Wednesday, November 28, 2012

An Rx For (Almost) Everything

By "The Doktor"

To solve the housing crisis, we could start with an agency (We could call it the Submoreme, for Subprime Mortgage Remuneration) with the power to seize bank accounts, and seize the accounts and holdings and property of every single lender, mortgage broker or banker or anyone else who made millions or even hundreds of thousands by writing bad paper to make some easy money. Then create an escrow account and use that money from the crooks, I mean lenders, to pay down the principle on the underwater mortgages. Those lenders and brokers and bankers are the people who are paid to know better, paid to pay attention to comps in any given area, paid to only give loans to people who can reasonably be expected to pay their bills in a timely manner, paid good money to NOT push a million dollar house on a couple who can't possibly make the payments.

This isn't about blame, it's about who got the money, and how to get it back. Putting people out of their houses, or forcing them to lose any hope of equity and then in a cruel twist have them pay someone else who gets the house that they wanted to own in the first place... that is just shepherding more money and wealth to the elite 1% and preventing working people from getting ahead. If they wanted to rent all they'd have to do is walk away!

There is no single panacea for the housing crisis because it is extremely complex and completely intertwined with the financial crisis and the unemployment crisis and the income disparity crisis, grasping at the same old fixes ain't gonna get it. One thing Obama has said repeatedly is very true, it took decades to get here, it won't be fixed overnight.We need some operating capital, so like it or not the people/corporations who have huge stockpiles of cash have some tough decisions to make ; hold onto it and continue to use the bogus greedy disgusting laws and lack of regulation that they bought and paid to get enacted and keep gutting our society until something snaps and people go berserk or start investing in America. We can help the mortgage crisis by doing several things simultaneously, lower interest rates substantially for what have been referred to as "good actors" immediately, freeing up some disposable income so people can start going back to home depot and buying flowers and lights etc, For those that request it there should also be a mortgage principle and interest payment suspension (deferment) allowed in 6 month increments of up to 60 months, interest will still accrue, you still have to pay your taxes and insurance, but the principle payments people can then use to spend on necessities, again freeing up necessary disposable income which will be spent immediately.

Lowering principles is going to be very damned difficult, done on a case by case basis, forcing people to sell defeats the purpose. The losses have to fall on the people who are responsible, the original lender mostly and partly on some original buyers, and in some fewer cases mostly the buyer, your "bad actors" who for the most part are strawmen propped up by right wingers spreading hatred among Americans. A moratorium on all foreclosures would be another first step measure, while this whole mess gets sorted out.

The hypocritical lying republican politicians have been caught with their pants down around their ankles again as they whine about cutting military spending and the job losses it will cause. After we've had to listen to their despicable lies about how the government can't create jobs for the last four years, while they knowingly tanked the economy for political gain. I have zero tolerance for any right wing talking points along these lines.

The American people paid for the infrastructure of this country and then it became the envy of the rest of the world. Large corporations made hundreds of billions of dollars using that United States infrastructure ( U.S. INF) and gaining access to the wealthiest consumers on the planet while they hired teams of lawyers and accountants to figure out how not to pay their fair share of maintaining the U.S. INF and then they hired teams of lobbyists to get laws enacted to make sure they couldn't be charged for using the U.S. INF. I think we need two new U.S. INF taxes implemented; #1 A use it or lose it U.S.INF tax on any corporation with over one hundred million in cash doing business in the U.S. has to invest in specific U.S. INF projects which may include U.S. building renovation and U.S. equipment purchases or U.S. job creation or face an annual 70% tax on these monies, onshore or offshore with new powers for the IRS allowing them access to all accounts anywhere in the world. #2 A 7% U.S.INF tax on ALL internet sales, e-bay, Amazon, everything. This tax would be collected by the seller and paid to the State of residence for the end user of the product sold. So if I live in Colorado and my Mom lives in Florida and I buy her a new TV for Mothers Day on Amazon, Florida gets the U.S.INF tax money for using their roads etc. The States are going broke because of falling revenues and small local brick and mortar businesses are facing increasing pressure to compete with internet sellers not burdened with taxes or sales staffs or rent, we can help level the playing field for small business ( real small businesses not the fake designations of late ) by at least making internet sellers pay their fair share for the roads and police and fire depts they count on to deliver their goods safely to American consumers. The end phenomenon of these policies is ideally to create jobs and promote local small business, and of course return our infrastructure to its former status.

