Tom Rinaldo's Journal
Member since: Mon Oct 20, 2003, 06:39 PM
Number of posts: 15,080
Number of posts: 15,080
That simple subliminal equation is a big part of how Republicans continually manage to convince a high percentage of Americans who do or could benefit from services paid for by government to instead support their hardline position: No New Taxes, not on anyone, not even on "the job creators". True, paying taxes is not typically framed as treasonous behavior, but it Republican circles anyway it seldom is lauded as patriotic. Taxes are usually described as theft; the government taking your hard earned money away from you - most likely to give to someone else.
That is the mind set that Republicans have painstakingly been implanting in Americans since "the Reagan Revolution." Thirty plus years spent villainizing governnment makes running against it easier. It provides cover for cutting off foodstamps and trimming medicaid rather than reversing any of the tax cuts that made the wealthiest in America even wealthier.
Ronald Reagan famously proclaimed: "Government is not a solution to our problem, government is the problem." Left unchallenged that ideology demands that taxes go in one direction only, down, since taxes are literally what pays for "the problem".
Democrats have too long been too timid in defending how government exists to protect and promote "the Common Good." Government isn't a "they", government is a legitimate expression of "us". Americans fought a Revolution to establish our Democracy. It represents "We the People". In our guts virtually all Americans get it. We want the FDA on the job guarding our food to keep it wholesome. And we want the Department of Justice on the job protecting us from predatory business practices.
Americans SUPPORT Social Security. We SUPPORT Medicare. And Americans will SUPPORT the Affordable Care Act also if, as Vice President Biden just said, Democrats have "the courage of our convictions". The public would rather that the rich pay their fair share than let the most vulnerable among us die unnecessarily. Polls continually show that about most Americans. IF we make the case AND expose the lie. Ultimately we are the government, and WE are not the problem.
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Thu Jul 12, 2012, 05:13 PM (6 replies)
Mitt Romney’s pending nomination as the Republican Party candidate for President is a gift to any Democrat willing to forcefully address the structural problems confronting Americans today. Democrats had a golden opportunity to do so in 2008, when the immoral greed driven and callously gamed and manipulated Wall Street derivatives bubble first burst, bringing most of the world’s economy to its knees. Reality had a powerful populist bias during that elite driven meltdown that was virtually impossible to hide from, but Democrats by and large did a damn good job of doing exactly that. Defying all previous expectations Democrats generally took a pass on populist anger when the Banks imploded, leaving that torch for Koch Brother funded Tea Party extremists to use in their efforts to burn down government. It was an epic fail that fueled a media embraced movement not for greater corporate accountability, but for smaller government instead.
We could argue endlessly over what if anything Democrats in Congress, and/or Democrats in the White House might have done differently back then to get a different result, but now we don’t have to. We can concentrate on the present instead. It’s almost like that magical old fashioned “do-over”. Democrats get a second chance to get it right With Mitt Romney the all but official leader of opposition to President Obama, he personifies the alternative to a Democratic agenda. But Romney also is the ideal poster child for concentrated wealth and privilege in America. And it’s not just any old wealth that Mitt Romney is fused with, it is insider Wall Street wealth that he’s hopelessly linked to.
Romney’s massive wealth wasn’t gained the old fashioned way by inventing and/or building things that Americans want and use. Instead he concentrated on leveraging assets and shuffling corporate components in pursuit of short term profits for himself and other Bain shareholders, indifferent to the ultimate fate of the companies he invested in or the workers that they employed. In a wealth shell Mitt Romney pretty much represents exactly where America went wrong for most of our citizens. By debunking and discrediting the economic game plan of one highly unlikable mega rich elitist – who happens to be running for President this year as a Republican, Democrats can re-write the entire economic narrative that has misinformed America since 2009.
We can reverse pulling defeat from the jaws of victory and help most Americans draw the lessons that they should already have learned from the economic meltdown that felled us in late 2007 IF we don’t quiver at the first accusations. of socialist class warfare and flee toward the false sanctuary of a will of the wisp center. So far our President has held fast against political slander. If President Obama fully seizes upon the grand teaching moment that Mitt Romney’s ideologically bankrupt Presidential campaign offers, we can emphatically restore America’s endangered commitment to the common good. That would be a transformational victory, one that we once again find within our grasp. Early indications are promising. Full speed ahead Mr. President!
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Wed Jul 11, 2012, 09:11 PM (2 replies)
Shrinking government has been the goal of the Republican Party for decades. Tax cuts choke off government revenues. When tax cuts pile up to the point where government bleeds red ink, a "Deficit Crisis" becomes the justification for slashing government and government programs, even where "sacrifices" are involved. That has been the plan all along.
