Progressives At The Bat

Something is happening in the political world. Folks are beginning to catch on. They’re beginning to see the linkage between surging wealth for the few and austerity for the rest, and longing for a return to America’s post-War II fair wealth distribution and prosperity for the many economic model. Here’s a baseball season poetry knockoff describing what this might mean in the next election…

Progressives At The Bat

It looked extremely rocky for progressives in D.C.,
The folks they’d long depended on to others bent a knee,
The White House rarely answered calls, the Senate mostly cowed,
Tea party members ran the House, “We’ll make the rules,” they vowed.

But out there where the Beltway gang is rarely ever seen,
In countless places o’er the land where the living had gone mean,
The days of settling for a phrase, for promises unmet,
A spirit craving real change, these bad times did beget.

Yes in our nation’s capital they still ain’t yet caught on,
They still to Wall Street genuflect, buy the right’s self-serving yarn,
They don’t sense the awakening, ain’t twigged to where it’s at,
That progressives next election day will swing the big vote bat.

Michael Silverstein is a former Bloomberg News senior editor;
his latest book is Gorilla Warfare Against The Bureaucratic
State (Confessions of a Lefty Libertarian).
http://www.amazon.com/Gorilla-Warfare-Against-Bureaucratic-State/dp/0692386432/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1428422596&sr=1-1&keywords=Gorilla+Warfare+Against+The+Bureaucratic+State

Bernie Sanders For President Poem

Bernie Sanders For President

I had a dream the other night
About this country’s politics;
I dreamed that for too many years
We haven’t had no real picks.
(Bernie’s different from the pack,
Has some views that others lack.)

These days we hear a lot of news
‘Bout countries out to build the bomb;
But truth be told what worries me
The sinking ship I’m drifting on.
(Sure I’m sad bout Mid-East’s ills,
But sadder ‘bout my Visa bills.)

Our nation’s wealth just grows and grows.
A picture most inspi-er-ing;
But most new wealth, to old wealth flows,
I’m left in debt en-mi-er-ing.
(CEOs make out big time,
I squeeze by on overtime.)

One size fits all ain’t right by me,
No matter the vote lever;
And just as bad, a game that’s rigged
By K Street lobbies clever.
(Could sixties lefties long a’tooth,
See their ideas respawned forsooth?)

Michael Silverstein is a former Bloomberg News senior editor;
his latest book is Gorilla Warfare Against The Bureaucratic
State (Confessions of a Lefty Libertarian).

Why Hillary Shouldn’t Be The Democratic Party’s Standard Bearer

Hillary Clinton outlined her economic policies the other day. They were billed as helping working Americans, giving a boost to the middle class. And they would do that. Sort of.

When you look at her proposals concerning sick leave and minimum wages and equal pay and gender equality generally in the workplace, they look very, very familiar. That’s because some of them have been on the books in countries with advanced economies for more than a hundred years, and are even already on the books of many developing countries today.

On these shores they would indeed make economic life better for many people. Marginally. They would take the edge off some of the additional nastiness and pain so many Americans have experienced in recent years. But they are a palliative, not a fundamental improvement, when it comes to this country’s real economic woes.

That’s because we’ve had an economic coup in our economy. The top one-tenth of one percent have taken control of key economic levers. The result isn’t just that the very top have benefited while the middle has wallowed. Not just a failure of trickle down. The vast enrichment at the very top HAS TAKEN PLACE AT THE EXPENSE OF THE MIDDLE.

We’ve been robbed. A genuine counter-coup, not the equivalent of longer coffee breaks, is needed to redress things.

Hillary Clinton might get the middle class longer coffee breaks. But she’ll never be the leader of a needed economic counter coup. She’s the same old same old, same promises, same travails down the same old unhealthy economic trails.

Democratic voters were conned by our first black president. You want to be conned again by our first woman president? You want to make history again, or do you want to thrive again?

No to Hillary. Been there. Done that. Want better.