There are multiple arguments to be made for raising taxes on the wealthy, especially as so many republicans are clamoring for high troop levels to remain in Afghanistan. Small businesses aren't making any money off of these wars for profit, it's mega-corps who should be getting hit with taxes, we should have a tax holiday, but for small businesses and workers; Put the SS tax back in place and grant a real payroll tax holiday, no payroll tax on the first $30,000 in earnings for working class people who earn up to $75,000 a year, and a matching holiday for real ( not the Koch Bro.s or Bechtel or Apple etc. ) small businesses that employ them. Then let's see President Obama simply do what he said he would do, up the taxes on those earning over $250,000 a year, and raise capital gains taxes back up to 35% for anyone in that bracket as well. As far as the corporations who have been gaming the system hoping for a tax holiday tell them they've got 30 days of "The Good Ole Days" left and then the IRS is coming after them with a vengeance and will be charging penalties and interest like you've never seen... We've had to listen to that slobbering drunk Boehner for months telling the entire world the United States is broke, so blame it on him and go get the money these cheaters owe us; the hard working taxpayers who live here and play by the rules. We've got a revenue problem coupled with waste and fraud being committed by some of the very same corporations saying President Obama is anti-business while working class Americans ( I think he could even get some tea party supporters out of this ) are getting the rug pulled out from underneath of them after doing what they were supposed to do for decades. And by all means lower the corporate rate and broaden the base by eliminating loopholes.

We'll need even more cash I'm sure, so let's legalize marijuana and tax that, not as ridiculously as we do liquor, but even so that will provide jobs and revenue and we can cut the DEA's budget providing even more money for a much more worthwhile program known as Job Corps! It's a great training program with decades of proven success in helping underprivileged youth, that is kind of like a cross between the military and a technical school, kids live on campus away from home, are supervised by trained counselors and dormitory monitors who tend to be ex-military or ex-teachers, they accrue savings for every successful month of training, get a clothing allowance and have a job placement service available to them. They are scattered across the country in varying sizes and complexity of training, giving instruction in many critical areas such as but not limited to; Carpentry- Apprenticeship etc., Nursing, Secretarial, Computers, Automotive, Heavy Duty Diesel, etc. etc., but it is a great program that needs to be aggressively funded.

More Money you say? No problem say I; There seems to be a segment of society that loves ostentation and burning copious amounts of fossil fuel... for this demographic I suggest a symbol of their opulent ostentation for all to see; A GOLDEN EMBLEM for their windshield that must be renewed each and every year, for every single mile per gallon under 30mpg that chosen vehicle averages they will have the privilege of paying $10,000. So if you want to drive a Hummer that gets 4mpg it will set you back $260,000 to register that pig. Or your Rolls or Bentley or Lamborghini or what have you...

And of course we'll stipulate the registration fees are for non-farm use only.

As the U.S. treasury starts to fill up after we have gone after offshore accounts and cheaters like romney finally start paying their fair share, maybe we can finally start working towards a living wage, which I think should be instituted along with a return to apprenticeships. So the basic problem facing small business owners who want to hire someone is how can the person being hired generate enough profit to pay his own wage and earn the business itself enough money to justify his/her employment. trading dollars just won’t work, consumerism is based on repeated sales for repeated and growing profit margins. As we begin to look a little deeper into the hiring and another often overlooked aspect is the training of a new hire... if we’re talking about a younger person, even into the mid to late 20’s, rarely 30’s, these people have never held a job before so they have no idea how to “work” at a job. There is a complete and total different set of rules and expectations than there is for socializing or attending school or University. Before I get too far into the weeds on this let’s back up and arbitrarily pick a white kid from an average home in the suburbs whose family consists of four people, one son ( our subject) a daughter, Mom & Dad, and they gross about $140,000. They are college educated, successful people with no major worries about having a nice home, nice cars, 4G phones and iPads, and good health insurance. This kid wants a really nice car and his parents have told him he has to help pay for it by getting a job. The way it works now, unless one of his parents knows somebody, he’ll get a job paying minimum wage at $7.25 an hour doing something mindless for the most part. But at first, it actually costs the business owner quite a bit of money to train the first time worker. He doesn’t even know how to stand still and pay attention without looking slovenly or dozing off. He doesn’t understand that he has to actually produce something of value to justify his employment and paycheck. I know people who have worked their whole lives and not come to full comprehension of those two facts! It is precisely these issues that make it so difficult for an employer to survive in todays market, I propose a new age apprenticeship program funded by a number of new taxes and fees placed on multi-national corporations and monopolies who use clever euphemisms to engage in monopolistic practices every day. We have recently been informed that there are vast amounts of cash being kept out circulation, to the tune of 21 to 32 trillion dollars, numbers remarkably close to what was lost in the Bush recession.... So, we would use a sliding scale to pay the employee a living wage, the employer would pay very little at first and the new hire would be subsidized by the Living Wage Apprenticeship Program ( LWAP ) while he/she is being trained on the job, obviously a 17 year old living on his/her own would need to make a lot more money than our affluent white kid. The employer would need to be compensated as well, once again on a sliding scale based on the type of business, difficulty/danger of the work etc.