The Super Wealthy one percenters want government weakened. It is the only force left partially able to check their greed fueled ambition now that private sector organized labor has been successfully marginalized. Public sector Unions must be broken and public sector pay and benefit packages must be reduced to levels that the private sector is still begrudgingly willing to pay for the "service sector" jobs they still sometimes offer American workers.
It all goes hand and hand with the privatization movement rapidly gathering momentum in Republican controlled states where Governors are selling off public assets that took billions to put in place for pennies on the dollar, in order to plug "budget gaps" fueled by continued tax cuts for the so called "job creators" who are looting America blind.
That is why there will never be a balanced approach to balancing the budget as long as the Republican Party gets its way. Deficits are their means to bring government to its knees. Spending cuts are their weapon of choice.
It is essential that Obama remain firm in allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire for those who earn over $250,000 a year. Every dollar of tax cuts that are extended will result in a dollar less for medicaid, for Pell Grants, for upgrading our infra structure, and for block grants to the States that keep teachers and first responders on the job.
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Wed Jul 11, 2012, 11:26 AM (2 replies)
Why isn’t the obvious more obvious? Spending cuts, regardless whether they are made by individuals, businesses, or governments, reduce economic activity. Reduced economic activity causes layoffs. It could be the local hair dresser having to layoff an assistant, it may be local government issuing pink slips to neighborhood fire fighters, or it might be an auto manufacturer closing down an assembly line, the pattern is the same; when spending goes down jobs are almost always lost. It really is that simple. Repeat that for emphasis. IT REALLY IS THAT SIMPLE
If Republicans want to talk about disappointing unemployment numbers, if they really cared about “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs”; they wouldn’t be urging cuts to government spending now, since government spending creates jobs. Republicans don’t admit that. They prefer to lie and state that “government doesn’t create jobs, businesses do”. Sure, businesses create jobs; often when the government is ready to pay for them. Construction firms hire workers to build stadiums and convention centers, defense contractors hire workers to build new weapon systems. Private engineers work on designing commercial space vehicles, and private universities employ bio-technicians seeking cures for cancer, all through government spending. Private sector growth with public sector funding; that happens all the time, but the public sector itself has been hard hit over the last few years due to a hardening Republican antagonism toward it.
Unfortunately, from a right wing perspective, governments can’t be counted on to hand over all of our tax dollars directly to the private sector. Some of it actually goes to funding public employees; you know teachers, police officers, fire fighters, public health workers – that sort of thing. And if some of those workers actually expect a real living wage in return for their efforts, well that constitutes a problem. Consideration of real worker needs runs directly counter to the current prevailing business model; which is to continually cut worker costs to further maximize corporate profits.
Businesses employ workers and workers are viewed as expendable, but governments employ citizens; the relationships fundamentally differ. There is an added dimension of accountability in the public sector for the actual well being of the work force – its citizens. The public sector, by very definition, does not exist solely to profit the ownership class. I suppose that’s considered a radical concept, but if so it’s as old as America. And the battle to crush it is as old as our nation also.
Republicans have no problem with our tax dollars going to help out businesses directly. Our tax code is increasingly a blue print for doing exactly that, with the corporate lobby present whenever exemptions are crafted and loopholes opened. Meanwhile the “Privatization” movement continues unabated in its assault against anything that contains the word “public” in it. The opposition is restricted to public ownership – of anything. The privatization movement has no objection to governments collecting taxes from the public to provide for services that the public needs, as long as those services are run by and preferably owned by private for profit corporations.
When governments are systematically deprived of revenues the public begins to suffer, because governments exist to serve the public, not to serve shareholders. When governments are sufficiently starved of funds they are forced to start consuming their own systems, much as a human body does when deprived of essential nutrition. First responders lose their jobs, public school class sizes double, library hours are drastically cut. Next come the bankruptcy sales. Public assets cross the butcher block, handed off to private entities to own or at least manage for pennies on the actual dollar in a massive transfer of resources paid for and built with tax payer dollars into profiteering hands.
Though long term deficits are a significant problem, slashing government spending is hardly the best solution – restoring government revenues is. It is no coincidence that Republicans are ruthless in their drive to cut government spending while nixing every reasonable proposal to increase government revenues. Their conscious intent is to starve government. Tax increases might sting the rich, but spending cuts often kill the poor. The poor, however, simply aren’t relevant to most corporate business plans.
