Economics

One Way to Save Economy According to GOP Deep Thinkers: Have More Kids!

Oh, this is rich. In a manifesto entitled Room to Grow: Conservative Reforms for a Limited Government and a Thriving Middle Class published by the YG Network, outline a justification and means towards making cuts to Social Security and Medicare.

First of all, it’s interesting to note who the YG network is. This stands for the “Young Guns” of the GOP and consisting of Congressmen Paul Ryan, Kevin McCarthy and Eric Cantor. The latter having just been primaried out of his seat. The editors and writers include some slightly longer in the tooth members of conservative think tanks such as the Manhattan Institute, as well as editors and writers for the National Review and National Affairs. Seriously thinkers and, one would assume, educated in economic policies.

Or not.

There is not a lot new offered up. Tax cuts, tax credits for health care and education, deregulation, vouchers and, naturally, cuts to social supports as well as this not so new idea to help the long-term unemployed: temporarily *reduce* the minimum wage.

OK, so you’ve heard all that before and are still waiting to see those proposals or policies actually WORK as intended. Well, maybe they DO work as intended since those policies historically have only created a LARGER gap between the haves and have nots and we all know that politicians, especially conservatives, work primarily for the haves.

However, even if you disagree with liberals like me and truly believe those policies WILL work to make ALL citizen’s lives better…..I find it hard to believe that you can support this one:

In support of a specific set of social insurance cuts, the authors write:

Social Security and Medicare have ‘crowded out’ the traditional incentive to raise children as a protection against poverty in old age. Today, most workers can reasonably foresee getting enough support from the public retirement system to stay out of poverty when they get older, making it less likely that they will have to call on direct aid – either in cash or in kind – from their own children

Now, I may be viewing this all wrong, but doesn’t that basically state that if only folks would have more kids, then we could stop relying so much on public retirement support? Because then those kids (who magically must be doing quite well themselves in this economy somehow?) would be able to house and support their retired family members, right? Given that the average Social Security check is only $14,000/year it sure seems like adult children can handle replacing that! Forget that most young adults are currently in a downward mobility spiral – or the cost of raising kids and getting them through college (because they would HAVE to go to college to earn enough in their lifetimes to support multiple generations you know!) – just HAVE MORE KIDS!

Can you see the eye-roll I am giving to this suggestion?

Can you see why it is really difficult to take this entire manifesto seriously when *that* is one of their deeply thought out arguments?

I mean, aren’t conservatives supposed to stay out of our personal lives?

Oh, right…they want to remove a woman’s right to choose and they sure as heck don’t want us to safely and easily obtain the health care and birth control that we want so that we can have the same opportunities for a career and upward mobility without relying on a man. It’s like they want us to go back to being barefoot and pregnant and….hey now! FINALLY, it ALL MAKES SENSE! MORE BABIES!

Sigh…..I’d suggest those Young Guns go back to drawing board.

 

Hat tip to the American Prospect’s Robert Kuttner (link to his online articles here) There will be a write up on this manifesto by him in the next issue (July/Aug) of the print version of the magazine. Attendees at NN14 got a copy in our swag bags ūüôā

Government jobs: Isn’t the second word more important than the first?

In the gaffe fest that was Friday between Mitt Romney and President Obama, there was one thing that stood out to me – in this lackluster, sort of, maybe, it might be recovery of the economy – isn’t the word JOBS still the most important?

Seems to me that Speaker John Boehner has an almost Tourettes like tendency to cite Jobs Jobs Jobs! as the #1 focus of his congressional GOP members (it’s not, they have taken more votes impacting women’s access to affordable healthcare and attempts to further restrict access to abortion facilities, but I digress..like they do).

The latest buzzword though, is private sector for public sector. The private business job market vs the government job market. Again, in my limited ability to understand such things, I focus on that J-word.

Obama’s gaffe was in stating, correctly, that the private sector is doing fine – WHEN COMPARED TO THE PUBLIC SECTOR – in new job creation. He said it poorly of course but that was the larger point.

