Saturday, May 7, 2011

Winning the Future is Losing Today

Work Work All Week Long, Good Times, Happy Days are Here Again. Yada Yada Yada

President Obama just doesn't seem to get it.  Rather than addressing our current jobs crisis, he is persisting in ignoring it.  Here is what he said during an Indiana factory tour yesterday -- the same day we got news that unemployment has again risen to nine percent: 
"This is the kind of company that will make sure that America remains the most prosperous nation in the world.  See, other countries understand this.  We’re in a competition all around the world, and other countries -- Germany, China, South Korea -- they know that clean energy technology is what is going to help spur job creation and economic growth for years to come.
And that's why we’ve got to make sure that we win that competition.  I don't want the new breakthrough technologies and the new manufacturing taking place in China and India.  I want all those new jobs right here in Indiana, right here in the United States of America, with American workers, American know-how, American ingenuity."

I don't know anybody who actually thinks we are still the most prosperous nation in the world, or that we care about being in some imaginary competition with other countries. This is not the Jobs Olympics. This is not about patriotism or American exceptionalism. Other countries are not looking at the USA and thinking "Holy crap!  They're gaining on us!  Whatever shall we do?"  This president may have succeeded in killing Osama bin Laden, but he has his head in the sand about jobs.  The guy is starting to sound more and more like a G.E. commercial every day.  It's probably no coincidence that one of his former campaign managers, David Plouffe, spent a year and earned over $1 million at G.E. before coming to work at The White House in January.

"This is where the jobs of the future are at," Obama enthused during his factory tour.  That ephemeral, distant future.  Only problem is, people need to eat today.

And he is still buying into the Republican deficit hysteria, still comparing the United States government to a family trying to tighten its belt and live within a budget:

"If we’re going to win the future, we’ve got to cut out the things we don't need, but still make investments in the things that we do.  That's what you do at home.  If somebody in your family loses a job, if your hours get cut, what do you do?  You may stop going out to a restaurant to eat.  You may decide we’re going to put off buying that new furniture or taking that vacation.  But you’re not going to stop fixing the boiler or the hole in the roof.  You’re not going to stop making sure that you got enough money to help your kids go to school.  Those are the things -- that's like your seed corn.  You don't eat that."

Is he kidding?  People who don't have jobs are losing the very roofs over their heads and he talks about still having money to fix a hole in the roof?  You can lose a job, yet still save money to help your kids go to school?  I know he has been living in a bubble the past few years, but this is obviously a very clueless man who thinks every American family has thousands of dollars set aside for that rainy day.

The cognitive dissonance grows ever more jarring. Next thing you know, he'll be appearing in one of those scary-cheesy G.E. Ecomagination line-dancing commercials.  If he really wants a taste of reality, I suggest he hold his next town hall/campaign pit-stop at an unemployment office.  The people in line there are definitely not dancing. Somebody has to get him to change his tune. Maybe a John Philip Sousa March will take him right to Congress for some fist-banging and arm-twisting and soaring oratory for raising taxes on the rich to fund a New Deal-type jobs program.

Work, Work, Work...Countin the Days....For a Good Time


Anonymous said...

The last thing we need is a "New Deal-type jobs program" which consisted primarily of drafting about 15 million into the military. Some very good things originated with the "New Deal" (REA, TVA, etc.) but sane economic policy was not one of them. Slaughtering and disposing of millions of hogs while people were starving is but one example.

Anonymous said...

I know he has been living in a bubble the past few years, but this is obviously a very clueless man who thinks every American family has thousands of dollars set aside for that rainy day.


And did you vote for him?

Valerie Long Tweedie said...

No doubt about it, the President is out of touch with ordinary people. These visits are so staged! It is too bad the Prez can't sit down with the workers and ask them about their concerns and really listen to what the real people in this country have to say. I imagine the workers are kept far away from the Commander and Chief except to clap in groups and pose for photo ops.

One thing the Prez didn't talk about in his family analogy was when families see their income reduced they not only tighten their belts, they go looking for other sources of income. They get a second job or maybe a stay at home mom goes looking for work. If this family scenario is a model for how our government is supposed to work, then the government needs to be looking at new sources of revenue. And that means taxes.

