Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Homeland: Big Brother Plutonomy - 6

1% Boldt Castle, New York
The traditional "are you better off now than you were 4 years ago?" is being asked by pundits, but Dredd Blog posits another question, which  is, "how bad was it 4 years ago?"

That is a question the pundits are not even asking, so it follows that the pundits are certainly not concerned with how bad it was 4 years ago, one reason being that substantial portions of McTell News were and still are substantially unaware of how bad it was 4 years ago ("What economic problems" - John McCain shortly before the economic collapse of 2008).

Vice President Biden says "Osama Bin Laden is dead but General Motors is alive" as 23 million Americans are still out of work, so if we are better off now than we were 4 years ago, then it must have been really, really bad 4 years ago!

So, today let's explore how bad was it 4 years ago when Bush II left office amidst the first or second greatest economic downturn in U.S. history, when the democrats took back the office of the president by defeating John McCain and Sarah Palin.

In this series which began with The Homeland: Big Brother Plutonomy a year ago we have been discussing the reality of the actual structure of The United States as taught to us by our Civics textbooks and economists, then comparing that with census and other related data.

Along the way we have noted that the traditional words used to describe the national fabric, such as "republic", "democracy", "constitutional republic", or "constitutional democracy", have begun to take a backseat to the terms "oligarchy", "plutonomy" and "plutocracy".

We cannot tell how well off we are or how bad off we are, unless and until we understand what is required to get better off or get worse off, where it begins, and where it ends.

Not only that, but we must also consider who has the economic power to bring about a better economic reality and who does not have that power (gives new meaning to "the haves and the have-nots").

Today, we will also consider why it is not well known that the U.S.A. is a plutocracy with a plutonomy, which replaced a constitutional republic which had a middle class driven consumer economy, even though a large circulation financial newspaper has published this:
... the U.S. is becoming a Plutonomy – an economy dependent on the spending and investing of the wealthy. And Plutonomies are far less stable than economies built on more evenly distributed income and mass consumption.
(The Graphs of Wrath, quoting WSJ). In that post the Wall Street Journal was quoted talking about a subject made infamous by what are called "The Plutonomy Memos" from CitiGroup that had been published in 2005 (see video below).

A plutocracy can be symbolized to some degree by the aerial photo of Boldt Castle on Heart Island in the State of New York (see photo @ top of post), but the data supporting the theory tells the story just as well:
Let's revisit some numbers before we get into the dynamics of how this plunder of America has taken place:
Upon closer inspection, the Forbes list reveals that six Waltons — all children (one daughter-in-law) of Sam or James “Bud” Walton the founders of Wal-Mart — were on the list. The combined worth of the Walton six was $69.7 billion in 2007 — which equated to the total wealth of the entire bottom thirty percent!
(The Few, the Proud, the Very Rich). This "30% of Americans" equates to about 100,000,000 American people, who have collectively as much "wealth" as those 6 Wal-Mart children.
(The Homeland: Big Brother Plutonomy - 3). That is pretty bad when the spending of 6 children from the 1% can challenge the spending of one hundred million Americans from the 99%, because a plutonomy is unstable:
Economists pointed to a telling statistic: It was the first time since the Great Depression that median household income, adjusted for inflation, had not risen over such a long period, said Lawrence Katz, an economics professor at Harvard.

This is truly a lost decade,” Mr. Katz said. “We think of America as a place where every generation is doing better, but we’re looking at a period when the median family is in worse shape than it was in the late 1990s.”

The bureau’s findings were worse than many economists expected, and brought into sharp relief the toll the past decade — including the painful declines of the financial crisis and recessionhad taken on Americans at the middle and lower parts of the income ladder. It is also fresh evidence that the disappointing economic recovery has done nothing for the country’s poorest citizens.
(NY Times, Sept. 2011, emphasis added). The lost decade began in 2000 with a new president taking over with a budget surplus, but ending with record deficits, poverty, and wars.

