Franklin County Democrats

The official site of the Democratic Party of Franklin County, Missouri

Browsing Posts published in April, 2016

American Bridge has released a new video – “Trump’s Losing Hand.”   This look at his statement that “the only thing Hillary has going for her is the women card.”  Seems like there may be a counter view that is much more favorable to the fairer sex.  Whose hand do you think will run the table on election day?Losing hand is now offering a free weekly newsletter in cooperation with Too Much Online.  Click here to sign up.

Here’s an excerpt from this week’s edition…

The Beatles and the Reagan RevolutionImage result for Image, The Beatles

Overcrowded classrooms. Crumbling bridges. Shuttered libraries. These have become our everyday realities after over a generation of tax-cutting political bravado.

A shrinking middle class. Rising dead-end poverty. The splurges of a new super rich. These have also become the markers of our time.

Fifty years ago, the Beatles recorded the song that helped make tax hate hip.

Fifty years ago, in April 1966, the Beatles recorded the song that helped make tax hate hip.

Is it all the Beatles’ fault?

Did the lads from Liverpool pave the way for the “Reagan Revolution” and the rise of the 1 percent?

Do today’s billionaires owe the Fab Four some gesture of eternal gratitude?

At first take, questions like these all seem ridiculous. How can we possibly consider the Beatles enablers for Ronald Reagan and his fellow tax-cutting conservatives? Back in the 1960s, after all, conservatives saw the Beatles and their rocking brethren as a threat to the American way of life. In the culture wars of those years, no one ever saw Ronald Reagan and the Beatles on the same side.

But Ronnie and Ringo, John, Paul, and George did share something in common. They all couldn’t stand the steeply graduated progressive income tax rates of the decades right after World War II. For most of that time, in both the United States and the UK, income in the highest tax bracket — income over what would be about $3 million in today’s dollars — faced tax rates that hit over 90 percent.

Oh the pain.  While the Beatles may have been upset another group has benefited greatly from a reduction in taxation and continues to ask for more.  This graph from the Economic Policy Institute illustrates the declining amount of taxes paid by American corporations…

I an not sure when The Beatles sang

Let me tell you how it will be
There’s one for you, nineteen for me

it was intended to signify the amount of deductions, tax credits, depreciation, amortization, and many other ways the corporate world will use to avoid paying their fair share!

The cover story of the current edition of The Atlantic “The Secret Shame of Middle Class Americans” is a story that may hit close to home.

But the answer to one question was astonishing. The Fed asked respondents how they would pay for a $400 emergency. The answer: 47 percent of respondents said that either they would cover the expense by borrowing or selling something, or they would not be able to come up with the $400 at all. Four hundred dollars! Who knew?Atlantic cover

Well, I knew. I knew because I am in that 47 percent.

Could you afford a $400 emergency?

So I never spoke about my financial travails, not even with my closest friends—that is, until I came to the realization that what was happening to me was also happening to millions of other Americans, and not just the poorest among us, who, by definition, struggle to make ends meet. It was, according to that Fed survey and other surveys, happening to middle-class professionals and even to those in the upper class. It was happening to the soon-to-retire as well as the soon-to-begin. It was happening to college grads as well as high-school dropouts. It was happening all across the country, including places where you might least expect to see such problems. I knew that I wouldn’t have $400 in an emergency. What I hadn’t known, couldn’t have conceived, was that so many other Americans wouldn’t have the money available to them, either. My friend and local butcher, Brian, who is one of the only men I know who talks openly about his financial struggles, once told me, “If anyone says he’s sailing through, he’s lying.” That might not be entirely true, but then again, it might not be too far off.

So who is middle class?

In a 2010 report titled “Middle Class in America,” the U.S. Commerce Department defined that class less by its position on the economic scale than by its aspirations: homeownership, a car for each adult, health security, a college education for each child, retirement security, and a family vacation each year. By that standard, my wife and I do not live anywhere near a middle-class life, even though I earn what would generally be considered a middle-class income or better. A 2014 analysis by USA Today concluded that the American dream, defined by factors that generally corresponded to the Commerce Department’s middle-class benchmarks, would require an income of just more than $130,000 a year for an average family of four. Median family income in 2014 was roughly half that.

If everybody is called middle-class but very few actually are, what is going to happen?