I have an idea. Instead of the temporary Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, let’s have some temporary taxes on the wealthy to get our budget in line. How much did the bank bailout cost us? Well, we should temporarily tax the banking industry (which enjoys record profits) on all those reckless trades and speculations until we get our deficit down. How much did the war cost us? We should temporarily tax all the war profiteers and slap a 20 cent a gallon on gas at the pump until that part of the debt is paid down. And if anyone complains, send them a “I Support Our Troops” yellow ribbon magnet to stick on the back of their car.

And, yes I voted for Obama! Did you vote for Bush? Cuz he is more responsible for the bank bailout and the war than Obama.

Karen Garcia said...

Excellent ideas in a great comment. I love your suggestion for the "support our troops" car magnets for the stingy people who hate taxes! I signed a petition recently for a per-trade Robin Hood tax on Wall Street, but geeze, nobody in government has yet had that Eureka moment. I wonder why. All we can do is keep hammering away at them and maybe shame them into doing the right thing.

Anonymous said...

The Bush tax cuts expired. Obama agreed to more of the same. They were the Bush tax cuts now they are the Obama Tax cuts. Giving the Goverment more money won't create more jobs in the long run.
You missed the other thing a family does when they are short on cash, they eat out less. We are eating out to much. Too much stuff from overseas we have lots of energy of our own but can't use it and are forced to eat out, how many jobs does that cost the economy? Those jobs also pay taxes. This is my first comment.


Anonymous said...

"No doubt about it, the President is out of touch with ordinary people. . . . We should temporarily . . . slap a 20 cent a gallon on gas at the pump until that part of the debt is paid down," sez Valerie Long Tweedie. "Excellent idea," sez Karen Garcia.

We? . . . you live in Australia, and wouldn't be paying that tax. The great majority of people in THIS country who would - the lower and middle income groups who are straining already to pay bills - might have some other thoughts about this "great idea," speaking of being out of touch.

Karen Garcia said...

"Anonymous" does not like the idea of a temporary gas tax because Australians wouldn't pay it. I think the price of petrol in Australia is even higher than it is here, and they measure it by the liter. Our gas prices have always been low compared to the rest of the world, not counting Venezuela of course. I also think we should be slapping on surtaxes on gas guzzlers and walking or biking to the store for the next container of milk and loaf of bread. Do us all good to hoof it for a change -- good for the air quality too.

Karen Garcia said...

Adding to my last comment, Valerie advocates imposing a gas surtax to pay for our war debt and show how patriotic we all feel propping up the Karzai puppet and enriching the military-industrial complex. I am sure most people who are struggling will be up in arms in no time at all if they are actually made to pay for the wars. (now funded with borrowed money from China). You would see demonstrations in the streets over this. Believe me, the wars would end by election day if the strugglers gotta pay. Great idea, Valerie!

Valerie Long Tweedie said...

Anonymous, you really need to understand that you lose a lot of your credibility when you don't sign your name. It is not hard, go to the Select Profile box, Click on the arrow, go to Name/URL and type in your first name. If you really believe what you are writing, you should stand by your words.

Anonymity on the Internet is very interesting and destructive phenomenon. It allows people to adopt a bullying tone and they don’t have to be too particular about the facts or the truth they write because any nasty, ignorant or untrue comments can’t be traced back to them. It is a cowardly way to conduct oneself, and doesn’t lead to any kind of constructive discussion.

You may have noticed that this blog is quite a step up from most of the “political” blogs on the Internet. That is because there is a discussion of the issues – many of which aren’t being covered in the mainstream media. Yes, it is a progressive blog site, but the pieces Karen writes are well-researched and most of the comments made by the readers are civil and well-thought-out. We might end with a comedic remark for closure and we might occasionally offend one of our brethren with our attempts at humour, but on the whole, our comments are useful and informative. If you want to make nasty, anonymous comments, perhaps you should go to the Huffington Post where short, clipped, off the cuff comments are the norm. They really don’t belong here, where we are working to keep important issues alive.

Valerie Long Tweedie said...

I stand by my words, Anonymous.

Karen is right; we pay between $6 and $7 a gallon for gas in Australia and about $8.50 a gallon in Germany, where I also lived. Guess what? I DOES make a difference in how much petrol people consume. We (America) are a wasteful nation using far more than our fair share of a finite resource for no other reason than we can get away with it. No one NEEDS to drive a giant SUV or a gas guzzling truck. As for the price of gas being such a hardship. I don’t see people like you causing a stink when the oil companies raise the price of gas. It is only when the idea of a tax, money that could actually help the people of our country, is raised, do you speak out. And if we were to weigh in the cost of these wars and the foreign aid we give to countries who hate us in oil regions around the world, the REAL cost of gas would be much, much higher that what Americans currently pay at the pump.

