Free Forum Friday February 11 Edition

This week has been filled with politicians announcing upcoming retirements: Webb, Kyl, and Lee. But not, apparently, Mubarak. And certainly not the national debt. But Fridays belong to you. Type now, or forever hold your keys.

Free Forum Fridays are an open discussion where commenters are invited to bring up topics that may not have been covered in the previous week. Got something on your mind? Throw your opinion out there.


About Michael Weiss

Michael is now located at http://www.logarchism.com, along with Monotreme, filistro, and dcpetterson. Please make note of the new location.
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117 Responses to Free Forum Friday February 11 Edition

  1. mclever says:

    Apparently, multiculturalism is a failure in Europe.

    Today, France joined Germany, Great Britain, and Spain in denouncing the practice of allowing immigrant communities to maintain their distinct cultures.

    French President Sarkozy said: “”Of course we must all respect differences, but we do not want… a society where communities coexist side by side. If you come to France, you accept to melt into a single community, which is the national community, and if you do not want to accept that, you cannot be welcome in France.”

    In Great Britain, Prime Minister Cameron recently urged a “more active, muscular liberalism” where equal rights, the rule of law, freedom of speech and democracy are actively promoted to create a stronger national identity. His argument was that promotion of these “liberal” ideals would reduce extremism among immigrant (especially Muslim) youths.

    So, why does multiculturalism work so much better in the United States than in Europe?

    Or, would we be better off promoting more “liberal” ideals of equal rights, freedom of speech, and rule of law among our immigrant populations?

  2. shortchain says:

    mclever,

    You ask: “So, why does multiculturalism work so much better in the United States than in Europe?”

    a) More room and more mobility have allowed immigrant communities to find places where they could live according to their own cultures for the couple of generations needed before their progeny melted into the population.
    b) Acceptance of immigrants from other cultures varies enormously, even in the USA. For example, I think immigrants from some cultures would not find living in some locales in these United States very easy even in these enlightened times. The Chinese (until about 1950, and even, in some places far more recently) and many other immigrant groups might have a different opinion about how well multiculturalism has worked in the USA.

  3. Bart DePalma says:

    Misadventures in “smart diplomacy:”

    Sec. State Hillary Clinton: “Our assessment is that the Egyptian government is stable and is looking for ways to respond to the legitimate needs and interests of the Egyptian people.”

    Followed by President Barack Obama: “Too many Egyptians remain unconvinced that the government is serious about a genuine transition to democracy, and it is the responsibility of the government to speak clearly to the Egyptian people and the world,” Obama said. “The Egyptian government must put forward a credible, concrete and unequivocal path toward genuine democracy.”

    Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told a House Intelligence Committee hearing describing the Muslim Brotherhood which seeks to establish an Islamic state ruled by sharia law: “The term ‘Muslim Brotherhood’…is an umbrella term for a variety of movements, in the case of Egypt, a very heterogeneous group, largely secular, which has eschewed violence and has decried Al Qaeda as a perversion of Islam,” Clapper said. “They have pursued social ends, a betterment of the political order in Egypt, et cetera…..In other countries, there are also chapters or franchises of the Muslim Brotherhood, but there is no overarching agenda, particularly in pursuit of violence, at least internationally.”

    Based on watching television news reports rather than intelligence reports, CIA Director Leon Panetta testified at the same hearing that there was a “strong likelihood” that Mr. Mubarak would step down by the end of the day.

    Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak announcing he is staying in power: “And we will prove that we are not servants to anyone and will not be dictated by anyone, and that no will take the decisions for us.”

    Smart diplomacy or resetting American foreign policy to the Carter Administration?

  4. mclever says:

    @shortchain

    I agree with you that the mobility and space certainly help, but we have “multi-cultural” cities like NY and LA where divergent communities are literally right on top of one another. At the Paseo in Pasadena, it’s not uncommon to hear a half-dozen languages as people of various cultures shop and intermingle without issue: Korean, Mexican, Muslim, Jew, and Hindu. One wearing micro-shorts and a tank top, another in a traditional sari, and another in Muslim headscarf. At least in places like that, there seems to be an acceptance and understanding of (as you say) the first- and second-generation newcomers. The “assimilation” part seems mostly to be teaching those newcomers that they’re free to live according to their traditions, but they don’t get to force their culture on anyone else, either.

    Now, I’m not saying it’s all roses. Even in sunny So-Cal, there builds resentment, especially against those who are seen as likely illegals. And our country’s past track record of incorporating immigrants certainly isn’t perfect, as I can name several groups throughout our history who’ve had a rough road. (Irish, Jew, Chinese, Polish, Japanese, African, Latino, Muslim…) But my point is that, after a rough generation or so, we usually manage to get it sorted out. Cities like Chicago have their Irish, Polish, German, Mexican, Chinese, and other cultural pockets, and for the most part we Americans consider that OK without insisting that everyone be June and Ward Cleaver.

    Yes, I agree that some immigrant groups might have a different opinion about how well multiculturalism has worked in the USA. And yes, I agree that it’s not perfectly smooth. But multiculturalism here is not the “utter failure” that places like France and Germany seem to find it to be.

    Is it just that we have more space for people to move around in? Or is it that we won’t liken people gathering for worship to “Nazi gatherings” as senior French officials have likened Muslims? Whether or not we are perfectly successful at living it, I think most Americans share an ideal of accepting differences and treating others as equals. Sometimes, some of us allow fear or uncertainty to override our better ideals, but usually those ideals eventually win out in the long run once everyone realizes that their town won’t collapse just because someone different moved in.

  5. mclever says:

    I think Mubarak is shooting himself in the foot, and things in Egypt will get worse before they get better.

  6. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    Bart: “Misadventures in “smart diplomacy:”

    Bart has this innate ability to fail to see the larger picture. Further, he, as does his hero Palin, demonstrate a profound lack of knowledge of the intricacies of diplomats and the diplomatic process. Even after the WMD debacle of Iraq, Bart seems to think the the Intelligence Service is omniscient and infallible.

    As he seems to only be able to see in high contrast, black and white, he fails to see the gradations in color that IS the Middle East.

    Finally, he seems so hide-bound as to not be able to understand the term “fast moving events”.

  7. dcpetterson says:

    So, Bart — some of those information you linked was from more than three weeks ago. As the quickly-evolving situation in Egypt changes, the American response also changes. This surprises only the blockhead right.

