OpenCarry.org travel gun laws (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
This blog is most concerned with politics and it is not possible to write about it without becoming aware of the myriad problems facing the US. Some are from outside our borders, but most are self-induced by the GOP, aided and abetted by some Democrats, at the instructions of their masters, the 1%. The following list is in no particular order and enumerates our tasks ahead.
- Public financing of political campaigns.
- Limiting the influence of lobbyists.
- Eliminating gerrymandering.
- Require truth in political ads and reporting.
- Stricter gun laws.
- Higher taxes on the very wealthy and corporations.
- Elimination of all tax shelters.
- Reduce offshoring and foreign banking by US citizens.
- More green energy.
- More airlines and greater competition.
- High speed rail.
- Higher minimum wage, a living wage.
- Fewer jails and prisons, none for profit.
- Single-payer healthcare.
- No restrictions on the right of adults to vote, mandatory voting.
- Reformed immigration laws.
- Freedom to petition and to demonstrate peacefully.
- Freedom of worship or to not worship. No religion better than another.
- Restrictions on the CIA and NSA.
- Institute the Robin Hood tax on financial transactions.
- Reinstate usury laws.
I have previously written on many of these subjects, and I will be addressing the others in future posts. Thank you for your support.
American Buffalo (coin) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Good paying American jobs went away, were outsourced to low wage countries, because our laws and our tax laws made it possible. To reverse that trend and create good paying jobs here in the US for American citizens, I propose the following steps:
In order that Americans can afford to purchase American goods and services, we must increase the minimum wage to the point where it becomes a living wage. That will be a floor on which to build our economy.
Then by enforcing the laws already on the books and enacting new laws if necessary, we must encourage union membership. As corporations grow larger and more powerful, the individual worker is at the mercy of his employer. Many corporate CEOs are interested only in their stock prices and related compensation that is hundreds or thousands times as great as their lowest paid employees. This is not the case in Japan and Europe and cannot be justified here, apart from CEO greed.
Map of minimum wage rates in the United States. See List of U.S. minimum wages. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The undocumented and newly arrived immigrants will work for the minimum wage or less. American citizens are reluctant to work for a wage that does not support a person in some dignity. That is especially true of minority members from inner cities. Employers say that they are reluctant to hire minority males because of poor work habits and a bad attitude toward them and co-workers. I believe that at least part of the observed bad attitudes stems from the feeling that minority males are taken advantage of by their employers and the system. They believe that the jobs offered to them pay too little and lead nowhere. And they are correct. In some respects, it is a chicken and egg situation; should wages be increased in advance of skills or should skills be improved first to gain higher wages.
I believe that to break the cycle of poverty, we must break the cycle at some point and paying a living wage is as good a place to start as any. Workers can improve their job skills ad infinitum and not improve their personal situations if the jobs are not there. On the other hand, a living wage can lead to the belief that the worker has achieved something worth working hard to keep. I believe that the living wage is a goal worth pursuing and an experiment worth trying.
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Some of the pundits on the Right now claim that the poor don’t pay their share of income taxes and thus don’t have any skin in the game, as they call exposure to our tax system. What they conveniently overlook is that the poor must pay payroll taxes, no matter their income level, and payroll taxes are severely regressive. If the pundits on the Right are serious about the poor paying income tax, they should support an immediate doubling of the minimum wage. Let the poor earn sufficient income to maintain a decent standard of living and they will be able to afford paying an income tax and will then have some skin in the game. That is why I support a living wage.
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Borrow until you are bankrupt. That’s a policy that individuals can adopt, but nations cannot. There is the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that acts like a global enforcement agency, compelling spendthrift nations to tighten their belts to receive loans. The IMF enforces the Washington Consensus that free markets and global trade are good. Not everyone agrees with the Washington Consensus, but as it is the policy of the world’s only superpower, smaller nations have few other options. It’s similar to the influence that individuals have within the US to influence our economic policy. When times are tough, it is the little guy who must tighten his/her belt the most. This is true within the US and also abroad thanks to the enforcement efforts of the IMF. Eventually, the IMF will attempt to direct US internal economic policy, but that time has not yet come. Rather the GOP has adopted the policies of the IMF and is now acting as its surrogate.
As I see it, our best chance of avoiding the attention of the IMF and the GOP is to grow our economy to reduce the deficit while putting people back to work in jobs that pay a living wage. We should enact higher taxes on unearned income and at least temporarily act to reduce imports from China and elsewhere through tariff and quota mechanisms. This is the route we took when we were a fledgling industrial nation, and it is the way all successful industrial nations currently structure their economies. The US is viewed by the world as the world’s ultimate consumer, a dumping ground for the world’s over-production of goods and services. US consumers no longer have the purchasing power to be the world’s consumers of last resort.