Friday, October 24, 2008

Death to Supply-Side

Thanks to Citizens for Tax Justice for this nice synopsis on the failures of supply-side economics.

Voter Suppression

Tightening security “standards” and purging registration lists is just a couple of the tactics being used by Republicans in trying to steal yet another election (more often than not acquiesced to by spineless Democrats). All of this is based on the false premise of wide-spread voter fraud.

The U.S. should be ashamed that only half of the eligible voters actually vote. But, as is well known, the higher the turnout the more likely the Democrats win. Most citizens are not uber wealthy, which is the Republicans primary constituency. Noise about voter fraud is merely a political ploy to repress a majority of citizens who would undoubtedly vote Democrat.

As noted in an earlier post, Jeffrey Toobin explains, "Nationwide despite an attempt by the Bush Justice Department to crack down on voter fraud, there were only a hundred and twenty federal prosecutions and eighty-six convictions between 2002 and 2006 -- a period in which close to four hundred million votes were cast." As Eric Lipton and Ian Urbina state, "Many of those charged by the Justice Department appear to have mistakenly filled out registration forms or misunderstood eligibility rules."

Again, as is Republicans’ want, non-issues are dominating our news coverage and taking precedent over more pressing issues. We are being bogged down in Ayers, ACORN, lapel pins, voter fraud, and other meaningless distractions. Is it any wonder that election cycle after election cycle nothing of substance ever seems to get done to improve lives of most Americans? The campaigns go on and on, back and forth, debating such inane topics, rather than discussing the real challenges that we should be tackling.

I guess if my party was responsible for deficits, budgetary crises, a botched response to Katrina, a diminished standing in the world, the occupation of Iraq, shredding the constitution, the Justice Department scandals, and a whole host of other catastrophes, I’d be using all the smoke and mirrors I could to draw attention elsewhere...and possibly steal another election.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Reallocation Better Than Cuts

Here's why a reallocation of the property tax burden (onto those more able to pay) is better than merely slashing budgets and programs:

Property Tax Limitation in the Senate Housing Bill is Unnecessary, Impractical, and Likely to Cause Harm.

And here's why the wealthy can afford to pay more:

The Great Tax Shift.

More Breaks for Business

Two more reasons why we pay more and the well-off pay less.

From the Institute for Wisconsins Future:

Two Supreme Court rulings undermine state’s tax base

Two long-awaited decisions by the Wisconsin Supreme Court, released days apart in July 2008, have ripped more holes in Wisconsin’s already tattered tax base.

In one case, the Court upheld the state Tax Appeals Commission, which ruled that the Menasha Corp. was illegally charged the 5% state sales tax on specialized software it purchased. State tax collectors had argued that the company bought prewritten computer software, which is taxable. The result: an estimated $265 million in refunds that cash-strapped state government will have to pay, plus the loss of sales tax revenue going forward.

In the other, the Court ruled in favor of Walgreens, saying that the City of Madison had used the wrong method to assess the value of the buildings the drugstores are in. This ruling might squeeze the property tax base in as many as two dozen communities statewide.

See further details on the Menasha case and the Walgreens case.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Dispelling More Campaign Myths

The Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) nor Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are responsible for the current financial crisis.
11 Lies Conservatives Tell To Avoid Blaming Wall-Street for the Financial Crisis
Myths and Falsehoods About Purported Link Between Affordable Housing Initiatives and the Financial Crisis
CRA: The facts
CRA Had Nothing to Do With The Subprime Crisis
Misunderstanding the Credit and Housing Crises

The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) is neither responsible for the current financial crisis nor corrupt practices.
The Gist of the ACORN Story
The War on Voting Rights
The Republican War on Voting
The Myth of Voter Fraud
False Accusations of Millions of Dollars to ACORN

Earmarks, although some are undoubtedly pork, represent such a minuscule portion of the budget, that, at the current time, they are hardly a priority nor a pressing issue deserving so much attention; nor upon which John McCain can make more false maverick claims.
McCain's Phony Earmark Ploy
Percent of National Spending That is Pork
Defense Pork:Putting Lipstick on the Pig

We are not better off now than we were eight years ago.
The Reagan Question

Tax Cuts for the rich are definitely not the answer.
Tax Cut Snake Oil
Tax Cuts...
Tax-Cut Follies

Saturday, October 11, 2008

How About...Nevermind

Creepiness, senility, and a bad temper -- but this clip of grandpa is just funny. HEH!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Drowning in Delusions

The list of privatization/deregulation failure is long. Health care, the airlines, military contractors, school choice, prisons, utilities, Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac, railroads, and on and on. The push for privatization is merely private industry taking the good paying jobs from unionized workers, replacing them with less-skilled and cheaper help, and rerouting the bounty from the productivity into the pockets of the well-to-do executives. It's government getting another department off the books. So when the rates rise and the service stinks, it's not governments fault, it's the market at work.

If the bailouts and overall dismal performance of the last 8 years should teach us anything, it's that markets do not always work efficiently, and the private sector is no better than the public sector.

The services we all enjoy cost money. There is no free lunch. As noted in earlier blogs, the reason we keep having these arguments and discussing selling off public entities is because many among us, the uber rich and the corporate sector, do not pay their fair share (here and here) in taxes.

The Journal- Sentinel has reported on Wally Morics's, Milwaukee's comptroller, idea to consider privatizing the city's Water Works. Their own concerns with such an endeavor are that there could be rate increases and there could be a foreign owner controlling our water. Both excellent points. An editorial from the previous day's paper raised some issues with the idea, but ultimately feels the idea "deserves a thorough vetting."

Some things are not meant to be run by a private, for-profit business. Especially local infrastructure.

Better ideas for capturing more funds for the city are (as also mentioned in the Journal-Sentinel article) getting our fair share from state shared revenue and from federal sources available. Also, the sales tax, as used to support Miller Park. If we can impose such for a baseball stadium, we can do the same for parks, light rail, etc. [The City itself doesn't impose such a tax at this time. But there is obviously some way to move such an idea forward.]

Another factor to keep in mind -- these are union workers at the Water Works. These are good jobs with decent pay and benefits. These workers spend and contribute to the local economy.

Economic development is supposedly all about attracting good jobs and increasing the tax base, yet a transfer of the Water Works to a multinational would undoubtedly undercut the unionized labor force and transfer most of the income out of the area (since it would no longer be locally owned). Workers with good paying jobs are what makes our restaurants, theaters, pubs, boutiques, and all of the other wonderful attractions in our city possible. Without the leisure spending these types of good jobs allow, our city would be a ghost town.

Let's stop selling off the commons we share among us, the things we call public goods. Each time we do, we end up paying more, the amenity is usually run down to the point of dilapidation and the private owner begins asking the public to subsidize the repairs. There are many examples of privatization schemes all around the country. The majority are failures. Let's just tell the privatizers to pay their fair share of taxes instead. But as far as privatizing our Water Works, "Thanks, but no thanks!"

For Further Reading:
Fighting the Corporate Theft of Our Water
Food & Water Watch
Great Lakes Water Wars
New Economy of Water
Overview of Water Privatization
Perils of Privatization
Privatization is no Panacea
Privatization Report
Profits, Profits Everywhere - And Soon Not A Drop To Drink
Seven Myths of Water Privatization
The UK's Railway Privatization
The Water Privateers
Water as a Human Right
Water Wars