  8. dcpetterson says:

    Max, clearly we think alike. 🙂

  9. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    Of course, should Egypt tilt into the column of a democratically elected, anti-Western, anti-Israel state, Bart, Palin and their cohorts will line up to piss and moan to high heavens over the “failure of Obama” to keep a faithful ally in power!

  10. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    Then again, perhaps the Intelligence Service was off only on the time of the Mubarak announcement of stepping down.

  11. mclever says:

    Perhaps Bart’s criticism was premature:

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/ml_egypt

    “CAIRO – Egypt’s vice president says Hosni Mubarak has resigned as president and handed control to the military.

    Car horns were heard around Cairo in celebration after Vice President Omar Suleiman made the announcement on national TV on Friday.”

    Seems Mubarak realized he was shooting himself in the foot by clinging to power…

  12. mclever says:

    Same story at MSNBC:

    Mubarak Resigns!

    Vice president Suleiman says military’s Supreme Council will take over. See the video here:

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/41526422/ns/world_news-mideastn_africa/

  13. Number Seven says:

    WOW! How things can change in less then 12 hours.

  14. Bartbuster says:

    In Bartworld Mubarak is just resigning so he can run against Obama in 2012.

  15. Bart DePalma says:

    Max:

    I do not fault the Obama Administration for not being able to control either the Egyptian government or the people’s revolution. That is not within their power.

    Rather, I fault our President and his largely incompetent foreign policy team for not realizing they cannot control the Egyptian government and the crowd, for calling for acts they cannot ensure when they should simply shut up, for not knowing the players like the Muslim Brotherhood, for not obtaining better intelligence than CNN and for not staying on the same sheet of music.

    During the House hearing I noted, the only one who appeared to know his stuff was the FBI Director, who more than once shot looks of incredulity at the idiot DNI and the not much better informed CIA Director. When the person responsible for domestic law enforcement knows more about Egypt that your foreign policy team, your Administration has problems.

  16. mclever says:

    What stuns me is how fast this all happened. Not just the turnaround from yesterday, but the entire chain of events.

    – Three weeks ago, no one was predicting anything like this.

    – 18 days ago, protesters took to the streets in Egypt. They did not have guns. They were armed only with determination, numbers, and the willingness to get shot at for their convictions.

    – Hundreds were arrested after clashing with the (political) police force. Some protesters were armed with sticks-n-stones, but only the police had guns.

    -14 days ago, Mubarak ordered the military to quell the demonstrations. He also sacked his entire cabinet.

    – 13 days ago, Mubarak named intelligence chief Omar Suleiman as vice-president.

    – 11 days ago, Army refuses to use force against protesters.

    – 10 days ago, Mubarak says he’ll quit at the end of his term in September.

    – 4 days ago, a new cabinet convenes for the first time (minus Mubarak’s son who quit).

    – Yesterday, Mubarak insists he won’t step down.

    – Today, he resigns, leaves Cairo, and the VP of 13 days finds himself in charge. He immediately surrenders power to the military, who’ve been the force of sanity throughout the whole ordeal.

    Regime change in less than three weeks.

    Mubarak’s resignation is huge, but this is only the beginning. I still think things in Egypt will get worse before they get better. Given the performance of the Egyptian Army thus far, there’s good hope that they’ll continue to behave in a professional pursuit of peaceful civilian rule rather than a powergrab.

  17. Bart DePalma says:

    I suspect the Egyptian military informed Mubarak that his little pissing contest with the Obama Administration in refusing to step down because of foreign pressure in his Thursday speech was likely to instigate massive violence on Friday and that he would be stepping down after all.

    Good news.

  18. Bartbuster says:

    Blankshot, you spent years defending the completely incompetent Cheney, Condi, Rummy and Dummy. You’re not really in a position to be critical of Obama at this point.

  19. Bart DePalma says:

    Yup, it appears that the military essentially launched a coup.

    http://hotair.com/headlines/archives/2011/02/11/egyptian-army-we-are-in-control-emergency-law-to-be-lifted-when-crisis-ends/

    I’ll bet the Obama Administration has already or will shortly attempt to claim credit.

  20. Bartbuster says:

    I’ll bet the Obama Administration has already or will shortly attempt to claim credit.

    Much like you were trying to blame Obama for Mubarak’s refusal to leave?

  21. Bart DePalma says:

    What Obama needs to do is publicly task the Egyptian military with ensuring free and fair elections this fall, let them know in no uncertain terms behind the scenes that the aid to Egypt will end if elections are not held, and then work with the GOP House to openly threaten the same.

    Think our President is up for that?

  22. Bartbuster says:

    and then work with the GOP House to openly threaten the same

    Working with the GOP to openly threaten Egypt sounds positively moronic.

  23. dcpetterson says:

    Bart, after saying a few minutes ago that America cannot control events in Egypt, you now say that Obama should try to control events in Egypt.

    You are just going to shoot off insane criticism no matter what, aren’t you? And you are going to pretend that diplomacy should be conducted in public, before the press. And that diplomats say the same things in private that heads of state say to the press in public. Tell me, are all conservatives as foolish as you?

  24. Bart DePalma says:

    DC:

    The US cannot dictate to Egypt how they will proceed. Telling Mubarak that he must step down and then publicly predicting that he would do so, enabled Mubarak to slap down Obama in his speech for no good reason.

    However, that does not mean our President should not attempt to influence Egypt using what tools we have. A competent President would have voiced support for the democracy movement immediately and continuously, while being publicly very vague on how to accomplish this. Most of the work should have been done behind the scenes. Do not set yourself up to be embarrassed by dictators.

  25. Bartbuster says:

    The US cannot dictate to Egypt how they will proceed. Telling Mubarak that he must step down and then publicly predicting that he would do so, enabled Mubarak to slap down Obama in his speech for no good reason.

    Which explains why Mubarak is still in power.

  26. Bartbuster says:

    The US cannot dictate to Egypt how they will proceed

    Which Baghdad proposes is exactly what Obama should do.

    However, that does not mean our President should not attempt to influence Egypt using what tools we have.

    Which is what Obama has actually been doing.

    The joy of Bartworld is that blatant contradictions are easily ignored in the interests of slamming whatever Dem he feels like slamming.

  27. Bartbuster says:

    The US cannot dictate to Egypt how they will proceed.

    In Bartworld threatening the Egyptians to proceed in the manner we want is not the same as dictating to them what they should do. Bartworld is a pretty F’d up place.

  28. dcpetterson says:

    It amazes me that conservatives determine “competency” based on how much the president acts like an irresponsible cowboy. Which explains the incredible failures of the Bush Administration, where our allies got ticked off and our enemies were emboldened, and America lost a great deal of world influence.