Campaign finance reform; trying to get money out of politics would be like trying to get money out of prostitution.... I've been meaning to start a petition to fix the problem thusly; ALL political contributions have to be 50/50- 50 percent to whoever you donated to and 50 percent to a taxpayer lobbying group comprised of working Americans who direct the money into schools or recycling, environmental cleanup, research, job training, lobbying certain members of congress for citizen concerns etc. So let 'em donate all the billions they want because we'll get half of it to do the peoples business.

In my opinion we need to forego political demagoguery and actually come up with a workable plan to liberate the United States from the shackles of foreign energy imports. At least from countries that don't like us, because we only have access to 3% of the worlds oil reserves and we consume 25%, so in order to free ourselves we have to have a reduction in oil consumption no matter what.

Oil shale is basically a rock that has to be fracked and mined and then have the oil extracted from it, that process burns a lot of energy and oil to accomplish, giving the process an ROEI of almost one to one; you burn a gallon of oil to get a gallon of oil, making oil shale basically useless....

Natural gas could be a good transitional fuel because we could convert gasoline burning delivery fleet trucks without too much trouble, but natural gas as a fuel for the internal combustion engine yields lower horse power, shorter overall distances, and fails to lubricate and cool certain valve train components. It is because of the latter problem that gas burning engines would need an extensive conversion to be able to burn NG successfully, which could be done on ALL local garbage trucks, and delivery fleets of UPS, Fedex, Beer Trucks, etc. you name it -who don't do long haul OTR or mountainous routes.

The aforementioned conversion could be done as an added scheduled maintenance procedure, however it would still cost thousands of dollars, which is why I suggested the business owner should be able to write at least a substantial part of that expense off of their taxes at the end of the year.

Hybrids and electrics hold great promise for urban commuters and as more are sold and developed the price will come down and the need for tax breaks ( subsidies ) will decrease over time.

Volkswagon TDI diesel technology has consistently been way ahead of the curve compared to other fossil fuel burning vehicle efficiency. They can actually rival or exceed some hybrids!

I mention these because they all achieve the goal of lowering oil consumption.

We don't know all of the consequences from fracking for natural gas, so the "Haliburton Exemption" needs to go so we know what's happening and where.

I am also very intrigued and excited by the possibility that thorium fueled nuclear reactors which produce 99% less waste than uranium, could provide safe clean power for a thousand years with the fuel available inside of the United States. Thorium was initially under consideration as a fuel source for small portable reactors in long range bombers, which raises the possibility of continuing along those lines of development as well...

In addition, thorium reactors can't melt down ( utilizing Carlos Rubbia's ADS ), the little waste they do produce has a half life of 200 years, instead of 200,000, and can actually burn our current stockpiles of nuclear waste! Harry Reid should be trying to build the first thorium reactors in Nevada, thereby killing two birds with one stone.

Hydrogen powered vehicles face many of the same obstacles as NG vehicles, but with virtually no dangerous emissions it must of necessity be considered as well.

Also I think every new residential home should have both a wind turbine and a solar array installed at the time of initial construction, which will cut the cost of installation by as much as 70%. Use the power for the hot water heater which can store electricity as latent heat energy in the water itself- if they are as inefficient as some on these threads say they are. If they are more efficient then we'll all get a bonus. 

