the US, to avoid paying Nordic taxes.  Why would that company choose to grow away from the number one place in the world?



Posted by: Kenneth W Hall | Mar 10, 2019 11:13

I fail to respect unions as long as the teachers union continues to pass along student who can't make change.



Posted by: Ronald Horvath | Mar 10, 2019 11:05

Good grief, Ken, I hardly know where to begin, or how to answer all those scatter shot posts.  Next time, just for the sake of expediency,  try to organize your thoughts into a coherent whole and then construct them all into one post.  You'll find it's more effective.  Still, I'll try to soldier on.

I hardly think AOC's tips would be of interest to anyone but Republicans looking for a false accusation to diminish her influence.  I know they're trying but they will only make themselves look like "elitist" in the end.  As the lady said so eloquently herself:

"I find it revealing when people mock where I came from , saying they're going to 'send me back to waitressing,' as if that is bad or shameful.  It's as though they think being a member of Congress makes you intrinsically "better" than a waitress.  But our job is to serve, not rule." -Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

 

Gotta love that young lady.

 

And sure the majority of taxes will still be paid by the middle class or what's left of it.  Hell, they're paying it now, aren't they.  Amazon certainly isn't.

"In 2018, Amazon nearly doubled its profits, from $5.6bn to $11.2bn. But far from paying the statutory 21% income tax rate, it reported a $129m federal income tax rebate for the year – a tax rate of -1%.

So, they really didn't need that $3 billion dollar bribe to locate in Queens, did they.  Corporations just can't deal honestly with people and can't resist using their economic power to loot the public funds for their own benefit.  And that's another reason to tax them more heavily, to reduce their economic clout and their oppression of our society.  How can Americans call themselves free when the economic elite has all the power?

Unions certainly are necessary as yet another stopgap to corporate over reach.  They are the only political power working people have whether miners, autoworkers, nurses, truckers, or teachers.  Political power spread out over a population is always more equitable that concentrated in the hands of the profit seeking few.

"When the regulation, therefore, is in support of the workman, it is always just and equitable, but it is sometimes otherwise when in favour of the masters."    -Adam Smith,The Wealth of Nations

And isn't the cirriculum of any school decided by the school board, and not the teachers?  Making change is quickly learned at any cash register but I'd rather see a return to Civics as a necessary course in how government -local, state, and national- is created and evolves, and what the constitution actually says about how it should be run.

I don't think Sweden is coming here to escape taxes.  They would have to pay them at home at any rate and yes, high taxes and an efficient "welfare" state haven't kept the nordics from being economically creative.  After all:

"In 2014, Forbes ranked Denmark as the #1 best country for business.

Forbes used 11 different criteria to rank countries — innovation, property rights, red tape, taxes, investor protection, stock market performance, technology, corruption, personal freedom, freedom of trade, and monetary freedom.  Under the same criteria, the US ranked #18."
http://usuncut.com/world/here-are-9-reasons-denmarks-socialist-economy-leaves-the-us-in-the-dust/

Part of that could be that corporations only resist "regulation" when it force good behavior on them.  They're all in favor of it when it stifles their competition from abroad.

 

I guess there's something to be said for government assuming responsibility for the common good of workers and corporate types alike since it relieves the corporate from that responsibility.  Some automakers have relocated to Mexico for lower wages but others have gone to Canada so that workers' benefits like health care can be assumed by government.  I guess paying taxes turned out to be cheaper than dealing with worker demands and unrest.  

And I'm not sure what you mean by "close to the tax base."  Most politicians have to face down the voters eventually especially in a close race and that means answering for any votes in the legislature that only benefited the few, or maybe just the politician him(or her)self.  The trouble comes when people refuse to believe what's in front of them.  trump's tax cut is starting to materialize out of the fog of his BS as being not as great as he claimed, as those of us who can count knew all along.  Maybe knowing how to make change has political implications after all.