    Mubarak is out. America had a hand in that. Diplomacy does not take place on CNN. We do not give public ultimatums and expect the world to bow down in awe. It is time conservatives learn what competency is really all about, and what victory actually looks like, instead of relying on reruns of 24.

    Victory is about achieving our goals. There is a difference between being successful and influential, and being nothing but a hated bully.

  29. Bart DePalma says:

    DC:

    Mubarak told Obama to screw himself in the Thursday speech.

    The reason Mubarak left was because of an Egyptian military coup driven by a people’s revolution.

    This is not competence.

  30. Bartbuster says:

    Mubarak told Obama to screw himself in the Thursday speech.

    How did that work out for him?

  31. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    And Mr DePalma is fully cognizant in the discussions that went on between the Obama Administration on all levels, President, diplomatic, military and between third party nations when he forms his opinion.

    With his omniscience, I just don’t know why y’all continue to beat him down. I just bring myself to such embarrassment.

  32. dcpetterson says:

    Bart:

    And after Mubarak talked tuff, he did what we wanted. The very next day.

    You clearly cannot differentiate between public posturing and actual actions. This isn’t surprising for someone who supported Bush’s cowboy diplomacy.

  33. Bart DePalma says:

    DC:

    What precisely did the Obama Administration want? Team Obama alternatively and in no particular order expressed support for the regime, support for the regime sticking around for some period of time, perhaps until the election, and vague suggestions Mubarak should step down. This is incoherence.

    Unless you have evidence that Team Obama asked the Egyptian military to launch a coup today, they had nothing to do with Mubarak being forced out.

  34. Bart DePalma says:

    Obama is very fortunate indeed that his public pissing contest with Mubarak did not anger the Egyptian people into a violent revolution with the Egyptian military turning on the people rather than Mubarak.

  35. Bartbuster says:

    Unless you have evidence that Team Obama asked the Egyptian military to launch a coup today, they had nothing to do with Mubarak being forced out.

    I’m sure the Pentagon is going to post everything they said to the Egyptian military on their website later today.

  36. Bartbuster says:

    Obama is very fortunate indeed that his public pissing contest with Mubarak did not anger the Egyptian people into a violent revolution with the Egyptian military turning on the people rather than Mubarak.

    Blankshot, I can usually follow the “logic” behind most of your BS, but you lost me with this one. Obama tells Mubarak to step down, he refuses, and the Egyptians blame Obama? Is that really where you’re headed now?

  37. Bart DePalma says:

    BB:

    Honestly, do you or anyone here see Barack “the days of cowboy diplomacy are over” Obama asking the Egyptian military to depose their president and their parliament? That would be old school Diem and Allende style regime change.

  38. shortchain says:

    Bart,

    “Obama is very fortunate indeed that his public pissing contest with Mubarak did not anger the Egyptian people into a violent revolution with the Egyptian military turning on the people rather than Mubarak.”

    This statement is simply ignorant. Since the Egyptian military is a conscription force consisting of more than 2 percent of the population, the Egyptian military is highly unlikely to turn on the people rather than Mubarak.

    Since the Egyptian and American military establishments have trained together and worked together for decades (thanks in no small part to Mubarak’s help) there are going to be few surprises between them.

    This was entirely expected.

  39. Realist says:

    Unless you have evidence that Team Obama asked the Egyptian military to launch a coup today, they had nothing to do with Mubarak being forced out.
    That has got to be one of the stupidest statements I’ve read. The only way that it’s possible they had anything to do with Mubarak being forced out is if DC has evidence? So if I, for example, have such evidence, they still had nothing to do with it. If GROG has such evidence, they still had nothing to do with it. Oh, no…only if DC has this evidence does the White House have anything to do with Mubarak’s departure.

    That statement is far worse than hubris. It’s idiocy, on the same level as O’Donnell and Bachmann.

    I’m a pretty patient person, but I’ve truly had enough Bart to last a lifetime. Mule Rider, can you weigh in on this subject so that there’s some intelligence to counter the Bart Black Hole? Please?

  40. Bartbuster says:

    Honestly, do you or anyone here see Barack “the days of cowboy diplomacy are over” Obama asking the Egyptian military to depose their president and their parliament?

    No, I don’t. I think Obama strongly suggested to the military that it would be a VERY BAD idea to shoot protesters. The military told Mubarak that it wasn’t going to shoot protesters, and eventually he figured out that he had no real choice but to leave.

    What I don’t understand is why you haven’t figured that out, because it seems pretty obvious.

    JUST KIDDING!

    I know EXACTLY why you haven’t figured it out.

  41. msgkings says:

    I mostly lurk here, but I am moved to post to ask those responding to Bart DePalma in this thread why they are bothering? Sometimes his viewpoints are intelligent and logical, but on this thread he’s plain incoherent.

    It’s not news that BDP is virulently anti-Obama, anti-Dem, etc. So in an instance where there’s really nothing you can logically say against Obama, he’s going to do so anyway.

    Why respond? He’ll never change his mind, and he’s not saying anything anyone else would learn from. Ignore?

  42. dcpetterson says:

    Does anyone have any reason to think there was a “military coup” in Egypt? It looks more like a peaceful civilian coup to me.

  43. Bart DePalma says:

    mskings:

    What part of…

    Obama Administration publicly embarrassing Mubarak by urging him to leave, then predicting the same and then praising the Muslim Brotherhood, leading to…

    The proud Mubarak who has done the US many favors getting pissed, coming on Egyptian TV and stating that he would not bow under foreign pressure to leave, leading to…

    Enraged Egyptian people threatening violent revolution…

    did you find “incoherent?”

    This is a diplomatic FU of major league Jimmy Carter and Iran proportions.

    Once again, it is as plain as the pimples on BB’s arse that Obama is VERY fortunate his incompetence did not lead to violent Egyptian revolution.

  44. Bartbuster says:

    Why respond?

    Because it’s more fun to mock his stupidity than to ignore him.

  45. Realist says:

    Because it’s more fun to mock his stupidity than to ignore him.

    Perhaps for you. Not so for me.

  46. Bartbuster says:

    What part of…

    Obama Administration publicly embarrassing Mubarak by urging him to leave, then predicting the same and then praising the Muslim Brotherhood, leading to…

    The proud Mubarak who has done the US many favors getting pissed, coming on Egyptian TV and stating that he would not bow under foreign pressure to leave, leading to…

    Enraged Egyptian people threatening violent revolution…

    did you find “incoherent?”