Romney’s gaffe – which got much less attention – was in stating that Obama wanted more teachers, firefighters & police and that with the voters of Wisconsin keeping Scott Walker in office earlier in the week, they had sent a message to the President that the American People don’t WANT that! They don’t want to GROW government (even if it means new jobs? Yeah, that)

And all I could think was – but aren’t teachers American People? Aren’t firefighters American People? Aren’t police officers American People?

What, exactly, do you expect them to do with themselves Mr Romney? Those are very specialized fields. Teachers get specific degrees in college and then go through internships and credentialing to become – well, teachers! If the public sector (government) doesn’t give them jobs, who will?

What about all the training that firefighters go through? Graduates of the police academy? What are they supposed to do if there are no jobs? Or, if local governments continue to cut more and more jobs as you seem to think is totally OK?

Those are not minimum wage salaries they lose you know. When they go on unemployment and state funded food aid to feed their families it is more because it’s a percentage of a much higher salary. No, they aren’t in the 1% but they also aren’t the working poor. That’s a HUGE loss of wages to the economy. They have to tighten everything up and not spend anything non essential.

And all that tuition they spent? Useless is it? That training is wasted? Because who will hire them now? They have go through some kind of new skillset?

Meanwhile who is teaching our kids? How’s that classroom size problem working out? Oh, right, you think that’s all overrated! Of course you do. Your kids never spent a day in public school so they didn’t know what it was like to be a room of 30+ second graders with one stressed out teacher. Whose job you don’t value.

If one of your houses catches fire, fine! You’ve got more! Ok, that was flippant but really? We know you are planning on making La Jolla one of your home towns in the near future. One of your sons already lives out here. Have you been here when wildfire season hits? Do you know how much this county depends on firefighters and air tankers to save lives and property?

Do you know how much ANY community would rather have MORE police than LESS? Yeah, it’s annoying when they pull you over but damn it was nice to know they were around a couple of years ago when there was a prowler attacking women as they pulled into their garages in the evening. They caught him too – running away after being literally caught in the act thanks to their stepped up patrols.

My point is – I don’t care WHO is paying for those teachers, firefighters and police – they are there for the benefit of the public. The Public Good. That’s not socialism – it’s basic government services that we’ve NEVER seen threatened at this level before. And guess what? I would rather see the government pay them wages than support them through welfare, unemployment and medicaid. Because then THEY keep on spending their money at the same level and THAT translates to more demand for PRIVATE enterprise goods and services.

And those people IN those dreaded government jobs are¬†just¬†that – people. Like you and me. With jobs that pay their bills and feed their families. I don’t care WHO creates the jobs Mr Romney – I just want to see more. And if private industry is sitting on their hands and scared – fine – let the government do what it is supposed to do and has ALWAYS done in economic downturns – let it create jobs!

Under every other recession – with GOP Presidents – the federal government stimulated the job market by opening up public works funds and bailing out the states to keep teachers, firefighters and policemen employed. And it WORKED! And each time the resulting boost in tax revenue to thanks to the increase in jobs and then the increase in overall economic production refilled the federal funds.

WHY IS THIS SO HARD?

Jobs.

Jobs.

Jobs.

Just put people back to work.

 

I’m not an Economist, but this is just the world as I have seen it.

I’ve never been able to wrap my brain around the theory of Trickle Down economics. Ok, that’s not entirely true. I get the THEORY part. I can see why someone thought it would work ON PAPER. But given that it rose to prominence as I was in high school and that I am 47 years old and in that entirety of my adult existence I have YET to see solid evidence IN MY LIFE of it actually working, I gotta declare it Just a Fantasy.

I mean – these are just my own opinions as formed by the acts of LIFE going on around me.

