It is awful to be homeless and out on the streets, without love and comfort. So many Americans, in our time find themselves, on a day to day basis, in that destitute condition.
Symbolically, the Republican Establishment is without a home.
With the Republican Establishment, you could see it coming. For decades, they have lost far too many philosophical struggles and political skirmishes. When they have took a stand, like on debt ceiling votes, they have seemed embarrassed and over eager for a solution. The Republican Establishment say they are for a reduced Federal Government and for the 10th Amendment, but the Federal Government grew on their watches.
It has taken to public too long to respond, but the truth has finally arrived. Republican voters have had it! It started with the T-Party, but now it has spread throughout the land.
When the Republican Establishment lost a battle, they walked away. They did not regroup for another battle; they just walked away.
And now, the Republican Establishment is homeless.
The lion story went on for days; it may be still be going on in the major media. The lion story did not deserve the headline attention that it received. Although unfortunate, the lion story deserved no more than "filler" coverage. At the same time of the lion story, there was a revelation of some videos showing human body parts, from aborted babies, being marketed by Planned Parenthood. This is incredible barbarism. Yet, the coverage among the major media was somewhat muted. Yes, it was mentioned, but not the air time or print that the lion story seemed to receive from the major media outlets. I don't recall an indictment to compare with this neglect, which was, an effective protection of barbarism!
Nowadays, few people deny America's decline in real or relative terms. The politicians who declare this in their campaigns find their campaigns advance. The public is well aware of the fact that America is not where it was, or where it should be.
Establishment politicians and establishment media will give the public a positive spin and uplifting scenario. You can generally count on it. This is dangerous! But, the facts and the figures tell the accurate story.
America's decline is moral! I could say this before I read the PEW study on religion and young people.
The politicians and the mainline media can't say "moral", as they would be resisted by much of the guilty populace. So, they always have to deal with the peripheral, and make their stand there; as the country winds further down the drain.
The polarization of wealth and income inequality is a major campaign theme of next year's election. That is because everyone who thinks about and writes about income inequality finds disparity and distortions. This condition cannot be sustained in the long run. The polarization of income and wealth does not abate, but tends to get larger with each political administration and election cycle.
Recently, Warren Buffett offered advice on how to palliate the disparity and the steady demise of the middle class. Mr. Buffett has got a lot of things right, and certainly deserves listening too. Yet he avoided a solution to a three decade old problem. Instead, he offered tax subsidies. A lot of finance people are sensitive to taxes and tax avoidance is a big part of our national dilemma. Subsidies, such as the earned income tax credit (EITC) can have a demoralizing effect on the recipient. People work hard, apply themselves, follow the rules, and still receive welfare; just like some of the Fortune 500. Except, with the Fortune500, it is corporate welfare and with EITC it is personal! I surmise that Buffett was planning to reach pretty deep with his EITC REFORM -- maybe even enlisting some of the "old" middle class. Of course, you can't restore the middle class by way of the tax code. Tax relief might be important, but not critical. Yet, some reasons for the inequity are obvious and can be corrected.
Among the obvious,, to everyone, is the consolidation of economic power, means of production, and capital. Most consolidation of these individual factors compliment the others and vice-versa. If you examine any of the various business news sources, you find the common theme of mergers and acquisitions. Big deals and little deals, but in the end, still generally consolidation. It is inescapable that most of these mergers and consolidations erode the market discipline.
The middle class has also suffered from the loss of manufacturing jobs, which generally pay a higher wage. Manufacturing jobs should be the slowest to recapture. We lost manufacturing jobs, in part, as a result of faulty globalist theories. Faulty, because we did not transition into new products and services, on a worldwide basis, fast enough to offset the displacement of manufacturing jobs. This lag is old enough now to be called a permanent condition. When you look at how the manufacturing shifted to developing countries in a wholesale fashion, the differences in cost saving in many cases was marginal. That is what can happen when you let the CFO and accountants run the business!
The middle class, as well as the poor, find their buying power eroding. Mergers mean higher prices! Most of the necessities that people use claim a higher price tag as the result of some kind of merger or consolidation. There are other factors that contribute to higher prices, but the lack of meaningful competition and avoidance of market discipline is the big one.
