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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

The Tax Cut Stimulus Mantra Is Just Wrong

Category: Society
Posted: 06/28/17 23:24, Edited: 07/04/17 01:34

by Dave Mindeman

There is this pervasive argument that conservatives absolutely depend on for their approach to public policy.

An opinion piece at CNN is the ultimate example. Here we go:

Standard economics says that high marginal tax rates reduce economic activity by reducing the incentive to save and work. And the ACA taxes on investment savings and high incomes are exactly backwards from this perspective; they raise the tax burden on savings and working for high income taxpayers, the ones most likely to alter their behavior in response to such taxes, thereby slowing economic growth which affects everyone.

Is that really standard economics? I think the theory behind that has a little more to it than tax cuts for the wealthy stimulates the economy.

The ACA does tax investment savings and high incomes. And the Republicans want to roll all of that back, but the economic stimulus is just another unicorn theory without much basis in fact.

He says that the rich "alter their behavior" when given tax cuts...in a way that stimulates economic growth. This person sites an economic study from 2007 (10 years ago) and it only dealt with the idea of tax cuts in a government environment where spending would not increase - the study even goes so far as to say that tax cuts without spending increases has never actually occurred. Mainly because the tax cuts destroy revenue streams.

But let's get back to this "altered behavior". When a wealthy person gets a tax cut, where is the evidence that they would change their behavior to increase economic activity? They don't need the extra money. They more than likely would not need to spend it -so it would go back into a tax shelter of some kind - probably offshore and out of the economy entirely.

That doesn't sound like stimulus to me. As Democrats constantly argue, a tax cut to middle and lower class wage earners is a guarantee of economic activity - they need to keep up with regular expenses and maybe would use any extra money to make a purchase they wouldn't otherwise make. That is the ACTUAL definition of altered behavior.

The Republican philosophy continues to hold on to this archaic idea that tax cuts to the wealthy will free up the most money. It is an archaic idea because it is wrong. Giving tax cuts to lower income families affects more people with more incentive to action.

This continuous adherence to the old Reagan "trickle down" economic theory is devoid of rational thought and has prevented the Republican Party from any new ideas on economics for decades.

The high taxes that fund health care for many of the poor doesn't look to cause individual benefit. It is a societal benefit. And when people have health care and do not go bankrupt from health events, then everyone benefits - including the wealthy because everyone can participate in that economic activity.

The Republican broken record mantra on this needs to end.
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An Injustice

Category: Society
Posted: 06/16/17 22:12

by Dave Mindeman

I. Do. Not. Understand.

The police officer, Jeronimo Yanez, was acquitted in the shooting death of Philando Castile. I was stunned.

This was not a murder trial. The charge was involuntary manslaughter. An appropriate and just charge for the circumstances. But even with that, the officer was acquitted.

I have no personal grudge with Yanez. I am sure he is a decent officer who made a very bad mistake in judgment. But in another trial, in another state, a 17 year old girl was convicted on the same basic charge because she texted her boyfriend on a phone with a suggestion to get back in a carbon monoxide filled pickup and die. He still had a choice. She only made a suggestion. Philando Castile had no choice. He was shot by an officer of the law.

Make sense of any of that.

There is an assumption of innocence on the part of a police officer. I get that. I still believe that is probably appropriate. But maybe we need to take a serious look at what that means. Officers of the law go through years of training. They train for exact situations that Yanez faced. They are trained not to over react. To take everything into account.

And oddly enough, that all holds when an officer is involved with a white individual. Something goes terribly wrong, something changes, when an officer confronts a black person. I cannot look at these situations in any kind of denial. It is a truth. It happens. All too often.

And we have got to examine this for what it is. An inherent racism in our justice system. I don't think that police officers always have racism in their background. Many of them resist the temptation to treat races differently. I believe that. But working the streets of the cities...in urban settings...changes many of them. And we need to look at why that is.