Michael Silverstein’s new book:
http://www.amazon.com/Gorilla-Warfare-Against-Bureaucratic-State/dp/0692386432/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1428422596&sr=1-1&keywords=Gorilla+Warfare+Against+The+Bureaucratic+State

The Work To Be Poor Poem

The Work To Be Poor Poem

Work, work, work, work,
Work, work, work, work.

There’s more of us a’working now,
The numbers all are provin’,
Official tallies’ hopeful tale,
A workplace that improvin’;
You need a job, they’re out there friend,
So why ain’t you more jolly,
Is it because new jobs just let
You live like a Bengali?

The folks who rule us from DC
To our plight are oblivious,
They seem to think all work’s the same
And our work groans are frivolous;
We can’t convince them otherwise,
These leaders of the nation,
In fact most days they’re out of sight,
They’re somewhere on vacation.

I’d vote to save the middle class,
I’d vote for folks who care,
It would be nice to have that choice,
Alas…that choice ain’t there.

The Democratic Party—Brain Dead And Craven

The Democratic Party— Brain Dead And Craven

The lead story in the November 11 New York Times was about a Democratic Party whine. The party has been losing the support of working people because these people’s incomes have not been rising fast enough in recent years to allow them to live more comfortably or more securely. And the solutions offered to ameliorate this situation by Democratic Party thinkers — ideas like better education and infrastructure investment—while good in themselves, offer no direct or near-term potential to make big and meaningful improvements in wages for most workers.

Alas, runs the whine of the Democratic Party’s best and brightest, it’s not their fault because there is no silver bullet here. No quick way to close the growing income inequality gap.

Well of course there is a silver bullet. Here it is: Raise the top income tax rate on both earned and unearned incomes from its present 39.6 percent to 45 percent and use all the revenue generated, ALL OF IT, to reduce the bottom income tax rate from 10 percent to 5 percent.

That’s it. The silver bullet. And here’s what it would (and would not) do:

–It would NOT be a tax increase because no additional money goes into government coffers. It would just be a tax shift that would tax more the presently under-taxed rich, and tax less all other presently over- taxed working Americans.

–It would stop giving an unearned tax preference to people who do not work for their money at the expense of those who actually earn their livings by working for it.

–It would directly, immediately, and meaningfully reduce income inequality.

–It would immediately and directly put money into the hands of the 70 percent of Americans whose spending animates the economy. The working poor would feel the largest benefit, but because of the way the tax system is structured, everyone earning roughly $200,000 or less would immediately have more net income, income in their pockets, spending money. The economy would immediately boom in consequence.

–It would reduce government spending and in fact the size of government because fewer Americans would need government aid for things like food stamps because they would be keeping more of what they earn working.

–And this is critical: It would INCREASE real productive investment. This is because investment gravitates to where investors can make the most profit. These days, they can’t make it in investments in goods and services producing realms because most potential customers in these realms don’t have a lot of money to spend. So the investments go into bubble investments like derivatives and the stock market where profits tend overwhelming to benefit only the rich.

That’s the silver bullet. Simple, easy to understand by voters, obviously working to their own interests. So why haven’t the Democrats made this or something very like this their basic economic campaign issue?

Three reasons: The puffed up, over-priced academics and consultants who create their issues veer away from the obvious; party leaders these days fear introducing any such ideas that might offend their biggest campaign contributors; and perhaps most important, Democrats these days suffer from the political equivalent of beaten wife syndrome—a craven inability to directly challenge the conservative economic agenda. It’s a kind of thinking that does not begin with the notion that an idea is the best idea for the most people, but rather that all ideas put forward must be made within the context of what Republicans might deign to Republicans accept if shaped in ways that don’t go too strongly against Republicans’own preferences?

Within this craven and cowed context, would Republicans back the above proposal? Of course not! They would hate it. That’s the point!

That’s why it’s a campaign issue. Because it clearly sets one party’s views against the other party’s, giving voters something they don’t have today. A clear choice. This is supposed to be what elections are all about in this country. Something the present Democratic Party, Wall Street friendly and rich guys beard, has obviously forgotten.