With the current¬†global¬†economic¬†crisis you hear all of these calls for austerity in¬†government¬†spending, and deep concern that we not tax and regulate the Job Creators who are apparently the only people who have the power to create jobs and who are apparently so sensitive to things that may or may not happen that they will just sit in a corner and hold their breaths until they get their way. You know – because they have all this *¬†uncertainty* so they aren’t going to invest their money into their business & expand or hire more people until everything is *perfect*.

HUH?

Really? So…a small business person – say, like people I know who own a frozen yogurt shop or the personal trainer or even the guy who runs a janitorial service – you are saying that even IF they all have an increase in customers to the point where servicing them on their own would mean a 24/7 commitment – that THOSE Job Creators still will refuse to hire additional help because of taxes or regulations? Really? They would turn down the chance for more income/customers? I dunno – none of those people who I know personally are thinking like that.

You know what stops them from hiring?

A LACK of customers. A LACK of that little thing called DEMAND for their products/services. Because consumers (like me) have had to enact *austerity* measures in order to keep feeding our families. Luxuries had to go, we are shopping around much more critically for the lowest possible prices and traveling out of our area less to shop thanks to gas prices and taking less vacations and certainly not making ANY larger purchases if we can avoid them. That causes the mom and pop businesses to close down and that trickles UP to the janitorial guy who has less offices and shops to clean.  Which means they are ordering less supplies and so on and so on UP the economic ladder.

So now there is a vicious cycle going on. And jobs start to bleed out more and more because no one is stepping in to stop it. Companies large & small are moved by one thing only – the bottom line – and they are not selling enough, they cut back. There is only one entity that can attempt to stimulate the economy from the bottom – and that’s the government.

Does it mean going in to debt for a longer term than we would like? Yes, it does, but the government is the only thing big enough to take on that risk.

Roads can always be built. Buildings always need retrofitting. Infrastructure is ALWAYS there to be improved and expanded. As long as the population grows we need more of it. More police/firefighters/teachers/ etc. And as the government hires people, they have more money to spend. They buy more frozen yogurt. They re-join their fitness center to work that yogurt off. Those business now expand to meet this increased demand and the janitorial company gets new service calls and regular clients. Now they need more supplies and more janitors and so on and so on and so on UP the economic chain.

Now with those business and people working more again, more taxes are paid by both the businesses and the individuals. Less people need unemployment benefits and food stamps. Which helps to pay down the debt the government had to incur in order to stimulate the economy.

Is my theory and life experience too simplified? Yep – but so is trickle down. And in 27 years of adulthood I have not once seen trickle down work. OK – wait – not true – there was that one time when a friend of mine inherited money from a dead relative which changed their lives for the better and therefore their children’s lives as well. But – I wouldn’t call that a particularly sound economic theory to follow.

I mean – we can’t all be Mitt Romney ¬†– even though he seems to think we all *should* be ūüôā

It turns out that I AM the 99%

Ok, so by definition I knew I was in the 99% economically. That’s pretty obvious. But, I didn’t necessarily identify with the recent Occupy Wall Street movements which have spread out across the country. Yes, I was aware there WERE Occupations and I knew there was one that started up this weekend in San Diego. Heck, I even gave directions to two young demonstrators on Saturday afternoon while I was downtown with my mom’s group for a lovely reunion weekend. But – since I was on a bit of a local vacation – I wasn’t really paying close attention. I knew they were trying¬†desperately¬†to GET media attention. I knew that with their own determination and staying power that cameras were finally being shined on them. I knew that folks on the left and right were sort of scoffing at them for not really being FOR anything. For just seeming to be gathering because they could, with no real plan or purpose. But then a certain theme started to come out about being in the “99%”. In other words, NOT being in the top 1% of the wealthy who control so much of our economy. The feeling being that those top 1% have all the power. They control Wall Street (obviously), they control the Government through lobbying and contributions, and they are not the ones who truly suffer and pay when they screw up. Those bank CEO’s who caused the financial collapse? Either all still working, or, stepped down but with ridiculously huge payouts. No one went to jail for all of that fraud and corruption. When the government has tried to step in and do anything OTHER than completely bailing them out – they resist and support politicians who advocate rolling regulations BACK – not adding more or even (heaven forbid) actually enforcing the existing ones.