That was the decade of the Bush II presidency, the "lost decade" not mentioned at the Republican national convention (NeoCon Planet: The Presidents of Kolob), so yes 4 years ago was so bad that Romney - Ryan did not want to mention it.

It was so bad 4 years ago that improvement leaves us still in a bad place, still a plutonomy, which requires big spending by the 1% or we stay in this bad place.

The platforms for the election are very different on that subject, the democrats wanting to let the Bush II tax cuts for the 1% expire, but continue those tax cuts for the 99%, and of course the republican platform wants to extend the tax cuts for the 1% who don't need those tax cuts.

But allowing the tax cuts to expire is one way to get the 1% to "spend money" to stimulate economic activity.

That is not enough, however, as the author of "The Price of Inequality, How Today's Divided Society Endangers Our Future" explains:
If politicians and those around them do not pay their fair share of taxes, how can we expect that anyone else will?

Mitt Romney's income taxes have become a major issue in the American presidential campaign. Is this just petty politics, or does it really matter? In fact, it does matter – and not just for Americans.

But public goods must be paid for, and it is imperative that everyone pays their fair share. While there may be disagreement about what that entails, those at the top of the income distribution who pay 15% of their reported income (money accruing in tax shelters in the Cayman Islands and other tax havens may not be reported to US authorities) clearly are not paying their fair share.

There is an old adage that a fish rots from the head. And if no one does, how can we expect to finance the public goods that we need?

Democracies rely on a spirit of trust and co-operation in paying taxes. If every individual devoted as much energy and resources as the rich do to avoiding their fair share of taxes, the tax system either would collapse, or would have to be replaced by a far more intrusive and coercive scheme. Both alternatives are unacceptable.

More broadly, a market economy could not work if every contract had to be enforced through legal action. But trust and co-operation can survive only if there is a belief that the system is fair. Recent research has shown that a belief that the economic system is unfair undermines both co-operation and effort. Yet, increasingly, Americans are coming to believe that their economic system is unfair; and the tax system is emblematic of that sense of injustice.

The billionaire investor Warren Buffett argues that he should pay only the taxes that he must, but that there is something fundamentally wrong with a system that taxes his income at a lower rate than his secretary is required to pay. He is right. Romney might be forgiven were he to take a similar position. Indeed, it might be a Nixon-in-China moment: a wealthy politician at the pinnacle of power advocating higher taxes for the rich could change the course of history.
(Joseph Stiglitz, Guardian). In the Dredd Blog post The Ways of Bernays and in the series Ayn Rand: Patron Saint of The Plutocracy, we exposed the ideology of propaganda the 1% impose on the 99%.

That philosophy is a religious matter for Romney - Ryan, who feel that lying is sometimes "doing the Lord's work":
D. Michael Quinn called the use of deception by LDS church leaders, "theocratic ethics." (The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power, page 112) Smith lied to protect himself or the church; which was an extension of himself. Dan Vogel in his excellent work, Joseph Smith: The Making of a Prophet, described Smith's viewpoint; he was a pious deceiver. Smith used deception if in his mind; it resulted in a good outcome. Smith had Moroni, an ancient American prophet and custodian of the gold plates declare, "And whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do good is of me; for good cometh of none save it be of me. ( Moroni 4:11-12). Translation: if deception was necessary to do good, or bring a soul to Christ, then it was worth it, as long as God approves. Smith believed he knew when God approved of lying.
(Lying For The Lord, see also Book of Abraham). The 1% control the government, so it is no surprise to realize that the government also lies to the 99% as a matter of domestic and foreign policy.

That we must change or perish.

The next post in this series is here, the previous post in this series is here.

John Lennon's opinion:

U.S. Plutocracy and Plutonomy
explained by former bank regulator (begins at 1:11):

1 comment:

  1. Bill Moyer ends his post on "The Huffington Post" today with the sentence "Welcome to the plutocracy -- the remains of the ol' USA." Link