Posted by: Kenneth W Hall | Mar 10, 2019 00:01

Decisions to use the tax revenues are done close to the tax base in the Nordic countries, which makes people trust their money will be spent wisely. Nordic people would not generally like the idea of handing much tax authority to European Union bureaucrats in far-away Brussels.

 

That's why it wouldn't work in an economy as large as the US



Posted by: Kenneth W Hall | Mar 09, 2019 23:58

On the other hand, high taxation has not prohibited the Nordic countries from becoming successful market economies with high capacities for innovation. High taxation is necessary to finance the Nordic style welfare services and nearly free education.

Top marginal tax brackets are not the key to financing the welfare state, however, because the extra revenue from a few really high-earning individuals is peanuts compared to the taxes paid by the middle class or value added tax on sales.



Posted by: Kenneth W Hall | Mar 09, 2019 23:56

Sweden coming to the US.....wouldn't you?  Think a child's book author makes in excess of $10 million?

 

Sweden does actually have a history with marginal tax rate in excess of 100 percent. Swedish children's book author Astrid Lindgren wrote a satirical story called “Pomperipossa in the World of Money” in response to the 102 percent marginal tax rate that she faced in 1976.

For every extra 100 note she earned, she had to pay 102 to the government. The following heated tax debate was an important factor in the election defeat of the Swedish Social Democratic Party in 1976, the first time that happened in 40 years. Swedes continue to be taxed heavily; the maximum marginal tax rate is close to 70 percent.



Posted by: Kenneth W Hall | Mar 09, 2019 17:24

I think Unions are the answer,(sic) like the teachers union graduating the students who can't make change.  The really scary thing is when WW3 comes along as cyber war fare when there is no internet or online for kids to rely on.  How will they be able to keep track of the "friends"?



Posted by: Kenneth W Hall | Mar 09, 2019 17:21

AOC is a completely different story.  As a bartender it is a matter of time before her tax returns are analyzed vs he living expenses.  Think AOC claimed 100% of her tips?  I think you will want to go back and look at AOC's tax plan and it's sustainability.  She taxes 70 over 10 million BUT the taxes for the middle class still will get dinged when her plans go into over drive.  Just like her wanting to spend the supposed 3 billion dollar tax break Amazon was going to get.  I only can shake my head at that logic.



Posted by: Ronald Horvath | Mar 09, 2019 17:01

And isn't all that the case now, Ken?  Who do you think is deciding how to spend your taxes?  It's called representative democracy.

And no, it isn't the majority of my wealth or anyone's wealth.  AOC's tax plan only wants to tax any money above $10 million annually.  Do you make more than $10 million a year?  I don't.  You do realize, don't you, that our present health care system is already costing us $33 trillion in the next 10 years so that Medicare for all wouldn't cost any more?  After all, everyone is already paying in and most are paying even more for employer provided health coverage.

 

And if the whole of western society in every modern nation can do it why can't we?  Even Israel has universal health care?  If we can dish out billions a years for them then why can't we do at least much for our own people?  Or is instant cash only found for defense boondoggles, trillions in tax breaks for the ultra-rich, and ridiculous walls to no where?

As Bernie says, there's no FREE stuff. It's just a fair tax system that uses those taxes to benefit the population as a whole instead of the elite few.  I'm sure most American wouldn't mind paying even more in taxes if they actually saw a return on that investment, if they didn't have to sweat losing everything they own for a medical emergency, or stand by helplessly when their kid asks for help with college.   Right now the only ones seeing a return are those who don't actually pay taxes at all, trump and his friends.



Posted by: Kenneth W Hall | Mar 09, 2019 15:11

One more thing....You will be completely content to give me your money in form of a tax, when I am elected to office and want to tax the majority of YOUR wealth and spend it as I, in office, see fit to spend it along with my other elected officials.  Not you deciding on what is fair, but ME as the elected official.  Oh believe me...I am a DEMOCRAT and know best how to spend YOUR money!  Remember the elected officials get to make the rules.  So open your wallet and TRUST me!



