We the People

There’s a terrific new solo LP out by Pat Metheny called What’s It All About. Even though the music is not political, it got me thinking about the purpose of government and the latest bickering between Congress and the President. Here’s what the preamble to the U.S. Constitution has to say:

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense,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.”

We the people. Who are the people, anyway?  Voters?  If that’s the case, given historical voting patterns, congress represents only about 100,000 people.  That’s a small USA.  So when Congress ignores the will of the people as expressed in polls, they must be thinking that people who respond to polls don’t vote, or don’t live in their congressional district.  And that may be true, but it is a risky strategy that may backfire.

Are all Republicans against raising the debt ceiling and raising taxes on the wealthiest?  Do all Republicans believe that big business should pay no taxes at all and even receive subsidies to ensure maximum untaxed profits?  Do all Republicans believe that billionaires are the only job creators?  I believe the answer is no.  I believe Americans regardless of party affiliation are far more moderate than the Republican leadership would have us believe.  And I think the 2012 election will be proof of that.

Promote the general welfare. This does not mean corporate welfare. It means the well-being of its people. Human rights: health care, education, housing, nutrition, clean air, consumer protection, police, fire, the arts and employment.  Without these basic elements in place and protected, there can be no perfect union, no justice or domestic tranquility.

In order to preserve these basic government functions, it is the responsibility of Congress to levy taxes.  Congress must bear the blame for turning a government surplus when Clinton left office into a massive debt crisis when Obama took office. It was the Bush tax cuts combined with two senseless wars and the systematic refusal to regulate financial markets or anything for that matter that got us into this mess.  That and an unpaid for prescription medicare plan for seniors.  For those who say Obama is making the mess worse, consider that the Republican leadership to date has refused to negotiate on the question of revenue enhancements because so many have taken a silly ideological pledge not to raise taxes.  They have been highjacked by the extreme right who would like nothing better than to see the country go into more of a downward spiral so that they can blame the President and try to grow their numbers.  I think the voters won’t fall for this and will put the blame where it rightly belongs.

If Congress can’t reach a compromise on the debt ceiling, their salaries should be frozen until they come up with a plan to ensure the country does not default on its financial obligations.  Notwithstanding the outcome of the negotiations, we should do the following:  Raise taxes.  Close corporate tax loopholes.  For example, tax American the overseas profits of American based companies.   Reform and simplify the tax code; it’s way too complicated and nuanced.   Pull out of Iraq and Afghanistan.  Cut defense spending significantly.  For troops who can’t find civilian employment, create a Build For America program where troops and civilians work on  domestic infrastructure projects.  And do we still need the U.S. Postal Service?  I know it employees a half a million Americans, but it runs a big deficit and this may continue as gas prices stay just below $3 a gallon.  With e-mail, on-line shopping and social media, fewer people send bills, letters and packages by USPS anymore.  And those postal trucks are not the most fuel efficient vehicles on the road.  I would imagine that USPS workers could find employment with Federal Express or UPS, or else be redeployed on local infrastructure projects.

Stop the bickering and put the We back in People.

 

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5 Responses

  1. You have raised some very good points and have some good ideas in your blog.

    I believe America needs to default on the debt; America is bankrupt and will never be in a position to repay her debt to foreign governments and raising the debt ceiling and printing more money is not a cure. If you do not have the money to spend then printing, more of what you lack only increases the debt and devalues the dollar as the supply exceeds the demand.

    China is divesting all its US dollar liquidity, China understands the USA is bankrupt and the dollar is living on borrowed time as the world’s most accepted currency. As one of the largest exporting countries in the world, China is changing direction and will soon start to become a net importer rather than exporting nation.

    China has made it very clear that her citizens will have the same luxuries America now enjoys and trading with China will require all countries to purchase the Chinese yuan. What this means for America and you, if you want to do business with China in the future you need to purchase their money and if China considers the dollar worthless then what you currently purchase from China now at a reduced rate of exchange will soon become out of reach for many Americans.

    If the true cost of borrowing were ever imposed on America, interest of the national debt would be at 30%, see Greece the EU and Africa for further examples of austerity measures imposed on nations with out of control debt.

    America needs to default on her debt and the world needs to have a reset on financial markets. America needs to become a manufacturing nation once again and back her currency with tangible assets such as gold or the entire strength of the economy.

    The good times are over.

