Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Thanks to Mr. Moore

I'm a long-time fan of Michael Moore and his work. He's probably one of the most polarizing individuals in America today, right up there with Noam Chomsky. If you want to know who is worth listening to, find out who hates them and who loves them. People with ideas worth listening to are always the ones that split the people. I tend to err on the side of the Dems in terms of socio-political activists.

In this case, I want to thank Mr. Moore for his support of Julian Assange by wiring him $20,000 in bailout money. In linked letter above, Mr. Moore describes why he made this contribution and why he supports Mr. Assange in this most recent attack on his character and credibility. Mr. Moore also explains his stoic belief that things like WikiLeaks serve an important social function to protect the people, and that it might have had significant historical ramifications had such a thing been in place even a decade ago.

I have to say that I mostly agree with Mr. Moore's assertions. WikiLeaks serves people in ways that our media has failed to do for almost two centuries. It forces transparency in the only way it can: leaking material to the public that is being kept behind implied closed doors. In fact, most of the information that is presented in the leaks is not a matter of national security, diplomatic cooperation, or even importance. Mostly, they are matters of opinion, dealing with concerns that most people had a vague understanding of to begin with, but also provides insight into how these global affairs are being handled in our name. The interesting thing is that, as a whole, the leaks as they stand now are not particularly damaging. In my mind, the most appalling thing is that this information was kept from the people for no reason other than it could be.

That is why WikiLeaks is so important. Without an information outlet that will continually give authenticated and un-edited information to the people, there can be no distortion of information by the powers-that-be. Without a medium of good information, said powers are better able to cultivate an environment of fear and/or paranoia that allows them to push their agenda with little or no resistance. For examples, see Mr. Moore's letter.

A prime example that I will reiterate here concerns the reasons for going to war in Iraq. We were told by the government at the time that there was strong evidence to support the assertion that there were WMD's in Iraq, and that Saddam Hussein might have helped that attack on the U.S. In fact, there was no evidence to suggest this. Had there been a WikiLeaks at the time, the American people would have been aware of this and would not have been convinced that war was necessary. Instead, the people were presented with "facts" by the government and, instead of questioning the motives behind that information (something "the people" are not very good at), we simply went along with it. Thanks to WikiLeaks, I hope we never fall for that kind of sick trick again.

So, a thank you to Mr. Moore for his support of Assange and, by extension, a well-informed and Democratic populace. I hope more people can come to understand the importance of something like WikiLeaks, and can campaign in their own way to keep it open and free.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Compromising morals

Non-partisanship in Washington must be based on compromise. Both sides have to give a little to effect change that will benefit the American People. Unfortunately, the recent agreement between Obama and the GOP is not compromise: it is surrender.

The recent decision to extend the Bush tax cuts is not only fiscally irresponsible, but ethically as well. This is giving the GOP exactly what they want without demanding anything from them. True, it secures another 13 months of unemployment benefits, but that really doesn't matter to the GOP. All they care about are the taxes.

One of the interesting things I heard in the echo chamber of radio was that "a tax increase on the upper class will mean higher taxes for all of us." Umm.....what? No, that's not how it works. And, as this post explains, the tax plan of the Dems would actually be better for the upper class because only their income above the top tax rate income amount would be subject to a new tax. So, if the top bracket income is $250,000 and a person makes $250,001, that person only sees an increase in tax on that $1, meaning they would have to pay about $.04 extra.

But this is not what people hear, not what they see, and not what they think they understand. People see that "taxes kill jobs...we need jobs...therefore, we need lower taxes." It doesn't actually work this way. Lower taxes on the wealthy will not create jobs, and that extra money in the pockets of private companies and CEO's will do nothing to help with our deficits in government, which is what really hurts our economy.

If you want to make everything better, you need to raise taxes in a way that makes sense. The fact is, the rich can afford higher taxes. They can survive on the rest of their income when they are being taxed at a higher percentage. That's why their tax rate is higher than lower-income families. A low income family making about $30,000 for a household is going to feel the pressure of their taxes, low as they are, much more than a household of the same size making $300,000, or even $100,000. We need to have higher rates on the rich so that we can stabilize our government spending and our national debt. When that happens, foreign investors will be more willing to invest in America, and our economy will turn around.

And lets not forget that the Bush-era tax cuts actually contributed to the unemployment rate and heralded the arrival of the economic slump we see ourselves in today. There has never been any data that shows that lower taxes results in more jobs being created. Often, it's the opposite if there is any change at all.

In the end, the tax rate will have to go up. Our government can't work on pennies a day, and if it is forced to cut programs that benefit the people, those costs will be added to the already struggling economy. That is, if people will be able to pay the price that private businesses are going to be placing on their services. Good luck with that. We're all going to need it.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

What they're willing to do

Recently, all 42 Republicans in the Senate sent a letter to Harry Reid, explaining that they will refuse to vote on any legislation, will actually attempt to block everything, until tax breaks are extended for the top wage-earners in this country.

After this is done, it is assumed that Republicans will continue to block everything.

This is such an awful idea that I'm actually surprised that people aren't writing to those Republican senators about it. The fact that they are willing to essentially sit on their hands on every issue except bankrupting out country is appalling. They want to extend tax cuts? But they don't want to do anything else? What about nuclear arms treaty with Russia? What about DADT? What about, well....everything else?

I hope people realize what they voted for was ineffectual government and representation that does nothing. What's the point of being represented in Congress if your representative isn't doing anything to help you? You might as well give up your right to vote for representatives. Have a nice day.