July 2, 2010

Leadership and the budget conundrum

Posted in 2010 Elections, health care, media coverage, taxes, U.S. Economy tagged , , , , , , , , , , , at 7:55 am by realitytax

Budgeting is always an exercise in prioritization; there’s never enough money to accomplish everything we’d choose to undertake perfectly. The vast majority agree we want government to exist, to manage highways and immigration and mutual defense and make sure our toys don’t have lead paint and our drugs aren’t snake oil and prevent monopolies and so on.

Accordingly, it’s the leaders we elect who have to run government well, although many lately seem to run on the premise that government can’t do anything cost-effectively, let alone well.

We’ve seen what happens when big business calls the shots, from Wall Street’s calamitous collapse (which hurt most of us considerably more than it did them) to the slip-shod operation of an oil rig that threatens to ruin the livelihoods of millions along the gulf coast and savage the oceans and shores for decades to come. The short-sighted profit motive aspect of capitalism is best balanced by governmental regulation on behalf of the greater good.

True leaders don’t sit back and watch as our jobs move overseas and huge corporations prey greedily on those outside their inner circles, they work on behalf of those who elected them despite the constant temptation posed by special influence money. I’m delighted there are, in fact, so many excellent elected officials working on behalf of Minnesotans, and I congratulate David Bly, U.S. Represenative Tim Walz, and their hard-working current and former peers such as Shelley Madore, John Marty, and the late, great U.S. Senator late Senator Paul WellstonePaul Wellstone pursuing solutions to everything from the MN Health Plan to our national budget priorities. Their tireless, selfless efforts are a model of how to step up and get work done despite naysayers who promote a “divided we fall” agenda exemplified by the smoke-and-mirrors approach to discussing the Minnesota budget that Governor Tim Pawlenty has relied on to further his Presidential ambitions at the expense of the citizens of Minnesota.

Hopefully this current election cycle will give us more people pursuing common sense approaches in the state and national legislatures instead of more political posturing and empty “anti-tax, anti-government” sound-bites, although from Fox to MSNBC the media lately seems inclined to let the latter dominate their “journalism” rather than observing that time-tested rule for investigative research and reporting: follow the money.


January 25, 2010

Will the U.S. Constitution save “We the people…”?

Posted in economic recovery, foreclosure crisis, media coverage, U.S. Constitution, U.S. Economy, U.S. Supreme Court tagged , , , , at 5:16 pm by realitytax

“If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them will deprive the people of all property until their children wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered.”

Thomas Jefferson

Economic development in the USA is at a critical juncture as we struggle to recover in the wake of the job losses and mortgage foreclosures that are the real, ongoing costs of the crisis that began in 2008 and led to our bailing out Wall Street titans. In doing that, in preserving the institutions on Wall Street from their own unregulated incompetence by borrowing from tax payers on Main Street, we may have eroded more than confidence in banks and our government; we’ve arguably both the weakened the foundation of our democracy and the harmed the engine of our economic growth.

MN State Rep David Bly

MN State Rep David Bly (25-B)

“…we can make saving and rebuilding our middle class society an enduring, unequivocal legislative priority at all levels of government.

We’ve tried the conventional legislative approach long enough without getting where we need to be. It is time to try something new. For me, that ‘something’ is the Middle Class Amendment.”

Minnesota State Representative David Bly

Subsequently to actions that saved bankers from their own risky folly, the U.S. Supreme Court has likened Corporations to citizens, insisting they have the same “right to free speech” that the founding fathers envisioned ensuring for citizens of these United States. Yet Corporations can then use this right to advertise for political agendas as another cost of doing business, further decreasing the likelihood they’ll pay taxes. Unlike citizens, corporations aren’t taxed on income, but only on profits. They hold a special place in our tax structure, they have incentives designed to encourage them to spend money.

In a time when most surveys reveal citizens have reached their saturation point for tolerating political advertising, the U.S. Supreme Court has determined in its split wisdom to provide additional incentives to corporations to spread their profits via media campaigns. The question of how spending by actual media companies would be classified remains to be determined, of course, but let’s talk about corporations.

Are they every altruistic? No, by definition they seek the extinction of their competition. The community doesn’t improve (from a corporate point of view) by adding more who are like me, but rather when all who are like the corporation are either eliminated or assimilated. And now we want to give them the right to express political opinions, as well?

“The jaws of power are always open to devour, and her arm is always stretched out, if possible, to destroy the freedom of thinking, speaking, and writing.”

John Adams

I’m not sure who stands to gain from this recent reversal by the narrowest majority in the Supreme Court, but I know it’s not the average members of our middle class, who work for a living and don’t have the luxury of accountants who work to limit if not obliterate their tax obligations the way wealthy corporations do.

“A free people [claim] their rights as derived from the laws of nature, and not as the gift of their chief magistrate.”

Thomas Jefferson