  2. You raise some interesting points too, but I don’t believe that America will default on its debts. Nor do I believe America is bankrupt. With a combination of revenue enhancements, tax reform, and serious spending cuts, we can balance the budget in due course. The U.S. economy is still weak, but showing signs of recovery. Corporations are once again making record profits. Contrary to the rhetoric on the right, they are not job creators. They are profits makers. Let’s call a spade a spade. If they were job creators, where are all the jobs? The restoration of the Bush tax breaks has done nothing to create jobs, nor has Congress passed a jobs bill since. Jobs. Jobs. Jobs. Right, they seem more concerned with political posturing and matters of ideological purity than anything else. I don’t think the scenario you lay out as regards China will come to pass once the U.S. economy gets back on track…and it will get back on track as soon as the voters make it clear that enough is enough. Hopefully, in the coming few years, rather than the good times are over, we can go back to the saying “happy days are here again”.

  3. Thanks for the reply,

    Corporate profits are indeed up from overseas operations exported from the USA starting in the 1970s and continue today, Americans are unemployed in record numbers and the government does not report the true numbers of the disenfranchised.

    Two dollars out of every ten dollars the United States spends, is directed towards benefit programs assisting the newly reported dislocated. Forty eight million Americans are currently receiving food stamps and another twenty eight million unemployed are under reported by the government, as they no longer qualify for benefits and are therefore removed from the statistical formulas calculated to arrive at the rosy picture called the recovery.

    Forty-two cents of every dollar is borrowed from foreign countries and private banks to finance the American government, additionally, monies spent on DHS and the military consume 35% of the total budget and the unreported trillion dollars funding black operations each year.

    If America has, any chance of resembling the country she once was, local and regional economies, you our friends and me need to invest in our communities and businesses and return manufacturing and the spin-off industries supporting it back to the American workers.

    The serviceable debt load of 14 trillion dollars based on the shrinking economy of three trillion dollars gross means the country cannot afford to pay its debt and service the needs of the people without drastic and deep austerity programs. The future is not rosy as long as 2.5 trillion dollars more is spent annually than revenue received by the government.

    Corporations have never paid their fair share in taxes and many have moved off shore to avoid paying local and state taxes, high wages and less regulatory interference from government. The issues affecting the economy of the United States are twofold, self-inflicted through negligent government oversight and corporations determined to profit at any cost.

    China is the world’s largest economy with one billion consumers; the country carries no debt and has a cash surplus of over three trillion dollars. China is the majority holder of all United States debt and if China dumped all US debt on the open market tomorrow, the US dollar would collapse on money markets and become the new peso of the 21st century.

  4. RJ, some have argued that the original stimulus package was too small. What I don’t understand is how the debate shifted from jobs to deficit reduction in such a short span of time. Raising the debt ceiling should not be conditioned on deficit reduction or revenue enhancement. It should be a separate issue. Unfortunately, both parties have dug their heels in on taxes and spending cuts and are showing little will to compromise, ignoring the will of the people and the good of the country. They are playing a dangerous game of Russian roulette. This is not how a democracy is supposed to work. The ideologues have co-opted the debate. President Obama, trying to play a centrist role, has taken the position of compromise no matter the terms. He seems to be in denial that the Republicans do not want to give him anything that might be considered a political victory for the President. They’d rather sink the economy, than compromise with the President. The Republicans are still the party of No.

    As to China, I don’t believe they will dump U.S. debt. Nor will other foreign investors, though this debt ceiling crisis has the potential to ruin our credit rating and make investors skittish. China values the U.S. market, our educational system, American science, technology, creativity, and innovation, something they continue to study and try to replicate. It is not in their best interest for the U.S. economy to fail.

  5. I agree with much of what you say, but China has begun the process already of divesting herself of American dollars through the worldwide purchase of assets, gold mines, oil companies and resource sectors her economy will need to strengthen future growth. The technology gap is closing between the two countries.

    The Federal Reserve, a private for profit banking consortium consisting of 70% foreign ownership, controls the monetary system of the United States government and the economy of the USA is not their priority, perpetual debt of the American taxpayer is. Most Americans do not even know that the Federal Reserve is a PRIVATE central bank.

    Wall Street will suffer more than anyone from a default and they will not let it happen. The public should know this, certainly Wall Street does. No wonder the elitists running the giant banks, which received tens of Billions in bailouts, loans and guarantees from the American public, are yelling about this issue. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/28/debt-deal-warning-banks_n_911922.html

    Why has Standard & Poor’s decided now’s the time to crack down on the federal budget — when it gave free passes to Wall Street’s risky securities and George W. Bush’s giant tax cuts for the wealthy, thereby contributing to the very crisis its now demanding be addressed? Could it have anything to do with the fact that the Street pays Standard & Poor’s bills?

    http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2009/09/credit-rating-agencies-took-bribes-for.html

    http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2010/03/82-of-americans-clamp-down-on-wall.html

    If you look into the background carefully, the truth shall set you free!

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