Anyhow – in all that – while I got it as far as what they were doing, it hadn’t grabbed me. I couldn’t identify with it entirely. On a basic level I got it. But, in my mind, if you were not pushing for people to register to vote and TO vote then I didn’t quite get the point.

Then, this week, I started to see some push back against the “We are the 99%” mantra. The one I saw the most was this one:

This one went all around Facebook with the “Heck yeah! Go Personal Responsibility!” cheer bubbling up around it. Oh, the condescension. Oh, the self righteousness. Oh, the complete and utter lack of empathy.

There was another one from a former soldier working multiple jobs and 60-70 hours a week with a similar sentiment of personal responsibility and being disdainful of anyone relying on assistance and making bad decisions. He calls himself the 53% guy (from the notion that 53% of people actually end up paying income taxes)

Is there truth there? Sure. At it’s root there is. I absorbed what one friend said about ignoring the condescension and apparent cold hearted tones and just focusing on the words.

And they are still enormously flawed, short sighted and absolutely NOT how I would want to be.

I am a HUGE supporter of Personal Responsibility. I parent my kids mostly trying to use the Logical Consequences method of discipline. I believe all individuals, corporations/businesses and government officials should practice Personal Responsibility.

I happen to think that it is ONLY us, the individuals, who are being held to that standard.

I also happen to KNOW, from my own life, that having a bootstrap is beneficial to all. This blog post gives the perfect of example of how a government support system providing that temporary bootstrap paid off long term:

Brother, Can you Spare a Bootstrap?

I know that I certainly appreciated the bootstrap that was the WIC program when my first son was born and I was barely making minimum wage at my job.

And beyond that I kept thinking “wait, we are supposed to work multiple jobs and 70-80 hours a week with no vacations to JUST SCRAPE BY?” Are you nuts? Those types of hard core workers were supposed to be the ones who became CEO’s and started making the big money. They are supposed to have medical insurance and crazy huge retirement funds. What happened to the American Dream? Why is it completely OK for most of us to just be happy to have a job? Why is it OK that our wages have essentially been frozen? Why is it OK that those stagnant wages are having to be stretched further and further as the prices of basic necessities sky rocket?

Why is it OK to just yell at a protester “Get a damn job!” when I think just about everyone on the planet knows that jobs are scarce? Because I know that every single individual who I know who has lost their job in the last 2 years would damn well LOVE to have a job. Or two. Or three. Really. They would LOVE IT.

And what about people like this woman:

Seems like she has worked hard and done all the “right” things. After all, there is a real human being performing the duties of the necessary jobs that don’t pay enough no matter how hard you work to get you up into that 1%. People who still love what they do, do it with a smile and, I would guess in this woman’s case, probably served as a surrogate therapist while you sat in her chair getting your hair done. Why is it OK that she couldn’t afford medical insurance? Why is it OK in this country whether we are economically up or down, for so many people to go bankrupt and lose their homes and assets in order to pay medical bills when the unexpected happens? Why is healthcare – the REAL preservation of life – NOT a basic human RIGHT? Why is the right to live, not really a right but something reserved only for those who can afford it?

Yeah, as you can see, the reactions AGAINST the 99% has kind of got me on a bit of a rant and roll. I am always incensed when I see those “Get a damn job!” and “Get off your ass and work!” and “My taxpayer dollars shouldn’t help a lazy ass like you!” comments. Charming.

But I must say that I am feeling rather inspired by the push back that the 99% is giving to the nay sayers. I often feel like my own rantings about Personal Responsibility applying to everyone and wishing that I lived in a country that truly CARED about each other vs being so judgmental and dismissive are dust in the wind.

