Thursday, February 17, 2011

Do You Want to Go Back or Go Forward?

See, I'm having a problem. I'm having a problem with the budget discussions. On both sides, actually.

I don't want to see the heating program cut; and I don't want the block grant program cut. I don't like that the social services programs are being cut.

And I don't like what I see from the Republican side either - driving us to the brink of disaster with their push to privatize Social Security and slash Medicare and Medicaid.

Frankly, I'd be perfectly happy to see the public arts programs cut for now. Nobody has ever died because of lack of art. But the nearly-50-million uninsured Americans? They're not looking too good lately.

The retirees? Social Security isn't the budget-buster. It's solvent. Really. Look it up. Why do you want to rob from the seniors, who've paid their dues, to give it to corporations and the military? The uber-rich will gain from this, not the people like my mother and my mother-in-law.

Balanced budget? Yep, we do need that. But here's the thing. It's really, REALLY basic math.

The uber-rich and the corporations slide because they're getting massive --- and I mean massive tax breaks. Last year, ExxonMobil paid NO taxes. But they had one of their greatest earnings years ever. The loopholes were so big that you could've driven an oil tanker through them, but given Exxon's history, I would want to know who's driving that particular vehicle!

Do you want to slash programs that cut jobs, but then give rewards to corporations for them to outsource those jobs? That's what's happening. And Obama just gave a plum position in his administration to a well-known outsourcer-extraordinaire. Lovely.

Obama really needs to do what he said he was going to do: Stand up for the people who got him into office. He's playing with fire when playing with the Republicans who want two things: To show that the black guy in the White House will fail; and to take ultimate control to toss us all under the bus. Any of us who are middle-class? We're Republican toast. Our retirements are at stake. What do you want to do when you retire? I'm not talking "retiring to a vineyard in Napa." I'm talking "affordable retirement where I don't have to worry about buying food versus paying other bills." That's pretty basic. That's why I'm working; that's why my Hubby is working. To have a pay-off at the end of our working lives where we can relax and not have to be greeters at the local Big Box when we're 80. If we can get that job...

Do I know the answer? Well, I have an idea, and I'm sure I'm not the only one who's looking at the same thing. It's just that I have no power. I have the power of the pen - which isn't what it used to be, quite frankly, and I have the power of my vote. I think. Not so sure about that lately, since my President has morphed into something I'm not sure I like.

Here's my take. Tax the rich at an equitable level. No, don't ask them what's equitable, because they like the huge slice of the pie they already have. An equitable level as determined mathematically through a review of what everyone makes. Average that number and then determine an appropriate tax rate for those whose incomes are over a certain number. I don't know the number. I just know that if I'm making $250,000+, I can be sure that I'll pay way less than someone making $100,000 or less. Because I'll have someone who knows where to stash that income to make it look like I'm making less than that $250,000. Come on, you can afford it, particularly if your income is quite far past that $250,000 number.

And corporations. They are not people. They do not deserve the same rights as a person. A corporation is not a sentient being, and thus does not have the same Constitutional right. It can change overnight into something else. I will always be a human. No changing here, except I'll get older. A corporation can change into another corporation; can divest itself of assets to appear to be something it isn't; can merge or acquire different businesses to change its assets and give better benefits to their stockholders. I can't do that as a human. I can marry, but that doesn't mean that I can change my basic being. Which is what can happen with a corporation.

So don't give them the same rights as a person. And hold them accountable to the cities and states in which they do business. Don't give them tax breaks to send jobs away from Americans. And don't tell me there are cheaper workers overseas. I get the whole "global corporate environment" thing, but when I see jobs going overseas, I don't see the same reciprocity... The countries who are taking those jobs aren't exactly supporting America. They're supporting their families, true. But since America has pretty much ceased making anything anyone wants to buy - the overseas workers are incapable of supporting us in any meaningful way. This is a one-way street, and we're in the headlights of the oncoming traffic.

In the last 10 years, we have lost over 50,000 factories in the US. Millions of jobs. And it's harder and harder to find products manufactured here. But again, we're also giving people who WANT to build and manufacture here a load of crap - we're not allowing them to do it easily. If you read Bloomberg Business Week you can see stories about manufacturers who are apologizing for having to go to China or another country because the US has made it virtually unprofitable to set up a factory here. A solar-battery manufacturer wanted to build a plant in the Carolinas. But by the time he got through the red tape and other hoops and chutes and ladders -- it was cheaper to go to China. He would like to come to America - at some point. And he's disappointed that he wasn't able to start a factory here. To give a US-made, relevant product to the American consumer and to provide sustainable jobs to American citizens.

What are we headed toward? I'm not sure and I'm frightened. I think we need a counter-revolution of the Liberal kind. The Conservatives are determined to flush the middle class and lower class down into the sewer, all to enrich their cronies. I don't like the idea of being flushed.

I hope you agree.

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