So who need the Democratic Party? I don’t. The country doesn’t.

We need a new Middle Class Party. One that replaces the Democratic Party the way the Republicans replaced the Whigs all those years ago.

So where is this new party? Waiting. Waiting. Waiting….

mike@wallstreetpoet.com

Obama Prepares For His Last Great Sellout

President Obama Prepares For His Grand Sellout

Barack Obama, like the Clintons, is a creature of Wall Street. He’s a servant of this country’s currently dominant political force — the very rich and very richest, a group that styles itself the best and brightest.

His ability to totally sell out the interests of his party, the people that party purports to represent, and the country generally, however, has been restrained since he took office by a congress at least partially controlled by Democrats.

The Democrats lost control of the senate on Tuesday, and that restraint is now removed. Mr. Obama will now be free to do what he was put into office to do — completely sell out the poor and middle class to the lasting benefit of his rich and incredibly rich principals.

The mechanism by which he will do so was summed up in just a few words that appeared in a November 2 New York Times story: “Expecting a less friendly Congress after the election, President Obama’s aides are mapping out compromises with Republicans to expand trade and overhaul taxes.” Mitch McConnell, who wii soon head a Republican Senate, himself said he believed he and the President would at least be able “to work together on trade and taxes.”

You bet they will.

These compromises, no matter how packaged, will not only favor big corporate and financial interests to an extraordinary extent at the expense of everyone else, they will be so structured as to make serious future revisions extremely difficult.

Vast income inequality, an economic alpha-beta society, skewed maker and taker-based policy making, will be institutionalized. And because of Clinton-Obama domination of the Democratic Party apparatus, no real progressive populism will ever be allowed to take control of this once great vehicle of positive political and economic change.

It’s probably too late to stop the soon to appear Great Obama Sellout and its inevitable consequences. So then…

Let the slow, painful, challenged-at-every-turn creation of a new third party in this country begin in earnest.

mike@wallstreetpoet.com

What The Democrats Need: A Voice, Not An Echo

In the 1964 presidential race between Barry Goldwater and LBJ, Goldwater got creamed. His conservative principles-based campaign went down to a massive electoral defeat. His campaign slogan, “A voice, not an echo,” appeared to be something the Republican Party would be wise to forget.

Except Republicans didn’t forget that slogan. Instead, a harder edged conservatism took hold of the party and with the passage of time led to its present dominance setting the national agenda.

Today conservative Republicans are the voice. Democrats are the echo. So…

Maybe it’s time for Democrats to find their own voice. A harder edged progressive voice. One that favors labor over capital, workers over investors, students over their bank lenders.. One that doesn’t keep making the hard choices between the economy and the environment because it’s recognized that sound environmental policies create more prosperous economies. One that promotes live energy of solar, wind and geothermal rather than raiding burial grounds for coal and oil to burn.

There’s a powerful progressive voice on many issues such as these. Perhaps not for an immediate 2104 victory. But for real political power in the future.

Progressives—Make 2014 your voice, not a Clinton-Obama echo. There’s no future in being satisfied with the least worst choices.

The Best Idea To Reanimate The Economy You Won’t Hear About Elsewhere

We increase the top income tax rate from the present 39.6 to 45 percent and use ALL the new revenue generated, ALL OF IT, to reduce lower income tax rates.

This is NOT a tax increase. No new money flows to the government. It’s merely a tax shifting from the presently under-taxed top to the over-taxed working lower and middle.

This immediately reduces income inequality. It immediately improves the earnings and economic lives of the working middle class and lower paid workers.

It animates the economy immediately by spawning more spending by most Americans who have more net income to spend.

It reduces the growth of poverty, whose biggest cause today is the working lower and middle sliding down.