Posted by: Kenneth W Hall | Mar 09, 2019 15:03

Yeah your right....Cuba is a definite winner!



Posted by: Kenneth W Hall | Mar 09, 2019 15:00

If you want to brag that a high school student who is graduating from high school that can't make change then yes you are accurate.



Posted by: Ronald Horvath | Mar 09, 2019 14:52

You still have to admit, Ken, that it was the left that demanded that raise in the minimum wage and in the face of virulent conservative opposition so it's a bit disingenuous for a conservative to bragging on it now don't you think?

Despite that I still say the "Nordics" are still coming here because our labor is depressed and every one back home is already taken care of.

"Swedish companies create jobs in all 50 U.S. states, and all 50 states export goods and services to Sweden.  Sweden directly supports more than 360,000 jobs in the United States – and when you include supporting jobs, suppliers and subcontractors, the total number is closer to one million jobs."

I guess we should be thankful that they need the labor pool and are willing to come here rather than China.  And here's a example of why we should be thankful for their largess:

"We have a country that very closely approximates the democratic socialist ideal. It's a place that is not only very far from a hellish dystopia, but also considerably more successful than the United States on virtually every social metric one can name.

I'm talking about Norway.

...  Democratic socialism is a political tradition aiming broadly at democratic control of the economy, achieved through electoral processes. In concrete terms, that generally means a completed cradle-to-grave welfare state plus democratic ownership of big swathes of the economy through mechanisms like a social wealth fund or state-owned enterprises. Importantly, this definition rules out authoritarian systems like the state socialism seen in the Soviet Union. Democracy means at a minimum regular, free, and fair elections, where a conservative party has a real chance of victory.

On the policy side, American conservatives have one international example in their case against democratic socialism: Venezuela. That country is ostensibly socialist and undergoing a severe economic crisis — so bad they're running out of toilet paper, says Tucker Carlson — and therefore leftism always causes economic disaster. The initial problem with this argument is that Venezuela is not a real democracy, as President Nicolas Maduro has been blatantly rigging constitutional and electoral processes to cling to power. Venezuela may embrace socialism, but it definitely doesn't embrace democratic socialism.

A more important rejoinder to this argument is Norway (and the other Nordic countries to a lesser extent). Norwegian workers are heavily protected, with 70 percent of workers covered by union contracts, and over a third directly employed by the government. The Norwegian state operates a gigantic sovereign wealth fund, and its financial assets total 331 percent of its GDP (as compared to an American figure of 25 percent). Meanwhile, its state-owned enterprises are worth 87 percent of GDP. Of all the domestic wealth in Norway, the government owns 59 percent, and fully three-quarters of the non-home wealth (as most Norwegians own their home).

Reliable statistics on the Venezuelan economy are hard to come by, but Norway is unquestionably more socialist than Venezuela according to the above definition. Indeed, it is considerably more socialist than supposedly-communist China, where only 31 percent of national wealth is owned by the state.

Norway is not some destitute hellscape. Indeed, not only are Norwegian stores well-stocked with toilet paper, it is actually considerably more wealthy than the U.S., with a GDP of over $70,000 per person. Even when you correct for the moderately large oil sector (which accounts for a bit less than a quarter of its exports), it still has a cutting-edge, ultra-productive economy — far from some petro-state living off oil rents like Dubai.

Socially, it routinely ranks as the happiest (2017) or second-happiest (2018) country in the world. The rest of the Nordics are also usually among the top five as well — even more remarkable when you factor in the phenomenon of seasonal affective disorder and the extreme northerly position of the Scandinavian peninsula.

On a snapshot of other quality-of-life measures, Norway boasts:

A life expectancy of 81.7 years.

 

An infant mortality rate of two per 1,000 live births.

