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Flying Squirrel

Profile Information

Member since: Fri Aug 20, 2010, 05:40 PM
Number of posts: 2,640

About Me

I am the same DU member who formerly posted under the name FlyingSquirrel (no space). I killed this profile by changing both my password and email at a time when I felt I had developed an unhealthy addiction to the internet in general and DU in particular. Not sayin' I'm any better now ;-)

Journal Archives

Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Wall Street, and America 2.0

(Don't be fooled by the headline, this is NOT a boring article!)

The stunning ascent of Bernie Sanders portends far more than a hard-fought Democratic primary. Its greater implication, whether Sanders wins or loses, is that America's crony capitalism will no longer go unchallenged. Thus Hillary Clinton and her husband, along with many others, are increasingly trapped by the wealth, credentials, and insider status they have pursued so fervently - because they derive from a corruption whose nature and consequences can no longer be concealed. America's financial elites are now so corrupt, arrogant, and predatory that political leaders beholden to them can't even pretend to deliver economic or political security, much less fairness or progress.

And now, finally, Americans are running out of patience. In addition to Bernie Sanders, there's Elizabeth Warren, Zephyr Teachout, and even movies - The Big Short has (deservedly) grossed $100 million. Everything suggests that American politics is now truly, fundamentally, up for grabs - a hugely exciting but also terrifying prospect. In America, the Great Depression yielded Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal; but in Europe, it created Hitler and Mussolini. America's reaction against its corruption and decline could show us at our best - or our worst.

Indeed, this is the Democratic establishment's rejoinder to Bernie Sanders: he's a wonderful dreamer, but impractical - he can't get elected, so we'd get Trump or Cruz, and furthermore even if Bernie was elected, he couldn't get anything done. Look at Dodd-Frank and Obamacare, they say - those laws barely passed. No way could Bernie break up the banks. Only a pragmatic, moderate insider can get anywhere.

Actually the truth is exactly the opposite. American insider politics is now so corrupt that nobody within it can get anything done. But by stepping outside of the rules, you could do a great deal. Let's take a concrete example - the banks.


More:

http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/hillary-clinton-bernie-sa_b_9172128.html
Posted by Flying Squirrel | Fri Feb 5, 2016, 10:53 PM (3 replies)

If the only knock against Clinton was that she represents "the establishment"

Then I could possibly be persuaded to support her at this time.

I agree: It sucks for Hillary that she's played by the old rules all this time -- trying to become the first female president -- and that now the rules are changing just at the wrong time.

But this election is not about her, and it's not about women in general (except insofar as they will benefit from the policies that will be pushed or supported by the eventual nominee). This election is about a sea change that is long overdue, change that we thought we were getting in 2008 but were sadly mistaken.

This election is about what the Democratic Party has become due to ALL Democrats playing by the rules of the game Clinton has played.

Also, on a personal level, I don't like her all that much; and I definitely don't trust her or believe much of what she says.

If there were no alternative candidate that I did like, trust and believe, I'd support her in spite of that -- if only just because I, like many others, want to see that glass ceiling broken.

But, there is.
Posted by Flying Squirrel | Fri Feb 5, 2016, 10:17 PM (9 replies)

Minimum wage now is essentially below 1928 levels

Someone wanna correct my math or my analysis?

http://www.democraticunderground.com/?com=view_post&forum=1002&pid=7586591

"Dear Folks, Will place a not(e) in wall as it may some day be found and perhaps the men that Built it will be dead and forgotten. We are having nice weather was 18 above zero this morning. Hope when this is opened things will be better for the working man than (now?). Mason got $10 per day and labor $3.20 there will have to be a change soon or the labor will be out of luck. Please print this if found signed CK Bell, Geo H Bell, W. Sowell, Jim Kelley, Ray (Disney?) Good luck."


My analysis:

https://fraser.stlouisfed.org/docs/publications/bls/bls_0484_1929.pdf

In 1928 Kansas, a laborer made .40/hour and worked 48 hours/week.

That works out to $19.20/week, which the CPI calculator translates into $266.12 in 2015 dollars. Federal tax was 1.5% for that tax bracket and there were no Social Security or Medicare withholdings.

Now the minimum wage in KS is $7.25/hour and the workweek is reduced to 40 hours (yes, that's an improvement). So the gross pay is now $290/week, or 9% higher for 8 fewer hours.