And this is critical. It does NOT reduce needed investment that grows an economy. Rather, it generates new investment to tap into greater consumer spending — it loosens the strings on the vast billions not being invested by bloated corporations today because there is no consumer spending to justify such investment with all the new jobs this investment would also generate.

Republicans won’t back this approach because they will call it a tax increase (it isn’t, just a tax shifting), and label it class warfare, which is silly since many if not most tax changes benefit some group at the expense of another.

The Democrats won’t back this proposal because they want to tax the rich to fund government programs — not a bad idea in many cases, but a totally separate issue that should be dealt with separately.

This is a proposal that many on the small-government right can support along with people on the generally big-government left.

Why haven’t you heard about this simple and obvious way to immediately reduce income inequality, aid the middle class, and do the other worthwhile things noted above? Because no one is being paid to peddle the idea.

Michael Silverstein’s newest book, The Devil’s Dictionary Of Wall Street, is available from Amazon.

In Praise Of Class Warfare

Whenever Democrats propose increasing the taxes of the rich, the Republicans cry out: “Class Warfare.” That’s nonsense, of course. Tax policy is always changing in ways that benefit one group in society over another. A tax change that benefits the middle class at the expense of the rich, and especially the very rich one percent, is thus not class warfare, just progressive tax policy. So…

So here’s what let’s do. Let’s raise the present top tax rate of 39.6 percent paid only by top earners to 45 percent, and use ALL the new revenue thereby generated to reduce lower tax rates paid mostly by the working middle class. This is a REAL step toward reducing income inequality, and one that would give a giant boost to the economy as well because a newly enriched middle class would spend the economy into a higher gear.

Then, when Republicans make their usual cry of “Class Warfare,” instead of being cowed into silence, we reply: “Yes. And the middle class wins and the top one percent class loses in this class warfare battle.”

It’s time to stop running away from Republican barbs. Time to start using one of their barbs against them. You know. In order to win the public debate for a change. And wouldn’t that be nice.

(Michael Silverstein’s novel, Fifteen Feet Beneath Manhattan, is available from Amazon in both ebook and print formats.)

An Ombudsman For The Poor In Congress

Just four percent of Americans have assets of $1 million or more. But more than half the members of Congress have at least this much, according to The Center for Responsive Politics. Could this, along with salaries of $174,000 and very generous perks, incline legislators to feel the pain of the rich more than the angst of the poor?

The answer, of course, is yes. There’s no genuine hatred of poor people among our governing elite. At least, not among most of this elite. Rather, because no one in Congress—NO ONE—actually suffers the anguish of poverty, or even lower middle class economic discomfort for that matter, they have no gut feeling for what not having basic money really means in one’s daily life.

They don’t know what’s it’s like to have to eat on present food stamp allocations. They don’t have to choose between paying monthly credit card bills or the month’s rent. They aren’t seeing their kids forsake college because they can’t afford tuition and the kids don’t want to take on the inescapable debt that comes in train with a higher education these days.

Because no one in Congress—NO ONE—actually experiences being poor and its consequences, legislative nostrums reflect this fact in all sorts of ways. Official numbers about the economy, big picture constructs that reflect almost no one’s real world living, become the guide to policy making. Or worse, far worse, think tank and philosopher views of the economy that postulate the way people should live rather than taking into account the way they actually do live, guide policy making.

So how do we get poor person reality up front and directly in the faces of law makers in Washington? With an ombudsman. A real person living real life poverty who has the power to stand up during House and Senate hearings and debates on economic matters and say, in effect: “What you are saying is nonsense and will make life of the poverty-ridden and poverty stricken worse and even more painful.

The responsible press has ombudsmen on staff who help keep reporter writing in line. Government agencies in some parts of the world have ombudsmen serving the same role when it comes to government activities. Let’s bring the idea to our own Congress.

It would be helpful, indeed, if the people who make laws hurting the poor have to come face-to-face with a spokesman for their victims on a daily basis.

Michael Silverstein’s novel, Fifteen Feet Beneath Manhattan, is available in print and as an ebook from Amazon.