 

A murder rate of 0.51 per 100,000.

 

An incarceration rate of 74 per 100,000.

How does all that compare to the United States? Well, our economy is somewhat less wealthy, with per capita GDP of $59,500 — but to be fair, that is about the highest outside of oil-rich or tax haven countries. Socially, however, the picture is much worse: America ranks in the mid-teens for happiest countries, while its life expectancy is two years behind Norway, and actually fell in 2016 and 2017. America's infant mortality rate is three times higher. Its murder rate is over 10 times higher, as is its incarceration rate."

https://theweek.com/articles/783700/democratic-socialism-bad-why-norway-great?fbclid=IwAR3uCOzEx8mmxt1bPmT5f6PV8r_Ao_KkKR-48PLr8h9Xo-Ie3RLw20cWtIg

 

Something to think about, wouldn't you say, Ken,



Posted by: Kenneth W Hall | Mar 09, 2019 12:13

Allure or not it is better enough for them to seek it out and leave theirs behind. The US tax rate is three times lower then the Nordic way.  Given the current economic trends the poverty rate continues to drop.  Given your idea of hamburger flippers are now making $23,920 per year which is almost twice the level of poverty($12,140).  Fact check minimum wage is now $11.50 which is $23,920 a year. US poverty rate is $12,140 so that is the reason those employees are loosing their food stamps. Then again the New Green Deal will put those hamburger flippers back on unemployment though.



Posted by: Ronald Horvath | Mar 09, 2019 06:45

Could it be, Ken, that our ruined economic system is the allure?  Just maybe the Nordics are coming here for the millions of American workers that have been left out of our wonderful capitalist system, those who are tired of flipping burgers, driving pizza delivery cars, or worse, standing around waiting the mines to reopen while the Republicans cut off their food stamps?  Perhaps they're coming here in the same way that our oh so loyal capitalists took so many American jobs to Vietnam, Bangeledesh, and Brazil, because they don't have the masses of disgruntled, excluded workers who are just waiting for a descent job with a descent wage.  Isn't a hoot that this economic step up for our own people will be coming from those very same social democracies that Republicans vilify or ignore.  

I guess trump's down-sizing of the American dream is compete.  We are now a third world country waiting for those successful Nordic social democracies to rescue us with the jobs that we can't create for ourselves.



Posted by: Kenneth W Hall | Mar 08, 2019 21:10

After all it works so well in the Nordics, that the Nordics are coming to the land of the free to expand and build their biggest factory here and not in the Nordic way.  Will be very interesting to see where the Nordic's, from the great Nordic model, have taken their money.  Why stay in the great Nordic state, when Nordic money can move abroad and build their biggest factories here.  Matter of fact, the Nordic way is so successful in redistribution, that Nordic company is now working on their second facility in the US.  The Nordic people's wealth is investing in Nordic company wanting to escape and start building in a capitalist society vs staying in the great Nordic way.

 

Other then that Ron...I'll let you win from the beginning.  Free, free, free,.... free the rich from their wealth and give it to those who choose not to work.  Ruin the work ethic, and then you can solve the dilemma of where to get the next free.  We can just let others work while we sit on our backside writing away!  See you win!  Write away!!!



Posted by: Ronald Horvath | Mar 08, 2019 11:26

OK, Ralph.   I'll take you on and do it point by point as well, just to keep it simply.  

Socialism: In it's modern form it's actually called Social Democracy. Forbes recently described it as such and admitted that  "Most of Europe has this to some degree or another and the place where it really works is the Nordics... Bernie Sanders wants to give us democratic socialism he says. Yet what he's actually offering is a Nordic-style social democracy."

Your description of this system as "a basic attack on the free will of people to self-determine" doesn't really pan out when you look at these societies.  This system was, after all, voted in by them of their own free will, something I know, as a conservative, you also have problems with.