Our current debt problems date back to the massive cuts in government revenues that George W. Bush enacted with his give away to the rich tax cuts that reversed the budget surpluses under President Clinton, who actually raised taxes on the rich. The super wealthy, who now own the Republican Party (and much of the Democratic one also) have begun cashing in on America; by cashing out of it. Depriving public coffers diverts money into their pockets, money they can use elsewhere. The continuing collapse of the public sector was as inevitable as it is intentional. Its collapse is advantageous to powerful vested interests that abhor regulations and resent the competition.
The increased flow of money to the rich hasn’t benefited America. Even where that money has actually funded job creation it has mostly been overseas. American workers continue to get squeezed by disappearing benefits and stagnant pay. The unemployment rate, alarming as it is on its face, is actually dangerously deceptive. When living wage jobs are replaced by minimum wage ones, unemployment figures remain unchanged. Meanwhile the minimum wage continues to lose ground against a rising cost of living
A look at the low priority given by the Republican Party to repairing and upgrading our aging national infrastructure is highly instructive. America’s national infrastructure was once a strong bipartisan concern. Funding the interstate freeway system was a Republican initiative. For several decades after World War II corporate wealth creation centered on an economically strong United States optimized to harvest, enhance and distribute world resources to a largely domestic market. For that model to work America needed a state of the art infrastructure, plus a stable and educated work force with the economic where with all to consume most of the products we created..
The well being of American workers, the well being of America itself, is fess less important in today’s multi-national corporate world than it was in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. It just doesn’t matter as much now if other nations equal and then surpass the infra structure that long gave America a competitive edge. Corporate growth is focused now beyond America’s borders. Rather than paying their fair share in taxes to keep America strong, the 1% and the corporations they control choose to deprive government of money needed to meet public needs. They want it instead for private investments. America has become an expense they are working to cut.
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Tue Jul 10, 2012, 08:19 PM (4 replies)
Republicans have fought to destroy Organized Labor for decades, with so called “Right to Work” laws as one of their primary battering rams. Republicans claim it is tyranny for a worker to be forced to pay Union Dues if he or she doesn’t want to. It doesn’t matter that Unions only become authorized bargaining agents of work places after state certified democratic elections. According to most Republicans no one should have to give money to a Union s/he doesn’t want to be in. And they shouldn’t have to find non Union jobs if they don’t like being in a Union either, according to those Republicans. The Unions must instead respect any workers right to work at a Union shop without paying Unions anything.
Republicans get really strident when it comes to funding Organized Labor’s political agenda. They insist workers shouldn’t have their mandatory Union dues diverted toward any political ends without their specific consent: No get out the vote efforts on behalf of a political party or lobbying on national economic policy, no PAC donations, nor contributions to candidates, or paying for any issue oriented ads. Union members should be able to reject having their dues support such activities, when they don’t agree with them. Such is the “Right to Work” position. Liberty, it is claimed, demands it. But what about a comparable “Right to Buy”? Most of us are workers, but just about all of us are consumers.
At least there are alternatives to working at a Union shop. Most jobs, even in non “Right to Work” States, are non Union. Or one could try to become management. If nothing else, all of us are all free to start our own business, or to become independent contractors, rather than sign up with Organized Labor. Not so with buying however. What percentage of Americans can claim to be 100% self sufficient in their daily needs, or anywhere remotely close to that mark?
Large corporations have their hand in producing, transporting, marketing and selling virtually everything that all of us need to live in 21st century America. We have no viable alternative to consuming their products. Under the Supreme Court’s “Citizens United” ruling all of them are now free to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence America’s political agenda however they may choose. Too many pesky government safety inspectors snooping around their factories? They can finance candidates who promise to lay them off. They could even finance a movement to amend our constitution to replace the President with a Monarch if they wanted to, and in all likelihood legally evade public disclosure of their financial support for that cause.
Where does the money to promote the corporate political agenda come from? It comes from us, the consumers of their products and services. It silently gets built into the price of everything we pay for. Unlike Union dues it is a hidden assessment, one that is unavoidable. Unions are, through democratic elections, accountable to dues paying members for how they target their political expenditures. Corporations at best are thinly accountable to shareholders only, for their role in politics (which all becomes moot when corporations are privately held) – but not to the consumers who actually finance their political expenditures, who seldom even know about them. Even if the Oil companies, for example, were somehow forced to divulge all the secrets of their massive political expenditures, how many of us could realistically cut off our financing of them if we find their priorities objectionable, or contrary to our own self interests?
Union members can vote out leaders who fail to represent their interests with their dues. They can even vote to decertify a Union itself should that prove necessary. Consumers however are forced to keep footing the bill for businesses to promote a political agenda often blatantly opposed to actual consumer interests. So where are all of the freedom loving Republicans fighting hard to protect our “Right to Buy”?