Not right now though. Now, there are people out there, Occupying places. Getting the message out about being the 99% and what that really MEANS. Saying the things I’ve been saying as push back against Republicans for the past 10 years. So yes, here I am. I have a good job. A pretty secure one. With great benefits. Decent pay. I own my car out right. I own a house with a mortgage that is probably a bit more than I should have, but I no longer have a cut rate loan and the house isn’t under water in value. I’ve got a small retirement fund started. I’m LUCKY. But….I have very little savings. I’ve never been able to start a college fund for the boys. I had to walk away from some large credit card balances and I am learning to live on cash alone as I slowly pay those off. My plan is to be debt free by the time I am 50 but every time something happens with my kids, or my car, or my house…well…there you go. LUCKILY nothing major has happened. So far, I’ve got this precarious situation under my control. Have I made some poor decisions in the adult portion of my 46 years? Sure. Should those¬†decisions have set me back? Probably. But how far, and for how long? For instance, if I didn’t have to pay so much out of pocket for medical insurance for me and the boys would I have a college fund? Little things. Some you can control, some you cannot. But they have all served to put me where I am today.

Right smack in the middle of the 99%.

How is this good for the country?

 

Read the full TPM article here.

I’m NOT an economist and I DON’T play one on TV, but I am truly at a loss to figure out the strategy here.

Practically speaking it makes no sense. Politicians have been saying ad nauseum during this down turn that they need to run DC like people run their household budgets. Of course, they interpret that to mean slash all spending.¬†Particularly¬†spending on programs THEY don’t like. Sure, with my income not rising as fast as expenses, I have made some cuts. But not to any ESSENTIAL items. And heck, some things I cannot control (my mortgage is what it is as are property taxes…I cannot do anything to lower those payments). And no matter how much I fuss about it, we do have to eat! But I also look for ways to ADD income – do people’s taxes, look for cash back deals when I do have to shop, explore ways to have my writing earn money, etc etc.

So, fine, obviously I disagree with the GOP mantra of CUT CUT CUT and “We don’t have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem!” and their complete unwillingness to compromise on that point.

But this? This is taking it a truly cold hearted step further isn’t it?

So what Cantor is saying is that, should I have an emergency, I can’t deal with it without first figuring out what further cost cuts I can make to pay for it? I thought credit cards were supposed to be FOR emergencies? So that you can get through the problem as it happens and then slowly pay it off over time if needed, but the¬†important¬†thing is, you get back to good health, or your car gets repaired or your water heater gets replaced or…etc etc, right? Isn’t that how most households have to live since savings are most likely depleted already?

The thing is, it’s not like the Federal Government doesn’t HAVE money. They do. Do they need to tighten their belts over the long haul to reduce the National Debt? Of course! But the point OF debt is that it typically needed to finance emergencies. Did DC misuse money over the last decade? YES! Cantor needs to look in the mirror on that one and own up to voting for many things (wars, prescription drug plans, tax cuts during war) which increased our debt. He needs to pledge not to support THOSE kind of ¬†debt increasing initiatives.

But providing help to clean up and rebuild areas damaged by the hurricane? You are going to hold THAT hostage to more spending cuts first? Ludicrous.

I may be absurdly naive about the mindset of the economically conservative voter, but does that kind of talk REALLY appeal to them? Do they not see how uncaring and NOT compassionate that is?

Bait and switch

I have a question for GOP voters who helped the wave of red take over the state legislatures and the House of Representatives in DC – why did you vote for Republicans in November?

According to ALL media reports last summer & leading up to the election, the topic on EVERYONE’s mind was the economy. The soon to be Speaker John Boehner loved to get in front of the camera and say “jobs, jobs jobs!” Every new employment report prompted him to find a microphone and accuse the President and Democrats of preventing the economy from recovering (let’s not quibble about how it was his party in charge when the economy tanked in the first place) with their “Tax & spend & regulations” that destroyed private sector expansion & discouraged employers from hiring. Yes, the usual GOP economic trickle down theory in full force. Fine, that’s their mantra. They live & die by it. Hey are the party of Big Business & Small Government. This is not new.