Forbes continues,  "They are more economically free than the U.S. and they also have less progressive taxation systems. It's that combination that allows them to tax so highly to pay for those goods and services centrally provided."

Which means that people are taxed more heavily but those taxes are used to benefit everyone -the society as a whole- rather than "doled" out in subsidies to corporations who make billions in profits but pay no taxes.  For that we can thank trump and his complicit Republicans.

Borders:  Yes, there have always been borders but historically those borders have always been fluid, according to the power and territorial imperative of those on the other side.  Ask Mexico how it lost the entire southwest of the present US.  Ask any eastern European nation how it acquired an ethnic minority of it's neighbors peoples.  Ask any western European how often their borders have switched.  Ask any Palestinian where the borders of their country are.  Borders fluctuate according to the balance of power.  The truth is that our southwestern territory was acquired through brute force and the border established by pointing a gun at the head of Mexico.  Those historical actions have consequences as all actions do and no wall will change that.  

Walls, by the way, are the methods of authoritarian governments, fearful of the retribution for those actions.  They have never really worked.  Tell me , are we going to build a wall on the Canadian border as well, or how about up and down both coasts, since that's where most of the drugs come into this country.  The truth is, Ralph, the whole phony border "crisis" is about brown people coming here -where they've always been- and terrifying white people about losing their majority.  Yes, it's racist, and it's inevitable.

Green New Deal:  Ah, I know this one scares the crap of conservatives because it means an end to the power monopoly that keeps them in office; the corporate state.  

You have to remember, Ralph, that this is simply the opening salvo in the battle to re-take " the free will of people to self-determine."  It will mean taking back power from those corporations and billionaires who flaunt their influence over our government and sneer at the right of voters to their own opinions.  I don't expect the Green New Dealers will get all of their proposals but when opening a debate or negotiation one always starts high and only comes down to earth when the opposition makes a counter offer.  I would think supporters of the great "deal maker" would understand that even if Republicans in congress know that their funding relies on their not understanding that, or at least, pretending to disbelieve in the consequences of not acting on climate change or ignoring the widening economic class divide and the anger and tension it's causing.  Like trump you obviously think you've got enough people fooled into thinking that they'll have to give up their "hamberders" and gas guzzlers but do you really believe it.  I don't think so.

Abortion:   No one likes abortion, Ralph.  That's a fact.  And it's also a fact that so many abortions are unnecessary.  The obvious answer to abortion is contraception.  It's almost a no brainer.

I won't even address the recent dust up over the "Dems want to kill babies" nonsense.  That's just more hair-on-fire conservatism screeching about what is not really happening, and not worth my time to address.

But tell me, Ralph, what is the problem conservatives have with contraception?  Are you really that hung up on people having sex that you have to do everything in your power to prevent it?  Or is it simply that by supporting more easily acquired contraception for all Americans you fear that you'll lose one of your more emotional shouting points?  If people don't get pregnant, abortions will go way down, and your people won't have anything to preach and gnash their teeth about.  Right?  Why solve the problem when the problem is so politically precious to you?  It is, after all, one of the few you have left.  You've abandoned your whining about the deficit after trump increased it instead of "wiping it out in a matter of months" as he claimed.  The recent Republican howling about anti-Semitism rings rather hollow when it was a trump supporter who recently murdered eleven people in a synagogue in Pittsburgh and the Neo-Naxis are solidly on the trump bandwagon.  So, if it's not abortion what will it be?

Ah, Ralph, I wouldn't worry about anything "the framers of the Constitution could never have contemplated."  Just about everything in our modern age could count for that.  Did they contemplate assault weapons?  An opiod epidemic pushed by a national corporation?  A president constantly taking sides with an aggressive enemy against our allies?  The internet being used by that enemy to subvert our elections, for the benefit of that same president?  Sorry, Ralph, but that complaint rings hollow as well.  One of our most distinguish "framers" said it well:

“I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions, but laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.”  Thomas Jefferson



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