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Tue Jul 3, 2012, 10:53 AM (0 replies)
Should Maidenform be allowed to legally marry Victoria's Secret? What about guaranteed visiting rights if one of them enters Chapter Eleven?
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Fri Jun 8, 2012, 11:07 AM (4 replies)
It’s no accident that politics has two poles. Conservatives and liberals have debated each other for centuries. The wisest in both camps always acknowledged some virtue in their respective opponents’ views, even while opposing them. Liberal and conservative values are equally rooted in human nature. Each influences all of us personally, and that‘s not going to change in the recognizable future. How liberal and conservative values shape policies offered to promote and protect Americas general well being is the stuff legitimate politics derives from. Not all politics, however, is fundamentally legitimate.
America is a society born from revolution, founded on revolutionary ideals. We as a people, as proudly proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence, do not bestow legitimacy on a government simply for effectively wielding power. Governments must genuinely seek to serve the interests of all the people governed, not just a chosen segment of that people, in order to have legitimacy.
Virtually all Americans, conservatives and liberals alike, are in philosophical agreement with that view– though our own human frailties can sometimes obscure the clarity of that conviction. That single assertion more than anything else, more than any predominantly liberal or conservative belief system, is the basis of American political unity. It is an inspiration that predates our Constitution.
A world of legitimate differences can, and does, coexist on that shared political foundation of American society. How to best serve the American people will no doubt always be hotly debated. If one rigid political orientation consistently provided the clear best answer to that question it long ago would have made ideological debates moot among the vast majority of fair minded Americans. That hasn’t happened, and it won’t in the recognizable future either; no matter what the 2012 elections hold in store for us as a nation.
We should no more suppress most liberal or conservative values in pursuit of a healthy body politic than we should oppress most fauna or flora in pursuit of a healthy ecosystem. There are few if any prefab solutions that can prevail by rote against most difficulties we face as a people. Devoid of proper context, lacking an honest appraisal of potentially broad ramifications, political prescriptions are apt to devolve to spin. Of course it is wise to prudently invest. Of course it is foolish to throw money at a problem. Every cliché has a separate but equal counterpart.
Political debates our healthy for our democracy when they delve deeper than mere slogans, because there are always hard choices that must be made. Our vibrancy as a nation depends on continuous vigorous debate with our often complimentary, but sometimes divergent, core values honestly and strongly represented. Increasingly over the last few decades the National Republican Party has identified itself as the leading political champion of conservative values in the United States. Doing so bears with it a significant responsibility.
I am not a Republican, and I do not identify myself as a conservative. Nonetheless I have respect, and in some cases reverence, for many of the values held dear by most conservatives. To me they essentially are human values; and I honor the core validity that they capture and appreciate how they help illuminate many of the decisions I face in my own life. I believe that even when I find one or more of those values inapplicable or contraindicated in certain situations. Just because a social value becomes identified as “conservative” it no more belongs to conservatives exclusively than “tolerance”, for example, does to liberals.
Love of family, respect for elders, a cautious attitude toward change, a priority on taking care of our own, preserving individual freedoms, providing for physical safety, extolling fair competition, living within our means, planning for the future, a deep reverence for life, empowerment at the local level, protecting personal privacy: these and many other so called conservative values resonate for me as well. They should all strongly, and sincerely, be advocated for in the public sphere wherever and whenever political decisions must be made. The Republican Party seems quite eager to do so, often to the point of implicitly, and in some cases explicitly, claiming that Democrats oppose and are attempting to destroy those very same values.
Unfortunately we all know that there will always be more to the practice of politics than the advocacy of sound principles alone. Surely conservatives understand this, for they especially frequently note that not all people are of good will. Conservatives have long argued that laws by themselves are insufficient, cops are needed too. Legitimate politics “should” always be about the common good, just like people “should” always do onto others as they would have others do onto them, but it isn’t always so. Politics is also about power, gaining it and wielding it -often for purely personal or clannish ends. Those seeking power for self serving ends seldom are squeamish about misrepresenting their intentions.
It is a core conservative value to be wary of concentrated power. That concern underscores a good part of conservative apprehension about government overreaching its appropriate authority. “The Republican Fraud” is the growing rift between the conservative values the Republican Party now professes, and the tenor and ultimate impact of the policies it has aggressively been pushing for in recent years.
The agenda of today’s Republican Party has fallen sway to the gravitational pull of potent and concentrated economic forces. Like a black hole bending the light of a distant star as seen from Earth, the power of those forces can be measured in the consistent arc of distortion those forces impose on specific policies curving contrary to values oft proclaimed by Republicans -frequently in defense of those very same policies..