However, now that we are five months into the voters giving them yet another chance to right the ship, what has happened? Well they have successfully convinced Obama to extend the high income tax cuts (something he did not want to do). They also have pushed for and received many spending cuts in relation to appropriations budgets for this year and are pushing hard for drastic spending cuts for next fiscal year. Somehow though, that hasn’t yet boosted job creation in the private sector. Today’s job report was disappointing even though it did reflect a net gain in jobs, it was much lower than hoped and unemployment went up again to 9.1%

And again Boehner rushed out to blame Obama.

Well, Mr Speaker, I think you better start looking in mirror, right?

What exactly have YOU and YOUR party done to create even one job?

But hey, it isn’t all bad. I actually understand why there hasn’t been any job creation yet. Because you guys have been VERY successful on another issue that was SO CRITICAL to voters in November: abortion!

A month ago (meaning these stats are low compared to today most likely) there were 919 abortion related laws under debate across 49 states and Congress. 919!!  Thirty three were enacted into law in the month of April alone.

(Keep Mother Jones bookmarked for their excellent ongoing coverage on this anti-abortion trend)

For state by state breakdown of the laws proposed, bookmark the Guttmacher Institute site – excellent resource. Here is a key paragraph:

“As a whole, the proposals introduced this year are more hostile to abortion rights than in the past: 56% of the bills introduced so far this year seek to restrict abortion access, compared with 38% last year. Three topics‚ÄĒinsurance coverage of abortion, restriction of abortion after a specific point in gestation and ultrasound requirements‚ÄĒare topping the agenda in several states. At the same time, legislators are proposing little in the way of proactive initiatives aimed at expanding access to reproductive health ‚Äďrelated services; this stands in sharp contrast to recent years when a range of initiatives to promote comprehensive sex education, permit expedited STI treatment for patients‚Äô partners and ensure insurance coverage of contraception were adopted. For the moment, at least, supporters of reproductive health and rights are almost uniformly playing defense at the state level.”

That’s right – NO measure to expand access to family planning or birth control – all the focus in fact is on taking that away along WITH restricting abortion as much as is legally possible.

I already posted a rant about the attack on Planned Parenthood attempted by Congress. That one failed at the Federal level, but the states are continuing the push.

I wont, in this post anyway, go into how this is a blatant attack on women’s rights. How the growing population of poor families, often in households with just one (typically) female parent is having their access to low cost or free medical care removed under the guise of protecting life. How even something as basic as the definition of rape is again being challenged to somehow justify forcing a woman to keep a rapists baby. Because, hey, rape is inevitable, right? Just buy abortion insurance like you would carry a spare tire in case of a flat!¬† Yeah, that story is so awful that I would normally write off that douchebag as a fringe anomaly, but unfortunately while he is extreme – he is no longer THAT extreme! And he better apologize. And lose his job.

But, I digress…..

The point is, dear GOP voters (I know, according to my reader poll, none visit here, but indulge me) – is this what you voted for? Did you vote for Republicans hoping they would control spending and the debt & magically create jobs without tax increases or increased spending? Or, did you just buy into their Jobs Jobs Jobs mantra and not care HOW they did it, just so long as they did it? You wanted the debt/deficits reduced and the economy stimulated, right? THAT was your main reason for going to the polls in November. As is almost always the case, you were voting with your wallets right?

So tell me – do you see what is happening here? Do you see that you fell for the old bait and switch?

Pardon the crude imagery here, but you do realize that you voted with the bulge in the back of your pants, but that the GOP is legislating with the bulge in the FRONT, right?

White House White Board | The White House

Because you know I love these graphs and because you know I was chirping at the White House to start using them – and they did! LOVE the White House White Board videos.

Vodpod videos no longer available.