(Painting by Norman Rockwell)
This is my work, sloppy, stupid or brilliant. I would be thrilled if any of my ideas could help this great country or even better- Our Amazing Planet and it's inhabitants. Feel free to make fun of any of my ideas...


Jay - Ottawa said...

O Doktor, your diagnoses and prescriptions are the very best for my dear old Uncle Sam. Thoughtful, brave and serious. I’m glad I dragged him to your office for this consult.

(If I may have a word….)

Trouble is, he’s notoriously non-compliant when it comes to doctors’ orders. As for the rest of the family who might support him through this terrible period of depression and self-neglect – ugh! Just about all 300 million of them are zombies.

Fifty million people just voted to take Uncle Sam to the same incumbent snake oil salesman who misdiagnosed or badly prescribed or simply did nothing for the past four years. The snake oil salesman, as you know, has turned his back on everything he ever learned or prescribed. (What a laugh when BO faulted Mitt for changing his position all the time!)

Almost 50 million other people wanted to turn to Mitt, the quack I just mentioned, whose only cure is bloodletting. As it happens, the snake oil salesman also believes in the bloodletting cure; he just gives it other names and supplements it with a diet of cat food. The world knows Uncle Sam is anemic; he needs massive transfusions.

Your several recommendations for the mortgage and housing problems make sense. FDR would have had Harry Hopkins experimenting with these plans without delay. As for jokers like Tim Geithner and Arne Duncan, FDR would have siced Falla on them.

Unfortunately, the special interests of our time with their new arithmetic will prevail because the same snake oil salesman continues to decide how Uncle Sam’s household is managed. An aroused public could simply push them all aside but, today, people in general have trouble following the standard arithmetic that says 2 + 2 = 4. As always, the zombie factor: we allow that national wealth flow the wrong way, and people feel happier getting stupider.

I was most intrigued at the imaginativeness of your 50-50 split of private interest lobby money, half going to the politician being lobbied, half to the forgotten commons.

What we need most of all, Dear Doktor – and I don't mean that you should come up with an answer, but medical schools should be on it – is a leading prescription so that all the other prescriptions can succeed. Is there anywhere in the land a broad-spectrum medicine to be found for the body politic itself, a med that would rouse them sufficiently so they might flick the flies off their teeth? If we first attend to community mental health in the USA, Uncle Sam will soon perk up.

James F Traynor said...

Jesus, Doktor, are you out of your mind? Pipe down or they'll be a drone in your future, certainly commitment. For damn sure you're un-American. On the other hand, Gitmo is balmy this time of the year.

The Human Catalyst said...

@ Jay
I know a substance that can awaken people's minds. That is great for mental health. It has been used ritualistically to open up our minds for thousands of years. It played a role in our evolution into conscious beings. It grows in the forests and plains all over this world. It is also highly illegal, and from the viewpoint of the capitalist system it is illegal for very good reasons.

We don't need medical schools or pharmaceuticals, nature has provided us all the tools we need.

And before people think I am talking about marijuana, let me just say that this organism is a mushroom.

When presented with ancient problems, it is important to go to the source to find the solutions.

Denis Neville said...

Not about blame?

“Hypocritical lying republican politicians” and “their despicable lies”

What about the Obama Administration?

Obama not only failed to act decisively to help homeowners avoid foreclosure, he failed to hold anyone accountable for the financial crisis.

The best Rx was to show that there was the rule of law. The best route to economic recovery was through the rule of law, not away from it. Heads should have rolled and people sent to jail.

Instead, Obama’s emphasis was on protecting the banksters and “foaming the runways” for the banks.

And the result? We have neither justice nor economic recovery.

Valerie said...

Loved so many of your ideas, Dok! I will hope that they go viral and Main Street America awakens out of its slumber of apathy and realises that it is entitled to a fairer system of government.

Well, Done!

Anonymous said...

@ Jay - First of all thank you for wanting to discuss my ideas- my experience with people from all walks of life is that most of us want the exact same things; A basically stable life- A nice place to live, our friends to think we're cool, enough money to pay the bills and be able to go on vacation a couple of times a year, great seats to the game/show/concert, you get the idea... it's always the few who wreck it for the rest of us, the truly greedy and the truly lazy. My point being this- A living wage gives most people the incentive to go to work again, and people who go to work and make enough money are usually too busy being happy with life to be hating on each other anymore.

