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Make Them Accountable / Uncommon Sense: Politics Simplified

Uncommon Sense: Politics Simplified

Sometimes it seems as though most of the people want to be fooled most of the time, but here’s a small attempt at bringing reason to bear against the vast amount of propaganda that keeps so many Americans voting against their own best interests. – Carolyn Kay ( caro –at-

Freedom (in-page link)

Right wingers, especially libertarians, claim to love freedom, but they do their best to deny us the freedom to use our government as an instrument to make our lives better.

Tax Money Is Your Money (in-page link)

“Tax money is your money,” right wingers claim.

Not so. If we did away with the income tax—tomorrow, say—you wouldn’t start receiving your gross pay from your employer. Your employer would reason that you’ve gotten along on your net pay, so why should he pay you more than that? You would still receive what is now your net pay.

Some of what your employer used to pay to the IRS on your behalf would likely be used to increase dividends to stockholders, and some of it would be used to reduce prices of the employer’s goods and services. But reduced prices on many goods and services wouldn’t make up for the loss of all government services. You’d have to buy all those kinds of services that you needed from private sources, and would most likely pay a lot more for them.

So don’t be fooled into believing that tax money is “your money.”

Americans Pay Too Much in Taxes (in-page link)

Americans pay less in taxes than citizens of other countries. And we get fewer government services than they do.

The Atlantic:

“In order to receive the same level of benefits as Swedes, Americans have to fork out a lot more in out-of-pocket payments, in addition to our taxes. These payments often are in the form of fees, surcharges, higher tuition, insurance premiums, co-payments and other hidden charges. Whether it’s in the form of a tax, fee or surcharge, either way it comes out of your pocket. Yet that fuller picture is not considered when calculating who pays the most.”

“I don’t want my taxes to pay for …” (in-page link)

Right wingers rant about paying for various things, like welfare for poor people (while many of them claim to be Christians, forgetting that Jesus told his followers to help the poor).

I don’t want to pay for wars, but I do. Because I don’t want to face the consequence of going to prison if I don’t pay my taxes.

I have no children, but I pay to educate the children of others. Because I believe that educated citizens are better for our country than uneducated ones.

Selfishness is Good for Society (in-page link)

The rotten notion that selfishness is good, a tenet of Ayn Rand’s objectivist movement, has done more harm and caused more unnecessary suffering in the world than any other teaching that I can think of.

And it’s not even true. I’d write a book about it, if I could ever find a publisher.

Welfare Is Bad (in-page link)

Right wingers have made “welfare” a dirty word, but it’s enshrined in the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution:

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” [Emphasis added.]

To the founders, providing for the welfare of the people was just as important as providing for the common defense.

“Give a man a fish…” (in-page link)

We’re told that helping poor people is really bad for them. “Give a man a fish, and he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he eats for a lifetime.”

But what proponents of this theory don’t talk about is what happens when someone buys up all the fishing ponds and charges more than “a man” can afford to pay, to fish in his ponds.

Liberals want to redistribute wealth (in-page link)

We already have redistribution of wealth—from the poor to the rich. It’s Robin Hood in reverse. We live in a giant kleptocracy, where the rich stack the cards and tilt all playing fields to their advantage, giving us less and less in return for our labor and our intellectual contributions to their enterprises.

The Real Job Creators (in-page link)

Poor People Create Jobs

Thanks to Roy.

Poor People Don’t Work Hard Enough (in-page link)


America’s super-rich are the real loafers

(Robert Reich) Many believe that poor people deserve to be poor because they’re lazy. As Speaker John Boehner has said, the poor have a notion that “I really don’t have to work. I don’t really want to do this. I think I’d rather just sit around.”

In reality, a large and growing share of the nation’s poor work full time — sometimes sixty or more hours a week – yet still don’t earn enough to lift themselves and their families out of poverty.

It’s also commonly believed, especially among Republicans, that the rich deserve their wealth because they work harder than others.

In reality, a large and growing portion of the super-rich have never broken a sweat. Their wealth has been handed to them.

The rise of these two groups — the working poor and non-working rich – is relatively new. Both are challenging the core American assumptions that people are paid what they’re worth, and work is justly rewarded.