But take out $22 for social security and medicare, and now you're back down to $268/week.

I did a quick federal estimate based on a single person with no children and came up with $9/week in federal taxes for 2015, which drops your take-home pay down to $259/week. With federal taxes being only 1.5% in 1928, the take-home pay back then (in 2015 dollars) would have been about $265/week.

So while today's laborers work fewer hours per week, they still take home about the same pay as they did in 1928, or less.


Ah, the gilded age, right before the stock market crash and the depression. Hmmm...
Posted by Flying Squirrel | Fri Feb 5, 2016, 09:47 AM (5 replies)

I klickety-clicked an online poll and said Bernie won the debate

But I didn't actually watch it.

I'm going straight to hell, aren't I?

Posted by Flying Squirrel | Fri Feb 5, 2016, 07:50 AM (1 replies)

Since we're discussing who's more progressive:

(x-posted in GDP)

That means we need an understanding of what a progressive is.

Here's an interesting article I found from 2011:

What's the Difference Between a Liberal and a Progressive?

I often get asked what the difference between a "liberal" and a "progressive" is. The questions from the media on this subject are always something like, "Isn't 'progressive' just another name for 'liberal' that people want to use because 'liberal' has become a bad word?"

The answer, in my opinion, is no - there is a fundamental difference when it comes to core economic issues. It seems to me that traditional "liberals" in our current parlance are those who focus on using taxpayer money to help better society. A "progressive" are those who focus on using government power to make large institutions play by a set of rules.

To put it in more concrete terms - a liberal solution to some of our current problems with high energy costs would be to increase funding for programs like the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). A more "progressive" solution would be to increase LIHEAP but also crack down on price gouging and pass laws better-regulating the oil industry's profiteering and market manipulation tactics. A liberal policy towards prescription drugs is one that would throw a lot of taxpayer cash at the pharmaceutical industry to get them to provide medicine to the poor; A progressive prescription drug policy would be one that centered around price regulations and bulk purchasing in order to force down the actual cost of medicine in America (much of which was originally developed with taxpayer R&D money).

Let's be clear - most progressives are also liberals, and liberal goals in better funding America's social safety net are noble and critical. It's the other direction that's the problem. Many of today's liberals are not fully comfortable with progressivism as defined in these terms. Many of today's Democratic politicians, for instance, are simply not comfortable taking a more confrontational posture towards large economic institutions (many of whom fund their campaigns) - institutions that regularly take a confrontational posture towards America's middle-class.


If we go with David Sirota's definition, I think it's pretty clear who the true progressive is: The one who's "comfortable taking a more confrontational posture towards large economic institutions" because his campaigns have NOT been funded by them -- Do I even need to say it? No, I'm not gonna say it. Everyone just reply to this post with the answer instead, that'll be more fun.

Posted by Flying Squirrel | Thu Feb 4, 2016, 09:24 AM (3 replies)

Since we're discussing who's more progressive:

That means we need an understanding of what a progressive is.

Here's an interesting article I found from 2011:

What's the Difference Between a Liberal and a Progressive?

I often get asked what the difference between a "liberal" and a "progressive" is. The questions from the media on this subject are always something like, "Isn't 'progressive' just another name for 'liberal' that people want to use because 'liberal' has become a bad word?"

The answer, in my opinion, is no - there is a fundamental difference when it comes to core economic issues. It seems to me that traditional "liberals" in our current parlance are those who focus on using taxpayer money to help better society. A "progressive" are those who focus on using government power to make large institutions play by a set of rules.

To put it in more concrete terms - a liberal solution to some of our current problems with high energy costs would be to increase funding for programs like the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). A more "progressive" solution would be to increase LIHEAP but also crack down on price gouging and pass laws better-regulating the oil industry's profiteering and market manipulation tactics. A liberal policy towards prescription drugs is one that would throw a lot of taxpayer cash at the pharmaceutical industry to get them to provide medicine to the poor; A progressive prescription drug policy would be one that centered around price regulations and bulk purchasing in order to force down the actual cost of medicine in America (much of which was originally developed with taxpayer R&D money).

Let's be clear - most progressives are also liberals, and liberal goals in better funding America's social safety net are noble and critical. It's the other direction that's the problem. Many of today's liberals are not fully comfortable with progressivism as defined in these terms. Many of today's Democratic politicians, for instance, are simply not comfortable taking a more confrontational posture towards large economic institutions (many of whom fund their campaigns) - institutions that regularly take a confrontational posture towards America's middle-class.