@ James F. Traynor- based on your comment I can only assume you live a life based on fear. Crime is at it's lowest levels ever. Life is good. America is still standing, even though we told ad- nauseum that if Mr. Obama were elected in 2008 it would be the end of America, and we were promised if he were re-elected he would most certainly show his true Muslim colors and turn us all over to the Taliban.

@ Denis-
That's why I led off my Rx with the most glaring failure of the first Obama administration! The difference between him and the new republicans ( I am a business owning, registered Republican, who grew up that way ) is that Obama isn't trying to tell us that foreclosures are a good thing for homeowners. The republicans are trying to tell us that lack of revenue equals revenue. They are trying to tell us that spending is a bad thing. In a capitalist society. That would be like telling somebody with asthma that they would get better by not breathing. The Democrats are typical politicians, rather ineffective, but not too terribly dangerous. the new republicans are treasonous. They have been intentionally damaging the American economy for political gain. That is what they are doing again.

The Doktor said...

@ Valerie;
Thank you so much! I love your use of the word slumber, that is exactly what seems to be much of humanities problem. So many of us are asleep at the wheel, more concerned with getting a good deal on a new TV than with the cost to the planet or future generations of humans. I have been reading some books by Gary Zukav, and he emphasizes that worship of external power and fear based living is outdated and that all humans need to be concerned with each others well being so that we can focus on love and compassion in order to facilitate our spiritual evolution.

Zee said...

@The Doktor--

I appreciated finally seeing your “Rx For (Almost) Everything.” I agree with most of what you have to say, but here are a few thoughts on specific topics:

I certainly agree—based on stuff to which you've referred me, as well as information that I've since uncovered—that the thorium reactor is a worthwhile energy technology to develop. But Harry Reid won't be getting any “two-fer” from the technology. Obama unilaterally canceled the Yucca Mt. Project, promising to create a “panel” and find the Ultimate Solution For Nuclear Waste. As nearly as I can tell, that panel has done squat since it was created, though I could be wrong; I haven't followed the matter closely since cancellation.

I also agree with you that oil shale is a non-starter, not only for economic reasons, but also because I would not want to see Colorado, Utah and Wyoming—my favorite vacation/motorcycling region—despoiled in the name of energy independence. Even in situ retorting of the oil shale would probably have serious impacts on the aesthetics of some of the most beautiful scenery in the United States. (Guess that puts me in the same selfish category as Teddy Kennedy—who didn't want his view from The Kennedy “Compound” onear Hyannis Port—spoiled by wind turbines, but there it is.)

I'm with you, too, on the legalization (and taxation) of marijuana, though I would take it a step further and legalize the use of all recreational drugs. Taxes gained therefrom would be used to treat addicts in medical—not prison—settings. I haven't worked through all the details—or unintended consequences—of this approach to this problem yet, however.

Since you're an automotive expert, I'll accept your judgement that diesel technology might be a partial answer to fuel consumption in this country. This is an incredibly thorny problem, because the United States were largely built around the personal automobile in the twentieth century, and our reliance on private vehicles isn't likely to change in the twenty-first century, even in the long-term. The American West truly is a land of wide-open spaces, and those of us who live out here are not readily going to surrender our freedom of movement. Such a thing will happen only when there's nothing whatsover left anymore that's can be put in our vehicle's tanks that's affordable. The notion that we in the West would tolerate confiscatory taxes on fuel in order to discourage consumption is laughable.

I'm not too sure about your solution to the housing crisis, however. I suspect that the statute of limitation has passed for most of the criminal acts committed by subprime lenders, and it's not clear to me how one would legally “go after” the private property of offenders who would probably be shielded from personal liability by the corporations that employed them. But then, I'm no lawyer. Where there's a will, there may be a way.

Finally, I think that your “infrastructure tax” is a good idea. In particular, much though I enjoy shopping on the internet, why should I not pay the 7% New Mexico sales tax, thereby undercutting local vendors? In this era of computers, it should not be difficult for online vendors to keep track of who buys what from where, and then return the taxes paid to the home state of the purchaser.

Good to have you back in this forum!