The only thing that will get Americans to start conserving and our government to start investing in green energy is cost. And 20 cents a gallon is a drop in the bucket if it means we get our debt down and are more energy independent.

And thanks, Richard, for letting us know which comments are yours. I would hate to confuse a legitimate conservative with a poser.

BobN said...

Valerie -

So if you don't sign your name you get blasted. If you do sign your name AND your opinions - however illegible or ill-conceived - don't march to the tune played here, you get blasted.

Just pointing out what I'm seeing.

Valerie Long Tweedie said...

Bob -

Why don't you make some thought-provoking comments that express another view and see what happens. Richard comments regularly and no one is blasting him.

Anonymous said...

You all should read about the late 1930's until 1941. The new deal jobs program did very little to get the economy going again. The thing that got our economy going was the looming war in Europe and then the real war in Europe. The Brits paid cash for most of the armaments they bought up to 1941 because the Democrat Congress didn't want us involved as we were in WW1. That is what changed "starting to recover" into "Booming" not the "New Deal".

Most government jobs programs only create jobs for as long as they last and no longer. Private jobs that create things or services that people need last as long as the companies are managed correctly and profitable without regard to which party is in office.

Speaking of European wars they (The Europeans) are asking for our help in Libya because they don't have any ground attack aircraft to use against the Libyan tanks and Armor. The U.S. always had our A-10s in Europe in case the CCCP ever attacked. The Europeans never developed their own ground attack aircraft and now we are going to get involved in "The Short Victorious War" in Libya again to bail out the Europeans again.


John said...

Hi, Richard

With respect to the position that the New Deal "did very little to get the economy going again," Henry Steel Commager reminded us years ago that the New Deal did a great deal. Everyday people live from day to day, unlike the rich and the high-flying futurists with their super macroeconomic visions of the future, one of whom, as Karen pointed out, seems to be our President and very much unlike FDR. Thanks to those work programs, people could eat regular meals again with some degree of certainty. Thanks to those work programs, millions of every day people could live under a roof instead of in a hobo camp.

And if you look around, our neglected infrastructure still benefits from the work done back in the thirties building roads, protecting great swaths of nature, and raising buildings still used by the post office, schools and government workers at the federal, state and local level.

Should we have let those millions of little people, living their little lives with three squares on the table and a roof overhead -- and a job to go to -- fend for themselves? Your saying 'yes' to that proposition today by arguing that the nation, through its government, should let its unemployed twist in the wind with no idea where they are to get their next meal doesn't make sense, humanly speaking. Everyday people live from day to day, one meal at a time, and there are now millions of them standing around, idle and in shock from what Wall Street pulled off at their expense, without any consequences to the people who caused unemployment and other dispossessions leaving people hungry and unprotected.

"Relief" keeps our fellow citizens alive from day to day. If managed intelligently, it can also improve the Commons. Now, don't you think that keeping millions of men, women and children alive and healthy, while improving the infrastructure, is significant enough for the "New Deal" to get a pat on the back and to serve as an example to our blinded visionary in the White House today?

Jay Ottawa

skyelav said...

Just a second. What are we going to do with the thousands of returning vets? Good suggestions like penalizing job loss to China have been posited. I have a terrible feeling (I hope I'm wrong) that this shakeout is in response to a flattening of growth (thank god or we will soon be unable to sustain ourselves) and the shakeout will, by its very nature, cause a lowering of living standard. i.e. not everyone who wants a job will have one.

jude said...

President Obama does not relate to work a day folks. He forgets that in 2000 he could NOT afford to rent a car to return home from convention/ and he and Michele at that time were making $193,000 between them!

After his speech at the '04 Dem Convention the money poured in. Michele's salary at Chicago University Hospital(program to ship poor to distant clinics/charity hospitals) increased 263% to $316,000.

First thing they did was buy a $1.6 mill mansion in Hyde Park. The true unemployment rate is approx 21%. What a joke/ fix hole in the roof/ send kids to school! Michele told a bunch of unemployed steel workers wives dressed in their Walmart best, how SHE could identify with them - being a working mom (she was on campaign trail for two years and being PAID) with dancing, music and summer camp costs for the kids etc.

