American History and August – And America Must Let Go of Republican Economic Policy that Coddles the Wealthy

Looking back over some of the historical events of August it is amazing how much happens during the dog days of summer. You’d think people would be too hot and anxious to keep in the shade, find a cool breeze or a local swimming hole.

Print showing George and Martha Washington sitting at a table with George Washington Parke Custis and Nelly Custis standing to the right and left of George, and a servant entering on the far right. The original painting was done by Christian  Schussele (1826?-1879). Engravings were made and sold by William Sartain (1843-1924). Washington died in 1799 so the painting would have been based on other depictions and written descriptions of Washington and his family. On August 4, 1753 – George Washington became a master mason. At 23 he was already a Master Mason, the highest rank in the Fraternity of Freemasonry, in his hometown of Fredericksburg, Virginia.

Derived from the practices and rituals of the medieval guild system, freemasonry gained popularity in the eighteenth century, particularly in Great Britain. British Masons organized the first North American Chapter in 1731. Masons aroused considerable suspicion in the early American republic with their mysterious rites and closely held secrets. These fears mushroomed in response to the suspicious death in 1826 of William Morgan, who was said to have been murdered on account of his threat to reveal the secrets of freemasonry.

The Masons are still controversial. In televangelist and former Republican candidate for president, Pat Robertson’s book New World Order he repeats an unsubstantiated myth about the secret satanism of Masonry,

Satanic hoax. Despite the fraternity’s good works, myths of dark doings continued to haunt Freemasonry. In the late 1880s, a mischievous French writer and former Mason, known by his pen name Leo Taxil, set out to play on Catholic fears of the order. He claimed to expose the order’s greatest secret, known only to the highest-degree Masons: that the secret religion of Masonry was the worship of Lucifer. Even after Taxil confessed to the hoax in 1897…

Ironically and perhaps just for someone so fond of spreading hateful myths, there are hundreds of sites on the net accusing Robertson of being a secret Mason intent on establishing a new world order.

Revenue Act of 1861

The Revenue Act of 1861, formally cited as Act of August 5, 1861, Chap. XLV, 12 Stat. 292
August 4, 1862 – US government collects its 1st income tax. Signed into law by Abraham Lincoln. The Act of 1861 was amended to make it a more progressive tax – it increased based on income, in 1862.

Theatre Comique Detroit, Michigan circa 1900-1910

This would have been the beginnings of vaudeville. As early as the late 1800s there were theaters, with mostly male only patrons. They would come in to listen to bawdy songs and jokes, drink, and watch the female entertainers.

Times Square Crowd for V-J Day August 14, 1945. This is a fairly well-known historical photo. The original caption read, ” The largest crowd to date in Times Square gathers for the announcement that the war with Japan was ended, New York, New York”. That would be the second threat to freedom and democrat defeated by liberals within a decade. Can you imagine if we hadn’t, conservatives would have been forced to learn German or Japanese. Yet we not only do not get any gratitude, but we get some of the most sordid revisionist history one can imagine.

Ezra Klein or rather The Tax Policy Center by way of Ezra, gets the quote of the day, I can describe Mitt Romney’s tax policy promises in two words: mathematically impossible.

The truth is that Romney is afraid to put his plan on the table. He has promised to reduce the deficit, but refused to identify the spending he would cut. He has promised to reform the tax code, but refused to identify the deductions and loopholes he would eliminate. The only thing he has put on the table is dessert: a promise to cut marginal tax rates by 20 percent across the board and to do so without raising the deficit or reducing the taxes paid by the top 1 percent.

….The Romney campaign has not provided good answers to the questions raised by its own math. But we already knew the Romney campaign didn’t have good answers. If Romney had good answers, he would have made good on his rhetoric and put his plans on the table.

It would be great if Romney could fulfill his promise to cut taxes by trillions of dollars, increase defense spending, keep entitlement spending on pretty much its current path for the next decade, and balance the budget. But as Tyler Cowen, the George Mason University economist, put it in a pithy tweet (though perhaps “pithy tweet” is a tautology), “The proposed Romney fiscal policy just doesn’t make any sense.”

When confronted with the numbers a Romney spokesperson said the numbers used were biased because one of the three analyst used to work for Democrats, yet one of the analyst also worked for Bush. This is a thread bare excuse rolled out by Republicans every time they get got in a lie. The conservative establishment knows it lies. A lot. Like all propagandists worth their weight in caviar, the hope is that some of the lies stick well enough to grain traction as a credible truth passed around America’s kitchen tables. Then its time to vote and millions of kool-aid addled conservatives with modest to middling incomes are once again voting against their own rational self-interests. As Romney is promising a return to the voodoo trickle on America economics of the Bush-era, for reasons just mentioned some people are ready for their fourth round of trickle on America economics (Reagan, Bush 41, Bush 43 and Mittens would be 4), a reminder that we need to jettison the belief in voodoo once and for all, Letting Go of Economic Policy that Entrenches Poverty, Coddles the Wealthy

As much as they claim to loathe government, right-wing policy makers adore government assistance to the nation’s superrich.