    Most of it, actually. The part I find most incoherent is that you think it’s bad for Obama to urge Mubarak to leave, but OK for him to now publicly threaten the Egyptian military.

    By the way, I’m pretty sure that just last week you were urging Obama to publicly support democracy in Egypt. How, exactly, does he do that without urging Mubarak to leave?

  47. Bartbuster says:

    Perhaps for you. Not so for me.

    I never claimed to be answering for you.

  48. msgkings says:

    See, this is me ignoring him.

    There’s not any possible sequence of events, any possible actions or inactions that Obama and his team could have taken, that would result in BDP not attacking him. If they’d said nothing, he’d have attacked for that. If they’d done exactly what he posted earlier in the thread they should have done (and in a way they kind of did, he’s really messing with definitions of words to make his attacks today), he’d have attacked for that and posted something totally different.

    His permanent setting is predictable and doesn’t add anything to the discussion. Nor does someone who will praise Obama no matter what he does either.

    The sky is blue, water is wet, and BDP hates Obama. Next topic…

  49. Bartbuster says:

    msgkings, I don’t think there is anyone here who is suggesting that you should stop ignoring Baghdad. You deal with him your way, and I’ll deal with him my way.

  50. Realist says:

    The sky is blue, water is wet, and BDP hates Obama.

    And bartbuster hates Bart with the same degree of ferocity as Bart hates Obama. It all gets old. As you said, next topic…

  51. Bartbuster says:

    And bartbuster hates Bart with the same degree of ferocity as Bart hates Obama. It all gets old. As you said, next topic…

    Not really. I enjoy making fun of his stupidity a lot more than I hate him. It’s tough to hate someone who is as completely powerless as Baghdad.

  52. dcpetterson says:

    Bartbuster
    By the way, I’m pretty sure that just last week you were urging Obama to publicly support democracy in Egypt. How, exactly, does he do that without urging Mubarak to leave?

    Actually, last week Obama was publicly supporting democracy in Egypt. Bart was violently criticizing Obama for not publicly telling Mubarak to leave. (Obama and the State Department threaded this needle through declaring that the people of Egypt would determine their own future, but that America would not try to tell the Egyptian people the best way to achieve that.)

    Now that Mubarak has, in fact, stepped down, Bart has changed his criticism to pretend that Mubarak did what he did because we humiliated him into doing it (or something). We got what we wanted, according to Bart. We even got what Bart wanted, which is that Mubarak has stepped down, and the military remains neutral. But that’s bad too, according to Bart. As msgkings points out, people who are victims of Obamaphobia lose their reason at some point.

    And why anyone imagines that statements given for the consumption of the press cover all the private and sensitive diplomatic negotiations that take place behind the scenes is beyond me.

    By the way, it’s also amusing that when “Enraged Egyptians threaten violent revolution,” that’s a bad thing — except last week, when it was a good thing. But when enraged Teapers threaten violent revolution, that’s a good thing — except when it’s point out that they’re doing it, and then Teapers say they aren’t doing it, because it’s a bad thing.

  53. msgkings says:

    Here’s a biggie for FFF:

    I sometimes wonder if our system of government, laid down over 220 years ago in a much smaller, more homogenous, pre-modern place, is still suited to the challenges of 21st century America (and the 21st century globe). I have no idea what should be changed but it seems we need a better system for coordinating long term beneficial actions, and to be able to implement those actions more swiftly.

    It seems right now changes only occur after a crisis, often a crisis that can be foreseen. How to enable the system to take action to PREVENT crises? We all know probably our biggest looming problem is Medicare/health care bankrupting the nation in 20-25 years. This is completely independent of Obama’s new healthcare law(s). That problem was out there looming well before his election.

    Will we need to wait 20 years and see interest rates on our debt skyrocket and healthcare spending at 40% of GDP before we take action? Is it a problem of the system itself?

    Just throwing it out there. If I had answers I’d be rich from my book deal.

  54. Mr. Universe says:

    Ahhhh, that’s better.

  55. mclever says:

    @msgkings

    Some people are just black holes for sane discussion, and it takes tremendous willpower for reasonable people to avoid getting sucked in by the gravitational forces of absurdity. When caught in the vortex, some people prefer to fly straight into oblivion with thrusters at maximum.

    The best the rest of us can do is treat it like a Psychology 101 behavioral modification experiment. Ignore the bad and reward the good with interesting comments, and see how long it takes others to find their way out of the black hole before they get stuck there permanently.

  56. shortchain says:

    msgkings,

    If you think it’s impossible, except in a crisis, to fix the problems that cause the ordinary run of crises — imagine now the crisis that would enable us to fix the procedure by which we manage to avoid fixing the usual run of crises.

    I’m thinking that, if they didn’t manage to get the job done in that little disagreement we had back in 1860, the crisis that will do it is going to be something to see…preferably from a distance.

    Oh, and many books have been written about the problem, several of them offering fixes — and yet these people are not much wealthier than they were before the books were published. The American people are still in denial.

    Which ties it all in with Egypt. (Bad pun for Michael.)

  57. mclever says:

    @msgkings

    “It seems right now changes only occur after a crisis, often a crisis that can be foreseen. How to enable the system to take action to PREVENT crises? “

    As I see it, there’s nothing inherent in our system (as laid down 220 years ago) that stops responsible people in government from taking appropriate forward-thinking actions. Nothing in the structure stops Congress or the President from writing regulations with the future in mind or from making investments that will benefit our country ten-fold in the future.

    The problem appears (to me) to be one more of human nature. We want what we want right now, next week be damned. No modification of our democratic system of government can fix human character flaws.

    The government responds to the people (and big donors), so if we want our government to be more proactive rather than reactive, then we as a people need to demand that of our elected officials. And THAT would require an educated, sophisticated electorate. (Or at least big donors who care more about the future than their current pocketbooks.)

    So, to my way of thinking, the way to fixing what ails our system is:

    1. Better education for every citizen.

    2. Reducing the influence of big donors.

    What do you think?

  58. Bartbuster says:

    By the way, it’s also amusing that when “Enraged Egyptians threaten violent revolution,” that’s a bad thing — except last week, when it was a good thing. But when enraged Teapers threaten violent revolution, that’s a good thing — except when it’s point out that they’re doing it, and then Teapers say they aren’t doing it, because it’s a bad thing.

    An excellent summary of Bartworld.

  59. mclever says:

    @shortchain

    I like bad puns. 🙂 Thanks for making me smile.