And while the affliction is primarily individual and largely hidden from public view, it has perhaps begun to diminish our national spirit. People want to feel,need to feel, that they are advancing in this world. It is what sustains them. They need to feel that their lives will improve, and, even more, that the lives of their children will be better than theirs, just as they believed that their own lives would be better than their parents’. But people increasingly do not feel that way. A 2014New York Times poll found that only 64 percent of Americans said they believed in the American dream—the lowest figure in nearly two decades. I suspect our sense of impotence in the face of financial difficulty is not only a source of disillusionment, but also a source of the anger that now infects our national politics, an anger that gets displaced onto undocumented immigrants or Chinese trade or President Obama precisely because we are unable or unwilling to articulate its true source. As the Harvard economist Benjamin M. Friedman wrote in his 2005 book, The Moral Consequences of Economic Growth, “Merely being rich is no bar to a society’s retreat into rigidity and intolerance once enough of its citizens lose the sense that they are getting ahead.” We seem to be at the beginning of just such a retreat today—at the point where simmering financial impotence explodes into political rage.

Are you mad enough to vote?

Eggbert to Willies brings us this video clip of the Bill Maher show that features Van Jones laying out the scenario in which The Donald becomes President…

Progressives, Liberals, and Moderates are salivating. As it looks more and more as if Donald Trump is going to be the Republican candidate, many think Hillary Clinton is a shoo-in. To be sure, the Democratic primary cannot be called yet.Image result for JImage, President Donal Trump

Liberals better take heed. There are many scenarios under which Donald Trump could win the presidency including the following reality.

Another work-week begins and I had to share one of the best articles I’ve read in a long time.  This article goes into the essential reasons that many are performing valuable work but not being compensated accordingly while others perform “bullshit jobs” that create little or no value or wealth and are making outsized compensation packages.  Evonomics presents Why Garbagemen Should Make More Than Bnnkers…Image result for iMAGE, bULLSHIT JOB

Thick fog envelops City Hall Park at daybreak on February 2, 1968. Seven thousand New York City sanitation workers stand crowded together, their mood rebellious. Union spokesman John DeLury addresses the multitude from the roof of a truck. When he announces that the mayor has refused further concessions, the crowd’s anger threatens to boil over. As the first rotten eggs sail overhead, DeLury realizes the time for compromise is over. It’s time to take the illegal route, the path prohibited to sanitation workers for the simple reason that the job they do is too important.

It’s time to strike.

The next day, trash goes uncollected throughout the Big Apple. Nearly all the city’s garbage crews have stayed home. “We’ve never had prestige, and it never bothered me before,” one garbageman is quoted in a local newspaper. “But it does now. People treat us like dirt.”

When the mayor goes out to survey the situation two days later, the city is already knee-deep in refuse, with another 10,000 tons added every day. A rank stench begins to percolate through the city’s streets, and rats have been sighted in even the swankiest parts of town. In the space of just a few days, one of the world’s most iconic cities has started to look like a slum. And for the first time since the polio epidemic of 1931, city authorities declare a state of emergency.

Still the mayor refuses to budge. He has the local press on his side, which portrays the strikers as greedy narcissists. It takes a week before the realization begins to kick in: The garbagemen are actually going to win. “New York is helpless before them,” the editors of The New York Times despair. “This greatest of cities must surrender or see itself sink in filth.” Nine days into the strike, when the trash has piled up to 100,000 tons, the sanitation workers get their way. “The moral of the story,” Time Magazine later reported, “is that it pays to strike.”

Rich without Lifting a Finger

Perhaps, but not in every profession.

Imagine, for instance, that all of Washington’s 100,000 lobbyists were to go on strike tomorrow. Or that every tax accountant in Manhattan decided to stay home. It seems unlikely the mayor would announce a state of emergency. In fact, it’s unlikely that either of these scenarios would do much damage. A strike by, say, social media consultants, telemarketers, or high-frequency traders might never even make the news at all.

Things Could Be Different.

The modern marketplace is equally uninterested in usefulness, quality, and innovation. All that really matters is profit. Sometimes that leads to marvelous contributions, sometimes not. From telemarketers to tax consultants, there’s a rock-solid rationale for creating one bullshit job after another: You can net a fortune without ever producing a thing.