The economic policies, including weakened regulation of the financial industry, pushed by a party that has become behold to the superrich ushered in the Great Recession and the gaping economic inequality that the nation seems to be slowly awakening. Yet likely not fast enough. The number in poverty is on track, The Associated Press reported in July, to reach “levels unseen in nearly half a century,” and wiping out gains to lessen poverty that were seen in the 1960s. These economic policies center on tax cuts for the wealthiest, dwindling social services, along with weak regulation of the financial industry.

“The upper 1 percent of Americans are now taking in nearly a quarter of the nation’s income every year,” Columbia Business School Professor Joseph Stiglitz wrote last year. “In terms of wealth rather than income, the top 1 percent control 40 percent.”

Stiglitz noted in the same article how woefully out touch the wealthiest are – they can take care of themselves just fine and are numb to the plight of a family of three that must somehow survive on an annual income of less than $38,000.

So what can be done to reverse the situation? It appears rather hopeless, since the superrich are also the most powerful and have been able to keep alive the economic policies that have benefited them at a great cost to everyone else.

Why does the family driving the eight year old car in front of you with the Obama is a secret Muslim bumper sticker keep voting to give themselves the shaft. Why does a good third or more of the middle-class vote with the 1% against their best interests. The bumper sticker voters are the ones that Fox News, Limbaugh and the rest of the right-wing noise machine cater to. That is why we have the urban myth a day phenomenon from conservatives. They have to find a way to demonize the opposition, whose actual policies created the middle-class and the potential for so many Americans to advance up the economic ladder. That third of the middle-class, most of whom have some college or special training think their interests are the same as the 1%. That if they lead good lives and work hard, yep, some day they’ll be like the Koch brothers. The odds for that happening have always been low, but the prospect of getting ahead, of moving from doing OK to doing very well, has slowly diminished over the years, not coincidentally, with the growth of conservative economic polices. Republicans and the Myth of Upward Mobility

A recent article by Walt Gardner of Education Week, entitled “Policies Trump Schooling in Upward Mobility” states:

“In 2008, when 29.4 percent of the population held a college degree, the bottom 90 percent got less than 52 percent of the national income, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics. But in 1970, when only 11 percent of the population had a degree, the bottom 90 percent got 67 percent of the national income.”

These findings seem to be in line with the earlier international report “American Exceptionalism in a New Light: A Comparison of Intergenerational Earnings Mobility in the Nordic Countries, the United Kingdom and the United States” by Germany’s Institute for the Study of Labor, which claims:

“The main driver of the difference in the pattern of male intergenerational mobility in the U.S. from that of each of the other countries in our study is the low mobility out of the lowest quintile group in the United States. Indeed, it is very noticeable that while for all of the other countries persistence is particularly high in the upper tails of the distribution, in the U.S. this is reversed – with a particularly high likelihood that sons of the poorest fathers in the U.S. will remain in the lowest earnings quintile.”

In fact, census analysis by the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University found that in 2010 37% of young families with children were living in poverty.

Mitt Romney would have us believe this is a recent trend brought about by poor leadership in the Obama administration saying, “Over the past three years Barack Obama has been replacing our merit-based society with an entitlement society.”

The downward spiral of the middle class has actually been well documented since the 1979. The Congressional Budget Office shows that the income level of the top 1% of earners has grown at three times the rate of the middle class, while the income level for the bottom 80% of our society has stayed nearly flat. This disparity has recently accelerated to a crisis point where one in three mortgage-carrying families are facing the possibility of foreclosure.

Since I live and work in the real world, not the bubble of conservative talking heads, I know that Democrats generally work hard and Republicans may not have pointed tails, but they are hardly paragons of virtue or a solid work ethic. Most Americans are not perfect, but they work hard. They’re working harder and more productive than ever and have less to show for it. Just pointing that out makes anyone who says it a raging anti-American Marxist. That shows you how far Right, how far out of the mainstream, how clueless and delusional the conservative movement is.

Productivity versus wages

One of the latest conservative urban myths, Fox’s Evening News Show Lies About Military Voting In Ohio .

Tea Party Report: So Sorry for Dixie-Chick-fil-A

Susie Sampson went down to her local Chick-fil-A to interview the fine folks who were participating in Bash the Faggots Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day.

As always with Tea Partiers, you learn all kinds of amazing things from these folks. Did you know that Halloween is a satanic holiday.

Both a funny and sad video at the link. Conservative thinking: Anyone who interferes with their right to hate and eliminationism is intolerant.

The Hollow Defense of Voter ID Laws

Are laws aimed at voter fraud really enabling voter suppression? In a preview clip from this weekend’s Moyers & Company, Keesha Gaskins and Michael Waldman from the Brennan Center for Justice rebut common defenses of voter ID laws, including “everybody’s got a driver’s license!”, “what about public transportation!” and state requirements to make “free IDs” available.

Using new research, Waldman and Gaskins argue these laws represent “the first rollback of voting rights since the Jim Crow era.”