To an extent any successful political party is subject to some of this, just like any major industry is subject to some corruption or any major religion is subject to some hypocrisy within its ranks. In today’s Republican Party though it has become virtually pandemic, with its leading spokespersons and surrogates all acting in lockstep. Repeatedly it is the same narrow segment of American society that stands to gain from the majority of Republican initiatives, whether or not they run true to actual conservative values.
The Republican Party Fraud is two fold. It is exploiting legitimate conservative values in support of a much narrower economic agenda; and that agenda has ceased to serve the needs of America as a whole. This isn’t a conservative failing, and it isn’t the failure of individuals with conservative values –including most individual Republicans. It is fundamentally the failure of American society to preserve a robust enough system of checks and balances against the corrupting influence of an overly concentrated realm of power, economic power, which is at fault.
Our founders rebelled against the unfair and unrepresentative exercise of political power over them. When they did so however, political and economic power was virtually one and the same. Rebelling against the State in the then form of a monarchy, was simultaneously a rebellion against a form of concentrated economic control over their lives, then exercised through that monarchy. In 1775 Government and Big Business were Siamese twins only fairly recently separated, where they were separated at all.
Americans began creating a different society with a new form of government; one of the people, by the people, and for the people. Democracy, backed by our Constitution and Bill of Rights, was meant as a bulwark against all manner of tyranny; political tyranny certainly, but religious and economic tyranny also. It was the Republican Party, governing through trust buster Teddy Roosevelt, which finally countered the economic erosion of our liberties ushered in by the great monopolies. Republicans stood for the free market then, not one manipulated by the most powerful among us. So much has changed now with the same political party now essentially on the payroll of today’s overpowering financial interests.
How much conservative integrity has been sacrificed to that servitude? “Charity begins at home” is a time honored conservative sentiment, but how is it “taking care of our own” for “conservatives” to defend tax breaks to U.S. Corporations that outsource American jobs overseas? If the family is the bedrock of our society, how is it strengthened by refusing to support a minimum wage sufficient to support a family on? No one still believes the fantasy that minimum wage jobs are only needed by teenagers seeking their first paid experience. Each year fewer moms can afford to “stay home to raise the kids”, even if they want to.
If change is something that should only be approached cautiously, why the “conservative” tacit approval in public (and jubilation in private) over a Supreme Court ruling that overturned a century of legal case law to radically expand the “free speech” rights of corporate “persons”? It enshrines an artificial construct of liberty that no one can seriously pretend was “strictly” intended by the founding fathers, and it ushered in a playing field that can never again be level while it stands.
Conservatives argue that life is sacred, and it is. By why is it seemingly only so at the exact entrance and exit thresholds? If innocent children have the right to live why call for drastic cuts in the food stamps so many of them depend on for the nourishment to stay alive? How is that a pro-life value? It isn’t a Christian value, let alone an American or conservative one, to castigate the poor or abandon them to sink or swim on their own under deplorable conditions; while some fellow Americans go shopping for thousand dollar T Shirts.
Today’s Republican Party rails against fictitious government death panels that want to “pull the plug on granny”, but it is willing to chip away at her retirement benefits until she can’t pay the utilities and is left to freeze in the dark. How does that “respect our elders”? And how is it looking out for our children’s future to choke off government revenue by defending continued tax cuts for the already affluent, while most of the infrastructure of the nation is sliding toward obsolescence?
What parent would feel proud willing their child a home that they heavily partied in during their own prime, but now has holes in the roof and wiring that will melt if connected to any state of the art appliances? That’s not fiscal responsibility, that’s either sloth or greed. It’s called greed if the money was there to maintain that home but it got spent on self indulgent luxuries instead. It’s called sloth if no effort was ever seriously made to bring in the revenue needed to maintain that home. Since when were sloth and greed conservative values?
What are we leaving for future generations under current Republican taxation and investment policies? What use is lower debt if the very tools needed to compete and survive in a future economy have been sacrificed or completely neglected in order to reduce it? That’s like hocking the fishing rod so you can afford buying a fish to stash in the freezer. Is that what passes now for planning for the future?
For most of the last century and even into this one, conservatives warned of the coming one world government that would rise to strip America of her sovereignty and Americans of their freedom. In the guise of conservative rhetoric they now are working to further those ends – but the one world government that is starting to take shape won’t present a standard political face to the world. It will feature the corporate gray blur of interlocking corporate boards. America will retain its technical sovereignty, for what it will then be worth. How will that be a victory for conservatives?
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Mon May 7, 2012, 11:11 PM (3 replies)