In this situation, inequality only exacerbates the problem. The more wealth is concentrated at the top, the greater the demand for corporate attorneys, lobbyists, and high-frequency traders. Demand doesn’t exist in a vacuum, after all; it’s the product of a constant negotiation, determined by a country’s laws and institutions, and, of course, by the people who control the purse strings.

Maybe this is also a clue as to why the innovations of the past 30 years – a time of spiraling inequality – haven’t quite lived up to our expectations. “We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters,” mocks Peter Thiel, Silicon Valley’s resident intellectual. If the postwar era gave us fabulous inventions like the washing machine, the refrigerator, the space shuttle, and the pill, lately it’s been slightly improved iterations of the same phone we bought a couple years ago.

In fact, it has become increasingly profitable not to innovate. Imagine just how much progress we’ve missed out on because thousands of bright minds have frittered away their time dreaming up hypercomplex financial products that are ultimately only destructive. Or spent the best years of their lives duplicating existing pharmaceuticals in a way that’s infinitesimally different enough to warrant a new patent application by a brainy lawyer so a brilliant PR department can launch a brand-new marketing campaign for the not-so-brand-new drug.

Imagine that all this talent were to be invested not in shifting wealth around, but in creating it. Who knows, we might already have had jetpacks, built submarine cities, or cured cancer.

The current edition of Science features an interesting article by Joe Roman and James Kraska Reboot Gitmo for U.S.- Cuba research diplomacy,  The link is a summary but gets the point across.   Science is not partisan and outside of funding hopefully isn’t political.  That said, the role of Cuba in recent political discourse has been a hot one as is the future of our facility at Guantanamo Bay.  Can science pave a path toward a possible resolution?  Science: 351 (6279)

Cuba has about 5000 km of coastline, including coral reefs, mangrove wetlands, seagrass beds, and tropical wet forests. Long stretches of coast remain undeveloped, with relatively high levels of fish biomass and marine biodiversity in marine parks that are unparalleled in the Caribbean (12). But on the eve of President Obama’s visit to Cuba, we must consider whether normalization of relations between the United States and Cuba, with anticipated expansion of coastal development and return of industrial agriculture, might reverse Cuba’s advances in ecological conservation. We propose an approach to protect Cuba’s coastal ecosystems and enhance conservation and ecological research throughout the Caribbean. The United States should deliver on President Obama’s recent plan to close the military prison at U.S. Naval Station Guantánamo Bay and repurpose the facilities into a state-of-the-art marine research institution and peace park, a conservation zone to help resolve conflicts between the two countries. This model, designed to attract both sides [similarly, see (3)], could unite Cuba and the United States in joint management, rather than serve as a wedge between them, while helping meet the challenges of climate change, mass extinction, and declining coral reefs.

With the New York primary in the rear view mirror this week’s edition of The New Yorker has a video slideshow of current Trump cartoons.  Enjoy!TV Trump

The Brian Lehrer  radio show features economics writer Mike Konczal of the Roosevelt Institute.  Mike addresses the Democrats plans to address the issue of banks being “Too Big To Fail.”    He also takes the issue of the Bernie Sanders approach to this issue and how his position has been portrayed in the media and their misunderstanding of what Bernie would do on this issue.too big to fail

Mike Konczala fellow at the Roosevelt Institute who blogs about economics at “Rortybomb,” looks at how either democratic candidate would address the idea of “too big to fail” if elected president. has released this new video which details their plan to fix the campaign finance system.  You know the system where lobbyists make “contributions” to an elected official, the official supports the lobbyists’ issue, the official then lands a job with the industry represented by the lobbyist – yeah, that system.badmansmellingmoney

Have you ever felt like the government doesn’t really care what you think?

Professors Martin Gilens (Princeton University) and Benjamin I. Page (Northwestern University) looked at more than 20 years worth of data to answer a simple question: Does the government represent the people?

Their study took data from nearly 2000 public opinion surveys and compared it to the policies that ended up becoming law. In other words, they compared what the public wanted to what the government actually did. What they found was extremely unsettling: The opinions of 90% of Americans have essentially no impact at all.

I suspect our U.S. House Representative “Bankin” Blaine Luetkemeyer is not a fan.


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