Many consumer items in our American economy are dominated by 3 or 4 companies controlling 90% or more of the business. That takes the market discipline out. When you have 4 companies that own 90% of a market, any market discipline moves at a glacier pace. If these 4 companies share a market, I think it unlikely they would get in a dog fight for another 5%.
Blue Cross Blue Shied (BCBS) here in Tennessee has applied for an overall 36% increase in premiums. I realize current law has had some influence in the request for the hike. It is also claimed that the medical field and hospitals are not subject to the same market forces that apply to most businesses. Furthermore they say, medical productivity cannot be measured in the same way as most business. However, BCBS has 72% of the insurance business in Tennessee. Whatever market forces do exist would be choked out by this insurance monopoly. Presently, antitrust suits are being instituted against Blue Cross, for monopolistic practices in other states too.
The environment for this concentration started, in earnest, in the mid-eighties. The eighties was an era of economic quackery. The big thrust was called, modestly, supply side economics. Supply side economics had a distinctive upper income benefit to it. It was also called quackery names like "trickle-down and voodoo economics". As I recall, the late Sen. Howard Baker, from here in Tennessee called it a "riverboat gamble". In reality, it was no gamble at all, but rather an open and shut case that contributed much to the economic disparity and the economic quandary of today. The economics of the eighties and the political component trended toward Wall St. and big money. It was a perverse time, economically, of "greed is good" and laissez faire thinking. The public seemed fascinated and protective of the big corporations. After all, it was alleged that big business was the "job creators". Wrong on that count! The supply side doctrine kind of returned us to the 1920's
So how do we solve the fading of the middle class and free up the economic ladder for everyone? First, recognize the seriousness of what has happened and is happening. The eroding middle class, I think. threatens democracy. The essence of freedom is a fair assessment and reward for individual contributions to society, So many people are grossly overcompensated, and likewise under compensated. You will naturally have inequities, but some high end salaries are ridiculous, even comical. When we have a fair and honest assessment, determined by the free market forces, the middle class will be secure. When the top 10% of wealth dominate the political process, as they do today; economic concentration has contributed to the effective disenfranchisement of much of the working middle class, the poor, and the young. Just look at the demographics of who votes, who actively participates in the political process, and who donated the money. That will open anyone's eyes to the threat to democracy.
In order to repair the economy and establish some parity , we should start with the obvious defects. We can no longer tolerate the consolidation of our goods and services, manufacturing, and agriculture. The concentration of our economy requires surgery! It can no longer be treated as a bad cold. We must return to an era of trust-busting with even more purpose and vigor than 100 years ago. The FTC and the Justice Dept. have been easy to work with for a long time now. They have bought a lot of bogus arguments. They should be embarrassed. We can't even get the major banks broken up! Pundits and politicians talk a lot about breaking up the banks, but no action.
It is important to remember that if you concentrate at the top; you must subsidize at the bottom, the middle, and all around the edges. Otherwise, in time, the middle class, the poor and many more will be in the streets and they will be demanding changes. However, if we divest in the concentration and break up the monopolies, we will open opportunities for millions, and go a long way in restoring the American dream.
A few hours ago the Supreme Court rendered a decision that same-sex marriages are to be recognized throughout the U.S. That's more than revolutionary !
The decision promises to polarize America, even more. Same-sex marriage will no more go away than Roe went away. Of course, there is no such thing as a same-sex marriage, regardless of what the Supreme Court, the Congress, or the President says !
Our Balance of Payments (BOP) has been negative since 1975 ! This means we have imported to the United States more goods and services (net) than we have exported to other countries around the world. 1995 goes back the the Ford Administration -- long time !
There have been peaks and valley's in the negative results, but no positive BOP. The negative balance leaped in Reagan's 2nd term. It also showed a high negative gain in the years after NAFTA (93). It went off the chart in 2006, showing 761,716 million negative. The Wall Street influence was peaking about that time.
The BOP is a good read on the health of the economy of a country. It would not be a far stretch to say the decline of American economic power started in the mid-seventies. Most world leaders recognize America's relative decline in matters, both economic and political.