I almost fell off my chair coming form steel country. We didn't do dancing, music, horseback riding or the $4000 per week(talk about tightening your belt) they spent sending their oldest daughter ( 2 weeks) to camp while Michele did Spain (cost of room $2,600 per night) with her friends.

Tightening belts! They use Air Force One (visiting Oprah - theater in NY- Copenhagen with Oprah/ Daly family - FUND RAISING) like a golf cart. Gas is (with increase) $191,000 per HOUR.Barack spent SEVEN min (Michele flew separately) in Copenhagen to give Olympic speech for Chicago.

Google TENT cities / they're everywhere including HAWAII (people can't afford rents/ utilities). I'd like to see him, not at these contrived town meetings (no dissent) but at these tent cities, shelters, soup kitchens, hospital ER rooms (where people DIE on the floor waiting) - or report to people the wonderful NEW global wages at these places / $10-12 bucks an hr NO benefits.

NO I didn't vote for him or dopey McCain war monger. I did my homework and check out all his claims to fame. Look around - 14 trill in debt with roads a mess, bridges - levees falling down. Meantime its continual party time/ golfing - basketball in Washington ---remember the GULF / people are sick and dying due to Corexit spraying - dead aborted dolphins - sea turtles everywhere. Oops, I forgot, the corporate owned media only does ONE round the clock story per week or month. PS cutting corners? Michele has 26 aids (Prince Charles has 21) including a hairdresser/ make up artist that travel with her. Check out Michele's gowns in her trips to Europe.

Last month it was the WEDDING - this week the reports (in time for new campaign!!!) are all about our overnight HERO. Nah its not about 2012 or the polls.

Anonymous said...

Hi jay,

What did you think of that Election? Two of the more Progressive party leaders lost in their own ridings! Who would have thought it?

The government during the '30s and today has a duty to keep people from starving and doing that by building infrastructure is a good way. However someone in the private sector needs to employ the infrastructure to generate a profit, pay taxes, and keep the process going. That happened in the late '30s because of the buildup to WW2. That is not happening today here in the U.S. In Canada at least you can produce your own energy. The people here just want to "eat out" without regard to the cost. The slogan of the day is " Do it, But not in my backyard". That will never create jobs or let companies pay taxes.


Mona Snouy said...

> "Anonymous" does not like the idea of a temporary gas tax because Australians wouldn't pay it

"Karen" needs to re-read. That particular idea had to do with "Valerie Long Tweedie" - if that's her/his real name, on the subject of using a name - advocating a tax she would not pay herself. The second idea buried in there had to do with calling the president "out of touch with ordinary people" when in fact ordinary people and especially people in the lower income brackets would suffer the most from this regressive idea. You may consider yourself "in touch," but in fact ordinary people would give this idea a big thumbs down.

Provide your analysis on this temporary tax, KC. How much a year would it generate, how long would it be in place - what IS your idea of temporary? - and how much if the deficit would it pay down for the period you have in mind?

Karen Garcia said...

@Mona, were you addressing your last question to me? I didn't notice anyone with the initials KC in this thread. And yes, we, meaning Valerie and me, use our real names. I actually run this blog, so there was no need to put my name in "quotes".

I assume I am KC for the purposes of this question. So I propose the gas tax be in place for the duration of the war. I have no idea how long that would be, since I don't run the Defense Dept. or anything else. I also don't know how much of the deficit it would pay down, since that is not my job either.

The point was made to illustrate how nuts waging war on borrowed money really is. We are not being hit in our pocketbooks,not sacrificing for it, and for most of us, it's out of sight, out of mind. It has gone on for ten long years. Perhaps ordinary people would stand up and scream bloody murder if they had to pay a war tax at the gas pumps. Of course it'll never happen, Mona. Our politicians wouldn't have the guts. But it certainly would end the war(s) in a hurry. Guar-an-teed.

John said...


Your words:
"...someone in the private sector needs to employ the infrastructure to generate a profit, pay taxes, and keep the process going. That happened in the late '30s because of the buildup to WW2. That is not happening today here in the U.S. In Canada at least you can produce your own energy. The people here just want to "eat out" without regard to the cost. The slogan of the day is " Do it, But not in my backyard". That will never create jobs or let companies pay taxes."