And here’s the worst part about refusing to acknowledge the difficulties facing poor people:

Brain development in children could be affected by poverty, study shows

(The Guardian) Brain scans of children and young adults have revealed that specific brain regions tend to be smaller in those from poorer backgrounds than those born into wealthier families.

The effects were most striking among the poorest families who took part in the study, where even modest changes in wages could have a significant impact on the structure of the children’s brains.

The brain regions involved are crucial for the development of language, memory and reasoning skills, making them central to a child’s potential to thrive at school and gain a good education.

Scientists hope that the findings will help to drive fresh interventions to boost brain growth in children who need it most. They could include targeted activities at school and at home; easier access to further education, which often leads to higher incomes; or simply more generous benefits for the poorest families.

Minimum Wage (in-page link)

We have three choices when it comes to wages and benefits.

1. We can force businesses to pay a living wage with decent benefits, and pay for them in the prices of the goods and services produced.

2. We can, as we do now, allow businesses to pay the least they can get away with and then make up the difference to the underpaid with our tax money, effectively subsidizing those businesses.

3. We can step over the dead bodies in the streets.

That’s it. There are no other choices. So we pay, one way or another. I vote for the first option, because it provides more dignity for low-wage workers and stops the race to the bottom with wages. Besides, it assigns the costs to those who buy the goods and services affected, rather than burdening all taxpayers, including the ones who don’t buy those goods and services.

Democracy Will Lead To Theft of the Public Treasury (in-page link)

Right wingers like to spout what they think is a quote from Alexis de Toqueville:

“A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the majority discovers it can vote itself largess out of the public treasury. After that, the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits with the result the democracy collapses because of the loose fiscal policy ensuing, always to be followed by a dictatorship, then a monarchy.”

According to Wikiquote, it is actually “a variant expression of a sentiment which is often attributed to Tocqueville or Alexander Fraser Tytler, but the earliest known occurrence is as an unsourced attribution to Tytler in ‘This is the Hard Core of Freedom’ by Elmer T. Peterson in The Daily Oklahoman (9 December 1951).”

No matter who said it, the quote is false. The dire consequences predicted have never happened, not in one democracy, ever.

What has happened, though, and time after time, is that unscrupulous people have taken over democratic governments and turned them into oligarchies, where the few take most of the power and money to themselves. That is exactly what has happened in the United States.

Our country will continue to be owned by the elite few until we get fed up with it and force a change.

Federal Deficit/Debt (in-page link)

No, a government’s budget isn’t like a family’s budget.

A family can’t compel additions to its income, but a government can—via taxation.

We could balance the national budget in an instant, and pay off the debt within a few years, if politicians had the will to raise taxes to cover the bills they incur on our behalf.

And oh, by the way, recent Democratic presidents have reduced the deficit, while recent Republican presidents have increased it.

By President Budget Deficits

Thanks to Simon Rosenberg

Big Spenders (in-page link)

Republicans call Democrats “tax and spend liberals.” But what they showed us during the George W. Bush years, when they had control of both houses of Congress and the White House for much of the eight years, is that they are “cut taxes and spend anyway corporatists.”

Money Is Speech (in-page link)

If money is speech, then does a millionaire have a million times more speech than someone who has only a dollar?

What happened to one man, one vote?

Political Correctness (in-page link)

Right wingers like to claim that liberals force them not to say certain things.

But today’s right wingers try to force others

To say the nastiest things possible about people the right wingers don’t like, and

Not to say anything unflattering, even if truthful, about people they like.

“Opposing ‘political correctness’ has become a carte blanche excuse for being deliberate[ly] offensive, abusive, or even bigoted; it’s precisely the kind of unreasoning categorical ‘framing’ that critics of ‘political correctness’ complain about.” – Ed Kilgore, Political Animal, Washington Monthly

Bubbles and Recessions (in-page link)

We could stop booms and busts, or at least minimize them, if we taxed businesses more in good economic times and lowered those taxes during economic drawbacks.

The extra taxes from the good times could be used to pay unemployment benefits and provide training and re-employment efforts for those laid off during bad times.