World leaders and bankers gathered in Washington this month and some were thinking that America is retreating from World leadership. I suppose they mean voluntarily. But, I think the shift has been more legitimate. The big lick was the consolidation of economic power within the United States. Then, more globalist thinking, followed by the industrial shift, and the outsourcing of manufacturing. You can measure economic power by manufacturing. Our home grown multinationals are having their stuff made in other countries. They are accompanied by our debt-ridden welfare state as the purchasers of the products. Just that fact alone, answers a lot of America's economic dilemma and inequality.
Some accuse the current political dysfunction for America's decline, and true enough, we have been electing the same people term after term. But, I see a decades old decline in both political and economic strength.
Politicians, newscasters, editorial writers, and authors have recognized the distinct middle class is slowly vanishing. They are a day late.
Now, they all have ideas to repair the middle class. But, the repair doesn't lend itself to a quick or reliable repair job. It is a decades old problem that began in the 80's and although the middle class erosion has many facets, the main culprits were the politicians.
Politically, we made a somewhat sharp turn to Wall Street in the 80's. Wall Street was the dominate voice and they paid for that voice through campaign donations. One result was the rise of globalism deindustrialization of vast areas of the country. This industry loss was not replaced by enough innovation, new products, or new services. At the same time major industries were consolidating and with the adoption of "trickle-down" economics, by the politicians, banks and even the Federal Reserve; the result has been predictable for a long time. Quackery prevailed!
The politicians want to subsidize the losers of this economic topsy-turvy. but that will not restore the balance. The losers are the families. Business consolidation has made many basic products and services priced out of family budgets, as much business is removed from a strict market discipline. Tax code changes have made the middle class pay a higher percentage.of a reduced income, for taxes. The upper tier pays a lower percentage of their income. Wall Street advantage!
If the politicians want real reform, they would not be talking about subsidizing. Subsidizing is only a palliative.
There appears to be a fear, among politicians , of taking a well thought out position on most anything. Everything seems to be measured by it's immediate effect and reception. And, ultimately the persuasion of block votes.
The non-advocacy position is most notable in cultural and economic matters.
The current marriage issue is a good example of non-advocacy. The majority of the citizens, nowadays, feel a marriage is only between a man and a women. That is all that should be natural and legitimate. Any other kind of sexual arrangement is a perversion, and perversions can be of various sorts. The Republican Party makes a terse statement of that fact, but no advocacy. It may be a part of their platform, but it is a mum and defenseless position. You will have a hard time finding a standing Republican politician that will elaborate on the issue of marriage being only between a man and a woman.
Same with key economic issues. Those issues that would make a difference in peoples lives. More and more people are becoming concerned about the concentration of wealth and inequality of income. Of course, this has been building for decades, and is even a worldwide phenomenon. It demands an urgent response, but the politicians are reticence to discuss details. Every utterence seems to be measured for a political response. There is no free dialogue. It is not only the polilticians, but media outlets as well. They are senstive to retain power and position. Yet, by and large, unused power and position.
I watched a program host ask a candidate for President in 2008 if he favored breaking up the big banks. He never got an answer! Fear of the block votes?
We are ruled by block votes and money. The concentration of economic power lends itself to block voting. The half-century change in values lends itself to block voting.
2014 is leaving, and we can't do anything about it. Life moves through and leaves it's blessings, and takes it's earthly toll. I have been supremely blessed this year and saw several friends pass on.
The longer we live, we discover fewer and fewer things are important. Among the things, at this stage in my life, I find important include: living my life for Christ and serving my Lord and Savior daily; working and serving my family; making new friends and serving mankind. Of course, I fall very short on all these counts. But, that is what I aspire too, at the end of 2014.
Very frequently, almost constantly, you read where the American Dream is being challenged, and this era is compared unfavorably with previous era's. When this era receives so much adverse commentary; you should start thinking there is something to it.
There is !
It started in the sixty's and it started with the family. We become materialistic, secular, and selfish, but the broad-based effects didn't mature until this era. And, as always, it shows up in the statistics. Look at church, family, education, and now economic statistics and the vivid picture is painted and complete.
Most leadership attacks the problem at the periphery where reforms are, at least, palpable. Palpable,but not likely to work !