Vague stuff. Who is that "someone" in the wings you refer to? And how is that someone to fix the economy?

You say the buildup to WWII was the solution for the Thirties. You can't be advocating a buildup to a WW3 as a solution to pull us out of this recession? Yet you keep citing that solution. Isn't the MIC doing just fine already?

Then you keep blaming, David Brooks' style, the profligate "people" for wanting a free lunch. So tell us, what is your idea for creating jobs.

Be specific about the private sector's doing it all by itself, especially the private sector we have that has done so well exporting jobs for decades.

Tell us why you resist a government-sponsored buildup of the infrastructure sufficient to reduce the unemployment rate to the old normal, thus putting money in the hands of consumers who will again be able to climb out of misery by spending money to revive that same private economy in which you place all your trust.

Jay Ottawa

Jon said...

Valerie, I'm not sure if you're Tweed Coast Marine (who use to be in my neck of the woods), but if so high fuel prices certainly must hurt boat sales, so it would seem that even higher prices would hurt even more, no?

Valerie Long Tweedie said...

Jon, no, I am not Tweed Coast Marine. There are a lot of Tweedies out there. It is a Scottish clan, named after the River Tweed – or vice versa.

High gas prices would indeed hurt recreational boat sales and the sale of gas guzzling SUVs and giant trucks that have cabs the size of cars and motor homes. Do we really need these? My husband lived in Africa for six years. Guess what the Africans (both land owners and workers) drive out on the dirt, country roads? Little Toyota trucks. Sorry, my heart isn't bleeding for people with luxury vessels and oversized vehicles.

On the other hand, it is a real concern that people who are struggling to get by and need to commute to minimum wage jobs would have a bigger fuel bill. My husband and I deal with this issue all the time ourselves in Australia where the gas costs about $6.50 a gallon. It has caused us to change our life style. I ride a bicycle with my daughter to school every day – round trip about three miles. I take a one hour bus ride to and from university where I am studying. My husband carpools when he can. We combine errands and our shopping trips. While it is not as convenient as jumping in the car whenever we want, it is not as terrible as people think and quite frankly, the exercise is good for us and the fewer trips to the store is better for our pocketbook.

I have wondered if a solution is some kind of rationing system that entitles people to a certain amount of gas per week at a cheaper price. After that the price is considerably higher. I really don’t see twenty cents a gallon as breaking the bank. People still seem to walking around with their Starbucks coffees at $4.50 a pop. I don't know what kind of car you drive, but for us, twenty cents a gallon would amount to less than that.

And, Mona, it is difficult to even find your point to address it. Where did you go to school? As a primary teacher, I am horrified at your poor writing skills.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jay,

Point one: pointing out that the "New Deal" didn't solve the depression points out that only a Government sponsored program won't solve the problem today.

Point two: No, I'm not in favor of a war today to fix the economy. Not even a short one in Libya.

Point three: "The people here just want to "eat out" without regard to the cost. The slogan of the day is " Do it, But not in my backyard". You missed the point here the discussion in the U.S. Is about how much we can afford to tax, borrow, and spend. There has been a lot of talk about family budgets. The big expense in the U.S. Family's budget is imported energy most from Canada. That is in the face of the fact that the U.S. Has lots of energy reserves of it's own. We don't use them because of resistance to any mining or drilling anywhere in the U.S. Canada or Brazil are fine but not in my back yard. It's like eating out when you are short of money. We send billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of jobs out of the country that would be better kept here.

Point four: the Government sponsored repair and upgrade of our infrastructure is fine. I'm for it. After it's done then what? It's not an end in itself. Someone must use the improvements, earn money, hire people, and pay taxes. The energy sector for example but just try to get the hundreds of permits necessary.

Point five: you have it backward the U.S. Actually must export as much or more than it imports or we will just have stagnation or worse devaluation of the dollar until things balance out. You can't just sell services to yourself when you spend as much on imports as we do. Imported energy again for example.

Point six the private sector can't do it all they need cooperation from the government to make doing business easer here. No one on your side is in favor of that, so what do we do?


Anonymous said...

> I really don’t see twenty cents a gallon as breaking the bank

Well, perhaps you could highlight your math skills by applying them to your tax proposal. Even though you think this is an excellent idea, the fact of the matter is you haven't provided any data regarding what money it would generate, what it would accomplish in terms of debt reduction, who it would impact, and how long it would last - not exactly an encouraging start. And for what it's worth, the CBO, cash-strapped local governments, and even Charles Krauthammer have proposed a gas tax at one time or another - unfortunately, they all have different ideas on how to spend it.