Is it a cultural problem? Is it an urban concentration of black population? Is it a basic mistrust between the police and the black community that has developed over time? Do we have a community policing problem?

Those questions are basic to understanding all of this. But that does not change the injustice of this verdict. Of police shootings of black men (an occurrence which is much too common in this country), there are many degrees of culpability. But in the case of Philando Castile, justice was not served. Philando was an absolute victim. He deserved better than this.

Actually, we all deserved better than this. It was just wrong.
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A Day Of Just Living

Category: Society
Posted: 05/19/17 19:47

by Dave Mindeman

I was trying hard today to take my mind off of politics. So as I ran my errands, and I made some observations.

People and cell phones are a permanent condition. As I was waiting for an oil change, I watched some of the people sitting in the waiting area. None of them could notice me because their heads were down looking at their phone screen and whisking their thumbs back and forth.

Here's is where I show how outdated I am. I have a cell phone, but I only use it for actual phone calls. I don't watch movies. Don't get Netflix. Don't check my e-mail. Don't even text. I call somebody. Say what I want to say and I hang up. I know this is a very novel concept of communication and I freely admit that I am an historical relic, but that is all I have ever done with a cell phone. When I want to take a picture, I use an actual camera. You remember those? They still are useful for that purpose. It is digital, so I am not back in the Kodak Carousel slide era, but I do not use a phone for pictures. I realize that the vast majority of people can never go back to using more than one electronic device on their daily excursions, but this is just me.

While I sat in the waiting room, I wondered if anybody knew there was more than one person there. I would see people walk in the door - plop down on a chair and immediately resurrect their phone from various places on their bodies. It was like a Pavlovian response. If I would have stood up and said hi, I think I would have given them a heart attack. They remained in that position until they were called to pay the bill. Then they got in their car and probably plugged in their phone.

I had lunch at Baker's Square and noticed that there was a definite preponderance of gray hair in the clientele. Which was kind of surprising because it wasn't "pie" day. Still, during the day, restaurants seem to be pretty dependent on the older generation. Retirees meet each other at restaurants and socialize. I was in the restaurant for about 45 minutes and did not see one person leave. Is this an all day event? The older gentlemen get distinct pleasure out of teasing the waitresses while their wives scowl at them. But it is obviously a serious custom in some of these dine in restaurants. My son will pretty much only eat at Boston Market or Panera Bread. Other places take too long and have too many fried foods for his taste. When I suggest Olive Garden, or Red Lobster, or even Denny's, I get the college teen patented eye roll. So I don't suggest it much.

As I read the paper, I noticed another one of those "bathroom law" shenanigans was being introduced in another state. That's another thing I don't understand. When I'm in a public rest room, I never strike up conversations. I mean I really don't need to discuss why they are there, if they should be there, and what is their legal rights when there. Really? Does anybody really want to get into somebody's "business"? In a bathroom? When I go to a Twins game, somebody should just ask ball parks to end the "trough" method. A long trough on the floor and guys just lining up along it, urinating. If you want to make a law, get rid of those things. Just make more enclosed stalls. Keep it private, for everybody, and nobody gets hurt.

And one more thing. Do we really need all the trashy talk on the internet. The comments section have become verbal vomit. People like to point out mistakes with a bunch of name calling for good measure. If you disagree with someone, you need to question their heritage for some reason. Why is that? What kind of pleasure is derived from that kind of behavior? I love a good argument. I don't mind a civil disagreement - in fact I learn from that type of exchange. But the nastiness?. When I blog, I get Trump supporters whose idea of an argument is to spew an insult. Usually it has nothing to do with the topic or its relevance. Just an insult...which I have to assume must make them feel better for having said it. Because it serves no other purpose.

Well, I tried to stay apolitical, but these days that is pretty much impossible. I'm back home. Maybe I'll watch a Twins game and just veg out for awhile. I'm sure there will be plenty of drama soon enough.
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