  60. msgkings says:

    shortchain,

    Good point. Folks talk about impending crises but never (or rather rarely) if the system itself is in crisis.

    I’m actually a general optimist, perhaps our system is still flexible enough to handle things. The Medicare problem isn’t as intractable as slavery, or a world war. Perhaps it really will simply require some of the predictable negative events (rising rates, a downgrade of our debt, etc) to be able to sweep aside all the blather and finally make the tough choices. Some of which I’m not even sure of…what ARE the tough choices?

    If you were philosopher-king, what would you do?

  61. dcpetterson says:

    msgkings, you make a great point about the looming fiscal crisis. shortchain and mclever, your observations about the problems of fixing the greater problem are spot on. Part of it is the short-term thinking of the American psyche. (Instant gratification is just too damn slow!) Part of that may rest in the brevity of our history. There are families in Britain whose ancestors lived within 40 miles for the last five thousand years. There are villages in France that have been continuously occupied for something like 40,000 years. American history fades to insignificance before that far horizon.

    Cathedrals used to be built over the course of a century or two. If an American politician proposes some program that will take more than a couple of years to see benefits, such a program will be dead on arrival. That’s part of the basis behind the current argument of investment vs. budget cuts. It’s hard for Americans to see that investing in our future now, even if it increases the medium-term deficit, is the only way to pull out of the current economic disaster. And that it was short-term thinking that got us here in the first place.

    It’s the whole reason so many people today think pensions are a Bad Thing. They can’t imagine the day in the far future (maybe three decades from now) when they’ll need one.

    I don’t know what the solution is. Maybe teach four hours of history classes ever day in gradeschool — except that kids find history boring. Maybe have Ridley Scott produce more historical blockbusters, and get Americans thinking about the length of years that really stretch out behind and before us. Encourage more fantasy and science fiction. How do you teach the way to dream?

  62. msgkings says:

    mclever,

    More good points. But you touched on the systemic problem, the government in a direct democracy like ours can only respond to the will of voters, and only in 2 to 4 year increments. The incentive structure is just that, really difficult to make long-term policy that might ‘hurt’ in the short term.

    Whenever I get in bull sessions with friends about this stuff I always say we need a minimum IQ for voting rights, as well as for those running for office. I know it’ll never happen but that’s what we need.

    After all, when the system was set up only landowning white adult males could vote. In the homogenous, agricultural society of 1787, that pretty much was a proxy for the ‘elites’ of the time. Dummies could maybe end up voting, but in a much smaller percentage than can now.

    I want the ‘elites’ back in charge now. They can be both genders and all races and not own land…but they gotta be smart enough to deserve a vote or an office. Does your call for ‘better education’ even go far enough? How do we make it ‘better’ anyway? That’s another of the problems plenty of smart people don’t know how to fix.

    Won’t ever happen.

  63. Mr. Universe says:

    Denial…Ba-dump, SPISH!

  64. Bartbuster says:

    Sorry, but being “smart” has nothing to do with it. I’m sure someone like Darth Cheney could pass any voting test that you could devise, but it’s people like him who are the problem, not the solution. There are plenty of “smart” people who only care if the system works in their favor, and screw the rest of us.

  65. dcpetterson says:

    I don’t think it’s so much being “smart” (though I do want smart people in office). I think it’s more having the ability to see beyond one’s arm. John Kennedy, for a brief moment, managed to capture this spirit by putting America on the course to the Moon. But we’ve lost the capacity to dream big and to reach for stars (unless they’re on American Idol).

    I think the collapse happened when Star Trek went off the air. I’m only half joking.

  66. mclever says:

    @msgkings

    I’m an optimist, too. The case for “investment” and “forethought” can be made to the people. Ike did it when he proposed the interstate system, which took years to develop. JFK did it when he suggested we shoot for the moon. The problem is that people need to listen for more than 30 seconds to hear that argument.

    dcpetterson makes a very good point about our lack of historical perspective. And perhaps that is the problem we mostly face, both our government officials and the electorate. We lack perspective.

    I don’t think “high IQ” is enough to guarantee that sense of perspective. One can be very smart and still be ignorant. (I could point out a well-known example whose alleged IQ was 125, but who engaged in persistent willful ignorance anything he didn’t want to hear…) I know people with an IQ of 80 who understand the concept of planning for the future better than some Mensa nerds with 145+ genius IQs.

  67. mclever says:

    dc and I must be copying each other’s notes… 😉

  68. msgkings says:

    Well yeah, of course plenty of smart folks aren’t wise. But a lot more of them are than the dumdums. The quality of the average voter and average politician would rise.

  69. mclever says:

    re: Egypt

    Is it fitting that Tahrir, the name of the square where most of the protests and celebrations have been occurring in Cairo, means “Liberation”?

    The Egyptian people have found their voice and their dignity. They’ve learned that they have power, that there is power in human dignity that transcends political force.

    The 18-day process of protest that culminated in the end of Mubarak’s 30-year reign is truly inspiring to anyone who values freedom.

    The challenge now will be for the military to foster an orderly transition to a more democratic process.

  70. msgkings says:

    Some of my optimism stems from the fact that the discourse seems to have gotten more far-reaching and mature. A few years ago even hinting we need to do something about entitlements, or defense, or spending of any kind, or maybe even raising taxes or revamping the code itself would be a one way ticket to LostElectionVille.

    Today it’s out there. It’s no longer political suicide to say let’s make tough choices. Whether you agree with them or not, at least the Paul Ryans and Peter Orszags and the Deficit Commissions of the world are out there making their cases.

    It takes a while but perhaps the system eventually will get there, based on what’s being discussed now.

  71. Mr. Universe says:

    RE: Egypt

    You can’t stop the signal…

  72. Bartbuster says:

    Whether you agree with them or not, at least the Paul Ryans and Peter Orszags and the Deficit Commissions of the world are out there making their cases.

    The Paul Ryans of the world are also part of the problem.

  73. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    msgkings: “If you were philosopher-king, what would you do?

    1) Declare a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, with exception for war and national emergency.

    2) Whenever total National Debt exceeded 20% of GDP a 10% surtax would be added annually until debt was reduced below 20%. ( Two new lines on Form 1040A: Line 37 “tax”, line 37a “10% of line 37, line 37b add line 37 and 37a “total taxes”)

    3) SS and Medicare taxes paid with no income cap, with Universal health care.

    4) Means test SS, raise (or lower) SS age to some percentage of actuarial life expectation.

    5) Constitutional amendment defining citizen as a born human person and that legislatively created entities were subject to legislative curtailments.

