Hillary Leans To The Left — Somewhat

Hillary Leans To The Left — Somewhat

Hillary’s sharing her liberal side,
Giving the left a good lather,
There are winks, a few hints, a suggestion or two,
A finely wrought serving of blather.

You kind of agree, though you’re not always sure,
‘Cause what’s said here is oft’ rather subtle,
So nuanced, in fact, it makes one suspect,
Down the road she might shape a rebuttal.

Does she lean to the left, to the middle, the right?
What’s the future plans of this contender?
No she needn’t agree on all issues with me,
Just tell me her real agenda.

My new book: Gorilla Warfare Against The Bureaucratic State (Confessions of a Lefty Libertarian).

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What’s Wrong With Obama’s Trade Deals

Huge trade deals are being negotiated by the Obama Administration. Most Republicans (and the President himself) support these deals. Most members of the Democratic Party oppose them.

That’s the big debate in Washington these days. But it’s the wrong debate. The debate here should focus (at least initially) on the “fast track” approval that President Obama wants.

The reason? Many elements of these deals are very beneficial to the country as a whole. Some aren’t. The sensible thing to do here is thus to keep what’s good and weed out what’s bad with amendments to the deals.

But fast track doesn’t allow amendments. You take it all or reject it all. And if in the end the good seems to outweigh the bad, you end up with badly flawed overall deals.

So don’t debate the trade deals now. Debate fast track. Put the deals on a slow track and end up with something really worthwhile for everyone,

Michael Silverstein’s new political memoir: Gorilla Warfare Against The Bureaucratic State (Confessions of a Lefty Libertarian).

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

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

A Progressive’s Call For Smaller Government

Conservatives are shredding the safety net. They say government spending here is getting out of control.

I agree. We have to reduce spending in this realm. And there’s only one sensible and sustainable way to do this: We have to reform the private sector of the economy.

Isn’t that obvious? The main reason more and more people need government aid is because their economic needs aren’t being met by working in the private sector. If they made enough, they wouldn’t need food stamps. If they made enough, they wouldn’t need subsidies to help pay for their health insurance.

Raise the minimum wage, and safety net spending decreases. Rebalance the tax code so it doesn’t unduly favor capital over labor, investors over workers, and fewer working people would qualify for earned income credits that reduce government revenues.

The government safety net that covers the elderly, the disabled and the impoverished young should of course remain in tact. But the part of that safety net that today is growing so quickly because working people are being squeezed in a top-heavy marketplace, could be cut dramatically with reforms of the private sector.

Progressives — ditto the conservatives’ call for smaller government. Just combine the call with the most sensible and sustainable way to bring it about. Marketplace reform.

(Michael Silverstein’s recent books, all available from Amazon, include: The Devil’s Dictionary Of Wall Street, and the comic novels’ Fifteen Feet Beneath Manhattan, The Bellman’s Revenge, and Murder At Bernstein’s.)

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.

1992: The Year The Battle For Earth Was Lost

It’s Earth Day again. Important People will don flannel shirts and be photographed against a natural wonder or at an alternative energy site. Kids will hear the usual calls to be green while picking up trash in local parks. Scientists will clearly describe how we are massively transforming our planet for the worst in their annual 15 minutes of allotted air time, after which their warnings will be roundly ignored by the Important People in flannel shirts who think they have to keep pandering to polluters to remain Important.

These days it’s often hard to remember that meaningful steps to protect the planet were almost undertaken by Important People. That happened in 1992.

That year the largest gathering of world leaders in history came together in Rio de Janeiro to discuss collective efforts that might be taken to keep planetary systems healthy. George Bush, our president at the time, almost joined this bevy of Important People but backed off at the last minute because of objection from his party’s polluters’ wing.

But Bush was up for reelection in 1992 and the Democratic ticket included not just a very bright guy from Arkansas, Bill Clinton, but Mr. Environment, Al Gore, as his running mate. It was generally thought in environmental circles that if Bill and Al won the White House in 1992, there would be real action, dramatic action, to save the environment, and the proposals that had come out of the Rio environmental confab would get a giant boost.

The general public would certainly have approved such a development. In 1992, every major poll showed that concern about the environment was second only to worries about the economy. And the belief (a sensible belief) that good environmental practices were not the enemy of economic development was widespread.

Clinton-Gore got elected. But alas, it seemed the environment was not the priority they claimed it would be while running for office. Indeed, Washington’s environmentalism quickly devolved into the flannel shirt on Earth Day variety. By the time the administration of these worthies ended, organized environmentalism as a political movement was totally de-balled. It has yet to recover.

As you watch Important People these days making that never ending phony choice between the environment and the economy — as if they were actually distinct priorities —spare a moment to remember 1992. The world almost got it right that year. But Important People ended up thinking they had more Important things to do than save the planet.

Michael Silverstein’s latest books: The Devil’s Dictionary of Wall Street, Fifteen Feet Beneath Manhattan, The Bellman’s Revenge, and Murder at Bernstein’s — all available from Amazon.