In any event, you must have some analysis to share, right?

Valerie Long Tweedie said...

I have two points that I don't want lost in the discussion:

First, this war is being paid for by borrowed money from China. It is almost entirely about oil - not our national security. If we really wanted national security we would quit provoking the radicals with our (perceived as invading) ubiquitous, military presence and leave their part of the world. Most Americans go blithely along their way, while our military pays the real costs. And they are the ONLY ones who are sacrificing. If you can’t see that is wrong, than we have no common ground for discussion. Surely, twenty cents a gallon is not too much to ask those of us who are not living day in and day out in a war zone. If we don’t want the money to go to the debt, how about setting up a fund that goes to the soldiers who are seriously wounded or traumatised by the war?

My second point is we are over consuming a finite resource and a polluting one at that. We need to start living with less of it. I wish we had a country of people who would use less and buy green energy technology because it would contribute to a better world. But we aren’t and cost DOES make a difference.

And no, I haven’t done an analysis; I am just using common sense – which seems to be lacking in this discussion. I have lived in three countries where they tax petrol at the pump heavily. I see the difference it makes in consumption. And no one is starving because of it.

How do you propose we pay for this war that seems never ending? Going into more debt? Sorry, it is hard for me to have a reasonable discussion with someone who has no alternative ideas. It is easy to tear down someone else’s suggestions, especially anonymously. If you have a better alternative for addressing our country’s economic woes other than the tired Republican line of cutting social programs and no more taxes, DO SHARE.

Valerie Long Tweedie said...

I have explained my point of view. No need to repeat it to someone who isn’t listening. I think Karen made many good points as well.

And no, I haven’t done a mathematical analysis; I am just using common sense and experience. I have lived in three countries where they tax petrol at the pump heavily. I see the difference it makes in consumption. What is your experience that differs so widely from mine?

How do you propose we pay for this war that seems never ending? Going into more debt? It is easy to tear down someone else’s suggestions, especially anonymously. If you have a better alternative for raising badly needed revenue while getting our energy consumption habits more in line with the rest of the First World, DO SHARE. Otherwise, think about bowing out. Baiting is a rhetorical device used by people who have no good ideas of their own. It adds nothing constructive to the discussion.

Valerie said...

oops! My posting didn't take the first time - so I shortened it and posted it again. Karen, if you are reading this you are welcome to delete one of them.

John said...


Karen wrote an essay above about the urgent need to address unemployment for the sake of workers and their families who are living from hand to mouth, which is the way with low income people, and in danger of falling into misery, i.e., hunger, homelessness, and neglected health traced back to joblessness. Pardons to Karen for my rough summary.

Unemployment is not top priority for Republicans. They say the deficit, which they ballooned through trade policy, wars, poor financial regulation at home and tax cuts, must be first priority now that the Democrats are in charge. Social programs for the less affluent must be cut back. Joblessness will correct itself, eventually, through some trickle down process. Obama seems to agree and is acting accordingly, with the cool slows on the jobs front, a great disappointment to many head-shaking Democrats and Independents.

Richard, while you say you sympathize with the plight of the little guy, you argue that the way out of the unemployment crisis lies in removing roadblocks to private enterprise, especially in the energy sector. We should, you argue, mine more coal, drill more oil and frack more gas in our own back yards, in order to create many more jobs and diminish our trade imbalance. I hope that's a fair summary of your position.

I don't understand why you keep coming back to Sardonicky, of all places, to push that line. Visitors here have heard that line expressed eloquently in op-ed pieces elsewhere and have thoroughly flayed those ideas with more eloquent responses. Do you expect to introduce us to those same failed ideas again here? Or are you just trying to hamper a conversation going totally the opposite direction? Are you allied in some way, shape or fashion with the energy business? Do you see how Valerie is trying with others to sharpen ideas headed in the opposite direction to yours, by living well with less carbon, by paying attention to the overarching issue of global warming, and by doing that without simultaneously hurting lower income groups who must drive to get to work? You want to convert Karen? Valerie? Me?

You're like the guy who crashes a serious poker game only to insist on switching to whist. Is there no other table for you in cyberspace? Answer if you must; I'm skipping over your posts henceforth.