    Five simple quick fixes. Open for criticism.

  74. msgkings says:

    Bartbuster,

    You are obviously the ‘anti-Bart’. Just as all Dems are evil to him, all Reps are to you. That makes both of your opinions equally predictable and useful.

  75. Bartbuster says:

    That makes both of your opinions equally predictable and useful.

    That’s fine. I feel the same way about anyone who takes people like Paul Ryan seriously. The GOP has shifted so far to the right that many of them would call Hitler a communist. If you think there are people like that who can be taken seriously, there’s no reason to take anything you say seriously.

  76. msgkings says:

    @ Max

    Some pretty good ideas there. SS not really a tough fix so I’m pretty optimistic they’l get that done.

    Medicare is the big problem looming, and there’s already no cap on Medicare taxes. And raising them won’t likely be enough, and that would be very damaging and regressive to boot.

    With Medicare we’re going to likely have to cut off how much the government pays out, with some kind of death panel (there I said it….someone’s gotta decide how to spend the government $) figuring out how not to spend endless $ on the last 6 months of 80+ year old’s lives.

    Rich folks will always be able to get care. But the government probably can’t afford carte blanche care to the huge bulge of seniors coming down the pike.

    There may also have to be a fix involving more and cheaper doctors, which the AMA will fight to the death.

    There’s probably going to need to me major malpractice reform to reduce legal-defense medicine.

    It will be interesting to see how it plays.

  77. msgkings says:

    @Bartbuster:

    I’ll live.

  78. Bartbuster says:

    @msgkings

    Same here.

  79. dcpetterson says:

    @Bartbuster
    The GOP has shifted so far to the right that many of them would call Hitler a communist.

    Seeing that Obama has both been compared to Hitler, and declared to be a Socialist, this is easy to believe. Maybe you’re right. Perhaps it isn’t cognitive dissonance so much as being so far to one side they live in the infra-red, thus blueshifting everything else to the other end of the spectrum.

    Today, Ron Reagan would be considered a RINO, and would be primaried out of office.

  80. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    @ msgkings

    Note: on the same line I also mentioned universal health care. I work on the premise that it would go under the name of Medicare (for all) and as such, those taxes would be raised to meet the need.

    Canada’s Medicare is an excellent model (I hate reinventing the wheel) until someone can come up with a better one. Private insurance would not go away.

  81. mclever says:

    @Max

    For the most part, I like your suggestions. They’re definitely a good way to get the discussion rolling.

    1) I’m not a fan of balanced budget amendments, because I think they tie the government’s hands too much, especially with regard to counter-cyclical approach that most modern economists advocate. Who defines “emergency situation”? Is any recession an “emergency”? I think there are reasonable times for deficit spending as a means of investment in the future, but the government also needs to responsible about surpluses, too. During those surplus years, the extra needs to be hoarded for the lean years, not spent willy-nilly. That’s to even out the inevitable economic ebb-n-flow.

    2) I’m with you on the National Debt fix, as long as there is an exception for extended recessions, much like your deficit proposal.

    3) Universal health care how? Everyone gets Medicaid/Medicare? Public Option? Personally, I’d like to see a national health plan, where those who want can buy supplemental health plans to cover the “fringe” items that the national plan doesn’t.

    4) Your SS fix makes sense.

    5) Corporate personhood needs to be abolished, agreed.

    🙂

  82. Bartbuster says:

    Maybe you’re right. Perhaps it isn’t cognitive dissonance so much as being so far to one side they live in the infra-red, thus blueshifting everything else to the other end of the spectrum.

    A little from behind door #1 and a little from behind door #2…

    Calling Obama a communist is due to their position on the far, far, far right. Suggesting that Obama should threaten the Egyptian military at the same time you are criticizing him for suggesting that Mubarak should step down is cognitive dissonance.

  83. msgkings says:

    @ mclever

    I’m pretty much in agreement on your entire last post, but #3 is the sticky wicket. Medical cost containment. Whatever ‘national health plan’ we end up with will have to, by simple mathematics, not pay for everything. Basically, poor people will not get total coverage. This is the toughest part of the whole thing. Yes, many will then buy private insurance to fill the gaps (there’s already a hugh market in Medicare ‘gap’ insurance). But poor people will simply be denied government funds for some things. I can’t figure out a way around that.

  84. dcpetterson says:

    msgkings, I suspect the thing that most of the poor would mostly not get is everyday health checkups — which I suspect most of them wouldn’t pursue anyway. What is covered today — and what would continue to be covered — is catastrophic events, for which anyone without insurance goes to the emergency room. This is covered today, and would continue to be, and would also be the largest part of the care that “the poor” would seek anyway.

    Having every working person pay into a common insurance bucket — and pay in some preset amount, based on income — would enlarge the pool so much that both everyday care and catastrophic care would be available to every working person. This is how the rest of the civilized world does it (with various minor tweaks). It works.

    The ideas that have been kicked around for solving SS show that it’s an easy fix. In point of fact, we don’t even have to raise the retirement age — means testing the payouts, and raising (or eliminating) the cap on FICA taxes, would more than cover it. Of course, the right wing would scream about those pitiful oppressed rich people who have to pay in but won’t get to draw out. But hell, I’ve never gotten to drive one of those Bradley tanks my taxes paid for, and that I didn’t want anyway.

  85. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    mclever and msgkings,

    I encourage you to study the Canada Medicare. Also note that it is NOT NATIONAL, but provincial in administration. Yes, there are positives and negatives, but that will always be the case and bugs can be squashed as they invade the picnic.

    “National emergency” can be defined and incorporated into the amendment. (X number of quarters of negative GDP, unemployment exceeding a number certain, etc. Hey, I provided the outline, y’all write the story!)

    Keep in mind, there is no such thing as a true balanced budget, as revenue and outlays are happening AFTER the passage of the budget. Some years the guess will be high, some low. That’s why I picked a reasonable National Debt number to be serviced and as a goal. “Fixing” the deficit from any single year could be something as simple (if there is such a thing) as holding spending THIS year to LAST years number, assuming rising revenues.

  86. msgkings says:

    dc wrote:

    Having every working person pay into a common insurance bucket — and pay in some preset amount, based on income — would enlarge the pool so much that both everyday care and catastrophic care would be available to every working person. This is how the rest of the civilized world does it (with various minor tweaks). It works.

    We do that now, Medicare taxes 2.4% of every working person’s paycheck. And with the coming bulge of old people, it isn’t nearly enough. Even if we raised those substantially, it wouldn’t be enough.