If we go with David Sirota's definition, I think it's pretty clear who the true progressive is: The one who's "comfortable taking a more confrontational posture towards large economic institutions" because his campaigns have NOT been funded by them -- Do I even need to say it? No, I'm not gonna say it. Everyone just reply to this post with the answer instead, that'll be more fun.

Posted by Flying Squirrel | Thu Feb 4, 2016, 09:18 AM (4 replies)

I'm starting to really love this "loss".

I mean think about it. If Bernie had won outright, we'd be hearing all the spinmeisters talking about how Iowa didn't really matter, Bernie won a 'white' state, caucuses are undemocratic, blah-de-blah. Same old crap we heard in 2008 (yawn). Bernie won 3 of 6 coin tosses? Yawn again.

Instead we get news stories about Bernie asking for the raw vote count; we get a late-reporting precinct that went for Bernie, unable to get through to the Iowa Democratic HQ; we get stories about the shenanigans where Hillary supporters switched to O'Malley in a cynical ploy to rob Bernie of a delegate here and there (legal? Yes... Ethical? Um...)

We get the Polk County story, developing... And of course we get those coin flips -- if anything illustrates a rigged game so well, I'd like to know what. Sure, they were probably legit - but that's not the point. Appearances matter. Have I left anything out?

The point is, by nearly beating Hillary, Bernie has destroyed the inevitability meme -- in other words, no different than if he had beaten her. But now we get the bonus of these juicy morsels that will continue to be discussed in the media and on the internet; the sneaking suspicion that just maybe the fix was in; bad memories of 2000 and hanging chads; a reminder that every vote does count, possibly helping turnout in the remaining states (I know that I damned well intend to show up at my caucus in WA this year now for sure.)

We get one more reminder that the establishment is powerful, that Bernie is NOT the establishment, and that we need to try even harder. And I'd be willing to bet the donations are flooding in more to Bernie today than if he'd been declared the victor, because we're more intensely aware that he still needs every bit of help we can give him.

Yup, I'm really starting to love this Iowa result.

Posted by Flying Squirrel | Tue Feb 2, 2016, 01:02 PM (72 replies)

Welp.. I was jealous of all the people who said they were donating again to Bernie

I donated once but I'm unemployed and flat broke.

So, I clicked on the "Volunteer" link at go.berniesanders.com

https://go.berniesanders.com/page/s/volunteer-for-bernie?source=web_main_nav

Something tells me this race won't be over by March 26 in my state of WA...

And we just saw in Iowa how every vote counts.
Posted by Flying Squirrel | Tue Feb 2, 2016, 10:17 AM (15 replies)

Most people who only follow the MSM expected a Hillary win. But guess what?

They're also getting some unexpected news this morning.

I'm talking about the demographic Hillary won; age 45 and older. (I'm 47 and have written off the MSM almost entirely, as have plenty of folks older than myself, but there's no denying that a majority of this age group still uses traditional sources).

Sure, the MSM is gonna be all "Hillary won," fulfilling those expectations. But they will not be able to help having to add how close it was and mentioning the name of the guy who almost beat her. I've already heard the coin tosses talked about on NPR.

Here's what will be news to this slightly older demographic:

(a) how close it was, when they had been led to believe that Hillary was inevitable; and

(b) that some guy they've never heard of came in a close second -- so close that they were in some cases tossing a coin.

They'll be wondering why they haven't heard of him. If they use the internet at all, they'll be doing some research; if they don't, they'll be asking co-workers or family/friends who this Bernie Sanders is and what he's all about. Their ears will be pricking up when his name is mentioned in the MSM (which it will be, more and more often).

Congratulations are in order for both Hillary and Bernie; both did what they needed to do. Hillary needed to avoid a loss after throwing everything she could into Iowa; Bernie needed to come close enough to start getting talked about in the MSM and being noticed by people who hadn't been paying much attention.

I'll take momentum over a sigh of relief any day.




Posted by Flying Squirrel | Tue Feb 2, 2016, 07:47 AM (2 replies)

It's been a long night.....

Posted by Flying Squirrel | Tue Feb 2, 2016, 05:46 AM (1 replies)
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