Alternatively, or in addition, we could require businesses to save a surplus during good times to be used to weather the bad times.

Corporations Are People (in-page link)

No, they’re not. Corporations are legal constructs that only exist because we the people allow them to. They are not endowed with unalienable rights by any Creator.

We real persons do have the right—and the ability, should we choose to use it—to limit corporate activities however we like.

If we wanted to, we could force corporate charters to require them to be socially responsible in the pursuit of profits for their shareholders.

We can refuse to allow them to internalize all profits while externalizing the social costs of doing business. Companies that pollute could be forced to clean up their own mess. Companies could be forced to pay a living wage to employees, rather than increase their profits by having employees rely on taxpayers to make up for what the company refuses to pay them.

The bottom line is that we can be in charge, rather than the corporate bosses, if we want to be.

Regulation of Businesses Is Always Bad (in-page link)

Right wingers moan and complain about all regulation of businesses. They claim that a company won’t stay in business very long if its products hurt or kill people.

But why should we only catch them and punish them AFTER the fact? What if you or one of your relatives were the one to be permanently disabled or killed by a product? Wouldn’t you have preferred that someone stopped it from happening?

It’s especially galling that these same right wingers want to stop people who have been hurt or killed by a product being able to obtain redress through the courts.

These people want to give every advantage to business owners, even the ones who will do anything to maximize profits, and nothing at all to the victims of the unscrupulous.

From the Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman, on 9/25/15,

Item: The C.E.O. of Volkswagen has resigned after revelations that his company committed fraud on an epic scale, installing software on its diesel cars that detected when their emissions were being tested, and produced deceptively low results.

Item: The former president of a peanut company has been sentenced to 28 years in prison for knowingly shipping tainted products that later killed nine people and sickened 700.

Item: Rights to a drug used to treat parasitic infections were acquired by Turing Pharmaceuticals, which specializes not in developing new drugs but in buying existing drugs and jacking up their prices. In this case, the price went from $13.50 a tablet to $750…

[A]n important part of America’s political class has declared war on even the most obviously necessary regulations. Too many important players now argue, in effect, that business can do no wrong and that government has no role to play in limiting misbehavior.

Social Security is a Ponzi Scheme (in-page link)

No, it’s a pay-as-you-go system:

Ponzi Schemes vs. Social Security, SSA, January 2009: In contrast to a Ponzi scheme, dependent upon an unsustainable progression, a common financial arrangement is the so-called “pay-as-you-go” system. Some private pension systems, as well as Social Security, have used this design. A pay-as-you-go system can be visualized as a pipeline, with money from current contributors coming in the front end and money to current beneficiaries paid out the back end.

The only way benefits won’t be available to future generations is if Americans stop having children.

Social Security Recipients Are Bums Taking Advantage of an Entitlement (in-page link)

Social Security may have been a entitlement for the first recipients. They had never paid into the system and yet received benefits. However, those payouts were of benefit to following generations. The later generations didn’t have to pay as much to support their parents and grandparents as they would have had to pay had Social Security not been put in place.

Today’s workers pay for today’s retirees, except in the case of the Baby Boomers and those of us a bit older than they. Starting in 1984, under Republican Ronald Reagan, we have paid more into the fund than was needed for the retirees of the time, in essence PRE-PAYING OUR RETIREMENT.

That the people hired to represent us considered that excess money theirs to spend on expensive wars and tax cuts for the rich doesn’t change this fact.

Don’t let them come crying to us in the next few years, telling us they can’t pay us what we’re due.

Social Security Doesn’t Pay an Adequate Return (in-page link)

It doesn’t provide a “return” at all. It’s an insurance program, not an investment program.

But if you insist on calculating the payout as a “return” to an individual based on his or her contributions, then you have to include all the money you didn’t have to shell out for your parents and grandparents when they retired, for other members of the family who were minors when a contributing parent died, and for any who became disabled and received a payout.

Stopping a Bad Guy with a Gun (in-page link)

Wayne LaPierre, National Rifle Association, quoted by NPR: “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun, is a good guy with a gun.”

Are we children in the schoolyard?

Bad Kid with a Rock

Thanks to John Stone


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