    And the ‘catastrophic’ care you mention also includes all the dollars spent keeping 80 year olds alive for 3 more months. It’s not ‘catastrophic’ to get old, and pass on. How long should the government pay those bills?

    The systems ‘work’ in the rest of the civilized world by rationing care, paying doctors less, and denying coverage for many procedures. Which is the sad path that I have been talking about us perhaps needing to go down.

    There simply isn’t enough money our government can come up with for carte blanche care for the ever rising cohort of seniors, in a world of ever increasing costs of medical care.

    And while some previous posts mentioned our need for a new Ike or JFK to get us to think big on this, I worry that it’s a different animal. Those big ambitions were about achieving big things, a very American sentiment. Dealing with the costs of providing medical care to an increasingly aged population is not the stuff dreams are made of. It goes against our national character, to be confronted with a limitation so daunting.

    It’s not: let’s go defeat Hitler! It’s: we’re going broke, what do we cut?

  87. Bartbuster says:

    It’s: we’re going broke, what do we cut?

    The wealthy aren’t going broke. Since “trickle down” has been a disaster, it’s time to try Trickle Up.

  88. dcpetterson says:

    @msgkings

    The thing is, the worst of the “old people problem” is temporary. Us baby boomers will be gone 40 years from now. The bulge will be past. Thinking Big reminds one that this particular problem will be done after a while.

    There is a related problem, that people are living longer, and that end-of-life care costs more than anything else. You are exactly right, that we need a more rational vision of how to do that.

    You point out, rightly, that Medicare now takes a flat amount from everyone’s check. I’d prefer it being a progressive tax, gauged to income. This makes it more affordable for the people least able to pay — just like national defense. And it potentially raises more money.

  89. shortchain says:

    FFF Item of interest (at least for Mr. U.): wikileaks destabilizes another country.

    This ties in with the recent thread on AGW.

  90. shortchain says:

    Damn multitasking. “threat” should be “thread”. But you probably know that.

    While I’m in correction mode, DC, a Bradley isn’t a “tank”. And they’re not that much fun to drive — and certainly a lot less fun to sit in than, say, a British sports car.

  91. dcpetterson says:

    @shortchain
    While I’m in correction mode, DC, a Bradley isn’t a “tank”.

    Shows how happy I am about paying for them.

    Yeah, it’s an “armored fighting vehicle,” right?

    I come from a long line of pacifists. It’s a big heavy metal truck with a treads that is designed to kill people. Why isn’t the NRA insisting I should have the right to own the one I’ve paid for?

  92. Mr. Universe says:

    @Shortchain

    Thanks. I’m working up an article about this stuff now. What do you suppose will happen in the middle east now? Think Iran might follow suit after the first failed attempt?

  93. Mr. Universe says:

    BTW SC,

    If you haven’t read Professor Richard Hienberg’s book ‘The Party’s Over’ you should check it out. He predicted several years ago that the Sauds were exaggerating the size of their reserves.

  94. shortchain says:

    DC,

    Don’t take the Bradley even if the NRA succeeds. There’s a lot amount of upkeep (treads!), and getting parts is a bitch. Heck, even a British sports car goes farther between service stops.

    Mr. U.,

    I think there isn’t a petroleum cartel entity, governmental or private, that isn’t faking its oil reserves. The market forces all push them to, and there’s no effective regulation to counteract those forces. I think when the end of cheap oil comes it will come with shocking swiftness because of this.

  95. Brian says:

    As far as the budget is concerned, but only suggestion is that I’d like to spend based on the amount we received last year, rather than guess what we’re going to get and spend that. I don’t know how we could make a switch like that, but that’s what I’ve got.

  96. Mr. Universe says:

    @SC

    Agreed. If you want to really be scared, I ran across an article that says this deep water drilling (which we will inevitably get around to doing) could release a giant methane ‘fart’ that could eradicate all life on Earth. It will make the Gulf oil spill look like a hiccup. If I can find it in my archives, I’ll source it for you.

  97. Realist says:

    Regarding the budget, a balanced budget requirement in the Constitution would either have to be toothless, or would be so rigid as to force Congress into situations that are more damaging to the economy (and, thus, future tax revenue cycles) than what we have today.

    A balanced budget amendment would have prevented one of the most critical aspects of the ARRA (covering the social safety net) from being funded, simply due to a reaction time that would be too slow. There’s little doubt in my mind that the result would have been catastrophic.

  98. Mr. U,

    So, what you’re saying is there might be methane to the madness?

  99. drfunguy says:

    I can’t think of any good reason for a balanced budget amendment, perhaps someone who has a good understanding of this could enlighten me.
    It seems to me that governments, if they are to engage in the sort of long term infrastructure investments that they can do better than the private sector, _should_ be able to go into debt to do so.

  100. NotImpressed says:

    re: investments

    How long have we been hearing that the government should operate like a business? Since when were corporations afraid to go into debt to improve their future standing?

  101. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    Realist and Drfunguy, go back and read my comment once again. It ALLOWS for wiggle room, AND the 20% debt/GDP trigger keeps us from passing on mounds of debt to future gens without us having to take the hit.

    Simply saying you are against an idea is insufficient! “When in danger or in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout.” Logically that is all you have done.

    Put forth A BETTER idea. Or at least realistic suggestions on tweaking mine.

  102. NotImpressed says:

    Max, how about a constitutional amendment that disallows Republican administrations from going into debt? After all, Republicans are the ones who 1. run up deficits when there is no reason to do so, and 2. complain about deficits when the situations demands we have one.

  103. drfunguy says:

    Max, perhaps you should go back and read mine.
    I didn’t say I was against it but neither am I for it.
    My question is: why?

  104. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    DrF,

    Perhaps I read you wrong, but “I can’t think of any good reason for a balanced budget amendment” and ” . . . _should_ be able to go into debt to do so”, sounded much like an “against” vote, not neutrality.

    Sorry if that was not your intent.

    The “why” is very simple: “lack of backbone in elected officials”. Why do you think we have BRAC???

  105. drfunguy says:

    Well, I am against in the sense that I am against constitutional amendments in general, unless there is no other way to address a problem. I haven’t seen a substantial argument about federal deficits that suggests a problem that rises to that level of intractability.
    Given the propensity of the courts to rule in favor of personhood for corporations (since around 1869 if I remember correctly) your #5 makes sense; could be a good opportunity to address some other civil rights issues for those defined as persons (i.e. nondiscrimination based on race, gender, sexual orientation).