Jay Ottawa

Anonymous said...


No need to reply, you live in the capital of Canada unless by chance you have the same last name. Canada earns much of it's income from selling energy to us. Why should we buy it from you no matter how much or little we use. We have our own. As to alternative energy how many solar panels do you own? My home runs on solar off the grid. As to why here why not? There is no point in preaching to the choir

I notice you had nothing to say about your election I guess your guy didn't win however the NDP did finish strong and you sound very NDP to me.


John in Lafayette said...

The problem with the gas tax is that it hits the people who can least afford to pay it disproportionately hard. A lot of the taxes we pay are structured regressively; it's why - even though almost half of all Americans pay no income tax - the middle and lower classes pay a higher percentage of their incomes in taxes - all taxes - than do the wealthy.

How about getting rid of ALL federal taxes except the income tax and then exempting the first $40,000 of everyone's income from taxation? We then treat all forms of income equally (eliminating the lower rates for dividends, capital gains, and hedge fund managers), eliminate ALL deductions, and then tax everything above $40,000 at the same flat rate, say 15%. We might want to consider a higher rate for incomes in the top 1%.

We also need to tax corporate income the same way we do individual income. If the right wing wants us to believe that corporations are individuals for the purpose of spending on campaigns, then corporations can damn well be individuals for the purpose of paying taxes.

This flat tax that exempts the first $40,000 would retain a large element of progressivity; a person making $50,000 would pay $1,500 in taxes (or 3%) while a person making $150,000 1oud pay $16,500 in taxes (or 11%). It would also be fair.

The idea of a flat tax is not new; it used to be the darling of the right. We don't hear about it from them any more because they've managed to game the system to pay fewer taxes even with higher income tax rates.

Until we have system of taxation that is fair and comprehensible we won't ever be able to start making sense of our nation's fiscal situation. I suspect we can afford to do a lot more than we're being led to believe simply because so many people are able to escape taxation.

Corporate profits and CEO salaries and bonuses are at all-time highs, yet federal tax receipts are still stagnant. Why is that?

BTW, Karen, outstanding response to David Brooks today.

Maddy said...

> And no, I haven’t done an analysis; I am just using common sense

Nor, as is apparent, could you. You've proposed raising the tax by a very specific 20 cents a gallon, but haven't the foggiest idea what amount it would raise. For all you know, to fix the problem you're trying to address this regressive tax would have to go much higher - beyond the resources of lower income brackets or many small businesses already struggling to make ends meet. Try taking this finely polished gem directly to ordinary working Americans, and see what they think of your common sense.

Kat said...

As much as it pains me to say so, I do not think now is the time for a raise in the gas tax. That time has passed. It is certainly too bad that DINO Clinton did not seize the opportunity when gas was 90 cents a gallon.
However, I would support a revenue neutral gas tax increase-- offset by a reduction in payroll taxes. Tax carbon, not work!

Kat said...

Oh-- excellent reply to Brooks, by the way.

I'm such a rube that all I would write is "Are you joking? You're an expert on work?".

John in Lafayette said...

A gas tax is REGRESSIVE. It taxes the poorest among us a far greater portion of their incomes than the wealthiest. It's bad enough these people have to decide between medicine and food. Let's not make them have to decide between putting enough gas into the car to get to work and having enough food (for those foruntate enough to have both a job and a car).

Yes, we absolutely need to move away from the use of fossil fuels, but we shouldn't do it on the backs of those who can least afford it.

And no, although I live in Louisiana, I do not work for, nor do I have any sympathy for the oil industry. Quite the contrary.

Valerie Long Tweedie said...

John in Lafayette - Yes, agreed. We definitely need a more progressive income tax structure.

Kat - I know that the timing of a tax at the pump – hard economic times – is a concern. Sadly, there never seems to be a good time for a gas tax in the U.S. In good times, the Republicans and Libertarians make the claim we don’t need the revenue; in bad times we can’t afford it.

Honestly, I have made my points – with a little help from Karen. I think this is something we are going to have to agree to disagree. I think the reasonable members of this forum can agree that cost affects consumption and we, as a nation, need to have some mechanism for shared sacrifice when it comes to this endless war for oil.

Valerie Long Tweedie said...

And, Richard, while I must admit to agreeing with Jay on almost all the points discussed, you impress me! Solar panels and living off the grid! RIGHT ON!