  106. Realist says:

    I’m against it because the amendment will either have to be written in such a squishy form that it would be easy to get around, and therefore have no purpose; or will have to be sufficiently rigid that unforeseen circumstances will prevent Congress from doing what is necessary for the economy.

    Think about the things we have in the Constitution. They’re chosen to be things that are so important that we are (supposed to be) willing to uphold them even when it’s hard to do. We don’t incarcerate people without a fair trial, even when “everyone knows” they did it. We don’t allow the government to silence unpopular speech, even when “everyone” hates hearing it.

    The one amendment we repealed was repealed, in part, because it wasn’t uniformly upheld anyway. It was a farce, and ultimately a horrible mistake, not because it was a bad idea to ban alcohol (though it proved to be), but because such a ban had no business being part of the Constitution.

  107. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    @ Realist

    So, we would be interested in hearing a realistic proposal from you on how to fix the very real deficit/debt crisis facing the US.

    Thanks

  108. shortchain says:

    Max,

    On “the very real deficit/debt crisis facing the US.”

    I’m wondering: 30-year T-bills are currently going for what, 4.7 percent? That’s not a very high number, by historical standards. If there were a debt crisis facing the USA, we would also expect to see some difficulty selling the bills — which we do not.

    The generally-accepted evidence for a problem with carrying too much debt is that the debtor cannot borrow more or has a problem paying the interest. Given the low interest rates on borrowing, it is almost a doable solution to simply borrow a lot of money at current rates — and then let inflation eat the lender’s lunch. I’m not proposing that (although it would appear that it is the goal of some policy-makers), but if that isn’t so far from feasible, where is the crisis?

  109. dcpetterson says:

    History is a guide. We had a far greater debt as a percent of GDP after WW2. We fixed it by:

    1) massive investment in jobs, infrastructure, education, housing, and social security

    2) waiting for the resulting explosion of economic growth to vastly increase the tax base

    3) raising the top marginal tax rate to around 90%

    Comparable steps would work again today.

  110. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    OK, a couple of proposed “fixes”:

    Draft Proposed Personhood Amendment

    Section 1. The fundamental and inherent Rights of the People of the United States, and those Rights enumerated within this Constitution and the Constitutions of the respective States shall be construed to pertain only to natural Persons who are citizens of the United States and those natural Persons living within, or under the jurisdiction of, these states, the recognized Territories and diplomatic areas.

    Section 2. Created corporate and legal entities of whatever sort, their creation and existence being a matter of legislative action for the sole purpose of commercial activity and therefore are not natural People or Persons, shall at all times be subject to all such laws as enacted by Congress, or by the Legislatures of the respective States.

    and

    Draft Proposed Budget Amendment

    Section 1. Congress shall enact legislation for all Appropriations for expenditures of a fiscal year prior to the beginning of the fiscal year, subject to exceptions for national emergencies, or Declaration of War against a foreign nation. The total amount of Appropriations shall not exceed the total amount of Revenues of the previous fiscal year, plus five per cent, subject to the above exceptions.

    Section 2. At any time the Total National Debt of the United States exceeds twenty per cent of the previous calendar year’s Gross Domestic Product, a surtax of ten per cent shall be added to all taxes collected by the United States. The surtax shall remain in effect until the completion of the fiscal year during which the total National Debt diminishes to below ten percent of that years Gross Domestic Product. This surtax shall apply immediately should the total National Debt be in excess of twenty per cent of Gross Domestic Product as of the date of ratification of this Amendment. No revenue collected as a result of this surtax shall be spent for general appropriations, but shall be exclusively used to reduce the National Debt obligations.

    Section 3. Upon a Declaration of War, or a national emergency, a surtax of ten percent on all income taxes collected by the United States will commence on the beginning of the next fiscal year and shall continue until the end of the fiscal year wherein the Declaration of War or national emergency is rescinded. This surtax is separate from the surtax of Section 2 of this Amendment.

    Section 4. A national emergency shall be defined as an event, commonly known as an Act of God, wherein significant resources of the United States would be required to assist the areas so affected, or an economic event having a significant negative impact upon the employment of, or production capabilities by the people of the United States. The national emergency shall require a Declaration passed by an eleven-twentieths vote of both Houses of Congress and ratified by the President.

    Would be interested in seeing some tweaks.

  111. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    dc you are correct. But,

    We, as a nation, had not decided at the time of which you speak, to enhance the social “safety net” that we have today. This safety net when compared to the percentages of expenditures of that previous time are significantly higher.

    Bottom line is that We the People, through our elected Representatives, have NOT for the past 30 years, been willing to pay for what we get.

  112. dcpetterson says:

    Max, you’re right about not being willing to pay for what we get. We have a revenue problem, not a spending problem. Taxes are at their lowest now, as a percent of GDP, since about 1950. And there is noise that we should cut taxes still more.

    We used to have a sane estate tax. Now the Republicans want to do away with it completely. It only affects about the wealthiest 0.3% of Americans (well, their heirs, actually), yet potentially could take in a couple of trillion dollars over the next decade. But no, we have to eliminate it.

    Labor unions helped to vastly enlarge the middle class, thus increasing the tax base, by pushing for a higher minimum wage, and for benefits that helped to improve worker health (better insurance, safe working conditions, reasonable workweeks, etc.) We are dismantling labor unions, and telling workers they have to get by with less. We’re destroying the middle class today, which will also destroy tax revenues.

    Medicare and Medicaid need fixes, no question. Part of the problem is that the taxes which fund these systems are too low, and they are flat taxes rather than progressive ones. We need a universal federal health care system, paid for by a graduated tax on all income.

    Billionaire Warren Buffett likes to point out that he pays a lower effective tax rate than his secretary does. We don’t have a spending problem. We don’t even have a debt problem. We have a revenue problem, a problem of backbone. We’re unwilling to pay for the things we need.

  113. dcpetterson says:

    Max, I love your personhood amendment. That alone would go a long way toward addressing a number of our problems.

  114. Mr. Universe says:

    I like the war tax idea. That would go a long way towards stopping silliness like Iraq.

  115. Bartbuster says:

    Why were Baghdad’s posts removed? That was some of the most ridiculous crap he has ever posted. It should be left for posterity.

  116. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    What’s this about Bart’s comments deleted? Some answers from our esteemed moderators, please. Inquiring minds want to know.

    Thanks

    PS. Didn’t see much objection/alternative to my proposed amendments. That mean they’re good to go? I’m gonna submit them to my Reps and Senators shortly.

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